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Full text of "The life of Sir David Wilkie. With his journals, tours, and critical remarks on works of art, and a selection from his correspondence"





















Letters to Andrew Wilson, Sir Robert Peel, and Sir William 
Knighton. Royal Academy Exhibition of 1829. The 
King purchases Wilkie's Four Spanish Pictures. Letters 
from Sir Walter Scott. Wilkie in Scotland - - 1 


Letters to Andrew Geddes and Sir Robert Peel. Death of 
Sir Thomas Lawrence. Letter from Sir Walter Scott. 
Election of President. Wilkie a Candidate. Letters to 
Andrew Wilson. Wilkie paints and exhibits George IV. 
in the Highland Dress, and the King's Entry to Holy- 
rood. Letters to Sir William Knighton. Death of 
George IV. Royal Academy Exhibition of 1831. 
Wilkie at Brighton - 27 


Wilkie completes his Picture of " John Knox Preaching." 
Royal Academy Exhibition of 1832. Letters to Andrew 

Wilson, Miss Wilkie, and Sir William Allan Death of 

Sir Walter Scott Wilkie at Strathfieldsaye and Brighton. 

Letter to James Hall. Letters to Sir Robert Peel and 
Sir William Knighton. Royal Academy Exhibition of 
1834 - - - - - - -54 




Wilkie in Scotland. Letters to George Jones, R. A., Lady 
Baird, and Sir William Knighton. " Columbus" painted. 

Royal Academy Exhibition of 1835. Wilkie in Ire- 
land. Paints " The Peep o' Day Boy " for Mr. Vernon. 

Letters to W. Collins, R. A., and Abraham Raimbach. 

Mr. O'Connell's Portrait Wilkie knighted. Death 

of Sir William Knighton - - 86 


Remarks on Painting, by Sir David Wilkie - - 128 

Introduction - - 129 

SECTION I. - 135 
SECTION II. On the Choice and Handling of Subjects 147 

SECTION III. Portrait-Painting - 163 

SECTION IV. Historical Painting - 180 

SECTION V. Perspective and Foreshortening - - 200 


Wilkie removes to Vicarage Place, Kensington. Removal 
of the Royal Academy to Trafalgar Square Royal Aca- 
demy Exhibition of 1837. Accession of Queen Victoria. 
Wilkie commanded to paint the Queen's First Council. 
Letters to Mr. Collins, R.A., Miss Wilkie, and Sir Robert 
Peel - 216 


Royal Academy Exhibition of 1838. Letters to Mr. Collins, 
R.A., Miss Wilkie, Sir William Knighton, Lady Baird, 
Sir William Allan, and Sir Robert Peel. Royal Academy 
Exhibitions of 1839 and 1840 - 241 


Wilkie at the Hague, Cologne, Munich, Vienna, and Constan- 
tinople. Extracts from Journal. Paints "The Letter- 
Writer," and " The Tartar relating the News of the Capture 
of Acre." Letters to Mr. and Miss Wilkie, Mr. Moon, 
Mr. Young, Mr. Collins, R. A., and Sir Peter Laurie - 284 




Wilkie at Constantinople, Smyrna, and Beyrout. Journal 
continued. Letters to Mr. and Miss Wilkie, Sir Martin 
Archer Shee, Mr. Rogers, the Countess of Mulgrave, and 
Mr. Young - 341 


Wilkie at Jaffa and Jerusalem Journal continued. Letters 

to Mr. John Harvey, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Collins, R.A., 
Lord Leven, and Professor Buckland - 393 


Wilkie at Jerusalem. Letters to Mr. Phillips, R.A., Mr. 
James Hall, and Mr. John Abel Smith. Wilkie at Alex- 
andria, and on Board The Oriental." Letters to Mr. 

and Miss Wilkie Sudden Illness and Death. Extract 

from the Log-Book of " The Oriental" - - 440 


Conclusion - - 475 

APPENDIX A. Address of the Royal Academy to Thomas 
Wilkie, Esq., the Brother, and Miss Helen Wilkie, the 
Sister, of the late Sir David Wilkie, R.A. - 515 

APPENDIX B. Testimony to the Memory of Sir David 
Wilkie, addressed to the President and Council of the 
Royal Academy - - 516 

APPENDIX C Wilkie Statue - 516 

APPENDIX D. Pictures painted by Sir David Wilkie - 524 



Map. Post 8vo, 10. 


Map. Post 8vo, 10*. 




Plans. Post 8vo, 12s. 


MINOR, AND CONSTANTINOPLE. Maps. Post 8vo, 15s. 



With a Map. Post 8vo, 12s. 


CITIES OF ETRURIA. With a Map. Post 8vo, 15s. 

Also nearly ready. 


With a Map. Post 8vo. 


a Map. Post 8vo. 

EGYPT. By Sir GARDNER WILKINSON. With Maps. Post 8vo. 

SPAIN. With elaborate Travelling Maps. Post 8vo. 

*#* Mr. Murray's Hand-books for Travellers are all bound in strong Red 
Cloth, and have his Name on the outside. 








LONG ere Wilkie arrived once more among us, we 
had heard that health, with a slow and reluctant 
step, had begun to return to him, and that he had 
delineated with a true though hesitating hand some 
of the domestic and devotional scenes of Eome ; but 
fear mingled with our wonder, when we were told 
that he had suddenly quitted Italy, traversed Spain, 
and was working such miracles of art in Madrid 
as had not been seen there since the days of Mu- 
rillo and Yelasquez. Nor did rumour neglect to 
add, that he had stepped out of the style with 
which he had acquired his fame, and formed or in- 
vented one which required fewer figures, less detail, 
but which accomplished more, with less outlay of 
labour, than his easier compositions. Letters from 
VOL. m. B 

2 THE LIFE OF 1828. 

Lord Mahon and Washington Irving intimated this, 
and that Wilkie was astonishing the court of Spain 
with visions of historic glory acquired in her fight for 
independence. When with these pictures, and this 
increase of honour, won on a new field, the painter 
arrived in England, the King, to whom he sub- 
mitted them, was so struck with their beauty, that 
they were marked at once for the royal collection. 
Some indeed, who desired to become buyers, regretted 
this ; others, who regarded the fame of the artist as a 
national matter, rejoiced in the taste of the King; 
while all longed to look on the first fruits of the great 
painter's returning health, and see how he had suc- 
ceeded in the historic style in which he had dipped 
his brush. The day was distant, however, when 
these pictures could be publicly seen : time was re- 
quired to consider and reconsider, touch and retouch 
them ; and to accomplish this he had to revive his 
studies at Kensington. We shall now resume his 
history in his correspondence. 

Dear Wilson, Kensington, 30th June, 1828. 

I have already been a week in London, but 
have nothing to tell you. Seguier told me the other 
day that he had got two pictures, bought by Mr. Peel 
by my express command, but I did not choose to ask 
Mr. S. what he thought of them. My own Vandyke 
looks extremely well. I have it here with the Cor- 
reggio, which I have examined with great interest. 
The naked child, with the female heads, are delicious, 


and in a perfect state. I have seen the small Holy 
Family from Spain in the National Gallery; of course 
a true, but by no means a virgin, picture. It has the 
granular effect of rubbing all over. 

1st July. 

To-day I saw Lord Londonderry's two Correggios. 
These are extensive specimens, but not virgin ; indeed, 
I should like to know how much has been done to 
them. Correggio doubtless glazed and painted, and 
painted and glazed, in a complicated manner. Still 
there are things in them this will not account for. 

Seguier since my arrival has done me personally 
a real service. He brought me a message from the 
King, requiring to see me and my Italian studies; 
and the result is, that his Majesty has bought the one 
of The Pifferari and The Princess washing the Female 
Pilgrims' Feet, which I made at Geneva. 

I have ordered a mahogany case for the Correggio, 
and mean to regild the frame : as yet not a soul has 
seen it. Query, Is not the yellow sleeve and petticoat 
(a sort of crome yellow) of the brown woman, seated 
with the child, somewhat like a repaint? Did you 
look at this? The Doria one has the same kind of 

Your two letters about the Vandykes I have just 
again read. You have anticipated every thing that 
has occurred. At the same time, if the pictures are 
put properly in order, which Seguier seems to be 
doing, I doubt not they will make a fair impression. 
If The Senator is a failure, then I have no faith in any 
of the untouched pictures of Italy or Spain. 

D. W. 
B 2 

THE LITE OF 1828. 

My dear Sir, Kensington, 15th July, 1828. 

I have not seen the two half-lengths, in armour, 
which Mr. Wilson describes, but from his estimate of 
them, compared with the many Vandykes he has 
found at Genoa he calls one of them " of the highest 
order,' 7 I think that one or both might be desirable 
acquisitions to your Gallery. 

I wrote to Mr. Wilson a few days ago, as you 
desired, to authorise him to secure the Bishop in the 
Carega, by such an advance as his judgment might 

D. W. 

Dear Sir Kensington, 30th Aug. 1828. 

Permit me to inform you that the two pictures 
of Roman Pilgrims, which the King has done me the 
honour to purchase from me, are now framed, and 
ready to be delivered whenever his Majesty may be 
pleased to command. 

The picture which I painted at Madrid, and which 
his Majesty was graciously pleased to express a wish 
to see upon their arrival, I am also ready to submit 
to his Majesty's inspection whenever I shall be 
honoured by the royal commands to that effect. 

D. W. 


My dear Sir Woburn Abbey, 11th Sept. 1828. 

I have just had the honour to receive your 
letter of the 10th, and the royal command you therein 
convey to me, intimating that it is his Majesty's 
pleasure I should complete, for his Majesty's col- 
lection, the series of Spanish subjects " containing 
the three pictures I showed to you, and the fourth, 
which I propose to paint," has given me the most 
unfeigned pleasure. 

This undertaking, by which I feel so highly ho- 
noured, I hope to get accomplished by next Spring 



September, 1828. 

I have already sold my four Italian subjects; 
and the four Spanish pictures, a series of illustrations 
of the late war, now in progress, are bespoke. I 
have also just finished a full-length portrait, size of 
life, of Lord Kellie, for the county of Fife. Still, 
with all this, I work slowly, and with much pain and 

Callcott has written to complete the purchase of 
Wallis's Vandyke at the price stated. I find Van- 
dykes here a good article : still I doubt if much 
business can be done, and to speculate will not do. 
Of the Duchess of Orleans I saw at Madrid, I find 

B 3 

6 THE LIFE OF 1828. 

a duplicate at Woburn it is from the Orleans col- 
lection and a finer picture. Woodburn admired 
very much my Cardinal by Vandyke, but Seguier not 
much. Doctors cannot agree. 

I hope to hear of your own labours. Fear not oil 
nor glazing. What I see around me here is dryness, 
littleness of objects, and multitudes of detail the 
white and the flat light, the poor and the laboured 
shadow. I hope when Turner gets to Rome he will 
for once try to leave the haze and the fog of London 
behind him. 


Littleness of object multitudes of detail the 
white and the flat light the poor and the laboured 
shadow observed by Wilkie, haunted them like evil 
spirits, and still haunt the English school: he did 
much to lay them or drive them away. " All your 
painters," said a distinguished foreigner, " seem stand- 
ing still, save Wilkie ! " 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, loth Oct. 1828. 

In regard to the dedication to the engraving 
of The Chelsea Pensioners, permit me to observe that, 
as I owe my whole interest in it to the Duke of Wel- 
lington, and must hope for great indulgence from him 
before it can be completed, the dedication to his Grace 
is all I have to offer him as an acknowledgment for so 
important an obligation, and the only way in which 
his name can appear upon the plate. 


The list of subscribers, on the other hand, is an 
affair not of mine, but of Messrs. Moon and Co., the 
print-sellers, who, wishing to make it as much as pos- 
sible a national work, and to interest as much as pos- 
sible the public in its favour, humbly and respectfully 
desire that the name of our great and distinguished 
sovereign should be placed in their book, and, if pos- 
sible, by autograph, as patron to their arduous un- 

D. W. 


Dear Lady Beaumont, Kensington, 12th Nov. i828. 

For the last two months I have been at the 
sea-side, and part of the time with Sir Willoughby 
and Lady Gordon in the Isle of Wight, who were both 
of them speaking of your Ladyship and of the late Sir 
George in terms of great affection. I have also been 
to Dover, near to which I called upon Mrs. Siddons, 
whom I found visiting Lady Byron. She naturally 
mentioned the circumstances of her last visit to you, 
and had much to say expressive of her esteem and 
regard for the late Sir George Beaumont. Indeed I 
am frequently reminded of him. I have just been to 
the National Gallery, where I was much attracted by 
those works he used so justly to admire. In con- 
versation with my brother artists, particularly with 
Collins, our discussions upon matters of art bring us 
constantly to refer to the opinions and principles of 
Sir George Beaumont as a landmark, showing us in 

B 4 

8 THE LIFE OF 1828. 

what way new and original ideas should be regulated, 
by bending to those rules which have been sanctioned 
by the approval of ages. 

For myself, I feel somewhat better now than on my 
arrival from the Continent, and I am again trying to 
work. The fatigue of writing, however, is such, that 
you must excuse this not being written in my own 
hand, &c. 

D. W. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 23d Dec. 1828. 

Mr. Ackermann has made me a proposal for 
permission to engrave The Spanish Girl for his annual 
publication " The Forget-me-not." Presuming upon 
the kind consent you have given me, I have answered 
him in the affirmative. Your silence I shall consider 
as a confirmation of this arrangement. 

The picture in question I completed three days ago, 
but the arrangement will, of course, delay its being 
sent home to you for some time. 


Dear Sir William, Kensington, Dec. 1828. 

His Majesty's most gracious bounty in allow- 
ing me the loan of the picture of The Scotch Wed- 
ding to engrave from, I feel most humbly grateful 
for. Thus readily granted, it is an additional proof 


of his generous wish, so handsomely evinced to me on 
my first landing, to restore me to better times. 

The small sketch of my picture at Munich (The 
Will) I would let go, with frame, at 35 guineas. 

The head of Walter Scott I am proceeding with. 
It comes better than I expected. I have ordered a 
frame, and hope to have it nearly done by the time 
you see it. 

Indeed, upon the subject of working, you have in 
your kindness given me great encouragement. You 
have cheered me extremely, in assuring me that I 
work as much as is necessary. My best thanks for 
your kind wishes, and most friendly encouragement 
and good offices, of all which I feel deeply sensible. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 29th Dec. 1828. 

Nothing can exceed the gratification your 
letter of the 26th has given me, by your assurance of 
the kind manner in which you have thought of me. 
I could make a good deal of the public, if I could feel 
somewhat more independent of the public. 

My three Spanish subjects will be completed about 
the end of January, and, if agreeable, will then be 
ready to be submitted to his Majesty's inspection. 
I shall then be free to recommence The Entry to 
Holy rood House. I think I am able for this, as it is 
far on towards completion. Might this be shown also, 
to have his Majesty's pleasure expressed about it? 

D. W. 



Save the time spent in a short excursion to the Isle 
of Wight, where he visited his steadfast friend, Sir 
Willoughby Gordon, in his romantic residence at 
Undercliff, Wilkie laid out all his leisure in perfecting 
his Spanish pictures, which he desired to exhibit; and 
as he knew that he must stand or fall in the new style 
which he had adopted, he submitted them to the re- 
marks of all whose opinion he either feared or loved. 
Some, and amongst them was the King, observed, in 
his new style, a little of Rembrandt and Velasquez, 
with which the artist was much pleased. 

Dear Sir William, Windsor, 12th Feb. 1829. 

My Spanish pictures have just been submitted, 
and the approval has been to my satisfaction. The 
Posada is preferred, as best of all, and the fourth 
picture commanded to be gone on with. 

Some directions were given me about the chief 
figure in the Holyrood House, when all at once I was 
asked what I was doing about the large one in the 
Highland dress. I said I was ready to begin it when- 
ever commanded: the reply was, "whenever you 

Now the sketch I showed you in the Highland 
dress I did not bring, but have proposed sending it 
to Sir Frederick Watson, to be shown, and if it comes 
near the mark, which I have a strong idea it will, 
shall lay every thing aside for so important an object. 

The interview was flattering to me in the highest 
degree. The pictures were looked at twice over, and 


I was pleased by the resemblance remarked to Rem- 
brandt, to Murillo, and Velasquez. Nothing seemed 
to escape. 

I feel it my duty to inform you of the above, and 
shall be glad to have your advice whether the sketch 
should not be submitted. 

D. W. 

His Majesty liked The Posada best; but his subjects 
preferred The Maid of Saragossa, not so much from a 
love of the romantic, as for the graceful way in which 
her heroic story was told, and the splendour of the 
colouring. All its qualities, save the variety of hues, 
were afterwards transferred to copper by the graver 
of Samuel Cousins; inimitable for the beauty of his 

Dear Wilson, Kensington, 16th March, 1829. 

Your letter interested me greatly. I have no 
other means of knowing what is doing in Eome, and 
to have such as you to write to one is indeed a treat. 
The reception of Turner's works is extraordinary, but, 
I contend, is precisely in accordance, if not with the 
British artist, at least with the British public. Such, 
however, is the violence and intolerance of Turner's 
friends, that I dare not even acknowledge myself to 
be in possession of the information which your letter 
conveys to me. The applause of the exquisite few is 
better than that of the ignorant many, but I like to 
reverse received maxims ; give me the many who 

12 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

have admired in different ages Kaphael and Claude, 
and I will give up the exquisite few who can admit 
of no deterioration of a system that has not yet the 
trial of time to recommend it : take simplicity from 
art, and away goes all its influence. 

The two Vandykes at Mr. Peel's appear to have 
given great satisfaction. I have told you that Seguier 
thinks them a great bargain. Emmerson went so far 
as to say to me, that he thought them worth nearly 
1000 guineas a piece. Perhaps you should not give 
up your visits to Genoa; to get the Carega Bishop 
would be an object. I think Mr. Peel will send his 
two pictures to the Institution: this might dispose 
people to inquire about others, and if you are disposed 
to speculate on your own account for a fair profit, 
there can be no picture so safe here as a good Yan- 
dyke; meantime, however, I shall make inquiries to 
get you commissions. 

The Correggio I keep snug, locked up. No other 
person has seen it, but I examine it often myself, still 
acting upon that system upon which it is painted, 
viz. painting up at once, a custom quite disused in 
modern art. The fatness of the light, and the soft- 
ness of the outline, also disused, are here finely exem- 
plified. It appears to me to be painted with a great 
deal of wax, a vehicle that contributes much to both 
these qualities. 

Of art I cannot tell you much more than what is 
passing in my own painting room. I can labour but 
little, but that little with so much decision that much 
work appears to be got through. I expect to have my 
full number of eight in the exhibition of this year. 


Of these, four are Italian subjects, one large whole 
length portrait of the Earl of Kellie, and two, if not 
three, of my Spanish subjects. 

My three Spanish pictures finished I had the honour 
of showing to the King some time ago: they are 
A Council of War, A Guerilla's Departure, and The 
Defence of Saragossa. I was much satisfied with the 
impression they appeared to make upon his Majesty, 
who commanded me to proceed with the fourth 
A Guerilla's Eeturn, to complete the series of four. 
The Guerilla's Council, at which priests are assisting, 
appears to be the most popular ; but painters appear 
to like most The Maid of Saragossa, which consists of 
the heroine with priests and labourers working a gun. 
But what adds much interest is a likeness of Palafox, 
for which he sat to me at Madrid, dressed as a volun- 
teer, and putting his shoulder to the wheel/ All 
appear to remark a change, and they say for the 
better, in the colouring and larger style of execution. 
I wish to prove that I have not seen Italy and Spain 
for nothing; and it now only remains to prove 
whether this improvement will be acknowledged in a 
place where the public eye has been tampered with 
like our Exhibition. 

Turner has told me of the copy Geddes has made 
of the Paul Veronese, which he spoke of with praise. 
Turner is painting, I believe, for the Exhibition, being 
uncertain of the arrival of his three Roman pictures 
in time. The Scotch Academy has bought Etty's 
large picture of Judith and Holofernes for 500 guineas. 
This is liberal, but is it prudent? I suspect our 
Transfiguration has been the cause of this. 

14 THE LIFE OF 1829- 

Woodburn has started for Madrid. Irving I hear 
of from Seville. 

D. W. 

In May, when the Academy Exhibition was opened, 
there appeared eight pictures from the hand of Wilkie, 
the full number which a member is allowed to exhibit 
at once. Of these, three were Spanish subjects, four 
Italian, and one the Portrait of a Scottish nobleman, 
the Earl of Kellie. The Spanish were all of an his- 
toric stamp, and related to wars of which the memory 
was still fresh, and the wounds of which had scarcely 
done bleeding. The Maid of Saragossa is alike 
the theme of the poet's song and of the historian's 
admiration. " The heroine Augustina," thus the 
artist describes the picture, " is represented on the 
battery in front of the convent of Santa Engratia, 
where, her lover being slain, she stept over his body, 
took his place at the gun, and declared she would 
avenge his death. The principal person engaged in 
placing the gun is Don Joseph Palafox, who com- 
manded the garrison during this memorable siege ; 
in front of him is Father Consola9ion, an Augustine 
friar, who served, with great ability, as an engineer, 
and who, with a crucifix in his hand, is directing at 
what object it should be pointed. Nigh him is seen 
Boggiero, a priest, famed for his heroic defence, and 
for his cruel fate when he fell into the hands of the 
enemy. He is writing a dispatch to be sent off by a 
carrier pigeon, announcing the awakening resistance 
of the place under a Spanish Joan of Arc." 

The Spanish Posada represents a Guerilla council 


of war, in which a Dominican, a monk of the Escurial, 
and a Jesuit, are deliberating on a scheme of national 
defence with a patriot in the costume of Valencia. 
Behind them is the Posadora, or landlady, serving 
her guests with chocolate, while a mendicant student 
of Salamanca, with his lexicon and cigar, is saying 
something soft in her ear. On the right a Bilboa 
contrabandist enters sitting on his mule, and in front 
stands a warring Castilian armed to the teeth, and a 
dwarf minstrel with a Spanish guitar: on the floor 
are seated a goat -herd and his sister, with the muzzled 
house-dog and pet-lamb of the family, while in the 
back ground is a distant view of the Guadarama 

The Guerilla's Departure exhibits a youthful war- 
rior taking leave of his Carmelite confessor, to join 
his confederates in the war. He is, with all the cool 
gravity of a Spaniard, lighting his cigar at that of the 
priest, to intimate, perhaps, that the strife caught the 
impulse of independence from the church. These 
three pictures, said the artist in the Academy Cata- 
logue, are part of a series of subjects intended to 
represent the class of patriots in Spain which the 
great War of Independence called into action. 

These pictures were rewarded with the applause of 
the public, who admired The Maid of Saragossa, a 
poetic subject, conceived poetically, and hastened to 
the Exhibition in crowds to see it. The four pictures, 
the produce of his study in Rome, had also their 
admirers : the patience and humility with which 
cardinals and priests and people of high degree per- 
formed the ceremony of washing the pilgrims' feet 

16 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

during the holy week ; the meekness with which a 
Roman princess with her attendants performed the 
same service at the same season to the female pilgrims, 
were not more interesting or more beautiful than The 
Pilgrims in the Confessional and The Calabrian Shep- 
herds hymning the Virgin on their Arrival at Rome. 
The portrait of the Earl of Kellie was painted for the 
county hall of the artist's native place ; and it may 
be questioned whether his joy of heart, when he 
placed The Maid of Saragossa in the royal palace at 
St. James's, equalled the great pleasure with which he 
hung the picture of a Fife earl in the county hall at 

Though a whole storm of criticism was poured 
upon his new pictures and his change of style, Wilkie 
endured it all with astonishing composure : he had made 
up his mind in the matter; he felt that if he con- 
tinued to work in his usual laborious style of detail 
and finish, he would never achieve independence, nor 
add another sprig of laurel to his wreath; so he 
resolved on fresh fields and pastures new, in spite 
of the warnings of friends and the admonitions of 

Of the friends of Wilkie who hailed his returning 
health and the fresh employment of his pencil, Sir 
Walter Scott was amongst the first and foremost. 
In the following congratulatory letter, Sir Walter 
requests his friend Wilkie to exercise his pencil in 
illustrating the new edition of the Waverley Novels ; 
a request, coming from the quarter it did, that Wilkie 
felt peculiar pleasure in at once acceding to. The 
inimitable little sketch of Young Peveril in The 

^Ex. 44. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 17 

Tower was one of the fruits of Wilkie's pencil in aid 
of Scott's republication. 


My dear Wilkie, 

I have long thought of writing to you, not 
merely to congratulate you on your return to Eng- 
land with new honours and amended health, in which 
all lovers of art and its productions are sincerely 
bound to rejoice, but to thank you for your kind ex- 
pressions to Cadell, intimating that you will, if possi- 
ble, contribute a sketch or two from your inimitable 
pencil, to ornament an edition of the Waverley novels 
which I am publishing, with illustrations of every 
kind, and in the success of which I have a deep per- 
sonal interest. You, who are beset by the sin of 
modesty, will be least of all men aware what a tower 
of strength your name must be in a work of this na- 
ture, which, if successful, will go a great way to coun- 
terbalance some very severe losses which I sustained, 
two or three years since, by the failure of Constable's 
house, and Hurst and Eobinson's, in London. But 
while I state this to you, because I know your kind- 
ness will give it more weight than I am sure it de- 
serves, I entreat I may not be considered as pushing 
or pressing you to do any thing inconsistent with 
your valuable health. What you can do, and when 
you can do it, must remain with yourself; and 
whether you should ever be able to accomplish your 
kind purpose or not, I will remain equally your debtor 
for the kindness which led you to entertain it. 


18 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

Our last meeting was a melancholy one. Let us 
hope for a pleasanter this next summer. If you try 
what the air of your own caller breezes can do to 
brace your constitution, after having seen warmer 
climates, you will find Conundrum Castle standing 
where it did, all the Fergusons in force and vigour, 
though the Knight Keeper limps a little, from the 
effects of his campaigns, or to keep his brother in 
chivalry in countenance. You will find the beef and 
kail as plenty as ever, and my landscapes of future 
woodland becoming daily more obvious to the actual 

I observe, with pleasure, that his Majesty has been 
taking your advice and Chantrey's (the best possible) 
on his Windsor arrangements, which form a great 
national object. I am inscribing this edition of Wa- 
verley, and its numerous plans, to his Majesty, on the 
principle in which Sancho sent acorns to the Duchess, 
because I have no other way of acknowledging many 
favours, I may say much kindness. Adieu, my dear 
Wilkie ; God bless you with complete health, and may 
you long be an honour to your country, and add to 
its fame and your own. 

Cadell proposes to be in London, and may perhaps 
deliver this; but, above all, do not let him worry 
you into taking up a brush a moment sooner than you 
feel you can do it happily and easily. Assure your- 
self that, if I should lose your assistance, my chief 
regret would be the state of your own health; and if 
I could think it was like to be in the least degree 
affected by it, I would not desire to purchase a selfish 
advantage at a price so dear. 

^Er. 44. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 19 

But, as slight sketches will altogether serve our 
turn, perhaps taking a step, or a hop, may encourage 
you to a long leap on some more important occasion. 
In which hope I rest, dear Wilkie, 

Faithfully and truly yours, 


Abbotsford, Melrose, 21st Dec. 

All the compliments and kind wishes of the season 
attend you. 

From the following letter it would appear that 
Wilkie had written of his illness at some length to 
his great and good friend Sir Walter Scott, not so 
much I suppose to excite the sympathy of Scott, as to 
apologise for not entering more laboriously into the 
task than he did of illustrating the re-issue of the 
Waverley Novels. Of Wilkie's willingness to aid 
him Scott was as fully sensible as he was of Wilkie's 

My dear Sir, Edinburgh, 23d Jan. 1829. 

Nothing could be more kind and gratifying 
than your obliging letter, which approving as I most 
highly did of the subject which'you have made choice 
of, I showed in great triumph to Mr. Cadell, my 
publisher, who wrote me the enclosed answer re- 
specting his hopes and wishes. His answer puts me 
in mind of that of the sailor, who, on being asked by 
a friend whether he chose to be treated to a draught 

c 2 

20 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

of porter or a can of grog, replied very considerately 
he would drink the porter while the punch was 

I do sometimes feel the sinking of the heart or 
failure of the hand to which you allude. It is I believe 
the penance annexed to the cultivation of those arts 
which depend on imagination, and which make both 
painter and poet pay for their ecstatic visions by the 
sad reality of a disordered pulse and stricken nerves. 
Sometimes this fiend, if resisted, will fly from you, at 
others it is best to avoid the struggle, and resort to 
exercise and light reading. In general I contrive to 
get rid of it, though the fits must be longer, and the 
gloom deeper, as life loses its sources of enjoyment, 
and age claws us in his clutch. So, according to our 
old wives' proverb, "we must just e'en do as we dow." 

I sincerely trust that, having tried with success the 
more genial airs of Italy and Spain, you will take a 
bracer this summer in your own climate, and will 
not forget to make me as long a visit as you possibly 

I am glad you are pleased with the tribute offered 
to you in The Antiquary, though it is a little selfish 
on my part ; for, after all, how could I better convey 
an idea of any particular scene, as by requesting my 
reader to suppose that you had painted it.* 
I am, my dear Wilkie, 

"With much regard, &c. 


* What Scott, and Wilkie refer to is the description of Muckle- 
backit's Cottage on the day of his son's funeral : 

" In the inside of the cottage was a scene which our Wilkie alone could 


Poor Allan is suffering much from his eyes, and 
Williams* is dangerously ill both men of merit 
and genius as well as of excellent conduct and 


,.. n ~. Foulden, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, 

My dear Sir, 12th Sept. 1829. 

I feel much gratified by your thinking of me. 
What you are pleased to request respecting Mr. Wilson 
shall be attended to on my return to London, from 
whence I have come to recover from the fatigues of 

Here there are no pictures, but nature is in great 
beauty, and in a high state of cultivation. Wishing 
you health and every happiness, &c. 

D. W. 


Dear Sir William, Windsor, 2ist A P rii,i829. 

We have proceeded but slowly, yet the portrait 
is advanced. I have been honoured by his Majesty 
with three sittings, which, weak as I am, I have made 
the most of, and have got the head completed. I 
must try the hands, which if they can be made like, I 
shall be satisfied, and proceed with the rest at home. 

have painted, with that exquisite feeling of nature that characterises his 
enchanting productions." 

Scott referred to Wilkie in the way that Fielding and Smollett appealed 
to Hogarth. 

* Greek Williams. 

c 3 

22 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

24th. Have had another sitting, which has helped 
me greatly. Seguier being present during the sitting, 
recommended two more sittings to be allowed me, 
to serve solely for the head. This has served as a 
stimulus, and detains me here still a week beyond 
the time we thought of. 

Your kind friends here have treated me most 
handsomely, though I have been ashamed of intruding 
upon them for so long. The ten days have advanced 
the picture considerably. 

25th. Yesterday and to-day have had two more 
sittings, in all six, with the promise of a concluding 
one to-morrow. His Majesty appears to take a good 
deal of interest about the picture. 

D. W. 

Milburn Tower, near Edinburgh, 27th Sept. 1829. 

Your letter was forwarded to me here, and I 
begin to answer it, having fresh in my mind the im- 
pression made by a visit to Hopetoun House, which 
Sir Robert List on has enabled me to make, now that 
I am with him in its neighbourhood. 

The structure is superb, and perhaps leads one to 
expect the vestibule or hall to be larger than it is. 
The Man in Armour, placed over the chimney-piece, 
in the first room, is a low-toned, deep, and rich pic- 
ture, the head being the chief and only light, and had 
that imposing effect, that it looked a dozen times better 
than when I first saw it at Tagliafico's. This, I find, 

^E T . 44. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 23 

has been much admired, and I only wonder that I 
thought so little of it. It is now a most striking and 
imposing picture. 

The Rubens next drew my attention, on the side of 
the room next the door, perhaps rather large for the 
room, and for its situation, but of a most commanding 
tone and appearance. The Yirgin's head, with the 
St. Joseph, and the heads near the Virgin, are very 
fine a perfect school for effect and colour. I do not 
know if this be a popular work perhaps not; but it 
is the chief work of art in the house, and gives a 
character to the collection. 

The Ecce Homo of Vandyke I also liked. This I 
must have seen before. Of the others, the Cuyp, with 
the men and horses, I was greatly pleased with. One 
remark I could not help making on looking over these 
pictures was, the attractive effect produced by tone 
and transparency. This strikes me the more, that I 
have been for some time away from seeing pictures. 

You mention again the Lomalini picture, and that 
the large family picture might be considered proper 
to recommend to Mr. Peel. As I am at a distance, I 
cannot ascertain his pleasure upon this, but think we 
must be guided by the following plan. The purchase 
of the Carega Bishop has been repeatedly proposed, 
and he has repeatedly given his order for the purchase 
of it, upon what you think reasonable terms. Let 
this, therefore, be alone thought of: take no steps, 
make no other offer, and only act if an advance is 
made to you, and if you think it necessary to prevent 
it falling into other hands. Do not let me ask for 

c 4 

24 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

new instructions. I feel quite assured The Bishop 
will justify the price ; and after it has been preferred, 
let there be no change : an unpleasant effect would be 
produced were it to fall into other hands. 

The Lomalini picture might possibly turn out 
better than it looks, as The Man in Armour has done. 
Callcott thought of it for Lord Caledon. I think 
that it, or the half-length of the lady, would be capital 
pictures for any gentleman to import for his own 
house ; but I suppose the terms for the large one 
would be high. 

The most striking picture I have seen in Edinburgh 
is Mr. Gordon's Velasquez. The head and hands of 
this are very fine, more complete and having more 
tone than the same picture in the Doria. 

The copy of The Transfiguration looks uncommonly 
well. It is on the staircase of the Institution. No- 
thing can look more like the picture. The purchasers 
seem pleased with it, but I doubt if it is likely to 
lead to any thing like imitation. I see none of the 
aspirants directing their attention that way. None 
of the painters have ever adverted to it to me. 

The differences between the Institution and the 
Scotch Academy have reached their maximum. The 
Institution has one principle of durability wealth. 
The Academy, to make up for this, have had recourse 
to speculation they have become at once what we 
in London have never ventured upon, The Patrons of 
Art, not only buying Etty's large picture, but giving 
some new commissions. This, even if successful, must 
come to a close. If an Exhibition can pay for the 



works of art that support it, and keep together an 
Academy at the same time, it will be something new. 
Still, unless the painters do as Raeburn did exhibit 
at their own houses (which we often wish we could 
do in London), the exhibition of the Institution, inde- 
pendent of them as it is, will not answer their pur- 
pose. It is said the law officers think the terms of 
the Institution Charter capable of accommodating all 
parties ; but it is evident that some time must elapse 
before the members of the Scotch Academy can be 
brought to this opinion. 

I heard lately, with regret, of the death of Hugh 
Irvine, at Aberdeen, and had to regret the loss of 
Williams in my late visit. I hope to hear a good 
account of Allan in the climate of Italy. 


In this visit to the North, Wilkie passed some time 
at Foulden in Berwickshire, the residence of a family 
of his own name and lineage, for whom he ever re- 
tained a strong regard: he made a few excursions 
along the border ; but his chief and ruling object was 
to confirm his own notions in his picture of the 
King's visit to Holyrood, for which he had, as has 
been related, made several studies. In the accuracy 
of this picture, both in scene and portrait, he was 
more than usually anxious. 

26 THE LIFE OF 1829. 


Dear Sir William, Kensington, sist Oct. 1829. 

Excuse me informing you that I am to-day 
arrived from Scotland, Abbotsford being the last place 
from which I started, where I left Sir Walter in good 
heart, being, as he says, " still keeping to the hill side." 
Should you be in town, it would gratify me extremely 
could I have the honour of seeing you. 











To his friend Andrew Geddes, then in Rome, Wilkie 
writes a long letter of news, in which he does justice 
alike to the works of amateur and artist Thomson 
of Duddingstone and Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

Dear Geddes, London, 8th Dec. 1829. 

Your letters from Rome reached me when in 
Edinburgh. You seem, upon the whole, disappointed 
by your first winter's residence in Italy, but I venture 
to predict, both for yourself and your good lady, that 
your second winter will be more comfortable. I found 
my second so much more agreeable than the first, that 
I would not venture a third for fear of destroying the 

Thomson of Duddingstone I saw frequently : he has 
an original and vigorous way of treating what he 

28 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

paints. He seems to be employed a good deal; but 
less for what he is original in than in what is more like 
other people. He has tried some things with extreme 
transparency, that to the eye of a painter are pleasing, 
but, from the want of detail and imitation, not likely 
to catch the common observer. He has a fine enthu- 
siasm about him, which every one must like. 

Lawrence has lately painted the young Queen of 
Portugal, but it is only a likeness : I expected it to be 
like one of the Infantas of Velasquez ; but you know 
Lawrence is always greatest where no one can ap- 
proach him that is, in female beauty. His portrait 
of the Duchess of Eichmond was beautiful. He has 
also had a portrait of Mr. Soane, and is now doing one 
of Wyatville in his happiest manner. 

With respect to my own occupations generally, the 
only labours we know much of, I may state what is 
now going forward. The King's Entry to Holyrood, 
so long interrupted, is now drawing to a close. It is all 
painted in, and waits only for the toning. A whole- 
length portrait of the King is also in progress, in the 
Highland dress. I purpose shortly, too, taking up 
another Spanish subject. 

Dec. 12th. Two nights ago Sir Thomas Lawrence 
delivered the medals to the students in the Koyal 
Academy. In his address he stated, that as Shakspeare 
was now admired even in France and Germany, so 
was English art by the same courtesy appreciated, 
and even its principles imitated by foreign professors. 
He wished, likewise, that the English students would 
allow the same homage to what was excellent in the 
schools of other countries, by devoting themselves 


more to the study of drawing. He here presented to 
the attention of the Academy a cartoon in chalk by 
the German Overbeck, now in Eome; which he re- 
commended to them as a lesson of that extreme 
fidelity and simplicity, in the details of the human 
figure, which in earlier times had been the forerunner 
of the highest excellence. 

has been this last summer to Boulogne, to 

make studies of the French coast, and has brought 
back new material for a time : a change of material, 
and even a change of style, is necessary to stimulate 
the painter as well as the public ; discrimination still 
is wanted to fix the kind and extent of change that 
will be permitted. 

In the theatres, Terry, your friend, is gone; the 
other stagers go on as before, with the exception of 
Fanny Kemble, who has produced that impression 
that the fortunes both of Covent Garden and of the 
Kemble family seem retrieved by it. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 28th Dec. 1829. 

It will give me great pleasure to have the 
honour of waiting upon you at dinner on Saturday 
next, agreeable to your obliging invitation. 

I had to-day a letter from Mr. Wilson at Genoa, 
in answer to one from me intimating your deter- 
mination respecting his services, and he requests me 
to express to you his most grateful thanks for the 
handsome present you have made him, for which he 

30 THE LIFE OF 1829. 

was about to draw upon your bankers. He says 
" he never thought he had a right to look for more 
than his per-centage, but is most satisfied with your 
goodness and consideration for him." His dealings 
being confined to works of a certain excellence, have 
been for that reason so few, that a per-centage upon 
the whole was not considerable; and he says that 
" but for your generosity he must have been a loser 
by his exertions." He repeats his request to me to 
thank you for your goodness. 

D. W. 

The health of Wilkie improved by his residence in 
Italy and Spain, and, confirmed by the success of his 
experiments in painting as well as on public taste, kept 
him in good working trim, and enabled him to pro- 
ceed with the difficult picture of his Majesty's entry 
into Holyrood, and to bring near to completion a 
national picture on which he had long set his heart 
Knox Preaching the Reformation into which he 
had infused, in a happy spirit, almost all the excel- 
lence of his new style, and the taste and propriety he 
had acquired in contemplating the masterly pictures 
of Italy. 

On the 7th of January 1830 art lost one of its most 
graceful ornaments, and Wilkie one of his firmest 
friends, by the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence. This 
distinguished person had been long in a declining 
way; but neither friend nor physician imagined death 
so near, and he enjoyed company till within a few 
hours of his last moments, and may almost be said 
to have held the pencil till his race of existence was 


run. No one felt more deeply than Wilkie the loss 
which art had sustained, nor could estimate more 
truly the value of the President's courteous manners, 
or the charm which had departed from the Academy 
in the loss of his counsels and compositions. In the 
following letter, though the pen was held by Thomas 
Wilkie, we have the sentiments of David: 


Kensington, 7th Feb. 1830. 

Previous to the 1st January, no person of Sir 
Thomas's acquaintance entertained any suspicion that 
he was unwell, or subject to any latent disease. He 
presided at the annual dinner of the Royal Academy 
on that day, and my brother again met him at a 
private party, on the 2d January, when he did not 
remark any perceptible change in his appearance or 
usual state of spirits. As that was the last occasion 
on which they met, my brother reflects, with much 
interest, on the conversation they had together shortly 
before parting for the night, which was on the com- 
parative merits of Sir Joshua, Vandyke, and other 
old masters. Of Sir Joshua, Sir Thomas spoke in 
terms of the highest admiration, and my brother has 
since remarked the circumstance as singular, that he 
of whom Sir Thomas spoke so highly is the only 
master with whose works his own will henceforth be 
brought into comparison. 

32 THE LIFE OF 1830. 

On his return home that night, it appears that Sir 
Thomas had felt himself uneasy, and called in his 
doctor, who, by bleeding, produced immediate relief, 
so much so, that, on the Monday and Tuesday, Sir 
Thomas employed himself in painting, and even went 
about town as usual. On the Wednesday morning 
he also made some calls, but towards the afternoon, 
it seems, he became suddenly worse, and was confined 
to his room. The apparent symptoms of his com- 
plaint, however, excited so little alarm, that he had 
one or two private friends with him that evening. 
They had, for amusement, been reading to him, and 
had retired to an adjoining apartment to take tea, 
during which they were suddenly roused by violent 
calls for assistance from the servant who remained in 
Sir Thomas's room. Medical aid was immediately 
called in, but without avail, Sir Thomas having 
breathed his last, apparently from the effects of ex- 
haustion. A post-mortem examination of the body 
took place, when it appeared that ossification of the 
heart had taken place, or was forming to some extent, 
to which therefore his sudden death may be attri- 
buted. You will, no doubt, have seen an account of 
the last honours the Academy had the means of 
paying to their distinguished President in a public 
funeral to St. Paul's, in the labours of which, by being 
Chairman of the Council, my brother took an active 
part. The whole passed over with that propriety and 
decorum becoming the solemnity of the occasion, 
and from the concourse of spectators of all ranks 
that were drawn together to witness the ceremony. 
It was evident the public interest was much excited 

^Ex. 45. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 33 

by all the circumstances and feelings with which it 
was connected. 

When all this was terminated, great anxiety was felt 
within and without the walls of the Academy relating 
to the person or persons likely to be preferred to the 
high offices held by Sir Thomas, viz. President of the 
Royal Academy, and Painter in Ordinary to his Ma- 
jesty, which were united in his person. The election 
of President was appointed to take place on the 25th 
ult., four days after the funeral, and various persons 
were spoken of as likely to be advanced to the chair. 
When the period arrived, there was a pretty full at- 
tendance of members (I believe 30), whose suffrages 
gave a large majority in favour of Mr. Shee, who was 
present and accepted the office, and delivered a very 
affecting address to his brethren who had placed him 
in this conspicuous and arduous situation. My brother 
was not present, being confined at home by a cold he 
caught while attending the funeral ; and the severity of 
the weather since has been such that he has scarcely 
ventured out of doors. On the morning of the 25th it 
was announced that his Majesty had been pleased to 
select my brother to fill the vacant office of Principal 
Painter in Ordinary to the King, an appointment pe- 
culiarly gratifying to him, and to which it is probable 
the circumstance of his possessing the office of Limner 
to the King for Scotland may have led. It is a re- 
markable occurrence to find the two offices united in 
one person ; more so, perhaps, than the observation 
made that Scotland and Ireland now divide between 
them the highest honours in art, previously centred 
in the person of Sir Thomas Lawrence. The office 

VOL. in. D 

34 THE LIFE OF 1830. 

of Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King, was in 
former times, from the business it produced officially 
a source of considerable emolument to the possessor ; 
but this, under the present system of economy in all 
public departments, has also been curtailed in its 

Such are the important events that have lately 
taken place here ; what their influence upon the en- 
couragement of the arts in this country may be, it is 
impossible yet to estimate ; but it is to be hoped that, 
as the patronage of portrait-painting will be more 
diffused the professors of that branch of art will not 
lack the talent to support it at the high elevation 
to which it attained in the works of the late distin- 
guished President. 

My dear Sir, Abbotsford, 1st Feb. 1830. 

I was deeply affected with your letter, which 
gave me the first sure information of the death of our 
excellent and talented friend, Sir Thomas. His style 
of talents, his habits and manners, were those of his 
native country, and England must always regret him 
as one of those to whom she could point as peculiarly 
her own, and claim the merit of the great talents 
which he essayed. I used to think it a great pity 
that he never painted historical subjects ; but then, 
like Sir Joshua, he often approached those confines 
where portrait painting and historical composition 
meet, and contrived to throw into the actual coun- 
tenances of living historical characters such expression 

Jr. 45. Sill DAVID WILKIE. 35 

of their actual qualities as made us at once unite the 
whole history of the man with his resemblance. The 
picture of the Duke upon the field of Waterloo, with 
his watch in one hand, and his spy-glass in the other, 
was an example of what I mean ; and I cannot be- 
lieve that Vandyke or any one else ever painted a 
picture of more expression ; at least I never saw such 
anxiety, joined with the most steady resolution ; such 
consciousness that judgment and science had done all 
they could, and that the crisis must terminate favour- 
ably, with such a natural feeling that the fate of the 
world was in the balance; and that the struggle, 
though a brief, must be a dreadful one. 

There was a picture of the Pope, too, which struck 
me very much. I fancied if I had seen only the hand, 
I could have guessed it not only to be the hand of a 
gentleman and person of high rank, but of a man who 
had never been employed in war, or in the sports by 
which the better classes generally harden and roughen 
their hands in youth. It was and could be only the 
hand of an old priest, which had no ruder employ- 
ment than bestowing benedictions. 

I had promised, at Mr. Peel's request, to commit 
myself once more to our president's important pencil; 
but death hath come between me and that chance for 
personal distinction. 

The loss to the Academy is no doubt very great : 
a star has fallen a great artist is no more. I cannot 
but think the loss will be filled up, however, so far 
as the presidency is concerned, by adding it to the 
designation on this letter. All who have heard you 
speak in high terms of your powers of eloquence ; and 

D 2 

36 THE LIFE OF 1830 

of your talents as an artist there can be but one 
sentiment. I heartily wish, for the honour of the 
Academy and the electors, that they may be of my 
mind, and I am sure that their judgment will be 
approved by all Europe. 

I spoke with a young friend lately, who gratified 
me by telling me how high The Reading of the Will 
was estimated in Germany, and ranked even above the 
best masters of their own school. I am extremely gra- 
tified by the sketch you did of my unworthy person, 
and still more for the Banquet at Milnwood inter- 
rupted by Bothwell, and also for the sketch of Old 

My best wishes attend Miss Wilkie, in which Anne 
begs to join. I hope you see Sophia sometimes, and 
the ladies indulge in a ballad together, being, as Virgil 
has it, 

Et cantare pares et respondere parati. 

I sometimes think of being in London in spring. 
I should wish to see what you are doing with the 
Spanish sketches, 

Of which all Europe rings from side to side. 

Adieu, my dear Wilkie. 

Believe me yours truly, 


To this I add with reluctance, that, though the 
king, the patron of the Academy, named Wilkie his 
painter in ordinary a polite way of intimating a wish 
that his brethren should elect him president, there 

2&r. 45. SIK DAVID WILKIE. 37 

was but one solitary vote (that of Collins's) recorded 
in favour of one who, as far as fame, and genius, and 
honesty go in the estimate of merit, stood second to 
none in the ranks of British art. For this I have 
heard it urged, that the president's chair is by use and 
wont the right of a portrait painter, and properly so, 
since the nature of his labours brings him much into 
the company of the titled and the far-descended, in 
whose hands the patronage of painting lies, and thus 
promotes art. Others, with more plausibility, argued 
that the situation of president resembles that of speaker 
in the House of Commons, who is chosen less for his 
eloquence than his knowledge of the etiquette neces- 
sary to be observed among those who are now and 
then inclined to forget that they are gentlemen at 
least by act of parliament. But the public at large 
comprehended none of these subtleties, and marvelled 
that the highest station was not awarded to the finest 
genius rather than to the readiest speaker; while 
others of the portrait brethren, whose sense of their 
own merit happened not to be small, scarcely concealed 
their disappointment at the tide of favour having 
flowed past them. 


Dear Sir William, Kensington, nth Feb. isso. 

The King's Entry to Holyrood, and The Gue- 
rilla's Keturn, are, I think, ready to be submitted for 
his Majesty's inspection, whenever I shall have the 
high honour to be commanded to do so. 

D 3 

38 THE LIFE OF 1830- 

I am now working upon the whole-length, for which 
I have a fine-looking Highlander for a model. 

Mr. Seguier has favoured me by looking at the whole, 
and encourages me in the whole-length. 

Mr. Dobree writes me word that he has at present 
no inclination to part with the picture of The Letter 
of Introduction. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 18th Feb. 1830. 

Extract of a Letter from Sir Robert Peel. 

"I believe you have not seen the pictures, or I 
would be governed by your judgment. I should wish 
to have the full length (The Lady and Page), and am 
not anxious about the smaller pictures, what most 
people would perhaps prefer. 

" Would it be possible for you to ask Mr. Callcott's 
opinion of the large picture ; and if he has a high 
opinion of it, will you be good enough to write accord- 
ingly to Mr. "Wilson?" 

Upon this I waited on Callcott, and his observation 
was, that as he had seen the pictures in question in so 
hurried a manner, and without any view to their sale, 
he could not now take upon him to give an opinion 
either of their merits or value. This I wrote to Mr. 
Peel, and have been favoured with his reply, which I 
give you at full length : 

" If Mr. Wilson thinks The Lady and Page a first- 

^Ex. 45. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 39 

rate picture by Vandyke, I shall be glad that he 
bought it on my account, on his principles of valuation 
suggested in his letter to you. I am content to abide 
by his judgment. I prefer it to the others on account 
of its size." 

The question of a first-rate picture by Vandyke 
you are perhaps more competent to judge of than any 
person I know. I, therefore, who cannot guide you, 
abstain from all remark. 


Dear Sir Kensington, 22d Feb. 1830. 

I do not wonder at the impression made among 
you in Rome by the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence ; 
here, it engrossed for a time every other pursuit. One 
of the last remarks he made to me, indicated his 
extreme admiration of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who he 
thought had, with Rembrandt, carried the imitation 
of nature, in regard to colours, further than any of 
the old masters ; at the same time he admitted Rey- 
nolds could not be felt or admired by foreigners. 
When you, on your return to England, first see again 
the works of Reynolds, pray take notice of the 
impression they make upon you. 


D 4 

40 THE LIFE OF 1830. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 7th April, 1830. 

The three pictures went yesterday to Somerset 
House. They have been seen by many neighbours, 
among whom were several of very high rank. In 
general, the large portrait is the favourite and striking 
picture. I find it would lead rne at once to full prac- 
tice in portrait- painting ; but my answer to enquiries 
is, that I mean to confine myself in these to what is 
required by the office I have the honour to hold from 
his Majesty. 

The pictures have next to go through the ordeal of 
the profession and the public. 

Five drawings, by Rembrandt, were brought me 
to look at yesterday, by a friend from Rome, who 
brought them for Lawrence. One, the Last Supper, 
is fine, and highly finished : a landscape, also fine. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 19th April, 1830. 

I had lately a rummage over Windsor Castle 
with Seguier, and the Vandykes there reminded me 
much of what I saw at Genoa, but with more detail, 
less breadth and less depth of colour, than those of 
Italy. The children of Charles, with the great Dog, 
and the Charles on Horseback, are amongst the finest 
of his works ; still they are silvery, and approach the 
want of richness of his latter pictures. Seguier thinks 


the Gevartius by Rubens, one of the finest pictures 
given to him in the Louvre, has the same doubt 
thrown upon it. 

In our rounds we stumbled upon two pictures high 
up, which Seguier said had once been true Correggios, 
but long since rubbed out and lost. They belonged 
to Charles I. I have not yet shown our Correggio to 
any new person, but I look at it day after day, and 
think it must be above common, to bear the scrutiny 
even of my eye, who look at pictures as much to learn 
from as to judge of them. It is my school, and I 
study it as a guide in my own manner of painting. 
In this pursuit some new discovery is always arising. 
You remember a globe that the woman and child are 
leaning upon : it appears simply blotted in, but much 
in the style of Correggio. Yitali mentions this globe, 
and calls it un globo terrestro. This is remarkable. A 
few days ago I discovered what he has not observed, 
and which you may also have probably overlooked ; 
it is a celestial globe, upon which the signs of the 
zodiac and the constellations are most delicately yet 
distinctly marked out, yet not obtrusive, as they are 
done with a master 7 s hand. I can show distinctly a 
bear, a crab, what appears a serpent, a dog, a fish, a 
bird, and other shapes, with indications of stars, which 
are less distinctly seen; but, observe this, the claws 
of the crab, and various of the shapes, are made by 
incisions of the pencil-stick through to the ground, 
and all of them so drawn upon the globe, fore-short- 
ened and otherwise, as to express its rotundity : these 
indicate the master's hand at work. Now could you 
ascertain, from any friend at Rome, whether any 

42 THE LIFE OF 1830 

similar shapes to these are to be found upon the globe 
in the Doria picture : if they are wanting in that, and 
if they are wanting in the finished Cartoon at Paris, 
then it would establish for the oil-picture a new claim 
to superiority. 

This Spring I have made another venture at the 
Exhibition of the Royal Academy, three pictures; 
one The King's Entrance to Holy rood : in this, there 
are some female heads, painted on the principle of 
Correggio, and have been much liked ; the next is 
The King, a whole-length, in a Highland dress, size 
of life ; and, having tried it in The Lord Kellie, of 
last year, I have made this the most glazed, and 
deepest-toned picture I have ever tried, or seen tried, 
in these times. It is at once a trial of Rembrandt all 
over, the dresses, the accoutrements, and throne 
gold, a dark back-ground, no white except on the 
hose and the flesh, telling as principal lights. The 
half-length Sebastian del Piombo at Genoa, gave me 
a hint for the style and air of the figure. The colour 
and effect, when in my room, was satisfactory; and I 
hope it will keep its ground in Somerset House. The 
third picture is the Guerilla's Return to his Family 
on his jaded Mule. This, in the Spanish style, as last 

Your picture of the Ripetta I saw at Hopetoun 
House : it looked extremely well, and had the ad- 
vantage of one that was arranged with it. I think 
of your earlier works, and that part of it that looked 
the best was that the most glazed the water. Rely 
upon it the richness of a picture is the quality that 
does the most for it in after-times. 


The landscape-painters here, who are coming for- 
ward, paint in a fatter style than formerly : still the 
transparency that glazing would give remains to be 


Dear Sir William, Kensington, 2d May, 1830. 

From Lady Lyndhurst I have had four sittings. 
She takes much interest herself about it, and says, 
that in doing so, she thinks she will get into your 
good graces. The Lord Chancellor, as well as her 
Ladyship, like the plan of the picture, and so far as it 
goes it promises well, and if I can get the expression 
it will please as a picture. 

Lord Melville has sat twice. He has a fine head, 
and powerful expression of eye. The dress he has 
brought with him is also finely adapted for a picture. 

The large Portrait of the King and The Entry to 
Holyrood, have got the two prime places in the Exhi- 
bition. The former is said, by friends, to look strong 
and rich. The low perspective is thought new and 
successful ; and I am encouraged by those about 
me, by my own feeling, to adhere to that style of 

Yesterday, at the Koyal Academy Dinner, the 
public solicitude about his Majesty's health seemed 
to give my humble endeavours a more than ordinary 




The study and the labour which the full-length 
Portrait of the King in the Highland dress took, 
together with the care and patience with which Wilkie 
wrought in the multitude of portraits in the King's 
Entrance into Holyrood, consumed much of his time : 
but when the Exhibition opened the approbation 
bestowed on them was, in the estimation of the 
artist, more than a compensation. The likeness had 
more manliness than the famous portrait of Law- 
rence ; and the royal tartan amid its checquered beauty 
had a harmony of light and shade, of which it was 
scarcely, till then, thought capable. It is true that, 
in a picture embracing a scene so various and vast 
as the King's entrance into Holyrood, parts disap- 
pointed expectation, or failed to fulfil that picture 
which fancy forms beforehand, from a popular sub- 
ject. It has been elsewhere hinted, that his Majesty 
preferred that overdone dignity which intercepts the 
simplicity of the composition, and is the chief blemish 
of the picture. "In the principal station," says the 
artist, " is represented the King, accompanied by a 
Page, and the Exon of the Yeoman of the Guard, 
with horsemen behind, announcing by sound of 
trumpet, the arrival of the royal visitor at the Palace 
of his ancestors. In the front of the King is the 
Duke of Hamilton, presenting the keys of the palace, 
of which he is hereditary Keeper. On the right is 
the Duke of Montrose, indicating the entrance of the 
palace, long unused by kings; where stands the 
Duke of Argyll, in his family tartan, as Keeper of 
the Household. Behind him is the Crown of Robert 
Bruce, borne by Sir Alexander Keith, hereditary 


Knight Marshal, attended by his esquires, with the 
Sceptre and Sword of State. On the left of the 
picture, in the dress of the Royal Archers, who 
served as the King's Body Guard, is the Earl of 
Hopetoun ; and close to him, in the character of his- 
torian, or bard, is Sir Walter Scott, accompanied by 
an eager crowd, anxious to gaze on their sovereign, 
about to enter the palace of his royal race." 

Of the two other pictures for there were four ex- 
hibited, The Guerilla's Return, and a Spanish Seno- 
ritta walking with her Nurse on the Prado of Madrid, 
the opinions were various, but favourable. The 
Guerilla, returned a victor though sore wounded, and 
with a brow in which pride strove with pain, ap- 
proached his native place. The Senoritta is one of 
those happy things of which an artist thinks too 
slightly to trust for reputation, but which extends it 
as surely as more ambitious compositions. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 23d May, 1830. 

The old pictures of Sir Thomas Lawrence have 
been sold. The Rembrandt (Bathsheba) sold for 150 
guineas ; but I find it is bought by Smith, the dealer, 
in Bond Street, who tells me he has offered it for 200 
guineas to a friend, who had not closed with him, but 
is subject to his acceptance at that price. 

Lady Lyndhurst's portrait is all painted in, and 
has just been seen by herself and the Chancellor, who, 
with others that have seen it, approve of it, both as a 

46 THE LIFE OF 1831. 

likeness and a picture. I like it myself, and am to 
get more sittings from her ladyship to complete it. 

Lord Melville's portrait is also in progress, the 
head nearly done, and I think like him. 

The collection of portraits by Sir Thomas Law- 
rence, at the British Gallery, I have just seen. The 
high rank of the parties represented, of whom six at 
least are sovereigns, gives great splendour to these 
works ; and the talent of a great master of his art is 
strongly evinced in all of them. Compared with the 
like exhibitions of Sir Joshua, the same variety of 
subject, or fancy in the treatment of them, is not 
perceived ; yet the interest of these is of a sort that 
addresses itself yet more to the world, and it will 
doubtless be a most attractive exhibition. A head of 
Mr. Hart Davis is thought the finest work there. 

D. W. 

During this season Wilkie lost his royal patron, 
George the Fourth ; but William the Fourth, with his 
throne, inherited the sentiments of his royal brother 
towards the artist, and continued him as his painter 
in ordinary ; a dignity of which the painter had a 
high idea. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 5th Jan. 1831. 

The Duke of Buccleuch has written me a few 
days ago, to request that the portrait of his late 
Majesty may be sent to him at Dalkeith Palace. I 


am therefore going all over it, to put it in prime con- 
dition, for hanging in the situation his Grace has 
fixed on for it. 

I proceed also with Knox. The canopy of the 
pulpit has taken me several days, but it amuses one. 
I am studding it all round with carvings, in low and 
high relief of saints, apostles, and martyrs, with che- 
rubims and seraphims supporting crowns over their 
heads. Perhaps some other specimens of this sort in 
the picture may be no bad indication of some of the 
labour which his preaching destroyed. 

The publishers of Sir "Walter Scott have again 
applied to me for a sketch from " Peveril of the 
Peak." Young Peveril, with the dwarf, Sir Jeffery 
Hudson, is what I have thought of. 

I have just heard from Woodburn, at St. Peters- 
burgh, where he has seen in the Hermitage the Rem- 
brandts, forty in number, many in his happiest time ; 
in fine condition, and worthy alone of the journey. 

I hope Mr. Knighton goes on with his pursuits in 
drawing. Rembrandt is his bias. Perhaps a habit 
of copying drawings, prints, or pictures would be an 
improving practice to learn imitation of objects. 

D. W. 


Horndean, 25th August, 1831. 

Sir William and the ladies are frequently re- 
gretting your departure. The time passes here very 
pleasantly. We have been all to-day at Portsmouth, 
where Sir Michael Seymour showed us the dockyard, 

48 THE LITE OF 1831. 

the block and baking machinery, with the Victory 
man-of-war, with the spot on which Nelson fell, and 
the small cabin in the cockpit where he died. Sir 
Michael has a family of handsome daughters, who 
added much to the cheerfulness of our party. 

We have dined at Mr. Eundell's, and at Captain 
Seymour's, and also at a magnificent place of a Mr. 
Dickson's, where we saw much costly grandeur. 
Indeed, Sir William seems to have gone from home 
more than usual since our being with him. 

I hope you find Brighton agreeable, and that Sir 
Peter and Lady Laurie will have the benefit of all 
the relaxation possible before the duties of their high 
station commence. 

D. W. 

In the May Exhibition of the Royal Academy in 
this year, Wilkie had two portraits, a head of Lady 
Lyndhurst, and a full length of Lord Melville. He 
had resumed his labours on the John Knox with a 
new kind of impulse, anxious to exhibit practically to 
the world the advantages he had derived from his 
intercourse with art abroad, and to paint a picture as 
perfect as it was in his power, to fit it the more for 
the gallery of his distinguished friend and patron, Sir 
Robert Peel ; every thing was set aside for this one 
object, and his correspondence even ceases for a time. 
The Lady Lyndhurst found many admirers, and in 
the Duke of Wellington a purchaser. It is a noble 
piece of colour, like Eembrandt all over, and has but 
one defect the eyes are two small. Lord Melville's 
portrait was painted for the University of St. An- 


drew's, a commission acquired through the fame which 
the full-length of Lord Kellie achieved for Wilkie. 


Kensington, 20th Oct. 1831. 

The picture of The Scottish Wedding, which 
belonged to our most esteemed Sovereign and Master 
the late King, has just been returned to me, upon the 
completion of the engraving ; and as it was at your 
most kind request that I obtained leave to engrave it, 
and as it would have been through you I should have 
chosen to repeat my acknowledgments to that Sove- 
reign (had it pleased God that his Majesty had sur- 
vived the completion of the work), I feel myself called 
upon to express to you again how much I feel obliged 
by this additional instance of his late Majesty's gene- 
rosity and condescension. This I feel the more called 
upon to do, since it has become my duty to deliver 
into your hands, as one of the executors of his late 
Majesty, the picture from which, in the space of two 
years and a half, the engraving has been begun and 

May I request of you to favour me with an autho- 
rity to return the picture, and to say to whom it 
should be delivered? I have a proof before letters 
nearly ready to send you. 

The proprietors and publishers are now considering 
about the dedication of the plate : I presume the com- 
pliment (if it is a compliment) must be paid to his 
present Majesty. Perhaps you could point out in 
what way this may be gone about. 


50 THE LIFE OE 1831. 

You will be pleased to hear that the King has sent 
for me to arrange about the sittings for his portrait 
for the Scottish Hospital. The reception was full of 
good humour, and has been very consolatory to me. 
This, as you know, was a matter of some anxiety. 



York Hotel, Brighton, 8th Nov. 1831. 

His Majesty has honoured me with two sit- 
tings, and every thing goes on well. I proceeded 
yesterday morning to the Pavilion, found the mate- 
rials arrived, and was told that the King expected me ; 
and before we could get the colours prepared, had a 
message to say his Majesty was ready to see me. He 
proposed at once to sit. I have had a second sitting. 
The King is full of condescension and good humour 
all that see the picture seem to think it most 

D. W. 


York Hotel, Brighton, 28th Nov. 1831. 

It appears to me that every thing has gone on 
favourably here, every assistance has been given me, 
the sittings, both in number and duration, have been 
exactly what I wished; and the portrait, if I can 
judge at all, appears to be satisfactory as to likeness, 
although adapted to the air of a state picture. Still, 
as you well know, it is the impression that it makes 


upon the public that must determine the success of 
such a work. 

One of the first questions asked me here was what 
had become of the late King's portrait? This was 
followed by a gracious command that I would write 
to Lord Melville to request arrangements to be made 
for its reception in Holyrood House. Upon hearing 
since from Lord Melville that his Lordship has set- 
tled this with the proper authorities, I have been 
again commanded by his Majesty to send off the pic- 
ture as soon as I get to town to see it packed. This 
I have great pleasure in informing you of, as executor 
to his late Majesty. 

D. W. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 20th Dec. 1831. 

The portrait of his late Majesty was packed 
and sent off by sea on Tuesday last, and is probably 
now in Edinburgh. 

I have had, since I saw you, a letter from Lord 
Melville, stating that as the King of France's resi- 
dence in the state apartments of Holyrood House 
would prevent the picture being seen by the public, 
if placed there in its intended situation, his Lordship 
proposed that it should first be exhibited at the Eoyal 
Institution of Edinburgh, which he was pleased to 
say would be a gratification to the public. I have 
written to Sir Herbert Taylor upon the subject, and 

E 2 



his Majesty, I have been informed in reply, entirely 
approves of the suggestion. 

You are so obliging as to remind me of the pro- 
posal you made me, that I should visit you this 
Christmas at Blendworth ; but you have well con- 
sidered the pressure of work to be got through before 
the Exhibition. This is such, that it requires I should 
entreat Lady Knighton and yourself to excuse me at 
this time ; the more so as you have given me the 
hope of seeing you soon, with Mr. Knighton, in town. 

In the event of this, I trust to seeing you re- 
peatedly, when you can honour me with a visit, and 
also that I shall Bave the pleasure of watching Mr. 
Knighton in his renewed pursuits, which, like the 
law or any other study, should be persisted in with 
all the discipline of a profession. A language is to 
be acquired which the discourse and practice of others 
is necessary both to acquire and to use ; at the same 
time he is one of those who will not be satisfied with 
the language alone, unless combined with the learning 
and the power it unfolds to the active mind. Will you 
please to state to him that six of the medals given by 
the President a week ago at the Royal Academy were 
given to Mr. Sass's pupils. 

D. W. 

For some time Wilkie had superintended the pro- 
gress which Mr. Knighton, the son of Sir William, 
made in drawing, a tasteful study to which he was 
much attached, and in which the great artist di- 
rected him with the hope that he would do honour 
to his instructer by the elegance of his productions. 


The hope of Wilkie young Knighton was not per- 
mitted to prove. The death of his father opened 
other prospects, and when he became a baronet he 
ceased to be a painter; but his esteem for his pre- 
ceptor was in nowise lessened. He continued to in- 
terest himself in his fame and fortunes ; and, like all 
the other friendships which Wilkie's genius and worth 
inspired, his survives and threatens not to die. 

E 3 











Kensington, 28th Feb. 1832. 

IN regard to my own doings here, about which 
the kind interest you take never fails to assist me, 
the portrait of the King is all painted in. Seguier 
did not propose any alteration, but wishes me with 
glazings to work it up to as much force in colour as 
possible. The Knox I expect to have in a frame in a 
few days. I have commenced glazing upon it, and 
have still six weeks to work up both pictures in. 


To the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1832, Wilkie 
sent a full length portrait of William IV., and one of 
the noblest pictures of the British school John 
Knox preaching the Reformation in St. Andrew's. 
He was stimulated to exert his genius on the great 
work of Knox, first, because the scene of the picture 
was laid near his birth-place ; secondly, because George 


the Fourth disliked Knox and his work, both of which 
Wilkie loved, and thought the subject a good one; 
and, thirdly, because Sir Robert Peel had put his 
confidence in the painter's taste, and commissioned a 
picture which he had set his heart upon painting. 
The Knox gives a vivid image of the stormy times 
which ushered in the Reformation : the old and the 
staid adhered to the faith of their fathers, the young 
and the stirring sided with those who desired change, 
and the great argument of salvation seemed about to 
be settled by the sword, when John Knox unexpect- 
edly precipitated himself upon the scene, and esta- 
blished the Reformation by his vehement eloquence, 
with some violence indeed, but little blood. The 
genius of Wilkie has taken up the story of the Re- 
formation at this point of time, and made a picture 
which forms a chapter of true history. He has deli- 
neated the interior of the Cathedral : the long aisles, 
the dim recesses, the symbols, and the images, are 
traced with equal effect and accuracy. Nor has he 
neglected to intimate that the ancient faith, though 
tottering, is not yet fallen. A crucifix, said to have 
been of great sanctity, is seen far in the distance, 
with devotees approaching it : angels and cherubs are 
wrought into the foliage of the pulpit canopy, while 
over all is seen the escutcheon of Beatoun, whose 
tragic death was accepted by many as a sign of the 
great changes which followed. In the Cathedral, a 
multitude of people are assembled some to oppose, 
and some to support the new doctrine; while Knox 
thunders forth one of those terrible sermons, which 
struck the church of Rome to its very root. 

E 4 

56 THE LITE OF 1832. 

In what may be called the fore-ground of the pic- 
ture, are several groups of the chief men of Scotland ; 
and though differing in character, and opposite of 
purpose, the eloquence of the Preacher has charmed 
them into composure, much in contrast with his own 
vehemence. Close to the pulpit are some of Knox's 
chosen friends: Bellenden his amanuensis, Goodman 
his colleague, together with the Grand Master of the 
Knights of Malta, Sir James Sandilands, in whose 
house at Calder the first Protestant sacrament was 
administered. An eminent St. Andrew's student, the 
Admirable Crichton, stands nigh, in his cap and 
gown : while immediately below the Preacher is 
Wood, the Precentor, with his hour-glass, to intimate 
the march of time, and the duration of the sermon. 
Lord Napier of Merchiston too is there, the future in- 
ventor of the Logarithms : nor should a young mother, 
who is desirous of having the babe in her bosom bap- 
tized, be overlooked ; in this way the artist intimates 
the fact, that the Reformers loved to christen children 
on momentous occasions, and also the confidence 
which Knox inspired. 

Immediately before the pulpit is a group of four ; 
namely, the Lord James Stuart, afterwards Earl of 
Murray, and a chief leader of the Congregation ; the 
Earl of Morton, the last of the old heroic race of the 
Douglas ; the Earl of Argyll, a young but an earnest 
Reformer ; and Cunningham, Earl of Glencairn, a poet, 
a warrior, and a fanatic. Morton leans on his sword, 
probably that which belonged to the great Earl of 
Angus ; Murray is in deep meditation, and Glencairn 
seems kindled up with the enthusiasm which dictated 


his address to " Our Lady of Loretto." A group of a 
different character appears in a side chapel, close to 
the reforming Lords. It is composed of three of the 
Eomish hierarchy, viz. Bishop Beatoun of Glasgow, 
the eloquent Hamilton the Archbishop, and Kennedy 
Abbot of Crossraguel, who maintained in other days 
the cause of his church against Knox in public disputa- 
tion. They seem deeply touched with the invective of 
the reformer. Kennedy is whispering to Hamilton, 
while a Jackman, a retainer of the cathedral, stands 
ready with his harquebuss, waiting the signal of the 
Archbishop to fire upon the Preacher. This, as may 
be imagined, would have been no safe exploit : besides 
other means and appliances the Admirable Crichton 
has his eye upon the Jackman, and his hand on his 
sword, though his mind seems with Knox. The artist 
has softened a little the sternness of the scene by 
placing the lovely and accomplished Countess of 
Argyll, natural sister to Queen Mary, between the 
fierce groups : she favoured the Eeformation, yet 
afterwards sympathized so much with her unhappy 
sister, as to be present at the baptism of Prince 
James, for which she had actually to endure a public 
rebuke ! 

These are the fore-ground groups. In the gallery 
of the church, some anxious auditors are collected : 
the chief of these are Sir Patrick Learmouth of Dar- 
sie, provost of the place; Andrew Melville, well known 
in church history ; and George Buchanan, the most 
accomplished scholar of the age. With these are 
mingled the professors of the University of St. An- 
drew's, citizens, and scholars ; together with peasants, 

58 THE LIFE OF 1832. 

monks, and soldiers. It is a moment of intense 
anxiety : the sunshine, which finds its way through the 
deep and sculptured windows of the Cathedral, shows 
the calm but anxious countenances of the opposing 
parties, and the spectator feels that they are waiting 
but for the conclusion of the harangue to burst into 
action. The deep lucid colouring, energy of charac- 
ter, beauty of grouping, harmony of light and shade, 
and the kept-down passions visible in the looks of all, 
are in the artist's happiest manner. 
The result of Knox's stern sermon may be related 
in a few words : the churches were ordered to be 
stript of all their images and pictures ; the monas- 
teries were thrown down, and the reformed worship 
was established by what was termed " a harmonious 

The other picture of this year's Exhibition, a Por- 
trait of William the Fourth, was the first fruit of 
Wilkie's appointment to the office of Painter in ordi- 
nary to the new King, and was praised for its vigour 
of colour, and fine light and shade ; but The Knox 
extinguished every other light, and was regarded as 
the triumph of the new style over both cavil and 
competition. Sir Robert Peel rejoiced equally in the 
success of his friend, and in the possession of this 
magnificent picture. 

Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 27th July, 1832. 

I have just had the honour to receive your 
very obliging letter, and will have the picture of John 


Knox delivered at your house to-morrow morning, 
before twelve o'clock. I shall attend to see it safe in 
a possession by which I feel it so much honoured. 

My pictures came to me yesterday from the Royal 
Academy. The frames always require to be looked 
at before they can be sent home. 

I am, &c., 

D. W. 

In September and October he shared in the elegant 
hospitalities of Drayton Manor ; and, as he loved to 
date letters from remarkable places, the two which 
follow in succession are from Sir Robert's residence, 
now celebrated by the painter's art and the poet's 


Drayton Manor (no month), 1832. 

We reached the mansion of Sir Robert last 
night, about nine o'clock, by moon-light; finding, 
without difficulty, a chaise at Stonebridge, to bring 
us the twelve miles after the coach set us down. We 
found all well, both the Baronet and his Lady, with 
a young family of most handsome children growing 
up. The only other visiters are Mr. and Mrs. Chan- 
trey, on their return from a rambling visit to the 

To-day we have been shown the splendid new 
house, to replace that of the old manor; and Sir 
Robert accompanied Collins and myself to 

" Tamworth town and hall," 



where we were extremely interested by the apart- 
ments and furniture of the old castle, once the pos- 
session of Lord Marmion. 

The Chantreys leave to-morrow. In our return, 
we mean to stop at Blenheim and Oxford. 

D. W. 

Dear Allan, Drayton Manor, 13th Oct. 1832. 

Your letter has interested me and various 
others greatly. All that relates to our great country- 
man departed claims from us not merely sympathy 
and regret, but suggests to us this idea, that no such 
opportunity of paying honour to genius can ever 
occur again. I find various friends of Sir Walter de- 
sirous to mark their sense of his worth and greatness, 
not in the usual way of monuments, but in an endea- 
vour to realise what was of all things the nearest to 
his heart his wish of securing Abbotsford to his 
family. Before leaving town, I heard something of 
the kind was in progress. Both theatres have adver- 
tised an apotheosis to his memory. 

I am here with Collins, who sends his best regards 
to you. We went two days ago to see 

" Tamwortb tower and town," 

which pleased me much, probably from its ancient 
connexion with the Lord Marmion. 

The Phillipses speak most favourably of your draw- 
ings made at Abbotsford, and also of your picture in 

^Er.47. SIB DAVID WILK1E. 61 

progress of Rizzio ; of which last they give us high 

D. W. 

^ . ^ 
It is almost needless to say that this letter alludes 

to the death of Sir Walter Scott, a man whose fine 
genius was perhaps the least of his merits ; who de- 
lighted the world from pole to pole by the inimitable 
force and variety of his talents, and charmed souls 
insensible to tale or song by the courtesies of his 
conversation and his genuine warmth of heart. 


Kensington, 25th Oct. 1832. 

Lord Pembroke has not called either upon me 
or upon Eastlake ; but this is not the time for people 
of his condition to be fixed in town. 

I have made several journeys this autumn, and 
went a week with Collins to visit Sir Robert Peel at 
Dray ton Manor. He is building an entirely new and 
splendid house, which, for a time, must divert his 
attention from the arts. In this new mansion there 
is to be a gallery for the portraits by Sir Thomas 
Lawrence. He has lately bought a Head of Dr. John- 
son, by Sir Joshua, and a Bust of Pope, by Roubiliac, 
both at Watson Taylor's sale. 

The death of Sir Walter Scott has made a great 
sensation. To some it has suggested ideas of erect- 
ing monuments to his memory in architecture and 
sculpture; to others, that of assisting in redeeming 
and settling Abbotsford upon his family, as the most 

62 THE LIFE OF 1832. 

appropriate monoment. Allan has written me a long 
account of his funeral at Dryburgh Abbey, at which 
he was present. How his affairs may turn out is 
still a matter of doubt ; prosperous they cannot be, 
and public feeling may cool before their actual state 
or their remedy can be determined: otherwise, why 
might not Abbotsford be made the Blenheim of 
literature? No such claim upon a nation's gratitude 
can ever occur again. 

Allan is painting The Death of Rizzio, which is 
well spoken of. Macdonald, the sculptor, has left 
Edinburgh for Rome, with some handsome commis- 
sions to execute. 

D. W. 

About this time I attended a meeting in London, 
in the Thatched House Tavern, respecting a monu- 
ment to the memory of Sir Walter Scott : Wilkie was 
there, and was much affected. Nine years afterwards 
I was present at a meeting in the same place to vote 
a statue to Wilkie himself. Some of the most distin- 
guished men of the nation attended both, and were 
alike touched with the greatness of their loss. 

Wilkie never laboured willingly, or with his whole 
heart, in portraiture; yet portraits flowed in upon 
him, such as he considered a duty to paint : one of 
these, The Duke of Wellington, and the Charger on 
which he rode at Waterloo, was commissioned for the 
Merchant Taylors' Hall, by Sir Claudius Stephen 
Hunter, and executed by the artist at Strathfieldsaye, 
with a success which gratified both his Grace and that 
opulent Company. 



Strathfieldsaye, 2d Nov. 1832. 

I have gone on regularly at the rate of two 
sittings a day, and think I have succeeded with the 
likeness, on which I mean to devote all the sittings 
his Grace may be pleased to give me. 

The Duke returns to town on Monday, but is to 
give me a sitting on Monday morning ; still I am not 
quite sure whether I return on the same day or not. 
The election at the Academy is an object. 

Here there is only the Duke and Lord Charles, his 
youngest son. The only strangers that have seen 
the picture, are Sir Claudius Hunter and Mr. Briskall, 
the clergyman, who called to-day ; both seem highly 
satisfied with it. 

The whole of this is to me a most interesting visit, 
and most interesting labours. 

D. W. 


Strathfieldsaye, Sunday, 4th Nov. 1832. 

I have had now about nine sittings, and to- 
morrow get one very early, which I expect will com- 
plete the head. His Grace leaves for town to-morrow. 
Finding that it would be convenient for me to paint 
in the horse here, he has requested me to remain in 
the house to proceed with it. This, I think, will take 
me till Wednesday. 

I think the Duke likes the head, and seems to wish 
me to get the picture done without delay. The horse 

64 THE LIFE OF 1832, 

being at hand can be painted easily, and at all hours, 
which could not be the case even were he brought to 

Give my best regards to Mr. Knighton. I hope he 
can go on with what he is doing, or with the copy of 
the Doge. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 12th Nov. 1832. 

Mr. Knighton goes on most assiduously, draw- 
ing morning and evening with Mr. Sass, and proceed- 
ing in his usual studies with me. 

I returned a few days ago from Strathfieldsaye. In 
four days the Duke gave me eight sittings, by which 
I have painted in the head, and remained two days 
after the Duke left, to paint in the horse. His Grace 
appeared to like the head, as did also some neigh- 
bours, but I have no idea how it will be liked here 
compared with what I have done before. The Duke 
was very gracious, and did every thing to assist me. 
There was only himself and Lord Charles, but the 
solitude was more exciting and more interesting than 
any society that could be imagined. 

A meeting of the friends of the late Sir Walter 
Scott took place on Friday at Bridgewater House, 
when the scheme of securing Abbotsford for ever was, 
I understand, set a-going with great enthusiasm, Lord 
Mahon in the chair, and about fifty most influential 
people present. 

D. W. 

^Ex. 47. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 65 

From the seat of the hero, the artist went to the 
residence of the prince; portraiture was the object of 
both visits. 

13. German Place, Brighton, 20th Dec. 1832. 

I have taken a nice lodging near the Marine 
Parade, in which I find we are much quieter than in 
the Hotel. 

His Majesty has been very gracious, but as yet has 
only given me two short sittings yesterday, and one 
long one to day. I think I go on well, but have not 
made much progress. 

D. W. 


Brighton, 3d Jan. 1833. 

Her Majesty has been most gracious in giving 
me seven sittings, of which one was in the costume 
of the coronation; I have, therefore, got the head 
much advanced, and the figure sketched in, but for 
these three days have been interrupted by a severe 
bilious attack (quite unusual to me), which came on 
on Tuesday, and in the middle of the night was so 
alarming, that we sent again for the doctor, who 
thought it necessary to bleed me to prevent inflam- 
mation ; this had a salutary effect, and, though it has 
weakened me much, the attack has subsided, and the 
doctor (Mr. Roberts) has put me upon recruiting diet, 




and says that in a day or two I may be able to get 
out again. 

This has of course delayed my labours, and my 
visit here. You will, perhaps, think of coming, but, 
as matters appear, I do not see the necessity. To- 
day I am again in the sitting room. 

The King invited me to the grand evening party 
last Friday; but this private. 

D. W. 


Brighton, 6th Jan. 1833. 

I think it would be as well that you should 
come here for a day or two. I am greatly better, and 
mean to recommence to-morrow, but, avoiding com- 
pany as I do, the evenings get dull, having no one to 
read to me, or even to assist me in writing a note. 
Without hurrying, therefore, you might get an inside 
place on Tuesday, and, if we know of it, Benjamin 
could meet you, and we shall find some place up 
stairs or next door for you. 

D. W. 


Brighton, 9th Jan. 1833. 

Last week, after being honoured with seven 
sittings, (one was in the entire costume,) I was taken 
ill with a bilious attack, which required the doctor to 
be sent for in the middle of the night. There was 
every appearance of fever about me, and I was bled. 


This laid me up five days, but on Monday last I was 
again at the palace to resume my work. 

Seeing the picture with a fresh eye, and properly 
hard and dry, I have brought it up a great way these 
two days, and having a sitting to day of an hour and 
a half, I have advanced the head, both in likeness and 
effect, to a point which I think makes the picture 
secttre. The dress too in material of colour is very 
favourable, and gives me the hope that the picture 
will have an elegant and imposing effect; still I 
depend upon the impression it makes, when seen by 
friends and foes in London, but this I find, I cannot 
hurry, being desirous to take all the assistance I can 
get here, before I leave this place. 

I am at present in a difficulty in which I must seek 
your advice. The Duke of Wellington about six 
weeks ago requested me to assist at the tableaux 
proposed by the Marchioness of Salisbury, to be made 
in the ensuing week at Hatfield, since which I have 
been in communication with her Ladyship, and have 
been making drawings (all from Sir Walter Scott's 
novels) of the arrangement of the figures, expecting 
that my labours here would be over in time. Now, 
as this is not the case, and I am expected as an 
assistant at Hatfield, and have been consulted here by 
several ladies who are to appear in the tableaux, 
do you think I might ask for leave of absence from 
Her Majesty, and for leave to resume my work here 
afterwards ? I shall perhaps also ask Sir Herbert 
Taylor for his advice. 

I think this an occasion for such a step, having 
been asked by the Duke, and knowing that it is too 

F 2 

68 THE LIFE OF 1833. 

late for the Marchioness to get any one to assist in 
my place. 

D. W. 


York Hotel, Brighton, 13th Feb. 1833. 

I have not yet taken leave, and may still have 
a sitting to-morrow, but have ordered the van down 
ready for departure. The great people have been 
very gracious, and I have got through a great deal of 
work. I have also been among some of the gaieties 
in the society of Brighton. 

D. W. 

Dear Collins, Brighton, 14th Feb. 1833. 

I fancy how little I am doing, and what a deal 
you have done since I saw you. For this year you 
will be strong, while my year's labour is divided out 
into so many beginnings, that I shall be hurried now, 
to get one finished. I was gratified to hear a very 
favourable account of the appearance, and impression 
made by your Skittle Players in the Gallery. May 
not this lead to something? "When little bits are in 
such request, have standard works no chance? 

Here there is nothing connected with art, and few 
to talk to, particularly for one whose occupations do 
not admit of mixing with society. I saw a brother 
of Sir Eobert Peel's a few days ago, who was at 
Dray ton before we came, and regretted he could not 
stay till our arrival. 

D. W. 


Wilkie, as we have seen, was taken ill during his 
professional visit to Brighton, from which his sister's 
tenderness, and the physician's skill, recovered him : 
a fit of despondency, occasioned by feeling how little 
he had done, and how much he had tried, next seized 
him, which departed after he had unburthened his 
heart to his friend Collins: while, with the success 
which attended him in the sittings for the king's 
portrait, his health and his equanimity of temper 
returned, and he mingled amongst the gaieties of 
Brighton, and returned to Kensington with something 
of regret. 

Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 3d March, 1833. 

The enclosed letter from Mr. Gibson, the dis- 
tinguished sculptor in Rome, has been handed to me 
by my friend Mr. Geddes, A.R.A., with the view that 
I might explain to you, in case the request made by 
Mr. Gibson for a drawing from a picture in your 
possession is such as it may be your pleasure to 
comply with, that Mr. Geddes has agreed to make 
the drawing for Mr. Gibson, which he thinks he could 
complete in one morning, and seems most desirous of 
doing so at the time and in the way that would be 
the least inconvenient to yourself or family. 

D. W. 

During the season in which Wilkie charged his 
pencil with idleness he had, besides The Duke of Wel- 
lington with his Charger, and King William in the 

F 3 

70 THE LIFE OF 1833. 

Dress of the Grenadier Guards on his easel, painted 
The Spanish Monks in the Capuchin Convent at To- 
ledo, and that first of all modern portraits, for truth 
of character and harmonious brightness of colour, the 
Duke of Sussex, as Earl of Inverness, in the costume 
of a Highland Chief. Against the latter no picture 
in the Exhibition of 1833 could stand: it seemed to 
lighten all around. 


Kensington, 18th July, 1833. 

I fear I must now give up the hope of waiting 
upon you at Blendworth upon this occasion. This 
week I have been detained till to-day, to accompany 
the Lord Mayor on the water excursion to Twicken- 
ham ; and I learn that there is a chance the King may 
visit the Exhibition on Monday, which would require 
that I should attend, as I have done on former visits. 
Having in this way no interval long enough to come 
to you, I must entreat of you, and of the ladies, and 
of Mr. Knight on, to hold me excused for this time, 
particularly as every hour has been occupied here in 
pressing forward the works so necessary to be brought 
to a close. 

On your, return to town on the 26th, the Queen's 
picture will be ready to submit to her Majesty; and 
the two copies of the King's portrait in a state near 
completion. I have also got the little picture from 
" The Gentle Shepherd " in a state of great for- 

D. W. 


My dear Mr. Knighton, Strathfieldsaye, 6th Sept. 1833. 

For the last week this stately mansion and 
domain has presented to me every thing that is beau- 
tiful and interesting ; still, the relaxation a visit to 
the country is expected to give has not met me here : 
on the contrary, day after day has succeeded, with 
the same hard working, as if time were pressing un- 
ceremoniously at home. 

May I hope that you are making a more reasonable 
use of the occasion for field-sport this fine season 
seems to offer. Pray let me hear from you. 

Kensington, 9th September. 

I left Strathfieldsaye on Saturday, and expect my 
two pictures to follow me to-morrow. They are con- 
siderably advanced ; but till I see them here, and 
judge of them through the eyes of other people, as 
well as by my own, I cannot tell what they are like. 
The Duke gave me sittings for head, hands, dress, 
and accoutrements ; which I felt as important assist- 
ance, at the same time that I felt it as a claim for a 
degree of excellence the picture I fear cannot realise. 

In coming home, I stopped two days near Strath- 
fieldsaye with a friend, Mr. Anderson, who has a 
most interesting collection of Italian and Dutch pic- 
tures. I am now pushing on the copy of the Queen, 
which advances apace. 

D. W. 

F 4 

72 THE LIFE OF 1833. 

The Orchard, Niton, Isle of Wight, 27th Sept. 1833. 

Here again in this little paradise, where all 
around is kindness. I left Blendworth on Saturday, 
from whence Mr. Knighton accompanied me to Ports- 
mouth and Eyde, and met Mr. Utterson, with whom 
we stopped till Monday morning. At Eyde, whom 
should we meet with but Lady Macdonald and 
Miss Henrietta. They had received an invitation 
to Niton, because I was to be there; but this they 
have delayed, and in place thereof have pressed me 
to visit them on my return. 

I have met with a most kind reception here from 
Sir Willoughby and Lady Gordon and family. Miss 
Gordon is greatly better, and looking extremely well, 
and of course most interesting. In this beautiful 
place, and with such friends, I have not determined 
yet upon my return. I thought of Saturday, but 
will most likely stay over the Sunday. At Kyde I 
shall stop a day at least ; indeed, but for the copy of 
the Queen's portrait, I should try to be away much 

D. W. 

I hope Sir Peter and Lady Laurie are perfectly 
well. I never enjoyed two journeys more than those 
to Eastbourne and Walford. 

There were attractions after his own heart for 
Wilkie in the Isle of Wight. At Appledurcomb he 


found some works of his favourite Velasquez ; and in 
the portfolios of Mrs. Arnold and Miss Gordon he 
found drawings of the best masters of Italy, and 
sketches and etchings, done by a gentle hand, and with 
a skill beyond common. The young gentleman to 
whom the succeeding letter is addressed is one of the 
sons of Sir James Hall of Dunglass, a lover and a 
follower of art as well as literature. 

Mv dear Sir Kensington, London, 27th Jan. 1834. 

It is gratifying to me to find myself remem- 
bered by you and by Captain Basil Hall, and the 
family around you, amidst the attractions of the 
eternal city ; quite sure as I am that every thought and 
reflection on what you have seen there, and on the 
journey, would be to me and my household (who are 
much pleased by your notice of them) subject of 
interest and information. 

Of your route the only part I have not seen is that 
from Turin to Nice, and from Nice to Genoa ; but in 
proceeding from thence hope you did not miss Lucca, 
where is the famous Fra Bartolomeo] The Assump- 
tion of the Virgin ; a work produced before the ma- 
turity of Raphael and Michael Angelo, but, in colour 
and effect, anticipating all the improvements that 
aftertimes have in these qualities accomplished. 

Indeed, in your visit to Italy you will be frequently 
struck, as you will be in every quarter reminded of it, 
by the works of the period of the early growth of the 
art. These, with the greatness afterwards attained, 

74 THE LITE OF 1833. 

have somewhat the connection of cause and effect. 
The German students, with the labours of one of whom 
you have interested me, have founded their process of 
study upon this, that by the study of the same ma- 
terials with Raphael, they might arrive at the same 
excellence. This, though in their hands carried to 
excess, with a kind of heraldic minuteness and detail, 
bordering too much upon Albert Durer, is yet a more 
reasonable system than that of Mengs and David, who, 
with an aim the converse of Bernini in reducing 
marble to the picturesque, have imposed upon paint- 
ing the feeling and restraints of ancient sculpture. 
Still, in the works of these Germans, which I admired 
extremely, there is too much left out and dispensed 
with, for qualities long left behind in the march of 
invention. The world that has once seen the grandeur 
of Michael Angelo and the breadth of Rembrandt is 
incapable of being excited by early simplicity : it is 
only as a part of a study, and not as a whole, it is 
valuable ; and could their system serve us, which I 
think it may, as the Border Minstrelsy did Sir Walter 
Scott, it would be to any student a most admirable 
groundwork for a new style of art. 

The account you give me of Overbeck's subject as a 
companion to the School of Athens, an Assemblage 
of the Painters not living, for Frankfort, I was 
gratified with. It is a bold idea, which all must wish 
successful; but is not the subject a little too profes- 
sional for a great work, too much of the shop, and 
not enough of the business of life, for the apprehen- 
sions of people at large ? 

It gives me pleasure to learn, from yourself as well 

2Ex. 49. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 75 

as from the obliging note of Captain Hall, that you 
seize the occasion to cull the essences of the great 
masters for a future day. Of the sketches you are 
making (if I may venture to predict) those from the 
Stanzas and the Sistine Chapel you will prize the 
most, when you return to us here ; but whatever you 
do should be in colours : these, in the two great mas- 
ters, though subservient to a higher object, are often 
most skilfully arranged. 

You gratify me by the account you give of our 
friends in Rome, and most glad I am to hear of the 
successful picture by Mr. Wilson of Valambrosa. 
Here there are two pictures of his going to the Gal- 
lery, Pall Mall, which Mr. William Russell requested 
me to look at : one, a shipping scene near Genoa, is 
very beautiful, but I fear too small for an exhibition. 
Pray remember me to him. 

Complaints of apathy and dullness still pervade our 
atmosphere of art. There is little stirring, and 
nothing on a large scale, if I except a picture Jones 
is painting eight feet wide, I believe referring to Car- 
dinal Weld. Eastlake is painting a picture of a sub- 
ject at Padua, of which they speak favourably. Roberts 
has returned from Spain, with a picture he has paint- 
ed very beautifully of the interior of the cathedral of 
Seville ; and the new Academy is now having its foun- 
dation cleared, in order to commence building. 

All this is cheering ; but I regret to add, that Mr. 
Callcott, our neighbour, continues much in the same 
declining state; and that the distinguished artist, 
Newton, has been some weeks seized with mental 
derangement, now confined in a madhouse in the 

76 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

Eegent's Park, separated from his young wife, whose 
case, having left all her relations in America to settle 
with him here, is pitied by every body. 

Pray give my very kind regards to Captain and 
Mrs. Hall, 

And believe me most faithfully and truly yours, 


My dear Sir ^ Terrace, Kensington, 1st March, 183.4. 

After reviewing with much attention the two 
pictures by Correggio, The Ecce Homo and The 
Mercury teaching Cupid to read, belonging to the 
Marquess of Londonderry, I have great pleasure in 
expressing to you my hope that they may become the 
property of the nation. 

They are undoubtedly originals of the great Italian 
painter, possessing, with the fascinations of light, 
shadow, and surface, so peculiar to him, that richness 
of colour and intensity of expression which give to 
his works so much of their value and their influence ; 
and whether to interest the public in the higher pur- 
poses of art, or to guide the taste of the student, 
would, to the gallery now forming, be a most desirable 

Of the justness of the sum for which they are 
offered, 12,000/., I cannot, from my experience in 
such transactions, be a judge ; it is certainly a large 
sum for two pictures; but giving this difficulty its 
due weight, I would decidedly concur in giving this 
sum, rather than let them go out of the country, con- 


sidering the rarity of such specimens even in foreign 
countries, and the excellence as examples of the high 
school to which they belong, to which it must be the 
aim of every other school to approximate. 

I have, &c. 

IX W. 


Kensington, 2 1st March, 1834. 

I have only to repeat my obligations for the 
opportunity you have given me of painting a subject 
the size of life, and for your kindness in allowing me 
the payment for it in so handsome a way before the 
delivery of the picture. 

The picture of The Spanish Lady and Child has 
done me one service, which you were probably in 
hopes it would do it has obtained for me the privi- 
lege of painting a subject the size of life. Mr. Mar- 
shall, of Upper Grosvenor Street, has, on seeing it, 
written to me to know if I would paint the Pope and 
Napoleon for him, and of such a size as I might think 
advantageous for the expression of the picture that 
is, near the size of life. 

In answer I have stated that Mr. Holford, of the 
Isle of Wight, asked me last autumn to paint the 
Columbus for him; and on answering that I was not 
at liberty to engage for this subject (you, sir, having 
spoken to me about painting this the size I wished), 
he then asked me if I would paint the Pope and Na- 
poleon for him, that I might paint either the size of 
life, but that whichever I painted must, on account 

78 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

of his advanced period of life, be begun immediately, 
and lie would pay me the half price before I began. 
I told him my engagements, if wanted immediately, 
would not permit ; and so the matter dropped. 

Now, dear sir, as you did me the great favour 
some time back to speak of the Columbus as one you 
might employ me upon the size of life this 
matter must entirely rest with you ; at the same time, 
as I am all ready, panel and every thing, to begin the 
Napoleon on St. Bernard for you at your command, 
and as you, subsequently to speaking about the Co- 
lumbus, gave me the very handsome order for The 
Mother and Child, already done, and may perhaps, in 
that, have answered the purpose you intended by the 
Columbus, I make bold to ascertain your pleasure 
upon the subject ; and in case you should not parti- 
cularly want the Columbus, I might offer it to Mr. 
Holford, and leave the Pope and Napoleon open for 
Mr. Marshall. Pray be so kind as to judge according 
to your own wishes in this. 

Mr. Knighton leaves his study here considerably 
advanced, and in every way successful. He made 
drawings of the little boy's head and hands. These 
took him about a week; and he has now begun to 
paint in the head, in the true style of Murillo. In 
this way every new picture he proceeds in is a step 
nearer to his own original invention, and an advance 
in the power, not only of doing what he sees before 
him, but what he imagines. With the study of the 
antique and the old masters, and this kind of pro- 
cedure, he may, and will, with his steadiness of per- 
severance, do any thing he pleases. 

D. W, 


Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 26th April, 1834. 

I have just been making arrangements for the 
engraving, with your obliging permission, of the pic- 
ture of the Preaching of Knox, in the line manner, 
and I hope in the best style that can be done in the 
present time, and with the positive engagement that 
the picture shall be returned to you in three years. 

May I, therefore, beg to know if you approve of 
this, if I could have the picture to my house, that it 
may be put in hand without delay, intending to have 
it insured from fire from the moment of receiving it, 
and to take every precaution for its safety in other 
respects also while in the hands of the engraver. 

D. W. 


To the Exhibition of 1834 Wilkie sent six pic- 
tures, viz., 1. The Portrait of the Duke of Wellington, 
as Constable of the Tower, with his Charger; 2. Not 
at Home; 3. Portrait of the Queen, in the Dress 
worn at the Coronation ; 4. Spanish Mother and 
Child; 5. Portrait of Sir John Leslie, Professor of 
Natural Philosophy; 6. Portrait of a Lady. Of these 
the Spanish Mother was a conception of great beauty ; 
and the Not at Home a sally of impudent humour 
familiar to London, when a wit of the town finds it 
more convenient to insult a creditor than to pay him. 
The portrait of Queen Adelaide possesses an air of 
gentleness and courtesy, inherited rather than put 
on ; and the colouring had the same quiet grace. 

80 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

To his friend Sir William Knighton, then at Blend- 
worth, Wilkie wrote the following letter about this 
year's Exhibition. The Spanish Mother and Child 
was painted for Sir William Knighton ; but the cir- 
cumstance, as will be seen, was kept a secret. 


Kensington, 2dMay, 1834. 

We were let in last Monday, but I have waited 
till the day of the private view, to inform you of the 
position of my pictures. The Queen is in the centre, 
over the fire-place; the Not at Home underneath, 
and next the centre picture and the Spanish Mother, 
making the half centre, between that and the bottom 
of the room, directly opposite a distinguished and 
distinguishing place. The Spanish Mother appeared 
to be thought by all to look so well that not a touch 
was proposed, and not a touch either of oil or varnish 
was put upon it, a wash of cold water being found all 
that was wanted to make it bear out with the pic- 
tures round it. The Duke of Wellington is at the 
head of the room, Sir Martin's King being in the 
centre : it is on the right of the King, with a picture 
between, and, though a distinguished place, rather 
too near the corner. The Duke is to dine at the 
Academy to-day ; he may think it a little too much 
toward the side ; but I am more than satisfied, as I 
have four pictures in the great room, and three in 
prime places. 

The King and Queen came yesterday. The Queen 
appeared kind, thought the Duke extremely like, 

ZEx. 49. 


talked of her own picture, which I find rather a 
favourite, and spoke with much satisfaction of the 
Spanish Lady. The King called me to him when he 
came before it, and spoke quite loud out as approving 
of the expression of the child. When the company 
came afterwards, I found all, particularly ladies, ap- 
proving of this picture ; and a nobleman of high rank 
sent to know if it was bespoke ; to which I answered, 
that a kind friend to whom it belonged had, I might 
venture to say, that attachment to it which arises 
from its being a subject of his own choice before it 
was painted. 

At a council held about a week ago, Mr. Knighton 
was regularly admitted as a student of the Royal 
Academy; a step gained that many of my friends 
would be glad they had gained in any stage of their 
progress. He is now with me, making drawings to 
paint from, and, although interrupted by the var- 
nishing days, goes on unremittingly. 

The newly-acquired Rembrandt he has brought 
out here to be by him; and I must say my first 
favourable impression is fully confirmed by a review 
of it. This would be a picture of consequence in 
any gallery a beautiful and unexceptionable speci- 
men and as a model to form a style most instructive 
and satisfactory. 

My sister was asked at all hands yesterday, at the 
private view, who the Spanish Lady belonged to ; and 
her ingenuity was put to the test in every way, to 
parry oif the question. 


VOL. ill. G 

82 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

Dear Sir Kensington, 28th May, 1834. 

I now take the liberty to inform you that I 
have this day signed an agreement with Mr. Moon, 
Publisher, Threadneedle Street, that the plate of The 
Preaching of Knox shall be engraved by Mr. Doo, 
into whose possession, at No. 10. Adam's Terrace, 
Camden Town, I am for this purpose to deliver the 
picture to-morrow, and who has become bound to let 
me have it, that it may be returned to you, at the 
end of three years, from the 1st of June just ensuing. 

In the arrangements made, every consideration has 
been given to the care and security of the picture, 
and a consideration being made to me expressly by 
Mr. Moon, the work will be proceeded in through all 
its stages under my superintendence. 

The parties engaged seem highly satisfied in com- 
mencing the undertaking. The plate is to be of a 
large size, 28 by 22 inches, and in the best line man- 
ner, and will, I trust, when produced, be found a 
worthy object of the approval of your known taste 
and judgment. 

D. W. 


My dear Sister, Oxford, loth June, 1834. 

On reaching Oxford I was agreeably surprised 
to find Mr. Knighton waiting for the coach. He has 


succeeded in getting an excellent lodging from a 
friend, obliged to be absent ; where we are both most 
agreeable stowed. On Sunday we dined in Christ 
Church College Hall. Yesterday we hired a gig, 
and drove to Woodstock and Blenheim, and to-day 
we were all ready early to get in to see the Duke take 
his seat in the theatre. We heard him read his Latin 
speech. He acquitted himself remarkably well, and 
was received in a most enthusiastic manner. In the 
afternoon we had a grand concert, where we attended 
for a short time. The music was an oratorio, by 
Dr. Crotch, at which Braham, Phillips, and others 

The ladies of rank and fashion here are very nu- 
merous, and the dresses very elegant. The Duchess 
of Buccleuch, Lady Salisbury, Lady Cowley, Lady 
Stanhope, and Lady Lincoln, were among the num- 
ber, I saw. 

I am now thinking of returning; but the chief 
difficulty is the getting a place in the coaches, which 
makes the day of return uncertain. 

D. W. 

At Blenheim, after having gazed as if he could 
have gazed his soul away at the magnificent pic- 
tures of Rubens, the finest reckoned in the island, 
Wilkie visited the Titians, which, on account of the 
freedom with which they represent the intercourse 
of the Gods, are kept private. Though he disliked 
all indelicacy of sentiment, he could not but admire 

G 2 

84 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

the exquisite richness of colouring in some of those 
compositions. The succeeding letter is addressed to 
his sister at Frankfort, who was then travelling with 
Sir Peter and Lady Laurie, the kind and unchang- 
ing friends of Helen as well as David. 

My dear Sister, Kensington, 2d August, 1835. 

Visiting is almost given up ; parties are over ; 
and the town is thinning fast. Ten days ago I was 
present at a very grand party. Lady Holland sent a 
note to me to come and drink tea about 10 o'clock. 
I accordingly went, sure to meet some great people. 
The party was very great indeed, and were then 
joining us from the dinner-table in the library. So 
high, indeed, was the party, that I will not say that 
it was not even graced by Majesty! As it was, I felt 
myself a very inconsiderable person. Her ladyship, 
however, contrived in the kindest manner to get me 
spoken to by the great star; and the others, who 
were scarcely less than ministers of state, were very 
obliging and civil. They consisted of Earl Grey, Lords 
Brougham, Melbourne, Carlisle, Duncannon, and 
Mulgrave, with the Duchess of Bedford, Lady 
Cowper, &c. 

Earl Grey, though robbed of that imposing aspect 
which the possession of power gives, accosted me with 
much kindness, and received with much complacency 
the compliments I paid him upon what he had been 

^Er. 49. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 85 

doing for the arts during his administration : the 
building of the new Academy, and the purchase of 
the Correggios for the National Gallery ; which I 
said we gave his lordship the chief credit for. The 
party went off extremely well, and at 11 o'clock 
broke up, the illustrious visitor taking leave to start 
for Windsor Castle. 

D. W. 

G o 

86 THE LIFE OF 1834. 








IN the autumn of this year Wilkie visited Scotland, 
of which he gives an account to his sister : it was one 
for health and friendship rather than for study. The 
account of his interview with his accomplished friend 
and relative, now sinking towards the grave, is as 
interesting as it is touching. Wilkie writes from 
Fern Tower, the noble mansion of his friend, Lady 

, r , . Fern Tower, Perthshire, 

My dear bister, 29th Aug. 1334. 

On the 21st, I left London alone, and was 
four days in reaching Edinburgh. At York, Mr. Etty 
detained me a day, and did the honours of his native 
city with great kindness. At Newcastle I also 
stopped, and found out a Dr. Alexander, I had known 
at Genoa. From Edinburgh, where I had a letter 
from Lady Baird, I went with John Lister to see 


Bell's Frescoes at Muirhouse Granton, which really 
pleased me greatly ; and from thence round Corstor- 
phine Hill, to make a call upon the venerated Sir 
Eobert Liston. 

He was out an airing at Liston Shiells ; but press- 
ing to see Mrs. Ramage, she gave a distressing ac- 
count : " that I should not know a word he said; that 
it was truly melancholy to see his noble mind so 
changed ; that she scarcely wished him to be seen, 
and was always distressed when he went to pay visits 
in Edinburgh ; but what had given her, she said, 
the greatest uneasiness was his leaving home at one 
time for one entire fortnight, wandering, as she sup- 
posed, about the inns in the country, accompanied by 
his carriage and two servants." 

When Sir Robert returned I was at the door, and 
could see at once how his eye brightened when he 
saw me. Nothing could be more hearty than his 
reception, though with his usual finished manner. 
He led me into the drawing-room, speaking all the 
while in reply to what I was saying to him. The 
beginning of his sentences were distinct enough ; still, 
as he advanced, the articulation got confused; his 
words having then the sound of Latin terminations, 
giving people the mistaken idea that he was speaking 
in some foreign language. I observed on one occa- 
sion, when he tried to ask a question and failed, he 
tried the question in French, though still with diffi- 
culty. I tried to encourage him by replying in the 
same language. To all I said he showed the most 
acute intelligence: where I had come from, where I 
was staying, where I was going, and when I was to 


88 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

be back, trying repeatedly to ask me whether I could 
not remain with him as I had done before; made the 
more affecting by his saying, " I am a poor not 
able but I am better and would be glad to see 
you." I left him with assurances, that the moment I 
returned from Perthshire, I would see him again ; 
and was gratified by a visit that really seemed to give 
him pleasure. 

I started the next morning by coach to Perth, and 
in passing the Lomonds could see a prospective view 
of the hills on the south and north side of the Valley 
of Eden, taking in distinctly the Mount, Wemyss 
Hall, and the Walton Hills. From Perth I started 
in a chaise, and about 5 o'clock reached Fern Tower, 
where I was received with extreme kindness by Lady 
Baird and her sister. The mansion is extremely 
good ; and the neighbourhood, comprehending Crieff, 
Strath Earn, the Ochills, and the Grampians, re- 
minded me at every turn of Italy. 

The day before I started I dined with Mr. Stirling, 
at Knightsbridge, to meet Lord Gosford, Mr. Barnes, 
Mr. Young (Lord Melbourne's secretary), and some 
military contributors to The Times. Mr. Barnes re- 
cognised me as an old acquaintance, and was very civil. 
So far as I could gather, they thought the throwing 
out of the Irish Tithe Bill would produce Rebellion, 
but that Mr. O'Connell had undertaken to keep Ire- 
land quiet. 

I am sorry that Sir Peter has been induced to give 
up the Italian part of your journey. However, we 
shall all be glad to see the whole party on your 

D. W. 



Edinburgh, llth Sept. 1834. 

While at Lady Baird's I went for two days as 
far as Taymouth, where I had the honour of visiting 
the Marchioness of Breadalbane. The Marquis was 
out at the hunting. I was much pleased with seeing 
that portion of the Highlands. 

From Fern Tower I came back on Monday last to 
Edinburgh, where the learned and the cognoscenti 
of the neighbouring nations were assembling for the 
Scientific Meeting. On becoming a member of the 
association, I was at once admitted to all its pri- 
vileges. The most fashionable science is that of 
geology ; and Dr. Buckland the most striking lec- 
turer. His recent discoveries in geology have made 
a great impression. His manner of speaking most 
favourable for a numerous audience, with his power 
of description and illustration, and his vein of wit 
and good humour he filled up an hour and a half in 
the most interesting way. 


The picture to which the following letters refer 
was first commissioned by my friend Mr. Ritchie, of 
Edinburgh ; a gentleman of taste both in art and 
literature. On a visit to the painter soon after his 
return from Spain, when he was speaking of his 
journey and showing us his sketches, I was struck 
with the historic truth and character of this compo- 
sition, and advised Wilkie to expand the subject to 

90 THE LIFE OF 1834. 

the size of life: Kitchie took the artist aside and 
whispered, " Do what Allan says ; name your price, 
and I will buy the picture." My friend did not live, 
alas ! to see his commission complete. 

Dear Jones, Kensington, 17th Nov. 1834. 

Your most kind and considerate letter received 
this morning gratifies me extremely. The Columbus, 
so much honoured by the inquiries you have made 
about it, I am painting upon order for a gentleman 
who took a fancy to the subject, and who made it a 
condition that it should be painted without delay on 
account of his advance in years, otherwise it would 
have given me the greatest pleasure to have seen it in 
the possession of Mr. Yernon, side by side with works 
of our fellow-countrymen, which his taste and his 
public spirit have in so exemplary a manner collected 

This, however, being not now possible, I have only 
to request that you will assure Mr. Yernon with my 
regret, that I feel my performance much compli- 
mented and enhanced in estimation by the desire 
he has expressed ; and that I feel, had it been dis- 
engaged, that there is no friend whose mediation in 
arranging such an affair could be more congenial to 
me, from the fine spirit in which it has been proposed, 
than your own. 

With high esteem, &c. 



Dear Jones, Kensington, 19th Nov. 1834. 

The proposition you are pleased to make in 
consequence of the Columbus being engaged, that I 
might paint another subject for Mr. Vernon, I shall 
be happy to give attention to ; and as you inform me 
that the gentleman our esteemed friend Turner al- 
luded to, when he spoke to me some time ago, was 
Mr. Vernon, this simplifies the matter a good deal. 
I have been thinking of some subjects in reference to 
this, and in the course of the winter hope to be able 
to submit one that may be rendered agreeable to Mr. 
Vernon's wishes, which, if I should succeed in, will 
be a matter of great satisfaction to me. Leaving the 
matter, therefore, in this state to a future, though 
not to a very distant occasion, I have only to thank 
you for the very friendly interest you have been 
pleased to take in this. 

I remain, &c. 


The following letter, the first of a series addressed 
to the widow of Sir David Baird, throws some light 
on Wilkie's visit to Fern Tower, and the picture of 
Sir David Baird discovering the body of Tippoo 
Saib, a noble commission, of which "Wilkie was justly 
proud : 

92 THE LIEE OF 1834. 


Dear Madam, Kensington, 29th Dec. 1834. 

I write more to assure you how much I think 
of the proposed picture than with any view of in- 
dicating much advance in the work. 

The drawings I am proceeding with, trying changes 
and re-arrangements in the details of the groups, or, 
what is more the case, trying to give form and shape 
to what in the first sketch was vague and confused. 
Of the figure of Sir David Baird I have also been 
making a separate sketch, chiefly from the drawing 
made in Dublin, which your Ladyship recommended. 
This I may adhere to with advantage, giving, as it 
does, the idea of a noble figure. 

In all I proceed in the more I am satisfied with the 
subject a subject furnishing every thing required 
for a work of art. I have been promised free access 
to the armoury of the late King, formerly at Carlton 
House, containing a superb collection of the arms and 
accoutrements of Tippoo Saib. 

D. W. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 1st Jan. 1835. 

Your anticipations from my letter to the Duke 
of Buccleuch have been fully verified. Lord Montagu 
has written to me to propose that I should come to 
Ditton Park, to begin the picture, on the 13th instant. 


Mr. Holford I wrote to a second time ; this has brought 
him to town, and he has seen and approves, in the 
most satisfactory way, of the picture, and leaves me 
to order such a frame as I think best suited to it. 
Mr. Vernon I have also seen. He regrets that he did 
not give me an order for the Columbus ; but is willing 
to order a picture of that size and character, and 
would prefer a female to be in it. Whether the Mary 
Stuart would do is a question, still it is new, and 
I am keeping it in mind. 

Mr. Niewunhuys called some days ago, to give me 
a book he has just written and published in English, 
A Character of the different Masters in Art, and is 
remarkable for a document he has copied from the 
Administration Office of Insolvent Debtors at Am- 
sterdam, anno 1556, containing an Inventory of the 
Paintings and Household Furniture of Rembrandt Van 
Rhyn, sold by order of the Commissioners to satisfy 
a claim for 4180 guilders advanced by Burgomaster 
Cornelius Wit sen, on a mortgage on his property. The 
particulars of this affair would interest Mr. Knighton 
and yourself extremely, as a melancholy comment 
upon cotemporary rewards, reminding one of the 
fate of Scott, and of what Lawrence barely escaped 
from. Among the items of the inventory are a 
number of books, filled with drawings by Rem- 


94 THE LIFE OF 1835. 


Ditton Park, 15th Jan. 1835. 

The chaise brought us here before 11 o'clock, 
when the van was at the door, and all here were 
ready to receive me. The first thing was the choice 
of a room ; a high light, and a tolerable size, were 
indispensable. I fixed on one that had not been 
thought of, which we found perfectly adapted; 
began the picture ; had two sittings yesterday, and 
three to-day, and in the opinion of the family suc- 

If Mr. Holford has not written, you will please send 
the enclosed by post to him. In the cleaning of the 
room do take care the pictures receive no hurt by 
resting against one another. 

D. W. 

Jan. 16th. 

Have had two more sittings : the head all painted 
in ; a good-looking head, and thought like. 

During the latter part of last year and the com- 
mencement of this, Wilkie had dropped or declined 
almost all correspondence with the pen, and applied 
himself most sedulously to his pencil. He executed 
two whole-lengths of King William and Queen Ade- 
laide for the embassy at Paris, on which he was 
much embarrassed by the interposition of officials, 
who, it appears, were doubly dilatory in all matters 
of art. On the Columbus he directed all his strength ; 


he studied the composition with great care, wrought 
the whole into a clear consistent story, and, adding 
five other pictures to it, sent the whole six to the 
Exhibition. They were exhibited in the following 
order: 1. Christopher Columbus submitting the 
Chart of his Voyage for the Discovery of the New 
World to the Spanish Authorities: 2. The First Ear- 
ring : 3. Portrait of Field-Marshal the Duke of Wel- 
lington in the dress he wore on active service: 
4. Sancho Panza in the days of his youth: 5. Por- 
trait of Sir James M'Grigor, Bart., Direct or- General 
of the Army Medical Department : 6. Portrait of the 
late Rev. Edward Irving. Of these the Columbus, 
the First Ear-ring, and the Sir James M'Grigor, 
were the best ; indeed, the artist never excelled them 
in truth and originality, either in character or colour. 
The idea of the Columbus was found in the Life of 
that calmest and ablest of all discoverers, by Wash- 
ington Irving. " A stranger travelling on foot," 
says the accomplished biographer, " accompanied by 
a boy, stopped one day at the gate of a convent of 
Franciscan friars, and asked for bread and water to 
his child. Friar Juan Perez de Marchena, happening 
to pass, was struck with the appearance of the 
stranger, and observing, from his air and accent, that 
he was a foreigner, entered into conversation with 
him : that stranger was Columbus." The conference 
which followed, remarkable for opening a brighter 
prospect in the fortunes of Columbus, forms the 
subject of the picture; he is represented seated at the 
convent table, with the Prior on his right, to whom 
he is submitting a chart of his contemplated voyage. 

96 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

Beside him is his son Diego, with a small Italian 
greyhound, while on the other side of the table is 
the physician, Garcia Fernandez, who, from scientific 
knowledge, approved of the enterprise ; behind him is 
Martin Alonzo Pinzon, one of the most intelligent 
sea-captains of his time, and who accompanied Co- 
lumbus in his voyage. This picture was regarded 
as a dramatic composition of the historic order ; while 
The First Ear-ring belonged to the domestic drama : 
the calm and persuasive eye of the mother : the look, 
hovering between vanity and fear, of the little girl, 
when the private operator approaches to fix but not 
without pain the sparkling appendages to her ears, 
together with the rich and natural colouring, cannot 
be soon forgotten by any spectator ; while the vigor- 
ous drawing, the contemplative look, and brilliant 
colouring of the likeness of Sir James M'Grigor, 
place it in the front rank of British portraits. 

He is still intent on Lady Baird's important com- 
mission : 


Kensington, 14th April, 1835. 

I have lately painted in the large picture of 
Napoleon and the Pope, and have had the occasional 
advice and review of friends who knew them. The 
likenesses are, I am assured, successful. In this way 
I could draw in the figure of Sir David Baird upon 
the canvas, and with your Ladyship's eye to direct 
me, I think a near approach may be made to a 
likeness. Indeed Raeburn's portrait, with the hat on 


the head, and the eyes looking down, would be almost 
exactly what is wanted. The figure may be supplied 
greatly from the small drawing made in Dublin. 

For the native Indians I can procure models in 
London. I have just come from the India House, 
where I saw four military characters considered, both 
in face and dress, perfect for what I want. Of these, 
as they are to sit to me, I shall make a variety of 

As all who see the picture are pleased with it, I am 
the more confirmed in my belief in the greatness of 
the occasion it furnishes for a work of art. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 5th Aug. 1835. 

The portrait of the Rev. Edward Irving I 
sent, on its reaching home, directly to Stratford Place, 
where you will doubtless see it on your coming to 
town. I am now proceeding, besides other things, 
with the two copies of the Embassy Portraits, though 
my negotiations about them at the Treasury make no 
progress at all. I saw Mr. Rice with the papers the 
Marquis of Conyngham sent me, one an order from 
the King, through the Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, for pictures for the four Embassies ; the other, 
an order from the Treasury, suspending the other 
three from being begun. Mr. Spring Rice sent me to 
Mr. Spearman of the Treasury, who said he remem- 
bered all the circumstances, but that he could not 
give a renewal of the order without a high authority, 


98 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

and must see the Chancellor of the Exchequer before 
giving me an answer. Since this, four weeks have 
passed. I have called four times at the Treasury, 
and written twice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ; 
have seen no one, and have got no answer. Thus the 
matter I suppose must rest for a time. 

The Woodburns have opened their third exhibition 
of Claude and Poussin. I hope Mr. Knighton pro- 
ceeds in making drawings from objects before him 
always for the sake of drawing and for form elegant 
form rather than for effect. Claude, I think, drew 
for form rather than for effect or colour. 

D. W. 

Edward Irving was long the intimate friend of 
Wilkie, and the favourite of all who loved original 
vigour of mind and grave persuasive eloquence: he 
had humour too of the rarest kind, and such wit and 
social glee as made him welcome to all Scottish fire- 
sides. The first time I became acquainted with him 
was atWilkie's: Sir Peter Laurie, and William Collins, 
the painter, were there Scottish humour and Scot- 
tish stories abounded. 


Kensington, 7th Aug. 1835. 

I write to report the sort of progress I am 
making in the great work on which I am so proud to 
be occupied. The figures I have drawn in with 
chalk upon the canvas, and confess a sort of exultation 
in the effect produced by the size of the picture. In 

^Ex. 50. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 99 

the course of the spring I made various studies from 
native Indian soldiers now here ; but when they came 
to discover for what subject they were wanted, a sort 
of superstition seized them at once, and now they 
will no longer sit : I must therefore wait for others. 
With the principal figure, Sir David Baird, I have 
tried some deviations from the original sketch ; as 
the moving principle of all that surrounds him, I 
have been giving more animation and command to 
his figure. In the likeness, Macdonald's bust will help 
me most essentially. The eyes, at such a moment, 
can only be turned down to the fallen monarch. 

D. W. 

It was suggested to Wilkie that Irish history, do- 
mestic as well as national, though rife of subjects 
suitable to the painter's art, had failed to attract the 
pencils of the recording brethren of the easel, and lay 
like a virgin soil untouched by the plough. At that 
time Maclise had scarcely begun to embody the crea- 
tions with which he has since illustrated Ireland, and 
as Scott had forborne to dip his romantic pen in 
Irish story, the public would like to see Irish character 
touched by a hand at once tasteful and delicate. With 
a picture or two of a national kind in his head, the 
painter departed for Ireland, and reached Dublin 
about the middle of August, where he made sketches 
from scenes and characters such as he reckoned would 
unite well into a picture. These were in pencil, and 
had the following names : 1. The Dreamer; 2. The 
Holy Water; 3. A Family Group; 4. The Nun's 
Darling; 5. The Jaunting Car; 6. A Street Scene; 

H 2 

100 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

7. Peasants with a Dog; 8. The Carmelite. All these 
were the offspring of Wilkie's observations in Dublin, 
where he remained for nearly a week. To these may 
be added sketches, more or less interesting, made in 
various parts of the island, viz. 1. A Nun at Con- 
fession ; 2. A Smuggling Still at Work; 3. The 
Moonlight Flitting ; 4. A Hedge School ; 5. The 
Wool Spinner ; 6. Interior of a Gal way Cabin ; 7. The 
Novice, Limerick; 8. King's County Cabin; 9. Nuns 
relieving the Poor; and The Peep-o'-Day Boy. Of 
none of these the artist formed pictures, save The 
Still at Work, and The Peep-o 7 -Day Boy ; though 
several contained the germs of fine compositions, both 
for humour or seriousness. 

Dear Sir William, Limerick, soth Aug. 1835. 

Your most kind and considerate letter that 
reached me on the day I left London, was particularly 
acceptable on leaving home, and on commencing a 
journey, in the course of which I am every day think- 
ing of yourself and of Mr. Knighton, as the friends I 
would most wish to see what I see, and to be impressed 
as I am impressed, with the objects now before me. 

The striking points between London and Holy head, 
such as the Yale of Llangollen, the view of Snow- 
don, and the Menai Bridge, ' however interesting, are 
passed by in haste in one's approach for the first time 
to the all-engrossing sister kingdom. On landing in 
the Bay of Dublin, the scene that presents itself, so re- 
pugnant to the philanthropist, is, to the painter, most 


highly interesting. Velasquez, Murillo, and Salvator 
Rosa, would have found here fit objects for their 
study. The misery did not strike me : it was appa- 
rently not felt by themselves. The condition of the 
people here is, after all, what more advanced societies 
have gone through in their progress to refinement. 
In proceeding from Kingstown to Dublin, I was re- 
minded of the buildings of France and of Scotland in 
the environs ; but the town itself of Dublin, with its 
splendid squares and public buildings, is essentially 
English. Still the mass of the population has an Italian 
and Spanish look, and one is only surprised that, with 
their appearance, their habits, and their faith, they 
should yet be our own people, and speak our own 

The meeting of the British Association at Dublin 
did not present much for a painter. During the time, 
therefore, I was occupied in visiting convents, chapels, 
and the haunts of the lower classes, and, when it was 
over, started with two friends per mail, directly west- 
ward, till we met the Atlantic, and Lord Sligo's 
domain, called Westport. We then proceeded south- 
ward through the wild mountainous district of Con- 
namara to Galway, a region of which the inhabitants 
are said to be descended from a colony of Spaniards, 
to whom they still bear a marked resemblance. Here 
the impression the aspect of these people and their 
cabins made is not to be described. In a state of 
primeval simplicity, honest, polite, and virtuous, with 
so few wants that even the children run about the 
cabins unclad, realising to a fervid imagination an 
age of poetry, yet which the poetry of our own time 

H 3 


102 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

has not described, and to painting is perfectly new 
and untouched. Indeed I would say that a future 
painter, after he has seen and studied all that has 
been done by the Greeks and Italians, should see such 
a state of life as a basis for his imagination to work 
upon, and I would venture to recommend that Mr. 
Knighton should, in the course of his studies, see 
Ireland with such a view. 

The costume of the district we have travelled 
through, he would find a perfect model. Dublin has 
the disadvantage, that the lower classes wear only the 
cast-off clothes, in rags, of their fashionable superiors ; 
but in Connaught and Connamara the clothes, parti- 
cularly of the women, are the work of their own 
hands, and the colour they are most fond of is a 
red they dye with madder. A petticoat, jacket, and 
mantle brighten up the cabin or landscape like a 
Titian or Giorgione. Indeed, the whole economy of 
the people furnishes the elements of the picturesque. 
They build their own cabins, fabricate their own 
clothes, dig their own turf, catch their own salmon, 
and plough their own fields, bringing into their con- 
fined dwelling a confused variety of implements not 
to be described. 

So remarkable are the scenes I have witnessed, that 
I am wondering they have not been long before the 
object of research among painters. True, to the poli- 
tician and to the patriot, much is seen with pity and 
regret ; still the Irish peasantry are a rising, and not 
a declining people, and as their good qualities must 
lead to future improvement, their present most simple 
and pastoral condition, if properly recorded, must in 

Mi. 50. SIB DAVID WILKIE. 103 

all times be a subject of legitimate interest to the 
painter, the poet, and the historian. 

I start to-morrow for the Lake of Killarney, from 
thence to Cork, and then to Dublin, it being an 
object of importance with me to see yourself, and Mr. 
Knight on, before you start for Italy. 



Killarney, 31st Aug. 1835. 

Our journey to the westward has been most 
agreeable, weather alone excepted; but habit has 
inured us to rain, cold, and the numerous incon- 
veniences incident to the wildest district of this primi- 
tive island. From Dublin, Mr. Bland, Mr. James 
Rennie, and myself, proceeding in the mail by night, 
went directly westward, through Tuam and Sligo, to 
Westport, where we reached the Atlantic. Our route 
was through a flat level of bogs, till we came to the 
mountains that form a barrier along the western coast. 
From Westport we proceeded through a mountain- 
ous district that juts out into the sea, called Conna- 
mara, little known and little visited, and where the 
accommodations are so indifferent, that the hospi- 
tality of the gentry is trusted to, to supply their 
place. Among our visits, we stopt at Balmahuich 
with a letter for Mrs. Martin, the lady of Mr. Martin 
of Galway. Mrs. Martin, in the absence of her hus- 
band, received us in the kindest manner, and with 
Miss Martin, her accomplished daughter (under 
twenty), intreated us to remain till next day ; an in- 
vitation that seemed so full of heart that we could 

ii 4 

104 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

not resist, and both from what we saw of the salmon 
fishing in that wild part of the country, and from 
their most agreeable hospitality, we did not regret it. 
On leaving them we reached Galway, after a fatiguing 
journey, next day late at night ; when we found the 
ancient Spanish town illuminated for the arrival of 
the Lord Lieutenant. 

As Lord Mulgrave had requested me to be at 
Galway while he was there, I sent word to say I was 
come ; he sent his aide-de-camp to bring me to break- 
fast next morning, and Sir John Burke, who was with 
him, requested me to take, on our way to Limerick, 
my companions with me to his mansion, where we 
accordingly stopt for a night, and were entertained 
like princes. 

Thus far we have passed through the least fre- 
quented part of Ireland, where the people and the 
cabins are, to the civilian, the most wretched, but to a 
painter the most primitive and picturesque, justifying 
in richness of colour, and in originality of character, 
all my expectations. From Limerick, from whence I 
regretted Mr. Bland was summoned back by business 
to Dublin, Mr. Rennie and I have entered upon the 
more beaten track of this Hibernian Switzerland, the 
favourite haunt of the tourist. We are at an hotel 
out of the town, and last night were delighted by the 
piper, who played in capital style both Irish and 
Scottish song and pibroch, and among others the old 

" On the lakes of Killarncy I first saw the lad 

That with song and with bagpipe could make my heart glad." 

To-day we made a circuit with a most excellent 


priest, from Adair; first to a most interesting con- 
vent, then by cars and horses through a mountainous 
pass, to the Chamouny of the district, and by boats 
through the three lakes, that for beauty and grandeur 
I have never seen surpassed. 

D. W. 

To correct or confirm his notions of Irish character 
he visited a lady who had painted the island, manners 
and customs, passions and opinions, in words as true 
as the lines of his own pencil, and as bright as his own 
colours. Miss Edgeworth, an admirer of the talents 
and of the retiring modesty of Wilkie, when the 
sketch of " The Peep-o'-Day Boy" was laid before 
her, thought, as she tells me, neither the dress, nor 
the expression, characteristically Hibernian, but too 
neat, too nice, too orderly, for Irish and Ireland. 
The dress of the wife, in particular, wanted that neg- 
ligence which marks ever a pattern Irish wife, and 
was in fact rather English than Irish. The girl, who 
patiently keeps watch on the growing light on the 
mountains, she reckoned Irish all over, in look, cos- 
tume, and character. Miss Edgeworth, however, 
speaks only of the sketch. The finished picture was 
made more true to Ireland and the Irish. 

~ _ . Edgeworth Town, Longford, 

Dear Collins, 12th Sept. 1835. 

On arriving in the Bay of Dublin, which I did 
on the Monday morning after I saw you, all. was ex- 
pectation. The first impression on seeing the Irish 

106 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

people in their homes was now to be realized: the 
misery that presented itself I had seen something like 
in Italy and Spain; and as it appeared unfelt by 
themselves, and associated to us with what the finest 
works of art have represented, got soon reconciled; 
and as I passed from Kingstown to Dublin, was re- 
minded by every house of Scotland and France, and 
by the groups loitering about, of the works of Murillo, 
Yelasquez, and Salvator Rosa. 

Still, in the capital of Ireland, the costume of the 
lower orders is defective for want of colours, and 
their clothes, in shape, are only the cast-off clothes, in 
tatters, of the higher classes ; and it was not till I had 
travelled across to the districts that border the western 
sea that the true character and dress of the aboriginal 
peasant was to be found. In Mayo and Galway the 
Spanish descent in look and character was perceptible. 
The prevailing red of the women's dress, a petticoat 
and jacket, dyed with madder, lights up the landscape 
and the cabin ; the picturesque confusion of the 
household is also marked out as an object for art, and 
the unreserved domicile of the human species, with 
the brute creation basking round the door with the 
children, who are in a state of primitive innocence, 
sans chemise, sans culotte, sans every thing, classes 
them higher far than subjects of common life. 

What one has often so much difficulty in contriving 
for a picture, and imagining for a poetical description, 
may, in the western provinces of Ireland, be found 
ready made to one's hands; and what is more, be- 
tween ourselves, it is untouched and new. The ques- 
tion that you will naturally ask is, whether it will be 

.ZEx. 50. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 107 

applicable to your art, and whether it would be worth 
your while to visit Ireland. This has been present 
to my mind ; and on all the occasions of seeing coast 
and harbour scenery, I have thought of you; but 
when I tell you the ships and boats, the sea and 
hills, are the same as in England, and that sailors in 
Ireland are not to be distinguished from those of the 
opposite shore, that there is but little life peculiar, 
excepting the female costume, the cabins, the pigs, 
and naked children, perhaps you will see but little to 
induce you to visit Ireland; still, though your sea 
or lake subjects here could not be distinct from 
England, yet the rustic life that you paint would 
be here found in perfection, and being of that simple 
kind, with all its wildness and poverty, it is an ap- 
proach to pastoral life, which, with all its homeliness, 
is best adapted to grandeur and poetical effect. 

This indeed I am perfectly satisfied of, as you I am 
sure will be, that if Ireland has been overlooked and 
forgotten by the votaries of our art, it will not remain 
so much longer. A pursuit requires but a beginning : 
Irish artists will, from the curiosity of strangers, 
begin to think themselves of painting their own 
country, and the craving of the public for variety, 
and of the publishers for new thoughts, will send 
over some who have exhausted the Ehine, and Italy, 
Spain, and Barbary, to do Ireland at last, as a card 
for which a public interest is already made. In my 
journey I was preceded by an artist in aquareil, who 
I doubt not has some such object in view. 

I write in much haste, but hope to return to you 
soon. Pray give my best and kindest regards to 



Mrs. Collins, to Willie, and Charlie, and with every 
feeling of regard, I am, &c. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 26th Sept. 1835. 

From Liverpool I went by the railway to 
Manchester, from thence by Preston and Derby to 
Loughborough, where I found a message from Sir 
William Heygate, requesting me to come direct to 
Koecliffe (his house), without going to Leicester. I 
arrived just after breakfast, and was most kindly re- 
ceived by Sir William and Lady Heygate : they have 
a beautiful place, on a height overlooking a fine and 
fertile country. Every thing was contrived that could 
amuse: we made calls in the neighbourhood, and 
went to Leicester, where I was presented in form to 
Miss Linwood, a native and resident, known for her 
needle-work far and wide, living in good circum- 
stances, and if venerable from years, is yet most 
juvenile in her appearance and dress. 

On Wednesday morning I started by the Derby 
coach, and reached home at night, after 11 o'clock, 
having been absent seven weeks all but two days. 

Of this tour, the most interesting district we passed 
through was Connamara, and our most agreeable visit 
was to Edgeworth town. Mr. Bland was much gra- 
tified with Maria Edgeworth, who was in great force. 
I introduced him to her. Their place is a very hand- 
some house or chateau, with elegant grounds sur- 
rounded by their estates and town. She presented 


us to Mrs. Edgeworth, to her sister Honora, and two 
other ladies. They live in elegance and splendour, 
and seemed all much pleased with our visit. 

I have only found one song, but it is very popular. 
Bland sings it well, and captivated them with it at 
Edgeworth town : it is Irish, and I have the music 
and words for you. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 3d Oct. 1835. 

The sketch-books I brought with me from Ire- 
land I have been showing to Mr. Knighton, and others 
of my friends. Mr. Knighton thinks that there are 
four or five sufficiently good to make subjects for 
pictures ; the question is, then, whether one should 
not be set about for next Exhibition, even if it should 
delay some picture now advanced? When I have the 
honour of seeing you, this will be for consideration ; 
and as Mr. Vernon has just called, one, if selected, 
might perhaps do for him. Lady Baird's picture also 
occupies some thought, but I am at a stand, for 
want of the bust of Sir David Baird. For the present 
I am recommencing with the Napoleon. 

I had the pleasure to accompany Mr. Knighton to 
the National Gallery, which Major Thwaites, though 
it is now shut, showed us over with much kindness. 
The review of the Correggio, the Theodosius of Van- 
dyke, and the two Rembrandts, acted as a refresher 
to give us a relish in recommencing our winter la- 
bours. Mr. Knighton had to be present at the Aca- 

110 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

demy on the evening of the 1st instant, to draw the 
lot for his place before the model. I went last night 
to see the figure The Barberini Faun, and found 
him seated among twenty, who are drawing from it. 
Hilton thinks he has got a pretty good view of it. I 
confess to see the students, with every place filled, all 
intent and eager in their work, is a most cheering 

D. W. 

To Lady Baird he wrote soon after his return from 
Ireland. Wilkie did not wish to make a hurried per- 
formance of so great an occasion for the display of 
his art. 


Kensington, 15th Oct. 1835. 

I have given to the figure of Sir David Baird 
more movement and command than there was in the 
first sketch, and more action to those around him, as 
if he were about to order the body to be removed to 
the palace. 

While engaged in collecting studies for the picture, 
I was told that there were three Hindoo cavalry sol- 
diers every day at the India House, who had come 
overland to complain of some grievance. I obtained 
their consent to sit to me, and they came, a Jemidar 
and two inferior officers, in their native dress. I 
explained to them, by the interpreter, what I wanted, 
and put them on a platform in a group, the Jemidar, 
as Tip poo, reclining with his head supported by one 


of his lieutenants, and his hand held by the other, 
with his finger on his pulse, to know if he were alive 
or dead. The group was magnificent, and I was all 
ecstasy to realise such a vision of character and colour. 
It was, indeed, a vision, and a vision only ; for, all of 
a sudden, the youngest of them said, " Me no Tip- 
poo ! " and sprung from his position, while the others 
repeated, " No Tippoo I!" " No Tippoo I!" and, to 
my surprise, left their places also ; and no persuasion 
I could use could induce them to resume them. Thus 
thwarted, I asked if the Jemidar would be drawn as 
one of the Company's officers ; to this he consented, 
if allowed to stand like a soldier : in this way I made 
a drawing of him. One of the lieutenants came for 
two days, evidently pleased with his new position ; 
for I had put a sword in his hand, and placed him in 
the attitude of an assailant. They have now given 
up coming altogether. 



Kensington, 3d Nov. 1835. 

There seems to be a kind of enterprise among 
the publishers. Roberts and Lewis have been to the 
south of Spain and Barbary, have produced Annuals 
and Lithographic Works of those countries. Allan has 
also been to Barbary ; and our great countryman, 
Thomas Campbell, the poet, I met the other day, fresh 
from Algiers, on his way to a bookseller with a prose 
account of his adventures. 

I am myself getting an extended engraving made 

112 THE LIFE OF 1835. 

by the help of Mr. Moon the publisher, of the "Preach- 
ing of Knox :" it is by the masterly hand of Mr. Doo, 
who is proceeding upon it with energy, strength, and 
delicacy. It will be my largest print, and almost the 
largest in the line manner ever engraved in this 

I have just returned from Ireland, which to all 
travellers bears the name of a wretched people and 
country. By the artist it has been seldom repre- 
sented, and still seldomer seen ; it is at once new y 
untouched, simple, and picturesque in the highest 
degree. The western districts, for colour and cha- 
racter, may be said to realize what poets and painters 
have feigned of pastoral life. 

I may just add, by way of latest news, that at the 
Royal Academy last night Maclise and Hart, painters, 
and Cousins, the mezzotinto engraver, were elected 

D. W. 

Dear Sir William, Kensington, 4th Nov. 1835. 

A gentleman called yesterday from the country, 
the Rev. Horace Cholmondely, Osborne's Hotel, Adel- 
phi, to request I would paint for him a whole-length 
portrait of a distinguished public character. I said for 
this year I could not ; but it was probable I could for 
the year after. He said he wished me to do it ; that 
although there was a prejudice against the person at 
present, he was a great man, and he thought a subject 
for a fine picture : it was Mr. Daniel O'Connell. 

^E-r. 50. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 113 

I said I could not engage hastily in any picture as 
1 now stood ; and in all cases required to consider 
what I could make of the subject as a picture, but 
that if he would call on Thursday (to-morrow), I 
would give him an answer. 

Now what is your idea, dear Sir, of this, provided 
a good picture can be made? The question of Ca- 
tholic and Protestant I have considered a theme for 
art. May not this come within these classes, if a his- 
toric portrait can be made of it? This is, of course, 
a confidential inquiry, which you will have the ex 
treme kindness to consider. 


My dear Sir Kensington, 13th Dec. 1835. 

Your very obliging letter conveyed to me the 
first notice of what has since appeared in most of the 
papers, the Strangers that have been elected Cor- 
responding Members of the Institute of France, 
among whom you may be assured I was exceedingly 
gratified to find that your own and my name were 

This is a distinction to which my art could never 
have arrived confined in its nature to one place 
were it not that it has been fortunately combined with 
yours, the excellence and beauty of which are wafted 
forth on a thousand wings, and speak simultaneously 
to all countries, and in all languages. The official an- 
nouncement of this honour has not reached me : when 
it does, I shall be in more than the usual difficulty in 


114 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

expressing my thanks, but I suppose that may be got 
over by writing in our own language. 

You give me much pleasure by stating that I am 
so soon to see a proof of The Spanish Mother ; this 
I shall be most glad of. I am just now sending a 
proof of The Parish Beadle to our friend Mr. Adams, 
whom I hear of occasionally. 


This was a distinction which Wilkie was proud of; 
an acknowledgment of merit by a foreign land : nor 
did he seem to be less proud that the engraver was 
honoured along with him. He felt that to Raimbach, 
as well as to Burnet, he was largely indebted for the 
diffusion of his fame in foreign lands.* 

The new year came, and found Wilkie busy on 
two pictures from which he looked for an increase of 
reputation : one from the domestic disquiet of Ire- 
land, the other suggested by that all but stormy 
meeting between the Pope and Napoleon, in the year 
1813. These, with others, six in all, he sent to the 

Dear Allan, Kensington, 17th April, 1836. 

As the Exhibition at the Royal Academy is 
now in preparation, we look to the pleasure of seeing 
you soon again among us. By Monday the 25th, you 
will probably be among those whom the occasion of 
varnishing attract so irresistibly to Somerset House. 

* Mr. Raimbach died at Greenwich on the 17th January, 1843, aged 67. 

^Ex. 50. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 115 

With the view that we may also have the pleasure 
of seeing you at Kensington, I now write to beg that 
you will honour us with your company to dinner on 
Tuesday, the 3d of May, at half past six o'clock. 

Of the Exhibition I can tell you nothing. I hope 
your picture of Whittington has been sent. I have seen 
no one to ask about it, and heard only the account a 
friend gave who saw it at your house, which was very 
favourable. They say the Exhibition is to be strong ; 
but from the desire not to influence, we keep out of 
the way of all that is doing. Had you been resident 
here, you would now have been in the thick of it as a 
member of the Council, with all the powers and patron- 
age thereunto belonging. Should they allow yon four 
tickets, which would have been your due, pray think 
of me with one. D. W. 

Before the Royal Academy Exhibition opened, it 
was noised abroad that Wilkie had on the walls 
six pictures, one of which embodied in a dramatic 
manner a scene from the woful history of Ireland. 
This picture is The Peep-o'-day Boy, and represents 
a fine vigorous young man lying asleep in a rude 
wigwam or cabin among hills less rude than his 
home; weapons are within reach of his hand; a 
naked child, lately nestled in his bosom, lies in 
slumber beside him ; while his faithful wife (a young 
and lovely creature) sits listening lest some hostile 
foot should escape the keen eyes of a handmaid who 
watches the dawning daylight on the neighbouring 
mountains, and seems fearful lest it should, as it 
increased, remove the veil of night from armed bands 

i 2 

116 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

who seek the life of him whom she served. That 
love of fine colours, which Wilkie had remarked in 
the Irish peasantry ; and that true love in its women, 
which all have observed ; together with the wild and 
reckless daring, whether the motive be good or evil, 
which distinguishes the men ; are all to be found in 
this fine picture. That it is true to domestic story is 
its fault. We gaze on the hardy and generous youth, 
on the beautiful and faithful woman, and on the sweet 
child, feeling that all this fine art is thrown away on 
a cause which leads but to misery and destruction. 
Yet we may accept it as a sign and a warning that 
rulers should mix mercy and loving-kindness with 
their rule, and that subjects should not start into 
rebellion at every deed which they dislike. 

The other pictures were The Duke of Wellington 
writing a Despatch on the Night before the Battle 
of Waterloo ; Napoleon and the Pope in conference 
at Fontainbleau ; the Portrait of Lord Montagu ; and 
the Portrait of Mr. Esdaile. That of the Duke of 
Wellington attracted most attention : yet it was 
liable to this objection there was nothing in the 
composition to show that the despatch was penned 
on the eve of Waterloo an error so rare in Wilkie 
as to render it remarkable. 


Kensington, 28th May, 1836. 

We have had a stir in the art by the opening 
of the British Gallery with the two Murillos purchased 
lately by the Duke of Sutherland. They are light pic- 


tures compared with the series they belonged to in the 
Caridad ; have skies for back-grounds. Still The Re- 
turn of the Prodigal Son is an impressive picture, hav- 
ing this quality of simple homeliness in common with 
many of the figures of Raphael and of Rembrandt, 
that they seem as if speaking the very language of 
Scripture. Brakenbury's Murillo The Man with the 
Dog is also in the Gallery : this I saw in the linen- 
draper's house in Seville, and the expression of the 
head strikes me as much now as it did then. It 
seems to see you while you. look at it. There is also a 
small picture A Rabbit Warren, by Paul Potter 
very fine. 

The print of The Spanish Mother has been seen in 
some of the windows, but I have not heard from Moon 
of its probable success: still I find the print much 



Kensington, 15th June, 1836. 

I write now to mention an occurrence, which 
probably owes its origin to your most kind friendship 
towards me. Agreeable to a notice sent me by Lord 
John Russell, the King, at the levee to-day, conferred 
upon me the honour of knighthood.* This is an 
honour highly prized in our profession, but which 1 
never could have asked for ; at the same time owing 

* St. James's Palace, 15th June, 1836. The King was this day pleased 
to confer the honour of knighthood upon David Wilkie, Esq., Royal 
Academician, Principal Painter to his Majesty, &c. The London Gazette^ 
Tuesday, 21st June, 1836. 

i 3 

118 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

it, as I know I do, to kind and generous friendship 
in some quarter, I naturally look to you, Sir, as the 
distinguished friend to whom I can attribute so 
remarkable a favour, and to whom, as in so many 
other instances, I owe such a debt of gratitude and 

D. W. 

That Wilkie bore his new honours meekly all who 
knew him can bear witness ; and that the government 
honoured itself rather than Wilkie by the act, was 
not only felt, but said. That he was proud of a dis- 
tinction wrung from the hand of a country tardy, 
beyond all others, in rewarding talent ; and profuse, 
to a proverb, in squandering titles on men who crawl 
to wealth through the common sewers of speculation 
or political intrigue, is certain ; but he wore not the 
look of one over whom the words "right worshipful" 
had been spoken : the David who, with his broad 
Scotch, and his bright intellectual eyes, charmed the 
students in 1805, was still the same modest unas- 
suming person when he returned Sir David from 
Court thirty years afterwards. 

Dear Madam, Kensington, 10th July, 1836 

I feel most highly gratified by your Lady- 
ship's approval of the likeness : I have now a most 
important step to start from. 

The portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn I shall see 
returned before the summer is over. It may help me 


in finishing, though certainly not in altering, that 
which is done. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 15th July, 1836. 

The same pictures continue advancing with 
an additional sitting of the great Irish personage, 
and with the additional beginning of the Portrait 
of Lord Tankerville. The two American subjects, 
The Columbus and The Grace before Meat, have also 
been agreed to, and ordered. 

But one of the chief things now pressing upon my 
attention, is the offer of another house, one lately 
become vacant in Kensington, close to the Vicarage, 
and with size and space for any thing. The rent 
asked is 200/. per annum, for a lease of thirteen years. 
It is a considerable mansion a carriage entrance in 
front, with large coach-house and stables. The 
garden extends as far as the Palace Green, to which 
the house has the privilege of access by a private 
door. The house seems in good repair, is unattached 
to other houses, and has one large room (the dra\y- 
ing-room) 26 by 18, and 14 feet high, with an 
eastern light. There are two other rooms, which 
could be used as painting-rooms, distinct from those 
we would live in. It would be suitable, I think, to 
my present style of work, without any change what- 
ever, and possesses this further advantage, that the 
lofts over the coach-house and stables, which nearly 
touch the house at one end could, if wanted, be 

i 4 

120 THE LIFE OF 1836 

elevated, so as to make a painting-room or gallery, of 
large dimensions, with a northern light, should such 
at a future time be desired. 

This is my impression in looking over the house, 
but without yet asking a surveyor about it. A fort- 
night is to be allowed to consider, and my agent tells 
me that a lady in Portland Place will take my present 
house at any ensuing quarter before next year that I 
may choose to leave it. 


Dear Lady Baird, Kensington, 29th July, 1836. 

Since you left town I have worked at the head 
of Sir David Baird, from Raeburn's picture, and I 
think have copied all that it can supply. Having 
your Ladyship's approval, and the favourable opinion 
of Sir Willoughby Gordon and Sir James M'Grigor, 
both of whom think it a most perfect likeness, I 
shall now do no more to the head. 

The only remark that is made is, that the hat does 
not come low enough upon the head ; but this for 
future consideration. Such a change as this I cer- 
tainly would not venture upon, unless you were 
present ; at the same time I think the likeness quite 
secure, even with such change as might obviate this 

I have taken the two dogs out of the picture, as 
your Ladyship is pleased to request. I am far too 
sensible of the honour you have done me by your 
most handsome commission, to look upon your wish 


in any other light than a law. It has been suggested 
to your Ladyship, that the admission of dogs into the 
picture is offering a sort of disrespect to a fallen 
enemy. Trifling as these animals are, they serve a 
purpose in pictorial effect, by affording a lively and 
animated relief to the austerity inseparable from the 
objects that compose the lower part of the picture ; 
and give a variety that is wanted where men only can 
be introduced, being of that class of accessories which 
all classes of spectators are pleased and interested 
with, even in combination with the greatest person- 
ages and events. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 8th Aug. 1836. 

We have not yet done any thing about the 
house, the fixtures being the only thing not arranged. 
Several people have been applying about our present 
house, still nothing is settled. 

Since you left I have made such a famous visit. 
Who do you think should invite me but Lady Hardy 
for last Sunday, to dine with Sir Thomas. I accord- 
ingly went to Greenwich : saw the Eaimbachs, and 
Mrs. Locker, who were inquiring most kindly about 
you. I went through several of the wards, and into 
the men's library, where they observe that the only 
books the old sailors can be brought to read are the 
Novels of Sir Walter Scott. This is genius ! 

Sir Thomas Hardy is a first-rate specimen of a 
British admiral, the captain and intimate friend of 

122 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

Nelson, of whom he delights to talk. Two of the 
young ladies are at home ; they are very handsome, 
and, when the shyness of first acquaintance is over, 
very agreeable. With Lady Hardy I was particularly 
pleased : they visit very high people, but she seems 
most sensible, and unaffected. It is alleged that Sir 
Thomas, who likes home, and quietness, and early 
hours, is frequently found getting up in the morning 
just as the fashionable part of his family are returning 
from their parties in high life. Lord Seaford was 
staying with them : they live in considerable style. 

D. W. 


Cheltenham, 6th Sept. 1836. 

After securing the house in Vicarage Place, 
to be entered in Midsummer, upon the best terms I 
could, I started from Kensington on the 20th of last 
month for Bath ; from thence went to see the pictures 
at Paul Methuen's, where there is a fine Vandyke. 
Near Bath I saw also some fine works by Gains- 
borough. At Bristol I arrived on the second day of 
the meeting of the British Association, where I was 
joined by Sir Peter Laurie and his nephew. About 
six miles from Bristol is Leigh Court, the splendid 
mansion of Mr. Miles. The pictures here went far 
beyond my expectations. I had seen many of them 
before, but did not know that they were here concen- 
trated. The collection contains The Plague of Athens, 
by N. Poussin ; The 'O Aoyo^, by L. da Vinci ; The 
large Conversion of St. Paul, by Rubens ; a fine du- 


plicate of Titian's Venus and Adonis (old West's 
formerly) ; six fine Murillos ; The Altieri, Claude's ; 
and The Woman taken in Adultery, by Rubens (for- 
merly Henry Hope's), for whose family, when settled 
in Holland, this brilliant picture is said to have been 
painted. This house I visited twice, and think the 
pictures well worth a visit to Bristol to see them. 

At the close of the Association I accompanied Sir 
Peter and Mr. Laurie through Taunton to Ilfra- 
combe. The grandeur of the scene delighted us 
much, and we were every where struck and pleased 
with the female beauty of the parts of Devon we went 
so hastily through. From Exeter we returned to 
Bristol, whence we have come through Monmouth- 
shire to Cheltenham. 

At Chepstow, on Sunday evening last, we were told 
that there was a meeting of Irvingites within a few 
doors of where we were staying. We repaired thither, 
were led through a passage to a back-kitchen, where 
we found about a dozen people upon forms, and at 
the further end their ministers successively address- 
ing them, of whom the one who concluded the service 
was a man of ability. Preparations for the second 
coming was the object they enforced; urging that, 
despised as they were, their missions were extending 
every where in these kingdoms, and throughout the 
continent of America. 

Considering that Edward Irving brought almost 
his only introductions on coming to London to Sir 
Peter Laurie and myself, this meeting of his followers 
in a distant town, and in all the simplicity of a pri- 
mitive age, has impressed us a good deal, as one of 

124 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

those instances in which a reality can so far exceed 
what can be contrived or imagined. 

D. W. 


Clifton, September, 1836. 

Our journey has been most agreeable. While 
at Bath I called on Mrs. Gunning, who urged me to 
call on a friend of Mr. Gunning's, near Bath, who 
possessed some of Gainsborough's fine pictures. Ac- 
cordingly, I gave up a day to see them, and also to 
see Corsham, the seat of Paul Methuen, Esq., where, 
out of a multitude of pictures, collected when fine 
pictures were rare, I found but one or two worthy of 
the place and the reputation which it bears. Gains- 
borough's pictures I saw on my way back ; they be- 
long to a Mr. Wilshire, who seemed much pleased to 
see me at his beautiful house. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 14th Oct. 1836. 

My dear and esteemed friend, Sir William 
Knighton, died on Tuesday last ; and his death was 
announced to me on that day by a most affectionate 
note from his son. This is heavy news. I have not 
heard from the family since. For myself, I may truly 
say I have never before had such a friend. 

D. W. 

&T. 51. SIB DAVID WILKIE. 125 

That a good and active friend was lost to Wilkie 
when Sir William Knighton died, the artist both felt 
and said. Sir William was active in his cause, from 
admiration of his genius and love of the man: he 
smoothed the court-road in his behalf, and strove to 
open the royal purse-strings in his favour, when ill 
health and nervous despondency took him abroad. 
While he lived Wilkie never lacked a prudent adviser, 
and when he died he was sensible that he had lost 
such a friend as neither time or chance was likely to 

Dear Sir Kobert, Kensington, 28th Oct. 1836. 

The John Knox frame is with me, carefully 
tied up in paper, above stairs. The picture is with 
Mr. Doo, at Camden Town, where I saw him with it 
some weeks ago proceeding with much zeal and suc- 
cess. By his engagement, he has undertaken to com- 
plete his work by a period which will be about fifteen 
months hence; and he then assured me of his con- 
fidence in being able to do so, which his present 
advance seems to justify. 

Mr. Moon, who is the publisher of it, has excited 
much interest in favour of the subject in all parts of 
the country. 

Be assured I feel much gratified by your thinking 
of it, in reference to the place it is to occupy in your 
magnificent mansion, of the completion of which I 
hear high accounts from all quarters. 

P. W. 

126 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

Dear Collins, Kensington, 14th Nov. 1836. 

The announcement of your arrival, with Mrs. 
Collins and the two young gentlemen, at Nice, was 
received by us all with the greatest satisfaction 
giving us something to talk about at home, and to write 
about to those who are at a distance. Interested as we 
all are in what you see, I am glad, though not in 
Italy, that you have its climate, its buildings, and, 
above all to you, its ancient classical Mediterranean 
before you sure that, to your eye and in your hands, 
such objects will turn to the best account. 

You mention the loss we have met with, since you 
left, in the death of our most esteemed friend, Sir 
William Knighton, regretted much by many in his 
his own profession, and by many in ours, for acts of 
kindness and friendship. He used to look to your 
journey as a happy coincidence with that intended by 
his son the route and the time of which he hoped 
would be the same. Many will miss him, but no 
one more than myself. He honoured me with much 
attention : his friendly advice was most useful, and 
even in affairs of art of high value ; for he did not 
judge so much like the artist or the connoisseur, but 
with the eye of a purchaser and of the public, and 
what could best influence these, consistent with the 
noblest purposes of art. 

The first Monday in November election has taken 
place, when Knight was elected an associate in the 


room of Clint, and Graves an associate engraver in 
the room of Fittler, both by great majorities. The 
meeting was thin. Turner was there, fresh from 
the north of Italy. Callcott has been unwell, and 
was not at the meeting. Landseer was absent they 
say at Lord Tankerville's, in Northumberland: the 
wound in his leg, I am told, does not heal well. I 
scarcely hear what members are doing. Wyatville 
and Jones were inquiring about your movements. 

Mr. Eice interested me much with your proceed- 
ings when in Paris. Travelling is always enlivening. 
You say you are now comfortably accommodated at 
Nice ; if so, do not leave : pick up what you can in 
figures, in buildings for middle distances, and, if pos- 
sible, Italian skies, which, with the green sea and 
shipping, are the same as Claude and Salvator had to 
paint, and since whose time no one is better qualified 
to render with true airy brilliancy than yourself. 

D. W. 

128 THE LIFE OF 1836. 



WILKIE now proceeded to execute a work which, 
since the death of Lawrence, he had steadily re- 
volved in his mind. This was a series of Remarks on 
Art, in which he was to embody all his own notions, 
speculations, and experiences : he did not live to 
execute them to his wish ; but unfinished as they 
are in some parts, and unconnected in others, they 
exhibit a mind which thought as truly as his hand 
painted, which founded all its speculations on obser- 
vation and practice, and told artists how to work 
in the spirit of society. These Remarks have no 
resemblance to lectures wrought to classic pattern : 
they are the offspring of a mind meditating on peculiar 
national taste. He insists not that sculpture should 
deal in allegorical gods, or painting record doubtful 
miracles or apocryphal saints. He sees that the taste 
for true art diffused and still diffusing over our 
island no longer requires painting to preach religion, 
nor relate history, or meddle with mysteries which it 
may confound but cannot explain. Nor is he insen- 
sible to the sad truth, that in all other nations save 
his own the fine arts are patronised, and their pro- 
fessors protected by governments who seem aware 

-^ET. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 129 

that, but for art and literature, all that is noble would 
be unrecorded, and the most heroic actions but a 


WHOEVER, in choosing a pursuit in life, selects that 
of painting, has probably made his choice unconscious 
of the impulse which directed him ; but feeling a 
fixed purpose of soul, resolves to become an artist, 
and produce those happy shapes and natural ele- 
vation of sentiment which art, in her finest mood, 
has created. The disposition which induces a youth 
to begin to imitate with a pencil first the human 
form, and then add action and character, it is vain 
to try and account for. Conscious of an attrac- 
tion, or leaning of mind, he feels as if he were in 
the line of a predestined path, in which he will 
become distinguished a path so natural to his heart, 
that he thinks it would be sought by others did he 
not already occupy it, and for following which he 
requires neither admonition nor reward. He over- 
looks all hinderances, scorns all impediments, to 
acquire fame is recompence enough for all toil and 
all privation. The true follower of the muse of art 
from the earliest childhood will remember that happy 
disposition which made every idea agreeable con- 
nected with the pursuit for which nature designed 


130 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

him. A bit of rough carving in wood or in stone, or 
the rudest print in a book, had charms felt by him, 
and unfelt by others : they suggested what they 
failed to express, and the young fancy made out 
what the hands wanted skill to accomplish. We can 
all remember how such a book attracted us which 
had called in art to its page ; how we strove to find 
the figures which adorned the poet or the historian 
in the poet or the historian's words, and did not fail 
to find in the illustration what language had failed 
to convey. 

In every pursuit in which man's mind can for a 
continuance of time be engaged, it seems necessary 
for full success that a corresponding sympathy should 
be felt by the world around. With this companion- 
ship of feeling, the artist in his secluded studies, the 
poet in his hour of rapture, the orator in the success of 
his eloquence, the hero in his actions, nay the traveller 
in the boundless desert, are all alike cheered and sti- 
mulated. To be thought of and remembered by others, 
and, by however few, to be appreciated and admired, 
seems the object of hope and ambition in all stations. 
To live in recollection, how many privations, how 
many sacrifices are submitted to, how many dangers 
encountered, and how many sufferings endured! 
What others will hereafter think, or at present say, is 
the solace and reward of all. But with such a recom- 
pence, accompanied as it occasionally is by wealth and 
power, or, in some instances, with not less enviable 
influence in the world as haply to supply the place of 
the wealth as well as the power of station, we are 
still influenced by the sad reflection how short-lived 


and how fleeting is that fame which depends for life 
and continuance on the memory of man alone. 

That this memory, this soothing remembrance, may 
not pass away, that the impression left on the fancy 
of feminine beauty, of manly vigour, or of intellectual 
power, should not be lost in forgetfulness and perish, 
the ingenuity of man has provided a remedy in the 
invention of the arts of Painting and Sculpture. 

For these, the earliest of elegant inventions peculiar 
to man, I would claim the merit due to the most useful 
as well as ennobling of the powers with which, in the 
imperfect state of our nature, we have been intrusted. 
To consider aright the extent of powers with which 
the Fine Arts are invested, we must take into account 
the nature of those powers, and the responsibilities of 
those who exercise them. If true art were but an 
exact representation of nature, it could be practised 
with absolute certainty and assurance of success ; but 
the duty of art is of a higher kind. If by an operation 
of mechanism animated nature could be copied with 
the accuracy of a cast in plaster, a tracing on a wall, 
or a reflection in a glass, without modification and 
without the proprieties and graces of art, all that 
utility could desire would be perfectly attained ; but 
it would be at the expense of almost every quality 
which renders art delightful. Art is only art when 
it adds mind to form : whatever is high or happy in 
thought, or skilful and gracefully natural in touch, 
whatever speaks to the feelings, or appeals to the judg- 
ment, will, if seen in the most distant corner of the 
earth, or in the remotest period of time, be as truly 

K 2 

132 THE LITE OF 1836. 

felt, and as rightly judged, as in the day and hour 
when it first passed from our hands. 

But this most ennobling of all studies, this most 
unsordid of all pursuits, must be followed by a pure 
heart and a disinterested mind. Should any follower of 
the arts be disappointed because study is not followed 
by success, and success by wealth and high fortune, 
then he expects more than he ought, and deserves 
mortification, such as ambition of an impure nature 
merits : indeed, if the glories of art are not sought for 
their own sake, they had better not be sought at all. 
If gain alone were its glory, it should be a forbidden 
study, and prohibited, from the very prostitution of 
soul which in such minds it occasions. True art is, 
however, too pure and too high a matter to be so mis- 
used, and is in no danger of dishonour or neglect in 
an age of civilisation. But while gifts at once useful 
and sacred are liable to abuse, while science not more 
than a century ago bore the imputation of magic, 
while medicine in a later day was stigmatised as sor- 
cery, and religion herself has in our own time been 
charged with hypocrisy and superstition, it is not sur- 
prising that idolatry should be laid to the charge of 
the arts. 

A study thus endeared to our hearts, and ennobled 
by the great names with which it is associated, and 
the exalted purposes to which it has been applied, is 
it not surprising that while to many delightful at once 
and captivating, it should to others, and those not 
few nor unimportant, afford neither pleasure nor joy? 
They coldly, indeed, admit its usefulness, but refuse 
to allow its loftier qualities. Not individuals or 


classes, but whole ages have been affected with this 
torpor of mind, this apathy for the lofty and the 
lovely : nay, whole continents and quarters of the 
globe have refused to sympathise with either its moral 
beauty or its spiritual influence. 

But the fine arts, and all they give sentiment and 
life to, while they amuse the fancy, may touch the 
heart and inform the judgment. If they have at times 
lent their aid to malice and to envy, they have been 
much more powerful in displaying the beauties of 
charity, the loveliness of virtue, and the meek ma- 
jesty of religion. If they at times pander to the rich, 
and embellish the worldly triumph of the great and 
the mighty, their own triumph is yet more proud 
when they dedicate their powers .to the delineation of 
humble worth, of wisdom and virtue in a cottage, 
of the pleasures of rural pursuits, and record in last- 
ing colours the enjoyments of the poor. Out of these 
lowly materials art creates scenes so bright in ex- 
pression and so vivid in sentiment, as excite the 
admiration of the polished and. the lofty. Indeed, it 
may be asserted that the arts mix themselves up with 
the daily occupations and inventions of man, and that 
without their assistance little record would have been 
made of national manners, national looks, or national 

Universally as the elements of art are applied to the 
affairs of man, it is yet mortifying to those who love 
them as matter for thought and reflection to consider 
how many individuals exist who have no kind of per- 
ception of the beauties of art: though they have a 

K 3 

134 THE LIEE OE 1836. 

fancy for its refinements, they have no true sense of 
its qualities, such as an artist would admit as a cri- 
terion of a right perception of art ; they cannot feel 
the excellence of art unless it charms them into 
attention. This to a sincere votary is extremely 
mortifying ; and although such indifference may be 
conscientious, it is not confessed as a matter of regret 
by those who feel it : on the contrary, art, with all its 
associations, great as it appears to its professors, is 
treated by the cold and the insensible as a pursuit be- 
neath the notice of men, whose business is gain and 
the enjoyments of life. Depressing as such insensibility 
may be, it is by no means confined within our own 
circle of acquaintance, nor within our own country, 
nor within our own time. History tells us, indeed, 
that the periods of apathy for elegant art have been in 
other days of shorter duration than those happier 
periods when art was in the ascendant ; but this small 
balance in its favour is lessened by the reflection that 
art true art if it has shone forth like the sun in 
some civilised lands, has but glimmered in others; 
while whole countries and continents have not been 
brightened by a single ray. Nay, some nations have 
forbid art by law, as though it were a sort of plague ; 
keeping no visible record of the great, the good, or 
the beautiful; letting all who excelled in virtue, or 
were remarkable in the land, pass on to oblivion in the 
silence of ignorance. 

But where is the man whose eyes learning has 
opened, or whose mind has felt the influence of poetry, 
or history, or polished society, who would willingly 
shut out that now wide world of knowledge which 

^T. 51. S1E DAVID WILKIE. 135 

pictorial creation reveals to us ; or choose to have his 
lot cast in an age or land of darkness, with the gloom 
of night behind, without the glory of morning before, 
inventing nothing, admiring nothing, and bequeath- 
ing nothing ? The use of art to memory can never be 
doubted by any intelligent being. That which con- 
veys ideas, forms, and appearances, clear and distinct, 
when language is lost or unintelligible which speaks 
all tongues, living or dead, polite or barbarous, pro- 
claims its own usefulness. 


MEN, and eminent men too, have described art as 
a profession which presents but a thorny and difficult 
path to the feet of its votaries ; but if this were true, 
it would still become those who are resolved to follow 
art for her own sake to banish all such disheartening 
and injurious notions from their minds ; and having 
put their hand to the plough, to reflect only on the 
charms and the honours which elevated it in their 
eyes above all other pursuits, and on the study neces- 
sary to attain distinction in a line to which no ability 
is too lofty to be devoted. 

It is for other professions to require the stimulants 
of wealth to sweeten the bitter duties which they im- 
pose. The followers of art seem to realize a species 
of "happiness even in their most monotonous labours, 
which, like the sports of the field and of the chase, 
stir up a natural interest in the pursuit, independent 
of the very object in view. Other employments and 

K 4 

136 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

professions may be adopted on compulsion, but no 
one was ever constrained to be an artist : it is the 
choice of 'free will ; and with all its disappointments 
and depressions is a high solace to the imaginative 
spirit, and congenial to the heart of man. Indeed, 
there are not wanting instances, and those not few in 
number, where preferment and independence have 
been neglected for the sole purpose of rendering to 
art the undivided homage of mind and hand, com- 
mencing with the humblest of her studies, satisfied 
with a slow and uncertain progress, every step made 
in solitude and neglect ; yet bearing a resistless charm 
with it in the fine creations which it inspires, which 
of itself seems compensation enough for privation and 
toil and disappointment. For of a truth the varied 
and inexhaustible power derivable from the study 
and contemplation of art, furnishes human thought 
with some of its noblest attributes. We receive from 
sculpture and painting some of our most vivid im- 
pressions of the past, our truest knowledge of what 
is remote and distant ; and the proudest of heroes and 
conquerors look to their assistance for being regarded 
and remembered in future ages. 

To be successful in wielding the full powers of art 
seems worthy of man's ambition: to be capable of 
constructing the airy dome or the magnificent portico ; 
to realize in marble the majesty of the Apollo or the 
agony of the Laocoon ; or on a flat surface to repre- 
sent, with all the roundness and relief of solid forms 
moving in airy space and extended distance, the 
death of Ananias or of St. Peter the Martyr, would 


afford not merely a proof of the happy genius of the 
artist, but evidence of a divinity of talent peculiar to 
the species to whom the individual belongs. 

This power, this talent, this mysterious agency, 
the professor of art may, in proportion to his study 
and ability, be able to attain at his command; and 
with this power all that beautiful nature offers to the 
eye may be imitated and represented, with such force 
and truth as to form a record of its visible shape and 
sentiment and hue, when all traces of its original have 
passed away. 

To this bright mode of expression, this perfect 
truth and enduring fidelity, man owes some of the 
most valuable portions of his knowledge : deprive us 
of all that art has taught us, how imperfect would 
our remaining information be ! No description, and 
there are many bright ones, can convey what a pic- 
ture can tell at a glance ; nor can the eye, without 
the help of pictorial representation, form an impres- 
sion of what it has not seen. To art we are indebted 
for our first knowledge of all visible objects beyond 
the contracted sphere of our childhood. The foam- 
ing sea, the raging cataract, the descending avalanche, 
and the burning crater, would, like the lion of the 
desert, the eagle of the sky, or the monsters of the 
deep, remain in our thoughts like undefined chimeras 
of the brain, but for the help of art. The illustrations 
of history, the demonstrations of science, the develop- 
ment of organised and animated nature, depend ma- 
terially on the powers of art to be interpreted and 



Indeed, interwoven as our ideas are with the re- 
presentations of art, and as these representations must, 
for their use, and influence, and nobleness of aim, de- 
pend on the genius and moral character of those by 
whom such powers are exercised, it is indispensable in 
those who minister in this high calling to reflect and 
ponder well on whatsoever they do, that all may be 
for the honour and dignity of art, and elevating to 
their character in the land wherein they dwell. Still, 
it must be confessed that, in spite of the patriotism 
and genius of the artist, his talents, like a summer 
shower, may be wasted on a desert, and all his 
studies rendered vain, unless on the part of the world 
around him a disposition exists to sympathise with 
his studies, and reward with approbation his labours ; 
without which art, however it may rise, cannot be 
said to flourish in any land. This leads us at once 
to the consideration of an important question ; namely, 
what are the wants and tastes of the people in whose 
land we live, and in what way can those wants 
and tastes be rendered available in the higher of the 
efforts of the sculptor and painter? 

To ascertain this let us ask, Have our people in this 
isle the desire to make works of art serviceable in 
promoting and exalting religious devotion, as has 
been done in Flanders, Spain, and Italy ? Or does art 
require the aid of that encouraging system of politi- 
cal policy which has .elevated the school of France? 
In reply to these questions, all that can be stated 
seems to be this, that however disposed the public 
may be to place art on the table-land, no opportunity 
has yet been offered by art for the exercise of such 


lofty encouragement. The taste for art in our isle is 
of a domestic rather than a historical character. A 
fine picture is one of our household gods, and kept 
for private worship : it is an every -day companion ; 
and, unseen in holy places associated with holy things, 
becomes too familiar for awe; for although the no- 
blest aspirations of art are of a nature so general, and 
of an interest so concentrated, as to command and fix 
the applause of an assembled multitude, there are 
feelings not less deep and not less universal which 
require a solitary hour or a holy place, undisturbed 
by applause, unintruded on even by sympathy. 

But admitting, which we must, that we resemble 
the school of Holland and the old school of France 
in adapting art to man's private abode and domestic 
residence, rather than to the abbey or the public 
hall, may not the lover of art and England exclaim, 
" What ! and must we, who take the lead among the 
nations of the earth in all other departments of 
human genius, abandon the hope of rivalling foreign 
states, and cease to hope the production of a series of 
great historical and devotional pictures, like those 
which render the Vatican immortal, the Palace of 
the Luxembourg renowned, and the Escurial famed 
over all the earth ? " Although a series of works such 
as these in their extent and combination have been 
hitherto beyond our reach, let us never cease to hope 
that national dignity will yet assert itself in some 
or all of the noblest departments of art ; and though 
in our island a Raphael or Michael Angelo may not 
appear, yet who can limit the extent or define the 
modes under which genius may shine? For it is 

140 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

one of its truest characteristics to choose a line for 
itself; to be independent of imitation; unrestrained 
by any resemblance, save what is unique and original 
in itself; unfettered by the example of all that has 
preceded it, while it abides the wonder and unap- 
proachable standard of excellence to succeeding ages. 

It is one mark of true and high genius to be of no 
system, of no country, and of no particular time. If 
at one period she luxuriates in all that favours the 
exercise of her fullest power, at another she rejects all 
such aids, and favour is set at nought. Italy, the 
fruitful land of so much that is glorious in art, lost its 
charm ; and genius, forsaking the banks of the Tiber 
and the Arno, winged her way to the side of the hur- 
rying Rhine : and there, without state favour or eccle- 
siastical encouragement, and amidst scenes considered 
uncongenial, and domestic manners unfavourable to 
her studies, she selects the uncouth but mighty Rem- 
brandt as the disciple of her choice; a draughtsman 
without style, a painter of wondrous brilliancy, where 
all else is subdued, adding lustre by the poetry of his 
touch to the mystery of darkness and obscurity, 
giving splendour to poverty, sublimity of expression 
to the most homely countenance, majestic motion to 
the most abject form ; while in the choice of subject, 
use of materials, illusion of effect, he stood alone, 
unlike all and surpassing all, as if nature in creating 
him desired to lavish her rarest gifts only to prove 
the unlimited variety of her power, and the poverty of 
those artificial assistants which in the excess of talent 
can be dispensed with. 

But the splendour of the school of Holland is not 

Jx. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 141 

the sole instance of what private without public 
patronage can accomplish. Our own Reynolds may 
be mentioned as a bright proof of natural vigour ; pos- 
sessing as he did the power of grafting the shoots of 
his own inimitable genius on the deep-rooted stock of 
national predilections which flourished in his time; 
giving, like Rembrandt, to the ordinary labours of 
his hand that fascination and charm, that abstract 
thought and look of dignity and life, which place him 
among the happiest examples of human skill. But 
without limiting the student to the contemplation of 
those two great masters in the domestic dignity of art, 
he may, though his fancy follows the highest, be pleased 
to see them cited as a proof how much innate energy 
of soul may achieve in situations familiar to every age 
of art. 

The veneration with which Leonardo da Vinci and 
Titian are regarded the steady devotion paid to Ra- 
phael the splendid fortune which attended the pro- 
gress of Rubens, all probably contributed to establish 
and diffuse the fame of art, as well as the reputation 
of its chief professors; yet, however desirable such 
distinction might be, the favour of the great and the 
acquirement of fortune are not the constant attend- 
ants on genius, either in art or literature, or any other 
elegant pursuit: on the contrary, while fame has 
often refused to wait on worldly success, she has, at 
the same time, been observed to bestow her highest 
favours on those whom both wealth and rank neg- 
lected, and indeed despised. 

The divine and captivating Correggio, from the 
very doubts thrown upon his history, is supposed to 

142 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

be of the ill-requited and neglected class ; a like cloud 
of doubt and obscurity hangs over the story of Rem- 
brandt; the days of Wouvermans were ended, if not 
passed, in bitterness, and those of Brouwer were num- 
bered in a prison. Morales, the divine Morales, was 
found at Badajos by Philip the Second in extreme 
poverty as well as old age; nor were the powers of 
art nor a name denied to the modest Pareja, who 
was born to the inheritance of slavery, and whose 
ransom from servitude was the sole reward that his 
success procured him. Instances of the like nature 
are still more frequent and remarkable in the history 
of letters, both for the grandeur of genius and the 
brightness with which she shone. Goldsmith, and 
Fielding, and Smollett, seein to vie alike in the happy 
vein of thought which adorns their labours, and in 
the troubles which disturbed their lives. De Foe, 
and Swift, and Bunyan, produced the Adventures of 
Robinson Crusoe, of Lemuel Gulliver, and the ini- 
mitable Pilgrim's Progress, amid disease and disaster 
and despair. Cervantes composed his Don Quixote 
in a prison; Milton his Paradise Lost in blindness 
and neglect, if not surrounded by dangers ; while the 
transcendent genius of Shakspeare seems to have 
sought, and certainly found, no higher reward than 
the dubious applause of a theatre. 

It were needless to multiply instances to show what 
genius is capable of, amid all the impediments which 
evil fortune or studied neglect place purposely in its 
way ; yet it may be observed, that success only follows 
intense devotion and unwearied study a devotion 
and a study to commence with the student, never to 

^T. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 143 

be despised or laid aside by the professor, but to 
animate both to the latest hour of existence; yet all 
this is like water spilt in a desert, unless the mind 
moulds and forms its speculation to the circumstances 
of its situation and the ruling desires of the times. 

Still, whatever strong-minded individuals of them- 
selves may achieve, no fixed school of art fully re- 
flecting the nation in manners as in mind, and with it 
none of the excellence derived from experience or colli- 
sion of talent can be produced, or if produced, acknow- 
ledged by the nation as its own, without the sympathy 
of the people to whom it addresses itself. With this 
sympathy on its side the true test of merit the re- 
ward of present, and the guide to future, productions, 
we may accomplish any thing. Art, with such a 
touchstone in her power, must be responded to from 
every quarter ; and if not from the ruling powers, or 
even the community at large, yet if the wise, the 
learned, and the gifted, smile on her labours, she may 
continue to muse, and study, and toil, with the full 
assurance that she is neither unfelt nor unseen. 

With an art which is the envy of all other arts, a 
labour so elegant and fascinating as to attract into 
her ranks the best and the loftiest talents, with 
materials of which the durability has scarcely yet 
known a limit, and in which the freshness of original 
thought may survive for centuries, the man of genius 
may be said to walk in a light not destined soon 
to suffer an eclipse. Without therefore complaining 
of the want of what is not within our reach, or 
catching at the shadow while in possession of the 
substance, let us cultivate and improve that patronage 

144 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

which is extended to art; that employment almost 
unknown in other nations which we owe to the taste 
and refinement of private gentlemen. 

There is that, perhaps, nameless something in the 
feelings of the possessor of a work of art, arising 
from subject or from handling, and conferring to him 
its chief attraction, which cannot be too deeply studied 
by the artist. This is the best anchor of art. The 
possessor of a picture regards it not in reference to 
the hand which produces it, nor as one whose view of 
it has been hasty and fleeting : he thinks alone of the 
sentiment and feeling of the work, and the lasting 
impression which it makes on his mind; and regards 
it as possessing matter for thought, as a companion 
for the leisure hour, holding up in its solemn stillness 
an image which he loves, perpetuating the vanishing 
smile and the never-to-be-forgotten glance of one 
perhaps long since passed and gone, or the hue of the 
changing foliage, or the lustre of the fleeting cloud, 

" As if an angel, in his upward flight, 
Had left his garment floating in mid air : " 

all of which, and much more, arrested and rendered 
abiding by the sorcery of art, are kept treasured in 
the reflecting mind, affording to the possessor ma- 
terials of pleasure, and a permanent source of pure 

The professor may either regard a work of art as 
an example to follow, or an object of critical examin- 
ation or applause ; the ignorant with the sudden won- 
der which a fine work inspires ; but the possessor of a 
picture can, by his example and his influence, do the 


most for the cause of art. What he likes, another of 
similar taste may like ; what affects him as an indi- 
vidual, may affect all the members of a community, 
the people of an entire city the inhabitants of a 
mighty kingdom. To works so imagined, and in that 
spirit produced, let artists turn more than hitherto 
their attention : obey public feeling as the truest 
index of the wants of the mind of the people : and it 
seems the only sure way of obtaining that confidence 
by which you may in your turn influence and direct 
public taste, and work in your own spirit as well as 
that of the nation. 

We have private patronage in this land to an ex- 
tent which no other nation possesses. Let us en- 
courage this market by supplying it with excellence 
rather than choking it with abundance: husband it 
in every way ; let not its importance be underrated. 
To this class of patrons we owe the chief works of art 
in our land. The whole range of landscape-painting, 
scenes of familiar life, all our portraiture, and a great 
proportion of our historical works, are the offspring of 
individual encouragement. The palaces of Rome, of 
Florence, of Bologna, and of Venice were filled with 
works from the like source. It was by this, and this 
alone, that the great families of the Doria, the Co- 
lonna, and the Altieri acquired their magnificent speci- 
mens of Claude Lorrain and of the Poussins : it was by 
this that the Farnese, the Farnesina, the Rospigliosi, 
and the Ludovisi were decorated ; by this the family 
of Orleans became possessed of the Sacraments of Pous- 
sin ; and by this has the burgomaster Six been handed 

VOL. in. L 

146 THE LITE OF 1836. 

down to our day as the friend and benefactor of 

All who desire to distinguish themselves and grow 
into eminence in art ; all who begin to plume, as it were, 
their wings for an unessayed flight in the higher or 
the humbler regions of art, must hope for success 
through patronage such as this a patronage which 
surpasses far that of many foreign governments, and 
has been established here both by patriotism and 
generosity. To this source all that the genius of our 
school has produced must stand indebted for origin 
and support. This is a feature in our art, as well as a 
proof of the increasing taste and growing wealth of 
the empire. Activity of mind in the artist, a variety 
and diversity of subject, an originality of style, splen- 
dour in colour, a happy adaptation of the theme to 
the feeling of every variety of being : an observance 
of these ruling points has enabled English art to 
penetrate and become an object of demand in every 
country in the world. 

Instead, therefore, of damping the ardour of young 
enthusiasm by holding out unreasonable fears, or 
expatiating on the manifold causes of depression 
which genius, through its sensibilities, seems doomed 
to suffer, I would rather conclude with relating a 
story which came to me through the historian of one 
of the English settlements of America. A devout 
community of respectable settlers, too weak to protect 
themselves, and too humble to purchase the protec- 
tion of others, held in their misery a day of fast and 
humiliation, to render themselves worthier of the 
favour of Providence : but their distresses still con- 

-ffix.51. SIR DAVID W1LKIE. 147 

tinned, and they again consulted abont the propriety 
of another fast, as an atonement for their sins. " A 
fast!" exclaimed one who had not hitherto spoken, 
" a fast would be ungrateful to God for the many 
mercies he has shown us ; let us rather appoint a 
day of thanksgiving:" the proposal was carried with 
shouts, and the little colony was prosperous ever 


On the Choice and Handling of Subjects. 

IF private patronage be, as I believe it is, the ruling 
and guiding power of art in this country a power 
to whose influence the labours of the artist must be 
addressed it has this difference, compared with the 
less scattered and more concentrated patronage of 
the state, that, although it may not require works 
of great extent and vast magnificence, yet it surpasses 
it far in the variety of its demand, calling alike on art 
to decorate the dwelling of the noble, and embellish 
the abode of the peasant to pour a ray or two of 
its light on the thick darkness of sullen ignorance, 
and mingle its fuller and brighter beam with the 
sunshine of learning and taste. While art, thus 
fostered, has become, as it were, the offspring of the : 
island soil, borrowing neither shape nor hue from 
alien lands, it is of importance to ascertain upon 
what principle it is cherished and directed. This is 
capable of a ready solution art depends for both 
aim and character, on the taste and wish, ef the in- 
dividual who visits the picture market, and may feel 

L 2 

148 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

the desire to purchase a solitary work, or establish a 
gallery. Such patrons visit the artist's studio, say- 
ing, " we are not judges of the article, but we know 
what pleases us ; " and they order a picture be it 
portrait, landscape, domestic scene, or poetic painting 

accordingly. To know, then, the taste of the 
public to learn what will best please the employer 

is to an artist the most valuable of all knowledge, 
and the most useful to him whose skill and fancy it 
calls into exercise. 

It is true the employer may not be a good judge of 
art ; he may have notions and fancies which no labour 
can realise may be insensible of the limits which 
control both sculpture and painting; unacquainted 
with fine examples, and little conversant in the 
technical language of our art. Yet, with all these 
discouragements, he may be naturally alive to the 
eifects and the powers of genuine talent, and sen- 
sible to the impressions which the canvas reflects 
of forms and groups, and scenes existing in his own 
mind. With such qualifications, he is probably a 
far better judge of what art should perform than 
the professor who, like the actor on the stage, must 
be content to receive the fiat of success or failure 
from an audience who, to form judgment of the illu- 
sion, must necessarily be excluded from behind the 

If in estimating the character and importance of a 
work of art, the materials of which it is composed 
are considered to have much value or virtue in 
themselves : or if the mode by which they are fash- 
ioned and combined enjoyed an interest beyond the 

Mi. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 149 

mere mechanism through which the impression of 
thought is conveyed to the eye, then would the ex- 
perience of the artist be as necessary to its appreciation 
as his labour is to its production ; but the process of 
thought, like the language of the artist, may appear 
arbitrary and conventional, and the expressions so 
familiar to him of the flowing outline the breadth 
of form, the expressive touch, the gorgeous surface, 
the varied texture with a multitude of phrases, 
which like terms of perspective, or names of tints, 
however necessary in explaining the construction or 
in reasoning on technical merits, yet form no part of 
the enjoyment a picture gives as a work of the mind, 
and if present to the thoughts of the spectator will 
only help to divert him from its true character or 
destroy its illusive effect. 

To one who knows art only by the impression it 
makes, and to whom the mode of speech and thought 
of the artist are as dark as the book of the Sybils, a 
picture should be as a mirror held up in which he 
might see the true impress of nature, preserving 
the glow of youth and beauty, the wisdom and the 
gravity of matron looks, and fixing in unfleeting 
outline and colour the choicest images which appear 
in our waking dreams or in the visions of a fine 

The unprofessional observer, if truly affected by 
a picture, regards it not as a thing for amendment 
or criticism, but as a fixed page of history, a theme 
for moral reflection. The adjustment of grouping, 
the expedient of contrasts, the connected chain of 
incidents, the repetition of lines, of forms and of 

-L 3 

150 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

colours, and the avoidance of sharp angles and abrupt- 
nesses of shape, are lost upon the uneducated eye, 
and, like the contrivances to obtain breadth of effect 
and concentration of interest, ordinary devices which 
accomplish their purpose best when they escape obser- 
vation, are in their success apparent only by the force 
and charm with which the subject of the picture is 
rendered to the mind. 

To the intelligent or gifted spectator these resources 
of art are kept out of view ; to him the picture appears 
as a dream a new existence: not only is the subject 
recorded recalled in all its force, but matters mi- 
raculous are made probable, and the most brilliant 
sallies of the imagination realised. He not only sees 
what a head expresses, but he imagines the train of 
thought passing in the mind to which that expression 
owes its birth. If an eye is to look he will guess the 
object to be seen; if a lip is to speak he will divine 
the words to be uttered : and, if when beholding the 
Descent from the Cross by Rubens he cannot, like Sir 
Joshua Reynolds in commenting on the work, see the 
technical merits of the piece in the light the latter 
from experience beheld them ; if he omits to speculate 
upon the peculiarity of the white sheet on which the 
white body of Jesus lies, and its advantage as a con- 
trast to the flesh tint which probably attracted the 
great colourist to this remarkable treatment of the 
subject ; if unacquainted with the whole resources of 
the art, he is unable to judge truly of the originality of 
the figure of Christ, or of its high claim to accuracy 
of drawing; if such remarks as these, which na- 
turally arise in the kindred mind of an artist, fail to 

^Ex. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 151 

occur to a spectator of taste and knowledge, it must 
be from the noble work before him raising grander 
thoughts in his soul than any which the contemplation 
of the technicalities of art can originate. 

He who properly contemplates that marvellous pic- 
ture, thinks neither of the art nor of the merits of the 
artist. He is transported to Jerusalem at the time of 
the Passover, and the night of the crucifixion to the 
hour of .action in the work; but which includes, such 
is the power of the painter, all previous and succeed- 
ing events in the wondrous story of the Eedeemer. 
All comparisons with other pictures, all criticism 011 
the style of treatment, all inquiry into the present 
condition of the work (has time brightened or dark- 
ened its lustre, or are the materials out of which it is 
worked enduring or decaying ?) are for the time silent 
and mute. The figure of Christ, so celebrated for 
skilful painting, he admires for its look of subdued 
and godlike suffering ; the three Marys, wondrous 
for expression, he admires for their tenderness and 
sympathy ; and the St. John and Joseph of Arima- 
thea, with the attendant officer, who holds the sheet 
in his mouth, while his hands are engaged in lowering 
the figure from the cross, all so valued for fine ex- 
pression and masterly arrangement, he applauds, for 
their pious care of the body of their divine master. 
Even the all but supernatural light shooting down 
from the centre, amidst united transparency and deep 
shadow, suggests to him a vivid and sudden flash of 
lightning, such as rendered Mount Calvary visible as 
at noon, when thick darkness brooded over all the land 
from the sixth unto the ninth hour ; when the earth 

L 4 

152 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

did quake, the rocks did rend, and the veil of the 
temple was rent in twain. 

It is, indeed, this power of stirring up the deepest 
emotions within us which forms the strength and the 
glory of art. Difficulties overcome can be felt and 
known only to those accustomed to overcome them ; 
but the power of recalling the by-gone thought, of 
giving form and lustre to things which live but in 
memory; of reviving the dearest remembrances of 
the heart, and gladdening the life of man by calling 
from the grave, the wave, or the battle-field those 
whom he loved or admired, are the noble purposes to 
which the art addresses itself. This lending of new 
life, this re-creation, as it were, of things now gone, in 
which the heart of man once rejoiced, gives art ele- 
vation with the highest poetry, and makes it claim 
kindred with the purest efforts of poetic imagination, 
while it displays an intelligence clearer and better 
understood than all the efforts of language, since it 
speaks all tongues, nor requires translation. 

From these remarks it will be obvious how differ- 
ently a work of art may be viewed, in all its relations, 
by two distinct minds ; the one wholly uninformed, 
and, however intelligent, yet ignorant of the mys- 
teries of composition and colour ; and the other, a 
lover and observer of art, but who, in contemplating 
a picture, leaves the mechanism of the work out of 
view, and decides by the evidence alone of the sen- 
timent and influence of the work. One is the 
mechanist, who adjusts the parts of a watch ; the 
other the observer, who looks to the dial only that he 
may know the hour. 


Distinct or dissimilar as these two may be in their 
reasonings on the same work of art, there is this to 
be remarked on the nature of their dissimilarity, that 
although the one may have a true and perfect feeling 
and judgment of the work before him, without the 
slightest knowledge of the principles upon which it is 
created ; yet the artist, on the other hand, with all 
his knowledge, will toil and toil, in vain, if ignorant 
or neglectful of the impression which he makes on a 
simple and observing mind. 

The professor of art should, at every step and at 
every turn, weigh well, and consider what will give 
to his work this species of influence ; he should cull 
and collect all such modes of thought, and trains of 
ideas, as are felt and understood by the unschooled 
and uninstructed. The artist should push his ob- 
servation far and wide : the best informed will find 
that he can always be learning something ; the least 
informed will soon perceive that he has much to learn. 
Above all things, he should reflect, and this ex- 
plains many a system and many a theory; that he is 
painting, not for those who know, but for those who 
do not know; that he is not labouring for those 
acquainted with art, in all its details, but for those 
who do not know, and will perhaps never know, any 
one circumstance connected with his work, save and 
except the little he can learn from the silent picture 

To feel and abide by the simplicity of such a plan 
of composition as this, many prejudices must be 
encountered, many preconceived notions must be 
disturbed or dismissed : of these, some will occur to 

154 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

the artist himself; some may be suggested by others ; 
but all discussions which come from a spirit, whose 
object is truth, will be valuable in the formation of a 
work of art. Indeed, discussions and inquiries are 
the means by which he compares his own ideas with 
the ideas of others, and thus he is enabled to ascer- 
tain the wants as well as the wishes of the public, 
and create works such as correspond with the demand 
of his employers. 

Of all the objects requiring consideration, the 
choice of a subject which presents itself at the out- 
set is the most serious to settle and decide. In this 
it is difficult to assist the artist; his own sense of 
what his talents can best illustrate is his surest guide. 
Habit, in his art, will naturally lead him to those 
scenes and incidents which, to use a professional 
phrase, are "paintable;" but yet how various these 
are, how liable to be mistaken, and by none more 
so than by those of exuberant fancy, whose ideas are 
unrestrained by the limits or the proprieties of art, 
and who are led to believe that any situation which has 
point is remarkable, and which gives rise to a bright 
saying, " is fit for a picture." Carried away by the 
charms of a narrative, by the fascinations of a de- 
scription, as by a dramatic inarch of events, they 
create a series of pictures in their own minds, full of 
every sort of fancy but that which is sensible to the 
sight, and capable of being related by the pencil. 

In all these discussions this should never be lost 
sight of, that words, though they represent ideas very 
imperfectly, cannot express pictures : but though words 
do not express pictures, neither do pictures represent 

^x.51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 155 

words. There are many ideas, which make a great 
figure in words, that in painting would be lost, and 
of no effect ; and other ideas are again objectionable 
in words, yet when touched by an art which works 
with other materials, the idea in its new dress and 
hue, becomes pure and exalted; as an instance of 
this, a peculiarity as well as agency in art, the 
ideas presented by the words " nakedness," " want," 
" poverty," " disease," " agony," and " death," are in 
detail painful and repulsive, and cannot be dwelt on 
with satisfaction to either mind or heart : yet when 
treated by the gentle and delicate hand of art, when 
the carnation tones of Titian, the rich texture of 
Murillo or of Rembrandt, or the sublime contour and 
intellectual expression of Michael Angelo, are em- 
ployed, the magic of the painter's hand shines then 
acknowledged, and his canvas eclipses poetry itself. 

Following out the comparison, it will not be diffi- 
cult to show in what way words fail in expressing the 
fitness or unfitness of objects and incidents for works 
of art. This words may accomplish in two ways 
by exceeding what lies within the power of art to 
represent, or by underrating in description what art 
can with perfect facility accomplish. In conversing 
about pictures, it may be observed that words ex- 
press to the ear equally plain and distinct objects, 
be they humble or high, and exalt what in a picture 
is subordinate, and depress what is most essential 
to its effect. Language indeed is no measure of 
the appearance of objects whether great or small, 
distant or near. It follows, then, that words which 
express extreme littleness, extreme value, extreme 

156 THE LIFE OF' 1836. 

distance, or a vast multitude, cannot be painted in a 
picture. A thing of inestimable value makes a figure 
in a sentence; but if little or shapeless, makes no 
figure in a picture, and can only be brought into im- 
portance by the introduction of attendant circum- 
stances : in the same way, neither extreme distance 
or vast multitude can be expressed with the pencil 
except by some mode which, after all, might be 
misunderstood of saying, by forms, that there is 
more distance and a greater multitude than the eye 
can embrace. 

The pearl which was dissolved for Cleopatra can 
have its great value expressed by words; while the 
art of the painter can stamp no appearance of inesti- 
mable value on it, save by the excited and marvelling 
looks of the attendants, who wonder at her profusion. 
The experience of any artist may supply his recollec- 
tion with other illustrations of the like kind : the 
summer sun can only be represented in his mid-day 
lustre by his rays alone, or by light reflected from 
objects which he illuminates no art can imitate his 
meridian splendour. There are indeed many matters 
which shine in description, which must look dull and 
improper in a picture. Goldsmith, in the Vicar of 
Wakefield, gives an humorous account of a picture 
containing a whole family, with oranges in their right 
hands; yet, however absurd even the bare mention of 
this may appear in description, it is certain that, in 
real life, such an exhibition might pass and provoke 
no comment. The sisters of a nunnery appear with 
their rosaries, the monks of a convent with the same 
book, and the soldiers of a regiment with similar arms 


and similar accoutrements. The truth indeed of these 
figures on the canvas but poorly supplies the absence 
of invention; where posture, and position, and action, 
and looks are similar, one figure may do as well as 
a dozen, as one word expresses twelve better than a 
word twelve times repeated : yet, in art, twelve figures 
must really be painted to express that number; and, 
should Joseph and his brethren be the twelve, every 
variety that taste and skill can devise will be required 
to paint them without sameness or tiresome similarity. 
In language, an object may be detailed and ren- 
dered distinct to the mind's eye absent and out of 
sight; but in painting, nothing can be represented 
without introducing it into the picture, and placing it 
visibly in view. In description, an object may be 
present though concealed from the eye ; no such 
licence is permitted in a picture : the Roman youth 
who concealed the wolf under his cloak must, in a pic- 
ture, be painted so as to impress on the spectator's mind 
that he is attempting to conceal the ferocious animal, 
else the moral of his action fails. On the same prin- 
ciple, if a person is shown in disguise, that disguise, 
though unknown to the other characters of the pic- 
ture, must to the spectators be obvious at a glance ; 
not only that a person disguised is mingling in 
the scene, but his character must stand revealed 
and plain. In short, where neither note nor annota- 
tions can interpose to explain the meaning, there can 
be nothing intelligible which is not visible to the 
eye ; and, although words may excite sensations too 
deep for tears, and feelings too profound for utter- 
ance, in a picture we have no such help : expression, 

158 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

though difficult, must yet be painted ; for, even in a 
head which falls short of the sentiment required, it 
will make far less a blank or blemish in a picture, 
than a face veiled or hidden through the artist's diffi- 
dence or want of power. If, from all this, the inability 
of art to realise the same ideas which narrative or 
description supplies be admitted, what remains, it will 
be asked, upon which the art of the painter can raise 
a structure worthy of that station which art holds in 
the ranks of mind? 

To this it may be fairly answered, that, with all this 
visible limitation, the art of painting bears with it an 
intelligence which, in its own distinct walk, leaves the 
eloquence of language, either written or spoken, far 
behind. This is her ability of giving the actual re- 
semblance and likeness of every object in existence, 
and of placing before the eye the individual image of 
all we have seen, and which the memory of man re- 
tains. This the painter's art can do, with a truth 
which is neither arbitrary nor conventional, and 
which, to all people and in all places, will be known 
by the object it represents, and which can be taken 
for no other than the object in question. Upon this 
fixed and established point the foundations of art may 
be said to rest; from this position the whole visible 
aspect of nature may, as with a lever, be moved and 
wielded at will. With such power as this, lending 
an all but divine faculty to art, man has the means of 
preserving a likeness, not only of himself, but of em- 
bodying in that likeness all the various fluctuations 
of thought, and change of look and habit, to which 
his nature is subject. It is the representation of man, 

^Ex.51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 159 

with, his moods and aspirations, which constitutes, as- 
it were, the soul of art. Without some reference to 
man, with his labours and pursuits, a work of art 
would have little interest either to the eye or to the 
thought : even when introduced in the landscape, too 
remote to be distinguished for expression or for ac- 
tion, the figure of a human being has an attraction 
which never fails ; giving a cheerfulness to even earth, 
and air, and sky, which are brightened by his pre- 
sence. Even the deepest solitude, the wildest desert, 
the loneliest isle, when gladdened by the footsteps of 
man, have from that hour the interest which, where- 
ever he goes, he excites. But though objects and 
scenes derive interest from their connection with man, 
and we scan with a curious glance the wild landscape 
for the hut he hath raised, the hill he hath passed, 
the well he hath dug, and even seek for the ashes of 
the fire he hath kindled, yet, in justice to art and its 
resources, I must say that man, with all his perfection 
of form and movement, must come near to the eye in; 
the desert, as well as the picture, before he can stand 
the leading feature of the scene, or have justice done 
to his high faculties. It is here that language fails, 
and art asserts her mastery. 

To give a true impression of the human counte- 
nance, no skill in description, no combination of 
words, however happily chosen, have yet succeeded. 
Even the memory, however vivid, fails to embody a 
resemblance in words which another can recognise as 
like. A description may point out the man who car- 
ries a passport, or a proclamation with its details and 
measurements may render a fugitive suspected; but 

160 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

much as a description may correspond with the looks, 
it cannot suggest their real appearance. The colour 
of the eyes, the eye-brows, and hair, may be given ; 
the nose classed with the Eoman or the regular; the 
lips as thick or thin, straight or serpentine ; yet how 
little do all these indicate what the world regards as 
likeness, or of that recognizable aspect or peculiarity 
of character which, however much it may be modified 
in passing from youth to manhood, and from man- 
hood to old age, preserves its original character still. 
This is a quality peculiar to human nature, yet so de- 
licate, so difficult to be imitated or caught, so remote 
too from mechanism in its imitation, that all the 
painter's art and sculptor's skill are called forth to 
record it aright. 

With the poet or the historian the character of an 
individual can, at the best, be but imperfectly given : 
they can make a nearer approach when they attempt 
personal appearance. We all remember Hamlet's de- 
scription of the picture of his father : 

" See what a grace was seated on this brow : 
Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself; 
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command ; 
A station like the herald Mercury, 
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill ; 
A combination, and a form, indeed, 
Where every god did seem to set his seal, 
To give the world assurance of a man." 

Beautiful as this imagery is, it is simply a com- 
parison of feature and look with imagery of a most 
exalted kind; but it conveys no likeness, no resem- 
blance more than the historical portrait of Hume gives 


us of the real look and appearance of King Charles 
the First. 

" This prince was of a comely presence, of a sweet 
but melancholy aspect. His face was regular, hand- 
some, and well complexioned : his body, strong, 
healthy, and justly proportioned, and being of a 
middle stature, he was capable of enduring the great- 
est fatigues. " This description, however graphic and 
defined, is not to be compared with the portrait of 
the same printe by Vandyke, a likeness seen in a 
moment of time ; and, like a living person, when once 
seen and acknowledged, never forgotten. 

It is this ability to call up the real person, of por- 
traying the human looks and mind, which raises art 
above both epic and dramatic poetry. The human 
eye is drawn with peculiar care, as an object conscious 
of being seen, and of seeing in its turn. There seems 
something mysterious in its resemblance to the real 
person, as if it shared in the virtues of the person it 
represented. It is known that domestic animals have 
been disturbed by the steady glare of the eyes of a 
picture, and that the minds of men, far too expe- 
rienced to be affected by other deceptions of art, have 
yet been startled with its life-like look. Who is there 
that has not been touched with what is called a 
speaking picture, with eyes that look upon you, see 
you, and appear to follow you round the room ; with 
lips which move, and seem to belong to a visiter or 
a familiar spirit, and might, at the witching hour, 
suggest to a superstitious mind an actual presence? 
The very stillness of a fine picture, perhaps, gives 
rise to such reveries, and allows time for imaginative 

VOL. in. M 

162 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

thoughts to rise, which, however illusory, are the 
most pleasing of the dreams which spring from art, 
being, as it has been most truly said, a part of her 
expressive and her silent language. 

By the human countenance that expositor of the 
inward workings of the mind of man, and index of his 
temper and powers of thought, we are guided in our 
every-day intercourse with our species; and by this 
let the painter find light to his art. In the endless 
modifications of the human face, ever}^ variety of age, 
and character, and condition, may be shown ; every 
tribe and nation may be exemplified, every local situ- 
ation and climate indicated, and every event and inci- 
dent in the history of mankind expressed or illus- 
trated. The spirit revealed in the human face has a 
voice for all lands, and is a book for all ages ; it makes 
itself felt without the aid of the canvas ever under- 
stood without the intervention of art. With such a 
talisman let the genius of painting go forth in all her 
strength, conquering and to conquer; and, once be- 
come the rouser and awakener of the simple and unin- 
formed, what will hinder her to superadd all the ac- 
complishments now current with the learned; and, 
like the famed Madonna of Raphael, which, while re- 
garded as furnishing a splendid example of art by the 
professor, is equally dear to the ordinary observer 
from majesty of form and elevation of sentiment. 

^T. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 163 


Portrait- Painting. 

I HAVE attempted to show, in the foregoing remarks, 
that the patronage of art in this country is depen- 
dent on the taste and liberality of private individuals, 
distinct from any influence or power of artists them- 
selves, and that to cherish and continue that patron- 
age, it is necessary that works of art should in their 
conception and character coincide with the opinions of 
the great body of private patrons, and reflect their 
tastes and feelings ; for to artists these are the re- 
presentatives of the purchasing world at large. 

These conditions of patronage and encouragement 
may appear to some a giving up of the great cause of 
the independence of genius and originality of thought, 
and annihilating the authority of the greatest masters 
in the calling, and setting at nought the taste and 
dictum of experienced judges in the labours of the 
pencil. But I have spoken very unhappily if it is 
supposed that I desire to set the will of the ignorant 
above the judgment of the learned. I desired but to 
waive all discussion of what can be best dispensed 
with, and suggested that genius might haply triumph 
in the opinions of both, by adding what has been 
gained from the taste and experience of ages to what 
might secure the suffrages of the greater number for 
the greater period of time. 

With this in view, preferring the most plain and 
simple ideas, and proceeding upon the certain axiom 
that the most interesting object to man is man, it 

M 2 

164 THE LIFE OF 1836- 

follows that whatever has relation to man, or bears 
the semblance of his image, will most readily engage 
the sympathies of his class and kind, who appreciate 
works of art only by their supposed reference to the 
business and enjoyments of life. To accomplish this, 
the representation of man the graceful delineation of 
his form the sentiments written on his forehead and 
on his face are the surest means of obtaining exten- 
sive sympathy ; for a picture which wants his attrac- 
tion, and trusts to the auxiliaries of man, ranges more 
with natural history than with elevated art. Man, on 
the contrary, forms a perpetual object of interest and 
curiosity : he interests not only by his own likeness, 
but through other objects which engage his attention, 
and vary the attractions of the picture ; the eye that 
sees and the subject seen bearing that relation to each 
other which leads to those manifold combinations by 
which every element of thought, in the most extended 
work of art, is arranged and united into a whole. 

In this chain of connexion, the human eye, which 
with the painter is so powerful an agent of intelli- 
gence, may be said, with its riveting gaze, to be the 
connecting link. While it has a faculty of expression 
possessed by no other human feature, it has a lustre 
and a beauty peculiarly adapted to painting, which no 
other art but painting can represent. The power of the 
eye in a picture rests not entirely with itself, but in 
its glance seems to perceive and regard other objects; 
and, like the magnetic needle in navigation, makes 
known, by the direction to which it points, where its 
attraction lies. In the intercourse of life, it is rather 
by the rejoicing eyes of the crowd than by their voice, 

&r.5'l. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 165 

that we discover the happy person whom they are 
collected to welcome. In like manner, we read the 
sudden death of Ananias in the amazed countenances 
of the spectators, and the judgment-like blindness of 
Elymas the sorcerer in the horror-stricken faces ga- 
thered around him in Raphael's cartoons. In like 
manner, too, we see conviction glancing in every eye, 
and impressed on every face, in the celebrated Preach- 
ing of St. Paul at Athens. 

Innumerable almost are the cases which might be 
cited to show the commanding powers of the eye. In 
subjects like The Visitation of the Shepherds, The 
Offering of the Magi, The Crucifixion, or The 
Taking down from the Cross, where the picture is 
occupied by one absorbing subject, the concentrated 
look of the bystanders is the truest guide to the chief 
group, the principal figure, or the leading and ruling 
feature of the composition, to which the artist desires 
attention to be called. It is only on subjects possess- 
ing a diversity of interest that the rule of concen- 
trating the eyes and feelings of the by-standers can be 
dispensed with. But this intelligence of the face and 
eye, to be effective in directing, like the pointing 
finger, what to look to, can only be in those heads so 
turned towards the spectator that the features may 
be distinctly seen. In the position of the head, full 
face and profile, not only expression has been ren- 
dered, but the power of the master shown in all its 
strength, in heads where little more than the cheek is 
visible. In " The Infant Academy" Sir Joshua Rey- 
nolds has an instance of this, in giving to the averted 
face of the sitting figure that peculiar smile of con- 

M 3 

166 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

sciousness which carries on the story ; while Raphael, 
in the " Incendio del Borgo," has in the face of the wo- 
man with the vase on her head, where scarce a feature 
is seen, given the extreme agony of distress. In faces 
looking up or down, so much so as to be extremely 
foreshortened, the portrait resemblance is all but im- 
possible; but as great strength of expression is in- 
consistent with manly grace or feminine beauty, an 
expert draughtsman will know that a certain delicacy 
of management is required at his hand, and will work 

With respect to expression where neither face nor 
features are seen, it may be observed that the back 
view of the head or figure seems to correspond with 
what in electricity is called the negative quality, as 
useful in a work of art as indispensable in the imita- 
tion of nature, by the degrees of interest which denies 
to our head the display of emotion, that other parts 
may exhibit the greater effect. Still the back view of 
a figure in a picture, as of an actor on the stage, must 
be shown sparingly, however much this may appear 
to deviate from the accidental grouping of people in 
life : a happy expression given to the back of a figure, 
by action of the limbs or of the body, forms one of 
the surest indications of address and genius in the art 
of the painter. 

But it is not by the averted head or by half-hidden 
emotion that the heart and understanding of the spec- 
tator of a work of art are alone to be moved : they must 
be attracted and retained, and the full and exuberant 
display of mind and thought, which, by the eye and 
what the eye sees, by the look and what the look ex- 

&T. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 167 

presses, impress the meaning upon the observer's 
thoughts. The largest work of art, a picture for 
instance, can only have a certain allowance of space, 
every inch of which, whether dedicated to activity or 
repose, may furnish occasion for interest or effect 
which the artist should husband to the utmost of his 
power : nay, he must even alter the details of action 
or character, ameliorate costume, and change the pro- 
babilities of every real scene and event, in order that 
the subject-matter of his theme may be obvious and 
clear to even the duller spectator. 

What realities will admit of alteration, and what 
parts of known characters, of known incidents, and 
known circumstances, will admit of such change and 
deviation, it will be now my object to point out and 

In the example of the human head, without at- 
tempting to generalise it so far as to make it the beau- 
ideal of the class to which it belongs, there is yet, in 
every head, certain untoward shapes, spaces too vacant, 
or too much divided, or certain lines which, for har- 
monious arrangement, require to be assimilated in 
their direction, which the practice of every draughts- 
man will at once correct ; and this sort of treatment 
or accommodation is common to all heads, more or 
less, of the most perfect which nature can supply. In 
reflecting on individual characters, Sir Thomas Law- 
rence used to say, that even in the majestic head of 
Mrs. Siddons there were parts and forms which did 
not appear to belong to Mrs. Siddons, and should 
therefore be omitted in her portraiture. To every 
head where character as well as resemblance is re- 

M 4 

168 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

quired, the same remark will apply ; not only may 
accidents be softened or left out, but a due distinction 
should be made between what is permanent and fixed, 
and parts liable to continual alteration and change. 
The eyes, the nose, the mouth require to be given 
with a force due to their pre-eminence, while the 
dimples on the cheek of youth, and the wrinkles on 
the brow of age should not be given with the force of 
life, but with such delicacy as fleeting and evanescent 
nature requires. The question however will be, how 
far this deviation from actual appearances may be 
allowed ; for it may be said, Can any thing be a better 
representation of a man than the transcript of him- 
self, or can it be a better likeness by being unlike the 
man ? In regard to actual resemblance, there are 
those whom nothing will satisfy but a real, striking, 
startling likeness ; a something which a child might 
not only know, but mistake for the reality ; and, as 
Northcote used to say, " the house-dog must bark 
at in token of familiar recognition." Those who de- 
mand such proof from art may find it in the merest 
daub, in the harshest of caricatures, but will look for 
it in vain in the finest pictures. 

But of all judges, the most difficult to satisfy, and 
whose opinion there seems the least reason to doubt 
or question, are the family and relatives of the person 
whose portrait has been painted. They, more than 
all others, must know the original best ; and knowing 
this, it would seem in vain to doubt but that they 
must distinguish what is like or unlike. It is indeed 
not the knowledge, but the taste, of such persons that 
should make us hesitate to alter what they say should 

Mi. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 169 

be altered, and obey their judgment to the full in this 
matter; but they may know too much, and may 
require too much: their familiarity with the varied 
movements of the features will render them fastidious 
even in the fixed relief of a marble, as well as in the 
flat surface of a painting ; and excepting against both, 
though from the hands of masters, will often be sa- 
tisfied with the harshest representation, if it be only a 
faithful uncompromising likeness. Were a portrait 
painted for the family alone, or for the 'fleeting day in 
which it is produced, from the judgment of the family 
there would be no appeal. But its object and its fate 
are not so limited : it requires to be adapted, both in 
conception and execution, for the world at large ; for 
those who have seen, and those who have not seen, 
the original; for his absence, as well as for his pre- 
sence. But even to the family it has to recall days 
when he was unchanged by years, and to his sur- 
vivors continue his visible traits of intelligence, 
which, without the aid of art, would be lost and for- 

To prove the different impressions made by resem- 
blances on strangers, and on indifferent spectators, 
from those made on friends and the companions of 
domestic life, we need only recall to mind, what all 
must have observed, that twins of a family are often 
so like to one another that no ordinary observer can 
well perceive the difference ; yet these twins, so like 
in look, and manner, and voice, are to the domestic 
circle in which they move so entirely different, that 
no confusion or mistake ever arises from their known 
similarity. But this discrimination in matters 01 

170 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

resemblance is not limited to domestic circles, or to 
our own kindred or species. The shepherd exercises 
it on the sheep of his fold, each of which he distin- 
guishes less by marks than by character, though to 
many minds they look alike. In particular nations, 
the Chinese for instance, and Hindoos, strangers trace 
the kindred resemblance which to themselves is un- 
felt or unknown. In truth, a strictly accurate like- 
ness is by no means necessary for recognition: a too 
faithful resemblance of the person ill supplies the 
impression left by his living image. With defects 
made palpable to increase the resemblance, and in- 
telligence invaded by minute detail, a portrait of this 
kind compared with what it imitates is dull and heavy, 
without motion as it is without life. Such a portrait, 
disagreeable, and failing in the true qualities of the 
original, has no attraction for any one else ; is at best 
disliked, and discarded by the very persons to whom 
its likeness was its only value. 

Indeed it is found that an admitted or implied re- 
semblance is not easily driven from the mind, whether 
right or wrong. This is illustrated rather whim- 
sically in a paper in " The Spectator." An inn- 
keeper on the estate of Sir Koger de Coverley had, from 
the spirit of homage, caused the head of the worthy 
baronet to be painted on his sign-post. The repre- 
sentation, however, was not relished by Sir Roger, 
who desired it to be rubbed out, and replaced by the 
Saracen's head ; but though the painter did his best 
to obliterate the old head, " still," says Addison, " no 
one would fail in detecting, under the furious aspect 


of the Saracen, a still quizzical likeness of the worthy 

Experience, indeed, proves that a too severe and 
accurate likeness may be in a portrait. In numerous 
and lengthened sittings, the features of the sitter 
grow tired and relaxed ; defects become more ap- 
parent ; corrections are required, and these are made 
in no happy mood. A friend used to say, there were 
two material things in a picture to be counteracted 
the want of movement and the want of life : to supply 
these there must be more of youth and more of health 
than the person who is to be represented seems to 
possess. This little more of health, this little more 
of youth the utmost which every favourable likeness 
ever tries to give, is all the painter attempts to bestow 
to enliven the flat surface before him ; but, instead 
of success, he is apt to be accused of flattering the 
vanity of his sitter, though his object is very dif- 

Still, after the artist has exhausted all his resources 
- the moulding of forms, and the blending of tints, 
to impose a faint substitute for the intelligence of 

" Who can paint like nature ? "* 

Can the painter, with all the helps at illusion his art 
can bring, do more than strive to improve Nature? 
Can every resource of his skill compensate for that 
grace that soul and that life which, save in a 
happy frenzy of genius, is beyond the reach of art? 
of this species of indirect imitation, the great painters 

172 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

whose mode of practice has come within our own 
knowledge will furnish us with the best and most 
conclusive examples. 

No representations of female character have equal- 
led in sweetness and beauty the female portraits of 
Sir Joshua Reynolds; yet a contemporary has re- 
marked, that this was accomplished greatly at the 
expense of likeness. Hoppner, who was himself dis- 
tinguished for the beauty with which he endowed the 
female form, remarked, that even to him it was a 
matter of surprise that Reynolds could send home 
portraits with so little resemblance to the originals. 
This, indeed, in his day, occasioned portraits to be 
left on his hands or turned to the wall, which, since 
the means of comparing resemblances have ceased, 
have blazed forth in all the splendour of grace and 
elegance, which the originals would have been envied 
for had they ever possessed them. 

I may add to this what is remarked of Sir Thomas 
Lawrence. His likenesses were celebrated as the 
most successful of his time; yet no likenesses ex- 
alted so much or refined more upon the originals. 
He wished to seize the expression rather than copy 
the features. His attainment of likeness was most 
laborious. One distinguished person who favoured 
him with forty sittings for his head alone, declared he 
was the slowest painter he ever sat to, and he had 
sat to many. He would draw the portrait in chalk, 
the size of life, on paper ; this occupied but one sit- 
ting, but that sitting lasted nearly one whole day. 
He next transferred this outline from the paper to 
the canvas : his picture and his sitter were placed at 

^Et. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 173 

a distance from the point of view ; where, to see both 
at a time, he had to traverse all across the room be- 
fore the conception which the view of his sitter sug- 
gested could be proceeded with. In this incessant 
transit his feet had worn a path through the carpet 
to the floor, exercising freedom both of body and 
mind; each traverse allowing time for invention, 
while it required an effort of memory between the 
touch on the canvas and the observation from which 
it grew. 

With all the latitude allowed to Sir Thomas Law- 
rence in rendering a likeness, still those who knew 
and could compare the heads he painted with the 
originals, must have been struck with the liberties he 
would take in changing and refining the features be- 
fore him. Sir Joshua seems to have recreated and 
idealised the individual person as well as the groups 
when under his pencil, showing a boldness and diver- 
sity of arrangement unexampled in the history of 
portraiture. Lawrence, compared to Reynolds, was 
confined and limited far more than his powers could 
have justified, admitting but small deviations in the 
placing of the heads small variety of pictorial com- 
position. The features were painted nearly in all his 
heads in the same light and in the same position ; but 
they derived from this a perfection of execution never 
to be equalled. In the drawing and touching of the 
human eye, he had a lustre and life which Rubens 
and Vandyke have equalled, but have not excelled. 

But in dwelling, as every artist must like to do, on 
those splendid instances of success, it may be doubtful 
whether, professing, as we do, to consider the em- 

174 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

ployer and sitter alone, we are not advocating a cause 
generally believed to be at variance with much that 
is desired through art to obtain. The employer, if 
asked what he desires in a portrait, will answer, that 
what he really wants is a likeness a striking like- 
ness, and the more striking, to him the more satis- 
factory. Having, indeed, with all his wish to employ, 
no deep knowledge in the proprieties of expression so 
necessary in an artist, he cannot be expected to see 
any advantage in permitting the indulgence of such 
fancies as threaten to injure in his sight the likeness 
he covets. " If these proprieties," he says, in a sar- 
castic tone, " render a picture more valuable, then, of 
course, the portrait must be the more valuable the 
less like it is." 

It must be confessed that to answer such plain 
reasoning, as art, if conducted on sound principles, 
must be able to answer, it will be necessary to assume 
that even the most sufficient likeness will soon lose to 
its possessor all its charms, unless it has a claim as a 
work of art. As a work of art must every portrait 
be tried : without such merit it loses not merely a 
part of its fancied beauty and attraction, but what in 
one sense is of more consequence, loses its utility; in 
fact, it loses, all that it should represent to future 
times, and should save it too from early neglect and 

It was once asked of a judge of works of art, what 
was the best preserver of a picture ; he answered, the 
value of a picture is its best preservative. By the 
same rule, which seems a just one, the value of a 
portrait, as a work of art, must be its only preserv- 

^T. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 175 

ative. Its value as a work of art will preserve the re- 
semblance of the homeliest man, the plainest woman, 
and the poorest individual; while any trace of the 
most famous hero, the most beautiful woman, and 
the most august sovereign, will be swept by time 
from the memory of man, if the age in which they 
flourished fails to have kept a portrait of them suf- 
ficiently valuable to be worth preservation. 

How is it that we know so perfectly the semblance 
of the Tudors and the Stuarts, and so little of the 
Plantagenets who preceded them? How is it, save 
that Holbein and his followers painted the one, and 
Vandyke and his followers painted the other, while, 
during the earlier reigns, when architecture was in 
its youth, and sculpture and illuminated drawing had 
attained considerable eminence, yet no portrait of suf- 
ficient pictorial merit has been saved from forgetful- 
ness to show us the aspect of the great persons of 
those times ? It is reported of the great Duke of Marl- 
borough, that he said he knew no more of the history 
of England than he had read in Shakspeare; an 
avowal the more remarkable from one whose actions 
have added to history some of her brightest pages. 
The great dramatist, however, may be said to have 
given to those parts of our history of which he has 
treated, an ascendency which the most learned stu- 
dent feels, and rendered those scenes where Hotspur, 
Henry V., Richard III., and Wolsey appear, unap. 
proachable in their impression by any detail or de- 
scription the professed historian can accomplish. 

But if the genius of the dramatic muse can thus 
call up to the eye the perceptions of the mind, bid 

176 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

those who have walked the earth and influenced the 
affairs of men, to reappear ; so will the genius of por- 
traiture, when she assumes her proper rank in real 
historic art, seize and establish the shapes, the looks, 
and the minds of her great contemporaries, and exhibit 
them as they appeared when performing their parts 
in life. Kaphael has in the Stanzas of the Vatican, in 
representations of abstract and legendary history, thus 
rendered to us the persons and the courts of Julius II. 
and Leo X., giving us, what written history is unable 
to give, the visible appearance of court and of cha- 
racter : Rubens in his splendid, though irregular series 
of pictures from the life of Marie de Medicis, has, 
with a vividness never probably to be surpassed, 
brought before us in array, the chief personages, 
princes, statesmen, churchmen, and warriors, who 
flourished in the court of Henry IV. and his queen, 
giving to the antiquary and historian a body of sta- 
tistic evidence, which no other record of that period 
can supply. In a similar manner, Yelasquez has 
handed down to us the solemn and stately air of 
Philip IV. and his family, giving- to his infantes and 
infantas a natural air in their courtly but artificial 
habits, peculiar to that great master. 

But of all the courts vividly depicted by the 
painter's art, to its own or succeeding generations, 
that of Charles I. of England is the most life-like 
and masterly. Vandyke does not, indeed, share in 
the refined elegance or high science of Raphael, or 
equal the vivacity and fire of Rubens, nor the start- 
ling look of individuality in Velasquez ; but there is 
withal an ease and grace, a silent though living re- 


pose, which bring before us the eminent and the 
lovely of his age, as if they had every quality of life 
save that of movement ; yet they seem about to move, 
having only ceased from moving when we came to 
look at them. The art of Vandyke is indeed adapted 
to every capacity: he captivates all beholders by a 
silent reality, which alike attracts attention and 
retains it. It may be said of him, that his happy art 
of portraiture has done more, for one at least of the 
personages he has painted, than portraiture has done 
for any one other that ever lived. No one has been 
ver so rendered by resemblance as Charles I. : of 
this monarch, the portraits by Vandyke are such 
perfect likenesses, such truly breathing effigies, that 
they serve to give more of a posthumous existence 
to man than had ever been bestowed by any human 
means before ; and these, comparing them with other 
transcripts, are likenesses which give, what even his 
enemies allowed him to possess, the grace and dignity 
of a king and a gentleman. Nor do the fascinations 
of Vandyke stop with Charles: his queen, Henrietta 
Maria, has been painted with all the illusion of life; 
and his children, Charles, Mary, and James, in the 
separate groups at Windsor and Turin, are painted at 
that age when the simplicity of inexperience shows 
them in most engaging contrast with the power of 
their rank and station, and like the infantas of Velasr 
quez, unite all the demure stateliness of the court, 
with the perfect artlessness of childhood. 

But there is one circumstance connected with the 
employment of Vandyke in England, showing, how- 
ever highly he was appreciated, it was only by a part of 


178 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

the British people, and that the taste for art had not 
yet become a native feeling. Vandyke painted indeed 
the Buckinghams, the Arundels, the Straffords, and 
the Pembrokes ; but neither the Hampdens, the Brad- 
shawes, the Fairfaxes, nor any of the leaders of the 
prevailing party, seem to have had the taste or the 
desire to employ his pencil. The result of this 
appears to have been that Painting, which arose from 
the taste and disposition of the King, was repressed 
by his troubles, and overthrown by his fall. 

Pursuing this a little further, however, it will be 
found that the rise of art in England at that time 
had other causes of retardation than the loss and 
that was a great one of so accomplished a patron. 
High as the excellence was which art had attained in 
every nation around, and great as the encourage- 
ment was which was held out by an influential class 
in this country, yet there appears to have existed 
none of the art adapted to the minds of the people at 
large. The art of Vandyke, high and excellent as it 
was, was at this period of his life employed by an 
exclusive society the court, and the noblesse of the 
court: unlike those of his earlier time, the same 
variety of rank and condition of life is no longer to 
be found among them. He painted not even the 
learned and ingenious; no head of Wotton or Ben 
Jonson : the beauties he painted were the beauties of 
high title, and the manly grace he could so readily 
bestow was awarded only to the prince, the warrior, 
or the statesman. The employment of Vandyke, 
like that of Lely and Kneller in the succeeding 
reigns, appears, from its very success, to have been 


confined to the high but limited sphere of the aris- 
tocracy ; and while art, in every branch, was at its 
zenith in the surrounding countries, it is remarkable 
that in England a hundred years should yet be des- 
tined to pass away, before the taste of the people, and 
the genius of the artists, were prepared for a style new 
and original, and adapted to the tastes and wants of 
the island. 

With the protection of Charles and the stimulating 
presence of Rubens and Vandyke, and in an era 
when Milton and Dryden may be called contemporary, 
we find not a vestige of any work, foreign or domestic, 
dedicated to a British scene a British court or 
British history. Yet silent as national art was at a 
time apparently auspicious for its appearance, still the 
period passed away, and in course of time another era 
arrived, when, with out any cause that could be reck- 
oned auspicious, without foreign example or special 
encouragement, the light of genius British genius, 
dawned at last, and art prevailed, through the desire 
of the people, and the aid of the hitherto unimagined 
styles of Hogarth, Wilson, Gainsborough, Reynolds, 
and West. 

Art is in every country of slow growth : the art of 
Britain, like the art of Italy, of Spain, and of Ger- 
many, has had, even in recent times, a slow but 
steady growth ; and not arrived at full stature yet, 
she has, as it were, a new people to inspire a new 
and undiscovered world to move in. However slow, 
and even humble, her progress may be, it is still 
onward. She is beginning to move the people : she 
may yet carry them along with her. 

N 2 

180 THE LIFE OF 1836. 


Historical Painting. 

LET us fancy that, in a certain stage in the progress 
of society, a species of food was brought into fame 
and use, of the most agreeable qualities, which would 
as a sustenance contribute to the health and comfort 
of mankind; and that after long use it should be 
discovered that this food, however calculated for uni- 
versal demand, was yet so refined in its composition, 
and so exquisite in its flavour, that, with the exception 
of those engaged in its production, none, save a most 
select portion of society, were from habit and taste 
fully qualified to enjoy it (withal, accompanied by a 
complaint of the general insensibility of the public 
to the excellence of the viands) : if we can fancy all 
this to occur respecting the ordinary wants of life, we 
may readily imagine the result of the offer of a re- 
fined, but exclusive, style of art to the community at 

Whatever tone of exclusiveness art may be per- 
mitted to assume, when long familiar to the favour 
of the state, it is quite clear that in her stage of 
infancy and rise, when her powers are humble, and 
a taste scarcely formed whereby to estimate her 
strength, she must, to obtain attention, address her- 
self to the untutored ideas natural to every individual 
at such a period, and thus create a taste and under- 
standing of her powers. If she were to do this, she 
would soon observe, that, to become useful and popu- 


lar, she must not shape her taste to suit a party or a 
class, but adapt it to the tastes and capacities of a 
whole people. 

During the dawn of modern art in Italy, the works 
of Cimabue and Giotto give proof of this adaptation, 
like native music, to the humblest comprehension of 
the multitude : as her powers refined and expanded, 
the same obviousness of meaning may be observed in 
her works. In Siinone di Martino, Andrea Orcagna, 
Buonamico Buffalmacco, and Benozzo Gozzoli, whose 
art was employed in this intellectual age in embody- 
ing the leading events of Scripture story, for the use 
of the ignorant and uninformed classes of their times. 
These artists, with others of scarcely inferior merit, 
occupy a space of about two hundred years. They had 
to re-invent art; to introduce it to the world, and 
render it acceptable, giving all the interest of a new 
discovery to every fresh effort of the hand and mind. 

Such was the advance of art, accompanied by a 
corresponding preparation to receive it in the wants 
and tastes of the people, before the great era of art 
in Italy arrived : and although the Madonna of Cima- 
bue has been long supplanted in popular admiration 
by the Madonna of Eaphael; although the Job of 
Giotto and the Last Judgment of Orcagna have been 
excelled by the similar labours of Michael Angelo ; 
and although The History of Joseph and his Brethren 
by Gozzoli has been outdone by the school of Athens, 
and the Heliodorus of a more matured period of art ; 
yet, who is there that cannot see, in those early 
efforts, the embryo, the first thoughts of the perfected 
works of which they were the precursors, for the 

N 3 

182 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

subjects of which they supplied the first impulse, 
and, opening the door of success, not only helped 
succeeding artists with combinations of thought and 
material, but to the world, who were to receive and 
reward them, furnished, in those examples, the first 
relish and the earliest foretaste a previous know- 
ledge, being not only a guide to genius, but an assur- 
ance of its appreciation ? 

In the advance of such a system of art, from its 
earliest rise to its maturity, its march of improve- 
ment, and means of calling forth the public sympathy 
in its favour, are matters of the deepest interest ; and, 
whether an early style may bear to be imitated in a 
state of farther advance, we may be sure of this, that 
its mode of winning upon the liking of man may be a 
salutary guide to imitation at all periods. To create 
a want which art is to supply, it is first necessary to 
consider this, that art is never encouraged to a great 
extent for the love of art, but for some acceptable 
service, of utility or gratification, which art has the 
means of furnishing to the community or to indi- 
viduals. But if art is once employed for some osten- 
sible object, to give the semblance of individual 
character, to record some great event, or to decorate 
with appropriate subject a public or a private dwell- 
ing, it is then for the artist to superadd, by his own 
genius, all the grace and interest his imagination 
can bestow, to give a charm of beauty to render the 
work useful, which is the true end of art. The 
painters of the Campo Santo of Pisa seem never to 
stop short of what their subject absolutely required, 
but have shown, in their treatment, an exuberance of 

^Ex.51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 183 

ideas beyond what even a scrupulous taste would 
permit, or the most devoted admirer of art demand. 

This has been shown, in the custom of the period, 
so prone to fill the picture with subject, that not only 
event, but numerous events are arranged in succes- 
sion in the same picture; the unities of art so de- 
parted from, that the events of a whole life are shown 
on one plane, as if they happened in one scene, and 
at the same instant. This sequence of time and of 
incident displayed in one view, was common to the 
illuminated manuscripts of that period; and however 
inconsistent with the nature of pictorial representation, 
was yet so brilliant in its effects, and so descriptive in 
its interest, that, like the picture-book of the nursery, 
it supplied the meaning of written language, and, 
with certain modifications, was adopted by the great 
masters as the basis of decorative painting. In the 
picture, by Raphael, of St. Peter delivered from Prison, 
this system of a succession of events has been most 
happily applied, as indeed it has been in the great 
ceiling, by Michael Angelo, which, with all its deep- 
wrought sentiment, and character, and combined 
stages of progression, is one vast comprehensive pic- 

Another circumstance, now considered a defect or 
anachronism in art, may, at the period of the appear- 
ance of those early works, have served the more to en- 
gage general attention. The localities wrought into 
the compositions, though of Scripture history and of 
ancient date, are all Italian, and of modern date. In 
the occupations of the early people of the earth, their 
construction of the ark, their building of Babel, their 

N 4 

184 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

season of vintage, and their public or domestic con- 
vivialities ; nay, in their costumes, whether in pursuit 
of peace or preparation for war, there is no attempt to 
portray a people of the ancient period, nor the period 
itself. The amusements, the familiar animals, the 
desert waste, the cultivated plain, and the lofty tem- 
ples of their pictures, recall neither Egypt nor Syria ; 
yet to the Tuscan people must have presented much 
that was acceptable the town, the tower, the cam- 
pagna of their native country. 

But with all these claims on contemporary favour, 
which, however erring against taste, supply a fund 
of valuable information in contemporary history, 
these works of the Campo Santo furnish to the in- 
quiring mind much which is desirable to know con- 
cerning the rise and growth of European art. We 
see allied to sacred objects, things of a strange and 
ludicrous kind popular notions, however mean, 
taking precedence of greatness of subject, at the ex- 
pence of impressive eifect. Still, with all the unworthy 
delineations of humour and ridicule with which these 
historical labours are mixed up, they present in ideas 
of character and combinations of action with archi- 
tecture, many sublime and original effects of imagina- 
tion. In a single subject, The Jacob's Dream of 
Gozzoli, with angels ascending and descending be- 
tween heaven and earth, no one need be surprised 
at any succeeding excellence, after so early and so 
bright an example of imaginative art. 

Popular as these works must have been, and influen- 
tial as they were upon the minds of the great scholars 
who followed, and who appear to have reached, at 

Mr. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 185 

one stride, the very zenith of art: it next follows, 
whether, in the works which succeeded those of the 
Campo Santo, there is any quality to raise them be- 
yond the taste and judgment of that class by whom 
those early pictures had been called for and admired? 
or, in other words, are the works belonging to the 
higher walks of art beyond the common intelligence 
of mankind ? 

To concede that works in the higher walks of art 
are either above or beyond the common intelligence 
of our race, is an admission which all who claim for 
art the character of extensive usefulness ought to be 
slow to allow, considering it as placing art in the 
limited sphere of a craft or mystery, rather than in 
the high station painting is entitled to assume, of a 
written language differing from all other languages, 
spoken or written, by being a written language uni- 
versally intelligible. But to contend successfully that 
the higher works of genius may reach the feelings and 
reason of the humblest mind, it will be proper to pre- 
mise that there are examples of art which, from their 
nature, can neither be attractive nor distinctly com- 
prehended by the common observer. No one unaccus- 
tomed to works of art can judge of the meaning of a 
sketch, the study of a part, or, by the rubbed in blot, 
the effect of a whole picture ; nor can such an ob- 
server, anticipate the result of an unfinished work. A 
picture also that has been damaged or defaced, a part 
of a picture, a fragment of sculpture, or a mutilated 
statue, would make far less impression, however high 
their excellence, than an entire, though unskilful, re- 
storation of the original work. 

18G THE LIFE OF 1836. 

A picture, to be understood and relished by such a 
mind, should, without offensive brightness, be varied 
in its effect and colour ; and, if in oil, should not be 
sunk in; nor, if in fresco, should it be faded. The 
charm of originality, the purity of condition, and the 
perfection of touch, can neither be felt nor estimated 
by the unpractised observer, upon whom these marks 
of its value and preservation are lost ; and the mellow- 
ing of age making the work less perspicuous, instead 
of pleasing, by its delicacy, would require explanation, 
that just allowance might be made for the effect that 
light, air, and time, never fail to occasion, by dimming 
the lustre of the most brilliant work. Indeed, such is 
the awkwardness in which a novice in such matters 
may find himself placed, that great care must be taken 
in order that he may actually recognise a true work of 
art when in his presence that he casts no shadow 
upon what he is looking at, nor has his view dazzled 
by a reflected glare of light from the varnish instead 
of the real lights and shadows of the picture before 
him. A spectator such as we have supposed will, of 
course, only be attracted by objects in the work fami- 
liar to him ; and, like a child, which is supposed to be 
some months in gaining the use of its eyes, or in 
learning to distinguish one object from another, he 
will have to learn to perceive, to recognise, and, 
eventually, to be gratified with the varied imitation 
of life and nature which a picture, with all the thought 
and imagination which the artist can bring before his 

But it may be asked, Why must art be addressed to 
the comprehension of such as we have alluded to, 


who know nothing about art? and why should her 
divine powers be brought down to the level of those 
who have not learned, and who probably never can 
learn to understand them? The answer is, that if 
art, without abating her exalted influence, be brought 
down so far, her condescension will be repaid by this 
very important advantage, that the less effort required 
to comprehend her meaning, the greater will be the 
number capable of such an effort, and the less will be 
the effect, to the most intelligent observers, in the 
circumstances of distraction or indifference under 
which her productions may be presented to their 
view. It may have been thus that the wit and fancy 
of Moliere required, in his opinion, to be submitted 
to his simple-minded nurse, before he ventured to try 
the effect on the polite and the fashionable. 

Still, to those who have devoted their lives to a 
pursuit that has in its practice but little analogy to 
the labours of ordinary men, it is but just to fancy 
that they see more and farther into the excellence of 
a great work of art, than the thoughtless passers 
by who have never wasted an idea on the subject. 
Yet, in the power of judging of some part of the ex- 
cellence of a celebrated work of art, we may far un- 
derrate the ordinary observer, and do injustice to the 
work itself, which, to become celebrated, and to have 
the cause of its celebrity known and approved through 
successive ages, must possess a natural interest, of 
which the most ordinary minds can judge as well as 
the best informed. That the works of the poet and the 
historian owe their celebrity to some such common 
interest cannot admit of a doubt ; but they may owe 

188 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

more to the principle of general interest they may 
owe their escape from forgetfulness and oblivion. 

Might we not, on this question, appeal to the in- 
terest and to the faculties to which the highest of 
literary productions are addressed? Homer appears 
to have selected his great subject, the events of the 
Trojan war, at a time when tradition had rendered 
those events as familiar to his countrymen as the 
stories of the old Forty -five are to the people of our 
day. The history of ^Eneas, the coloniser of Italy, 
may have offered the like reason of choice to Virgil, 
from national pride, as the story of Columbus would 
to the descendants of the European settlers in the 
New World. In every great work, perhaps in every 
poem, song, or air in music, a preceding cause of 
interest may be found stimulating the genius of the 
author, and assisting that genius to render its labours 
more easy of access to the heart and mind. 

Of our own writers Shakspeare appears to have 
helped himself, as much as any poet, from the sources 
of pre-existing thought. His Hamlet begins with the 
most engrossing of all interests the nursery wonder 
of a ghost- story ; and of a sort which, though calcu- 
lated to seize on the imagination, is yet detailed with 
all the powers of dramatic effect, and adorned with a 
knowledge of the hidden thoughts of the human mind. 
In this great work the most illiterate cannot fail to be 
caught by the mystery unfolded, by the suspicion 
roused, by the sacred ties of kindred violated, and 
by the stern obligation imposed in the revenge of a 
hidden crime. In the uncertainty of purpose, and 
perplexity of situation, to which the scene of recri- 


mination with his nearest relative naturally leads, 
who is there unthrilled by the sudden appearance of 
the buried majesty of Denmark, or unappalled when 
the spectre, both heard and seen by Hamlet and every 
spectator, is yet unperceived by the trembling Ger- 
trude, as the spirit stalks before her face across the 
stage, producing a shudder in the audience of which 
every order of intellect must be alike sensible ? 

While we find Shakspeare stimulating the ambition 
of Macbeth by a witch's prophecy, and the revenge 
of Shy lock by a pound of Christian flesh modes of 
interest calculated to rouse the attention of the least 
reflective mind ; while we find, by such obvious 
means, the most thoughtless and the most simple 
led on to the admiration of the more inaccessible 
powers of his genius " in the many-coloured life he 
drew;" may it not be a fair subject of inquiry whe- 
ther in the analogous art of painting, and in the 
popular labours of that art, there may not be found 
the same appeal to the most common palpable 
thoughts and subjects of engrossing interest? 

It may be asked, where is the mind, however little 
given to subjects of taste, however little capable of 
comprehending the style of form and colour required 
for the representation of an abstract or prophetic 
subject, that would not at once be arrested by a clear 
and distinct view of a great work of art ? If the Last 
Supper of Leonardo da Yinci could be imagined to be 
in its original perfect state, where is the simplest 
mind that would fail to feel its impressive effect^ 
combining as it does the solemn observance of the 
feast of the Passover with the last farewell of Christ 



and the apostles ? The sacramental words used upon 
that occasion are not more striking to the ear, than 
the array of sacred personages at the table are to the 
eye. The announcement has just been made that the 
hour is come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed : 
the surprise this occasions gives active expression 
and varied combination of form and posture to all the 
characters the mild, the stern, the simple, the severe. 
The solemn words move all: the calm majesty and 
submissive meekness of the Saviour on the approach 
of this great crisis, the expression of fidelity which 
seems breathed by all around, given with that relief 
and reality that the most uninformed may imagine 
all the interchange of thought, made by sign or 
whisper or open avowal, and see in imagination the 
memorable event which follows, and of which this 
parting scene was to remain a type and memorial. 

But in a picture like this, said to have occupied the 
mind and hand of Leonardo da Vinci for a period of 
ten years, a period we may feel assured the operative 
and technical part of the work could not require, 
the great artist would naturally desire to show such 
research into the modes of expression and looks of the 
characters as would be most likely to impress a sacred 
awe in observers of every class, and, as the symbol of 
a holy ordinance, carry with it a claim upon the atten- 
tion scarcely allowed to any other scripture subject. 
In subjects of the like character, but partaking more 
of action and illusion of effect, we find the succeeding 
events of that memorable night receiving hue and 
sentiment from this truly divine composition. 

Following the Last Supper, the next in succession 


is Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of the 
happiest works of Correggio for expression and illu- 
sion of effect ; then follows Christ Betrayed, a splendid 
picture, by Vandyke; the Christ denied by Peter, of 
Caravaggio; Christ accused before Pilate, by Tinto- 
retto ; the Scourging of Christ, of Titian ; and Christ 
bearing the Cross, by EaphaeL All these celebrated 
works, though necessarily possessing every technical 
and abstract merit of art, are yet so simply treated, 
so plain and palpable in meaning, as to be felt and 
admired without effort by the least instructed ob- 
server. It may be said, however, that subjects of 
sympathy and feeling, and of that moving kind of in- 
terest which great events inspire, are of necessity 
intelligible; while subjects in the grand, the epic 
style, to be truly elevated, cannot be rendered so 
palpable to the ordinary observer. 

Indeed, it is even said and believed that works in the 
greatest style of sculpture, more particularly those with 
the bold and moving contour of Michael Angelo, are, 
through their very excellence of this description, affect- 
edly admired by one ^class, and thoughtlessly derided 
by another, for this unappreciable quality. But the 
style of Michael Angelo, like the style in which the 
Apollo and Jupiter are conceived, may be cited to ex- 
cuse every kind of deviation from the appearance of 
common life ; and it has been the fate of the great Flo- 
rentine to mislead as well as excite the ambition of 
assiduous students. His boldness is copied without 
his delicacy, his exuberance of knowledge, without 
his nicety of observation. Indeed, his expression, so 
often copied for its excess, is in itself when most 

192 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

energetic mixed with an abstract and dubious thought, 
emanating from the reflection of the inner mind ; still, 
with all his varied knowledge, his complicated forms, 
and unlimited power over his materials, we must yet 
submit his vast genius to the test of ordinary ob- 

In doing this it is but fair to admit that the works 
of Michael Arigelo do not possess the peculiar beauty 
and sentiment with which the least reflecting mind 
will be captivated at first sight. It is not in viewing 
his labours by themselves that we feel his vast 
powers; we must approach him through The Trans- 
figuration of Raphael, The Assumption of the Vir- 
gin by Era Bartolomeo, The St. Peter Martyr and 
The Pesaro Family of Titian, with The St. Jerome 
of Correggio. In these works, however incapable of 
judging of some qualities, the ordinary observer will 
find enough to fix his attention on those beauties of 
imitation alone which art can always bestow on the 
boldest thoughts which arise in the mind. 

In viewing the emanations of the master-mind of 
Michael Angelo, the case is different. With a genius of 
a reserved and solitary kind, unpropitious to familiar 
intercourse, he seems in his studies and his labours to 
court only the sympathies of a few, the learned few, 
rather than the applause of a more extended class. 
The regular beauty and perfect human form so rea- 
dily adopted from the ancients, however known to 
him and at his command, he seems to have set aside 
for a style of form peculiarly his own, shown in his 
sculpture as well as in his painting, in his statue of 
Moses, as well as in his fresco of Jeremiah. This, 


with a style in his combination of lines and spaces, 
of forms and shadows, by which the inanimate objects 
of his work are made to accord and sympathise with 
the action and expression of the figure of which they 
are but the attendant accessaries, give unity and effect 
to the whole composition. 

As an example of Michael's original character and 
strength, let us look at the ceiling and altar-piece of 
the Sistine Chapel his greatest work. The visitors 
in their hurried circuit round the Vatican, or in the 
crowd collected in the twilight of the Miserere, will 
not, it is likely, be much moved by its beauties or its 
vastness of power. The ceiling, however remarkable 
as the labour of a single individual, and splendid as a 
decoration, is from its vertical height from the floor 
too distant for minute or hurried observation; and 
when seen with strained and uplifted eye, dimmed as 
it is by the taper smoke of centuries, the spectator 
will miss the tone which time usually bestows on a 
picture, and see the unpropitious greyness of faded 

A work so extensive and so complicated requires 
to be viewed by an educated eye ; not once or twice, 
but many times ; not hastily, but with deep medi- 
tation ; not as a matter of amusement, but as a theme 
for the theologian, the scholar, as well as the studious 

But, for our present purpose, let us suppose such 
a work to be submitted to a man of a sensible mind, 
uninformed by knowledge of either art or learning, 
but able to reflect and observe, and possessing the 
usual acquaintance with his Bible and Testament. He 

VOL. m. o 

194 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

might not be struck, as the multitude were, when 
Michael first submitted that mighty work to the court 
of Pope Julius in all the charm of novelty and fresh- 
ness of recent production ; but yet to such a person it 
would present a succession of vast ideas, from the be- 
ginning to the end of time, illustrating the great mys- 
teries of belief and Eevelation the creation of the 
world, the formation and fall of man, the various in- 
terpositions of God for man's instruction and guid- 
ance, and in conclusion his judgment at the last 

We can fancy that the most unlearned of spectators 
could not well avoid perceiving the scope and aim of 

" Adventurous theme, that with no middle flight 
Intends to soar above the Aonian mount." 

Leaving all the merits of art out of view, we may 
naturally expect his sympathy in a work devoted to 
the elucidation of a subject all-engrossing. 

This chapel, forming from north to south (that is, 
from the grand entrance to the altar) an elongated 
parallelogram, presents a lengthened cone in the same 
direction as the ceiling. In the apex of this cone, 
beginning at the south, is the series of pictures, divided 
by compartments, recording the chief events of the 
antediluvian world, from the creation to the deluge- 
Of these works, The Creation of Adam and Eve, with 
The Temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, are of 
a character that every observer, learned or unlearned, 
cannot fail to be interested with, from the originality 
and beauty of design and treatment. The pictures 
which continue the series, representing the Deluge, 

^T. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. -195 

&c., lose greatly in effect by the smallness of the 
figures. It is alleged from this that they were the 
first begun, and that Michael, on perceiving this, al- 
tered his plan, and enlarged the figures in all that 
followed. This seemed to be required by the size of 
the building, as well as by the style of art, and which, 
from the natural bias to grandeur in the artist's mind, 
was maintained from the lower to the upper end of the 
chapel ; the Jonas, probably the figure last painted, 
being the largest of all. 

Leaving the ceiling, and descending to the cone, 
which by a regular curve unites it with the walls of 
the building, the eye rests upon the large figures, 
which appear to form the support of the whole com- 
position. These are the far-famed Prophets and Sibyls 
of Michael Angelo. They are, corresponding with the 
abutments of the arches on which they are painted, 
twelve in number. They are each seated in a chair, 
and attended by two children, which, whether spirits 
or genii, seem of no farther use than as accessaries to 
the composition of those noble figures, which seem to 
have been the chief difficulty in the stupendous task 
a difficulty, however, so confidently undertaken, and 
so completely overcome, that the gigantic size of the 
figures renders the success more than triumphant. 

It is here, in the presence of such a work, that we 
would venture to make a stand in favour of the per- 
fect power to be understood, and the perfect intelligi- 
bility of the higher works of art. Whoever may be 
capable of comprehending, when they see a picture, 
the character of a prophet or a prophetess in the 
Bible, with the mysterious reflections on the past, 

o 2 

196 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

the solemn ponderings on the neglected present, and 
the dark warnings or bright promises of the future, 
will find here these impressions, as if by visible en- 
chantment, presented to his sight. 

Each of the Prophets and Sybils may be regarded 
as a separate figure, and as a separate subject, engaged 
in some nameless unremembered act in sympathy 
with the workings of the soul ; with a variety which 
difference of character would scarcely promise, and 
which their grandeur in no respect impedes. They 
seem as in monologue, occupied in reflecting, rumi- 
nating, interrogating ; and while Ezekiel seems by the 
action of his hand to say " Can these dry bones 
live?" Daniel is making a record from the sacred 
volume, and the prophet Jonah is recounting the 
three days and three nights' darkness and tribulation 
from which he had been so miraculously delivered. 

How far the introduction of the Sybils, not scrip- 
tural personages, in the same station and with much 
the same purpose as the prophets of the Old Testa- 
ment, can be allowed, is a question of doubtful pro- 
priety; but their admission, by whatever legend or 
tradition authorised, is of much service in the conduct 
of the work. The Delphic Sybil conceived in a style 
unsurpassed by any thing in the antique seems 
truly inspired ; while the Cumaean Sybil and her com- 
panions possess a grandeur and dignity which in the 
art of painting exceed the works of every other 
painter. Their merits are such as the most untutored 
in art must see and be impressed with as few works 
of art can impress ; and, taken with the accompany- 
ing figures of the prophets, may be fairly referred to 

^x. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. . 197 

as characters to be regarded with awe, and retained 
in the memory as the true and appropriate semblance 
of the oracles of revelation. 

Of the prophetic intimation of those inspired per- 
sonages to the people of their approaching deliver- 
ances four instances are recorded by the artist, 
The Brazen Serpent, David and Goliath, Joel and 
Holofernes, and the Fall of Haman. Upon a line 
with the windows round the whole building are 
compositions of figures, single and in groups, appa- 
rently without action or story, but with the utmost 
variety that fancy and thought can supply : they are 
supposed to be the genealogy of the Messiah. Over 
each window are compositions to which no meaning 
has been assigned : they consist each of three figures, 
a woman, a man, and a child ; and as they are 
each grouped like a Nativity over each of the eight 
windows, may it not be inferred, where all seems done 
for a purpose, that those repetitions of the Nativity of 
Christ are thus presented as the great fulfilment to 
which the previous indications and prophetic an- 
nouncements of the work point and lead ? 

Should these figures and groups be regarded as 
obscure and wanting in action and purpose, there is 
yet a great compartment of this work, the chief of 
which the part best preserved must at once be 
admitted to possess an interest, though of a severe 
kind, which all must be equally sensible of; I mean The 
Last Judgment of Michael Angelo. This is, perhaps, 
the largest picture in the world ; its subject the most 
engrossing; and although, with all its seriousness, 
liable in its accompaniments to be treated as that of 

o 3 

198 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

Orcagna at Pisa, in a grotesque and vulgar taste, and 
therefore more consonant to the popular ideas of an 
early period, yet in this instance conceived in a style 
and greatness truly Miltonic, and far above the age 
in which he lived. In the Judgment and Fall of the 
Angels, a lesson is read both to art and humanity. 

In this great work, with bodily action, contortion, 
and pain, are also exhibited the suffering, the 
remorse, and agony of mind itself. To design, con- 
trivance, and combination of forms, arranged with all 
the harmony and intricacy of science, this terrible 
picture unites the deeper and darker passions, and 
the shuddering revulsions of nature. It is a picture 
for all observers, and appeals to the apprehensions 
of the whole world. To the common eye, as well 
as to that of the artist, there are many passages 
or parts ungainly and obscure; but while thought 
and reflection continue to excite interest, these 
works will be interesting to those who think and 
reflect. As they are within the comprehension of an 
ordinary mind, they establish the influence and the 
usefulness of art of the highest reach. It is true that 
a far inferior style would be better adapted to the 
popular taste, without either the thought or reflection 
with which these labours abound. There are works 
of art in every gallery which, from local influence or 
finesse of detail, are more admired by the spectator 
than these can be : yet, if these noble works of the 
Sistine Chapel, abstract as they are, and remote from 
common experience, are yet obvious in their imitation, 
and palpable in their thought ; they assist by their 
authority in removing a dogma from the realms of 


taste, and give to the practice of art a simplicity in 
all the objects on which she employs her hand. 

The genius of Michael Angelo, it is true, might, 
with his acquired knowledge and skill, have excited 
even greater wonder in the age of art in which he 
lived : had he confined himself to technical achieve- 
ments, he might have dazzled the mere artist by 
difficulties overcome, or astonished the novice in art 
by the far more easy display of deceptive imitation. 
He has felt, however, that in the work allotted to 
his skill a far higher duty was before him. He ap- 
pears to have perceived that a great occasion was 
presented of aggrandising art, by combining and 
making known in one great effort the collected 
powers of all his predecessors, and by generalising 
their knowledge into one great style, and adapting it 
to a more refined and universal appreciation. 

But Michael had yet a higher aim in the purpose 
of those who intrusted him with the work the high 
object for which it was required. To satisfy the wish 
of the church, and to fulfil the sacred desire of con- 
veying to the humble and the poor the knowledge of 
Revelation, he exerted his genius, and conceived a 
magnificent work, suited to the place and the time 
filled with the wonders of sacred history, with the 
sublime characteristics of scripture knowledge, and 
suited to the sanctuary of the church ; working suc- 
cessfully to show the triumph over death in the resur- 
rection, the exaltation of the good, and the punishment 
of the wicked, in brief to 

" Assert eternal Providence, 

And justify the ways of God to man." 

o 4 

200 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

Perspective and Foreshortening. 

EXPERIENCE, however required to bring to maturity 
the purpose of every enterprise, may yet by too 
much confidence in its own power allow itself to be 
defeated by the undisciplined efforts of a natural 
impulse, or other element of power with which it may 
be baffled or opposed. The wisest counsellor may be 
baffled by the simplest witness, the most practical 
orator set at nought by an unprepared straight- 
forward reply ; and, as if to prove that the race is not 
always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, how 
many achievements have been accomplished, and how 
many contests won, by the weaker and more unprac- 
tised party, attempting in ignorance of their own 
weakness what was deemed to be impossible! 

This sort of doubt in the attainments of experience 
is yet made more uncertain in cases where the success 
is not self-evident, but dependent upon the will or 
caprice of those to whose comprehension the result is 
addressed. The physician must submit the cure 
which he performs to the appreciation of the humblest 
of his patients, and the statesman his policy to the 
sense of fellow- subjects least capable of judging of 
its wisdom. In like manner in the pursuits of art, 
the highest efforts of skill may be seen contending in 
the same arena with those of the unpractised beginners 
in art, and may be judged of not merely by those 
who are good judges, but decided upon by the unen- 
lightened multitude, whom works of art are intended 

Mi. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 201 

to gratify and please, and who will at once express 
their pleasure or disapprobation without either expe- 
rience or reflection on the subject. 

This at once equalizes every claim of acquired pro- 
ficiency ; and while excellence of the highest kind may 
fail in its intended impression, yet whatever quality 
there may be which all and every one the least alive 
to art can feel and admire, is exactly that quality and 
feat in art which the most untutored as well as the 
intelligent practitioner will execute with nearly equal 
success. Of this kind of attainment a strong, or what 
is called a striking, likeness is the result, and seems 
equally within the reach of every artist ; also what is 
thought a startling deception, where the picture is sup- 
posed to give a representation so true as for a moment 
to be taken for a reality whether it be that of the 
painter who deceived the birds by the painting of 
the fruit, or of him who deceived the painter by his 
painting of the curtain. This is a power equally 
within the reach of the most humble as of the most 
gifted painter. There are other similar qualities a 
display of bright colouring of exaggerated effect 
contortions of the human frame, and representations 
of scenes of horror and disgust ; all of these can be 
made to produce their impression upon every observer 
without drawing much on the skill of the artist who 
produces them. 

It is not this unnatural brilliancy, however great, 
nor the truth, however penetrating the impression 
may be, that can retain in complacency and pleasure 
for a length of time the attention of the spectator. It 
is said that Yaldez, the Spanish painter, showed in 

202 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

triumph to Murillo a work of his still in the entrance 
of the chapel of Caridad, where the sad display of 
the last change of mortality is but too faithfully given ; 
when Murillo observed, that, to see such a picture 
with satisfaction to the eye, would require that every 
other sense should be suspended. But the propriety 
of the representation does not raise a question of either 
power, or might, or of experience ; but a question of 
taste. It was one of the many remarks of Sir George 
Beaumont, that Garrick, in the most boisterous scenes 
of his acting in the storm and whirlwind of passion 
was always sure of the additional perfection of never 
being disagreeable. 

It is not, therefore, the surprise which a work may 
produce on its first view, nor the circumstance of 
novelty or wonder with which it may be attended, that 
can vouch for its excellence; but it is, with its attrac- 
tive influence, to have the power of fixing and retain- 
ing, and, by its engaging qualities, inducing the spec- 
tator to reflect upon the art which raises it in the scale 
of thought. It is this faculty of exciting this pleasing 
dream in the mind that gives to art its fascination, 
that makes the distinction between skill and want of 
skill, the difference between the labour of Denner and 
the science of Michael Angelo. 

It is the power of gaining upon the attention of 
such a spectator as can be moved and riveted by the 
contemplation of a work of art, that gives to the works 
of Michael Angelo this vast pre-eminence. They may 
have many imperfections, much that is unexplained 
and obscure; but, for reflection and meditation for 
fixing the mind upon the form and countenance of 

2fT. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 203 

man, as an imaginary, reflecting, and responsible 
being, dwelling on the past, forgetful of the present, 
and perplexed with the future : they present a power 
scarce to be met with elsewhere in the whole range of 
art. Even the expression of his heads the index of 
that world of memory which is passing within has in 
it that idea of " the burthen and mystery of exist- 
ence," that seems to call for our attention, while it 
eludes the precision of feature by which distinct 
thought is expressed. Such, indeed, in his hands, is 
the human form as the expositor of mind, that Sir 
Thomas Lawrence used to say, comparing him with 
Raphael, that if he could go for the eleventh time to 
look at the works of Raphael, he could yet go for the 
twelfth time to the study of those of Michael Angelo. 
It is not, however, that the perfections of this great 
master are of a kind to elude the attention of those the 
least used to look upon art ; but some allowance and 
some effort must be made by the mere novice to gain 
such knowledge of his profession as to be able to take 
in and relish the force of his meaning: nor is this 
apathy, or disregard, confined to those to whom art is 
as an untrodden way; it belongs, in some degree, to the 
professors of art themselves. It is an insensibility, not 
arising from want of knowledge, but a fastidiousness 
in the objects of art a choice of some other standard 
of perfection, more regulated, more consistent with 
a taste already formed, with merits already proved ; 
and with that admitted and classic excellence, which, 
however limited it may be to the aspiration of genius, 
is yet considered the safest guide and example to all 
that can be taught of art. 

204 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

Led by these feelings, there are those who consider 
the bold flights of Michael Angelo, and the imagin- 
ation he introduced into art, however great in his 
own instance, as yet baleful to the race of artists who 
have succeeded him ; and that a more pure and chas- 
tened style, avoiding those faults of exaggeration 
which no taste can approve, might have still left us 
his knowledge unalloyed by that extravagance so 
often laid to his charge. It is even said that the 
divine Raphael was too much influenced by the ha- 
zardous innovations of his great contemporary, and 
that, by enlarging his style of drawing, and increasing 
the size of his figures, he was departing from the 
more pure and less faulty manner of his early days ; 
but we forget that the progress of change observed in 
this great master, like that which may be traced in 
the early works of Michael Angelo himself, is precisely 
that which arises from the success of their enter- 
prises, and the fuller development of their powers. 
A progress from limited to more enlarged efforts may, 
in like manner, be seen in the history of every school, 
in the career of every master, and in the progress, 
from commencement to completion, of every work of 

It is said that, on a casual visit made by Michael 
Angelo to the Farnesina palace, while Raphael, then 
engaged in its decoration, was absent, he drew a co- 
lossal head on the wall, still preserved, as a silent ad- 
monition to the young artist that a larger size of figure 
would be more suitable both to his genius and sub- 
ject. Perhaps this complimentary advice was in- 
tended to intimate that, in the extended sphere of 


existence in which we move, a limited scale of art 
requires a more minute attention than the observer 
has patience to bestow, and which might lessen its 
impression, and weaken its interest ; and that life 
itself was too short for the multitude of details which 
genius, when devoted to minuteness, would naturally 

So far as expansion was concerned, the counsel in- 
tended to be conveyed was not lost on Raphael ; for 
it appears in his works, from The Loggie to The 
Stanzas, the size of his figures increase, and also from 
the earlier of The Stanzas. In The Dispute of the 
Sacraments to The Incendio del Borgo, and from these 
to the cartoons, a gradual enlargement may be ob- 
served in this class of his works. But while this 
increase, this fuller development, appears to have 
followed close on the advancing success of these great 
masters, there was another peculiarity, not quite de- 
pendent upon size, although naturally attendant upon 
it, associated with the labours of Michael Angelo. 
This is known as his gusto or taste in the drawing of 
his figures, a quality but rarely found in the works of 
the masters who preceded him ; and, although it may 
be said to have dawned on those of Luca Signorelli, 
and to be simultaneously adopted by his great contem- 
poraries, Era Bartolomeo, Leonardo da Vinci, and 
Titian, still it belongs particularly to Michael Angelo, 
to whose works it has added an acknowledged gran- 
deur of style, which have given a new characteristic 
to modern art. 

This style, which consists more in a largeness of 
manner than of dimensions, has, by the use of the 

206 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

flowing and swelling contour, the power of moulding 
into harmony of shape, the continuance and repetition 
of lines in the same direction, and the avoidance 
of angular abruptness in their intersections, given 
grace to every action, and movement to every limb. 
This unity of purpose, which seems to make every 
fold of drapery, and every accessory, to contribute 
to the expression which animates the figure, is rarely 
found, even in the statues of the ancients, whose 
correctness and purity would scarcely admit of such 
deviation from the strict position of the natural 
form. It is a taste and a style in vain to be looked 
for in an early stage of art ; whether from adherence 
to a rigid standard of form, or from limitation in 
the powers of the artist. This marked peculiarity, 
which, from the days of the great Michael, descended 
to every branch of art, seems to have owed its origin 
to a newly acquired power, now seldom adverted to, 
but then most happily applied by himself and others, 
to give a fresh impulse to the painter's art. 

To estimate the value of this acquisition, it may be 
proper to consider that a dry and sterile taste in 
drawing naturally accompanied the uncertain efforts 
of the revivers of art in Italy. The early art of both 
Italians and Germans, like that of the Egyptians, was 
stiff and formal, as if nature were imitated by measure- 
ment, and made to satisfy by an actual demonstration 
of its accuracy, rather than by an appeal to that sense 
of eye which all art is intended to please, and which, 
therefore, must be alone the judge of that kind of art 
which comes the nearest to the impress nature has 
made on its perceptions. 

j T . 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 207 

Bounded as art must be, while restrained by the 
limits of so unfixed an imitation, we see in early 
works the profile rather than the front face, the 
direct and upright rather than the complex form, 
with every limb and member disposed for repose 
rather than for action. With these simple elements, 
plain and unvaried as the single air of a melody in 
music, the painted surface of a picture becomes 
strictly the same in principle with the bas-relief of 
the ancients. Yet we find a subject treated in such 
works of art with dignity of design, impressive inci- 
dent, and every variety of character ; and it is quite 
possible, as has been attempted in recent times, that 
with this simplicity might be combined the most per- 
fect drawing and most elegant standard of human 

In the advance, however, of human improvement, 
between the ingenuity of the artist and the expect- 
ation of the admirers of art, it is found that the 
simple bas relief, without the aid of its changing 
surface, imposes a sad restriction upon him who 
has outline, light, shadow, and colour entirely at his 
command. It is found, therefore, that the simplest 
upright figure, whether to vary it among other 
figures, or for the slightest change in the forms of 
which it is composed, requires the assistance of a 
power peculiar to the art of painting the power to 
which we have alluded the power of perspective. 

This power, so indispensable to an art whose pur- 
pose is to render the appearance of every object de- 
tached and relieved as it is in nature upon the plane 
of a flat surface, is undoubtedly the most important 

208 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

gift which art has yet received from the science of 
geometry, bestowing at once a truth to all its repre- 
sentations, while it entirely disunites its qualities 
from those of sculpture, with which it had previously 
held a disadvantageous and uncertain alliance. 

In alluding to this great addition to the power and 
independence of the painter's art, to which may be 
traced so much of its certainty in giving correctness 
to what is real, and consistency even to what is 
imagined, it is impossible to refrain from considering 
what this new gift, or invention, may have contri- 
buted to the splendid advance made by art in the 
fifteenth century, supplying an unwonted impulse to 
the genius of the artist, giving a boldness to his 
thoughts, and enlargement to his views, in the con- 
sciousness that he was doing what man had never 
before done, and which the eyes of man had never 
before witnessed. Like the compass to the mariner, 
no longer restrained to a coasting navigation within 
sight of shore, he now launched forth into the bound- 
less ocean, certain that all he meets with or sees is a 
new discovery unknown or unimagined before. 

Whether, from the days of Giotto to those of 
Michael Angelo, this accession of strength to the 
cause of art was slow or sudden, its application 
could only have been gradual; however much each 
newly ascertained problem may have been seized upon 
as a guide, by the instinct of every master, still the 
acquisition of perspective, however it came, forms a 
striking epoch in the history of painting, adding in- 
calculably as it does to the power of imitating nature, 
not merely as she is, but what is still more in cha- 


racter, with the art of painting in every variety of 
mode in which she may appear. It is by perspective 
the picture gets rid at once of the flat surface, that 
inseparable obstacle to all the aspirations of the artist : 
by the simple and unerring rule of linear perspective, 
the plain canvas at once reaches from the fore-ground 
to the distance, giving immeasurable extent at will; 
presenting at the command of the artist space and 
situation, in which, and that with exact rule, every 
object according to its size, inclination, and distance, 
may be disposed and placed. 

This is a power, when once known, that can be 
learned and applied by every artist ; must be as uni- 
versally in use as the art of painting, and with it 
never can be lost. 

But with the power of perspective there is another 
art, which seems to have arisen or grown out of it 
foreshortening. This is the perspective of curves : it 
cannot be applied by rule like linear perspective, but 
is dependent upon the eye and the knowledge of the 
artist : while perspective itself can be taught and 
used by every practitioner, foreshortening, to be em- 
ployed with truth and effect, must be the result of 
the genius of the master. This power of foreshorten- 
ing, required to a certain degree in the correct draw- 
ing of every figure, and indispensable in every com- 
plicated group of figures, appears unknown on the 
revival of the arts, when in its absence flatness and 
stiffness necessarily prevailed; but on its principles 
becoming known and moderately introduced, its ten- 
dency was to give rotundity to limbs and figures, 

VOL. III. l> 

210 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

relief to projections and groups, and an unrestrained 
movement to all the living objects in a picture. 

But the invention and practice of foreshortening 
had another effect upon art, in the freedom which it 
seems to have introduced into the style of drawing. 
As it could not be applied to any measurement but 
that of the eye, and as limbs and figures projecting or 
receding are found to demand a boldness of outline 
to give that appearance of length, which the elongated 
view conceals. This seems to have led to a style, 
even in the upright figures, by which the flowing 
line of foreshortening is made use of, even to give 
rotundity itself its fulness and relief. Thus it was 
found that contours became more salient, and expres- 
sion more free, till by degrees the stiff and staid 
lineaments of the early masters gave place to the 
more varied elements which led to the drawing of 
Luca Signorelli, and the style of Michael Angelo. 

To make it a question at this period, when so much 
of a new and unknown power had been acquired by 
the art, and was at the command of the artist, 
whether the aim of the painter was to be limited to 
the same simple quality of production which had 
served to gratify the admirer of art, when art and 
taste were in their infancy, would be like expecting 
the child to creep after it had learnt to walk, or the 
wings of a bird to remain useless after it had learnt 
to fly. 

Indeed, in an age of invention and discovery, like 
that to which we now refer, the tendency was to 
apply this new help even to excess. It was tried in 
bas-relief by Alonzo Ghiberti, and John de Bologna; 


and in later times, the excess of foreshortening was 
used in ceilings by Pietro da Cortona, and that to a 
degree which seemed to exclude every other agreeable 
quality in art. Still it is this power that has served to 
characterise European art, to distinguish the art of 
painting, in its connexion with science and civilisa- 
tion, and the want of it, as indicating the art of an 
uninstructive and barbarous people. 

That art may be found without perspective, or its 
artist-like accompaniment foreshortening, and may 
still give an effective imitation of natural objects, 
cannot be denied. In ancient times, the Egyptians 
and Greeks seem to have been ignorant of this fine 
invention ; and in modern times the Chinese and Hin- 
doos, with all their ingenuity, are defective in this, 
and with their almost superstitious adherence to pre- 
cedent and habit, are never, I fear, likely either to 
adopt such an improvement, or invent one of equal 
merit. At the same time, in their pictures every 
variety of relief and distance is attempted, showing 
their sensibility to what is wanting, without the in- 
genuity to supply the scientific help which alone can 
remedy the defect. 

The great difference which distinguishes modern 
art from the ancient, is the absence in the latter of 
the laws of vision. This was evidently felt by the 
Greeks, for they have attempted but without the 
light of science to supply, to a certain degree, its 
place. In the absence of the fixed line of perspective, 
the pictures of the Greeks never reach beyond the 
profile or bas-relief; and in their utmost advances, 
are little more than a branch of sculpture. So nearly 

p 2 

212 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

allied indeed were the two arts, that there are modern 
instances of pictures being painted in relief, and of 
sculpture being variegated with colour ; yet with this 
limitation producing, by the force of genius, effects, if 
not so varied, yet as impressive, as those now acknow- 
ledged in the reliefs and statues of the ancients. 

Still, without the science of perspective, the essen- 
tial characteristic of painting was wanting; without 
this, her representations are excluded from all the 
variety which different distances, and the delicate 
combinations of foreshortening, have given, not merely 
to the imitation of what is real, but to the placing 
and embodying of the fancies of imagination itself. 

But the admirers of the Greeks are unwilling to 
allow that this accomplished people were ignorant 
of perspective, or indeed that they were deficient in 
any knowledge or power with which experience and 
invention have enriched modern art. And to sustain 
this position, copies have been made, and prints en- 
graved, in which, with a skilful touch or two, the 
copier or transcriber, by adding what science now 
gives to the humblest effort of art, supplied the 
defective perspective, and gave to ancient art a power 
which it never actually possessed. 

It is not, however, from a source such as this that 
the actual condition of art in ancient times can be 
obtained; but, happily, examples of antiquity, by a 
remarkable dispensation of Providence, have been 
preserved to us. The volcanos which destroyed Her- 
culaneum and Pompeii, while destroying all else, 
covered up and, as it were, embalmed the paintings 
of the public places for the instruction of future ages. 


On examining these interesting remains, it must be 
far less the object of the accurate observer to dwell 
on the excellence, real or imaginary, to which the 
people of Italy had in those days attained, than to 
estimate the precise degree, not only in what they had 
acquired, but in what they were deficient, and to mea- 
sure the height to which their genius and invention 
had reached; the exact estimate of which being now 
our only guide to a true judgment of their merits. 

To a mind liable to be influenced by a feeling of 
romance, the remains of those early works collected 
at Portici would furnish an ample theme for thought. 
They are works preserved, and preserved alone as if 
by enchantment, while all that was coeval with them 
was consumed : it is like the Eastern tale of the seven 
sleepers, only that we awake in an anterior time, in an 
age of retrospect. These remains are the most re- 
markable examples of antique art which we have yet 
discovered ; and from them we may judge of the 
desolation which the intermediate centuries have 
wrought. They present to us the exact handiwork of 
the artist, in the most fragile material, with the im- 
pression of brush and tool, with the unchanged flow 
of the once liquid colour, affected in its layers by the 
movement of his hand, or by the respirations almost 
of the breath of the artist on the delicate material. 
The washes of colour are said to be of wax, and they 
seem imbedded on a ground of lime or plaster, to the 
whiteness of which the colours owe much of their 
lightness and brilliancy. If, as it is supposed, these 
are the inferior examples of provincial towns, and 
cannot be taken as a specimen of the works of art in 

p 3 

214 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

the Roman or Grecian capitals, they must raise our 
ideas of the power, though they furnish no exact no- 
tion of the style of the great masters of their time. 

But whether perspective be found in ancient art or 
otherwise, it is quite clear that art may be so used as 
to conceal its absence ; the geometrical elevation of a 
building is purposely without it. A single figure, or 
any number of figures, may be arranged at the same 
distance, parallel to the plane of the picture ; but the 
moment the artist endeavours to give nature in all 
the varied appearances she may assume to the eye, 
then perspective, and all the concomitant parts of art 
which she assists and regulates situation, light, and 
shadow must be used as an integral part of her 
system and her power. 

By a gift so rare as this, from science to art, what 
a change has been wrought upon the whole system of 
pictorial composition ! By this, the formidable diffi- 
culty of upright lines, so prevalent in early art, has 
been overcome; by this the objects and figures, in- 
stead of being placed at full length and entire, may 
be exhibited, by means of receding and advancing 
lines, within a much less extensive portion of the 
picture ; by this, style is no longer influenced by the 
material, but exercises a command and control over 
it, and, like the harmony of colour and the unity of 
light and shadow, by that perfect balance of all its 
parts which we call keeping, a work of art becomes 
complete in its impression on the spectator's mind. 

After attempting to show, by the foregoing re- 
marks, how much art, from its early growth, has been 
assisted by the ingenuity of science in adding to its 

^Ex. 51. SIR DAVID WILKIE 215 

powers of imitation, it will most likely occur to the 
mind as a consequence of this, that in proportion to 
what is attempted by art, will art be removed from that 
simplicity which forms its greatest charm, and that, 
in a system where the powers become complicated, 
the singleness of object, and all the effect which be- 
longs to it, is at an end. In answer to this, it may 
be admitted that simplicity is a delightful quality, and 
brings a recommendation to many objects with which 
it is allied, whether it addresses itself to the sense or 
to the reason. But simplicity will not do of itself 
alone: unless sustained and contrasted with some 
power of a varied description, it is by itself, and 
always by itself, a tiresome and dubious virtue. 

p 4 

216 THE LIFE OF 1836 







WILKIE did not consume all his time in penning these 
Remarks, but, obeying his own injunction of always 
doing something, also employed his pencil on subjects 
which had long been present to his fancy: the Sir 
David Baird, The Escape of Queen Mary from Loch- 
leven, The Empress Josephine and the Sorceress of 
Saint Domingo, and The Cotter's Saturday Night. 
The success of his Peep-o'-Day Boy suggested a por- 
trait of Daniel O'Connell to an admirer of the distin- 
guished Irishman ; and Wilkie, with some wonder, and 
perhaps reluctance, accepted the commission. He 
was busy on these works when he moved to a house, 
large and commodious, in Vicarage Place, from 
whence he dates the following letter. 


Vicarage Place, Kensington, 30th Jan. 1837. 

The figure of Sir David Baird is entirely 
painted in, and I think that the air of the whole is 

^E-r.52. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 217 

impressive : the dress I had made up for the purpose. 
Sir James M'Grigor has just called, and bears his tes- 
timony to the entire resemblance ; he approves, too, 
of the dress, which is like that he recollects Sir David 
wearing in Egypt. Mrs. Agnes and Mrs. Joanna Baillie 
have also borne a flattering testimony to the likeness. 
They had called to see what pictures I had in hand, 
and, on entering my painting- room, exclaimed aloud, 
" See, there is Sir David Baird;" and, on inquiry, I 
found that they knew nothing of the subject of the 
picture, and had no other clue to the likeness but 
their having seen Sir David Baird in Edinburgh, 
shortly after his return from Spain. 

The figures of the orderly and the pioneer are also 
painted in, and make a considerable show in the 
centre of the picture. I have taken out the dogs, 
considering the wishes of my employer in all cases as 
a law ; but I have as yet devised nothing to supply 

their place. 

D. W. 

-T. /->,,-,. Vicarage Place, Kensington, 

Dear Collins, 6th Feb. issr. 

Your most welcome letter from Eome has 
given us all great pleasure, and enables me to write 
and report all that is doing. First, then, Reynolds 
requested me to look over his plate of The Sunday 
Morning, which I did twice with chalk, &c. He has 
made a very good mezzotinto plate of it, and has 
done his best. The figures are extremely good, the 
landscape well ; the chief defect the showing too much 

218 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

of the etched lines on the ground, and on the stems 
of trees. But this could not be rectified ; the general 
effect is as near as possible. This plate suggests to 
me that you should get future plates done in mez- 

You are pleased to ask about my brother : he is 
greatly better. I sent him with Helen to Brighton, 
where I joined them, taking with me an impression of 
the plate by Cousins of The Maid of Saragossa, which 
I showed to the King. I took, also, a newly com- 
menced head of the King, for which his Majesty gave 
me four sittings. This was fortunate : it is the best 
I have done of the King, by far ; remarkably like ; so 
much so, indeed, that all advise me to have it in the 

On my return from Brighton I took possession of 
my new house in Vicarage Place. Expenses are in- 
creased by this ; but if I can manage matters, it is 
perfectly a luxury for comfort : the painting-room 
answers capitally. I am going on with The Sir David 
Baird with great satisfaction. I expect to have five 
or six pictures ready for the Exhibition. 

The removal of the Royal Academy from Somerset 
House has taken place. Had a farewell dinner by 
advice of Turner, in the old room, at the close of the 
year. We have lost Richard Westall and Sir John 
Soane. The former died poor ; the Duchess of Kent is 
to allow a pension to his blind sister : the latter rich ; 
Wyatville thinks about 100,000/. All complain of 
his temper, which Academy proceedings can exem- 
plify. But this must -have been under control, or no 
such fortune could have been realised. 


The British Gallery has just opened, with much the 
usual show. The chief novelty, the interior of Had- 
don Hall, by Horsley, nephew to Callcott, clever, and 
combining a mixture of Callcott and De Hooge. 

I was much pleased with your remarks, though 
few, on the frescoes of Eaphael. Pray think of 
writing, while in Rome, to your great friends, Sir 
Robert Peel, Sir George Phillips, the Marshalls, &c. ; 
and pray look at the back-ground of The Communion 
of St. Jerome, by Domenichino. Sir George Beau- 
mont thought it the finest landscape back-ground in 
the world. 

D. W. 

The Royal Academy was removed this year from 
Somerset House to new galleries in Trafalgar Square, 
in which Painting found better room and light than 
her sister Sculpture. The old apartments were be- 
stowed by George the Third, in days when kings had 
the power to give : they had seen the last works 
of Reynolds and the first of Wilkie ; and it was not 
without reluctance that some of the aged members 
bade them farewell. 


Dear Collins, 

The impression that Rome has made upon you 
is not more than I expected, though it may be more 
than you anticipated. It is, as you say, not only a 
new sense added to a landscape-painter, but it is to 
you a new field. As you are now in the prime of 

220 THE LIFE OF 1836. 

life, and at the height of your faculties and fame, 
why might not you, by the irresistible effort which a 
fresh theme inspires, form for yourself, with all your 
present excellencies, a new style of art ; what 
Claude, Poussin, Wilson, and Turner have owed to 
Italy, are advantages equally open to yourself ? Your 
purpose of avoiding the beaten track of costumes, 
views, and imitations of others, the rock all young 
visiters split upon, is most judicious. The summer 
sky, rustic and wild nature, with the more simple 
monuments of ancient greatness, will most likely be 
the objects of your attraction and study, and will be 
hailed here as the most pleasing recollections of that 
delightful country. 

Here is nothing heard but the note of preparation 
for the new Academy. The portrait-painters I have 
not yet seen ; but Phillips will have his number. Etty 
is to have a very large picture, Scylla and Charybdis 
with Syrens. Landseer has some excellent pictures ; 
the chief, his Lord Francis Egerton and Family, in 
which the quantity and beauty of detail is surprising ; 
the general arrangement, too, most happy. Perhaps 
the beauties of the detail draw attention from the 
heads, hands, and general effect, disposing one to ex- 
amine it close to the picture, rather than at a distance 
from it ; but it is a surprising work. 

Leslie has a beautiful picture of Perdita, from " The 
Winter's Tale." Callcott has been so indifferent in 
health that he will only have one landscape and his 
large picture of Kaphael and the Fornarina. I am 
quite ready, have three subjects Mary Queen of 
Scots, Josephine, and The Cotter's Saturday Night ; 


also two portraits, a head of the King, and a half- 
length of Lord Tankerville. 

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall are in town, and I have put 
up the picture of Napoleon. It is placed at the end 
of the drawing-room, between your picture and Call- 
cott's picture a splendid situation. All these look 
well together, and I have assured Mr. Marshall that 
I have never had more honour done to my labours. 
They have all been most interested in hearing about 
you. Wordsworth had left them a week ago, on his 
way for Italy. 

Both Lewis and Eoberts have got up their works 
upon Spain, folio-size; they are extremely well exe- 
cuted. They are trying to get the impressions co- 
loured. I expect, indeed, that coloured prints will 
come again into fashion. Cousins has made a beau- 
tiful plate from my picture of The Maid of Sara- 
gossa : I tried an impression coloured from the picture 
it looked extremely well. 

To-night we elect a Professor of Architecture, in 
the room of Soane. Wilkins is the only candidate, 
and will, I think, be a creditable Professor. 

D. W. 

Of the pictures preparing by other artists for ex- 
hibition in the New Academy, Wilkie speaks with 
admiration of some, and with kindness of all : his own 
he simply mentions, they are in all seven ; viz. 1. Por- 
trait of William the Fourth. 2. Mary, Queen of 
Scots, escaping from Lochleven. 3. The Empress 
Josephine and the Fortune- Teller. 4. Portrait of 
the Earl of Tankerville. 5. The Cotter's Saturday 

222 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

Night. 6. Portrait of the late Sir William Knighton. 
7. Portrait of a Gentleman reading." Of these The 
Queen Mary, The Empress Josephine, and The Cot- 
ter's Saturday Night, are all of an historic and poetic 
order, remarkable for truth, character, and beauty. 
The first realizes the youth, life, and loveliness of 
the Mary and Catharine Seaton, and Eoland Graeme, 
of Scott's Romance : the second gives form, and co- 
lour, and character to a passage in the life of Jo^ 
sephine, as singular as it is true, that when very 
young, and residing in St. Domingo, a negress sybil, 
or sorceress of that isle, foretold that she would live 
to be a crowned queen. This is one of the happiest 
of the artist's works of imagination, and was painted 
for John Abel Smith, Esq., M.P. The third, The 
Cotter's Saturday Night, painted for Mr. Moon, sup- 
plies to all the calm, the holy, and lovely group, 
contained in the poet's verse. The Gentleman read- 
ing is Thomas Wilkie, the artist's brother; a fine 
picture, the attitude bold and natural. 


Kensington, 24th April, 1837. 

Since I wrote to your Ladyship, the picture 
of Sir David Baird has been seen by the Marchioness 
of Ailsa, who expressed much interest about it, and I 
think seemed pleased with the figure of Sir David, as 
according with her early remembrance of him. 

As I understand your Ladyship is to be in London 
this season, my wish is to get the back-ground figures 


advanced as far as possible, that I may have the more 
to submit for your approval. I think that by the 
end of May, I shall have the effect at least, if not the 
details, a good way on. 

I find much help as I go on, by having the real 
objects to paint from. The European Arms I got 
from the maker's, and some friends are to lend me 
Indian stuffs and dresses. Of the trophies and arms 
at Fern Tower, I have drawings; but the arms them- 
selves I should like to have before me, when engaged 
in painting in the details of the picture. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 18th June, 1837. 

The picture now proceeds apace. Besides the 
figure of Sir David Baird, several of the European 
group are painted in ; and, having found some native 
Lascars, who have been sitting to me daily for some 
weeks past, I am getting the chief of the Indian heads 
painted in. 

I have been to the Museum of the India House, 
but found very little there to assist me. They have 
no picture of Tippoo Saib, and no likeness but a small 
drawing, of which I have got a print. 

The interest of the subject I find grows as I pro- 
ceed. The subordinate figures and the back-ground 
I generally leave till the principal figures are 
painted in. 

D. W. 

224 THE LIFE OF 1837. 


Kensington, 6th July, 1837. 

Since I last wrote, great events and changes 
have taken place. King William IY. is dead, and 
Queen Victoria on the throne. At seven o'clock in 
the morning she had to be waked out of a sound 
sleep, to be told she was Queen of England; and 
when she came out of her room, half dressed, to re- 
ceive the intelligence, she burst into tears, an ex- 
uberance of feeling with which George IY. was 
himself equally affected when receiving the same in- 

We have had a meeting at the Royal Academy for 
an address of condolence, the thinnest meeting I ever 
was at a strange contrast to the meeting on the 
accession of William IY., which to my feeling was 
over-excited, while this, I think, was apathetic. The 
address, proposed by Sir Martin, was correct and 
proper, and the condolence well felt, but, on the 
whole, chilling and cold. I tried to counteract this, 
by proposing an allusion to the Duchess of Kent: 
this was adopted, and seemed to cheer the assembly. 
Phillips moved the address, and I was called upon to 
second it. This I did, and urged, at the same time, 
whether an address to the Queen Dowager would not 
be' proper. Sir Martin said that this had occupied 
the attention of the Council and, that, as there was 
no precedent, they were in doubt. Since this, an 
address has been prepared by the Council, and will 

^T. 52. SIB DAVID WILKIE. 225 

be submitted to the General Meeting on Tuesday 

D. W. 


Kensington, 20th August, 1837. 

Since I had the honour of seeing you, I have 
proceeded with the figure and dress of Tippoo Saib, 
which help the work greatly. I have had Indians in 
constant attendance, and have finished the heads and 
hands of the natives with great care. The Indian 
costume, I find, gives great effect and character 
to all. 

After you left town Mrs. Plunket called ; with her 
was Mrs. Parker, who has since brought me a dress, 
consisting of pelisse and trowsers, actually worn by 
Tippoo Saib himself! ! This is a great help. 

Mr. Charles Russell has also sent me a coach-load 
of turbans, pelisses, trowsers of the richest stuffs, 
with matchlocks, scymitars, and a superb shield. 
These, with what your Ladyship is pleased to send me 
from Fern Tower, will supply completely the Indian 
part of the picture. 

I have thought a great deal about the propriety of 
changing the great coat on the figure of Sir David 
Baird for a cloak, as your Ladyship suggests. Con- 
sidering that some dress was wanted in addition to 
what actually may have been worn, so as to give am- 
plitude and consequence to the principal and com- 
manding figure. I at first thought of a cloak, but I 
confess it had its disadvantages it concealed the 


226 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

figure, and courted more observation than I supposed 
the great coat would do, to which I have resorted. I 
always try an experiment in sketches ; this experiment 
I will again try, and will submit my sketches to your 
decision for my guidance in finishing the picture. 

D. W. 

In June the throne changed its occupants : a king 
died, and a queen succeeded one young and lovely, 
in whose looks was the hope of a long reign, and in 
her firmness of mind the promise of a prosperous one. 
The appointment of Painter in Ordinary was renewed 
to Sir David. That he was soon called upon to perform 
its duties, we may see by the following letters : 


York Hotel, Brighton, 17th Oct. 1837. 

You will find resting on the sill of the folding 
door in the painting room ^canvas I ordered for another 
Columbus, it measures about 6 feet 6 by 4 feet 6, 
and is quite clean and new the beginning of the 
King in his Robes, I think, covers it. Having no 
doubt of your finding it, have a packing-case made, 
and send it here that I may have it on Thursday 

Her Majesty has given me a sitting to-day, and has 
commanded a picture of her first Council, and has 
been telling me who to put in it. I am to have a 
sitting again on Saturday. I told her Majesty that I 
would get the canvas from home, and paint in her 
figure from to-day's sitting, and sketch the group 

^T. 52. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 227 

upon it, so as to have it ready for the Saturday's 

D. W. 


York Hotel, Brighton, 28th Oct. 1837. 

Her Majesty has been most gracious, appearing 
to recognise me as an early friend. I proceed with 
the picture have painted in her figure on the canvas 
you sent, and which arrived in capital time. Her 
face I have painted, nearly a profile it is thought 
like her. She sat to-day in the dress a white satin, 
covered with gauze embroidered I think it looks 
well. All here think the subject good, and she likes 
it herself. Lord Conyngham and Mr. Seguier give 
me encouragement about it. She appoints a sitting 
once in two days, and never puts me off. 

D. W. 

1st Nov. 1837. 

Yesterday the Queen again sat to me the last 
her Majesty can give me at present : so I am pre- 
paring to move. 


Kensington, 12th Nov. 1837. 

The election at the Eoyal Academy on the first 
Monday of November, for the two vacant associate- 
ships fell upon Mr. Patten and Mr. Charles Landseer. 
The list was strong to select from a full dozen as 
good as these. Wyatt, of Rome, came upon the ballot, 

Q 2 

228 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

when, as a non-resident, it was urged that he should 
not be allowed ; but this was overruled, and accord- 
ingly he was pitted against Landseer, who had a 
greater majority from this, than he would have had 
over a resident candidate. Observe, however, that 
though Wyatt was not successful from non-residence, 
still he was not held disqualified from this. 

In the course of the autumn I made a tour into 
Leicestershire, seeing Manchester, Liverpool, Ches- 
ter, &c., on my way to Coleorton, to visit Sir George 
Beaumont, where I saw your picture of the French 
Diligence, well placed in the principal room. On a 
rocky height, near Coleorton, a convent is building 
for a fraternity of Trappist monks. This I was taken 
to see ; and there I saw, for the first time in Eng- 
land, a monk in full costume, with the shaved head 
and a cowl. In the ardour of their zeal they make 
here a great stir, cultivating the ground with their 
own hands, making proselytes, and, from what I 
could learn, giving much uneasiness to the established 
clergy of the district. 

A few days after the accession of her Majesty, Queen 
Victoria, I was happy to find myself remembered by 
a message that her Majesty was graciously pleased 
to appoint me her Painter in Ordinary, as in the last 
reign. Hayter was at the same time appointed her 
Portrait Painter, and since then Chalon has had 
a similar honour. The first picture the Queen 
sat for was for a drawing by A. E. Chalon. The 
Queen is dressed in the robes she wore when the 
Parliament was dissolved. It was instantly caught 
by Moon, to engrave from, at a high-price copy- 


right. In October last I received a message from 
the Lord Chamberlain, to attend the Queen at 
Brighton, with the view of beginning the Embassy 
Picture, but was told the Queen had heard of a sketch 
I had made of her First Council. Accordingly, on 
seeing her Majesty, and finding her strongly set upon 
this, I sent for a canvas from London, and began 
the figure of the Queen at once. She is placed nearly 
in profile at the end of a long table, covered with a 
red cloth. She sits in a large chair, or throne, a little 
elevated, to make her the presiding person. This 
will be a picture of considerable plague in adjusting 
the persons ; but as every one seems keen about the 
subject, I shall proceed, though I am putting other 
things at a stand. Having been accustomed to see 
the Queen from a child, my reception had a little the 
air of that of an early acquaintance. She is eminently 
beautiful, her features nicely formed, her skin smooth, 
her hair worn close to her face, in a most simple way ; 
glossy and clean-looking. Her manner, though 
trained to act the Sovereign, is yet simple and natural. 
She has all the decision, thought, and self-possession, 
of a queen of older years ; has all the buoyancy of 
youth, and from the smile to the unrestrained laugh, 
is a perfect child. While I was there she was sitting 
to Pistrucci, for her coin, and to Hayter for a picture 
for King Leopold. 

D. W. 

Q 3 

230 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 24th Nov. 1837. 

The engraving of Knox Preaching is, I am 
happy to say, drawing to a close. Mr. Moon and 
Mr. Doo have just been to show me an unfinished 
proof, which even exceeds my expectations. It is 
done in a most accomplished style of engraving, and 
I feel assured you will like it. The time allowed to 
Mr. Doo has been exceeded by some months, purely 
from zeal to make it more perfect. I presume you 
will still be pleased to allow him the use of the picture 
to complete it, which we hope he will be able to do 
soon, as Mr. Moon wishes to have it out in the 
ensuing Summer. 

I rejoice to hear every account favourable of your 
restored health. 

I have the honour, &c. 

D. W. 

My dear Sir, Kensington, 29th Nov. 1837. 

I am sorry that the picture of Knox should 
be detained from you so long after the expiration of 
the three years. I wrote immediately to Mr. Doo 
for the proof he showed me, that I might have the 
pleasure of submitting it to you, considering that the 
only thing I can do in emergencies like these, which, 
I admit with you, Sir, are extremely detrimental to 
the encouragement of art, was, to endeavour to show 


that though the time has been exceeded, the work has 
not been unimproved. Mr. Doo, to fulfil his engage- 
ment, has exerted himself almost beyond the strength 
of man, and is now only delayed in the completion of 
his task, by the most zealous endeavour that the plate 
which is to bear the name of Sir Robert Peel upon its 
Dedication should carry with it the highest degree of 

I wish of all things to do precisely what would be 
agreeable to you, and, if possible, to obtain your con- 
currence in all we are doing. The moment I get the 
proof I mean to do myself the honour of waiting upon 
you with it. I am willing to trust every thing to the 
impression which it will make upon you. In parts it 
still wants the charm of the completion, but time will 
give it this. I have the highest expectation from its 
character, and have no reason to doubt that the same 
favour you have shown in so handsome a manner to 
the picture, both when in progress and when com- 
pleted, will be extended to this translation or version 
of it (for its merits are far above a copy) into a new 

With the highest feeling of respect, 

I have the honour, &c, 
D. W. 

TO . 

Dear Madam, Vicarage Place, Kensington, 

4th Dec. 1837. 

Be assured I was much gratified in receiving 
your letters, not merely from the statement so plea- 
singly conveyed of the interesting mansion, once the 

Q 4 


THE LIFE OF 1837. 

sanctuary of our early church, but also from the 
accounts you give of those around you, and by the 
renewal of intercourse, the hope of keeping up ac- 
quaintance, though at such a distance, with yourself. 

You interest me greatly about Calder House, which, 
with all its exciting recollections of the past, is yet 
not exempt from the common vicissitudes of life, from 
the recent most afflicting bereavement it has met with. 
Be assured, were I again in Edinburgh, Lord Tor- 
phichen's most kind request to see it would be most 
thankfully accepted of: till I have this pleasure, how- 
ever, your most picturesque narrative supplies ample 
food for thought. The inner court, with the flight of 
steps and arched entrance to the paved hall, with its 
walls of adamantine thickness, and their once arched 
roof, seem indeed a fitting scene for the restoration of 
a holy ordinance to its primitive simplicity ; neither 
do the mysterious relics under ground seem out of 
place, nor would I give up the tradition of the sub- 
terranean passage to the village, which, like the 
covered way across the Arno at Florence, accords so 
well, in those unsettled times, with our ideas of con- 
cealment or escape. 

The fancy of " Torchlight with haste and dread, 
yet firm resolve," savours too much of romance and 
the picturesque ; yet, though it might add, it is not 
necessary to the interest of the situation, and perhaps 
only presents itself as a possibility in the commemo- 
ration of the Feast of the Passover, which might, and 
in that solemn instance did, take place at night, and 
is essentially known as a supper. But without being 
able to tell whether, in the Apostolical times, this part 

^Ex. 52. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 233 

of the resemblance was adhered to, the fact of the pre- 
sent custom in Scotland must be decisive, in the absence 
of history or tradition to the contrary, that the Sacra- 
ment must have been administered at Calder House, 
by Knox, in the open day. To make up for this, as 
you say, gentle and simple would be there seated 
alike at the same table : this makes the grand feature 
of the subject, characterising not only those who sit at 
table, but the lookers on. Indeed your most obliging 
detail gives me a strong wish to begin the work, but 
that my hands are so full I scarce know what to begin 
first, and a picture now proceeding of our Sovereign 
Lady, holding her first Council, a noble and in- 
teresting subject, must take precedence of every 

Such good and loyal people as , and those 

around her, of course participitated in the interest 
felt about our youthful sovereign. The regal power 
in so lovely a form is perfectly new to us ; it seems 
sent to charm the disaffected by presenting a settled 
government under the most engaging aspect. Her 
Majesty is an elegant person; seems to lose nothing 
of her authority either by her youth or delicacy ; is 
approached with the same awe, and obeyed with the 
same promptitude, as the most commanding of her 
predecessors. She has all the buoyancy and singleness 
of heart of youth, with a wisdom and decision far 

beyond her years. Our esteemed friend is most 

deserving of her confidence, and of the character 
and rank she has given him, and, with him, his lady, 
is not less deserving. He is full of business ; but 1 

234 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

wish I saw him a little stouter : the fag of London re- 
quires it. 

Lady Callcott is, strange to say, recovering, and 
again seeing her friends; and Sir Augustus seems 
better, and more cheerful. 

The request of Lady Torphichen to have her name 
put down for a proof of The Preaching of Knox, I con- 
sider as highly complimentary. I have sent her Lady- 
ship's request to Mr. Moon, the publisher. The en- 
graving draws to a close, and promises to be superb. 

I should like to ascertain what is known of the Sir 
James Sandilands, who was first Lord Torphichen. 
He was, I think, Knight of St. John of Jerusalem, and 
grand master of the order for Scotland. Was he a 
traveller? Was he at Malta or Jerusalem? These 
questions, however, I put at random ; and if you can 
give me information without seeking far for it, I 
should be glad. Indeed, what you tell me you tell 
me so agreeably, that, had you leisure, perhaps you 
could put together something in the form of a me- 
moir of this chieftain of the family, who was the friend 
and protector of Knox. 

I see this letter has run to a great length, and far 
too much about my own pursuits ; but if I may hope 
that you would sometimes write to me, do not think 
a frank required ; but if you can spare the time and 
the thought, to hear from you, and to hear that you 
are well, and what you are doing, would always be 
most agreeable. 

I am, my dear Madam, 
Your very faithful and obliged servant, 

D. W. 

. 52. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 235 


Dear Lady Baird, Kensington, 2d F e b. isss. 

Since we had the pleasure of seeing you in 
London, the picture has made a very great advance ; 
and, excepting the Highlander stooping with the torch 
on the right of Sir David Baird, and the figures in the 
distance behind him, all the other figures are painted 
in. Though in a state in which it can soon be brought 
to a close, it is necessary that I should mention to 
your ladyship an unexpected circumstance that now 
retards it. The Queen having last October desired my 
attendance at Brighton, I found, on arriving there, 
that, instead of a portrait of her Majesty (which it was 
my duty to paint), the Queen was strongly bent on 
having a picture painted of her first council. Finding 
her much interested with the subject, I sent to London 
for a canvas, and began the picture at Brighton. I 
soon found it was expected that the picture should be 
ready for the next Exhibition. Now nothing but a 
great effort can accomplish this, as nearly twenty por- 
traits have to be introduced; so that I have been 
forced to lay aside, for the present, most reluctantly, 
my great work of Sir David Baird, which I had other- 
wise counted upon having done this spring. I do 
assure you that I feel extreme regret at this delay, 
both as a disappointment to your ladyship and to my- 
self. As it has advanced, the impression made has 
been most satisfactory, and I have been complimented 
much by friends on its success. The figure of Tippoo 
Saib I have taken great pains with, and I have been 
making a model of the scene for the light and shadow. 

236 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

The Duke of Wellington came about ten days ago 
to sit in his uniform for his likeness in The Queen's 
Council. His Grace asked to look at my large pic- 
ture ; when J told him that it was a subject which 
would not come up to his ideas : it was The Finding 
the Body of Tippoo Saib. He said, " I don't know 
why it should not ; but that is very like Sir David 
Baird, though." This is, of course, a great authority. 

D. W. * 

Dear Collins, Kensington, 12th Feb. 1838. 

Your letter, Chiaja, 16th January, reached 
about ten days ago, and relieved me from great 
anxiety about you, written as it was with your own 
hand, and giving an account of your proceedings with 
all the spirit and zest of one in a fair way of being as 
well as ever. It made us all merry, and we all hope 
to see you once more among us with renewed health 
and fresh materials for your art. 

Our new council meetings at the Eoyal Academy 
are very badly attended. Mr. Turner has resigned 
the office of Professor of Perspective. The number 
of claimants on the pension-list of distressed mem- 
bers exceeds what the interest of the Pension Fund 
can pay. This has never happened before. 

On the 10th of February we met, according to an- 
cient usage, when the following associates were elected 
Royal Academicians ; viz. John Peter Deering, Tho- 
mas Uwins, F. R. Lee, and William Wyon, in the 

^Ex. 52. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 237 

order here stated. Had Clint not cut with the Aca- 
demy, many said he would have come in. 

On Turner's resignation being announced by the 
president, I took the liberty to move a resolution ex- 
pressive of our regret at losing a professor who, by 
precept and example, had advanced so much the cause 
of perspective. Landseer seconded, and it passed 
with acclamation. Turner received it with expres-' 
sions of great satisfaction. The question now is, how to 
supply the vacancy. Reinagle will try ; and Mulready 
says he will take no step to prevent him. Beechey, 
aged eighty-seven, was present, and fresh-looking. 
Callcott has been very unwell for some months ; Lady 
Callcott is better. 

We have lost Lord Egremont, whose works of art 
are not to be dispersed. We have also lost General 
Phipps, whose pictures are left to his nephew. Lord 
Farnborough, too, has gone. His pictures, it is said, 
are given to the National Gallery ; besides which, he 
leaves several bequests : a large sum of 3000/. to the 
British Museum, 200/. to each of the Artists' Bene- 
volent Funds, 300/. to our esteemed friend Seguier, 
and 200/., I suppose unexpectedly, to one he helped 
first and last a good deal, viz. our very good friend 
Chantrey. Query, What will Westmacott say to 
this, who, I suppose, has been left nothing. I taxed 
Chantrey with his legacy, who confesses candidly he 
did not deserve it. 

I go on with my picture of The Queen in Council, 
but with great trouble. I have just applied to Sir 
Robert Peel to sit, having had the Duke of Sussex, 
the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Chancellor, Lord 

238 THE LIFE OE 1837. 

Melbourne, Lord Lansdowne, Lord John Russell, and 
the Archbishop of Canterbury. I hope to get it done 
for the Exhibition. 

The engraving of Knox is now nearly complete. 
Sir Robert Peel has been impatient about the delay ; 
but Doo has made a superb plate, and I hear that his 
brother artists are to give him a dinner on the suc- 
cessful completion of so great an undertaking. 

The whole town and country have been kept alive 
since the 1st of January by Murphy's Weather Alma- 
nack. It tells the weather for every day of the year, 
and for January was so accurate, that their sale (one 
shilling and sixpence a-piece) was extraordinary. The 
20th of January he fixed to be the coldest day ; when 
it so happened that the thermometer on that day was 
below Zero. He also foretold the thaw that followed, 
and up to the time that I am now writing his calendar 
corresponds fairly with the actual state of the wea- 
ther. His Almanack is the all-engrossing subject of 
conversation. Whittaker says he has sold 40,000 
since the 1st of January ; that the king of the French 
has sent for a copy ; and that demands come from all 
parts of the country. 

Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott is now in every 
body's hands : the most interesting book I ever read, 
Boswell not excepted. Scott's own Journal, kept 
during the time of his troubles, family losses, and 
afflictions, has created a most intense interest. 

D. W. 

. 52. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 239 

Dear Collins, Kensington, 16th April, 1838. 

Mr. Carpenter tells me that he has sold your 
picture of the Rock and Sea Fowl scene for 350 gui- 
neas. This is agreeable news. 

The pictures are all in at the Academy. I have 
sent The Queen's First Council; it contains about 
thirty portraits, which form the interest of the pic- 
ture. The Bride dressing at her Toilette, and a full- 
length portrait of that most staunch supporter of her 
Majesty's ministers, Mr. Daniel O'Connell. This last 
was offered to me to paint ; and it was difficult to re- 
fuse, for he had sat to no other artist. My Whig 
friends are much pleased with it some say it is the 
best portrait I have painted. Mr. O'Connell himself 
is pleased. 

April 17. We, that is Cooper, Eastlake, and I, are 
engaged every day from morn till night with the Ex- 
hibition arrangements. The new rooms do not de- 
crease our difficulties claims increase with the size 
of the rooms, and we have near 600 crossed and 
doubtful. Only one sculptor member exhibits viz., 
Baily. This is great cry and little wool, after the 
clamour of sculptors for a better exhibition-room. 

As you return from Rome, could you not come, as 
I did, by Loretto, Ancona, and Bologna that coast 
is beautiful. From Bologna, you should pass by 
Parma, where you should stop some days for the Cor- 
reggios. At Mantua are some colossal paintings by 

240 THE LIFE OF 1837. 

Giulio Romano. Sir William Knighton saw them, 
but I did not. 

Simson, from Edinburgh, has two very remarkable 
pictures of Italian subjects in the Exhibition. 







IN the new exhibition rooms Sir David had six 
pictures. 1. The Queen's First Council; 2. The 
Bride at her Toilette ; 3. Portrait of Daniel O'Con- 
nell ; 4. Portrait of Mrs. Moberly; 5. Portrait of 
Thomas Daniell, E. A. ; 6. Portrait of a Young Lady. 
How the artist, who had painted in colours of such 
delicacy and loveliness Mary, the unfortunate Queen 
of the North, would acquit himself in painting the 
youth and innocence of Victoria, her more fortunate 
descendant, all were anxious to know. It had been 
whispered about, that in the painting of his royal 
commission, the artist had experienced difficulties 
such as genius ought never to be exposed to, from the 
far descended and the polite. From Sir David himself, 
the most modest and least presuming of men, no one 
ever heard a complaint ; but those who know the pre- 
sumption and vanity of man, will not wonder at the 
jostle and intrigue among the sitters for place even in 
a picture, nor feel surprised to hear that some who 
were in the rear desired to be in the van, while others 
who modestly took the back deserved the foreground ; 
and that some, whose fine looks, rather than fine 
intellect, pushed them into favour, were solicitous 




about their complexions, and called out, like the ex- 
piring lady in Pope, for a little more red ! This was 
the first council which her Majesty held : she had 
been awakened early in the morning with the tidings 
that the crown of maritime dominion the sove- 
reignty of the seas was awaiting her virgin brow, 
and that the noble and the powerful were ready to 
render their homage. " The Queen," says the painter, 
describing the picture, " is seated at the head of the 
council table, and holds in her hand the gracious de- 
claration to the Lords and others of the Council, of 
whom the following portraits are introduced. Behind 
her Majesty are the Duke of Argyll, the Earl of Albe- 
marle, the Right Honourable George Byng, and C. C. 
Grenville, Esq. On the left hand of the Queen are 
the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Marquis of Anglesea, 
the Lord Chancellor, Lord Harcourt, Lord John Rus- 
sell, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Mel- 
bourne, Lord Palmerston, the Speaker of the Com- 
mons, Earl Grey, the Earl of Carlisle, the Hon. 
Thomas Erskine, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord 
Morpeth, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Lyndhurst, the King 
of Hanover, the Duke of Wellington, the Earl of 
Surrey, John Wilson Croker, Esq., Sir Robert Peel, 
the Duke of Sussex, Lord Holland, the Attorney- 
General, the Marquis of Salisbury, Lord Burghersh, 
and the Lord Mayor of London* ? " 

Several of these names belong to history ; and art 
and literature unite in preserving them from oblivion ; 

* Mr. Charles Fox has nearly completed an excellent engraving of the 
Queen's First Council, one of the many engraved works of Wilkie for 
which we are indebted to the enterprising spirit of Mr. Moon, 


but oblivion can never be the lot of Daniel O'Connell, 
whose name is too indelibly impressed in the story of 
Ireland to be forgotten, should both art and literature 
unite to neglect him. His portrait is very like, but 
too calm, perhaps, for a man of his impetuosity of 
manner when moving the feelings of an audience of 
Irishmen on the manifold wrongs of his native land. 
More like him, indeed, and that was perhaps the 
aim of the painter, when, seeking redress from a 
cool, cold assembly of philosophic Englishmen, he 
has calmed his fiery temper down, and seeks from 
justice what is refused to mercy. The Bride at her 
Toilet interests by its truth and loveliness many who 
refuse to be influenced by the record of momentary 
things and perishable manners and customs : the 
figures take their expression and posture from the 
sentiment of the scene. 

The following letter, describing the arrangements 
in the new Academy, may renew the remembrance 
of many who have forgotten the first appearance of 
British Art in her new abode. It may be added, 
that of all who objected to the accommodation and the 
lights, the sculptors had the most reason to complain : 
when they left the old for the new, they forsook the 
better, and took the worse. But it is said, that the 
sculptors, when the architect laid the drawings of the 
new Gallery before them, were either too diffident or 
too proud to tell what they wanted, and so have suf- 
fered for their silence. 

B 2 

244 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

Dear Collins, Kensington, 7th May, 1838. 

Cooper, Eastlake, and I have arranged the 
multitudinous Exhibition, a task I never till now was 
able to bear an equal share in. On former occasions 
I was always fatigued, but now I have stuck to it day 
by day and hour by hour. Pictures more numerous 
than ever. Nearly 500 doubtful and crossed, and at 
least sixty of the received not hung up. 

In the great room, Callcott has the centre, on the 
side of the door ; Mulready has that at the opposite 
end, the bulk head ; Turner has that at the bottom of 
the room ; and I, for my Queen's Council, have that 
behind the president's chair. Above mine is Hayter's 
Queen (over the line) ; Hilton's Murder of the Inno- 
cents over Turner's ; Sir Martin's Portrait of the late 
King over Mulready's ; and Landseer's large Hunt 
over Callcott's. Sir Martin has five pictures, all in 
the great room. Phillips has. eight, of which four are in 
the great room. Pickersgill has four in the great room ; 
Briggs three ; Callcott four ; Turner three ; Stanfield 
three; Lee two; Mulready one; Eastlake one; Cooper 
two ; and I three. 

Of the associates, Geddes and Maclise contribute 
largely, with various success in regard to places. Of 
the outstanders, I may mention Hollins, who has two 
fine pictures; and Simson, the Edinburgh Simson, 
now come to London to settle, who has two very 
clever pictures ; one is Giotto discovered herding 
Sheep, by Cimabue. These by Simson are much liked : 


they show what he has learnt by going to Italy. 
They are so new, that I should not have known them 
to be his from his former works. The Exhibition I 
have no doubt will be highly popular. Still, one 
Exhibition is very like another ; and in the even 
tenor of our sameness, we only want you to come 
home, and surprise us by a new style of Italian art. 

The Queen was at the private view, but did not 
purchase. At the dinner we had the Duke of Sussex, 
and all the great officers of state. The placing of the 
tables was nearly as of old, with some improvements 
the shape of the new room admits of. Turner and 
myself were placed at opposite ends of the upper 
table. The President acquitted himself in his usual 
happy manner, adverting to the comparison that 
might be unfairly made between the selection of the 
works of many schools, and of many ages, with those 
of one school, one city, and one year. No reference 
was made to any works in the Exhibition, except by 
the Duke of Sussex to some American exhibitors 
(whose works, I am sorry to say, are not in the best 
of places). There was no allusion to absent members. 
The effect of the speaking was much flattened by an 
unforeseen joy and movement out of doors, viz. the 
loud ringing of the bells of St. Martin's Church, so 
adjusted and timed, that the peals began regularly as 
each speaker began, and were commensurate in their 
continuance with the length of his speech. This, 
which a few half-pence might have stopped or pre- 
vented, no one thought of stirring to remove, leaving 
its non-recurrence to future negotiation. 

From the dinner I had a message to convey to 

B 3 

246 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

Simson that his Giotto was sold to Sir Robert Peel. 
The price he asked was very moderate, but he is 
highly satisfied at having sold it. Two gentlemen 
wanted to have it, and it is probable his other picture 
will be sold also. 

Many people have been asking when you are to 
return ; to which I have answered, that your wish is 
to be here by the close of the Exhibition. That you 
have still much to see in Italy, the Adriatic Coast, 
Bologna, Parma, and Venice; and that Vienna, Mu- 
nich, and even Dresden, may come within your route 
home. On your return, however, I am quite sure 
you will bring with you new subjects, and a new 
style of art, which the public will be full of expect- 
ation to receive, 

D. W. 

The following lette^ and the succeeding one, re- 
lates to a picture on which Sir David Wilkie studied 
long, viz. John Knox administering the Sacrament 
in Calder .House. His sketches promised a work of 
the noblest kind and character. 

TO . 

Dear Madam, Vicarage Place, Kensington, 

30th May, 1838. 

I confess it appears a long time since I had the 
honour of hearing from you, but when, in writing to 
you last, I took the liberty to request you to favour me 
by writing again upon the subject of one of my own 
pursuits, I forgot that I was imposing a task upon 
you, in no less than in asking you to write some par- 

^Ex. 53. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 247 

ticulars of the history of an ancient family. Since 
this, however, I have had the honour of seeing here 
the Dowager Lady Torphichen, who, in adverting 
to the subject, seemed to think little could now be 
known of the history of Calder House. Her lady- 
ship mentioned your researches upon this matter, 
and that she had told you all she thought was known, 
but that who were the probable inmates or neigh- 
bours of the ancient mansion when Knox was a 
visiter, she believed could not now be made out. It 
is in this way we try to get ideas ; and although little 
progress is made, the Celebration at Calder is still the 
best subject in view as a companion to Knox preach- 
ing at St. Andrew's. 

Lady Torphichen was induced to call upon me at the 
instance of Lady Baird ; she seemed a fine example 
of a Scottish lady of rank ; she had been an early 
acquaintance of the late Sir David Baird ; she brought 
a lady with her, Mrs. Hope Johnstone, a splendid 

Dear Madam, Kensington, 29th June, 1838. 

My own occupations proceed as before. The 
Bride, now in the Exhibition, goes to Yienna in a 
few weeks. The Grace before Meat I now proceed 
with for a friend at New Orleans : various other 
subjects, with portraits, press hard upon me. The 
publication of John Knox Preaching, however, ap- 
pears from its subject to excite that kind of curiosity, 
that a companion picture is called for ; and as the 

R 4 

248 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

Sacrament at Calder House, both as the contrast and 
the sequel to the Preaching appears to me the best, I 
am trying to collect the material and the thought for 
that subject. What you, dear Madam, have so kindly 
supplied has confirmed me much; pray, therefore, 
think of me, should you see what you think would 
serve ; indeed, should you obtain access to the char- 
telary of Calder House, an event which, with you 
before me, I fancy would of itself make a subject 
for a picture, you might in the old chest gain 
something that would throw light on the contem- 
porary history of the first Lord Torphichen. I 
asked the Dowager Lady Torphichen, who won upon me 
greatly, whether Sir James Sandilands, Knight of 
St. John, &c., and the first lord, could ever have 
been married, and, if so, who was his lady and her 
family ? but Lady Torphichen said there was an uncer- 
tainty here, and that her belief is, that the present family 
are not descended from the knight, but a collateral 
branch : any ligh on this would help me in the 
visitors present gentle and simple, as you have 
stated and in the personages who would be chief 
partners in the holy commemoration. In this way, 
dear Madam, I am drawing upon your obliging good 
nature, when, if I thought only of interesting yourself 
on this occasion of the Coronation, I should describe 
nothing but what all London has yesterday been wit- 

The crowded state of this city is unprecedented. 
Strangers from all quarters came to see the procession 
or ceremony, crowds of whom filled the streets and 
Westminster Abbey as early as six o'clock. I was 


there about six, and found every seat occupied : it was 
most splendid. The House of Commons had a gallery 
over the altar ; the Peers in the south transept ; the 
Peeresses in the north transept : besides which, gal- 
leries were arranged from one end to the other, and 
up to the roof, in this immense building. The Queen 
came at half past eleven, attended by all the great 
officers, and bearing her train were eight beautiful 
young ladies. The Archbishop of Canterbury began 
by showing her Majesty to the Assembly ; then the 
Church Service was read that is, the Litany, Com- 
munion, &c. ; when a sermon of twenty minutes was 
preached by the Bishop of London, admonitory of 
the duties the sovereignty required of her Majesty. 
She was then crowned in the old chair ; the Coronation 
Anthem was sung, when all stood up, and the Peers and 
Peeresses put on their coronets also ; when the Peers 
in succession went through the ceremony of homage 
to her Majesty. The Queen looked most interesting 
calm and unexcited ; and as she sat upon the chair with 
the crown on, the sun shone from one of the windows 
bright upon her. All thought of the fatigue of the 
continued ceremony, which lasted till three o'clock ; 
but we have heard to-day her Majesty felt no incon- 
venience from it. We did not get home till dark. 
Nothing else has been talked of since, and nothing 
else written that has any chance of being read. 

I am, &c. 


250 THE LIFE OF 1838. 


Kensington, 26th July, 1838. 

Since we returned, the gaieties of London 
have continued with unabated force, and to be out of 
them is not possible. The run Sir Peter, Mr. Laurie, 
and I made to Windsor by the railway was, however, 
a relief. We started on Saturday, at five, from Pad- 
dington, and went to Maidenhead bridge ; stopped in 
that town all night, returned next morning to Slough 
by rail, and then by omnibus to Windsor. After 
church, we went over the state apartments with a per- 
fect multitude of railway passengers. Next morning 
we left in a chaise, through Chertsey and Staines, to 
Weybridge, where we took the Southampton train, 
and in an hour were at Yauxhall. Sir Peter was not 
over captivated with this mode of conveyance, but 
admits the vast change its celerity and cheapness must 
effect in the country at large. 

Yesterday I dined at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, 
where, agreeable to a written request, I had delivered 
Mr. Alderman Lucas's portrait the day before. It was 
placed at the end of the great room, and looked well, 
and, by many who spoke to me, seemed to be liked. 
Mr. Lucas, the President, was in great force. 

But to-day all was expectation for the grand fete 
across the water. A marquee was erected over the 
place where the stone was to be laid, and another on 
the green for the feast. Among the great persons 
present were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord 
John Kussell, and the American Minister. 

When the sign was given, the procession began,. 

^Er. 53. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 251 

First the workmen of the new works, the builder, 
beadles, male and female keepers, matron, architect, 
surgeon, chaplain, sheriffs, aldermen, treasurer, presi- 
dent; and after the president, the sub-committee, of 
which I was one. All of us marched along to a tune 
which I had not heard since our own church and 
manse at Cults were building, viz. The free and ac- 
cepted Mason. 

The usual ceremonies gone through, Sir Peter, on 
receiving the trowel from the treasurer, began his 
address. I wish Lady Laurie had been present to 
have heard him, for never did he acquit himself with 
more effective language and tact. He gave the history 
of the Hospital from its foundation, its location in 
Moorfields, and its ultimate removal to its present site 
in 1812. He then stated the increase of its wealth, 
its usefulness, and the vast amelioration in later times 
in the more humane treatment of the patients. This 
address took about twenty minutes, and was received 
by all with the greatest satisfaction. 

At the banquet the American Minister made a most 
brilliant harangue. 

D. W. 

My dear Sir William, Kensington, 16th August, 1838. 

Your welcome letter of July 16th gave, as 
usual, the agreeable detail of your movements and 
observations. Parma you bring back to me by your 
mention of The Assumption in the Duomo, and of 
the oil picture of St. Jerome. Correggio seems to 
have found honour in his own country by the em- 


THE LIFE OF 1838. 

ployment that was given to him ; but I suspect, while 
he lived, was not known out of the little state of 

Venice you have not yet seen. It should not be 
the first school seen by any artist ; still nothing can 
be greater or finer than the works of Titian. 

Major and Mrs. Thew have just arrived, and have 
gratified us all very much by their accounts of your- 
self and your young bride. May I oifer my humble 
respects to Lady Knighton, and with my best wishes 
for health and happiness to you both, express a hope 
that she will second all your aspirations towards ex- 
cellence in that art which you have made your study. 
It is an indication of an improvement in the condition 
of our fraternity that we can number such as you in 
our list. 

At Milan you will see what we have lately wit- 
nessed here a Coronation; and with the advantage 
of the Catholic form of ceremonial giving, in some 
respects, more splendour to it. Here, however, no 
revolting province is to be apprehended, as it might 
be in Lombardy, and no disputed succession as in the 
Coronation of George III. Our foreign visiters have 
distinguished this coronation over that preceding it; 
and of these the presence of Marshal Soult has ex- 
cited the greatest attention. At the great fete in 
Guildhall, at which I was present, Soult, even in the 
presence of the Duke of Wellington, was treated as 
chief card. 

London is, however, now dispersing. The Exhi- 
bitions have closed, and I have sent my picture of The 
Bride at the Toilette to Vienna; and The Queen's 
first Council, after delivering it to the Queen, I have 


just received back to be immediately engraved. The 
Sir David Baird is now all painted in, and The Grace 
before Meat makes considerable advance. 

Since I began this letter we have been much ex- 
cited by the arrival of Collins, after an absence of 
nearly two years. He says he is perfectly recovered 
from all his ailments, and is greatly pleased with his 
having seen Italy. Still he looks thin, and wants 
filling up. He is, however, in great glee ; and I am 
in hopes he will now be restored to what he was. 

I have been to-day, at the request of Baily, to see 
the marble monument of your beloved father. I was 
much pleased with it. The medallion is a very good 
likeness: it recalled him much to me. The coat of 
arms is agreeable, and uncommon ; while the drapery 
and ornaments give a variety to the shapes, and the 
grey marble upon which the white is let in, a finished 
look to the whole: the aspect of it is indeed very 
handsome. The inscription is plain and solemn. 
Perhaps I would have added more of detail ; but it 
could not be in better taste than you have made it. 
The text of Scripture is excellent. You know I am 
fond of dates. Baily has put his name below, with 
London to his. I wished him to add the year when 
it was put up. 

D. W. 

The friendship between the first Sir William 
Knighton and Sir David was ? as has been related, 
continued by the second Sir William, who, like his 
father, is a lover of art, and reveres the genius of 

254 THE LIFE OF 1838. 


Kensington, 19th August, 1838. 

To get away at this early season has been a 
difficulty. Still much work has been got through. 
Sir David Baird's picture is all painted in, and other 
pictures greatly advanced; but Moon being most de- 
sirous to get The Queen's Council begun, I had to 
make an effort to get back the picture. This I did 
yesterday. I am now only waiting for the agreement 
with Moon to get it into the engraver's hands. 

The arrival of the Collins' s would be a subject to 
dwell upon, but that Sir Peter, who met him so early 
and opportunely, would announce all this to you. 
They are with Mrs. Carpenter, and looking for a 
house, but Collins will not hear of the house he left. 
He is thin, but active and strong, and appears to have 
got rid of all his ailments. He looks like one ready 
to begin life anew. 

We had them all to dine with us to-day, Charlie 
and Willie included. They are in the highest spirits, 
quite delighted with the style of living in Italy. They 
are, indeed, so satisfied with having seen Italy, that it 
will be some time before they can get reconciled to the 
sobriety and darkness of this climate, and it will be 
some time before Collins can get to work to make his 
studies in Italy available for his practice in this 




Kensington, 20th August, 1838. 

The picture of Sir David Baird is entirely 
painted in; so that I have now only the agreeable 
task of finishing some parts more highly, and, by a 
general working, to give keeping and effect to the 
whole. Amongst other details, the charmed amulet 
has been painted on the right arm of Tippoo, and the 
real charm itself has been returned to Mrs. Young at 



Alnwick, 29th August, 1838 

The meeting of the British Association, at 
Newcastle, had a greater air of fashion about it than 
any of the former meetings. This was chiefly owing 
to the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Northum- 
berland. From the Duke I was honoured with an 
invitation to visit this far-famed castle. The Duke 
and Duchess have devoted so much of their attention 
to me in showing me the castle, the grounds, and the 
great park, that I have been quite uneasy about it. 
I have been highly pleased with both : the Duchess I 
have scarcely seen any thing like before ; beautiful, 
sensible, and accomplished. 

I am to leave Alnwick for Chillingham Castle, to 
which I have a most kind invitation from Lord and 
Lady Tankerville. 

D. W. 

256 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

Wilkie was allured into the north by the British 
Association, which held a meeting at Newcastle. He 
visited the Duke of Northumberland, and was charmed 
with the free courtesy of the Duchess ; he also visited 
Lord Tankerville, at Chillingham Castle, and then 
went north to Dunglass, the romantic seat of the 
Halls : studied a while the scene of his contemplated 
picture at Calder House, and passed through the 
"Land of Burns" to Drayton Manor, the seat of Sir 
Robert Peel. 


Ayr, 14th Sept. 1838. 

Since I last wrote I have been on a visit to Sir 
John and Lady Hall, at Dunglass, a most beautiful 
and romantic dwelling : from thence, by way of Edin- 
burgh, to Calder House, to see the hall where John 
Knox first administered the sacrament. Glasgow was 
my next stage, where Mr. M'Lellan was most kind to 
me. On leaving Glasgow, I came by coach to Ayr, 
the Land of Burns ! got a car to drive over the route 
of Tarn o' Shanter ; stopped at the cottage where the 
poet was born, near which the road discovered soon, 

Kirk Allowa' was drawin' nigh 
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry. 

The deserted church, with the old bridge over the 
Doon, with its banks and braes so agreeably wooded, 
were quite beautiful. 




Kensington, 12th Nov. 1838. 

To resume labour after a lengthened ramble is 
an effort. We require to be reconciled to what we 
had been previously doing, and it is some days before 
the interest of overcoming difficulties, the contriving 
new efforts, and the making new discoveries, breaks 
us fairly in to the usual routine of labour. 

The picture of Sir David Baird I have now brought 
near a close, and, fortunately, to the satisfaction of 
Lady Baird. I have also finished the portraits of 
King William and Queen Adelaide, which I have just 
seen, after many delays, fairly delivered to their des- 
tination in Oxford. The day after they were set up, 
I made a run over the pictures in Christ Church Hall, 
where the sun is destroying some of them. I saw also 
the old Cathedral, lately done up to much advantage, 
and also visited Sir Joshua's window in New College, 
which is most elegant, most imaginative, and, after 
all, the most splendid work in Oxford. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 14th Nov. 1838. 

The drawing-room at Fern Tower, it appears, 
is fourteen feet nine inches high. This, though limited, 
will still admit the addition to the height of the pic- 
ture we want. If six inches can be added to the 


258 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

height, may I not ask why six inches cannot be added 
to the width, the room offering no restrictions in 
width? If six inches can be allowed each way, which 
will keep its present proportion, I propose to add 
three inches at the top, three inches at the bottom, 
and three inches on each side. This will serve to give 
the figures a little more quiet space all round the edge 
of the picture. 

This, should your Ladyship approve, can be done 
without seam or joining, as there is canvas to spare, 
now turned in behind the picture. It could also be 
filled with very little work quiet space, without 
additional objects, being what is chiefly wanted all 
round the picture. The increase in height is what is 
wanted most; the increase in width, though advan- 
tageous, I do not press so much. 

I have given the man who touches the heart of 
Tippoo a black dress a great improvement. 



Castle Inn, Windsor, 22d Nov. 1838. 

Her Majesty has been very gracious ; has 
given me a sitting to-day, and I hope to have two 
more sittings to-morrow and Saturday. 


.Ex. 53. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 259 


My dear Allan, Kensington, isth Dec. isss. 

Not only I, but all around me, were much 
gratified by your very kind letter. I am always 
happy to hear of what bears upon your welfare, and' 
certainly could not help considering the event of Her 
Majesty's Charter to the Scottish Academy, as a cir- 
cumstance highly distinguishing to yourself, as well 
as to the Institution with which you are so honour- 
ably connected. I can truly say, that this event has 
given great satisfaction to our English brother pro- 
fessors here. 

It was a matter of great regret to me, that I could 
not see you when in Edinburgh. My coming was 
unexpected, but your occupation at that time with 
the portraits at Ballenden is most consoling. These, 
with the portrait of Patrick Robertson, are an excel- 
lent beginning : you are mining a vein that had other- 
wise lain dormant. I remember you encouraged me 
when I went to paint Lord Kellie : I return the same 
encouragement to you. Portraiture opens a field to 
a greater variety of employment, and to a greater 
variety of employers, the one having the advantage of 
pleasing one's self, the other of gratifying one's friends. 
It is a diversion as well to the perpetual drain upon 
one's invention, when confined to a single line, in 
which, however successful, the fancy becomes hack- 
neyed and unappreciated, but to which after such 
relief one returns with redoubled ardour. In some 
such return, when looking about for new food and 
fuel, pray think of what I ventured to hint, of an 

s 2 

260 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

illustration of the Arabian Nights. This is a walk 
since the better days of old Smirke quite unoccupied, 
and to which you bring a fund of local circumstance, 
&c, at his period quite unknown. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 14th Dec. 1838. 

Having received your Ladyship's permission to 
enlarge the picture of Sir David Baird, I have had 
a new straining frame made, and have extended the 
canvas upon it, giving six inches additional height, 
and five inches more width, which impresses every 
one as a great improvement, giving the figures a 
greater sphere to move in. The picture is now eleven 
feet six inches in height ; and I do assure your Lady- 
ship, that the effect of the enlargement goes even 
beyond my own expectation. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 14th Jan. 1839. 

Be assured, after two winters' absence, that I 
rejoice to hear you talk of returning. We shall in- 
deed be glad to see you back, and to make Lady 
Knight on's acquaintance. 

We begin now to prepare for the Exhibition. 
Collins is painting from Neapolitan subjects, a new 
dress for his art. He is much in request as a lion, 
and his subjects excite curiosity, so that we hope a 


line of success may attend him. Leslie is painting a 
scene from the Coronation, for the Queen. Landseer 
has the Queen on horseback, and I have been to 
"Windsor to paint Her Majesty, and am proceeding 
with her state portrait in the parliamentary robes, 
for the foreign embassies. This I shall not have in 
the Exhibition, but shall have four or five pictures, 
of which the chief is Sir David Baird: this is all 
painted in, and what has helped it is, that three 
inches have been added all round. This has given 
full space for the subject and figures. The picture 
you mention was The Bride ; it reached Vienna, and 
has been well received. I am to paint a " Grace before 
Meat," to go, after the Exhibition here, to New 
Orleans, United States. 

What now occupies my attention is the building a 
painting room. You remember the laundry (it 
formed part of the out-house), its roof is to be 
raised, and the side next the garden to be extended out 
on pillars, making a room 21 feet by 20, and 15 feet 
high, with a high light, the- fire or stove under the 
light. It is expected to be the beau-ideal of a studio. 
It is now building, and is much wanted. The entrance 
is from my back painting room. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 28th March, 1839. 

The chief object of attention in art has lately 
been the Nelson Monument for Trafalgar Square. 
This, to avoid the appearance of a job, was opened to 

s 3 



competition ; accordingly, nearly a hundred candi- 
dates started, producing columns, obelisks, domes, 
globes, alcoves, spires, grottos, and other composi- 
tions, not to be described by any known term. Of 
these models and drawings, it is proper to tell you our 
friend Baily produced a very imposing spectacle a 
bronze group, surmounted by a granite obelisk, in 
front of which stood Nelson, with the flag over his 
head, while below was a superb group of figures, with 
Neptune and Naiads. This has been greatly admired 
by artists, particularly by Seguier ; and I might say, 
by several candidates themselves. The committee 
have now decided their three premiums : the first for 
a column ; the second for Baily ; and the third for a 
kind of spire. This, however, not being satisfactory 
to the subscribers, it has since been referred for future 
consideration, and the candidates requested to revise 
their works. This has created a ferment, all being 
dissatisfied. As a work of art, Baily 's has the only 
claim, and strong interest is making for him ; still 
there is an uncertainty of its effect as a monument ; 
of his ability to execute a work of such vast expense ; 
and, what some friends doubt, whether his temper may 
not defeat all they try to do in his favour. In this 
perplexity, some try to get out of it by saying the 
only thing you are sure of is a column. A Stone- 
henge, and not a work of art, will be resorted to, to 
help the perplexed subscribers out of their difficulties. 
Collins has finished three pictures, and most hap- 
pily. He has already sold two of them. I took 
Seguier to see them, who thought them as fine as 
Collins ever painted. I have four pictures already 


advanced to go on with for next year, and mean to 
begin a large picture of history besides. My new 
room is now complete, but not dry enough to work in. 

D. W. 


Kensington^ 5th May, 1839. 

This last week we have been all in the thick of 
Academy turmoil. I had not to arrange; but, being 
present, had to watch over the arrangement of the 
pictures ; and last week had to meet the satisfied and 
dissatisfied faces of claimants. Collins has three 
beautiful pictures; one of them we distinguished by a 
centre, the other two are in capital places. He sold 
the three before they left his house, and has now got 
commissions for other pictures. My large picture of 
Sir David Baird is placed in the chief centre, that is 
over the President's chair in the Great Koom. It 
looks broad in effect ; and while those around me cry 
out for more light, I only wish I could have more 
shadow. Lady Baird is greatly interested about it 
a ticket was sent her to the private view, as a compli- 
ment from the Royal Academy to one who had given 
so splendid a commission. Her feelings would scarcely 
allow her to come, but I went and brought her when 
the rooms had thinned. She seemed much satisfied 
with the position of the picture. Lady Baird' s sister, 
Miss Preston, who was there with Miss Wilkie, was 
sitting below the picture when she heard the Duke of 
Wellington behind her describing to a lady on his arm 

s 4 

264 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

the event, with the dreadful carnage he had witnessed 
when the body of Tippoo was found. 

Yesterday was the day of the Koyal Academy 
dinner, the same day forty years ago (May 4th, 1799) 
when Seringapatam was taken. When the dinner 
was removed, I called the attention of Sir Eobert 
Peel and Lord Stanley, who were sitting at my table, 
to this point, observing, that on that day, and at the 
same hour of the day, was the body of Tippoo found. 

Mr. John Abel Smith and Mr. Hart Davis were 
inquiring most anxiously after you, as were Eastlake 
and Baily. 

D. W. 

Severn's Phantom Ship, I think, one of his finest 

In the Academy Exhibition of 1839 Wilkie had 
five works. 1. Sir David Baird discovering the Body 
of Sultaun Tippoo Saib, after storming Seringapatam ; 
2. Grace before Meat ; 3. Full-length portrait of 
Alderman Lucas ; 4. The Grandfather, being portraits 
of Joseph Wilson, Esq., and his grandson ; 5. Por- 
trait of Master Kobert J. Donne. The Sir David 
Baird was a noble picture to open the new Exhibition 
rooms with. The result of five years' thought, and 
the study of a whole life, are contained in this grand 
historical group. Well might Wilkie be proud of 
such a work he felt the importance of the subject, 
and wrought accordingly. 

The scene of this eastern drama is laid in the 
gateway of the inner fort of Seringapatam ; the prin- 


cipal persons are Tippoo Saib, the chiefs of his army, 
his son and his household, and his conqueror, Sir 
David Baird, with the soldiers whom he led to the 
assault. The fiery tumult of the attack is over, the 
city is won, and Tippoo lies half-stripped and dead at 
the feet of Sir David Baird. It is said that Baird did 
not behold without emotion the dead body of his great 
enemy, or fail to observe at his feet, as he commanded 
it to be removed to the palace, the iron-grated door of 
that dungeon in which he had been so long immured 
by the relentless order of the dead Sultaun. 

In the fore-ground of the picture Tippoo is lying, 
" his face to the foe," and pierced with many a wound, 
which the artist tastefully hides in the hesitation of 
his attendants to remove his torn and bloody robe. 
The veteran commander or killadar of the fortress, 
and several of the Sultaun 7 s leading men, gaze on the 
body with eyes which attest their sorrow and anger : 
one of his sons, a boy, has made his way through the 
bloody press, and, with an eastern lady perhaps his 
mother is regarding the body with deep emotion. 
It is a moment of silent agony, and well has the great 
painter expressed it. Sir David stands directing the 
removal of the body, and seems not to share in the 
anxiety of his soldiers, who eye the gloomy brows and 
flashing eyes of their enemies, and prepare their wea- 
pons to resist any sudden outbreak of sorrow and 
despair. Nothing can be finer than the look of the 
soldier on the right of General Baird, who, with his 
finger on the trigger of his musket, calmly surveys 
the glittering scimitars of men who can scarcely be 
said to have ceased to resist ; nor is the more eager 

266 THE LIFE OF 1838. 

look of the Highland soldier, a M'Leod of the 71st, on 
the left of his countryman, the less to be admired, 
who, with his weapon in one hand, and a torch in the 
other, affords both protection and light to his com- 

"Dusk faces, with white silken turbans wreath' d," 

mingle, in a most imposing manner, with the very 
different colour, character, and costumes of British 

Wilkie, who looked at every thing in an uncommon 
way, has left among his papers a short memorandum 
upon the fitness for art of the subject which Lady 
Baird had commissioned him to paint. 


In considering the taking of Seringapatam as a 
subject for art, one of its greatest recommendations 
I conceive to be, the bringing the leaders of each side 
in the moment of victory, to the same spot. For 
this contact of characters dramatic writers have vio- 
lated history. Schiller, in bringing Queen Mary and 
Queen Elizabeth into the same scene, and Shakspeare 
in bringing Kichard the Third and Eichmond into 
the same combat events, however, much desired for 
effect, yet of the most rare occurrence, Caesar is said 
to have wept at the death of Pompey, but was not 
present, and knew it only by report. The Duke of 
Wellington overcame Napoleon, but probably never 
saw him, and in a work of art could not be introduced 
into the same composition. 

A warlike subject also gains in representation over 


other battle pieces the more the opposing parties are 
distinguished from one another, by the variety of 
their country, complexion, and costume. These" dif- 
ferences are not often found in pictorial composition ; 
and their want led a lawyer of experience to complain, 
that, in battle pieces, it was always difficult to tell 
which was the plaintiff and which the defendant. 

D. W. 

This fine gallery picture is now in the hands of 
Mr. Burnet to engrave, nor should it be concealed 
from any who admire art, that, in these times, when 
it is difficult to find a ready market for large en- 
gravings of a lofty class, that we are indebted for its 
publication to Mr. Moon, " the great publisher, Mr. 
Moon," as Wilkie calls him in a letter to Lady Baird, 
" that sort of person who proceeds warmly and suc- 
cessfully in whatever he undertakes." 


Kensington, 30th June, 1839. 

The proceedings of this country in politics may 
well be perplexing to strangers, and to our own 
people themselves when at a distance. The mania for 
change has completely subsided, and reformers seem 
surprised that so good a thing as improvement should 
ever have an end; but the knowing among trades- 
people have found, it is said, that business does not 
improve with the political machine, and that notoriety 
in politics has, in many cases, led to desertion among 

268 THE LITE OF 1838. 

customers, and eventual ruin. The tide is fully on 
the turn ; the House of Lords, as before, conservative, 
the House of Commons equally divided, and the Ca- 
binet more disposed to resist further changes every 
day. The pressure from without has ceased at home, 
and the next thing now must be a pressure from 
abroad, to give the national mind a stimulus and new 

The occupations of art go on as usual : the Exhi- 
bition having many advantages in its new situation, 
and the sale of pictures helped by this mark of public 
attraction. The number of pictures, subjects and 
landscapes, claiming to be under the line is greater 
than ever, and only three subjects Hart's Lady Jane 
Grey, Dyce's large picture, and my picture of Sir 
David Baird, adapted to go above the line. Portraits 
the size of life are thus almost exclusively above the 
line. A smooth and finished style also gains, and is 
indeed exacted, bringing us nearer to Wynants, 
Gerard Dow, and Mieris, and aiming at that which 
our own great masters had not, and which the old 
masters we value most among all the schools had not. 
Industry and competition lead to this: still those 
who can finish should counteract this, that some time 
may be reserved for the artist and the public in the 
study of those qualities depending on contrivance and 
thought, the most impressive in works of art, and the 
longest remembered. 

I have often shocked iny brother artists by asserting, 
that employment is seldom given in art only for the 
love of art. The Nelson Column has just been decided : 
a Corinthian column has been adopted instead of 


sculpture, those who voted declaring that they do 
not care for art, but wish only to raise a pillar to the 
great Admiral, of a goodly size, durable and con- 
spicuous. In a column they are so far wise, that 
they are sure beforehand of its effect, and cannot be 

D. W. 

Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 1st July, 1839. 

The Durazzo pictures I saw in 1825, and again 
in 1827 : I do not think they have been engraved, 
and have heard that copying them is prohibited. 
Enclosed is a sketch, from recollection at the time, of 
the Lady and two Children ; but I had one a young 
artist made almost by stealth, in oil, and very com- 
plete, which if he has now, I will send to you to look 
at. The lady is handsome ; one of the children is in 
blue, which, with the red curtain above, gives a fulness 
of colour to the picture. If your recollection of it 
should induce you to think this a desirable work, I 
have no doubt of its being an acquisition in this 
country. I decidedly thought it at the time the best 
Vandyke in Genoa. 

The other picture of Philip IV. of Spain, which 
Mr. Wilson equally recommends, I have scarce any 
recollection of. He does not say if it is a half or 
whole length, or equestrian. He seems strongly im- 
pressed with it, and might send a drawing of its effect. 
If it is without doubt a fine picture, painted from 
Philip, and its history is to be traced, it would be 

270 THE LIFE OF 1839. 

perfectly in accordance with the high object by which 
your attention is directed in the acquirement of such 

The sketch you will see is very slight. I shall be 
most proud to make any further inquiry you may 
judge proper to desire of Wilson. 

D. W. 

My dear Sir, Kensington, 3d July, 1839. 

Your letter, Genoa, June 16th, reached me in 
due course, when I made a copious extract, and sent 
it to Sir Robert Peel. His answer was immediate, 
stating that he wished to collect historical portraits 
of this class, and begging to know if I recollected 
the pictures you mention, and if there were prints or 
drawings of them. 

Upon this, I sent to Sir Robert a small sketch I had 
made in 1827, at Genoa, from recollection, of The 
Lady and two Children, stating that I had seen it in 
the Durazzo twice, and thought it a most desirable 
possession, considering it the finest Vandyke I had 
seen in Genoa. With respect to the portrait you 
equally recommend of Philip IV. of Spain, I stated 
that I had no distinct recollection ; but that probably 
you would be able to send some slight sketch of it, 
with perhaps its history. 

Sir Robert called upon me yesterday with the sub- 
joined letter in his hand, which he made me read. He 
said he could only be guided by your judgment or my 


recollection ; as lie had not, when in Genoa, seen the 
Durazzo pictures himself. 

" My dear Sir, 

" I like the sketch of The Lady and Children, 
by Vandyke, and should like to have the picture. Mr. 
Wilson says nothing of his estimate of the value 
of it, or of the probable sum for which it may be 

" It might be necessary to give him some general 
instructions as to price ; and I hardly know what to 
say upon the subject. If your recollection of the 
picture enables you to suggest any thing definite, by 
way of a maximum, I have little doubt but that the 
price you might name would be satisfactory to me. 

" There is a description of a portrait by Eubens, 
which must be the one referred to, I think, by Mr. 
Wilson, although it names Philip III. as the King 

" Possibly the description may recall the picture to 
your memory. From the agreement in point of di- 
mensions with the Vandyke, I should think it might 
possibly be the pendant. 

" Very faithfully yours, 


On a slip of paper copied, in his own hand, from, I 
think, Smith : 

" A full-length portrait of Philip III. of Spain, in 
black silk, with many small gold buttons ; a gold chain 
bearing the order of the Golden Fleece ; standing, his 

272 THE LIFE OF 1839. 

left hand on the hilt of the sword ; 6 ft. 6 in. by 4 ft. 
In the Durazzo Palace. 

" The Vandyke 6 ft. 6 in. by 4 ft. 6 in." 

I told Sir Robert I could not venture to say what 
price you might go to for the Vandyke, but it would 
sell for a considerable price. He said he was willing 
to give a good price, if a fine picture ; and if it were 
not, he would not have it at any price. I then pro- 
posed, not feeling justified in saying what price you 
might offer, that you should inform us of the price 
they ask in English money, and give us your able 
judgment on the spot of what might be given for the 
Vandyke. I would then say if it might be given. 

With respect to the Philip by Rubens, he seems to 
think this also a desirable picture for him, if assured 
of its excellence ; but here, dear Wilson, you must 
act upon your own judgment by letting us know 
what might be offered, what you think is its his- 
tory, &c. 

Sir Robert asked if Cardinal Fesch's collection was 
not to come to England to be sold. In the Grimaldi 
Palace there is, I am told, a fine sketch by Rubens of 
The Fall of the Damned now at Munich ; is there so, 
and what sort of a picture is it ? 

D. W. 

Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 1st August, 1839. 

My friend Wilson has not succeeded, as the 
enclosed will fully explain. I accompany this with 


the drawing made on the spot by young Ballantyne. 
This, as well as the Philip, by Rubens, would, I feel 
assured, have been most desirable acquisitions ; per- 
haps they may still be within reach. 

The two portraits of the Grimaldi Family I concur 
with Mr. Wilson in thinking are not by Eubens. 

Whatever your commands may be, 1 shall be most 
happy to convey to him. 

I cannot resist adding, that the members of the 
Royal Academy will long keep in memory your most 
generous and all-powerful defence of their institution 
the night before last in the House of Commons. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 12th August, 1839. 

Your most excellent letter I received with 
considerable expectation. I thought your letter so 
interesting, that I sent it to Sir Robert Peel. His 
answer was as follows : 

" My dear Sir, 

"The accompanying sketch, for the sight of 
which I return you many thanks, makes me regret the 
more the failure of Mr. Wilson to procure me the 

After detailing other matters, he concludes as fol- 
lows, with a P. S. "I will take Mr. Wilson's letter 
with me to the country (for which I am just setting 
out), that I may give it a second perusal." 

VOL. in. T 

274 THE LIFE OF 1839. 

The Correggio is in my room in its case : very few 
have seen it, and no one as a purchaser. To show it 
to a dealer would be useless. It looks beautiful. 
I often look at it, and am now painting an Irish sub- 
ject, where there are naked children like it. If it 
were to be transferred, it would gain much by being 
varnished, and having a glass before it. 

D. W. 


Kensington, 22d August, 1839. 

Sir Peter Laurie would tell you all that was 
doing in town, up to the time he left. I have been 
wishing to get away, but have been required to attend 
at the palace, and to-day had the honour of a second 
sitting, of scarcely more than half an hour ; but, with 
that and the former sitting, I have improved the pic- 
ture greatly. I get it home to-morrow ; and am now, 
being somewhat at liberty, making preparations for 

My picture for America, Grace before Meat, I have 
got all settled. 

Sir Peter has told you of our early acquaintance 
from Canada, the Bishop of Toronto. Young Laurie 
said it was no bad joke to recognise in one's early 
tutor a full-blown bishop. 

23d August. 

The picture of the Queen has just come home : it 
appears to me very like her, but no one can tell how 
likenesses strike other people. 

D. W. 



Raith, Kirkcaldy, 13th Sept. 1839. 

The week after the meeting I passed in and 
about the Lakes of Cumberland, visiting some friends, 
who took me to see Mr. Wordsworth and his family. 
In passing through Keswick, I called on Mr. Southey, 
but did not see him. 

Crossing the Ettrick and the Tweed, all seemed to 
take an interest in the handsome though deserted 
mansion of Abbotsford. From this, as if the road 
had chosen its course on purpose through a land of 
poetry, we continued for many miles by the meander- 
ing course of the Gala, till reaching almost its source 
it at last bursts out upon the hills which overlook 
Edinburgh and the Forth, and the whole of the 
Lothians and Fifeshire. 

Edinburgh I found rather empty, but still have seen 
many friends. Allan, whom I had written to from the 
Lakes, remained in town with his niece, and made up 
a party most kindly, at a day's notice, consisting of 
divers artists, surgeons, and men of taste, and, above 
all, Patrick Kobertson, who was hearty, kind, and 
brilliant beyond all example. 

Another party was at Rickerton, near Millburn, 
the seat of Sir James Gibson Craig, where I went 
with Tom Young and Mr. M'Culloch, the political 

Mrs. Ferguson has asked for you very particularly. 
Mr. Ferguson is well : we only regret Sir Ronald has 
been but indifferent. With a large party of English 

T 2 



visiters and neighbours, the time has passed very 

D. W. 


Newliston, 27th Sept. 1839. 

At Cults the minister, Mr. Anderson, his wife, 
and his mother, were most civil. I saw our father's 
monument : it is very well lighted, seems to fit and 
greatly adorn the place. Many come to see the marble, 
and lately Sir David Brewster had seen and liked it 

After leaving Melville, where Lord and Lady Leven 
were most kind, I arrived again at Eaith, being parti- 
cularly requested to revisit them by Mr. and Mrs. 
Ferguson. Here a letter arrived from Lord Arbuth- 
not, inviting me to Arbuthnot to make a drawing of 
the house for his portrait. 

D. W. 


Dear Madam, Vicarage Place, Kensington, 

30th Oct. 1839. 

Your obliging letter of the 10th August, from 
St. Germains, was delivered here by your excellent 
friend ; but being myself in Scotland, I could not 
see her while she was in London, otherwise I would 
have had much to ask and inquire about you. Dr. 
Sommers's considerate present of his Statistical His- 
tory of Mid-Calder came most opportunely for my 


labours in hand, and I beg you will express to him 
how much I feel beholden to him for his mindfulness 
of me, for the advantage of which I feel I am in- 
debted to your kind influence and recommendation. 

You naturally remark upon the circuit this inter- 
change of obligation has made : first from Calder to 
St. Germains, and from St. Germains to London, 
recalling, as it does, a less happy period of our national 
history, when correspondence so directed and trans- 
mitted would have subjected all concerned to the 
suspicion at least, if not to the penalties, of treason. 
One point of resemblance there is between the present 
and former occupants of St. Germains, namely, with 
respect to their native friends, they are in exile; still 

with this difference, that whenever , with those 

around her, choose to return, there will be no differ- 
ence of opinion between the liege subjects, Whig or 
Jacobite, in receiving them with a cordial and hearty 

When you passed through London twelve months 
ago, you did me the favour to write to me ; but, being 
out of town, I did not get your note till you had gone, 
and I had no address by which to write to you in 
Paris. For the present I may be equally at a loss, as 
you have no doubt returned to Paris ; still your 
obliging attention in helping me with the interesting 
material I was in search of, requires an effort to be 
made to put three lines expressive of obligation in 
the way of reaching you. 

The engraving already published, of John Knox 
preaching, requires, I am informed at all hands, a 

T 3 


companion. This was accordingly announced; and, 
as a warning to interlopers, the Sacrament at Calder 
House was stated as the subject for the companion ; 
but as this has set a rival publisher to work, to get up 
a similar subject of Knox administering the sacrament 
in the Castle of St. Andrew's, I feel now required to 
begin and proceed with the picture. I have therefore 
made a sketch, with an arrangement of the figures, 
and I am now drawing in the characters in the pic- 
ture. In doing this, local circumstances are a great 
help: having seen the Hall is, to a certain degree, 
a guide ; but even the localities of the neighbourhood, 
as well as the history, may suggest something; and 
Dr. Sommers's statement is, with this view, one of 
the best accounts that could come in my way. His 
antiquities History of Calder House and Family, and 
of Knights Hospitallers, are all most excellent and 
useful; but his chapter on Witchcraft on Calder 
witches, confessed witches, and family infested with 
witchcraft, is of extreme interest; and even to the 
most cursory reader the proceedings of the Linlith- 
gow Prysbetery held thereanent, with the very appro- 
priate sermon preached before the witches by my 
namesake, and probably collateral ancestor, Mr. John 
Wilkie, minister of Uphill, are matters of serious re- 
flection, giving us all just cause of congratulation 
that we live in an age when the mental aberrations 
of the aged and poor are consigned to medical instead 
of judicial or clerical treatment. Be assured I feel 
the arrival of this work of Dr. Sommers's as quite a 
treat. I appreciate highly the information he has 

Mi. 54. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 279 

embodied in it, and I am most sensible of your kind- 
ness in forwarding it to me. I am, 
My dear Madam, 
Your very faithful and obliged Servant, 

D. W. 

My dear Madam, Kensington, 13th April, 1840. 

After much anxiety from what I had heard, I 
was this morning extremely concerned to receive 
your announcement of the loss yourself and family 
have met with in the death of my most esteemed 
friend Alexander Nasmyth. 

I hasten to assure you of my most sincere con- 
dolence in your severe affliction, feeling that I can 
sympathize in the privation you suffer from losing 
one who was one of my earliest professional friends, 
whose art I at all times admired, and whose society 
and conversation were perhaps the most agreeable of 
any friend I ever met with. He was the founder of 
the landscape painting of Scotland, and by his taste 
and talents took the lead for many years in the 
patriotic aim of enriching his native land with the 
representations of her romantic scenery. As the 
friend and contemporary of Allan Ramsay, of Gavin 
Hamilton, and the Runcimans, Mr. Nasmyth may be 
said to have been the last remaining link that united 
the present with the early school of Scottish art. 

T 4 

280 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

With every sentiment of regard to yourself, and to 
all the members of your family, I am, 
My dear Madam, 

Your most faithful and obliged Servant, 

D. W. 

In the following letter, Wilkie alludes to a portrait 
of himself commissioned from his own hand by his 
kind and constant friend, Sir Robert Peel. 

Dear Sir Robert, Kensington, 20th April, 1840. 

You are most kind in giving a thought to the 
portrait, which I feel so much honoured in painting 
for you. For some days I have been proceeding with 
it, and do not see any difficulty in finding space for 
the hand in the present size ; the introduction of the 
doctor's cap being one reason why a hand may be 
desired. I hope shortly to have it advanced so far as 
to submit it for your obliging counsel in this as well 
as the likeness, which I find I can only judge of by 
its impression on others. 

With every sentiment of respect, &c. 

D. W. 

Wilkie did not live to complete this portrait ; nor 
was it over-like; but it has all the air, the mind, 
and genius of the original. 

The Academy annual Exhibition Wilkie was always 
unwilling to let pass without contributing something; 
to miss an Exhibition was like losing a whole year, and 


really dropping a link or two in the chain of public 
approbation. In the first outset of life it was a 
labour with him to produce above one great work 
a year. Latterly, through the fruitful aid of por- 
traiture he was enabled to exhibit the allowed number 
of eight. In 1840 he had eight: 1. Benvenuto 
Cellini presenting for the approval of Pope Paul III. 
a silver vase of his own workmanship. 2. Queen 
Victoria in her Robes of State. 3. Portrait of Vis- 
count Arbuthnot, Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, 
for the County Hall in Stonehaven. 4. Scene from 
The Gentle Shepherd. 5. Portrait of Mrs. Ferguson, 
ofRaith. 6. The Irish Whiskey Still. 7. The Hook- 
abadar. 8. The Disabled Commodore in his retire- 
ment at Greenwich Hospital, 1800. 

Of these eight, three make claim to especial notice. 
The Benvenuto Cellini, a picture which Reynolds 
would have loved to praise a complete Sir Joshua 
all over. The Irish Whiskey Still, as a moral lesson 
pictorially told true in parts to Irish character, and 
yet an attempt, and an able one, to graft the spiritual 
school of Correggio upon scenes of a less lofty nature. 
The Mrs. Ferguson, as the best female portrait of its 
painter rich in colour, well harmonised, very like, 
and well painted. 

In the following letter Wilkie enumerates some 
of the characters and accessories which he was to 
work into his picture of John Knox administering 
the Sacrament. 

282 THE LIFE OF 1840. 


Dear Madam, Kensington, 25th May, 1840. 

You are kind in inquiring about my labours on 
the subject of Knox. The picture proceeds, and, as it 
advances, improves by details and incidents casting 
up to add to the apparent reality of the scene. I 
find, however, that a good deal of contrivance is re- 
quired to fill up the expected material of such an 
event. I had a call lately from Dr. Sommers, who ex- 
pressed much interest about it, and about the circum- 
stances attendant upon that early celebration of the 
sacrament. I had, however, to request him to make 
due allowance for what was necessary to make up a pic- 
ture. With a certain class of subjects it is necessary to 
put in much that is imaginary, or without authority, 
and to leave out much unadapted for painting. The 
hall, which you have stated as - modernised, I am ob- 
liged to restore to what will recal an ancient hall of that 
period : the chimney I ornament ; decorate the walls 
with the pilasters now there to suit ; and I must try 
to renew the carved screen which you say divided the 
room, in old times, from the entrance. I also put in 
more people, and those more varied in rank than could 
well have been there. I mean to put in the Lord and 
Lady Lorn, the Eegent Murray, perhaps also Morton, 
and the aged Earl of Argyll. I also wish to intro- 
duce, in a prominent place, the knight of St. John (Sir 
James Sandilands), and, whether right or wrong, in 
armour. A large wine-cooler is also made prominent ; 
and, as suggested by Dr. Sommers's account of the 


parish, a Calder witch is to be placed conspicuous. 
This, you will doubtless say, is a mixture ; but it is of 
that sort which, whether consistent with truth or not, is 
certainly required to make up that kind of compound 
that goes to the formation of what we call a picture. 

Allow me to repeat how much I feel gratified by 
the interest you have upon all occasions taken in this 
work; and that I would feel delighted if I had the 
pleasure of seeing you, and of hearing you pronounce 
upon its merits. 

I am, &c. 

D. W. 

At the public auction of Wilkie's works after his 
death, a highly-finished sketch of this fine picture was 
sold for eighty-four pounds ; the picture itself, or all 
that was ever painted of it, for one hundred and eighty- 
nine pounds. The latter purchase was made by the 
Royal Scottish Academy; and no portion of their 
funds was ever better spent in the purchase of a 
work of art. 







IN the autumn of 1840 Sir David set out suddenly 
on his journey to the East : for this, rumour assigned 
sundry reasons, some of them probable, and few of 
them true. It was said that he went charged with 
royal commissions from home to paint for the palace 
galleries portraits of the young ruler of Turkey and 
the old ruler of Egypt. This was in its turn contra- 
dicted, by the assurance that this great painter was 
regarded but coldly in the high places of the land, 
and was, on court authority, held deficient in that 
grace of style which captivates the high bred and the 
polished. This gave way to a third rumour, that he 
longed for u fresh fields and pastures new," and de- 
sired to merit the applause of the multitude by pic- 
tures of remote scenes and strange manners and 
employments. The devout had a rumour of their 
own, that Wilkie was on a visit to the Holy Land, to 
realise those visions present to his mind when he first 
opened the Bible in the village of Cults, and behold 
Jerusalem as it came in glory from the hand of Solo- 
mon, or sunk in sorrow under the sword of Titus. 
While a fifth party, who were intimate with the state 

^Ex. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 285 

of his health, whispered that he went on a tour to the 
warmer regions of the East in the hope that their 
sunnier shores and more odorous vales would do for 
him what they had done for some who less deserved 
the mercy of health. That truth claimed a share in 
these rumours it would be idle to deny : we may say 
with certainty that he went with enlarging notions of 
his art ; that he was not encumbered with royal com- 
missions, and hoped amendment to his health by a 
visit to a land endeared to his heart by a thousand 
associations, and all of them devout. He was accom- 
panied by William Woodburn, of St. Martin's Lane, a 
gentleman of agreeable manners and conversant with 
the art in which Wilkie himself excelled. They first 
made their way to Holland; visited the Galleries of 
Eotterdam and Amsterdam, and then turned their 
steps to Munich, resolved to penetrate to Constanti- 
nople, by following the course of the Danube, and from 
thence, if war and plague permitted, to waft them- 
selves to Syria, and conclude their tour by dropping 
down into Egypt, with memory and sketch-book full 
of Jerusalem, its holy hills, and memorable valleys. 


1840, 15th August. Went on board the Batavier 
steamer, at 7 o'clock, with Mr. William Woodburn, 
and next day sailed down the Thames ; dined at Mar- 
gate Point, and at 6 o'clock in the following morning 
reached Eotterdam without absolute sea-sickness. 

17th. Started for the Hague ; spoke with the Hon. 
W. Liddel and his family, and went to the hotel of 
Marshal Turenne. Saw the pictures in the Museum ; 



they were nearly as I saw them in 1816, with the ad- 
dition of The Anatomist by Rembrandt, a splendid 
picture, in the manner of The Ship Builder. Saw the 
pictures of M. Yerstolk Yan Soelen; some fine Dutch 
pictures: Hobbima, Cuyp, Euysdael, Yandervelde, 
and others. But what pleased me above all was an 
Old Woman's Head by Rembrandt, possessed for- 
merly by Lord Charles Townshend. Afternoon went 
to the palace of the Prince of Orange, whose splendid 
rooms, most richly furnished, were filled three of 
them at least with the drawings of Michael Angelo 
and Raphael, which, though in plain oak frames, yet 
gave an interest to the suite of apartments highly 
creditable to the taste of the Prince for the high class 
of art. These drawings were collected by Sir Tho- 
mas Lawrence. One feels wearied with the per- 
fections of the minor Dutch paintings, and finds relief 
in contemplating even the imperfect sketches and 
incomplete thoughts of those great Italians. My 
friend Woodburn used to say when we were in Italy 
that all collectors begin with Dutch pictures, but end 
with Italian. 


The Hague, 17th August, 1840. 

On reaching Rotterdam at 6 o'clock this morn- 
ing I got on shore without any attendant derange- 
ments, such as on former occasions I have so often 
suffered from after a sea- voyage. I find Mr. Wood- 
burn most thoughtful and obliging, and, knowing 

j T . 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 287 

his experience, my rule is to do what he does. At 
the Hague he is quite at home. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

18th. Left the Hague at 10 o'clock, and passing 
through Ley den and Haarlem reached Amsterdam at 
3 o'clock, and went to look at the house said to be 
that of Rembrandt. It is in the Jews' quarter; is 
now a china shop, kept by a Jew; and on the front 
of the house " Rembrandt" is inscribed. I confess, 
however, that the house disappointed me. The shop, 
looking to the north-east, would have made a paint- 
ing-room ; but the back room, to which you ascend 
by a flight of steps, is small, and low in the ceiling, 
perhaps about fourteen feet square. Unless we can 
suppose the house extended with back premises, 
which no longer exist, this domicile, with two rooms 
on a floor, of three or four stories, and with party- 
walls not square, but strongly inclined from the front 
wall, seems a most unsuitable residence for this great 
master, leaving still the mystery unravelled of how 
he was esteemed and rewarded, and in what station 
he lived. Whatever may be said of the difference in 
the style of houses or mode of living, a certain space 
is wanting for the production of the larger pictures 
painted by Rembrandt, or even for full occupation in 
his smaller ones ; and this house will, in its appear- 
ance and dimensions, bear no comparison with the 
house of Titian in Venice, the Casa Buonarotti in 
Florence, or the mansion of Rubens at Antwerp. 

19th. Went to the Trippenhuis; were particularly 

288 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

pleased with The Night Watch, which, if it had been 
a fine subject, like The Christ before Pontius Pilate, 
which Eembrandt has etched, would be one of the 
finest pictures he ever produced. We were greatly 
struck with The Syndics, for the gusto and freedom 
with which it is painted. Called at the Laprona; saw 
a Ferdinand Bol, very fine ; portraits of the founders 
or supporters of the charity. In the evening saw 
two whole lengths of Kembrandt, most superb, and 
were taken to the house of the family of Six, where 
was a very fine portrait, half-length, of the Burgo- 
master, by Rembrandt, painted with great power and 
eifect, but which I think was unfinished ; saw also, at 
the same house, pictures by Ostade, Metzu, Ruysdael, 
and Maes, in black frames that had hung in these 
frames, and on the same walls, ever since they were 

20th. Left Amsterdam in the diligence at 8 o'clock ; 
proceeded to Utrecht, through a flat district on the 
banks of canals, enlivened by very beautiful villas ; 
after leaving Utrecht, the ground ran to a higher 
level, to a kind of moorland, from whence we de- 
scended to the Rhine. We were reminded of Cuyp, 
by the sight of Nymegen, and all the circumstances 
of trees, houses, and cattle of the surrounding 
country. Here we found the steamer from Rotterdam, 
waiting to sail to-morrow morning ; crossed to Nyme- 
gen by the bridge of boats. 

21st. Left Nymegen by the steam-boat; found this 
mode of travelling most agreeable ; and though against 
the current, and the distance prolonged by the wind- 
ings of the river, yet the progress is rapid enough to 

jEx.50. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 289 

satisfy any traveller. We soon joined the Rhine, and 
ascending left Cleves on our right, at a distance from 
the river. Early in the day we came to the Prussian 
frontier at Emmerich, where the officers examined 
our luggage, but without appearing disposed to be 
very searching. One of my portmanteaus I opened, 
and they requested me to turn up some of my apparel, 
but when they asked Mr. Woodburn to turn up his, 
he said it was for them to do this ; but the officer 
still persisting on the things being turned up for him, 
Mr. Woodburn took the handle of his large portman- 
teau, and absolutely overturned the whole of its con- 
tents upon the deck, telling him to examine them 
now if he pleased. This reproof had the happy effect 
of preventing any further search, which, from the 
plague of my numerous materials for drawing and 
painting, I was most glad of. We dined at the table- 
d'hote on board, which we found most agreeable. 
The banks of the Rhine continue flat, but, from the 
fine weather, very beautiful. 

Memorandum of Dates on Pictures. Night Watch 
(Rembrandt) 1642. Syndics (ditto) 1661. 


Cologne, 22d August, 1840. 

From the Hague I wrote to Thomas to let him 
know our progress up to our arrival at that capital. 
We there saw a number of fine pictures, many of 
which I had seen before, and in the evening we were 
admitted into the palace of the Prince of Orange, 
where in very superb rooms we saw hung round the 
VOL. in. u 

290 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

drawings of Rubens, Raphael, and Michael Angelo, 
which the Prince had purchased of Mr. Samuel Wood- 
burn, and which to us had of course more interest 
than any furniture with which they could have been 
adorned. The Prince was made acquainted with our 
visit, and sent a message to know how we liked the 
works of art, the house, &c. 

At the Hague we were delayed with rain, which 
continued nearly the whole of our way through 
Leyden and Haarlem to Amsterdam. Wherever we 
went our great subject of interest was seeing the 
native places of the great Dutch painters, and the 
models and materials which they have immortalised. 
At Amsterdam we sallied forth in the evening in 
search of the house of Kembrandt ; it is in what is 
now the Jews 7 quarter, and is, in short, a Jew's old 
china shop. It is well built, four stories high, but, 
unless it had been once larger, which behind there is 
now no room to enlarge, it greatly disappointed me. 
The shop is high in the ceiling, but all the other 
rooms are low and little, and, compared with the 
house of Titian at Venice, of Claude in Rome, and of 
Rubens in Antwerp, is quite unworthy the house of 
the great master of the school of Holland. Even if 
stuffed as it now is with every description of the 
pottery of Canton, it could not have held even a sixth 
part of the inventory Nieuwenhuys found as the dis- 
trained effects of Rembrandt ; and the only solution is 
that he may have once lived there; but as his will, 
still extant, is dated in another street, and as several 
of the pictures he painted could not be contained in 
the rooms we were in, we must conclude that, like the 

yEr. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 291 

shell which encloses the caterpillar, it was only a 
temporary abode for the winged genius to whom art 
owes so much of its brilliancy. 

Mr. Woodburn, both at the Hague and at Amster- 
dam, in regard to hotels and acquaintance, seems 
quite at home. He found out a friend, who took us 
to the houses of several old aristocratic families, 
where were pictures painted by Ostade, Metzu, and 
other worthies, for the houses, frames and places 
they now occupy, and for which they retain a regard 
no power can displace, and a value no money can 
purchase. We here revisited also what I had seen 
in 1816, the celebrated Trippenhuis, where is The 
Night Watch of Rembrandt*, and The Deputies of 
Vanderhelst. We also visited the noble mansion of 
the family of Six, where there is a fine half-length 
by Rembrandt, of the magnificent Burgomaster Six. 
We have seen as well numerous splendid specimens 
of Cuyp, Hobbima, and what are called the minor 
Dutch masters. 

On Thursday, the 20th we left Amsterdam by the 
diligence for Utrecht and Arnheim. In the evening 
we were at Nymegen on the river Waal, so celebrated 
in the pictures of Cuyp. 

We have found the bread, the meat, and of all 
things the garden vegetables, as fine or finer than in 
England; every thing too is cheaper. We have been 
troubled with the examination of our luggage : 
Woodburn in a rage emptied the whole contents of a 

* With The Night Watch, he says in a letter to Sir William Knighton, 
I was .greatly struck, regretting only that the painter had not a better 

u 2 

292 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

portmanteau upon the deck. They did not ask to 
examine any thing more of ours. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

22d August. At Cologne our chief object was to 
see the picture which Rubens presented to the church 
of St. Peter, the place of his birth. It is the Cru- 
cifixion of St. Peter : it is placed over the altar, and 
what is absurd is that a copy, painted on the back 
of it, is the first thing you see, and it is only on pay- 
ment of two francs that the original is turned round 
upon a pivot. The composition is the best part of 
this picture : the bringing of the figures together is 
most original and skilful, and presents the difficulty 
of a bad subject overcome. Still the painting, except 
in the left shoulder and breast of the saint, and in 
the general hue of colour is below the usual run of 
this great master, though done, indeed, with great 
power, yet in the drawing of the figures, the indica- 
tion of anatomy is far from good. Went next to the 
Modern Exhibition, where, amid much ingenuity and 
a variety of talent, was one great work by Caiser of 
Berlin, of great power ; a subject of the middle 
ages, Clemency of a Conqueror. I wished there had 
been more effect of light and shadow, and more 
transparency, but I must say the knowledge and 
talent it displayed was vast. 

23d. Started early on board the steam-boat ; passed 
the Drachenfels, and at 2 o'clock the strong fortress 
of Ehrenbreitstein, with the city of Coblentz on the 
right. Saw a number of beautiful castles on the tops 

^T. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 293 

of the rocky hills on both sides, and in the villages 
and towns many beautiful churches, but, although it 
was Sunday, did not see any indications of going to 
church, nor hear .the usual ringing of bells attendant 
on such meetings. The weather continues beautiful ; 
the warmth greater than at this season in England ; 
and proved to be so by the numerous vine plantations 
upon every sandy space the rocky precipice will allow 
for cultivation. The Rhine, which, with the district 
it passes through, has gained so much by the improved 
mode of navigation the steam-engine has afforded, 
brings its towns and villages, with their produce and 
their wants, in immediate contact with the whole 
world, yet shows upon its rapid stream specimens of 
that early style of movement upon the wave, of all 
others the most primitive kind of adventure in the 
sailor's art. The wood in raft and the steam-boat 
here meet the earliest and the latest invention in 
seamanship. We have met with several ; the logs of 
wood seem curiously attached to make a body of 
great length as well as sufficient width ; about six 
or eight people are maintained in the service of con- 
ducting it, with a small boat in attendance, arid a sort 
of hut of deals for their occasional dwelling : at the 
stern is a paddle or rudder, and at the head another 
paddle, which all the hands we saw were working to 
direct the raft in the proper channel. 

Monday, 24th. Reached Mayence by eleven last 
night, after being much delighted with the appoint- 
ments of the steam-boat, and with the splendid scenes 
the river presented. Put up at the Hotel de Hesse, 

u 3 

294 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

and this forenoon at eleven got to the railway, which 
in less than an hour and a half brought us to Frank- 
fort. Dined at the table-d'hote. 

25th. Went with various friends to the public 
gallery. Saw a variety of Dutch pictures, with a con- 
siderable number of early German masters, curious 
for the costumes as well as for the mechanism. Saw 
also a large fresco by Fight of Dusseldorf, surrounded 
with what is called Byzantine patterns as a frame 
work, the subject, Christianity introducing the Arts 
into Germany showing great ability, but cold and 
allegorical, avoiding all the inventions of modern art, 
and giving rise to many questions on that account. 
Saw a picture by Lessing, and one by a young artist 
of Daniel in the Lion's Den, both nearer what is now 
doing with us, adding only a little mixture of the 
French. Went to the Cemetery, where we saw some 
sculptures by Thorwaldsen. 

27th. Keached Nuremburg. Saw the Cathedral, 
the Hotel de Yille, and the statue of Albert Durer 
by Kauch, and visited the house of Albert Durer, in 
the Albert Durer Street; saw what is said to have 
been his painting-room. The house has four rooms 
on a floor ; has not been altered ; and is even now a 
respect able -looking house. The chief inhabitants are 
Protestants: the Jews were expelled, and live at a 

28th. Went to see the gallery of early German 
pictures : very numerous, but want variety ; still they 
furnish fine material for the artist to build upon. 
Went to the Gallery or Museum : saw a fine specimen 
of De Hooge, and of Berghem: was greatly struck 

2ET.55. Sill DAVID WILK1E. 295 

with two pictures of Apostles by Albert Durer ; a fine 
style of drawing and composition, reminding one of 
Era Bartolomeo. 

29th. Reached Munich at 11 o'clock. We were 
introduced to Mr. Cornelius, who was at work in 
fresco, upon his very great and splendid undertaking. 
Called on Mr. Dillis. Saw the statue of the Elector 
Maximilian, by Thorwaldsen ; very masterly, the co- 
lour of the bronze very beautiful ; it was like silver : 
would be glad to know how this is produced. 


Munich, 29th August, 1840. 

From Cologne Mr. Woodburn and myself had 
to start early on the 23d ; and in a most superb 
steamer, we saw the most beautiful parts of the 
Rhine, reaching Mayence late at night ; here we found 
a railway to Frankfort. 

At Frankfort we remained a day to see the gallery 
and the sights. 

Our journey has been most agreeable, some days 
very hot, though we have found the evenings cool. 
Mr. Woodburn seems a most experienced traveller, 
never in a hurry, foresees every thing, provides for 
every thing, has been greatly interested in the pictures 
we have seen, and seems to enjoy the journey ex- 

At Frankfort a difficulty was made about our 
luggage, and we were obliged to leave my large 

u 4 

296 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

packet and one of my portmanteaus to come next day 
by another conveyance. For living, we choose that of 
the country, often superb. The claret is most ex- 

We are told here of the horrors of mosquitos, 
German smoking, quarantine, &c. ; but if we can only 
escape without much sea-sickness, and without much 
cold or heat, we are resolved to see no difficulty till it 
actually comes. 

At Frankfort Mr. Koch took us to the Jews' 
quarter. We saw in this most remarkable place a 
better sort of house, they say, actually inhabited by 
Mrs. Rothschild, the mother of the dynasty, who has 
an impression she never should leave it. The same 
evening Mr. Koch went with us to the German 
Theatre, attracted by the name of the play Co- 
reggio! The great painter was represented in his 
troubles of obscurity and poverty, discovered and 
relieved by Giulio Romano and Michael Angelo. We 
all agreed there was no sort of play could so engross 
and interest us under all circumstances. 

Our French helps us through, wherever it is 
known. My German I find revives greatly, and with 
the help of Mr. Woodburn's Dutch, we can at least 
ask for all we want. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Munich, Aug. 30th. To see the Royal Chapel of Byzan- 
tine architecture, decorated with paintings on gold of 
devotional character, the effect most imposing. Went 
thence to see the Pinacothek ; saw there our excel- 

^Ex.55. SIK DAVID WILKIE. 297 

lent friend, Mr. Dillis ; our meeting most joyous and 
hearty, eighty -one years of age and in good health. 
He showed us the Italian, Spanish, French and 
Flemish pictures, all arranged in the new building. 
Rubens impressed us as much as ever. Returned to 
dinner, joined by Mr. Dillis and Mr. Cornelius; had a 
most agreeable dinner, delighted with the generous 
enthusiam of Cornelius. Joined by Mr. Arthabur of 
Vienna, who possesses my picture of The Toilette of 
the Bride ; was much pleased with his reception of me. 
He is a fine looking man, in middle life, and in full 

31st. Went to see the works in encaustic which 
Schnorr is engaged in; was surprised at the extent 
and the talent of the work on which he is employed : 
it is from the history of Barbarossa ; the encaustic is 
made by oil paint, used with wax, turpentine, and 
rosin, and afterwards warmed with fire; the colours 
are brighter than in fresco, more easily done, and 
appear to answer many of the purposes of that mode 
of painting. Went again to the Gallery; the Rem- 
brandts disappointed me ; Rubens was again as great 
as ever. 

Sept. 1st. Started at nine o'clock for Schleisheim, 
arrived there at eleven ; the Palace looked large, but 
desolate ; we walked over the apartments, which are 
vast, and took us nearly two hours ; found a De 
Hooge, a Van Huysum, two Claudes, and two Gaspar 
Poussins, worthy of any gallery. We also saw the 
large Tintoretto, The Crucifixion ; its height is enor- 
mous it is in the Chapel ; a fine tone and surface, but 
for composition and contrivance it disappointed me. 



Saw in the rooms set apart for the modern school my 
own picture, painted for Maximilian, late King of 
Bavaria, of The Reading of the Will ; it was in an ex- 
cellent place : the colours had become more mellow, 
looked deep and rich, and except a chip from a nail, 
and slight crack, might be said to be in excellent con- 
dition. As it appeared, however, to have been var- 
nished, once, or perhaps twice (which I had abstained 
from doing), I examined it with Mr. Woodburn, with 
much care, and found over many parts of the surface 
the usual crack, though very small, that is inevitably 
produced by varnish. The colours appeared to stand 
well, but the pink or lake seemed less bright than I 
could have wished ; still, if the cracks do not increase, 
it bids fair for a perfect durability. Evening went 
to the house of Cornelius to supper, saw his wife (an 
Italian) and daughter; had discussions about his mode 
of study for fresco, and about the drawings and car- 
toons of Raphael. 

2d. Went to see Glyptothek; very much struck 
with the bronzes, the JEgina marbles, as well as the 
celebrated Barberini Faun. The fitting up and build- 
ing of this gallery is most splendid. Saw two rooms 
by Cornelius ; the first showed in his Aurora great tact 
and ability, but the second room looked less success- 
ful. From this went to see a church opposite to St. 
Boniface; sculpture for pediment; statues fitted for 
space of artificers of elegant arts a most happy 
thought. In the church found Henry Hesse the 
younger, the son of the Hesse I saw here fourteen 
years ago, engaged, with his friends and assistants, on 
most extensive frescoes from the life of St. Boniface ; 

Mt. 55. SIR DAVID WILK1E. 299 

admired his talent, and his plan of working and of 
colour. Afternoon went to see the Palace, filled 
with ornamental frescoes and arabesques, thought 
it crowded, and wanting in the variety, which makes 
one remember works of art from one another. Find 
the assistance artists derive from their pupils so great, 
that many of the works are composed and produced by 
the pupils, merely under the direction of the masters. 
Found much confusion from my passport being given 
to some other person, who has started for the Tyrol. 
Director of police office to supply a passport direct 
for Vienna, but wrote to Lord Erskine on the sub- 


Munich, 1st Sept. 1840. 

From Frankfort we went to Nuremburg, where 
the statue of Albert Durer by Rauch, and also his 
house and street, were seen and visited with interest. 
The public gallery was also attractive, and the town, 
for its magnificence and style, presented fresh subjects 
for thought at every turn. 

But the great subject of speculation, after the pic- 
tures of the old school, is the school now rising with 
so much talent and eclat in this city. I was here 
with Woodburn fourteen years ago, and, since then, 
a whole street of palaces has arisen, a new school 
encouraged into maturity, and galleries formed of 
ancient sculpture and painting. Whatever this may 
lead to, our wonder is excited at the taste and enter- 
prise both of the kingly employer and the talented 

300 . THE LIFE OF 1840. 

artists entrusted with his commands. Can old Eng- 
land, young as she is, ever be stimulated by any 
such work ? 



Munich, 3d Sept. 1840. 

Our chief object in this city has been to see 
what we saw before, and the objects of renovation the 
present King has added since we were here. We found 
our excellent friend Mr. Dillis, eighty-one years of 
age, still fresh, and most glad to see us. Works of 
art are going on by wholesale : Cornelius, the chief 
painter, is painting an entire church ; Schnorr is 
painting several halls of the House of Assembly ; and 
Hesse has painted one church, and is now painting 

Sculpture and building are also going on at a great 
pace, and every sort of ornament in bronze, stained 
glass, and marble, are applied in profusion for their 
decoration. The opportunity for talent is, in conse- 
quence, very great, and the talent called out and dis- 
played is no doubt most satisfactory ; but to a stander- 
by the question is, whether the demands of the King 
are not beyond what the artists can supply, or the 
people at large can appreciate ; and whether too much 
has not been done in the time? Our friend, Wood- 
burn, has upon this subject less patience than I; but 
we are both most glad to have seen the great works 
in progress. 

We devoted one of the days to go to the old palace, 


where, besides a multitude of old pictures, are tlie 
works of the modern school, and where, in conse- 
quence, is my picture of The Eeading of the Will. 
It appeared in good condition, and looked strong and 
well, much finished, and with a sobriety and richness 
of colour which I liked. It was a little mellower 
than when painted, but in no other respect changed. 
They told us that many people, particularly the En- 
glish, make the journey, nine miles, to the palace to 
see it. 

We had Mr. Cornelius, Mr. Dillis, and Mr. Bog- 
liano, to dine with us, and were most merry. Wood- 
burn scarcely seems to relish what the German 
masters are now doing. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Sept. 3d. Saw the bronzes of the Electors of Ger- 
many, designed by Schwanhaller with great power ; 
and the whole operation of making moulds, and casting, 
finishing, and gilding, &c., done by Lighmyre, whom 
we saw, a most intelligent person, and whom we found 
constructing the model of a statue of Bavaria, on the 
stupendous scale of 40 or 50 feet, in a wooden house 
built on purpose the figure to be cast in five parts. 
Went to see the gallery of the Due de Leuchtenberg 
much the same as we had seen it before no pic- 
tures very remarkable, though many desirable speci- 
mens of the minor Venetian and Dutch masters: 
among the modern school, the Belisarius of Gerard I 
thought the finest. Evening went to the German 
opera : the piece, Guido and Ginevra ; scene, Florence ; 

302 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

3d act, most remarkable showing the church and 
the vaults underneath, where Ginevra, supposed to 
have died of the plague, is deposited, and where, after 
the requiem is sung, she recovers ; and where a most 
striking situation occurs, from the entry of brigands 
into the vaults, but who are so paralysed, supposing 
her a spirit, that she makes her escape. Music fine, 
.costumes remarkable, and scenes most ingeniously 
contrived last act very indifferent. 

4th. After much plague about my passport, carried 
off in mistake by a Mr. Whyte and family, Lord Ers- 
kine, on being applied to, sent me one of his, which, 
with difficulty and delay, I got vised by the police 
and the Austrian minister. Started for Vienna at 
3 o'clock. 

5th. Travel all night, and enter the Austrian fron- 
tier, near Salzburg, at 10 o'clock. Castle like that of 
Edinburgh, but remarkable for the rocks, with wood 
and mountains, by which it is surrounded. 

6th. Salzburg, for a tourist admiring the romantic 
and picturesque, is one of the finest places I have 
seen; it brings all within the smallest space; it is 
Edinburgh Castle and the old town brought within 
the cliffs of the Trosachs, watered by a river like 
the Tay, and having for an entrance a tunnel through 
a rock. These, with the snow-covered Alps of the 
Tyrol in the distance, make a combination no where 
else to be met with. This city has also its tra- 
ditions and its history, ecclesiastical and civil. In 
the castle there are prisons and instruments of tor- 
ture a trap-doored vault, called the bed of roses. 
It has a splendid bishop's palace, near the cathedral, 

^Ex. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 303 

with a covered way to it : it has a gate with a port- 
cullis. To a lover of music it has the attraction of 
being the birth-place of Mozart ; and to the specu- 
lator on the eccentric pursuits of the human mind, it 
contains still, in a street close to the bridge, the domi- 
cile of Paracelsus, who, in less enlightened times, was 
a searcher after the elixir mice and the philosopher's 
stone. I have often wished my friend Captain Basil 
Hall to write a German novel ; indeed, as to the effect, 
his Schloss Hainfeldt might have been a novel, in- 
stead of a true history. Salzburg would be the locale 
for the best material and scenery for such an under- 

7th. Left Salzburg at 10 o'clock yesterday, and 
reached Linz this morning at 5 o'clock. Houses and 
people between this and Salzburg much like those of 
the Tyrol. The steam-boat not having arrived, spent 
the day in admiration of this inconsiderable town. In 
the evening went to the theatre. 

8th. Rose at 5 o'clock got on board, and started 
at \ past 9, with current of stream immensely in our 
favour, urging us forward with the power of steam 
like an arrow ; weather beautiful, and the range of the 
banks of the Danube, with the hills and mountains, 
most delightful. In this navigation of the Danube, 
the only thing that gave uneasiness was that the 
steam-boat repeatedly rubbed against the sand-banks 
in the bed of the river : this was, however, not 
enough to run the boat aground, which it would 
have required many hours to get off again. Passed 
the Castle of Durrenstein, noted in history as the 
prison of King Richard I. on his return from the 

304 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

crusades. Its situation was finer than we expected 
both wild and beautiful ; the castle on the top of a 
lofty rock, showing in its ruin its former strength, 
and the little village, with its church at the water's 
edge, giving a marked contrast of the peaceful secu- 
rity of modern times. Found this day's voyage most 
interesting, and reached Vienna at 8 o'clock. 

9th. Sallied forth about passport, and to call at 
the British Embassy ; called on M. Arteria, and went 
to the Belvidere ; saw Italian collection, collection of 
the Flemish schools, also the old German masters, and 
the modern school ; were joined in this visit by the 
Directeur Herr Graff, who seemed most friendly and 
kind. We were greatly struck by the Rubens' s and 
Vandykes, and also by a Ruysdael ; one or two heads 
by Rembrandt also very fine. Saw two pictures of 
Herr Graff's, Volunteer departing to the Wars, and 
his Return, painted size of life. In this visit were 
greatly impressed by two large pictures of Rubens, 
St. Ignatius, and St. Francis Xavier. In the evening 
went to the theatre with Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael, 
of Dublin. 

10th. Went to see the collection of Baron Porthon, 
lately dead, whom I had visited in 1826 ; found pic- 
tures much the same ; one fine example of Wouver- 
mans. Went next to Palace of Lichtenstein ; here 
Rubens is in the ascendent : a series of large pictures 
from Roman history most striking, bold, vigorous, 
and rapid ; though wanting in delicacy, they yet have 
such freshness of colour and tone as appears to out- 
shine all other masters. Here are also some fine 
portraits, by Vandyke, with the superb portraits of 

^T. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 305 

the two sons of Rubens, which, for the character of 
youth, appear unequalled among all his works. The 
quantity of pictures, and of high excellence, quite 
overwhelms one Dutch, German, and French ; the 
number of rooms thus filled is extraordinary. In the 
room of modern art I was pleased to see a work of 
Directeur Kraaft, of Ossian, that pleased us greatly. 
Went also to the gallery of Count Schoenbrun ; saw 
the Samson of Rembrandt, but found it a disagreeable 


Vienna, 10th Sept. 1840. 

At Munich we did not see any of the grandees : 
the King was absent, the nobility also, and Lord 
Erskine at such a distance, his summer residence, that 
we had no means of waiting upon him. Most of the 
artists, however, we saw, and they were most kind. 

We proceeded to Salzburg, travelling all night; 
attracted to this route by the romantic site of that 
place. It justified all we expected. From Salzburg, 
by another journey of a day and night, we reached 
Linz, the capital of Upper Austria, here to meet, and 
to be taken up by the steamer for Vienna. We reached 
at five in the morning ; but at six, the time of starting, 
no steamer had arrived. We were thus detained an en- 
tire day at Linz ; but the hotel was so good, and the 
town so superb in its buildings, with the German Opera 
into the bargain, that we had no reason to regret our 
detention. Next morning, the 8th, the steamer arrived, 
after three days' heavy voyage up the. rapid stream of 


306 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

the Danube, from Vienna ; and at nine, after taking 
in coals, started with the current, and with her steam- 
ing impulse seemed to dart like an arrow, passing the 
hills, and dales, and towers of this romantic river in 
rapid succession. In eight or ten hours we were at 
Vienna, and in the Stadt London, the same hotel I 
had been at in my former visit. Here we are most 
comfortable, with every appointment adapted to the 

Your letter of the 24th of August made me quite 
comfortable about all doing at home. The chief sub- 
ject is the engraving of Lady Baird's picture, in re- 
gard to which I made particular arrangements with 
Mr. Moon that the moment Mr. Denning has finished 
the drawing, the picture is to be removed from Dul- 
wich to the studio of Mr. Burnet, that he may etch 
the principal parts of it at once. Mr. Moon, who 
shows a proper zeal in the matter, proposes to go to 
Edinburgh in person, to be present at the showing of 
the picture there. 

The letter of Lady Baird is most kind. Her offer 
is most generous. You state you were to see Mr. 
Moon on the subject; if so, do press him to make 
every exertion as we arranged. 

We have just had the Director of the Gallery of 
the Belvedere to dine with us, Krafft, whom I knew 
before. He was much rejoiced to see us. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Sept. 12th. Went to the mansion of Mr. Arthaber, in 
the outskirts of the town, and saw numbers of modern 

Mi. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 307 

pictures, of which the following pleased us much : a 
Neapolitan Girl, with Tambourine, looking at Two 
Pigeons, by A. Eiedel, 1836 ; a Cathedral, by Ain- 
miller, 1839; a Raphael and Fornarina, by Schavoni; 
and a Ferry Boat in a Storm, by Ganermann. My 
own picture of The Toilette of a Bride, I saw with 
much interest : at first it looks slighter than I 
expected after the many objects of the minor Dutch 
we had been seeing, but it had gained in its appear- 
ance of detail : it had gained in tone, as the whites 
being mellow, and the shadows full of transparent co- 
lour, with here and there the red ochres and yellows 
coming in their right places. I was satisfied it 
would tell with advantage beside works of that class 
we look to as guides in the great objects of art : being, 
however, most sensible of its defects, I felt only 
the more grateful for the honour paid to my humble 
labours by so distinguished a person as Mr. Arthaber 
in its having a place in so important a situation, where 
art and nature seem to combine to render all around 

My dear Sir, Vienna, 14th Sept. 1840. 

Thus far on my journey to the east, I must 
beg you to excuse my reverting to the subject we 
discussed so fully when I last had the pleasure of 
seeing you, to assure you that Lady Baird continues 
anxious about all that relates to the engraving of the 
picture of her late husband. I must write in a day 
or two to her Ladyship, and shall assure her, as I 

x 2 

308 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

have already done, and which I hear you will fully 
bear me out in, of your zeal and heartiness in the 
cause ; that the etching, particularly of the head of 
Sir David Baird, will be proceeded in from the picture 
by Mr. Burnet; and that by the close of the year, 
when the picture goes to Scotland, you will yourself 
repair also to Scotland, a proceeding I judge so neces- 
sary for the interest of the engraving in that place. 

Perhaps I should apologise for troubling you on 
business at a time when you, probably, after the late 
most active season, require relaxation as well as my- 
self ; and as to saying any thing of the objects a 
traveller may have to see, I am not yet far enough 
from home, nor on sufficiently new ground, to hope to 
interest you. I was much surprised with the great 
works produced by the single effort of patronage of the 
King of Bavaria at Munich, in the building and de- 
coration of churches, a great library, with a museum 
of sculpture, and a picture gallery : these, with the 
streets and houses added since I was there, fourteen 
years ago, are most astonishing; and, great as the 
enterprise of our country is, they put to shame, in 
the departments of architecture with decorative sculp- 
ture and painting, all that our system of economy and 
reform is ever likely to lead to. At Vienna there 
seems little patronage, except as with us, by the public 
spirit of individuals, and also as with us by art 
unions. I see but little doing here in engraving, 
except in lithography, and the same at Munich. 

D. W. 

^Ex.55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 309 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Sept. 14th. Went with Mr. Arteria to look over the 
drawings of the Archduke Charles : began with the 
Raphaels and Michael Angelos ; found a great number, 
but few to be really attributed to these masters. 
Looked over the Correggios, one of which was very 
fine. Looked at the Rembrandts four fine; but a 
large drawing of a battle by Rubens was shown of the 
finest quality the most masterly drawing I ever saw 
of Rubens. 

15th. Went again to the Belvedere, and in this 
visit was struck more than ever with the vast power 
in invention and in manual dexterity of Rubens; 
two large pictures, one St. Ignatius curing the Sick, 
and St. Xavier, for power of expression and force of 
painting quite beyond himself. In one was a fore- 
shortened figure of a maniac on the ground quite 
extraordinary. In both these pictures were large 
portions so heavy that he scarcely could have touched 
them ; yet, for impressive effect, I have seldom seen 
finer works of the master. 


Vienna, 16th Sept. 1840. 

We are much occupied in seeing pictures. 
In the Palace of the Belvedere, and in the Palace of 
Prince Lichtenstein, there are many to interest, par- 
ticularly by Rubens. We have also seen some of the 
living painters ; who, as the court is not occupied with 
art, say that they are doing nothing. One house we 

x 3 

310 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

desired to see that of Mr. Arthaber, whom we met at 
Munich, and who, as he possesses my picture of The 
Toilette of the Bride, gave me letters that I might see 
it. The house stands on an eminence overlooking a fine 
view of the Danube, and surrounded by a most beauti- 
ful garden, with conservatories for foreign plants. 
Here we were received with great politeness by the 
mother of Mr. Arthabur, an elderly but handsome 
lady, who had much to tell us about the house, about 
her son, and about the pictures. She led us all over 
the house : the rooms are very fine ; and, as she said, 
purposely took us to see every picture before she 
came to mine. I found it placed up stairs, in one of 
the inner rooms of the suite. She was pleased to com- 
pliment me upon it, and said that many people, parti- 
cularly the artists of Vienna, had come to see it. Beside 
it were a number of the works of the living artists, 
some of great merit, and considered the best collection 
of the sort in Vienna, such as any picture might be 
honoured in being associated with. My own picture 
looked well : appears unchanged, except in more mel- 
lowness of tone: the shadows looked transparent, 
the colours in their right places ; and, though not so 
highly finished as The 'Will at Munich, was yet bright 
and attractive in its appearance. Both Mr. Woodburn 
and myself were much pleased with this visit. The 
kindness of the lady, and the good sense and splen- 
dour all around, pleased us greatly. 

To-morrow we proceed to Presburg, and thence to 
Pest. With the German language we make no pro- 
gress; in French and Italian we do greatly better. 


Vienna appears empty, and how opposite in govern- 
ment and policy from London ! 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Sept. 16th. M. Krafft called, with a distinguished 
artist from Berlin. Called on Mr. Arteria, who obtained 
us admission to see a room in the Emperor's Palace, on 
the walls of which in encaustic were painted three 
large pictures by Herr Krafft, showing great power. 
The subjects, though unfavourable, were so managed 
with the modern costume, that a very real and pleas- 
ing effect was produced, which does great credit to the 
talent of Mr. Krafft, 

17th. Got every thing packed up, and having settled 
all accounts, started from Vienna to the banks of the 
Danube, where the steamer was waiting. Sailed at 
3 o'clock: voyage down the Danube very pleasant, 
and the banks highly interesting as we reached Pres- 
burg, which we did about 6 o'clock. Had a walk to 
the ruined castle on the high rock : most interesting 
for situation and prospect. 

18th. Awakened at 4 o'clock: got on board the 
same steamer for Pest, with many of the same pas- 
sengers : joined by Mr. and Mrs. Colville, from Gala 
Water ; dined at table-dhote on board ; weather 
agreeable, and the Danube most beautiful. The 
country thinly peopled, though the towns and build- 
ings beautiful. Eeached Pest in the evening: very 
surprising as a city. Pest, on one side, is splendid 
for its new buildings. 

19th. Saw the works going on- driving piles for 

x 4 

312 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

the cofferdam; the forge, and the models and plans 
for the bridge to be constructed across the Danube. 

23d. Went to see the public baths of men and 
women : like the infernal regions ; like the river Styx, 
sulphureous and dark: the most remarkable sight I 
ever saw. 


Pest, in Hungary, 24th Sept. 1840. 

Our journey becomes at every stage more 
interesting. We are now breaking new ground, for 
both Mr. Woodburn and myself. Till we left Vienna 
works of art were our chief pursuit ; and a most lux- 
urious treat we had of the wonders of former times in 
the German capitals : here we neither see nor hear 
of pictures ; but, in exchange, we at every turn con- 
template the sort of life and nature that has scarcely 
yet been the subject of art. The dresses we see are 
still European, but verging strongly on the Turkish or 
Asiatic : the jacket becomes short, the trowsers more 
ample, and the hat more turban-like. 

On reaching Pest by the steamer, we repaired to 
the Koniginn von England, a large palace-like hotel, 
just set up, with very fine rooms and appointments, 
but irregular attendance. I immediately sent to Mr. 
Tierney Clerk. Our meeting was most cordial. He 
took us to see the great work the bridge on the 
Danube. The cofferdam itself, from the model we saw 
of it, is a great, though only a temporary, work. 
Mr. Woodburn and I invited Mr. Clerk to dine with 
us at our hotel, where we had a handsome entertain- 

1&T.55. SIB DAVID WILKIE. 313 

ment ; Tokay, the native wine of Pest, being one of 
our treats. You may believe that we had, with this, 
with champagne, and other Hungarian wines, a com- 
plete jollification. 

D. W. 


On the Danube, Sunday, 27th Sept. 1840. 

From Pest we started, on the 25th, by the 
steam-boat Francis I., to proceed on our route down 
the Danube, to the extent of the Austrian frontier. 
The bridge of iron Mr. Clerk is engaged upon will 
be greater in span than any bridge over the Thames. 
Mr. Clerk introduced us to a very leading and pa- 
triotic noble, the Count Sycheny, who is united with 
other enterprising parties, in trying to improve the 
commerce of the vast, but neglected, Danube. The 
bridge, as well as the steam-boats, form the great 
means of this improvement. The Hungarians seem 
to desire alliance and commerce with the English. 
Hungary and Servia, being frontier provinces, have, 
at all times, been the theatres of turmoil and war 
sacrificed, as a barrier, to repel the inroads of the 

From Pest we sailed, with an overflowing number 
of passengers, crowded to a degree that would 
have been intolerable, but that as we proceeded 
our cargo thinned out by dozens. In this way 
we hurried along with the current for three days, 
passing a wild, and often dull, prospect on both sides. 
Among the Hungarian passengers we found some, 

314 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

both ladies and gentlemen, who seemed to take to us 

extremely, and the time glided on, even in the crowd, 

agreeably. On the third day we stopped at a town 

called Semlin, from which we saw on the other side 

the Danube a town and fortress celebrated in history, 

in opera, and song Belgrade. Here Braham, as 

well as the wars of Eugene, were recalled. Here, 

for the first time, we saw, in one quarter, the 

mosque of the Turks; on another, within the high 

citadel, the palace of the Pacha; and close to it a 

range of dull buildings, the seraglio, we were told, of 

his highness the Pacha. On our way from Semlin, 

the right bank of the river was Turkish, the left 

Servian. On the fourth day we reached a pass of 

mountains, Tracova, where we left the steam-boat, 

and embarked in the little boats, with our luggage 

and about thirty passengers. Each boat had a cabin, 

like a barge, and in this way, with the help of oars, we 

were impelled along the rapids, which, for near fifty 

miles, attend the passage of the river through the 

Alpine range, that divides the Austrian from the 

Ottoman territory. Among these mountains we 

stopt for a night, at a beautiful village Orsova, from 

whence, next morning, we were conveyed by boat to 

join the Argus steamer, which lay at anchor within 

the Turkish territory, and where our luggage, on 

landing, had to be hauled over a hedge, the boatmen 

not daring to touch the Turks, for fear of being lodged 

in quarantine before returning to their homes. In 

this distant land we entered our new steamer with 

anxiety ; but were no sooner on board than we found 

a most excellent breakfast, servants speaking Italian, 


and the captain English. We soon got therefore re- 
conciled to every thing. Of our company on board 
were two young gentlemen, Mr. Miles, one of the sons 
of Mr. Miles, of Leigh Court, near Bristol, who has 
the fine collection of pictures ; and Mr. Eepton, grand- 
son of the late Lord Chancellor Eldon. Both have 
been most friendly, and, with their English courier, 
have shown us every attention. 

The Turks on board are civil and silent, and remain 
on deck: their character and dresses are the most 
splendid to be imagined. This, of course, is felt as new 
ground as new life, and as subject-matter every 
hour of the day for the pen and the pencil. The first 
night we anchored at the Turkish town of Widdin, 
and, when sitting at tea and coffee in our cabin, were 
told to listen to a voice of a man on the minaret of a 
mosque hard by, who was busy calling the faithful to 
prayers. It was a sort of chant, sometimes fine, but 
not very musical, it continued then ceased; and, 
in the interval, we heard a more distant voice on a 
further minaret, repeating the same religious call to 
the surrounding moslems. As the night was dark, 
the weather fine and still, and the mosque lighted, it 
was a novel and impressive scene. 

I can remember my first impression when landing 
at Dieppe, I first saw France ; and when, in passing 
the Bidassoa, I first saw Spain : but at Kustchuk, where 
we landed on the 1st of October, the wonder of the 
first sight of the first town, city or village, I have seen 
of the Moslem empire, has far exceeded either. 




JOURNAL, continued. 

28th Sept. In the progress of the navigation of 
this vast river saw much cause to lament that so 
little has been done to help it either in improving the 
accommodation of the steamers or the course of the 
river by which they move. 

29th. Left Orsova in a row-boat, which carried us 
down a very strong rapid called the Iron Gate ; be- 
low this we came to the frontier town, where, among 
the precautions taken to prevent intercourse, the 
boatmen were not allowed to meet or touch any thing 
on the Turkish side. Found here at Kladown the 
steamer Argus waiting ; got on board ; found but few 
passengers; and the appointments and attendance 
most excellent. The captain we also found perfect 
in his station, speaking all languages we could desire. 
At night reached Widdin, a large town with mosques ; 
the gates being shut, we were not permitted to 
land ; we were struck with several circumstances 
that showed us we were among an Asiatic people: 
one was that, while sitting in the cabin, we heard a 
voice at a distance calling from the top of the minarets 
to the people to come to prayers. We went on deck 
to hear it ; it was dark ; a mosque was near to the 
landing-place all lighted ; the voice that proceeded 
from its spire was loud, and heard distinctly ; it con- 
tinued a kind of song at least twenty minutes ; at 
times it stopped, and we then heard one from a more 
distant mosque : it was then recommenced, and, 
though a kind of chant or song, was any thing but 
harmonious. The effect was strange upon all of us, 


as the first marked sign of another faith, which, until 
we return to a Christian land, is to replace the sound 
of the church -going bell. Was unwell from a cold, 
and obliged to remain below deck. The Turkish 
passengers most interesting from their dresses. 

30th. Sailed on the whole day, but from cold and 
rheumatic feeling could not go upon deck; was ob- 
liged to stay below making such drawings as I could. 
At night anchored at Nicopolis. 

1st Oct. To-day felt somewhat better, though still 
inactive; but about 11 o'clock, coming to Rustchuk, 
where the steamer had to stay an hour to take in 
coals, went ashore with Mr. Woodburn, Mr. Eepton, 
and others. Saw numbers of people; splendid cos* 
tumes splendid even when in dirt and rags ; looked to 
see if these were women ; saw one or two, and female 
children still but few. Went up a winding lane into 
the town ; and when I remember the wonder a new 
place and people presents, yet I must allow this ex- 
ceeded in wonder all I had seen ; but it was greatly 
the wonder of disappointment that the domicile of 
the Turk should be so inferior to the splendour of his 
attire. We came to what appeared an inn, through 
which we walked to a street, or bazaar, roofed over, 
with shops on each side: they were open, without 
windows. At first it seemed as if all were deserted ; 
but on looking, each shop had an attendant, some- 
times at work, and sometimes asleep ; but nothing 
could be more homely ; the booths at a fair could not 
be less fitted than they were ; nothing could be more 
untidy than the shop, even where the articles, such 
as shoes, slippers, or stockings, were excellent. The 



haberdashery goods looked showy, and, as I thought, 
English. We went into a coffee-house and had a 
cup of coffee : it was good, but the appointments of 
the room were singular and homely at the entrance. 


Constantinople, 2d Oct. 1840. 

No one can see the Turks, an Asiatic people, 
without being more struck with them than with the 
sight of any people merely foreign. Their dress and 
appearance are not so new to me as their towns, vil- 
lages, and houses : these are far inferior to their 
dresses, and, with their mosques and towns, are not 
worthy of them. On passing through their territory 
on the Danube, we saw the town and fortress of 
Illistria, celebrated for resisting the whole Eussian 
army in the last invasion. Illi stria seems, both 
in buildings and walls, a most inferior town, com- 
manded by the heights all round ; and on one of 
the outer bastions we saw that the cannon was abso- 
lutely upheld by wicker-work. They allege that 
the Russians were most inexpert, or it could not have 
resisted at all. The. Argus steamer did not bring us 
lower on the Danube than Charnevoda, a point far 
short of Gallatz, but which is made a station, because 
it comes within forty miles of the Black Sea, at Con- 
stantia, a passage indeed that would be most favour- 
able for a canal. We sallied forth into the village, 
where the only passable house was one built for the 
Navigation Company. We were five in number ; and 
as we sauntered among the houses, we tried to enter, 


but found no encouragement ; on the contrary, were 
assailed by a number of wolf-like dogs, barking most 
intolerably. A shower coming on, we took shelter 
under the thatch-awning of a cottage ; but we found 
that an alarm was given from within, by a Turkish 
woman running and screaming for assistance, upon 
which the dogs became more furious than ever ; and as 
the panic seemed to spread, by some more of the 
secluded ladies coming forth, we were compelled to 
make a retreat. In our retreat we were followed by 
a bevy of dogs until, getting provided with large stones, 
we drew off by pelting them back to their homes. 
One of our party made another inroad, but with the 
same result, for the secluded maids were seen flying 
from the unhallowed gaze of the intruders. This 
shutting up of the women from all intercourse with 
the world, and the muffled up appearance of their 
dress, make a repulsive feature in the character of this 
remarkable people. On our way to Konstanjez we 
were agreeably surprised by seeing a Turkish fair 
an encampment of at least 2000 people, in booths and 
tents, away from all houses, and where every kind of 
manufacture was to be sold to buyers apparently of 
all nations as striking an assemblage as any stranger 
could witness. 

On the evening of Sunday, the 4th, we entered the 
Bosphorus, and cast anchor opposite the palace of the 
Sultan, and next morning saw Constantinople by day- 
light, in all her glory. 

Our party, on landing, were conducted up an emi- 
nence to Pera, to the hotel of Madame Vitali a 
lodging-house. Mr. Woodburn and Mr. Miles were 

320 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

accommodated in the hotel, whilst Mr. Repton and I 
were lodged in a quiet dwelling hard by all of us 
dining at the hotel. Of course every thing we saw 
was a wonder the streets, houses, and roads, dilapi- 
dated, yet crowded with people ; nothing clean or 
tidy, all bustle, hurry, and business ; yet no appear- 
ance of wealth, all living as if from hand to mouth, 
with dresses splendid and dwellings wretched, still re- 
calling, in all their doings, a race and a time from 
which civilisation had sprung. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Oct. 5th. Went with Mr. Miles and Mr. Repton, 
and had a Turkish bath, but did riot like it at all. 

6th. Walked through the suburb below Pera, Top- 
hanna. Saw at the outer court of a mosque a scribe 
of most venerable appearance. He was reading a 
letter or paper he had been writing for two Turkish 
young women one very handsome: the way they 
were placed made an excellent composition for a 

7th. Went to Constantinople saw the Bazaar 
mean in condition, though rich in material for study : 
walked to the market of slaves was much interested 
with their appearance ; the chief were young black 
women ; some whites were shut up. 

* Wilkie's fine, though unfinished, picture of this interesting little 
group was bought at the Wilkie sale, by Lord Charles Townshend, for 
425 guineas. As a piece of colour, it is as rich as Rembrandt or Cor- 
reggio. The price that Sir David put upon it at Constantinople was, as 
Mr. Woodburn informs me, 350 guineas. 

. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 321 

My dear Mr. Young, Constantinople, 7th Oct. 1840. 

By a letter waiting me here from Helen, I was 
much shocked and grieved to learn of the great afflic- 
tion that has befallen you in the unexpected demise 
of your most dear and excellent lady, Mrs. Young. 
There are many circumstances that must give to this 
dispensation a character of extreme severity, both to 
yourself and to her own most esteemed family. These 
it will indeed require an effort to sustain, which even 
the sympathy of friends can but little help you in. 
To us, who have known her so long, and have also 
had the gratification of her friendship and society, the 
loss is great ; while, with me, there is this additional 
cause of sorrow, that one of my recent occupations 
was undertaken as a work that might have contributed 
to her pleasure and satisfaction. 

In this change to all your thoughts and ideas, let 
me advise you to take care particularly of your health. 
The claims left upon you, especially the infant girl 
that has survived, demand this. Accept my sincere 
sympathy, and also offer my most respectful condo- 
lence to Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, and to the ladies and 
gentlemen of that family, who have so much cause to 
grieve for this irreparable loss. 

In this most strange, passing strange, land, Mr. 
Woodburn and myself often recur with pleasure to 
the feelings and sympathies of the kind friends we 

VOL. in. y 



have left at home ; and you were one of the last we 
spoke with before starting. 

My dear Mr. Young, 

Your most faithful friend, 

And obliged servant, 

D. W. 

JOUENAL, continued. 

12th. Started in a native carriage and four went 
over a wild and neglected country with very rough 
roads ; got to Therapia at 3 o'clock ; found an excellent 
French hotel ; called for Mr. Bankhead, saw him with 
his lady, most excellent people ; made a drawing at 
the hotel; dressed, and went to the palace of the 
ambassador at half-past seven. Met Mr. Bankhead ; 
M. de Cordova, the Spanish minister ; Captain Lyons ; 
Mr. Drummond Hope. Most kindly received by his 
Lordship and by Lady Ponsonby. Received much 
information respecting the court, and even the se- 
raglio, and found his Lordship disposed to take great 
interest in the object of our journey. 

13th. Returned by a boat, stopped to see the Sweet 
Waters of Asia. Dined with Mr. Cartwright. 

14th. Called on Sir Moses Montefiore, whom we 
saw with his lady ; had a most interesting account 
from Sir Moses, both of his present journey to Alex- 
andria, and his former one to Syria. His account 
of his visit to the Mosque, which contains the tomb 
of David, was very striking. 

16th. Went by land to Therapia, made a drawing 
of three young ladies, friends of Mrs. Bankhead. 

^T. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 323 


14th Oct. 1840. 

We dined two days ago at the house of Lord 
Ponsonby. Mr. Woodburn had a letter as well as 
myself: it was at Therapia on the shore of the Bos- 
phorus, about twelve miles off. We went by land, 
slept all night at an hotel, and returned next day by 
water. We were extremely well received both by 
his Lordship and Lady Ponsonby. His Lordship 
entered particularly into the object of our journey, at 
present so doubtful from public affairs, but seemed 
disposed, should events take a favourable turn, to 
assist us by his influence in every way. Yesterday 
we dined with Mr. Cartwright, the British consul 
a complete English dinner, and very merry. 

We have encountered John Lewis from Greece 
and Smyrna. He is making numbers of drawings. 
I said I was sure he would cast up in our route. 

D. W. 

MV dear Collins Pera, Constantinople, 15th Oct. 1840. 

I have had great pleasure in hearing from my 
sister the best accounts of you and of Mrs. Collins, 
and that you had resolved on taking the house you 
had been in treaty for when I left London. While 
your house is getting ready, if mine can be of any 
use to you and to Mrs. Collins, it will give me great 

Y 2 

324 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

As we had to land in Holland, we found the 
attraction of works of art in that country quite irre- 
sistible, and therefore made a detour to see the great 
towns of the old republic. At the Hague, in the palace 
of the Prince of Orange, we saw the chief part of what 
had formed the collection of drawings of Sir Thomas 
Lawrence the Raphaels, M. Angelos, and Rubenses. 
They were hung in frames round the rooms, and 
formed to us at least most attractive objects of ob- 
servation. At Amsterdam we were refreshed with 
the fine work of The Syndics and The Night Watch 
by Kembrandt, and by means of Mr. Woodburn's 
friends, were led to the hotels of old families, for 
whose rooms, and for the places where they now 
hang, some of the fine old pictures of the best times 
were painted. 

On leaving the Low Countries our next object was 
Munich ; and since I was last there (only fourteen 
years ago), a new city, new monuments, new churches, 
and a new school of art, have arisen up, putting to 
shame all that other nations have been attempting. 
This enterprise of the sovereign has brought forward 
great talent and zeal, whole churches are filled, and 
are filling, every legend and allegory is brought up, 
and every painter, either as designer or assistant, 
pressed into the service to supply the demand 
which this most munificent King of Bavaria hath 
set up. Munich of course occupied much of our 
attention, and the works of art there were seen with 
much interest and admiration. But to speculate in 
what beneficial way their art can be applied to 
our own calls forth the negative. Great works and 


public buildings we certainly want ; but in their 
decoration the imitation of an art of an early age, 
almost to the exclusion of the attainments of art 
in modern times, certainly would not lead to any 
good. Our people, even from their backwardness in 
their knowledge of art, must have it directly from 
nature and from life. 

At Vienna we found various painters of knowledge 
and talent, but very few occasions for their exercise. 
The great works of Rubens, both at Munich and 
Vienna, from their vigorous imagination and power 
of detail, raised, if any thing could, both in Mr. 
Woodburn and myself, our impression of so great a 

In leaving Vienna, we seemed to have left all art 
and pictures behind us ; but in lieu thereof Ave have 
passed through districts and now have reached a capi- 
tal where all is full of objects adapted for art. We 
have before us an Eastern and Asiatic people, 
a people who possess neither art nor the feeling for 
art; and who eschew all idea of picturesque repre- 
sentation, but who in every respect, and at every 
turn, in every combination of raiment or dwelling, 
present that appearance the most suited of all to the 
painter's art. As a proof of this, the painter, Mr. 
Woodburn and myself are the most frequent in refer- 
ring to as the one who has most truly given such an 
eastern people, is Rembrandt. The Scripture subjects 
of Rembrandt are recalled to us at every turn by 
what we see before us ; and this anticipating power of 
rendering what he never could have seen, raises the 

Y 3 



great painter of Amsterdam even higher than we had 
thought him. 

Every thing that meets the eye is imposing ; the 
colours light up the picture, and while they illu- 
minate, as it were, even the darkness, they are pre- 
vented being tinselly and gaudy by the deep greasy 
richness of tone which use and wont never fail to 
convey to the most discordant materials. One how- 
ever looks here for what is somewhat wanting, the 
interest of subject and event such as our feelings at 
home can sympathise with ; but this, as we get farther 
on in our journey, if war and rumours of war do not 
impede us, we hope will be amply supplied by those 
districts of the east where all bear the stamp of those 
characters and events the most interesting in the his- 
tory of man. 

After we reached this, we were surprised by the 
arrival of John Lewis, from Italy, Corfu, Athens, and 
Symrna. He has been making most clever drawings, 
as usual. There are some artists settled here ; one 
Purser, a landscape draughtsman, and one Worthing- 
ton, aged, an engraver. 


JOURNAL, continued. 

Constantinople, 17th. Remained at hotel till four 
o'clock, weather very stormy. 

18th. From inflammation in the eye, stopped at 
home all day. 

19th. Mr. Woodburn proposed I should make a 
drawing of Mr. Cartwright for him. In the evening 
Mr. Woodburn called with a letter from Lord Pon- 

^T. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 327 

sonby, giving a most favourable answer to a re- 
quest I had made to be allowed to paint the Grand 
Sultan. It is as follows : " 17th Oct. 1840. Dear Sir, 
In pursuance of Sir David Wilkie's wishes, I asked his 
Excellency Redschid Pacha if the Sultan would do 
Sir David the honour to sit to him for his picture; 
and the Pacha said the Sultan would do so, and that, 
too, immediately. This being the case, I think Sir 
David would do well to beg of his Excellency to 
appoint some day and some hour when Sir David may 
have the honour of presenting himself to begin the 
portrait of His Imperial Majesty. I have the honour 
to be, dear Sir, Your faithful humble servant, (signed) 


20th. Had an easel made by a French carpenter; 
looked out all my boards, palettes, and oil-colours, 
to serve for this remarkable occasion. Had a request 
made through Mr. Colquhoun that I would paint a 
portrait of Lady Ponsonby for his Lordship the 
British Ambassador. Answered, that what his Lord- 
ship had asked, I should be most happy to comply 

21st. Called on Mr. Pisani; was told by him that 
he had delivered my letter to Redschid Pacha, who 
stated to him that a Prussian artist was now painting 
the Sultan, and that after this, the Ramazan would 
begin next Sunday and last for a month, so that the 
Sultan would not give me sittings till this was over. 
Wrote to Lord Ponsonby to mention this, and to ex- 
press my doubt whether my stay at Constantinople 
would admit of my having the esteemed honour of 
painting the portrait of the Sultan, though I am now 

Y 4 

328 THE LIFE OF 1840, 

prepared with colours, easels, and all the materials for 
the purpose. 

I V> oattew^ ! 


Pera, Constantinople, 21st Oct. 1840. 

We have now had time to see a good deal of 
this place, and its remarkable inhabitants. This vast 
city is divided into districts, rising precipitous from 
its shores, as if Highgate and Hampstead were planted 
close to the Thames on one side, and Greenwich and 
Richmond hills on the other ; at the same time the 
heights here rise far higher than these, and the 
suburbs are so extended, as to appear the largest city 
I have ever seen, except London. The quarter we 
live in, Pera, is allotted to Europeans of all sorts; 
Galata next it is the place for bankers and mer- 
chants, while Stamboul or Constantinople, divided 
from us by an arm of the sea, is the real Turkish 
quarter, where the Bazaars, the Market for Slaves, the 
ancient Hippodrome, the Mosque of St. Sophia, and 
the Seraglio of the Sultan are situated. On the other 
side, the South wark side, and the only part Asiatic, is 
Scutari, all of which, extending for miles along the 
Bosphorus, give to this city its celebrated character 
for magnificence of situation. 

With all this the houses are little and mean, and 
the streets narrow, muddy, dirty, crowded and ill- 
paved to a degree that they look more like a dried- 
up watercourse, than the channel or promenade for 
civilised men. 

Soon after our arrival in this city, we heard of Sir 


Moses Montefiore and his party being here. I called 
for him, and finding his card left here, I again went 
to the house of an Israelite in Galata to see him. It 
was a sort of day of reception : Sir Peter Laurie would 
have been interested to have seen his brother sheriff 
surrounded by a sort of Asiatic court. In the outer 
hall I was met by turbaned attendants. I was intro- 
duced by Mr. Wire into the Saloon of Audience, 
where I was received in the most hearty manner by 
Sir Moses Montefiore. I was placed on the same 
divan with Lady Montefiore and Sir Moses, while 
all around were seated various personages in tur- 
bans, all bearing the appearance of ambassadors or 
dignitaries. Here long hookahs or pipes were brought 
in, and a tray served with sherbet with sweetmeats. 
Sir Moses has so far succeeded in his object as to 
obtain the release of the Jews imprisoned in Damascus, 
and had heard of their actual liberation. On his 
former visit to Jerusalem he was admitted, he told 
me, to the tomb or mausoleum of David, where he 
and his party chanted a psalm, suited to so solemn 
a situation. 

I was spoken to yesterday by Lady Canning; Vis- 
count Canning was with her ; they are living on board 
a yacht. Lord and Lady Londonderry are expected, 
and have taken a whole hotel, though in a most 
crowded and dirty part of Pera. I have got out my 
oil colours and boards, and am to try to begin some- 

D. W. 

330 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

22d. Mr. Woodburn received letter from Lord 
Ponsonby, upon the subject of the portrait of the 
Sultan, which he answered, by stating the obstacle 
that had arisen. Began a drawing of Mr. Cartwright 
for Mr. Woodburn. 

23d. Made drawing of a horse, to accompany the 
study of a Turkish boy. Had a carpenter to make an 
easel, looked out oil colours, and set my palette. 

24th. Went with Mr. Woodburn, and had a walk 
of first-rate interest over all the Bazaars, the Slave- 
market, the Hippodrome, the Mosque of St. Sophia, 
the Gate of the Seraglio, with other remarkable sights ; 
returned to Pera, and at three o'clock had a sitting 
of Mr. Cartwright. 

26th. Got panel prepared; began picture of the 
Scribe of Constantinople.* 

27th. Went to the Prince Hallicoo Mirza in a car- 
riage ; found him at home at ten ; after a time was led 
through the garden into a street, to a distance, then 
to a house, and on going up stairs he showed me into 
a room with a divan, where was a little girl very 
young ; she was placed on the ottoman, I made 
two drawings from her, one for the Prince and one 
for myself. She was a white, but had a little colour, 
full eye and lip, very long hair, and rich dress ; she 
had no expression and was perfectly silent; it was 
not explained what she was ; perhaps she might be a 
slave a Circassian slave: there was an elderly black 
in the house, who looked much like an eunuch ; there 

* The Letter Writer. 


was a young black girl, a slave, and a white woman, 
a Turk, in the house : it was a singular and character- 
istic scene. 

28th. Received barometer to take to Syria, from 
John Harvey, Esq. Dined with Sir Moses Montefiore. 

29th. Painted on picture of The Scribe. Made 
drawing of Mustapha, the Albanian servant of Mr. 

30th. Had a call from Mr. Samuel, who took me 
to a family hard by, where was a Lady, a Jewess, 
dressed with the Smyrna cap, who gave me a sitting : 
she was a handsome and elegant person. Began 
drawing of the Dragoman of Mr. Colquhoun. Dined 
with Mr. Cartwright. 

31st. Went on with drawing of Dragoman and of 
Mustapha. Lady Canning called. 

Nov. 1st. Went to church: called afterwards on 
Sir Moses Montefiore with Mr. Woodburn. Heard 
the account of his reception by the Sultan. This visit 
in the highest degree interesting. 

3d. Went on with picture, and with drawings. 
Had a sitting from Mr. Cartwright. 

4th. Finished drawing of Hallicoo Mirza.* 


My dear Sir Peter Laurie, p era, Constantinople, 

J 6th Nov. 1840. 

The undevia-ting kindness of yourself and Lady 
Laurie to me and those around me leaves me no 

* In the possession of William Woodburn, Esq., and engraved as one 
of Sir David Wilkie's Oriental Sketches. (London, Graves and Warmsley.} 
A very beautiful publication. 

332 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

doubt of the interest and indulgence you will be 
willing to accord to such ideas as I may try to convey 
to you of the wonders that now surround me in this 
distant land, which both Mr. Woodburn and I often 
wish we could view with your eyes, and judge of by 
your judgment, in comparing them with the far dif- 
ferent state of affairs we look back to, as the envy 
and pride of our own country. 

A considerable portion of our route you have your- 
self, with Lady Laurie, travelled, upon the Rhine, 
amidst scenes of romantic beauty, inhabited by a 
people who, with all their differences, are yet a 
kindred race to our own. It was not till we had 
proceeded far eastward that the spirit of inquiry 
and speculation was brought fairly into play ; and 
as ' we approached the quarter whence wisdom and 
civilisation had originally come, that we were stag- 
gered with the impression of their present retrograde 

We have been strangely reminded of the theories 
of some of our own ruthless innovators at home. 
The kingdom of Hungary, as a frontier territory 
between the Turk and his Christian neighbours, has 
been long desolated by war, yet in all her sufferings 
she has completely realised the darling project of 
Joseph Hume, being to this day a country without 
taxation ! which we are assured, by one of her 
nobles, is the present bar to any comprehensive im- 
provement. The iron bridge at Pest, now construct- 
ing by my Hammersmith neighbour, Mr. Tierney 
Clerk, requiring when finished the establishment of 
a toll, being considered there, by the strictness of no 


taxation, such an innovation as may lead to a serious 
inroad upon the constitution. 

By that noble but as yet almost useless river, the 
Danube, we, by the steam-boat, for days glided 
through wide wastes and wildness, till we came upon 
the Turkish frontier, where the towns we touched at, 
and the passengers we took up, made familiar to our 
eyes the strange dwellings and characters of an 
Asiatic people. Still every previous cause of wonder 
was outdone by Constantinople itself. To you this 
capital would recal in many things, particularly its 
vast size, London ; but in how many things what a 
contrast ! What you, as a civilian, would think in- 
dispensable to keep together so large a community 
has never been known. The houses are not num- 
bered; the streets have no names; the coaches are 
very few, many of them dragged by oxen, and can 
only pass through a few of the streets. There is no 
post-office ; the town is not lighted by night ; many 
of the streets are unpaved, and those that are, so ill, 
that by the mud with which they are encumbered it 
is quite an adventure to get along. Sweeping or 
cleaning the streets is never thought of; and the only 
scavengers are an innumerable host of dogs, whom 
nobody owns, that snarl and fight by day, and howl 
by night. The houses are nearly all of wood, and so 
closely huddled together as to make the devastation 
of fire, when it occurs, most alarming. We even 
wonder the more at all this, remembering that it was 
once built by the Romans ; once the seat of arts, and 
the preserver of arts ; with a situation on heights, 
divided by the Bosphorus, more splendid than any 

334 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

city ; with many palaces and mosques, large, compared 
to our public buildings ; and with the great mosque 
of St. Sophia nearly as large as St. Paul's. So un- 
couth, unexpected, and strange was every object, in 
the first week of our arrival, that I could not help 
exclaiming to my English companions, what Dandie 
Dinmont said on his first view of Pleydel in the 
chair of High Jinks, "Diel the like o' this I ever 


Still, our surprise should be moderated by reve- 
rence for what, after all, are the remains of an early 
stage of the civilisation of man. But the degraded 
state of woman here is less of an ancient state of 
society than of a Mussulman innovation ; and is pre- 
cisely what the worst class of our reformers at home 
would bring us to. The complete Utopia of our 
Owenites may here be found realised in the whole 
circumstances of a Turkish seraglio. 

Among the varied objects of interest here presented 
to us, whether of Greek, Frank, Mahometan, or 
Armenian character, one delightful source of satis- 
faction is the society we find of our own country- 
men. Lord Ponsonby has been kind and hospitable, 
and so has our most excellent Consul-General, Mr. 
Cartwright. I have also been much gratified in 
meeting here with one of your city friends, Sir Moses 
Montefiore, whose mission, so much noticed, has been 
of the most interesting kind. He was so obliging as 
to invite me to dine with him on the day on which he 
was to have an audience of the Sultan. He resides 
in a house commanding a splendid view of Constanti- 
nople, where he is sought out by all the chief of the 

1&T.55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 335 

chosen people ; the poorer of whom, indeed, I see 
daily crowding round his doors. Lady Montefiore 
is a favourite with every body. Sir Moses kindly 
offered to take me in his suite to the Sultan, but, 
as I found difficulty in getting a dress, and it was 
thought not regular in me to be presented here except 
by Lord Ponsonby, I was obliged reluctantly to de- 
cline it. After dinner, about half-past seven, they all- 
got ready; Sir Moses looking splendid in his lieu- 
tenancy uniform, rows of servants with torches, and 
a crowd waiting out of doors. I sallied out with 
them; and as the dark, narrow, and steep lanes would 
not allow the carriages to come within a quarter of a 
mile, we with lights descended on foot down steep 
muddy precipices, crowds of faces looking from the 
windows to see the unwonted spectacle which the 
flaming lights we bore alone illuminated. We at last 
got to the carriages in a crowded narrow lane, and 
saw them start in procession, after which I returned 
as I best could with my lanthorn to my own dwelling. 
The reception they met with from the Grand Signor 
was most flattering. Sir Moses read an address ; and 
the young Sultan with much propriety spoke in 
answer, promising protection to the scattered tribes 
in Syria, and expressing his conviction of the inno- 
cence of the accused. All this is remarkable. Our 
excellent friend, Sir Moses, will not claim a com- 
parison with the great son of Amram, nor can the 
Sultan be compared with Pharaoh, but he has the 
satisfaction here, as well as in Egypt, to have accom- 
plished the relief of a persecuted remnant of Israel 

336 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

from oppression, and from the house of bondage ; and 
I truly envy Sir Moses his feelings. 

This letter has extended beyond what I intended ; 
and, though hurried and desultory, will you please to 
keep it, that I may refer to it at a future time. We 
have not yet settled our movements ; but I have got 
out my colours, and am collecting what I can in 

D. W. 


JOURNAL, continued. 

Nov. 10th. Went to Constantinople with Captain 
Leigh. Much struck with the beauty of the Turkish 

llth. Had a call from a young Turk of rank, secre- 
tary to Redschid Pacha, brought by Dr. Dixon ; he 
sat for a head. Heard of the taking by assault of St. 
Jean d'Acre. Had a dinner; invited Captain Leigh 
and Mr. Worthington upon the great occasion ; passed 
with the friends in the house a jolly evening. 

13th. Painted nearly the whole day: was called on 
by Dr. Forbes, who has travelled with Lord and Lady 

14th. Lord and Lady Canning having a firman to 
see the mosques and the palace, we proceeded on board 
their yacht, when we went over first the mosque of 
Soleiman, and then to the great mosque of St. Sophia, 
with the size and taste of which, in its interior con- 
trivance, we were greatly struck. Went then to the 
palace : saw there a number of beautiful apartments. 

Sunday, 15th. Went to church. Made a visit with 
Mr. and Mrs. Redhouse to an Armenian family : was 


interested beyond measure with the whole appear- 
ance of the house, the lady and family, and visiters ; 
a most remarkable sight. Were received with the 
greatest kindness. 

17th. Attended Lord and Lady Canning to the 
new palace of the Sultan : returned home, and painted. 
Mr. and Mrs. Eedhouse, and the Effendi, their friend, 
dined with us : had a pleasant day with them. 


Constantinople, 17th Nov. 1840. 

We are generally informed here of what passes 
in England, and have to lament the death of Lord 
Holland, to me unexpected, as I had seen him just 
before I left. I have written, through the Foreign 
Office, a letter of condolence to Lady Holland. I lose 
in him a most kind, steady, and powerful friend. To 
Lady Holland this event will be a great affliction. 

Mr. Woodburn and I continue on here in the house 
of Madame Giuseppini, surrounded by other travel- 
lers, and most kindly entertained by the English resi- 
dents in this place. The active and splendid warfare 
now waging in the East has delayed our movement 
in that direction, and we are daily watching events 
in expectation of a favourable opening to our progress. 
At first, affairs seemed adverse to us, and Mr. Wood- 
burn got impatient, and almost broached the idea of a 
homeward course ; but the good feeling and hospitality 
of all around us have reconciled us both to continue 
our stay. Indeed, having myself got out my colours, 
and had additional panels prepared, I am hard at 

VOL. in. z 

338 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

work both painting and drawing from such selection 
as can be made from the exuberance of paintable 
matter every day presents us with. Mr. Woodburn 
also finds us ample occupation, making occasional 
sketches, hunting out sights, and collecting curiosi- 
ties. He is so much liked in the society we visit, for 
his good humour, politeness, and, I might say, wit 
in conversation, that he has been styled the governor, 
the padrona, and the chairman of our sittings. 

Amidst the weeks we have passed in anxious ex- 
pectation of news from England, from France, and 
from Syria, our desires have been gratified in a re- 
markable manner by the glorious account of the siege 
and conquest of St. Jean d'Acre. This spread over 
Constantinople like wild-fire, gladdening every one, 
Turk, Jew, and Christian, and even, it is said, excit- 
ing the young Sultan to a kind of frenzy of joy. 
Woodburn, of course, was by no means behind in the 
universal hilarity, and we had a royal feast to cele- 
brate the event. We had an Austrian, a Eussian, 
and an English naval officer, in the service of the 
Turks ; we had the toasts of the Emperor of Austria, 
Queen Victoria, and the Sultan. Our countrymen 
continued the jollity when the others had left, and I 
could still hear, after I had retired, the merriment 
kept up by the resounding cadences of the song of 
" The good old English Gentleman." 

Having the advantage of a firman, which Lord 
Canning had procured, we attended his Lordship and 
Lady Canning to the mosque of the Sultan. We 
took Turkish slippers with us, and found people wait- 
ing with baskets filled with slippers should we have 

^T. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 339 

wanted them. We put the slippers over our boots. 
We were pleased with the mosques ; but the impres- 
sion made by the interior of the mosque of St. Sophia 
was indeed great. We found, on entering, a number 
of wild Egyptians, who had been bivouacking in the 
vestibule; they looked like Bedouins, Ethiopians, or 
dwellers in Mesopotamia, and seemed to regard us, 
with our privilege of the firman, as intruders in the 
sanctuary of the faithful. We next went to the palace 
of the Seraglio which, with gardens, baths, stables, 
and numerous suites of apartments, occupies a large 
portion of ground on which stood the ancient Byzan- 
tium. Yours and Helen's letters always interest me, 
and equally Mr. Woodburn. 

D. W. 

18th. Called on Lewis; saw his sketches; advised 
him to begin a Paul Veronese subject. Began a new 
subject. Admiral Walker called. Dined at 7 o'clock 
with the Baron Behir : found him most intelligent on 
the subject of the scenes of the Iliad and Odyssey : a 
most pleasant evening. Recollected at night that this 
is my birthday completing my fifty -fifth year : many 
circumstances to rejoice at and be thankful for ; good 
health being one. 

19th. Mr. Alison called with miniature of Mehemet 
Ali, which he left for me to copy. Began picture of A 
Tartar narrating in a Turkish Cafe the Victory of the 
taking St. Jean d'Acre.* 

* Sold at the Wilkie sale, for 175 guineas, and engraved as one of the 
Oriental Sketches. 

z 2 

340 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

20th. Painted all day. 

21st. Made sketch of an Egyptian servant of Mr. 
Alison. From a letter Mr. Woodburn received from 
Lord Ponsonby we decided on leaving Constantinople 
for Smyrna; there to determine on our further move- 

23d. Called on Mr. Pisani to know if I could see the 
Secretary of State, Redschid Pacha, at 1 o'clock. A 
young gentleman came from Mr. Pisani, and went with 
me over to Constantinople to the palace of the Pacha. 
Waited some time; at last we were beckoned into 
an adjoining room by a person in a nightgown : this 
was the Pacha. I stated my wish to paint the Sultan. 
He said there was no doubt his Majesty would sit. I 
stated it was my intention to leave on Tuesday week. 
He said, if I did stop, I was to let him know. Dined 
to-day with Admiral Walker, with Mr. and Mrs. Red- 
house : came home by water late at night. 

25th. Had a sitting of Admiral Walker for a draw- 

26th. Went to Galata for parts of a dress and 
coffee utensils. 

27th. Had a sitting of Admiral Walker ; finished 
drawing ; dined with Mr. Cartwright. 

30th. St. Andrew's Day. Dined with Admiral 
Walker to meet Colonel Hodges, Captain Codrington, 
Captain Lyons, &c. Came home by man-of-war's boat 
late at night with Colonel Hodges. Mrs. Walker told 
us of her presentation to the Sultan with Lady Lon- 

. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 341 





THE sketches made by Wilkie between Munich and 
Constantinople present little for description : they were 
mere hasty indications of what struck him most, 
hints or pictorial memoranda for future use, but all 
rife in every touch of the master hand that had made 
them. Constantinople offered a new field in art to our 
great artist; and his detention there was fruitful in 
sketches. He made fifty -three in the city itself, and 
six in the suburb of Pera, representing persons, single 
and grouped, on which the grave and suspicious cha- 
racter of the people is stamped in the artist's clear and 
decided way. From the fulness of his journals, the 
length of his letters, the number of his sketches, and 
the finish of his oil pictures, the pen and pencil would 
seem never to have been out of his hand ; but our 
illustrious painter appears to have had time for every 
thing; when weary of the pencil, he took to the 
pen, and when tired of writing, his active mind was 
in quest of fresh incident, fresh character, and fresh 
costumes the materials of to-morrow's use. Nor 
was he, with all his study, without an idle evening to 

z 3 

342 THE LIFE OF 1840- 

spend at the tables of Lord Ponsonby, Mr. Cartwright, 
or Admiral Walker. 


Constantinople, 1st Dec. 1840. 

The war in Syria, brilliant and successful as 
you will now hear it has been to the allied powers 
engaged in it, has detained us here nearly two months 
instead of the two weeks we should have devoted to 
this place. Still our time has not been unpleasantly 
or idly spent; the kindness we have met with has 
been extreme; we both have enjoyed excellent health; 
and, although sometimes fretted with the unexpected 
delay, we are in great spirits in the hope of prose- 
cuting our journey. 

Our lengthened stay has made us more acquaint- 
ed with this portion of the Asiatic people. With 
the Turks we find a difficulty of access, and their 
women, except when they walk the streets in a 
kind of domino, we have no means of seeing at all. 
The English ladies here are freely admitted to the 
recesses of the harem, from which male visitors of all 
sorts are strictly excluded. With regard to this, 
however, we have found favour in their eyes. I was 
admitted to the hidden domicile of a great Persian, 
to make a drawing of a Circassian lady; and a 
Mrs. Redhouse, with her husband, who, from his 
learning, holds the office of Interpreter under the 
Turkish government, procured for us an invitation to 
visit the seraglio of a wealthy Armenian, who having 
a son who had received great kindness on a visit in 


London, was well disposed to see any compatriot 
they might recommend. This Armenian is a great 
contractor for the manufacture of gunpowder for the 
state. The house is out of town, overlooking the 
Sultan's palace, and the Bosphorus. It is surrounded 
by a high wall in a garden. We were at once 
admitted. The Armenian, from mistaking the hour, 
was from home ; but the lady, with four daughters 
and three sons, was ready to bid us welcome. This 
harem being Christian, there was only one wife. She 
was a lady of fifty, very stout, but comely, and had 
been very handsome. They all received Mrs. Red- 
house with the greatest affection : handed us through 
a suite of rooms on the first floor, to a stately room, 
where we were made to sit by them on the same 
divan. Their dresses were entirely Turkish. One 
of the daughters, about fifteen, had put on her hand- 
somest dress, that we might see it, and looked 
beautiful. There were two Greek girls, with the 
Smyrna cap on; one spoke French a sort of 
governess; the other had a bunch of keys at her 
waist a sort of housekeeper (very handsome) ; 
both treated as companions. Long Turkish pipes 
were brought us first by servants, then handed to 
us by the young ladies. Coffee was then brought in 
by the domestic on a tray ; and, to pay us compliment, 
helped to us by the family. We expressed, by the 
interpretation of Mr. and Mrs. Redhouse, to the lady 
of the house, how much we were delighted in being 
presented to so amiable and handsome a family, and 
and in seeing so fine an establishment. Mr.Woodburn 
went even so far as requesting it to be intimated to 

z 4 

344 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

Madame that he courted an alliance with such a 
house, and begged to have her youngest daughter in 
marriage ; adding, that as she was about eleven year 8 
old, he would only have to wait three. The hilarity 
with which this was received was extreme. They 
next brought us, on a tray, a dish of a kind of citron 
marmalade, of which we each had a spoonful to take. 
Some of this sweet compound was observed to run 
down upon my waistcoat. Mr. Woodburn created 
great merriment by placing his handkerchief like a 
bib up to his chin, and in being fed by one of the 

We were taken up stairs to another large suite of 
rooms, where the eldest daughter, who is married, 
opened a large chest, and took great pride in showing 
us her wedding dresses, of the most costly and superb 
kind. She showed jewels, such as would be thought 
splendid for a lady of high rank in England. We 
also saw the bath, a large building attached to the 
house all this being what strangers never see ; the 
gentleman and sons having a distinct part of the house 
for seeing visiters. 

During our stay in Constantinople we have regarded, 
with great interest, all the transactions passing in the 
East. We heard of the fall of St. Jean d'Acre, and 
looked with great expectation to its consequences in 
the evacuation of Syria by Ibrahim Pacha, and the sub- 
mission of Mehemet Ali unconditionally to the Sultan. 
We are assured that, in a short time, Palestine will be 
restored to its usual state; and we just hear that 
Judah is already set free, and Jerusalem delivered. 
In the whole of these proceedings there is to us a 

JEx 55. SIR DAVID W1LKIE. 345 

satisfaction that these countries will, after the late 
brilliant campaigns, have far more than their usual 
interest. Constantinople itself shows far more than 
common excitement. We see daily both prisoners 
and successful warriors fresh from the scene of action. 
We have made among the latter a most excellent ac- 
quaintance in Admiral Walker, who was commander 
of the Turkish fleet, and bore an important part in 
the taking of Acre, and brought here to the Sultan 
the news of the victory. He is a fine-looking man, 
becomes the Turkish dress well, and his wife is a most 
lady-like woman. They have a house here, and we 
see them frequently. 

Lady Londonderry continues here. She was, with 
Mrs. Walker, presented to the Sultan yesterday. She 
was covered with jewels. She sent a message, invit- 
ing me to go with them with Lord Londonderry's 
firman to see the mosques and palaces ; but as I had 
already seen them with Lady Canning, I declined it. 

We have had some heavy falls of snow of late. 
Dr. Davy is here, with four other medical gentlemen, 
to set an hospital on foot a matter of some diffi- 
culty. I was delighted to meet Davy again. 



December 1st. To-day a heavy fall of snow scarcely 
got out painted all day. Lady Londonderry sent to 
have some of my pictures to look at ; sent her The 
Scribe, to be brought back, which it was, with a civil 
message from her Ladyship. 

4th. Expecting every day to receive the commands 



of the Sultan to paint the portrait of his imperial 
majesty. Mr. Pisani appointed by Lord Ponsonby to 
attend me. 

5th. At dinner were favoured with the company of 
Mr. Pisani and Dr. M'GuiFog. Dr. Dixon having found 
two bottles of whisky, two sheep's heads, and the 
soup being green kail, we had a most national enter- 
tainment ; concluded by a merry bowl of punch. Was 
told by Mr. Pisani that he was to see Redschid Pacha 
on Monday, and that he probably might receive com- 
mands to go with me to the Sultan on Tuesday, and 
that he was remaining in town on purpose. 

6th. Wrote to Redschid Pacha to remind him, and 
to say how glad I should be to make a likeness of the 
Pacha himself to take to England. 

7th. Was occupied to-day in making a drawing of 
the child of Admiral Walker, in the Turkish dress*, 
Mrs. Redhouse and the Greek governess having come 
to attend the young lady. Had a note from Mr. Pi- 
sani to say the Sultan would sit to me on Thursday 

10th. Went early, with Mr. Pisani, to the Pacha. 
Had a sitting, then an interruption ; then again a 
sitting, attended by a number of Armenians: when 
alone, I found him most agreeable. This is the night 
of meeting at the Royal Academy, London, for the 
distribution of premiums and election of officers. 

llth. Prepared colours, with panel, to take to the 

12th. Drove with Mr. Pisani to the Winter Palace 

* Engraved as one of the Oriental Sketches, published by Graves and 

^Ex. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 347 

of the Sultan ; were received inside the gate, in a 
room where we had pipes ; after waiting some time, 
were conducted, through a beautiful garden, to the 
palace, changed shoes, and were ushered up a stair- 
case, to a most splendid and comfortable room : here 
I put out the colours, easel, and placed chairs ; and 
having the windows all but one darkened, stated that 
all was right. After a time, his imperial majesty the 
Sultan arrived ; his style was simple and gentlemanly, 
and his reception of me very gracious. On tak- 
ing his seat, his Majesty addressed me a few words, 
which Mr. Pisani interpreted to be, that he was 
most happy, at the request of a distinguished art- 
ist from England, to sit for his portrait, consider- 
ing that doing so might show his consideration for 
the Queen of Great Britain, who was so powerful 
an ally of Turkey. I bowed. Then being told 
by his Majesty to be seated, I began the head. He 
came and looked at it several times; I understood 
he remarked I was making it too little, then asked if 
it was to be standing. I assured him no, but sitting 
on the throne as Sultan, receiving people presented. 
At another time he said, Might not the uniform with 
the epaulettes be seen? but I urged, that for this 
picture the cloak of the Sultan would be better, and 
that the hands and sword would be seen ; this seemed 
to please him, and I went on, and I think he thought 
it like and pleasing. The Marshal of the Household 
attended him, and said I had some drawings to show 
his Majesty. He looked them over, as I thought, 
with much attention and slowly appeared pleased 
with that of Admiral Walker. He asked when I 



should come again ; I said whenever his Majesty 
would command. He said Monday, at the same time. 
He sat about an hour and a half; got the face nearly 
painted in ; returned both Mr. Pisani and I, highly 
satisfied ; left the panel and colours in the room. 

14th. Went at 11 to the Winter Palace: after the 
same ceremony of pipes and coffee, we were led to 
the room of the Sultan, where we got the colours 
ready. His Majesty came with his cloak, with splen- 
did jewels in front and magnificent sword ; and in 
sitting upon the sofa, requested that I would place 
his hands and sword in the position I desired. I 
painted in the dress as well as I could at once, with 
the figure, as his Majesty sat, in hopes of making 
out the details afterwards. He desired to be painted 
in white gloves, and that a sofa should be brought 
from the other room which he preferred. Such, how- 
ever, was the interest he took, or condescension he 
exhibited, that the sitting lasted for nearly three 
hours. He conversed much with Mr. Pisani, whose 
conduct and tact I thought extremely good. We were 
appointed for next day. 

15th. Mr. Stephen Pisani sent to say the Pacha 
could not sit to-day, and he afterwards came to say 
the Sultan was going out, and could not sit. Went to 
Constantinople : saw a public auction of the effects of 
a Pacha retired ; came back by Galata ; got some 
colours in the lump ; took them to a coachmaker's to 
be ground. Heard yesterday of the birth of a prin- 
cess royal. Mr. Woodburn went to Therapia ; found 
that Lord Ponsonby had, in a private letter, announced 
to Lord Palmerston that the Sultan was sitting to me 

-flEx. 55. SIK DAVID WILKIE. 349 

for his portrait, and that his Excellency would take 
upon himself to excuse my lengthened absence from 
England beyond the period of leave. 


Constantinople, 16th Dec. 1840. 

On first arriving here we found our advance 
to Syria completely delayed : this suggested to me the 
being occupied with what could be done in Constanti- 
nople. One object that occurred both to Mr. Wood- 
burn and myself, I may now tell you, was to paint 
the portrait of the Sultan. This, on first seeing Lord 
Ponsonby, Mr. Woodburn undertook to propose to 
his Lordship. Lord Ponsonby at once agreed to make 
the request, and to do all in his power to bring it to 
bear. The answer was favourable from the Sultan ; 
but as the Ramazan, the Turkish Lent, was coming on, 
it could not be done till that was over. At the con- 
clusion of this, which lasted four weeks, he agreed 
again to make the request; and I waited on the 
Redschid Pacha, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, on the 
subject ; and being pleased with the reception I met 
from this great man, the mover of every thing here, 
Lord Ponsonby was again applied to ; and as I stated 
that, being here, I wished to paint a portrait of his Im- 
perial Majesty to take home and present to the Queen 
of England, the Pacha was so obliging as to appoint me 
to come to the palace on Saturday last, the 12th in- 
stant, with panel, easel, colours, and with an excellent 
young gentleman, attache to our embassy, to assist as 
interpreter. On reaching the outer court, we were 

350 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

received in a waiting-room, where, when seated on a 
divan, long Turkish pipes were brought to us, then 
coffee. We were afterwards led through a garden to 
the palace, where we waited in a handsome room, 
where pipes were again brought ; at last we were 
ushered up stairs, where I put my colours to rights, 
and the great Sultan was announced. His manner 
was most courteous ; he sat on a chair I had placed 
for him, and made me a handsome speech on his 
willingness to do what might be pleasing to the 
Queen ; then pointed to me to sit down. He looked 
frequently at what progress I had made, which, I 
have reason to believe, he is pleased with, as well as are 
the officers of state around him. Since then I have 
had a second sitting; and I reckon that with four 
sittings I shall advance it sufficiently to be able to 
finish it in London. I may add, that Mr. Woodburn 
is highly gratified with this, and says, that it makes 
up for all the time we have waited. Our friends here 
too have been most warm both in urging this forward 
and in their congratulations on the condescension of 
his Imperial Majesty. 

We have been so feted by friends, that Mr. Wood- 
burn suggested last week our giving a fete in return. 
He issued cards to Mr. Cartwright, Consul- General, 
Admiral Walker, Colonel Hodges, Captain Codring- 
ton of the Talbot, and others, to dine at the table- 
d'hote of Signora Giuseppini. Thursday, the 10th, 
.was the day ; on the approach of which Signora and 
the whole house were in a bustle with the note of 
preparation. With the indwellers of the house, the 
party amounted to seventeen. The whole went off 

-&T.55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 351 

with high eclat. The Signora did wonders. And 
what helped was a large Westphalia ham Mr. Wood- 
burn himself brought, and a bottle of whiskey as a 
liqueur. Dr. Davy, and others of the medical mission, 
being in the house, helped to make up the party. 
Woodburn himself and Cartwright were in great glee ; 
and nothing could be more happy or merrier than the 
whole party was together. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Dec. 19th. Attended Mr. Stephen Pisani to the 
Winter Palace ; had, on entering, pipes and coffee, and, 
on reaching the palace, had pipes and tea ; on putting 
my colours out, the sword was brought ; painted in the 
diamond hilt, and raised it with the hands higher in 
the picture; when the Sultan came, resumed the 
head. His Highness was most particular about the 
likeness, which, in the course of sitting, I had to 
alter variously, the Sultan taking sometimes the brush 
with colours, and indicating the alteration he wished 
made. The sitting was, however, continued very long 
three hours, at least : worked greatly on the head, 
to try to make it young and lively. His Majesty 
conversed with Mr. Pisani with great familiarity, 
and upon subjects, from the names mentioned, relat- 
ing to public affairs. He seemed at times greatly 
amused, showed complete relaxation, and displayed 
that expression most favourable to a portrait. Tuesday 
was appointed for next sitting. Told Mr. Pisani I 
was lucky in being attended by a gentleman on such 

352 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

terms as he was with the Sultan ; and that it was 
lucky for Lord Ponsonby to have one of his embassy 
in such favour. 

22d. Went with Mr. S. Pisani to the Palace ; waited 
in the lower room near the gate till three o'clock ; 
sent messages several times, but at last a reply came 
that the Sultan could not sit. 

23d. Waited all day, but no commands from the 

My dear Sir, Constantinople, 23d Dec. 1840. 

Feeling as I do, in common with every one of 
her Majesty's most loyal subjects, whether at home or 
at a distance, the highest gratification on hearing 
that our most gracious sovereign the Queen Victoria 
has given birth to a daughter and heiress presumptive 
to the throne; and, considering this an event upon 
which you will most likely judge it the duty of the 
Eoyal Academy to approach the Throne with our 
loyal congratulations, may I hope that my humble 
name has, in such case, been added at the bottom of 
the Address to the Queen, and also, if judged proper, 
to that of Prince Albert, which you yourself and 
my brother officers and members may think right to 
have voted upon this most gladdening and propitious 
occasion ? 

Indeed, though thus far from yourself and those 
friends by whom you are surrounded, the duties and 
labours of my brother members have not been un- 
thought of. The anniversaries of the first Monday in 


November and the tenth of December, each as they 
occurred, recalled to me the assemblies then sitting ; 
and I hope shortly to hear of the elections of the 
first, and of the prizes awarded on the second, of 
these meetings, with the appropriate discourses to 
professors and students you so ably deliver upon that 
exciting event. 

It is with these recollections that I am desirous of 
adverting to a duty which belongs to myself, as one 
of the visiters for the life for the ensuing year, to 
request that, if my month is drawn and comes before 
the Exhibition, that you will be so kind as induce my 
brother visiters to make such arrangements or ex- 
change as may allow me one of the later months in- 
stead, that I may have the honour and pleasure of 
serving in turn the duties of that office. 

It was my intention by this time to have been on 
my way homewards ; but the war in Syria, so glorious 
for the arms of her Majesty, while it delays the pro- 
gress of Mr. Woodburn and myself, gives even new 
calls for a visit to that remarkable and sacred land. 
During our sojourn in this renowned capital of the 
empire, you may believe how much to the observer 
of life, and to the artist, the review of an Asiatic and 
Mussulman people naturally present as an object of 
research. We have this advantage, that we see the 
Grand Turk now, as he always has been disposed to 
be, our national ally : he wages war in the same 
field, shares in the same victory, and is, with our 
co-operation, cheered by a new triumph in the an- 
cient city of Justinian : still to Franks and Europeans 
he is reserved, and does not readily assimilate to the 


354 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

habits of those so heartily leagued with him in the 
same cause. His people are said to be most honour- 
able and high-minded in their conduct, honest in 
their dealings, and never forgetful of a service ren- 
dered to them ; but professing a faith strangely 
adverse to those arts of imitation we so eagerly cul- 
tivate, from taste far more than from necessity, he 
becomes defective in that ingenuity and contrivance 
by which his most ordinary wants would be sup- 
plied. Here, where Greek art once flourished, Mr. 
Woodburn and myself have not been able to find 
either connoisseur, picture, nor ancient statue. 
With high esteem and regard, 

I am, &c. 


JOURNAL continued. 

Dec. 24th. Saw Mr. Pisani, but no order from the 
palace. Wrote a letter to Lord Ponsonby to report 
progress, and to state that, should a copy be wanted, 
it might be begun here, but could only be finished in 

25th. Christmas-day, Went to church. Dined 
with Mr. Cartwright : a most excellent party. 

26th. Was told the Sultan had appointed to- 
morrow for a sitting. 

27th. Went with Mr. Pisani through the snow to the 
palace. After the ceremony of pipes, coffee, and tea, 
we were ushered up stairs ; found the Sultan waiting 
in the room : had to hurry my colours, but had an 
excellent sitting of two hours, at the conclusion of 
which the Sultan made known to me that he desired 

^Ex. 5/>. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 355 

to have a copy of the picture, which I agreed to begin 
now, but to finish it in London. Made drawings of 
the sword and canopy ; brought home the picture. 

28th. Wrote to Lord Uxbridge, the Lord Chamber- 
lain, to ask for an extension of leave of absence for 
four months. 

29th. Painted in the head of the copy ordered by 
the Sultan. Had a call from Admiral Walker, with 
Captain Fanshawe and others : they appeared to like 
the portrait of the Sultan extremely. 

30th. Painted the hand and sword of the Sultan. 

My dear Sir, Constantinople, 30th Dec. 1840. 

Without any claim for this invasion upon your 
valuable time, other than being in this distant capital 
in presence of so many objects which your knowledge 
of life and materials for art would so enable you to 
appreciate and put upon record, you will yet perhaps 
excuse the few ideas I try to put together, wishing 
only that I had had your eyes to see, with your taste 
and judgment to select what were best to note down, 
and what most worthy to remember. 

But in the exchange of thought with such a friend 
as yourself, the first duty is condolence in that dispen- 
sation which has since we last met deprived us of our 
most esteemed, and, in many senses of the word, one 
of our greatest friends, by the death of Lord Holland ; 
being aware how long you have known his Lordship, 
I shall touch upon such a loss with caution and deli- 
cacy, were it not that to myself even, it is an inter- 

A A 2 

356 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

ruption of an acquaintance, since I was first introduced 
to his Lordship and his esteemed and noble Lady, of 
twenty -five years. The last time I saw his Lordship 
I was proud to be at the same table with those he 
most loved; you were present, with Mr. Moore; and 
never was he in better spirits, nor his conversation 
(always most delightful and most instructive) more 
brilliant. I feel anxious to know how Lady Holland 
is. I could not resist writing to her Ladyship : but 
what consolation could I suggest ? and how her Lady- 
ship is under the affliction, I can only ascertain 
through some such obliging friend as yourself. 

Could I see you in quiet, as in Brighton and in 
St. James's Place, and in a suitable .frame of mind for 
lighter subjects, what a deal the journey we have made 
would suggest for discussion ! Mr. William Wood- 
burn, who is with me, frequently speaks of you ; and 
your name was often mentioned, as we passed in re- 
view, at the Hague, Amsterdam, at Munich, and at 
Vienna, the richest stores of European art ; among 
which we saw in those places two great masters almost 
in their greatest triumphs Rubens and Rembrandt; 
and we scarcely know any one who could better judge 
of their splendours than yourself. As we passed from 
the Austrian to the Turkish frontier, works of art 
were no longer seen ; but, in lieu of them, man, and 
all that surrounds him, became at every step more 
according to the art of pictures. And here, in the 
city of Constantinople, once the seat, and long the 
preserver of art, though not a statue nor a picture, 
after all the search we have made, is to be found, yet 
all we look upon in form, colour, and in texture 

MT.55. SItt DAVID WILKIE. 357 

seem fashioned and disposed only as if it were 
made to be painted. There is a want of some- 
thing in the whole Turkish system as an object 
for painting (as perhaps it may also be for poetry), 
in which we Giaours cannot at all sympathise. No 
stranger can, without a firman of the Sultan, enter his 
Mahometan temple, and scarcely a friend or kinsman 
his harem or dwelling. The wife of his bosom cannot, 
by law or custom, claim his undivided affection; is 
shut up and watched, never eats with him, nor can 
she enjoy his society at home, or appear with him in 
public, either on business or amusement: even her 
liberty with her attendants to walk through the streets 
is under an incognito. She is screened by a head- 
dress, which conceals every beauty except that of eyes 
and nose, and in which she is not permitted to be 
recognised even by her husband. With all this, to 
judge of the working of the system, a longer and better 
acquaintance would perhaps show how these glaring 
infringements upon the rights of women are compen- 
sated: whether the Turk himself be not the most 
punished by the harshness of his rule, or whether the 
power and amiability of women may not so come 
round him as to confer happiness upon him, in spite 
of himself. 

As a subject for poetical narrative or description, you 
would find means of firing the imagination with the 
dimly seen form and sequence of events ; but to us, 
what is to be done in painting by the face that is not 
seen, or with the heroes and heroines that cannot with 
propriety be shown in the same picture ? 

AA 3 

358 THE LIFE OF 1840. 

May I beg to offer my most kind regards to Miss 
Rogers ? 

With high esteem, &c., 

D. W. 


Constantinople, 30th Dec. 1840. 

In my last letter to Thomas I mentioned hav- 
ing had two sittings of the Sultan ; a few days ago 
I had the fourth sitting. It was a day of deep snow. 
In the room where the picture was we found the Sul- 
tan already waiting, and I was greatly hurried to get 
my palette set, and brushes and easel in order. I went 
on so far as to finish entirely the head. The Sultan 
talked and laughed, and was most cheerful with 
young Pisani, the attache who accompanied me, who 
shows much tact and ability. The Sultan looked at 
times at what I was doing, and as he could not ex- 
plain to me in words, would take a brush with colour, 
and touch himself where he wanted an alteration. 
At last he said that, if I wanted it, he would sit again ; 
but I made Mr. Pisani explain that I had already tres- 
passed too much, and could now finish the picture in 
London. He then desired Pisani to say that he 
wished to have a copy of the picture for himself. I 
replied I should be most happy ; that I would begin 
the copy here and paint in the head if his Highness 
would grant me another sitting, but that I could only 
finish it in London, as I was now upon a journey. 
This he agreed to, and that I should send the copy 
from London. On this I left, brought home the pic- 

2Ex. 55. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 359 

ture, and have already begun the copy. All who have 
seen it think it very like, and very agreeably so. The 
Sultan has good eyes and mouth, about eighteen years 
old, and marked with the small pox. Every body 
seems to think it a handsome picture ; and we suppose 
he must be pleased with it himself. He is seated, and 
the picture is about the size I painted the Duke of 

I have made a drawing of Admiral Walker, in his 
Turkish dress, which every body thinks very like, and 
which I showed to the Sultan. We had a most merry 
Christmas at Mr. Cartwright's. 

I have written to Lord Uxbridge for an extension 
of leave, owing to our delay here, as the leave men- 
tioned extends only to the middle of February. 


JOURNAL, continued. 

Dec. 31st. Dined with the usual party. Dragoman of 
the Consul-General, &c. called for gifts on the last night 
of the year. Reminded our party of the dinner of 
the Old and New Council now held on the conclusion 
of the year. 

Jan. 1st, 1841. Had a call from Admiral Walker ; 
he goes to Alexandria to reclaim the Turkish fleet ; 
expects to have it given up at once. Had cards of 
congratulation sent from many of our friends on the 
coming of the new year ; we were also much gratified 
by a letter from his Excellency, Lord Ponsonby, 
expressive of his satisfaction in the assurance that 
the Sultan was highly pleased with the portrait I had 
made of his Highness. His Lordship encourages us 

A A 4 



in our news from Syria, and offers letters to the 
authorities most capable of forwarding our journey. 
He also states he had written to Lord Palmerston to 
say that I had been unavoidably delayed, but that he 
had encouraged me in prosecuting the journey. This, 
for a new year's arrival, has gratified me extremely. 
Lewis called, and encouraged me greatly with the 
prospects of the news from Syria. 

3d. Went with Mr. S. Pisani to the Palace. The 
Sultan seemed pleased with the beginning of the copy ; 
had an effective sitting. I thought it became more like 
than the first ; at close of sitting, a parcel was brought 
in and handed to Mr. Pisani, who held out to me a 
snuff-box, and said that it was presented to me by the 
Sultan, in testimony of his esteem. I was very much 
overcome with this. I knelt down before his High- 
ness, and requested Mr. Pisani to assure His Imperial 
Majesty how unexpected this was, and yet how highly 
gratified I felt by his munificence. I made draw- 
ings of the badge and collar, then came away with 
picture, colours, &c. Found that Mr. Pisani had also 
received a snuff-box from the Sultan. We agreed 
that the condescending kindness of his Highness 
should be mentioned first to Lord Ponsonby. 

4th. Wrote to Lord Ponsonby. Find one of my 
panels, that of the Turkish Cafe, split ; apprehend the 
same with the others. Woodburn says it can be re- 

5th. Called with Mr. Woodburn on Mrs. Walker ; 
found the Admiral had sailed yesterday for Alexan- 
dria. Presented to Mrs. Walker a copy of the draw- 
ing of the Admiral. 


6th. Started before 9 o'clock to Therapia, where we 
sent for a Jew doctor and got some medicine. Took 
the picture of the Sultan to Lord Ponsonby's. His 
Lordship and Lady Ponsonby thought it very like 
him, and seemed greatly pleased with the appearance 
of the work. The Prussian minister and his lady 
called and saw it ; remained more than an hour with 
his Lordship, who, with his lady, and the gentlemen 
of the embassy, seemed highly satisfied that the work 
had been done. Dined with Lord and Lady Pon- 
sonby: had much talk about the objects of our 

9th. Unwell : Dr. Dawson gave me some magnesia, 
which did good. Packed up portmanteau, colours, 
and pictures, to be ready for voyage to Smyrna. 

10th. Sent off letter, through the embassy,to the Ba- 
roness Lehzen, to state that 1 had painted the Sultan, 
that I might have the distinction of presenting the 
picture to my sovereign, Queen Victoria; stating also 
that the Sultan had ordered a copy. 

llth. Went to Redschid Pacha. He seemed pleased 
with the picture of the Sultan. Gave sitting for 
drawing of himself. On taking leave, told him I 
wanted to get to Syria, if the war would allow. He 
said the war would soon be over. 

12th. Having brought labours to a close, and got 
pictures packed up, took to-day our departure from 
Constantinople. I took two packing cases, one con- 
taining picture of the Sultan, and on the lid that of 
the Tartar ; the other case containing the copy of the 
Sultan, arid on the lid the Scribe ; and delivered them 
to Mr. Sarell to be sent to England, each case to go 

362 THE LITE OF 1841. 

by a separate ship. We took affectionate leave of the 
Signora Giuseppina, and the whole house. 


Constantinople, 12th Jan. 1841. 

I had a sitting eight days ago of the Sultan 
for the copy of his portrait, when his Majesty ex- 
pressed himself highly satisfied with it. 

Lord Ponsonby wrote to me the other day to say 
he was assured the Sultan was much pleased, and 
that he (Lord Ponsonby) had written to Lord Pal- 
merston to state, that my delay here was unavoid- 
able, and that he had encouraged me to remain to 
accomplish the object of my journey. At the last 
sitting the Sultan was graciously pleased to present 
me with a splendid snuff-box of gold, covered with 
enamel, with a flower of diamonds in high relief on 
the lid, one (a brilliant) of a large size. It is greatly 
admired. Mr. Pisani, who attended me, has also a 

Mr. Woodburn and I have been out by invitation 
to Lord Ponsonby's with the picture, where we had a 
most splendid dinner. The picture, I find, is a great 
favourite. I do not think I ever painted a portrait 
that has excited more attention. I have made a 
drawing also of Redschid Pacha. 

In this way we have tried to bring our residence 
here to a close, and are now packing up to go by the 
steamer to Smyrna. 

D. W. 


P. S. The picture of the Sultan I am now packing 
in one case, with the copy in another ; and on the lid 
of each case is screwed a picture I have also advanced 
here. One is a public Scribe (a Dervise) writing, or 
rather reading, a love-letter he has been employed to 
write for a young Turkish and Greek girl, who are 
listening to the contents : the other is a Tartar Mes- 
senger telling the news in a cafe of the taking of St. 
Jean d'Acre. This last has a variety of figures lis- 
tening a Turk, a Greek, an Armenian, and a Jew ; 
but has this disadvantage, that, as a Turkish subject, 
no female could be introduced. 

Dear Lady Mulgrave, Constantinople, 12th Jan. 1841. 

Although separated by distance, and the snow 
of winter, from those whose friendship makes so great 
a part of the attraction of home, I am yet happy, 
among the strange objects of this place, to recall the 
scenes, and with those scenes, the kind friends who, 
like your Ladyship and family, are identified with my 
first acquaintance with the happy patrician society of 
our favoured island. 

It is by comparison with the customs and friend- 
ships of our native land that we estimate, perhaps 
unfairly, those of the less advanced race that surround 
us here, forgetting that the Eastern people were earlier 
in the advance of civilisation than we, and though now 
far behind, supplied much of that from which our 
civilisation has sprung. They are seen now, however, 

364 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

with this advantage, that they are friends and allies 
of our nation, waging the same warfare, sharing in 
the same victories, and though unlike in every habit, 
yet, with our co-operation, renewing the triumphs of 
their happier days. 

Yet our excellent allies are a reserved and exclusive 
people, and it is said regard the conquest of Syria 
rather as the vindication of a just cause, than as a 
support of the faith to which they are devoted ; and 
with all their hostility to the rebellious Pacha of 
Egypt, are grieved that St. Jean d'Acre should have 
fallen in three hours, which, if assailed only by the 
faithful, might have held out for as many months. 

They are, however, in national policy, a brave and 
a generous people, true to their word, and mindful of 
service rendered. It is in the arts of peace and 
domestic habits they are most opposed to our precon- 
ceived feelings. The mosque of their devotion cannot 
be entered by a stranger, except with a firman of the 
Sultan, and their domestic dwelling is shut even 
against the nearest male relatives and friends. But it 
is in the condition of the ladies their system appears 
to the greatest disadvantage: they appear excluded 
from all intercourse with the world; at home, their 
windows are guarded by a closed lattice work, through 
which no one can see, either from within or from 
without ; many, they say, are distinguished for beauty 
and for the splendour of the jewels and dresses they 
wear, but when they walk the streets it is in a species 
of covering, through which neither beauty nor dress 
can be seen, and in which they are not permitted to 
be recognised even by their own husbands ; indeed 


they never can be seen out of doors with their 
husbands either upon business or amusement. 

It is yet possible the influence and amiability of 
women may overcome all the trials to which they are 
here exposed. The attachment of their children, 
should these rise to eminence, is a means of power, in 
which way the mother of the present Sultan is said 
to be one of the most influential persons in the state ; 
but whatever power such a personage, or a favourite 
Sultana may possess, there is here no such assemblage 
as we call a court none of their own ladies can 
have been seen at court ; and though there is the 
anomaly of English and other Frank ladies being 
presented to the Sultan, it seems a,n honour never 
desired nor accorded to their own people. 

The customs, strange as they are here, have this, 
that they have continued from an earlier time than 
our own ; that of being seated on the ground must 
have preceded our stately mode of sitting upon chairs, 
and eating with the fingers, our improved use of 
knives and forks. In the anteroom of ministers of 
state, you find official persons settling important affairs 
seated on the floor, and others upon divans, who are 
served with long pipes and coffee until the moment 
of audience is announced. The privileged jester is, 
I am told, still a personage retained in the great 
houses, and I myself have seen a mute (a deaf and 
dumb person) as the domestic of a secretary of state, 
a useful attendant even now at interviews where 
nothing must be heard, and no tales repeated; but 
the presence of the mute to the lovers of romance, 
recalls some of those dire periods of Eastern history, 

366 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

when, by his want of speech, he was chosen as the fit 
instrument to execute decrees too dark to be trusted 
to any one who had a tongue to divulge them. 

For the capital of Turkey this is a stirring time ; 
a whole kingdom (once that of Solomon in all his 
glory) acquired; a whole navy restored, makes this a 
great era for these Ottomans, and for us Europeans 
who have assisted them. Never had a young Queen 
of England a more romantic detail of glories achieved 
by her people, than our Queen Victoria will have to 
give to her Parliament now about to assemble. We 
travellers and strangers here feel most grateful, both 
to her Majesty, and to those distinguished advisers 
who have counselled her Majesty in these affairs. 
Your Ladyship's very devoted Servant, 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Jan. 13th. This morning got up as we were leaving 
the Sea of Marmora to enter the Dardanelles ; found 
the coast all barren and desolate ; was shown the place 
in the Hellespont where Lord Byron swam across, 
slanting with the current from the European to the 
Asiatic side ; but in his transit, it is stated the noble 
poet was accompanied by a boat, whicji, if it takes 
away a little of the adventurous character of the 
effort, yet gives a little of that discretion his Lord- 
ship rather boasted of as being beneath his consider- 
ation. Saw the tower of Dardanelles, with the battery, 
and passed on till we came to the site of Troy, a 
miserable place. There was here a jetty of earth into 
the sea, that may have anciently been a landing-place ; 


near it was a mound or cairn, and about a mile off 
was another ; the first called the tomb of Hector, the 
second that of Achilles. There was no vestige of city 
or inhabitants; still there were studded about a 
number of bushes, indicating where cultivation once 
had been. "We proceeded on, till we came to Mitylerie, 
when the wind began to rise, and continued through- 
out the evening, when we had to land passengers at 
the town of Mitylene about nine at night, after which 
the wind continued strong and adverse ; we were 
several hours delayed, and did not reach Smyrna till 
seven o'clock on the 14th. 


Smyrna, 15th Jan. 1841. 

On Tuesday the 12th our numerous packages 
were ready, and having taken leave of Mr. Cartwright 
and Dr. Davy, and of the Signora Giuseppina, who 
was almost affected to tears at parting, and of her 
Greek servants, we sallied forth through Pera and 
Galata with four heavy-loaded faquinos, for the 
Smyrna steam-boat. Here we had to take leave of 
our dragoman, Gregoria, who for more than three 
months has attended us as interpreter, and who had 
gone with me to all the sittings at the Palace, and 
every journey or shopping we had made, and which 
we concluded by giving him written certificates of 
recommendation for future employers. 

On thus settling all in this great city, we started at 
half past four, and by help of steam soon turned the 
Seraglio point, and both wind, current, and fine 

368 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

weather serving, stretched out into the Sea of Mar- 
mora, and had at parting (lighted by the setting sun) 
a most splendid view of Constantinople, with all her 
mosques, minarets, palaces and towers all fair as 
city can be at a distance, and containing many kind 
friends ; but who could suppose the rubbishy confu- 
sion and wretchedness of her streets, concealed under 
so fair an exterior? Our host, Captain Florio of the 
Ferdinand, received us most heartily. His deck was 
crowded to excess with Turks, Armenians, and Jews ; 
but we two, with the captain, were the only cabin 
passengers. At six o'clock dinner was served in a 
handsome style ; and as we got merry with our sea- 
faring companion, I was persuaded to forget all ideas 
of being sick, and to eat and drink with them. In 
this way the time passed most agreeably ; Woodburn 
and I sat on each side of a cheerful coal fire the whole 
evening, thinking only on the delights of steam navi- 
gation. Next morning we passed the Hellespont 
where Lord Byron swam across; then the poetic 
mount Ida covered with snow, with the plains of 
Troy close to the shore, leaving room to wonder that 
all trace of what history and Homer have handed 
down to us should so completely have disappeared 
from this dreary waste. At the island of Mitylene 
the wind rose greatly, and became most adverse ; 
the darkness and rain of the night which followed, 
delayed us about six or eight hours behind our time 
in getting to Smyrna. 

What surprised me through all this was, that, 
though in rough weather, I got on in the voyage with- 
out being sick. It is true that these are but narrow 


seas, but still it is possible, with fine weather, that I 
may get over a long voyage better than I expected. 
At seven in the morning, Thursday, 14th January, 
we anchored in the Gulf of Smyrna. We proceeded 
to a little Dutch-looking hotel, called the Naval Hotel, 
which, though inferior as a dwelling to the Pension 
Suisse higher up, we were assured would afford us 
more civility and comfort. One thing apparent here 
more than at Constantinople, is the prevalence of 
English people, of English furniture, English ap- 
pointments of the table, chimneys, and Newcastle 

In regard to our voyage to Syria, the great causes 
of delay have been, first, the war, and then the back- 
wardness of the Eastern authorities to bring it to a 
close. To the Turks the successes in Syria have been 
most unexpected; at the same time so elated have 
they been by them, as to fancy that Mehemet Ali 
could and ought to be crushed altogether. Some 
friends connected with the Turkish government we 
found perfectly frantic on this head; and it is only 
the news of the more moderated feeling in England 
that has made them more reasonable. Now we wait 
with anxiety the result of the mission of Admiral 
Walker, who indeed was to try and inform us whether 
we could not at once go to Alexandria. 

D. W. 


370 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Jan. 16th. To-day and last night felt unwell; and 
having taken a foot-bath, kept within doors. Find- 
ing Dr. Wood recommended, sent for him. He gave 
me medicines for cold, but seemed to apprehend much 
inconvenience from the state of my eyes. I told him 
they had been absurdly neglected. He sent several 
things to be used with much precision. 

Sunday, 17th. Consul sent to say that church 
service would be held at Consulate at half-past ten. 
Could not go. Weather fine, but chilly. Dr. Wood 
called again, and afterwards came back and lanced 
an abscess in my gum, which gave much relief. 

18th. Obliged to keep in all day with cold, which 
is, however, abating. Eyes felt better towards night. 

19th. Dr. Wood called ; cold abating, and eyes, 
for the first time, feel better, having been ill for three 
months. Dined with the British Consul met Mr. 
Whittall, Mr. Abbott, Mr. Perkins, and other friends. 
Passed a pleasant evening. 


Smyrna, 20th Jan. 1841. 

We find here no direct communication with 
Syria, and are therefore looking about, in hopes some 
steamer may pass that may be on its way thither, or 
that may take us to some port whence we could find 
a conveyance. The weather here has been fine, but 


cold all but frost ; but it gets milder, and the 
season is on the advance. 

Smyrna is the first city we have reached on our 
journey that is mentioned in Scripture in conjunc- 
tion with Ephesus, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis, Phila- 
delphia, and Laodicea. We may therefore be said to 
have reached the outskirts of the Holy Land. We 
find a part of this city more European than Constan- 
tinople; while the quarters of the Turks, Armenians, 
and Jews, are, in other respects, more eastern and 
Asiatic than the capital. 

Your letter in regard to all that is doing is most 
satisfactory. Mr. Moon's activity about the engraving 
of the Sir David Baird I may mention is particularly 
so, and relieves my mind from much anxiety on that 
subject, knowing his judgment in matters of this 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Jan. 20th, 1841. Mr. Moon has obtained permis- 
sion of the East India Company to dedicate the print 
of Sir David Baird to the Court of Directors, with 
subscription for forty copies. Prospectus by Allan 
Cunningham, very fairly done. Collins gives account 
of what the Royal Academy and the artists are doing. 
Election of Barry, Redgrave, and Webster. 

21st. Mr. James Whittall called walked with us to 
the river Meles, said to be the native river of Homer. 
Saw a mill on the river of most ancient and curious 
construction; the water-wheel was horizontal, and 

B B 2 

372 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

close under the millstone, to which it is connected by 
the same axis. Saw the same kind of mill in Conne- 
mara, in Ireland. Made sketch of the Caravan Bridge. 
Had a most interesting walk home. 

22d. After making a drawing of an Armenian 
broker in his costume, was taken by Mr. James Whittall 
to call on Mr. Borrell to see his collection of gems, 
bronzes, &c. Among others, saw a small group in 
marble, or alabaster, said to have been found in the 
ruins of a Christian church in Cyprus, destroyed as 
early as the 5th or 6th century, therefore an earlier 
work than that time : it represented Christ crowned 
with thorns by Koman soldiers, who are mocking and 
deriding. It is not in a fine style of sculpture, but 
done with much feeling and expression ; and if of the 
early period stated, is, for the likeness and figure of 
Christ, and for the costume and armour of the sol- 
diers, one of the most curious relics of art that can 
any where be seen. The hands putting on the thorns 
are represented with gauntlets upon them. It would 
be curious if any such sculpture can be found re- 
maining in the Holy Land. Mr. Borrell showed us 
one or two beautiful antique coins ; the relief always 
high, but remarkable for the softness and delicacy of 

23d. Went with Mr. Whittall in a boat to the 
head of the Gulf of Smyrna ; then walked about two 
miles ; then mounted donkeys, on which we reached 
the village of Bonobat. Found it a beautiful speci- 
men of a Turkish village. Went to see a corn-mill, 
with horizontal water-wheel ; came to the magnificent 
villa of Mr. Whittall; greatly pleased with it; had 

^E-r. 56. SIR DAVID WILK1E. 373 

lunch in superb style. After this two camels were 
brought ; made drawing of them and the man who 
brought them * ; afterwards returned with Mr. Whit- 
tall to Smyrna. Saw Mrs. Whittall at the villa, whom 
we left there. There is scarcely any object more 
striking on arriving in this city of Asia Minor than 
the use made to so great an extent of camels for the 
transport of merchandise. Their appearance is most 
poetic and picturesque, recalling the weary journey 
over the arid hill and sandy wilderness : they seem 
very docile, but when out of temper are furious in 
their resentment, either in biting with their teeth, or 
giving a blow with their foot. Their value is said to 
be from about 3/. to 15/. sterling ; their pace is a con- 
tinued walk, three miles an hour; but at this pace they 
can make most lengthened journeys, even to thirty 
days. They eat but little and of most ordinary food, 
and are well known to go long without drink ; but 
this quality is not put to the test here, as water is to 
be found on every road. Their resemblance to the 
ostrich and the turkey is remarkable, and is even more 
apparent when they drink, when they turn up their 
heads and look up in the air precisely like a fowl. 

25th. Observed in the newspaper the death of 
Mr. Standish, who had commissioned me to paint The 

26th. Called on Mr. Borrell with his group, which 
I had made a drawing of. 

27th. Called on Mr. Whittall. Mr. James and his 
dragoman went with us to the bazaar. Made draw- 

* No. 16. of Sir David Wilkie's Oriental Sketches, published by Graves 
and Warmsley. 

BB 3 

374 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

ing of Abram, and also copy for himself; made a 
drawing of a Jew Boy. 

28th. Made a drawing of a Child of Mr. James 
Whittall, and Nurse. 

29th. Made drawing besides that already begun of 
Mr. James WhittalTs little Boy in Turkish dress for 

30th. Observed about the bureau of the steamer 
a number of persons of remarkable appearance. These 
were grave and elderly individuals in robes and long 
beards, belonging to the scattered remnant of Israel, 
come from the distant parts of Germany and Poland 
on their way to the land of their forefathers, and 
who we were told were to be our fellow-passengers. 
This is the first symptom that our journey is more 
than a mere travelling excursion ; but though made 
with a different aim, is yet made with those who, from 
age, pursuit, and family descent, give to this way- 
faring progress the most sacred character. They have 
but a part of the interest that we have, but have reason 
to feel it more intensely; they return from a land 
of strangers to their ancient home, and, like their 
ancestors, from bondage and captivity, return to the 
same land of promise which, in happier times, was the 
possession and portion of the chosen race. We again, 
who make the same pilgrimage, do not attach so 
much importance to time and place, except in their 
power of fixing the attention upon higher objects, 
yet we cannot help being struck with the feeling of 
attachment, which, under many circumstances of 
privation, makes so distant a country, and a glory 
departed, so eager an object of contemplation. The 

yEx. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 375 

question, then, is, whether an interest, both with Jew 
and Gentile, so deep-rooted and so universal, may 
not be helped by the faculties of art being pressed 
into the service ; and while the pursuits of learning 
and of war have, in former times, been so familiar 
with the sacred land, it seems but reasonable that 
the powers of art should try, from the localities now 
existing, to revive indeed the impression of those 
events that have, in so lively a manner, been handed 
down to us from former ages. In such a study and 
aim as may be thus presented to art, one thing the 
visiters to these regions will observe, that hill, and 
dale, and sky, sea and atmosphere, are even more 
similar to that of our northern climes than we expect ; 
and for the purpose of removing the mind from the 
quaint familiarity of our every-day appearances, an 
art must be resorted to, that whatever difference 
is to be seen in these objects must be seized and even 
forced into stronger effect, to serve the purpose of 
removal from what is common, that distance in place 
and antiquity in regard to the time of these events 
may be attained. But while so many of the localities 
disappoint, from their similarity to our recollections 
of home, there are multitudes of habits and appear- 
ances these Asiatic countries afford, that with the 
same taste and discretion must be subdued. It would 
require a good deal of reasoning to reconcile this sort 
of contradiction ; but that all works of art, as of poetry, 
however universal the language may be in which 
they are embodied, are yet only understood by people 
of previously-conceived notions making use of that 
language ; a disregard, therefore, of this might render 

B B 4 

376 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

the whole matter to be represented quite unintelli- 
gible. In Scripture we read often of a party when 
they sat at meat; now, as it is not explained how 
they sat at meat, we of the western countries natu- 
rally suppose they sat at meat as we do, at a table, 
and upon chairs. In seeing the customs, however, of 
these districts, we find this, to our disappointment, 
entirely different . When the Asiatics sit at meat, it is 
either upon the ground, or upon very low seats, and 
the table is a board placed upon a low stool. To 
introduce this at once in sacred subjects would scarcely 
be possible, perhaps better not introduce it at all, if 
the imposing character of the picture should be 
diminished by it. This is, however, one of those 
examples, of which there may be hundreds, to show 
that it is not the actual custom we now see that will 
help us, but that a change must be made, not only 
to suit our previous ideas, but to remove a sacred 
or historical subject to a former time; and it is, 
by witnessing the present appearance, to consider 
what will serve, and what will not serve, that this 
journey has been undertaken, and that professors of 
art are thus recommended to direct their attention to 
the important objects of information a visit to this 
Holy Land may present. Smyrna, laying claim 
to being the birth-place of Homer, with the Meles 
hard by, said to be his native river, being at all 
times an important Greek city and harbour, with 
a castle built by Alexander, and possessing one 
of the earliest Christian churches, thus the seat of 
poetry, of art, of war, of devotion, yet in this 
time of ever-increasing wealth, seems to retain no ves- 


tige of that art which, like other Greek cities, it must 
have once possessed. It is greater in its commerce and 
its population than ever it was, but, like Constanti- 
nople, without art, and without artists. May the 
enigma not be explained in this way, that without liv- 
ing art and living artists how can the relish for ancient 
art be kept alive? Is not the art of former times 
most prized in those cities where the practice of art 
is most active in the invention of new examples? 
Every successful work in painting, in sculpture, or in 
poetry, must necessarily be brought into comparison 
with some former ancient work. 


Smyrna, 30th Jan. 1841. 

A young friend informed me here, the other 
day, that he had just seen the death of Mrs. Woodburn 
of Hendon, announced in Galignani, and asked if she 
was a relative of Mr. Woodburri. This, you may 
suppose, gave me much uneasiness. Next day I con- 
sulted with Mr. Abbott the banker, who sent for the 
paper, and agreed to come with me and speak to Mr. 
Woodburn. We asked his mother's name, and finding 
it agreed with that mentioned, announced the me- 
lancholy intelligence, and showed him the paper. It 
seemed to depress him much, though he said it did 
not surprise him, as his last letter from his brother 
led him but too truly to expect such an event. 

I have thought it proper to keep Mr. Woodburn's 
attention fixed upon what we see around us ; and as 
we have just heard that a steamer will pass this way 

378 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

from Constantinople, for Ehodes, Cyprus, and Beyrout, 
lie seems gratified at so near an approach to the Holy 
Land. We have been reading books, and purchasing 
objects useful for a journey in that country ; and by 
the 30th hope to be off from this place. 

We have been most kindly and hospitably enter- 
tained here. We have dined twice, with superb par- 
ties, at Mr. Brandt's, the British consul here ; also 
with Mr. Abbott, the banker; and with Charlton 
Whittall, Esq., and his family. 


JOURNAL, continued. 

Jan. 31st. Went to church ; at four we dined. Went 
on board : the sea was very rough, but towards evening 
the weather grew milder, and promised to be most 
favourable for our voyage. Found on board upon 
deck numerous Jews, giving to this part of our jour- 
ney a new interest, reminding us of the land we are 
going to visit; and should they not furnish us in- 
formation, will, at least, by their company, give a 
kindred feeling of zeal to us, who are bent on the 
same adventurous journey as themselves. 

Feb. 1st. Found, on awaking, the steamer had got 
out of the Gulf of Smyrna, and was pursuing her 
course to the south among the Greek islands : passed 
Scio, and Samos, and Nicaria. A most promiscuous 
assemblage upon deck, men, women, and children ; 
many from the north, yet of strong Hebrew caste ; 
many again seem Asiatic, perhaps also pilgrims, and 
if so, on their way to Mecca. Among the latter, a con- 
siderable party, including a Bey seated amongst them, 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 379 

were most eagerly playing at cards, and, for their 
condition, at pretty high play. 

2d. Was awakened by hearing we were approach- 
ing Rhodes, and about 8 o'clock entered the harbour : 
were greatly pleased with the rocky situation and 
strong massive buildings of this chivalrous city and 
fortress. Landed, and walked to the British consul's 
(Mr. Wilkinson) house, outside the walls; sat with 
him and his family some time; returned by upper 
part of the city; greatly struck with the triple walls 
and fosses, built with more than European strength ; 
streets clean, and well-paved; strong stone-built 
houses, with many knights' coats of arms on the 
walls, the whole bearing a strong contrast to any city 
we have seen since we entered the confines of Turkey. 
Were shown a small ha,rbour, at the entrance of 
which, tradition says, close to a fort, was placed the 
famous Colossus ; and if upon pedestals approaching 
one another, has every appearance of being its station, 
where, each foot being fixed upon opposite sides of 
the harbour, several of the small ships would sail 
in and out between the separated legs of the figure. 
This remarkable statue, so renowned among the an- 
cients, has been so long destroyed that there is no 
tradition of any vestige being preserved within the 
range of modern times. 

3d. Delayed by the steamer's taking in coals until 
2 o'clock : looked again at where the Colossus is said 
to have stood; saw two points where it may have 
been placed, with face looking to the south-east, which, 
considering that it was in the time when navigation 
was on a small scale, makes the whole most probable 

380 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

as an historical event. Sailed at 2, and at 5 reached 
Marmorice, a most splendid harbour and roadstead. 
Was greatly struck with the appearance of the line of 
battle ships and frigates of the combined fleet of the 
Allies. Sent a note of congratulation to Admiral 
Walker, who has just arrived with the Turkish fleet 
from Alexandria : received a verbal answer from the 
Admiral, requesting us to come and see him. 

4th. This morning took boat, went to Admiral 
Walker's ship: found he had gone to call for us; 
came back. After breakfast, found the Admiral in his 
boat alongside; he said he was glad to see us on 
our journey, and had no doubt we could now accom- 
plish it. He had left Mehemet Ali in high spirits, and 
willing to give up the fleet. He said Mr. Wood would 
assist us much at Beyrout, and requested us to use 
his name. He then drew off and left us. The cap- 
tain heaved anchor ; and as we passed the Turkish 
Admiral's ship found all the men looking out for us, 
and the band playing one of Strauss's waltzes. The 
Admiral waved his hand to us, as wishing success to 
our journey. 

6th. This morning, at my request, awakened by 
the mate at 2 o'clock, to see an eclipse of the moon : 
it was then beginning, and went on gradually till it 
covered the whole surface of the moon, which remained 
totally eclipsed for more than an hour, and it was not 
till near 5 o'clock that it was over. The striking 
peculiarity was this, that while totally eclipsed and in 
shadow, the moon was still most distinct and visible. 
It was of a beautiful orange colour, with even the 
spots on its surface remaining perceptible. The edge 

1&T.56. SIB DAVID WILKIE. 381 

coming against the sky was generally lighter than the 
centre, which came out dark in full relief. In the 
progress of this long- continued immersion, the change 
that was going on in the shadow was this : the shadow 
of the earth appeared about three times the diameter 
of the moon in its progress through : thus it was ob- 
served, that the side of the moon nearest the edge of 
the shadow had, towards that edge, the greatest mass 
of reflected light upon it. It was one of the most re- 
markable sights I ever saw. 

8th. Was called by the mate to come on deck at 
^ past 6 o'clock : dressed in haste, and, on mounting 
the cabin stairs, found the Holy Land in sight, ex- 
tended right and left, far and wide, with Mount Le- 
banon and its extended range right ahead. What 
added yet more to the splendour and cheering aspect 
of the sacred district was, that the sun, which I can 
scarcely remember to have seen rise but once before, 
was just beginning to dart his rays, and mount his 
glorious orb over the southern summit of the hallowed 
mountain I hope a happy omen to all on board of 
a successful journey. 

On deck all was stir and preparation : the various 
aged persons of the chosen people were decorating 
themselves with the sacerdotal robes of the sacred 
office, and though tranquil, were yet apparently deeply 
moved. Some with the Bible in hand, with a black 
strap twisted round their naked left arm, and with a 
small ark or tabernacle tied round their brow, were, 
with an oscillating movement of the head, repeating 
some appropriate prayers or thanksgiving upon the 
near accomplishment of the object of their voyage. 

382 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

Their appearance, though they were meanly dressed, 
was imposing in the extreme. I observed they looked 
not exactly in the direction of Lebanon, to which the 
head and course of the ship was pointed, but their 
faces were turned far along the coast of Sidon and 
Tyre to the right, leaving little doubt that, in me- 
mory of the consecration of Solomon upon the build- 
ing of the Temple, they were, upon the present, as 
upon so many other occasions, bending their hopes 
and desires upon the holy hill of Zion. 

Beyrout, 9th. Much impressed with the appear- 
ance of the town. Buildings substantial, and ground 
and people more historic than any we have yet seen. 


Beyrout, 9th Feb. 1841. 

Your most kind letter of the 6th of November did 
not reach me till the 20th of January, after my arrival 
at Smyrna ; but after this delay, and at this distance, I 
was yet much gratified, by being brought in presence 
of many recollections of home, by the vivid impres- 
sion you give me of one so dear to you, to whom I 
and all around me looked with so much affectionate 
regard. Your accounts of the state this unexpected 
bereavement has left you in give a forcible idea of 
the happiness her attachment has conferred : it seems 
a severe reflection, to think this is all gone ; but the 
memory of a joy departed, however poignant, may 
yet, in your case, by degrees, be soothed by the com- 
panionship of those your young charges she has left 
behind, in the care and watchfulness over whom so 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 383 

much of her happiness with your own was con- 

Perhaps it is the facility of travelling has suggested 
the distant voyage my companion and I are now en- 
gaged in ; but that the very country and cities we 
wished to visit were, since we started, to become the 
theatre of war, is what we scarcely could have 
counted on : this has retarded us three months ; still 
a war, by which Great Britain has gained so high a 
character, now that it appears so happily terminated, 
is not to be regretted by any of her Majesty's loyal 

Now that we have entered the Levant, a new class 
of objects present themselves, that seem to leave the 
business and occupations of Europe far behind. We 
have passed Smyrna and Ephesus, where were two of 
the seven churches founded by St. John ; we have 
also passed the rocky island of Patmos, where that 
evangelist, in his old age and in exile, saw and de- 
scribed his vision of the Apocalypse, and probably 
wrote his Gospel, the iron-bound coast and elevated 
cliifs being in every way suited to such an effort of 
the workings of Revelation. 

The island of Rhodes we have also passed; the 
famed Colossus is gone, leaving only a vague tradition 
of its extended footing across the entrance of a small 
harbour, where it is possible it may have been placed. 
The Christian knights who once possessed Rhodes 
have, on the contrary, left strong indications of their 
presence : the vast walls and fosses, drawbridges, 
gates, and towers, with stone-built churches and 

384 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

streets, give it, after 300 years, all the strength and 
durability of a European fortress. 

Leaving Rhodes, we were in three hours brought 
in sight of a scene most striking, as a consequence 
of the happy termination of the Syrian war. Our 
steamer put into the Gulf of Marmorice, a romantic 
recess in the mountainous coast of Pamphilia, pre- 
cisely as if Loch Katrine and the Trosachs were 
united by a small strait with the sea : it is a harbour 
capable of containing all the navies of Europe, but 
which never before contained such an assemblage as 
we now witnessed the combined fleets of Great 
Britain and Austria, with the addition, just arrived, 
of a splendid trophy of the late war the very golden 
fleece of victory eighteen sail of the Turkish fleet, 
just brought back from Alexandria ! ! 

Perhaps I only tire you by recounting the events of 
such a voyage ; but as we now advanced towards the 
East, new expectation was raised by our approach to 
the sacred land. We stopped a day at the island of 
Cyprus, but were now all eagerness, being within 
fifteen hours' sail of Beyrout. We sailed again to- 
wards evening; weather fine, sea smooth, bright 
moonlight ; but all wishing for the day -break, to bring 
us in sight of the great object of our journey. At 
half past six I was awoke by the cry of " Land ! " On 
getting on deck, found the sacred territory extended 
right and left, with Mount Lebanon and its snowy 
summit right a-head, the sun just rising, and darting 
its rays from behind it. The sensation such an object 
called forth was remarkable. Our ship was crowded 

JT. 56. Sill DAVID WILKIE. 385 

with Jews from Poland and Germany in pilgrimage to 
the land of their forefathers. 

D. W. 


Holy Land. Beyrout, 10th Feb. 1841. 

We found Smyrna, in point of society, most 
agreeable. We were hospitably entertained, and every 
one seemed desirous to help us in the object of 
our journey. Here, however, the weather broke up 
in a severe manner, with storms of hail and rain for 
three or four days, to a degree I had never seen 
before, giving a forcible idea of what we have heard 
of tropical rains. 

We had to wait at Smyrna more than a fortnight 
for a conveyance; and when the Austrian steamer did 
arrive, we were delayed another day with the torrents 
of rain. At last, on the evening of the 31st, we set sail, 
with every symptom of improving weather, and in a 
vessel, though crowded upon deck, yet in the captain's 
cabin the most comfortable we have yet seen. With 
me the great object was, of course, to avoid sea-sick* 
ness. I began by eating little ; but the weather con- 
tinuing fine, I found, to my surprise, that I could get 
on like other people, and enjoy it like a new style of 
life; the islands we passed, with the modes of life 
and the beauties of the climate, being of the most 
interesting kind. Of course we were attracted with 
the island or rock of Patmos, where St. John in exile 
wrote the Kevelations. 

From Rhodes, where we had to wait for thirty 

VOL. in. c c 

386 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

hours to take in a complete supply of Newcastle coal, 
we had next to call in the gulf or harbour of Mar- 
morice. Here was a sight the most striking that 
could be conceived. In a recess of the range of hills, 
completely land-locked, like Inverary, is a roadstead 
large enough, in still water, to contain all the navies 
of Europe. This is Marmorice, lately so celebrated. 
Here, as we entered by moonlight, we found, quietly 
anchored, the combined fleets of England and Austria. 
The great three-deckers were lighted, and we heard 
the band of one playing " God save the Queen." But 
what added greatly to the interest of the scene was 
the arrival of eighteen of the Turkish fleet from Alex- 
andria, just brought over from Mehemet Ali by our 
friend Admiral Walker. Knowing this, I had written 
a note to send to the Admiral's ship ; but, as the Turk- 
ish fleet was then in quarantine, we were not allowed 
to go on board. Next morning the Admiral came 
alongside of the steamer in his long-boat of sixteen 
oars. He wore his Turkish uniform and sabre. He 
said how hard it was he could not touch or shake 
hands with us, but how glad he was to see us on our 
way to Syria, where he was sure we should meet no 
obstacle to our journey. That he had seen Mehemet 
Ali, who was in great glee, and had given up the fleet 
without reserve. He took leave of us in the kindest 
manner, and his boat drew off. Our captain next 
weighed anchor, to leave this romantic and magni- 
ficent harbour. As we passed through the fleet, our 
course lay close by the Turkish admiral's great three- 
decker. We found the whole crew looking out, while 
the band was playing one of Strauss's waltzes. As 

JEx. 56. SIR DAVID W1LKIE. 387 

we passed the officers' cabins, we observed Admiral 
Walker waving his handkerchief to us, in token of his 
good wishes for our journey. 

We next proceeded by a voyage of forty-eight 
hours to the port of Larneca, in the Island of Cyprus. 
But before we reached the place we were called on 
deck to witness the eclipse of the moon. We saw it 
most beautifully ; and being a total eclipse, it was one 
of the most remarkable sights I ever saw. At Larnaca 
our ship was declared to be in quarantine, from hav- 
ing touched at Rhodes and Marmorice. This gave 
us much uneasiness about our reception at Beyrout ; 
but on our arrival here, by Mr. Woodburn's writing 
to the American consul, and by my writing to Mr. 
Moore, the British consul, the captain at the same 
time undertaking to stir up his own Austrian consul, 
our battery of interest had the effect we wanted. 
The consuls took the responsibility upon themselves, 
and gave an order to the quarantine officers to let us 

On getting on shore we were impressed with a 
scene and a people greatly different from any thing 
we had yet seen. The Arab character prevails. The 
streets were crowded and narrow, but most varied in 
the dresses of the inhabitants. The houses of stone, 
massive, and lofty, recalling at times some of the 
steep lanes in the old town of Edinburgh. The dis- 
trict around is very fine mountainous to the very 
shore. The town is surrounded by numerous houses 
in gardens, and even the hills are thickly peopled by 
the producers of silk. But what adds greatly to the 
splendour and interest of the view is, that the rugged 

c c 2 

388 THE LIFE OF 184L 

hills are crowned by the more distant and more lofty 
range of Mount Lebanon, forty miles distant. The 
great mass of its extended summit covered with snow 
makes it rise into the heavens with the most imposing 

Since we left Smyrna the weather has been remark- 
ably fine, mild, and beautiful, like the summer in 
England, and, though too early to be yet settled, has 
added extremely to the agreeableness of our journey, 
and to the favourable impression of our first entrance 
into the Holy Land. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Feb. llth. Made drawing of the janizary of Mr. 
Moore. Made drawing of Mount Lebanon. 

12th. Made drawing of handsome girl, daughter of 
the janizary. Mr. Moore called. Began drawing of 
Mrs. Moore in a Bedouin dress.* 

15th. Went on with drawing of The Janizary. 
Went to make drawing of Mrs. Moore; completed 
both drawings; Greek lady and two French gentle- 
men present. Much discussion which to prefer ; at 
last Mr. Moore chose the one on white paper ; left it ; 
and brought home the one on coloured paper. This 
being the 15th of February, makes it six months 
since I left Kensington. 

16th. Walked with Mr. Watson to see the ruin 
supposed to be the site of the combat between St. 
George and the Dragon. 

* Sold in the Wilkie Sale for 37/. 16s., and engraved as No. 13. of the 
Oriental Sketches. 

. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 389 


Beyrout, 17th Feb. 1841. 

On landing here, we were met by the janizary 
of Mr. Niven Moore, the British consul, in his rich 
uniform, who had been sent to conduct us, with our 
luggage, to an hotel. The hotel was somewhat un- 
couth ; but finding each a room, we have contrived to 
make ourselves comfortable. We called on the consul 
with my letter he was most obliging. He had 
with him Captain Elliot of the Hazard (son of Lord 
^Minto), who at once offered us a passage in his ship 
to Jaffa, if we could be ready next morning. This 
we could not be, and declined it ; but if we had known 
that he was to wait for two days more (which he did), 
We would have made every effort to sail with him. 
This has led to our detention here longer than a 
week, waiting for a passage; but having numerous 
letters, we have been handsomely welcomed by many 
friends: by Mr. Chasse, the American consul; and by 
Mr. Black, and by Mr. Watson, of the house of Lan- 
caster, Watson, and Co., agents for Messrs. Coutts ; 
by Mr. Helby, and also by the American missionaries ; 
so that the time has passed pleasantly enough. 

One letter I was desirous of presenting was to Mr. 
T. Young, the British consul at Jerusalem, whom I 
found here. He was at a house out of town, where 
we saw him with Mrs. Young, a handsome, excellent 
person. They gave us much information, and are to 
assist us in every way in the holy city. 

We dined on board the line-of-battle ship Benbow, 
c c 3 

390 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

by the invitation of Captain Hall. We were most 
handsomely entertained at their mess all English, 
and every article, except the meat, supplied from 

We have been much pleased with Mrs. Moore, the 
consul's lady, who is very handsome. Mr. Moore 
wished me to engage to paint a portrait of her for him. 
This I could not do, but told him that if she had a 
native dress, I would be happy to make two drawings 
of her one for myself, as well as one for him. Ac- 
cordingly, two drawings have been made of her, in 
the dress of a Bedouin lady ; both are so much liked, 
that they scarcely know which to retain. Mrs. Moore 
and family lived on board Commodore Napier's ship 
during the bombardment of Beyrout. Many of the 
houses have been battered to pieces by shells and shot, 
and bricklayers and carpenters are now busy with re- 
parations and rebuildings. 

D. W. 


Beyrout, 20th Feb. 1841. 

We have been here twelve days, waiting with 
much impatience for a chance to Acre or Jaffa; and 
in that time have even lost one or two chances that 
would have served, partly through fastidiousness, and 
partly through the conviviality of friends. We have 
now, however, the prospect of a passage by a Corsican 
brig along the coast, freighted with stores for the 
Turkish government. We have also tried to get a 
firman from the Seraskier, through the influence of 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 391 

Mr. Wood and the British Consul, to provide for 
horses and an escort from Jaffa to Jerusalem. As 
the weather is fine, we hope, without much difficulty, 
to reach the Holy City. 

Mr. Young, the British Consul at Jerusalem, has 
left this ; and we hope to find him and his lady in 
the Holy City. We have several letters, and have 
met friends who are gone before. Indeed we have 
seen several naval officers, who have, upon short 
leave, made the journey. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Feb. 20th. A curious question has arisen with 
the learned how the ancient Jews lived, whether 
like the Persians and Turks of our times, or like 
the Egyptians and Greeks of ancient times ; whe- 
ther they sat upon the floor, or upright upon seats 
and chairs? This is a question that involves many 
others, whether they ate when at meat from a stool 
or from a table, or whether they slept upon mats or 
upon bedsteads ? Several texts may be given to show 
that the latter of these, rather than the former, was 
their habit; but, to settle the question, it has been 
suggested that the original Hebrew must be looked 
at. It is quite true, in early times, when the children 
of Israel dwelt in tents, they, and perhaps the Greeks 
and Egyptians, may have lived in the style of their 
eastern neighbours; but from the time of Solomon 
to that of the Messiah and Apostles, when granite 
columns and stately architecture adorned their tem- 

c c 4 

392 THE LIFE OF 1841 

pies and palaces, it may fairly be urged, in absence of 
proof to the contrary, that they may have lived in 
similar habits with those of their neighbours, to whom 
they approached in their knowledge of civilisation and 
the arts. 

22d. Passed in view of Sidon. 





WHEN Wilkie set foot on the Holy Land, it was 
with the spiritual feelings of one familiar with his 
Bible from his youth, one on the eve of realizing the 
pilgrim wish of a long life, and about to people the 
hills, and vales, and streams of Judea, with the fine 
creations of his own fancy, and the rich embodiments 
of scriptural story, as rendered in oil or fresco by the 
great masters of his art, from Giotto to Giorgione. 
" When I went," says his friend Collins, " to bid Sir 
David Wilkie farewell, a day or two before he left 
home for his last journey, I found him in high spirits, 
enlarging with all his early enthusiasm on the immense 
advantage he might derive from painting upon holy 
land, on the very ground on which the event he was 
to embody had actually occurred. To make a study 
at Bethlehem from some young female and child 
seemed to me one great incentive to his journey. I 
asked him if he had any guide-book ; he said, i Yes, 
and the very best/ and then unlocking his travelling 
box, he showed me a pocket Bible. I never saw him 
again; but the Bible throughout Judea was, I am 
assured, his best, and only handbook." 

394 THE LIFE OF 1841. 


Jaffa, 25th Feb. 1841. 

From Beyrout we hired a passage on board a 
brig, the Candido, Captain Grimaldi, from Corsica. 
On getting on board, we found her anchored close to 
the great line of battle ship, the Benbow, and that our 
friend Captain Houstoun Stewart (brother to the late 
Sir Michael Shaw Stewart) had been giving an enter- 
tainment on board to the Turkish Seraskier of Syria. 
As the Benbow was then weighing anchor, I determined 
on sending a letter of good-by to her gallant captain. 
The letter I wrote our captain offered to take on 
board the Benbow in his own boat. Captain Stewart's 
answer was most kind. 

" My dear Sir David, Sunday. 

" One hurried word of adieu, and thanks cordial 
for your kind note. Had I known you were so near, 
I should have sent and begged you to come and join 
the Turks. I wish I could have done any thing for you 
and Telemachus.* Perhaps I may get recalled. My 
ship at Malta is yours when you come. Adieu! 
Sincerely yours, with every good wish to Mr. Wood- 


With this kind of stirrup-cup we weighed anchor, 
and stretched to the southward with light winds 
along the coast of the Holy Land. Mount Lebanon 

* Mr. Woodburn. 

yEx. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 395 

was glowing behind us in the light of a setting sun. 
Our berths were snug and comfortable, and our 
captain with plain eating not ill provided. Our brig 
recalled the Old Berwick Smack of former years, and 
brought back the days of youth. 

There has been this comfort in the whole of the 
voyages we have made, that, except for a forenoon in 
the Black Sea, I have, from care in the way of eating, 
not experienced any of the discomforts of sea-sickness. 
We have provided a servant at Beyrout as an inter- 
preter, and have laid in stocks of various eatables, so 
that, with the simple fare the country affords, with 
plenty of covering and a tent (should that be wanted) 
we hope to be able to fend off every other evil. I may 
mention that we have only now begun the canister of 
tea you provided us with, which, with the yolk of egg 
they beat up here, is most rich and delicious. In this 
way we have got over the voyage from Beyrout in 
four days, and are now in Jaffa, where, by the assist- 
ance of the English Arabic consular agent, we have 
been lodged close to his house, and been supplied 
with such things as are required for our accom- 

We have waited on the governor with our firman, 
and orders have been given to provide horses and 
mules to-morrow for the journey. We also hope to 
see the house of Simon the tanner, where St. Peter 
saw the vision which was so influential on the whole 
system of the Christian faith. We may now say we 
are in the Holy Land and in Syria, and the objects 
we see are of the most striking kind picturesque 
beyond belief. One only wishes to be all eye and all 

396 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

ear, and with the full power to record what impresses 
the mind in such a country. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Feb. 27th. Left Jaffa yesterday about 3 o'clock, our 
luggage being tied on the backs of one mule and four 
donkeys; besides this, we had one horse and two 
mules, and a janizary armed on horseback. We sal- 
lied forth through the city gate, and were soon in an 
open country, with meadows and sand hills. Found 
the heat of the sun severe upon my head. Towards 
nightfall we got to Kamla, i. e. ancient Arimathea; 
were received at the American convent ; a vaulted 
chamber was allotted to us. Here milk and honey of the 
finest quality were brought us, which, with eggs and 
dried fish, made a good supper. Up this morning at 
4 o'clock ; called the muleteers and janizary ; hastened 
preparations, and about six started. "We travelled 
some hours through wide wastes, patches of culti- 
vation and villages, till we reached the defiles of the 
hills of Judea, where the close valleys we entered to 
ascend the highlands were most beautiful, though 
savage and wild. We were, however, armed ; so 
that the chance of interruption was greatly dimi- 
nished. In this way we proceeded up hill and down 
dale, through places verifying the expression in Scrip- 
ture of a land that was a splendid possession and an 
inheritance. After stopping at a well, we descended 
through valleys, when, to our surprise, we had to 
ascend again to a height, which, on reaching, was a 
kind of table-land, from which we yet saw nothing; 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 397 

and it was not till after we had travelled a minute or 
two that, on turning a corner, we saw and, oh, 
what a sight! the splendid walled city of Jerusa- 
lem. This struck me as unlike all other cities ; it 
recalled the imaginations of Nicolas Poussin a city 
not for every day, not for the present, but for all 
time, as if built for an eternal sabbath ; the build- 
ings, the walls, the gates, so strong, and so solid, as 
if made to survive all other cities. We were greatly 
pleased with the city gate, quite European ; also with 
the clean and substantial look of the interior of the 
city. We were conducted to the Latin Convent; 
were received most kindly by the superior and monks, 
who allotted us apartments, where, for the present, 
we find ourselves very comfortable. Both Mr. Wood- 
burn and myself are delighted beyond expression, 
that, after a journey of six months and twelve days, 
with many interruptions, we have at last reached the 
most interesting city in the world Jerusalem. 

28th. After breakfast waited upon the British con- 
sul, William T. Young, Esq. Found church service 
performing in his room ; in the course of which the 
Second Lesson was remarkable in this city, giving, 
as it does, the form of our Lord's Prayer in the place 
where it was first uttered. 

Mr. and Mrs. Young expressed much satisfaction at 
seeing us ; showed us from their house the site of Solo- 
mon's Temple, with the Mosque of Omar upon it. Mr. 
Young then oifered us a house, with two rooms, a 
cooking-place, and room for servant ; which we ac- 
cepted, and shall enter to-morrow. Made drawing of 
Janizary. We then returned to our hosts at the Con- 

398 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

vent ; were received by Brother M'Lauchlan, whom we 
found most intelligent and enthusiastic; were pre- 
sented to the Lord Abbot, who, with the others, walked 
with us to the Church of the Sepulchre, which, with all 
the circumstances connected with it, interested me be- 
yond measure. Found the pictures very indifferent : 
the details of the localities of the different stages of the 
crucifixion somewhat doubtful ; yet, taken altogether, 
the identity of Mount Calvary seems undoubted, in- 
capable of being effaced, or forgotten. Were told 
that last night a violent dispute took place between 
the Latin and Greek priests in this sacred place, and 
that the British consul was sent for. Found our Irish 
friend, Brother M'Lauchlan, had had his own share in 
the disturbance, and in vindicating the rights of his 

March 1st. Called with letters on Kev. Mr. Whit- 
ing ; saw Mr. Beadle, who proposes going to the Dead 
Sea. Called on Mr. Young, who took us to the 
pacha, and then to the governor. Had a perfect view 
of the Temple of Solomon ; walked round the whole 
of the outside of it, and also by the wall of Zion ; saw 
the valley of Jehoshaphat, and the brook Kedron, Si- 
loam, and the Mount of Olives. 

2d. Removed from the Convent to the house Mr. 
Young has so obligingly provided. Unpacked colours 
and boards. Found two engineers at work, making a 
military survey of Jerusalem. Find no kind of trade or 
commerce : silk is not cultivated ; the vine is grown 
only for home use, and for dried raisins ; and the olive, 
so abundant, seems only for their own consumption. 

3d. Made drawing of an arch, said to have been 


part of the palace of Pontius Pilate, over which took 
place the Ecce Homo * ; walked over some of the old 
parts of the city ruinous, but very magnificent. 
Mr. Young went with me to the Temple ; went to 
Mount Zion ; visited the Synagogue ; much struck. 


Jerusalem, 4th March, 1841. 

Having got all our luggage tied on our ani- 
mals, one mule and four donkies, (it was quite mi- 
raculous to us how they got so much to stick on, or 
how the beasts could bear it all,) and Mr. Woodburn 
on one horse, our servant on another, I on a third 
(the largest and stoutest of the party), and our ja- 
nizary, a lank lean Arab, such as Salvator Kosa used 
to paint, upon a fourth, and riding in advance, we 
sallied forth through the gates of Jaffa, all armed, 
and making a lengthened, varied, and most pic- 
turesque procession. We had a very agreeable ride 
for nearly four hours, when we arrived at Ramla, 
ancient Arirnathea. Here we drew up, at the door 
of the Latin convent, and were shown into a room, 
while our whole party of animals were put in the 
court to bivouac, to our no small disturbance during 
the night. 

Next morning we awoke before four o'clock, stirred 
up our servant Stephano to sound the note of pre- 
paration, and to prepare from the fare of the convent 

* Wilkie afterwards made a sketch on millboard of this picture sold at 
the sale of Sir David's effects, to Alexander Colvin, Esq. for the sum of 
42Z., and engraved as No. 21. of the Oriental Sketches. 

400 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

something for breakfast. With hue and cry, and 
noise, we were all in movement by six o'clock, before 
sunrise, recalling to me strongly the preparations for 
the journey we used to make in early life, to be in 
time for the tide at Petticur, on our way to Edin- 
burgh. We now, once started, proceeded with that 
alacrity inseparable from the consciousness that we 
were within a few hours' journey of Jerusalem. On- 
ward we went ; some travellers joined us in front, 
and we were soon overtaken by Albanians and others, 
all armed, who followed in a sort of line that gave 
the party the look of a caravan ; an appearance that 
seemed the more desirable, as we began to ascend 
into the recesses of the mountains of Judea. Here 
the wildness of rock and hill was extreme ; yet, 
after hours of fatigue in getting to the summit of 
the range, we found olive trees growing in great 
luxuriance. About two o'clock we entered a sort of 
valley, where was a natural spring of the purest 
water. Here men and beasts, with one consent, made 
a halt to enjoy the luxurious refreshment. Still 
this was not long : all was activity to push on. We 
again descended, then mounted to the summit of 
what seemed an extended table-land, but still no city 
in view ; and every turn of the rugged and stony 
path was only another hope deferred, without any 
descent to the habitation of man : when, lo! the 
advanced post of our party came to a stand, and, like 
the crusaders in Tasso, we were excited by the cheer- 
ing cry of Jerusalem, Jerusalem ! the Holy City is in 
sight ! 

On actually viewing with one's own eyes the ever- 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 401 

lasting city, I had this surprise : it was nearer than I 
expected ; was on higher land than I had been led to 
suppose; and though we saw it from the least im- 
posing side, its stupendous walls, its elevated site, its 
domes and minarets, still rising in their greatness, 
after all the city has suffered, I was impressed with 
the idea that ancient Jerusalem may still, physically 
as well as morally, remain the most enduring city in 
the world. 

We entered by the gate, close to the palace of 
David (27th Feb.), and rode to the Latin convent, 
where we were received with much courtesy by a 
superior, who ordered a lodging for us and for our 
servant. We were supplied with meat and drink, 
and all we wanted, by the convent. 

We have been received with much kindness by 
Mr. Young, the British Consul here, who has found 
a house for us, in which we have begun housekeep- 
ing. He has also taken us to the Turkish pacha, and 
to the governor, from whose house we had a superb 
view of the Mosque of Omar, on the site of the 
Temple of Solomon. He also walked with us round 
the walls of the temple, by the Valley of Jehoshaphat, 
till we came to the hill of Zion ; every step and every 
view in this place presenting something of extreme 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

March 4th. Started at 3 o'clock for Bethlehem ; 
much pleased with the locale ; found there the sheikh 
who was to act as our escort ; travelled on, came to the 


402 THE LIFE OF 1841 

brow of mountains, which we descended by precipices 
the most dreadful that could be imagined : at last, by 
moonlight, reached the Greek convent ; and having a 
letter, were received with much courtesy; were led 
down a number of steps in a stupendous ravine, and 
were conducted to a very handsome reception-room, 
where we were served with refreshments and supper. 
Much satisfied with the romantic situation of our 

5th. Got ready, and took leave of the monks an 
hour before day ; traversed most difficult precipices, 
still descending lower and lower : at last came in 
sight of the long-expected sea, about which we found 
herbage growing, and shrubs taking root even in the 
water. On reaching the banks, took out the barometer 
entrusted to me by Mr. Harvey for the purpose, 
placed it upright in the sand, and at once was 
astounded to find, by its elevation to an unwonted 
height, the striking confirmation of the supposed de- 
pression of the Dead Sea below every other sea in the 
world. This remarkable question, previously ima- 
gined, but most stoutly opposed and denied, is now 
effectually settled ; and by notes made at Beyrout, at 
Jaffa, and Jerusalem, is now reduced to the point 
that a calculation from the data I am prepared to give 
will fix the difference of the altitude or level of these 
seas, making the Dead Sea below the Mediterranean, 
not merely by one or two hundred, but by several 
hundred feet. From the Dead Sea came to the 
Jordan rapid, deep, and muddy. Found here ba- 
rometer falling ; proceeded on for several hours to the 
once far-famed Jericho, now but a village, and by the 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 403 

depredations of Ibrahim Pacha and his army on their 
retreat, a heap of ruins, a part of it yet smoking 
with fire. Here we found no refuge, but by the ad- 
vice of the sheikhs proceeded towards the mountains 
on the way to the Holy City, to a river of the purest 
water. In this beautiful sequestered" spot we, with 
our Arab escort, pitched our tents for the night. A 
fire was lighted, refreshments cooked, and as night 
came on, the strange appearance of our companions, 
and newness of the situation, gave completely the air 
and impression of romance. Made an observation 
with the barometer ; found it had descended greatly 
at this place above what it had done at Jericho and 
the Jordan, but still giving proof that both this 
position, almost in the mountains, and the neigh- 
bouring plains, are considerably below the level of 
the Mediterranean. 

6th. Passed a restless but warm, and otherwise 
uncomfortable, night in our encampment our repose 
interrupted by the cricket, the stamping and neighing 
of the horses, and the ejaculations of our armed 
guard. Awoke at four o'clock : found the men out- 
side, with a blazing fire, and all preparing to start : 
they were enjoying some refreshments, and, with their 
dress, arms, and horses, relieved by the extreme 
darkness of the night, produced the wildest effect. 
We started at five, and, having found our way out of 
the little dell with the running brook, we mounted, 
and made considerable way over the mountains before 
dawn. We rose to a great height, by a rapid ascent 
of two hours, when we came to a khan, where I made 
another observation, with the barometer now gra- 

D D 2 

404 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

dually falling. We ascended still : rested at a foun- 
tain, where we met numbers of Moslems, on their way 
from the city, who halted to refresh with us. The 
barometer rose still higher. At last came in sight of 
the Mount of Olives, on our way to which, passed the 
beautiful though ruined city of Bethany picturesque 
in the extreme. From this proceeded by a turn round 
the Mount of Olives, that brought us in sight of the 
splendid view of Jerusalem in all her glory, from 
whence it is said Jesus Christ wept over her intract- 
able spirit, and foretold her approaching fall ; a view 
whence, including the Temple of Solomon, Mount 
Zion, the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Mount of Olives, 
and the more distant range of the city, is, after all 
the destruction and rebuilding she has gone through, 
the most solemn and splendid I have ever seen. At- 
tended Mr. and Mrs. Young to the synagogue on 
Mount Zion ; much struck with ceremonies so ancient, 
in a locality so devoted to the chosen people; was 
conducted to two families, where we saw the females 
all assembled, and admired much the taste of their 

7th. Went over the chapel of the Latin convent, 
in which we found six or eight pictures of Solimeni, 
the same master whose works we had seen in the Holy 
Sepulchre. Attended divine service at the British 
Consul's. Went to call on Mr. Beadle, whom we saw, 
with his wife, now preparing to go, by Tiberius and 
Nazareth, to take up their station at Beyrout. 

8th. Got all my colours ready, and went on with 
various subjects in oil; wrote to Helen; feeling ill of 
a cold, took remedies in the evening. 


9th. Despatched letter to Mr. Harvey, to mention 
the detail of my observations with his barometer on 
the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean, and at Jerusalem. 

Dear Mr. Harvey, Jerusalem, 8th March, 1841. 

At Constantinople, on the 28th of October, 
last year, you did me the honour to entrust to me 
your beautiful barometer, with a request, which I have 
never lost sight of, namely, that in the event of my 
reaching Syria, I would make an observation of its 
altitude when placed on the level of the surface of the 
Dead Sea. 

The war in Syria detained me, with my fellow- 
traveller, Mr. Woodburn, at Pera, till the close of the 
year. After some delay we reached Beyrout on the 
8th of February ; and there, on the coast of the Me- 
diterranean, the barometer in perfect order, and the 
weather fine, I made the following observations: 

Barometer. Thermometer. 

Feb. 16. Morning 30-186 56 

Evening 30-260 58 

17. Morning 30-198 57 

Evening 30-216 59 

18. Morning 30*176 58 

Evening , 30-108 60 

19. Morning 30-038 59 

Evening 30-008 61 

20. Morning 30-008 60 

On reaching Jaffa, I made, on the 26th of February, 
another observation, also in very fine weather: 

Barom. 29-968 Therm. 59 

DD 3 

406 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

At Jerusalem I continued observations : 

Barometer. Thermometer. 

March 1. Morning 27*490 56 

Evening 27'460 56 

2. Morning 27'432 fine weather 56 

3. Morning 27-386 grey morning 55 

Evening 27'400 56 

4. Morning 27"438 fine morning 55 

Evening, in the convent of St. Saba, rain threaten- 
ing, on the way to the Dead Sea: 

Barom. 29*352 Therm. 68 

5th. On reaching the Dead Sea, about 11 o'clock, 
sky overcast and threatening rain, instrument inserted 
in the shingle close to the salt water, in the open 

Barom. 31-372 Therm. 68 

Evening, in a tent pitched at the entrance to the 
mountains, a little above Jericho, during rain and 

Barom. 30'575 Therm. 76 

6th. After two hours' ascent in the mountains, 
foggy, open air : 

Barom. 29-106 Therm. 67 

At another stage of the ascent, open air, sun 
shining : 

Barom. 28-406 Therm. 70 

On again reaching Jerusalem: 

Barom. 27'278 Therm. 66 

Being greatly impressed, with the party around 
me, with the elevation of the barometer on the shore 
of the Dead Sea, so great that the mark attached to 
the veneer could not be pushed up within a quarter 
of an inch of the summit of the mercury, I made a 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 407 

hasty drawing of its exact appearance, to which the 
following attestation in my note-book was subjoined. 

" On the banks of the Dead Sea, this 5th day of 
March, 1841, weather cloudy, and threatening rain, 
we, the undersigned, attest the above representation 
of the state of the barometer, unwonted as its eleva- 
tion is, to be correct. The thermometer being at 68 


" E. R. BEADLE. 

I may add, that Mr. Beadle is a man of science, 
and is here engaged as an American missionary. The 
opinion here is, that no barometer has ever been car- 
ried before to the Dead Sea; when, therefore, you 
have made your calculations from the above to ascer- 
tain the comparative elevation of the Dead Sea with 
the Mediterranean, you will perhaps judge it right to 
make the result known to some scientific authority, to 
establish your claim to the priority of this observa- 
tion. The barometer I take particular care of, and I 
hope to get it brought safe to England. I shall be 
most happy to hear this reaches you, with the result 
of your calculation, addressed to me, care of Messrs. 
James Bell and Co., Malta. 

With high esteem, 

Your very faithful Servant, 

D. W. 

D D 4 

408 THE LIFE OF 1841. 


Jerusalem, 9th March, 1841. 

Since reaching this interesting place, which we 
did on the afternoon of the 27th of February, I wrote 
to Thomas to mention our arrival, and the particulars 
of our previous voyage and journey. 

Of course, sights, and those of the most striking 
kind, have taken up our whole time. We were at 
first lodged in the Latin convent, but have since 
moved to a house belonging to Mr. Young, the 
British consul, who, with his lady, have been most 
kind, and who have lent and supplied us with various 
things for housekeeping. On our first waiting on 
the superior of the convent, we asked for one of 
the brethren, who was an Irishman, Father M'Lauch- 
lan. We were told that his duty for that night re- 
quired him to be all night in the Holy Sepulchre. 
Next day we learnt from Mr. Young, that there had 
been a complete riot in the Sepulchre ; that the Latin 
and Greek monks (always at war) had carried hosti- 
lities to such a pitch that he had been called up in the 
night to interfere. We strongly suspected our Irish 
compatriot to have been a mover in this, and when 
we made the acquaintance of Father M'Lauchlan, we 
had little reason to doubt, from the account he gave 
of the matter, that, if he was not the instigator, he 
was, at least, a willing abettor of the rights of his 
order in the midnight vigils of the holy place. Mr. 
M'Lauchlan has been very friendly ; he is young, 
zealous, good-looking, clever, and accomplished. 

2ET. 56. SIR DAVID W1LKIE. 409 

It was proposed that we should make a journey to 
the banks of the Dead Sea and the valley of the 
Jordan. Mr. Beadle, an American missionary, who 
could speak Arabic, proposed to join us ; and after 
much work in hiring mules, horses, and an escort, we 
started, on the afternoon of the 4th instant, for Bethle- 
hem, where we were much struck with the beautiful 
situation of the birth-place of our Saviour. Trusting 
to the chance of another visit, we did not linger about 
Bethlehem, but pushed on through hill and valley, 
and before the day began to close, and as we were 
descending the ravines of the mountains, we were 
joined by three Arab horsemen and four armed men 
on foot. Our object now was to gain the monastery 
of St. Saba for the night. In our progress we were 
favoured with the breaking through of the moon a 
great help ; for as the dells and glens began to deepen 
and get more rocky, nothing could exceed the terrific 
appearance of the path we had to descend. Our 
horses, however, proceeded with miraculous care, our 
lengthened procession seemed to slide down what ap- 
peared absolute precipices, some of which required the 
whole party to dismount. At last we reached the 
convent, which, with high towers and massive walls, 
filled up the gorge of the adjoining cliffs of the tor- 
rent. Here we dismounted, and entered by a small 
wicket, where, after descending multitudes of stairs 
and terraces, and passing through a garden, we were 
shown into a saloon covered all over with rich Persian 
carpets, and surrounded by divans, as if made on 
purpose for the repose of fatigued travellers. 

At four o'clock the next morning, man, horse, and 

410 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

mule were all astir, and, before five, again on our pre- 
cipitous journey. We had to travel through lonely 
and hostile districts ; our guards, ragged as they were, 
were all well armed, and we ourselves and our do- 
mestics, to be neighbour-like, were also armed. We 
travelled hour after hour, still descending. We heard 
guns fired at a distance in the opposite mountains, 
but saw not a soul. The mountains of Moab and the 
solemn expanse of the Dead Sea now became visible, 
and, under a misty and lowering sky, began to spread 
out before us. The sun did not shine, and the lurid 
purple haze gave a sadness to the whole scene that 
made it not an unapt representation of the Yalley of 
the Shadow of Death. We eagerly pushed on all eye 
to remark every singularity of appearance. We found 
it untrue that herbs would not grow (we saw plants 
of every kind) or that birds could not fly (we saw 
vultures right over head, and we observed swallows, 
and even larks, rising to hail the morn). 

After tasting the salt-salt water, pure and clear, 
but recalling the wife of Lot by its intensity, and 
after remarking that there was not the appearance of 
a fish in the water nor a sea-shell to be seen on the 
shore, but that numerous shoots of brushwood were 
growing in the sea ; we made a hurried meal, mounted 
again, and away to the sandy plain of the Jordan. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

March llth. Painted at home; went with Father 
M'Lauchlan to the Holy Sepulchre ; began a drawing 

Mt. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 411 

of the Tomb, the service, with singing, and the 
organ, going on all the time ; greatly struck with 
impression of the whole. 

12th. Began drawing of Father Bonaventura (Mr. 
M'Lauchlan) ; had two sittings. 

13th. Saw the reading of the Scriptures in the pri- 
vate dwellings of the Jews ; weather, snow, rain, and 
hail. Went to Synagogue ; Father Bonaventura sat 
twice; got drawing greatly advanced. Mr. Whiting 

15th. Had sitting of Father Bonaventura ; had 
next the Rabbi Joseph, with his consort, his mother, 
and some muleteers, to begin a study of reading the 
Jewish Law; had also a sitting of a sheikh for drawing. 

16th. Had sitting of Father Bonaventura; went to 
the cave of Jeremiah. 

17th. Went out early with Mr. Woodburn and 
Reuben to the Synagogue; made drawing ; joined by 
Mr. Beadle ; walked out at the gate descending to the 
valley of Jehoshaphat ; made drawing of Mosque and 
Temple, Yale, and Mount of Olives ; thence by the 
steep bank got down to the Fountain of Siloam; 
walked up the channel of the brook Kedron ; made 
drawing of bridge, and of the tomb of Absolom ; also 
of Mount Zion ; was satisfied that this, as well as the 
other tombs, though not pure, were very ancient. Went 
to the Garden of Gethsemane ; olive trees, with very 
large stems, and very ancient, were shown ; a foot- 
path, also, that led up between two walls, and stopped 
at a marble column, said" to be the very spot where 
our Saviour Jesus Christ was arrested after being 
betrayed. Walked up the path by which he must 

412 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

have been led to the Gate of St. Stephen ; saw the 
Pool of Bethesda ; continued on the path to the house 
of the governor, Pontius Pilate, thence by the arch of 
.the Ecce Homo, the Via Dolores to Mount Calvary. 
Father Bonaventura called ; completed drawing ; and 
in the evening was rejoiced by receiving letters from 
Beyrout, Constantinople, and London. A note from 
Sir James Clark, kindly assuring me the Queen wil- 
lingly extended my leave of absence, and wished me 
on no account to hurry home till I had seen all I 
wished to see. 

18th. Visited tombs of the kings of Israel ; made 
drawing of a frieze over entrance, large and much 
like the frieze of a Doric colonnade. 


Jerusalem, 18th March, 1841. 

I have not time to refer in detail to all that 
you and Helen have said in your last letter ; the only 
subject not quite agreeable is, the delays and difficul- 
ties likely to occur in the engraving of Sir David 
Baird, owing to the uncertainty of Mr. Moon on that 
subject. Still I can do nothing, and if I were at 
home perhaps it would be the same thing. 

From the Dead Sea we journeyed on to the river 
Jordan, where we drank the waters, and remembered 
St. John the Baptist. From the Jordan we went on to 
Jericho, where we meant to lodge ; but finding, from 
the ravages of Ibrahim Pacha, that this desolate abode 
was a heap of smoking ruins, we proceeded to the en- 
trance of the mountains, where, by a beautiful stream, 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 413 

we pitched the tent we had bought at Beyrout, and 
where for the night, with coffee, bread, certain fowls, 
and a flask of brandy, we were as merry as possible. 

We had three schieks armed and on horseback, 
and four armed men on foot, with muleteers, ser- 
vants, &c. so that, with our cattle, nearly a dozen, we 
made a showy and most picturesque appearance. We 
lodged in the tent; but our escort kindled a large 
blazing fire in front, and lay round it. Long before 
daylight we were all astir, and our tent was struck; 
a large shrubbery was set on fire to give us light, and 
after tying every thing again on our cattle, we were 
once more on the move. The road from the valley 
of the Jordan rose most precipitous, rock after rock, 
hill and mountain to be climbed ; and as the day began 
to shine, we were reminded of the route the good 
Samaritan had to take, in ascending, as we were now 
doing, to the ancient Salem. About mid-day we saw 
" a village over against us : " it was Bethany, most 
beautiful, most picturesque. From this we wound 
round the Mount of Olives, by a path said to have 
been often frequented by our Saviour, and at one 
part of which we were shown the spot, where coming 
in sight of the city at the most beautiful view there is 
of Jerusalem, he wept over it, and foretold its de- 
struction. Changed as it must be, it is yet from this 
point one of the most beautiful sights that can be 

D. W. 

P. S. To-day we are to dine with Mr. and Mrs. 
Young, who have given us a house, furniture, and 

414 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

even eatables. Mr. George Young obtained letters 
for the consul from his father in London. He should 
know our obligations. 


&c. &c. &c. 

My dear Sir Jerusalem, 18th March, 1841. 

While every moment of your valuable time is 
occupied with important public affairs, an interruption 
like this may seem unwarranted from so humble a 
person as myself ; but remembering your indulgence 
to me on a former absence from home, and feeling 
that no journey can ever present again such objects 
for thought as those which now surround me, I ven- 
ture to force myself upon you as upon one endowed 
with every faculty to relish and appreciate what, with 
all before my eyes, I feel so feebly qualified to do 
justice to. 

Trusting that, with yourself, this will find Lady 
Peel and Miss Peel in your usual good health, I cannot 
help fancying how they would be pleased with the 
reminiscences here presented, those realities of the 
past the pious Empress Helena has done so much to 
recall and to identify, and which, in iny progress 
hither, ladies of all nations I have found desirous, 
could this journey be made, to witness and contem- 
plate. Still, if female enthusiasm should approve or 
encourage, it is to others who have honoured me with 
their friendship, and to none more than to yourself 
I should explain why, with pressing occupations at 
home, and without a pursuit of that elevation to de- 

Mi. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 415 

mand such a process of study, I should yet mount 
the staff and the scallop-shell for such a peregri- 

It is a fancy or belief that the art of our time and of 
our British people may reap some benefit, that has in- 
duced me to undertake this journey. It is to see, to 
inquire, and to judge, not whether I can, but whether 
those who are younger, or with far higher attainments 
and powers, may not in future be required, in the 
advance and spread of our knowledge, to refer at once 
to the localities of Scripture events, when the great 
work is to be essayed of representing Scripture his- 
tory. Great as the assistance, I might say the in- 
spiration, which the art of painting has derived from 
the illustration of Christianity, and great as the talent 
and genius have been this high walk of art has called 
into being, yet it is remarkable that none of the great 
painters to whom the world has hitherto looked for 
the visible appearance of Scripture scenes and feel- 
ings have ever visited the Holy Land. 

What we therefore so much admire in the great 
masters, must be taken from their own idea, or 
from secondary information. In this, though Paul 
Veronese, Titian, Giorgione, and Sebastian del Piombo, 
all Venetians, have by commerce, and immediate in- 
tercourse with the Levant, succeeded in giving in 
their work a nearer verisimilitude to an Eastern 
people ; yet who is there who cannot imagine that such 
minds as Eaphael and Lionardo da Vinci, great as 
they are, might not have derived a help had they 
dwelt and studied in the same land which Moses and 
the Prophets, the Evangelists and Apostles, have so 

416 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

powerfully and graphically described, and which they 
would have described in vain to the conviction of 
their readers, but as witnesses and participators in 
the events which form the subjects of their sacred 
writings ? 

In my journey hither, desirous of taking a review 
of some of the great works in Germany of Kubens 
and Rembrandt, I was deeply interested at Munich 
by the great and meritorious efforts now making by 
the native painters of that city. These I believe you 
have seen, and I doubt not with high admiration of 
the genius of the artists, and munificence of the 
sovereign who has called them forth. To you, there- 
fore, I speak with deference, and under correction; 
but as they profess to revive a style of art that has 
formerly existed, whether Byzantine or early Italian, 
I have doubts, fitted to their purpose, if such a style 
would either suit the disposition of the English 
painters, or awaken the attention of the English public, 
to whom it would be like bringing forward the Talmud 
and the Fathers of the Church, instead of the Penta- 
teuch and the New Testament. 

The time is now come when our supply in this 
walk of art must be drawn from the fountain head. 
The facility of travelling, as well as recent public 
events, favour our pursuits in this sacred quarter ; and 
I am highly grateful at being permitted to see with 
my own natural eyes, what Jerusalem in our day can 
still present to us. 

Here, after centuries of ruin and suffering, Jerusalem 
exists in her greatness. She is elevated on the high table 
land of Judea, 2,500 feet above the level of the sea. 


Except the Mount of Olives scarce any hill near rises 
above her. Her walls, which encompass her on every 
side, are higher and more superb than any city walls 
I have ever seen. The square towers of her gates 
recall those of Windsor Castle ; while their lengthened 
elevation, with the spires and cupolas they enclose, 
would have arrested the Poussins and Claudes in 
preference to all other cities. Her streets are stone- 
built, massive, surmounted by arches, through which 
the solemn vista claims the painter's art, though by 
that art still unknown and unrepresented ; and the 
people, the Jew, the Arab, and the more humble and 
destitute, who never change,, recall, by their appear- 
ance, a period of antiquity in every thing removed 
from the present time. 

But besides the habits of man, and the stately 
fashion of his dwelling, which here bear the mark of 
no modern date, there are other features that carry 
the impress of sacred history which scarcely any time 
can change. This I strongly felt a few days ago, 
when ascending from the vale of Jordan by the way 
of Jericho. I was particularly struck, as we got near 
to Jerusalem, with the beautiful aspect of a village 
that was over against us, like Tivoli or Larici : it was 
Bethany, the abode of Mary and Martha, and the 
scene of the raising of their brother Lazarus from the 
dead. From this the road winds round the Mount of 
Olives, by a path often frequented by our Saviour, 
and which opens upon the most beautiful view there 
is of Jerusalem, where the very point is shown the 
following verse (St. Luke, ch. xix.) refers to: 

" And when he was come near, he beheld the city, 


418 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even 
thou, at least in this thy day, the things which be- 
long unto thy peace; but now they are hid from 
thine eyes." 

Changed as this holy city must be since these 
words were uttered her sovereignty gone, her people 
despised, and of her temple not one stone left upon 
another ; yet, shorn of her beams, this sacred place of 
her grandeur presents one of the most striking spec- 
tacles I have ever beheld. 

To the expounder of Scripture, and to the painter 
of Sacred History, this whole territory must supply 
what can be learnt no where else ; and professors of 
art must make a stir to meet the ideas that travellers 
can so easily acquire. Indeed, since arriving here, I 
find a new species of criticism applied to our standard 
works of art ; and my humble pursuits and inquiries 
appear to introduce somewhat novel subjects of dis- 
cussion. It has become a question, arising from the 
present habits of the people here, whether the ancient 
Jews and Apostles lived most like Saracens or Romans ; 
whether they sat on the ground or upon chairs ; re- 
posed upon mats or upon bedsteads ; and whether the 
females were then as much secluded from public view 
as they are now in these countries ? I find the learned, 
both of monks and rabbis, inclined to the former 
opinion; but as the synagogue upon Mount Zion is 
filled with seats, like a church, we may hope that the 
mode of sitting of the Apostles at the table of our 
Lord may not, by any new information, be found 
to be different from what Lionardo da Vinci has 
painted it. 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 419 

Indeed, nothing here requires any revolution in our 
opinions of the finest works of art; with all their 
discrepancies of detail they are yet constantly recalled 
by what is here before us. The back-ground of the 
Heliodorus of Raphael is a Syrian building : the figures 
in the Lazarus of Seb. del Piombo are a Syrian people ; 
and the indescribable tone of Rembrandt is brought to 
mind at every turn, whether in the street, the Syna- 
gogue, or the Holy Sepulchre. 

To you, Sir, who have the ear and the attention of 
listening senates at command, it will seem an unpar- 
donable trespass to urge at such length so many crude 
ideas ; but, at this distance, I think I may venture to 
ask you, from the fostering hand you have held out to 
native art, and from the all-powerful voice you have 
raised in support of the independence of the native 
artist, whether the recent events that have occurred 
since I left England, and which on leaving I had no idea 
could have happened, may not open a new field for the 
genius of British artists to work upon a field no 
other nation has thought of, and which, up to this 
time, is untouched, but such a field as, if properly 
cultivated, would, from the well-known religious dis- 
position of all ranks, sects, and conditions of her 
Majesty's subjects, produce this most salutary result 
the illustration and study of the Holy Scriptures? 

I have the honour to be, dear Sir Robert Peel, 
Your most obliged and devoted Servant, 


EE 2 

420 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

March 19th. Occupied painting and drawing. Went 
in the evening through bazaar to the Gate of the 
Temple; made drawing. Weather very cold. 

20th. Went at ten to Rabbi Zamora; made draw- 
ing of himself and some members of his family : came 
home ; made drawing of the Bethlehem Sheikh. 

21st. Went to Mr. Young's; saw the pacha; re- 
mained for divine service. 

22d. Painted all day different subjects. Wrote 
to Lord Ponsonby, to report the progress of our 

23d. Made drawing of wife and family of Mr. 
Young's Cavash. Painted at home. Went to Mr. 
Young's to see the Sheikh of Hebron; engaged him 
to call and sit to-morrow. 

24th. Painted all the morning. Walked to house 
of dragoman; saw a family perfect for painting. 
Sheikh of Hebron came ; began a picture. 

25th. Began drawing of Mrs. Young, who brought 
with her the dragoman's family grandmother, mo- 
ther, and children. 

26th. Went to see the Jews and Jewesses at the 
outer wall of the temple a fine subject. Afternoon, 
went on with drawing of Mrs. Young. 

27th. Mr. Wood took us to see the famous mosque 
of Omar highly pleased with it. 

28th. Attended divine service at the Consul's. 

30th. Began sketch of the Nativity at Bethlehem. 

31st. Heard with surprise of the sudden death of 

.&T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 421 

an Austrian artist, sent by the Emperor to make 
drawings of the places where the Archduke, with the 
Austrian naval force, had been engaged in the late war. 
He had, with great peril during the time of plague, 
entered St. Jean d'Acre, and made numerous draw- 
ings. Having short time to remain here, he worked 
very hard ; and on going home very hot the other 
evening, threw off his clothes is supposed to have 
caught cold, which brought on fever, and proved fatal 
in a short time. Mr. Woodburn attended his funeral. 
Went on with sketch of the Nativity. 

April 1st. Sent off letters to Sir Robert Inglis, Sir 
James Clarke, and Miss Wilkie. 


Jerusalem, 31st March, 1841. 

We have now been four weeks in Jerusalem, 
and daily and hourly occupied in sight -seeing, and in 
getting acquainted with the city. Every object here 
is of extreme interest. The Turkish custom of ex- 
cluding the women partly prevails in Jerusalem, 
among all classes. Still we have contrived to see 
several families among the natives. We have been 
to the synagogues of Mount Zion, where the women 
are present as listeners, and where they read parts of 
the books of Moses. I went to a Saturday morning 
service, in a small out-house of a private dwelling. I 
went through snow, hail, and rain, to a crowded 
assembly, where I found them chanting from the 
book of Numbers, of the wrath of Moses at the golden 
calf. The place and people were poor and wretched, 

E E 3 

422 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

but all seemed satisfied in paying this homage to the 
great Spirit, 

" that doth prefer, 

Before all temples, th' upright heart and pure." 

It is very interesting to see this people, poor but 
respectable in their looks, still dwelling on the same 
holy hill they have held since the time of the Jebusites. 
The quarter allotted to them is close to the ancient 
wall of the Temple, where they go every Friday to 
weep, and wail, and hug, and kiss the great stones of 
the foundation of the Temple, and to read and repeat 
the 137th psalm. They have a belief that the Taber- 
nacle, and the stone tables of the Law, were buried 
under the ruins, and that our late successes in Syria 
will lead to their recall, and that another Ezra is only 
wanted for their colonisation in the yet promised land. 

Such is the disposition for traffic among the Jews, 
that whilst I was witnessing this to me impressive 
scene, the Turkish cavash of the Consul brought from 
the bazaar a Damascus cloak for me to purchase. 
When the Rabbi saw it, he was in the act of reading 
the psalm, " If I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my 
right hand forget her cunning." King David gave 
way to the Damascus cloak, and he instantly ex- 
claimed before all the people, that the price the mer- 
chant had agreed to take was thirteen dollars, and 
that the cloak was cheap at that money. It was with 
difficulty that I could get away from him without 
striking the bargain, or producing a commotion in the 
assembly. The cloak I got afterwards for eleven 

The reminiscences of the New Testament are here 


most interesting, and attest the accuracy with which 
the evangelists described what they saw, tending to 
the same inference of correctness in their description 
of what they knew. Every day and every hour of our 
Saviour's life may be traced in the completest man- 
ner. The spot of the crucifixion is enclosed in the 
church of the Holy Sepulchre. The ground was iden- 
tified, and the church originally built by the Empress 
Helena (they say an English woman) : it is a very 
beautiful building. It is portioned out to the Latins, 
Greeks, Armenians, and Moscovites, who all claim 
certain rights and privileges in so sacred a spot. 
With them, both places and times are most sacred ; in 
Scotland, we admit neither time nor place to be sacred. 
Practically, their system leads to the violent con- 
tention to whom the sacred place belongs at sacred 
times, and, even now that I am writing, an open feud 
exists between the Latins and the Greeks, which 
Turk and Protestant alike talk of as disgraceful. 
Perhaps this violence is, however, only a symptom of 
the healthy action of the zeal and independence of 
these sects, like emulation in art, and competition in 
trade. We Protestants at home are not without 
it: we have our violent Bible meetings at Exeter 
Hall, and we have our equally violent non-intrusion 
edicts in the General Assembly of the Church of 

We now purpose leaving in two or three days. 
The weather seems getting finer, and we are to try 
to travel by land to Mount Carmel, and from thence 
to Beyrout. I have made here numerous sketches, 
and on the boards I brought with me have begun 

E E 4 

424 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

several pictures of subjects in oil. The material for 
study here has been of the most interesting kind. 

We have seen all the most interesting sights, and 
by influential friends have been admitted to objects 
scarcely any strangers can ever see. Mr. Richard 
Wood, the confidential agent of Lord Ponsonby in 
Syria, is now here, and has assisted us greatly. 

D. W. 

My dear Collins, Jerusalem, 2d April, 1841. 

Your pleasant and welcome letter brought up 
greatly my leeward information of what is going 
on in the civilised world ; and knowing both your own 
and Mrs. Collins' s thirsting for every idea or remark 
that may be suggested by the earthly appearance of 
the land of Scripture, I cannot resist an invasion upon 
you, however hasty and crude it may be in the pour- 
ing forth, from the ancient Salem. 

All was expectation and eagerness, as you may 
suppose, on our first approach to Syria. Mount 
Lebanon, high in the clouds, and covered with per- 
petual snows, was the first sign of the land of the pro- 
phets. But we had to skirt along by " the coasts of 
Tyre and Sidon," till we came to Jaffa, before we 
set foot on the sacred shore. From Jaffa, or Joppa, 
where we were shown the house of Simon the tanner, 
where the vision of St. Peter was seen, that has given 
us the free use of so many of the good things of this 
world, we proceeded through the plain of Sharon to 
Arimathea. Here we stopped for the night at the 


Latin convent, and next morning were up betimes, 
and in that sort of active preparation, which those 
cannot fail to be in who expect before night to reach 
Jerusalem. Nothing could be more wild than the 
route as we ascended the mountains of Judea: we 
rose higher and higher, and if sometimes descend- 
ing, it was only to rise higher still. At mid-day 
we stopped a numerous and picturesque party, at 
a small spring, or fountain of living waters, said to 
be where the stripling David picked up the pebble 
with which he slew the giant Philistine. Having 
thus reached high above all height, with nought but 
an extensive moor, or table-land, before us, we looked 
a-head, and not till after miles of level course, we saw 
the leader come to a stand, and indicate that we 
were near Jerusalem ! ! ! Whether we should have dis- 
charged our fire-arms, or albeit have rent our Mack- 
intoshes, at the most desired sight in the world, it is 
useless now to decide : when reflections are not loud 
but deep, the flare-up of effect is the last thing to be 
thought of. We scarcely stopped to compose our 
thoughts, but jogged on, tracing with the eye the 
earthly form and extent of the eternal city, which, 
after all her tribulation, presents, even at this least 
imposing view, an adamantine appearance of dura- 
bility. Her white stone walls, and high square 
towers, recalled a little Windsor Castle, though the 
extent of wall, as it reached round Mount Zion, to 
the valley of Hinnim, is more impressive to the eye 
than any walled city I have seen. Our route led us 
to the Gate of Bethlehem, whence, with our pro- 
cession of horses, mules, and luggage, we proceeded 



by walls and narrow lanes, and were received and 
lodged, with all due hospitality, in the Latin con- 

You know the excellent drawings our friend 
Eoberts has made of various scenes in this place: 
there have been also some German and French artists 
here ; among others, Horace Vernet, but who, I am 
told, did not make any drawing. But knowing the 
curiosity all of them will naturally awaken in the 
European public, it becomes important to consider 
what the powers of our art, if properly directed, may 
be able to supply for its gratification. There are 
those who probably think that language and painting 
is every thing, and that now, when one can read and 
write, no other mode of information is wanted. Who- 
ever is here and walks round the ancient streets, and 
stones, and rocks, will be convinced that there are 
objects neither language nor painting can convey: 
here are innumerable situations as to distances, 
heights, and relative positions the reader of Scripture 
cannot help guessing at, but which our art alone can 
help him to imagine rightly. 

In this view our art, instead of supplying the mere 
fancied illustration, may give what this place so 
strongly supplies a collateral evidence of the truth 
of the sacred writings ; may give fresh proof of the 
correctness of the sacred narrators in what they 
knew, by showing their accuracy in what we know 
they must have seen. 

The traveller here must be surprised to find that 
the great mass of Italian Scripture Art is in back- 
grounds, costumes, and character, so purely imagi- 


nary, or so completely Italian, that evangelical Syria 
is entirely unrepresented, and, like a neglected con- 
stituency, seems to clamour for a fresh enfranchise- 
ment with modern art. And if there are such pictures 
of the Entombment, the Crowning of Thorns, of Titian, 
various of the figures of Paul Veronese, Giorgione, 
and Sebastian del Piombo, who, being Venetians, had 
most intercourse with Jerusalem manners, that do 
remind you of Syria ; and if the splendid conceptions 
of Raphael, Michael Angelo, and Correggio, accord 
with the finest generalised nature in all countries, 
yet with respect to the great crowd of scriptural re- 
presentations by which, with a sort of glut, all future 
modern art must be inundated, I need only say a 
Martin Luther, in painting, is as much called for as 
in theology, to sweep away the abuses by which our 
divine pursuit is encumbered. 

Among the learned monks and clergy of Jerusalem, 
and I might add among the learned rabbis of Mount 
Zion, a number of curious questions arose regarding 
the fidelity of European art, in her representations of 
Scripture manners. These, indeed, would upset more 
than is wanted, and leave nothing behind. It must 
not be our purpose to detract from what art has done, 
but to add. Every discussion and new information 
must do good, since it must draw the attention of the 
world upon our art as a means for the great and 
useful purpose of the study and comprehension of the 
Holy Scriptures. 

But there is another application of art : if difficult 
to show what Syria was in the prophetic and apos- 
tolic times, there may yet be the greatest interest in 

428 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

showing what Syria is now. Roberts, you know, has 
done much; but I almost wish he had done more, 
and had been here longer. For a landscape painter, 
the road from Jericho, as you come " nigh to Jeru- 
salem," and after you pass "the village" right over 
against you, and begin to descend by the Mount of 
Olives, combines a scene which Claude Lorraine and 
the Poussins would have, indeed, delighted in. 

Sacred as the place is, yet here the rain rains, and 
the sun shines, much as it does at home, and Woodburn, 
who desires his best remembrances to you, will often 
talk of a Collins-sky behind the Mount of Olives, the 
same as if he saw it behind Hampstead, which this 
Mount of the Ascension, though much higher, greatly 
resembles. Here would be a rich treat and subject 
-for your art, but a journey for you not to be thought 
of. Singular, we find other countries, Austria and 
France, sending their artists here, but from poor old 
England the artists must come of themselves. Our 
journey, interesting as it is, and useful as I hope it 
will be, even naturally has found its chief impediment 
in the thwarting measure of war, engaged in by our 
own country. Three months delay at Constantinople, 
and the derangement since of all usual conveyances 
on account of war, has lost us nearly another month ; 
and since we seek neither political nor commercial 
results, our errand for a mere purpose of art may 
perhaps not be over appreciated. Still, withal, we 
have met with remarkable circumstances ; and if even 
nothing should accrue to art, I think it is for the 
honour of our art and of our nation we should not 
be behind in the field upon a question that must 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 429 

now arise. With this view I think of all that you are 
doing ; though absent, I count the days of preparing, 
and receiving, and arranging the pictures. We all 
hope, and look forward to those spirit-stirring meet- 
ings that precede the opening of our labours to the 
view of the world at large. 

With best and kindest regards to Mrs. Collins, and 
to Charlie and Willie, and all inquiring friends, 

Most faithfully and truly 
Your obedient Servant and sincere Friend, 

D. W. 

My dear Lord, Jerusalem, 3d April, 1841. 

When at a distance from home, and after a, 
long interruption of that intercourse with friends that 
makes home agreeable, I feel only the more desirous 
to break through those rules that would otherwise 
stay me from obtruding myself upon your Lordship's 
time and attention, but as an indweller, at least for 
the time, in this most sacred city, I feel assured that 
you yourself, from similar journeys you have made 
towards the East, and Lady Leven from that respect 
the gentler sex are willing to show towards a place 
so dear to our hearts, and so identified with our 
faith, will not regret being addressed by whatever 
one's hasty thoughts may suggest from the ancient 

On leaving Kensington, in August last, and in pur- 
suing my route by the Khine and the Danube, still 
in a Christian land, the political world was filled with 



vague ideas of negotiations of the high and mighty 
powers ; but it was not till I reached Constantinople 
that rumours of war became reality, and that the seat 
of war, of all places in the world, was precisely across 
the path that led to this place I wished so much 
to visit, that the fortresses of Beyrout, Tyre, and 
Sidon, that even St. Jean d'Acre must be seized and 
taken, that Syria must be conquered, and Jerusalem 
(again) delivered, before a step could be taken upon 
this distant pilgrimage. 

Still, by the brilliant achievements of her Majesty's 
arms, and the decided conduct of her Majesty's 
councils, a war, that might have lasted for years, 
was in a few weeks brought to a close ; and I could 
now proceed, and could visit Syria even with addi- 
tional interest, and could see almost as a conquest 
of Great Britain, almost as a gift of our sovereign to 
her imperial ally, that favoured land, once the 
glory of Solomon, which, after all she has gone 
through and suffered in her mysterious history, seems 
still destined for some great accomplishment of the 
divine will. 

After a delay of three months at Constantinople, I 
was able to make a forward movement to the sacred 
territory, which, on crossing the Levant, I was first 
apprised of by the sight of the perpetual snows of 
Mount Lebanon. 

I had thought going up to Jerusalem was like 
going up to London, but it was more like ascend- 
ing the Grampians ; we ascended higher and higher, 
and if sometimes on the descent, it was only to 
ascend higher still. In this progress we passed, at 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID W1LKIE. 431 

mid-day, a living spring of waters, said to be where 
the stripling David picked up the pebble with which 
he slew the giant Philistine. Our ascent at last 
brought us to an extended table land, over which 
we looked with longing eyes for the object of our 

Tasso has powerfully described the impression of 
the first sight of Jerusalem on the Crusaders ; but 
once in view of the engrossing sight, no one stopped 
to compare thoughts, but urged on, tracing with 
the eye the form and extent of the Eternal City. 
Jerusalem is built on the brow of a hill, said to be 
2500 feet above the level of the sea. Mount Zion, 
once the castle of the Jebusites, forms its highest 
range, and the other, Mount Moriah, the site of the 
Temple of Solomon. Its natural defences on each 
side are the deep ravines of the valley of Jehosha- 
phat, the Mount of Olives, like the top of Fiesole, 
rising alone above it. On the side of the hill of Zion, 
next to the wall of the Temple, is the miserable 
quarter allotted to the scattered tribes. Their syna- 
gogues are objects of touching interest. On Fridays 
it is their custom, men, women, and children, to col- 
lect where a portion of the wall of the Temple is left 
open, to weep and wail, and kiss the huge stones of 
the foundation, reading and chanting the cxxxviith 
Psalm, " By the rivers of Babylon we sat, yea, and 
wept, when we thought upon Zion." 

From this ancient people one naturally reverts to 
that race of Gentiles, now the dominant party, who 
for twelve centuries have occupied their land, and who 
have raised the mosque of Omar on the ruins of 

432 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

their temple. The Mohammedans seem disposed to 
be most faithful allies of our nation, and to be most 
civil to our travellers ; still, the precariousness of their 
power makes them jealous of foreign intercourse, 
and, both in their domestic habits and religious rites, 
they edge themselves in with a sort of Chinese 
exclusion from every sort of observation. The Tem- 
ple they have appropriated; no one but of their 
own faith can enter; and the gate, once called the 
Beautiful Gate, the only architectural remain of the 
work of Solomon, they have built up, from a pre- 
diction, that through this the western enemies of 
their faith would, as conquerors, some future day, 
gain admittance. 

But of all that is to be seen in Jerusalem, the re- 
miniscences of the New Testament are to us the most 
interesting. Here, from the arrival of Jesus Christ, 
by the very path where he beheld the city and wept 
over it, to the time of the Passover, the Crucifixion, 
and the Kesurrection, every turn and resting-place 
can be traced. For the preservation of the details of 
some of these, we are indebted to the piety of the 
Eoman Empress Helena, who built a church over the 
entire of Mount Calvary, enclosing the rock where 
the cross was planted, with the tomb where our 
Saviour was laid. In this sanctuary, certainly a 
beautiful and impressive building, the Greeks and the 
Latins strive, even with more than religious zeal, for 
the rights of adoration upon the sacred ground. 

Seeing, with the natural awe that belongs to them, 
these places thus preserved from desecration, one can 
scarcely agree with some of our Protestant tourists, 

^Ex.56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 433 

who have affected to treat them with doubt, or to 
make it an object of indifference whether they are 
correct or not. It is true, in minute details, too 
much may be proved or believed, but whoever walks 
around Jerusalem will have his reason as well as his 
feelings impressed; will find, not merely the hills and 
valleys, but the rocks, the walls, and the very stones 
seeming to rise up as unchanging witnesses of the 
correctness of the evangelical narrations. 

One change I may notice as remarkable : Mount 
Calvary was, as an ignominious place, anciently out- 
side of the walls; but, like the stone which the builders 
rejected, since it was made the altar of the great sa- 
crifice, it has attracted a city round about it, a great 
part, the hill of Zion, being shut out of the walls by 
their extension westward, to include in the very midst 
of Jerusalem the rock of Calvary and the Holy Se- 

I hope this will find the Countess of Leven, with 
Lord Balgonie, and all the young family, in excellent 
health. May I request to be remembered to all? 
and, with entreaties for your kind excuses for this 

I have the honour to be, &c. 


JOURNAL, continued. 

April 2d. Shown the tomb of David ; could not 
help repeating a Psalm over it to one's self. 

3d. Started for Bethlehem ; rode through the 
Valley of Hinnom, then by the ruins of the house 
of Caiaphas, called the Hill of bad Counsel; went 


434 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

on to the convent of Elias ; then, by a rugged road, 
got on to a beautiful view of Bethlehem, where I 
made a drawing. We went to the church over the 
manger : here I saw the Greek Mosaics of an early 
time, given in Roberta's drawing. Made a drawing of 
several of the figures of the Ascension ; tried to trace 
the Syrian dress in the figures; and if they could 
be washed, so as to be distinctly seen, and copied, I 
have no doubt but they would throw much light on 
the habits of that early period. The subjects were, 
The Ascension, and The Unbelief of St. Thomas. The 
Christ was defective in character. We then went 
down below to a grotto, where was the stable and the 
manger : this was all covered with marble, covering 
up all that could prove the detail. Here were two 
pictures, which Chateaubriand said were Murillo's; 
but upon the slightest glance we were convinced they 
were no Murillos. Mr. Woodburn was decided on 
this point. 



My dear Sir Jerusalem, 4th April, 1841. 

Why the circumstance of being located in 
this Holy City should make me less reserved in the 
outpourings of my reveries upon the patience of so 
respected a friend as yourself, I am not prepared to 
explain ; but having no right to select you for such 
an infliction, I have yet, from the fancy of saying 
something in regard to science, the excuse of your 
eminence as a reason, considering that the more dis- 

J2x. 56. SIR DAVID WILK1E. 435 

tinguished the mark, the more likely is a poor marks- 
man to feel justified, even if he fails, for the high 
object and aim he has had in view. 

When in Constantinople last winter, Mr. John 
Harvey, of Ickwell Bury, Bedfordshire, requested me, 
as the war then prevented his going to Syria, that I 
would take charge of a portable barometer, and mark 
its precise height, with that of the thermometer at- 
tached to it, on placing it on the shore of the Dead 
Sea. Thus commissioned, I first began observing, 
agreeable to his instructions, its height on the shores 
of the Mediterranean ; in fine weather at Beyrout and 
at Jaffa; then on going up to Jerusalem, when the 
quicksilver fell so low that I thought some had escaped. 
In a few days I started with a party for the Dead Sea. 
I found our descent from the heights of Gillgall and 
of Bethlehem long and precipitous till we came to the 
superb convent or fortress of Saint Saba. Here the 
barometer had again risen in proportion to our descent. 
Next morning we had a distant and most descending 
journey to make, till we came, about 11 o'clock, to 
the gloomy verge of the stagnant lake. The day was 
dark, cloudy, and threatening rain a lurid purple 
prevailed over the broken hills and rocks that seemed, 
tier after tier, to come down from the high lands on 
every side, while an obscure mist seemed to hide the 
farthest distance from our view. There was a sad- 
ness all around, and a solitude in our situation that 
made it not an unapt representation of the Valley of 
the Shadow of Death. On dismounting, I planted the 
barometer in the shingle close to the salt wave. As 
we had some friends with us accustomed to these ob- 

FF 2 

436 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

servations, we were breathless with expectation. The 
quicksilver, in its oscillation, seemed to soar, but with 
no middle flight; and when settled, it rose and it 
rose I need not say high above all height, but cer- 
tainly higher than the maker of the barometer had, by 
his style and veneered index, ever intended it should 
indicate. It rose considerably above the 31 inches. 
The friends with me were much excited, and signed 
an attestation of the height to which it rose; and 
so catching, as you well know, are the demonstra- 
tions of science even in hands infinitely less able to 
explain them than yourself, that even the scheiks and 
wild Arabs of the desert looked on with approving 
eyes, and seemed to triumph, as we did, in the suc- 
cess of our experiment, proving the Dead Sea so 
greatly below all other seas. 

The waters of the Dead Sea are not bitter, but so 
nauseously salt as to be impossible to swallow, and 
difficult to clear the mouth of. Some writers say 
shells are found; but we searched in vain for any. 
Grass and herbage grow close to the water-mark; 
and here we found, what I never saw in the great salt 
sea, large and numerous shrubs and trees growing a 
considerable way into the waters of the lake. Birds 
we saw, from the vulture and hawk, to the lark and 
linnet ; but not many. At a little distance was a stony 
island, which one of the Arabs told us was once 
but barely covered with water, that they could wade 
to it. This, if true and continuous, would establish a 
progress; but I well know how jealous you great geo- 
logists are of what looks like a theory. 

From this we wended our course up the banks of 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 437 

the celebrated baptismal Jordan, which yields but a 
muddy and small supply, though almost the only sup- 
ply, to the sea we had left behind us. We thence 
proceeded to the ancient Jericho, a name so familiar 
to us as children, even to our school-boy recreations : 
but how are the mighty fallen ! Now, from its recent 
condition of a mud-walled village, we found it, from 
the tender mercies of Ibraham Pacha's retreating 
army, a burning and smoking ruin. From this we 
proceeded back towards Jerusalem, and made our 
little camp for the night on a beautiful stream that 
issues from the hills of the wilderness of the Tempt- 
ation. Here, though elevated, I found by the baro- 
meter that we, if not in the bottom of the sea, were 
still, with the Dead Sea and the whole plain of Jericho, 
considerably below the level of the Mediterranean. 

If this question should interest you, may I beg to 
refer you to Mr. Harvey, as above, to whom of right 
the barometer and observations belong, and to whom 
I immediately sent my remarks, made even to decimal 
minuteness, for him to make his calculations from. 
Whether the fact be important, I cannot judge ; but to 
me it appears a remarkable phenomenon. 

Like the ladies, I now come to the postscript, 
generally the most important, and in this case pro- 
bably the most teazing part of the epistle. Whoever 
has been accustomed to walk through the streets, 
lanes, walls, rocks, hills, valleys, brooks, and foun- 
tains of Jerusalem, where the Scripture events have 
taken place, will be convinced he sees before him 
a part of the original material from whence the in- 
spired writers have drawn their narratives; at once 

FF 3 

438 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

satisfying him of the accuracy, while it gives a per- 
fect idea of the situation, of the details. From the 
arrival of Jesus Christ from Jericho, his entrance 
before the Feast of the Passover to the time of the 
Last Supper, his cruel Crucifixion and Resurrection, 
every movement and resting-place may be traced, with 
scarce a doubt of any leading point of that eventful 
period: yet, strange to say, the art of painting in 
Italy has arisen and triumphed in her devotion to such 
scenes, with scarcely a reference or resemblance to these 
obvious localities. While the world was shut out from 
the Holy Land, this want of knowledge could not be 
felt ; but when travellers now are, by the facilities of 
steam -boat navigation, conveyed so readily here, my 
impression is, the future painters of Scripture-pictures 
must stir themselves to be on a par with those who 
are to appreciate them. Being impressed with this, 
and seeing that a number of clergy and students of 
divinity have been making this journey, allow me to 
state to you, who are so great and so influential, a 
want that to us as a nation is now in the sacred land 
so. obviously felt. 

Every country but Great Britain have their esta- 
blishments in Syria. There are Latin, i. e. Roman 
Catholic convents at Mount Carmel, Jaffa, Ramla, 
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, &c. under the protection of 
France. There are Greek convents in Jerusalem, 
St. Saba, Nazareth, with Arminian, Maronite and Cop- 
tic convents, under the protection of Russia ! ! Of 
these there is an Armenian convent in Jerusalem, not 
very inferior to our Oxford University. Let me also 
observe, that in Jerusalem and the chief towns of 


Syria and the Levant, there are American mission- 
aries. All these, in the absence of hotels, are ready 
to supply the wants of their travellers, while we, the 
poor subjects of Great Britain, whose sovereign, by 
the success of her Majesty's arms, has almost made 
a present of Syria to the Sultan, have not a spot to 
call our own. They are now trying to found a 
church, but it ought to be a college ; and if so, where 
could this originate so well as from our leading 
universities ? 

May I offer my regards to Mrs. Buckland, and also 
most kind remembrances to Sir Francis and Lady 
Chantrey? There is no sculpture in Syria. 

Entreating your kind excuse for all this, I have the 
honour to be, 

Your most obliged Servant, 

D. W. 

F F 4 








THE Letters and Journals of Wilkie continue to ex- 
hibit how unforgetful he was, though in a strange 
land, of the many friends he had left behind him. 
The interesting sights he saw at Jerusalem reminded 
him of his friend Phillips, and the happy hours he had 
spent in his society amid the rich pictorial stores, 

" And all the green delights of Italy." 

My dear Sir, Jerusalem, 4th April, 1841. 

At this distance from England, there are still 
many circumstances to recall me to those at home en- 
gaged in the same pursuit; and the recurrence of 
to-morrow, the first Monday in April, brings strongly 
to my mind the whole train of ideas attendant 
upon the preparation and delivery of the labours 
of my brother members for exhibition at the Koyal 

Such thoughts most readily recall one like yourself, 
so distinguished both as a member, and upon these 

Mi. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 441 

occasions so strong as a supporter of our Institution ; 
and the more so, as I think you were one of those 
friends who rather encouraged me, in commencing this 
journey to a land which our divine art has so much 
cherished in imagination, and may yet, as we hope, 
from its reality, derive fresh cause of inspiration. 

With the wish, therefore, that we of our nation 
and our time, while other occupations seem so much 
on the move, should be up and be doing, and, instead 
of copying only what former schools have supplied, 
or sinking down to be the mere illustrators of the 
contemporary pursuits of other people, might find 
out a new vein unknown to former schools, and 
which, if desired by the British people, no other pur- 
suit of human ingenuity can render. With such an 
object as this, in August last, I commenced my jour- 
ney. On reaching Constantinople, however, there 
was but one slight unexpected aifair to be settled, 
namely, that Syria had to be conquered, and Jerusalem 
again delivered, before I could stir a step towards that 
land I had so much desired to see. 

The impression produced by first arriving in Jeru- 
salem, by first walking her streets and viewing her 
massive buildings, the enduring rocks on which she 
is placed, the deep ravines, valleys, and hills, by 
which she is surrounded, is beyond what can be again 
felt in any other place in the world. It is not merely 
in what they might have supplied to art, if they had 
been known to the artist, or in what they might fur- 
nish if seen by the student or commentator of Scrip- 
ture, but as the ORIGINALS in conjunction with the 
great events that have there occurred, from which the 

442 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

sacred writers have drawn their narratives. I under- 
stand a leading foreign painter was here, and re- 
gretted that Raphael and Domenichino had not in 
their day seen the place and people, which, with 
all their power, they had but vainly tried to imagine. 
In our own country you and I can fancy that some 
of our talented brethren, from West down to the 
present time, had their devotion to art been helped 
by such knowledge, might have begun a style new to 
the public, and capable of advancing, as an original 
system of Scripture art. Here the people, as well as 
their situation, lead you to ages long passed away. 
The Jewish Synagogue is in their miserable quarter 
of the city, but it is on Mount Zion, where, existing, 
as it has done, from the time of the Jebusites, it can 
be seen now only with the most touching interest; 
and excluded from the rock and stone walls of their 
own temple, they still believe that the Tables of the 
Law, and the Tabernacle, supposed to be buried in 
its ruins, will yet one day be found, and restored to 

The Arabs, who form the mass of the poor people, 
look as if they had never changed since the time of 
Abraham. Their religion, though here in the ascen- 
dent, shuns the light of modern civilisation, and ap- 
pears to take shelter in a system of exclusion from 
the observation of all strangers, till curiosity loses 
its interest, except in so far as they come in contact 
with other systems of faith. 

But the reminiscences of the New Testament give 
the great interest to Jerusalem, and the once- despised 
Mount Calvary is now within the walls, a centre and 


attractive quarter of the city. The events connected 
with this place, from the arrival of Jesus Christ in 
Jerusalem to the crucifixion, entombment, and resur- 
rection, which, as you know, have supplied the great 
mass of subjects to Scripture painting, may here be 
traced for every day and hour of that exciting period. 
If we ask, would the knowledge of these have helped 
the great painters? it may be answered, they have 
done wonders without it. It is true: when they 
painted, their being incorrect could not be detected, 
and perhaps will not be felt at present ; but now that 
Syria is open, and that steam-boat navigation is 
spreading crowds in all directions, may not a system 
of Scripture painting be required corresponding, not 
to our ignorance, but to our improving knowledge of 

But another style of art will naturally grow out of 
the opening of Syria. You know our brother member 
Roberts is both painting most interesting pictures, 
and publishing his drawings, to show what Syria is 
at the present time. This, though distinct from 
Scripture art, may yet, with his great ability, lead 
to the call for Scripture pictures, and may lead to 
others visiting the holy territory. It has been with 
me an often repeated joke with our highly talented 
friend, Mr. Turner, that he ought to have mounted 
the staff and scallop-shell for such a peregrination; 
and he will recollect well where he said I wished to 
send him, when I tell him I thought of him, and 
wished for him when I passed the ancient city of 
Jericho, though then, from the ravages of the re- 
treating army, a smoking ruin. I can fancy what 

444 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

our friend would make of this and the vale of the 
Jordan, of the Dead Sea, the Wilderness of the 
Temptation, and, above all, the Mount of Olives, 
Mount of the Ascension, with all the mystery asso- 
ciated with it, which (like the top of Fiesole over 
Florence) overlooks Jerusalem. 

In requesting to be particularly remembered to my 
excellent friend Mrs. Phillips, and the young ladies 
the Misses Phillips, I may observe that, wherever I 
have travelled, ladies have been always most alive to 
the objects of this journey, and may yet, in our own 
country, be the most likely to awaken the attention of 
Protestant England to what is due to Syria. Such 
elements of agitation as the repealers of Ireland, the 
anti-rate payers of England, and the non-intrusionists 
of Scotland, do not promise much ; but we must hope 
for the best. 

D. W. 

Dear Mr. James Hall, Jerusalem, 4th April, 1841. 

In viewing and perambulating the streets, lanes, 
mounts, and hills of Jerusalem, the admirer of the art 
of painting will find, at every turn, what ought to have 
formed the position and background of the finest pic- 
tures the art has produced. He will also see, in the 
people that walk the streets, evidence of their being 
the native descendants of those who should form the 
characters in these pictures. From the arrival of Jesus 
Christ from Jericho, his entrance before the Feast of 
the Passover, to the time of his arrest, crucifixion, 


and resurrection, every movement and resting-place 
may be traced, with scarcely a doubt of any of the 
leading points of that eventful period. Yet, strange 
to say, the art of Italy has arisen and has triumphed 
in her devotion to such scenes, with scarcely a refer- 
ence or resemblance to these palpable localities, where 
these events were transacted. The revived art of 
Rome, like the church of Rome, seems built, less upon 
original authority than upon Italian material and 
imagination. These are hazardous questions, requir- 
ing to be broached with delicacy; but steam-boat 
navigation must bring them into view, and for the 
sake of future art, and particularly British artists, one 
is glad, amidst the stirring activity of all other pur- 
suits, there still remains a stone unturned, a question 
unsettled, and a demand for the reader of Scripture, 
which the divine art of painting can alone supply. 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

April 4th. Being Palm Sunday, went to hear High 
Mass at the Holy Sepulchre : it was most splendid, 
and the back-ground, in which was seen the Sepulchre, 
was most striking. From accounts received from 
Beyrout of the plague, Mr. Woodburn is strongly of 
opinion we should go from this by way of Egypt. 

5th. Considered much the possibility of going to 
Cairo and Alexandria, through the desert. The Lord 
Bishop, however, recommended us to go to Jaffa, 
which is free from plague, and take ship there to 
Beyrout or Alexandria. Went out to make drawing 

446 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

of the Pool of Bethesda, and the Beautiful Gate of 
the Temple. 

6th. Went to Mr. Young, arranged for horses and 
mules to go to Jaffa to-morrow. Went to the road 
from Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, where made 
drawing of Jerusalem. 

7th. Started for Jaffa about 11 o'clock. Towards 
afternoon entered the long ravine by which we de- 
scend to the plain, and from the height of which we 
saw the distant view of the sea, and of the coast of 
Jaffa. Towards night we came in sight of Ramla, 
where was pointed out to us, on the left, a church, 
with a village close to it : they told us it was Emaus, 
where Jesus Christ appeared to the two apostles. 
We continued our ride in darkness, until we were 
cheered by seeing the moon rise over the gardens and 
thick- walled buildings of the ancient Arimathea. We 
found the Latin convent ready to receive us. 

8th. Continued our ride over the plains of Sharon, 
and reached Jaffa between one and two o'clock. Heard 
of a ship in the roadstead just sailing for Damietta ; 
the British consul advised us, the wind being fair, 
to go by her. We, accordingly, after much hurry in 
getting stores, &c., got to this small ship about seven, 
and soon after sailed. 

9th. The captain is arranging his cargo to balance 
the ship, apprehending bad weather. 

10th. The wind becoming adverse, sails were reefed, 
and taken in, and preparations made for a coming 
storm. During the day we kept on pretty fairly; 
but towards night the gale increased. For a time 
the ship kept on her course, but at last the pitching 


and breaking of surf became so great, that the captain 
was obliged to let her run before the wind, and talked 
of returning to Jaffa. After enduring a fearful night, 
I told them, as daylight approached, or sunrise, there 
might be a change : the sunrise was attended with a 
perceptible mitigation of the storm. 

Sunday, llth. The weather, as the day advanced, 
became clearer ; the sun began to shine. The wind 
being adverse, the captain came to anchor: this ap- 
peared to us a loss of time, admitting however that, 
in the difficult navigation of these coasts, he must 
be the best judge of such affairs. 

After seeing, with great attention, the city of Je- 
rusalem, the district of Syria, that extends from 
Jaffa to the river Jordan, I am satisfied it still 
presents a new field for the genius of Scripture 
painting to work upon. It is true the great Italian 
painters have created an art, the highest of its kind, 
peculiar to the subjects of sacred history ; and, 
in some of their examples, whether from facility of 
inquiry, or from imagination, have come very near 
all the view of Syria could supply. The Venetians 
(perhaps from their intercourse with Cyprus and the 
Levant), Titian, Paul Veronese, and Seb. del Piombo, 
have in their pictures given the nearest appearance to 
a Syrian people. Michael Angelo, too, from his gene- 
ralising style, has brought some of his prophets and 
sybils to resemble the old Jews about the streets of 
the Holy City ; but, in general, though the aspect of 
nature will sometimes recall the finest ideas of Leo- 
nardo da Vinci and Raphael, yet these masters still 
want much that could be supplied here, and have 

448 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

a great deal of matters quite contrary to what the 
country could furnish. These contrarieties, indeed, 
are so great, that, in discussions with the learned 
here, I find a disposition to that kind of change that 
would soon set aside the whole system of Italian and 
European art; but as these changes go too much 
upon the supposition that the manners of Scripture 
are precisely represented by the present race in 
Syria, it is too sweeping to be borne out by what we 
actually know. At the same time, there are so many 
objects in this country so perfectly described, so in- 
capable of change, and that give such an air of truth 
to the local allusions of Sacred "Writ, that one can 
scarcely imagine that these, had they been known to 
the painters of Italy, would not have added to the 
impressive power of their works. Without trying to 
take from the great impression produced by the reading 
of the Sacred Writings, it may yet be said, that from 
its nature many things must be confined to narrative, 
to description, to precept ; and these are, no doubt, so 
strong as to supply to a pious mind every thing that 
can be desired; but if these are to be represented, 
as certainly they have been, by those of an art who 
have not seen Syria, it is clear some other country, 
Italy, Spain, or Flanders, will be drawn upon to 
supply this ; and the reader of Scripture and admirer 
of art will be alike deluded, by the representation of 
a strange country in the place of that so selected and 
so identified as the Land of Promise, so well known, 
and so graphically described, from the first to the 
last of the inspired writers. 

12th. At daylight were again on the move. To- 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 449 

wards night, to the west of the minarets of the dis- 
tant town, we saw the sun set behind the ships in 
the roadstead of Damietta, and about eight came to 
anchor in the shallow water of this branch of the 

13th. It was proposed by the captain that one of 
us should go with him on shore to the officers of 
health. I had written a letter to H.B.M.'s Consul at 
Damietta, to be sent in case any obstacle prevented our 
landing. It stated our urgent desire to get to Alex- 
andria, and, at the request of the captain, mentioned 
the leaky state of the vessel since the storm, requiring 
it should be put in a place of safety. Mr. Woodburii 
proposes going, and Mr. Palmer offered to accompany 
him, with the captain, to lay the affair before the sa- 
natory authorities. We were allowed to ascend the Nile 
to Damietta, where we were received by Mr. M. H. 
Sourour, with great kindness, who took us to his 
country house, where we enjoyed his society and 
conversation so much, that it was twelve o'clock 
when we came back to his house in town to our dor- 

14th. Our excellent friend Captain Grimaldi has 
offered to take us to Alexandria in his ship : we 
agreed to go to-morrow. Walked about the town ; 
but after Syria and Jerusalem, this seems of no 
interest. The Nile is, however, superb. Went to 
Mr. M. H. Sourour's country house: much pleased 
with his intelligence. His great desire is, after having 
been British consul for twenty-seven years, to be 
naturalised as a British subject! This seemed to me 
a rather fanciful idea ; but it is thus explained : if he 

VOL. m. G G 

450 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

were naturalised, he would be entitled to British pro- 
tection for all his property. 

My dear Brother, Damietta, 14th April, 1841. 

We had been five weeks and a few days in 
Jerusalem, had seen all that is usually seen in the 
city and neighbourhood, and even by the assistance 
of Mr. Richard Wood, the active representative of 
Lord Ponsonby in Syria, and who, from this, is in 
high favour with the Moslems, were permitted to 
see, in two remarkable instances, places none but the 
Moslems can ever enter. We had made, in company 
with our zealous tried friend Daniel M'Lauchlan, 
a visit of a day to Bethlehem, where over the stable 
and manger is built a superb church, by the Empress 
Helena,. where the Padre found us ready hospitality 
from the monks of his order in the Latin convent ; 
having also seen the ceremonies of Palm Sunday, then 
holding, which this year is, by Latins, Greeks, and 
Armenians, particularly regarded in the church of 
Saint Sepulchre, we, on the 7th of April, after a 
morning of great noise, scolding and squabbling, with 
dragomen, cavashes, and muleteers, fairly made a 
start, with all our luggage, at eleven o'clock. 

In this way, taking leave of our most kind friend 
Mr. Young, British consul, and restoring to him the 
house he had so handsomely lodged us in during our 
stay, we made our sortie by the pond, or bath of 
Bathsheba, and by the high square towers of David, 

^Ex.56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 451 

and through the Gate of Bethlehem, took any thing 
but the noiseless tenour of our way out of the sacred 
walls, wending our course along the same moor or 
heath by which we had made our first approach. Our 
party were three horses, three mules, Mr. Young's 
cavash, also mounted and well armed, and a friend, 
who joined us, with extra donkies for the muleteers ; 
making a lengthened, straggling, and disorderly pro- 
cession, till the confusion became so apparent, that I 
insisted on a general halt, and though ignorant of 
their language, I contrived by a good stick, violent 
gestures, and with high words, and action suited, to 
get the whole party, and particularly the Arab at- 
tendants, to observe a regular order of march. In this 
way we journeyed on, in a burning sun, over a number 
of declivities of hill and dale, till we got, about four 
o'clock, to that eminence, which, looking westward, 
showed us the distant view of Jaffa, and the Medi- 
terranean. From this we descended through the wild 
ravine, that brings us down, by a romantic path, 
from the high table land of Judea ; and having cleared 
the mountains before night came on, we found that 
we had only to cross the plain and more elevated 
land in the dark, when at nine o'clock we reached the 
hospitable Latin convent of Ramla. 

Here we had most agreeable rest and refreshment, 
and next morning, starting in good time, got to Jaffa 
at 2 o'clock. I may here state that we would have 
thought of another route than that of Jaffa : we had 
intended that of Nazareth, Mount Carmel, St. Jean 
d'Acre, Tyre, Sidon, and Beyrout ; but all this was 
rendered uncertain by the assurance that the plague 

G G 2 

452 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

is now in fearful operation in nearly all these places. 
It so happened that Jaffa, though plague-visited when 
we entered it before, had for nearly a month been 
free from it, and was thus left as the only place from 
whence we could embark from Syria with a clean bill 
of health. Thus situated, we resolved to hire a ship, 
if possible, from Jaffa. Here we found several ; but 
the only one ready to leave was a small bark pre- 
pared to sail with a cargo and passengers for Da- 
mietta. The consul at Jaffa and others recommended 
our embarking in this vessel as the best course, as on 
that day three cases of plague were again reported. 
In this way we decided, the wind and weather being 
favourable, to go by this small ship ; and though much 
hurried, to sail the same night. 

Perhaps it is doubtful whether we should have so 
decided ; but as all has turned out, by the blessing of 
a kind Providence, right for us, we are most thankful 
for the escape from the imminent danger this little 
bark exposed us to. For two days all was favourable, 
but on the third a storm arose, and throughout the 
night, the day, and the second night which followed, 
there is no doubt we were in most imminent peril. The 
storm was most violent ; but it was the frailty of the 
ship that gave us the greatest cause for apprehension. 
Still the captain, a Greek, never seemed to lose confi- 
dence nor presence of mind ; nor did the crew, Greeks 
and Arabs, ever want activity, or obedience to his 
will; when most happily for all, at sunrise on Sun- 
day the llth, an abatement of the hurricane began 
to be felt, and as the day advanced, the sky to 
clear; and before mid-day we were cheered by the 


crew coining to' claim the usual compliment or gift, 
because from the mast-head they had discovered 

We were now in sight of the low coast of Egypt ; 
and after two days more sailing, we cast anchor at 
that branch of the mouth of the Nile that runs close 
to Damietta. Here our anxiety was to escape quaran- 
tine, from having left Syria in the state it now is ; but 
on sending a letter, which I did, to H. B. M.'s consul, 
and making the best of our case to the authorities, we 
sailed up the flowing Nile with exhilarated spirits, de- 
lighted by the hospitality of an officer of the sanatory 
laws, who gave us an excellent collation in his own 
house; and also most gratified by the reception of 
her Majesty's most worthy consul, Michaud Hannah 
Sourour, who sent his nephew to meet us on the river, 
to bring us to his house in town to lodge, and who 
took us with him to his country house, to cheer us 
with an European entertainment, which, with ex- 
cellent viands and choice French wines, were felt as 
extreme luxuries by us after the late hard fare we 
had been accustomed to in our land and sea voyage. 
We find the consul a most able and intelligent per- 
son. We went again to breakfast this morning, where 
we had, in all its excellence, tea in English tea-cups 
and saucers, with milk and fresh butter ; and if our 
ladies of England, who are admirers of tea, should 
wish that herb in perfection, it is when made of the 
Nile water, the softest, the sweetest, the most limpid, 
and, as they all say here, the most delicious in the 

With best regards to Helen. I hope to write soon 
GG 3 

454 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

again. We have just met Captain Grimaldi, the same 
captain who brought us from Beyrout to Jaffa, and 
who now sails for Alexandria, and has engaged to 
take us with him. Best regards to Margaret. 

Most faithfully yours, 


JOURNAL, continued. 

April 15th. Captain Grimaldi told us he had some 
difficulties with the Turkish Bey about the cabins. 
We said we would put up with any thing to get to 

16th. Started about six o'clock staid all night at 
Lazaretto, no captain appearing. 

17th. Detained all day, waiting for the captain. 

18th. Got on board the ship, after a squally passage 
to it. 

19th. Stormy all day. 

20th. To-day also, though it came calm, they said 
no boat could stir to me inexplicable. 

21st. Day fine symptoms of going. 

22d. Weighed anchor wind unfavourable wea- 
ther fine. 

23d. Wind adverse had to-day a severe attack in 
the stomach. 

24th. A little better, but most weak in great 
doubt what remedy to apply. 

25th. Seem to get better slowly wind begins to 
be favourable. 

26th. Wind continued fair, and drove us along at a 
great rate, so that we soon reached this celebrated 
capital, Alexandria. 


27th. Mr. Woodburn went to explore: at one 
o'clock returned with a carriage, and we went to Mr. 
Waghorn's Oriental Hotel. We found this most 
splendid; and after three months' roughing, the com- 
forts were exquisite. Mr. Waghorn sent me Dr. 
Laidlaw, who prescribed for me. 

28th. Remained in reading. Hotel delightful. 

29th and 30th. Continue better ; and complaint 
having left me, get by degrees more strength. 


Alexandria, 30th April, 1841. 

Dear Mr. John Abel Smith, 

In approaching this place, I am strongly re- 
minded of your munificent kindness to my nephew, 
by your sending him by this route, the winter before 
last, overland to India. Still this would not justify 
the intrusion of this letter upon your valuable time, 
were it not that I reach this on a voyage from that 
sacred district of Palestine, at every step, and every 
turn, so replete with those objects of thought which 
I feel assured you would yourself, and, might I add, 
Mrs. John Abel Smith would be so well qualified to 

Our most excellent friend, the late Sir William 
Knighton, used often with me to contemplate the 
prospect of such a journey; perhaps this has fixed it 
the more on my attention. In August last, every 
circumstance appearing favourable, I left London ; 
and it was not till by transit of the Rhine and 
the Danube I had reached Constantinople, I learned 

G G 4 

456 THE LIFE OF 1841, 

that the war had broken out, that military oper- 
ations were across my rout, that Beyrout, that Tyre 
and Sidon, that even St. Jean d'Acre, must be be- 
sieged and taken that Syria must be conquered, 
and Jerusalem (again) delivered before a step could 
be taken on this distant pilgrimage. 


Of all the reminiscences the Sacred City prr 
sents, those of the New Testament are most remark- 
able. From the arrival of Jesus Christ from Jericho, 
his entrance before the feast of the Passover, to the 
time of his arrest, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, 
every movement and resting-place may be traced, 
with scarcely a doubt of any of the leading points of 
that eventful period. One part of this series has 
been particularly guarded by the pious zeal of the 
Empress Helena, mother of Constantine, who, in the 
third century, at infinite expense and pains, con- 
structed over Mount Calvary the Church of the Holy 
Sepulchre. This service, so creditable to the gentler 
sex to which this Roman matron belonged, is, how- 
ever, under-rated by our Protestant writers, who 
throw doubts upon the details, and undervalue the 
importance of preserving the whole from oblivion or 
desecration. It is true the minute details may be 
erroneous, and the adoration paid to them may be 
fallacious ; but lawyers know the force of identity 
of place and time as matter of evidence ; and readers 
of Scripture, who have been there, well know the 
impression the knowledge of the situation gives to 
the words of the Evangelists, above all that can be 
done by any other mode of explanation or commen- 

^Ex.56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 457 

tary. The more extended features of the city and its 
neighbourhood, of walls, towers, rock, valleys, and 
hills, are, however, such as no time can change, and, 
as the scenes of the sacred events, assume this im- 
portance in the language of the professor of art, that 
they are the original back-grounds from which the 
narrative of the Evangelists were drawn. 

With most respectful compliments to Mrs. John 
Abel Smith, I have the honour to be your affection- 
ately obliged, and most faithful Servant, 

D. AY. 


Alexandria, 3d May, 1841. 

Of letters from you we have got none, further 
than the one packet at Jerusalem, and can only hope 
all goes smooth and right. In Syria we have had a 
good deal of roughing it. Mr. and Mrs. Young, most 
excellent people, assisted us greatly : they gave us a 
house, and lent us various objects of furniture. To 
buy things was impossible : we had three chairs, one 
table, and two beds, and they sent us bread. The 
Latin convent supplied us with a lamp, and with jars 
of wine ; which, with a pair of knives and forks, a pair 
of pewter table-spoons, and tea-spoons of our own, 
we got on as well as we could. The truth is, that 
as there is no hotel at Jerusalem, there ought to be 
an English college for British subjects. There are 
Latin, Greek, Arminian, and other convents ; but as 
we did not wish to depend upon strangers, we chose, 

458 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

with the assistance of the British consul, to do the 
best we could in his house. 

Another peculiar circumstance is, that we seldom 
rode out without being armed, or without attendance. 
A few days before we left, I went outside the city, 
attended by Mr. Young's janizary, a Turk, his name 
David. We went up the Mount of Olives, where I 
made a drawing, till disturbed by a storm of rain, 
when we came down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, 
to that spot near the brook Kedron, with its ancient 
olive trees, known as the garden of Gethsemane. 
Near to this is a place marked with a marble inscrip- 
tion, where Jesus Christ was arrested. Here I made 
a drawing of the whole scene, with the valley in the 

It was a beautiful evening, and being a holyday 
numbers of people were standing about, on each side 
of the valley. On our passing the brook Kedron, and 
as we were ascending the steep hill, we heard a sort 
of hue and cry among the olive-trees below, when I 
heard a woman scream and a gun to fire ; then I saw the 
smoke, and a woman running among the trees. More 
we could not make out. Coming towards the city gate, 
the janizary called a sergeant to see what was doing. 
The sergeant, with one or two others, went down the 
hill to the brook, and after a little while we saw a 
whole party coming up. The chief person, a Turkish 
woman in holyday dress with a white veil over her, 
I could see was violently agitated, and as she drew 
near, I found that her head was bleeding, and the 
blood running upon her dress. It is not usual for a 
Turkish woman to show her face ; but as she came 

-^Ex.56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 459 

close she threw aside her veil, to show me a most 
severe wound upon her temple. She was handsome, 
though dark, and had a pleasing voice. Her com- 
plaints were most vehement against a man behind 
her, whom the soldiers had taken in charge her 
husband, as we guessed, and a Jew turned Mussul- 
man. We now joined the party, entering the city 
by the gate where St. Stephen was stoned, passing 
the Pool of Bethesda, on our way to the house 
of the governor, that of Pontius Pilate. Here we 
were all ushered up into a justice-room, where my 
janizary made a great ado that I should be seated on 
the divan near the officers of justice, which was done. 
The case was then heard, of which I understood 
not one word. It was, however, sent up to the 
governor, who recognised me from having been pre- 
sented to him by the consul. He made summary 
work of the case, by ordering the husband to be bas- 
tinadoed for shooting at his wife. I saw the punish- 
ment inflicted, in presence of the governor sitting in 
state in a court below. The Turkish wife had gone 
to get her wound dressed at the Latin convent. This 
incident has been thought remarkable, both by Mr. 
Young and the monks of the convent. 

During our stay we saw a great deal, and in 
one or two instances what strangers are never per- 
mitted to see. Still, in leaving at the beginning of 
the Holy Week, all urged that we were leaving the 
best unseen. On Mount Zion, in the synagogue, was 
coming on the Feast of the Passover, and numerous 
tribes had assembled to be present ; and in the church 
of the Holy Sepulchre were to be doings more than 

460 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

usually interesting, from the Easter of the Greek, 
Latin, and other sects, all falling in the same week. 
The church is a most interesting building ; and if the 
details of its history are in some respects erroneous, 
of the leading events there can be but little or no 
doubt. The devotion of the zealots of the church 
carries them to strange lengths. On the night of 
Good Friday they enact the Crucifixion, by putting 
up a sort of lay -figure, which they afterwards lay in 
the tomb, and allow the morning after to disappear 
by their own hands, as if by miracle. This we did 
not stop to see, but I saw the ceremonies of Palm 
Sunday. I found palms every where, and the church 
was filled with them. There were three grand masses 
going on in hearing of one another. The Greek vocal 
music is very indifferent; but the Latin organ and 
the Italian music recalled European style and feeling ; 
peculiarly effective at such a time and in such a place. 
The assemblage were the country people from all 
quarters : they were not without devotion, but, from 
their numbers, decorum was impossible. There was 
buying and selling, screaming and rioting; perhaps 
not unlike a camp meeting, and recalling not a little 
of what we are told was found fault with in the days 
of Solomon. The Turks attend these festas, and their 
troops guard them. 

6th May. 

I have just had the honour of a sitting of Mehemet 
All, for a portrait in oil, commanded by himself ! ! ! 

D. W. 

. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 461 

My dear Brother, Alexandria, 6th May, 1841. 

We have now been here for a week, and have 
just had the pleasure of receiving a large packet of 
letters, which had come to Malta, then to Alexandria, 
then had gone to Beyrout, and now have been re- 
turned to us from that place. They are of date 
from the 2d of February to March 31st. Four of 
them from Helen, and three from yourself. They 
leave no reason to suppose any lost, and are nearly 
all that can be due. Mr. Woodburn has also received 
a few letters, but thinks that one is delayed, and is 
to write to Malta about it. 

In confirmation of what Sir James Clark has so 
distinctly stated to Helen, I have also received an 
official letter from Sir William Martins, stating that 
the Lord Chamberlain had just received my letter, 
27th December, asking further leave; and he is de- 
sired to convey his Lordship's compliance with my 
wish, viz., to be absent for four months from the 
present month of February ; dated February 10th. 
This makes all square and right in that quarter. 

I have read with attention what you say of Mr. 
Moon's operations in regard to Lady Baird's picture, 
Lord Arbuthnot's, and others ; I am glad if any thing 
is doing, but certainly feel that he is undertaking too 
much. I wish you could call on Mr. Fox to see his 
progress with The Queen's Council. 

I observe you have got into your new house; that 
you are considering with Mr. Rice the giving up of 

462 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

the house on the Terrace. Helen tells me that the 
portrait of Sir Peter Laurie, arid that of Sir William 
Knighton, have been sent into the Exhibition ; and if 
they look tolerably well, this will be a point gained. 
Helen also interested me by the account of the election 
in February, and other circumstances in regard to 
Roberts, Collins, &c., connected with the occupations 
of the artists. 

Wishing well as I always do, both to yourself and 
Margaret, I was happy in hearing of her safe delivery 
of your little boy, who I hope with her continues in 
good health ; as your cares with your happiness in- 
crease, may I hope that your affairs continue to 
thrive ; this being a great point. I have read with 
interest your statement of prospects this year. 

From the ship, we came to Mr. Waghorn's hotel ; 
splendid and comfortable beyond everything. The 
Oriental had sailed a few days before, and had left 
behind nearly all the passengers from Suez and Cairo, 
who could not make the journey from the Red Sea to 
this in time, so that she only took the mail, and a 
very few who came in time. Mr. Waghorn told us he 
had to go to Suez to contrive matters better : he left 
for Cairo and Suez. We have since been joined by a 
number of civilians and military, with their ladies, 
from Bombay, and we mean to wait with them for the 
return of the Oriental, as the most direct, and most 
comfortable way of getting to England. 

We find the house of Mr. Briggs very quiet here ; 
it is conducted by Mr. Green and Mr. Terry. On our 
arrival, Mr. Green informed me that . he had men- 
tioned me, with the object of iny journey, to the 


Sovereign Pacha, Mehemet All, and that his Highness 
was desirous of seeing me. Accordingly, a day was 
fixed, and as I requested that Mr. Woodburn might 
also be presented, we got a carriage, and Mr. Terry 
accompanied us on horseback, when we drove about 
two miles out of Alexandria, to his summer residence ; 
we found a fresh-looking garden, watered by the Nile, 
attached to the Palace, in which was an open chiouch, 
where the Pacha was seated. Mr. Terry, after an- 
nouncing us, took us through the garden, and pre- 
sented us in proper form to his Highness. They 
informed him I had painted the Sultan, which he 
expressed a strong desire to see, but I said it was 
gone to England. 

We were much interested in the appearance of the 
Pacha; coffee was brought us, after which we took 
our leave, and returned to Alexandria with Mr. 

One result of the above interview was, that the 
Pacha laid his commands on me to paint his portrait, 
which, as we must wait nearly a fortnight here for 
the Oriental, I engaged to do, only that his Highness 
must allow me to finish it in England. This morn- 
ing, as early as nine o'clock, Mr. Woodburn and I re- 
paired to the Palace, with easel, pencil, and colours : 
we were at once admitted to the Pacha, and I began 
the picture. He is a fine character, has a most pleas- 
ing manner, and picturesque appearance, and though 
friends said I would find him a restless sitter, it ap- 
peared quite the contrary ; he gave me a sitting of two 
hours and a half ; and from all I can see, the affair is 
his own doing, in order to have a portrait of himself; 

464 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

and I wish to make every exertion, that he may have 
cause to be satisfied. We are appointed for the day 
after to-morrow again. 

Enclosed you will receive two letters, to friends 
whom I do not like to burthen with foreign postage ; 
you will, therefore, charge it to me. 

I may just add, that Mr. Woodburn and myself, 
after an absence of more than eight months, are all 
eagerness to return home, and see all our friends 

D. W. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

May 4th. Went to see Pompey's Pillar; struck 
with its size, solidity, and elegance. 

5th. Went with Mr. Woodburn and Mr. Terry, 
who presented us to his Highness Mehemet Ali : he 
was seated in a garden. He received us most gra- 
ciously, and we had coffee. On being told that I had 
painted the Sultan, he asked if I had it here ; on my 
telling him it was gone to England, said he was de- 
sirous of having a copy of it. I said it could only be 
done in London. His Highness then desired I would 
make a picture for him of himself; asked how many 
sittings ? I said three. He asked when ? I said to- 
morrow morning; but that his Highness must sit in 
a room. He sent me to look at a room, and fixed 
nine o'clock to-morrow morning. We came back with 
Mr. Terry, greatly pleased with our interview. 

6th. At nine o'clock attended the palace of the 
Pacha with Mr. Woodburn, taking with us a panel, 
easel, and colours, to begin a portrait of the Pacha, by 


command of his Highness : were immediately admitted, 
and began, his Highness being placed on a chair. 
Sitting lasted for nearly two hours and a half, during 
which the Pacha showed us much patience and atten- 

7th. Called on Dr. Laidlaw, who advised me to 
desist from medicine. 

8th. Went with Mr. "Woodburn to palace with 
colours : immediately admitted. Had sitting of up- 
wards of two hours : advanced the head greatly ; 
returned about twelve o'clock. 

9th. Remained at home all day. 

10th. Had sitting of the Pacha: painted in the 
hands, dress, and sword. 

llth. Had the concluding sitting of his Highness 
Mehemet Ali. I painted on the head, which, with 
glazings, I carried as far as I could. He looked at it 
occasionally himself, and said he thought I had made 
it too young for him. I answered, that I was posi- 
tive it was not so. He thought the marks in the brow 
and round the eyes ought to be made stronger ; but I 
requested it to be explained to him that I did not 
want to paint minute details, but the expression of 
the face. He seemed satisfied ; and I went on with a 
long sitting, in which I made a change in the legs 
that was thought a great improvement. 

I requested to know if I had his leave to make a 
copy of it in England, for myself or for any other 
person who might want it; to which he consented. 
I then took leave, much satisfied with the time, atten- 
tion, and politeness he had been pleased to give me 
during this affair. I am greatly pleased that I am 


466 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

able to take to England such a representation of this 
extraordinary man. Made a drawing from it, to leave 
with the Pacha. The original I am to finish in Lon- 
don, to be sent to his Highness through the house of 
Messrs. Briggs and Co. 

13th. Went to see a Greek convent, where were a 
number of Greek pictures. None seemed very old, 
and all in imitation of an old style; one or two 
seemed lately repaired. They are much in the style 
of pictures in illuminated manuscripts, and all of 
them oil paintings. 

My dear Brother, Alexandria, 14th May, 1841. 

Your letter of the 17th of April has just 
reached me, and gives me much of what is going on. 

I am glad to hear from Helen, and from your letter, 
that you were able to send two pictures of mine to 
the Exhibition, and hope they have got tolerably 
good places. Of course, the pictures of my friends 
and the Exhibition at large will be a subject of great 
interest to me. 

I find the letters I sent to you from Syria appear 
to have been long in reaching you ; still both Mr. 
Woodburn and myself wrote often, and regularly; 
and we hope those to you and his family, however 
delayed, may in succession have reached you. I 
wrote twice since reaching Alexandria. On arriving 
here we found the steamer with the Overland Mail 
had just sailed, leaving a number of passengers who 
could not make the transit from the Red Sea to this 

Jx. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 467 

in time. Finding them arriving and domiciliated in 
Mr. Waghorn's hotel, and that the state of health in 
this capital of Egypt was such as to interrupt other 
conveyances to Europe, we resolved to wait with 
them till the Oriental, whose turn it is to come next, 
should arrive. In this we were glad of rest and 
quiet, after the continued movement of the last four 

We were taken by Mr. Terry, partner in the house 
of Messrs. Briggs & Co., to be presented to the re- 
nowned Pacha, Mehemet Ali. His Highness at once 
asked if I would paint his portrait. I said that what- 
ever I could do before the Oriental came I would be 
happy to undertake for him. He then fixed a day for 
a sitting; and having unpacked my colours I went, 
attended by Mr. Woodburn, and in four successive 
sittings, of two hours and a half each, I got the head 
and hands painted, and the figure and dress entirely 
rubbed in. 

His Highness is an interesting character, has a fine 
head and beard, and I think makes the best portrait I 
have met with in my travels. He took much interest 
in it, and appeared with his attendants pleased with 
it. I am to take it to England, there to be finished, 
framed, and sent back to his Highness. 

Having got this done, which has supplied a kind 
of occupation to us in Alexandria, we are now making 
preparation for our homeward voyage. The Oriental 
we expect every hour ; and having secured our places 
and berths, are now, with the other passengers in 
this and other hotels, packing up to be ready for 

HH 2 

468 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

Yesterday we got a spring van ; and a large party 
of us, some on horseback, went out to about four 
miles distant, to a tongue of land upon the shore of 
the Bay of Aboukir to see the field of the battle of 
Alexandria, where Sir Ealph Abercrombie fell, after 
gaining the victory over the French army in 1800. 
We had a general officer with us, Sir Willoughby 
Cotton, just from India, where he commanded; and the 
weather being very fine, we had a pleasant afternoon. 
On returning, we were taken to a villa of a minister 
of the Pacha, very beautiful, and with a garden, 
which, though produced all by art and the waters of 
the Nile, was yet most gratifying to see. 

I may mention that when I had the sittings of Me- 
hemet Ali, I had to go in a carriage early each morn- 
ing to his palace, about two miles out of town, close to 
the Nile. Here was a most splendid garden. I was 
first asked if I could paint in the chiouch of the gar- 
den; but I objected to the light; so we were taken to 
a large Turkish room in the palace. Here we first 
saw him, sitting upon a divan, most picturesque ; but, 
as I thought to European eyes this wanted dignity, 
he was placed upon a large elbow chair. He speaks 
only Turkish, and could address me only through the 
interpreter. After beginning, he came round to look. 
What I tried most was an agreeable likeness; and 
though his attendants hinted things to me, I watched 
his manner after he had seen it ; and, finding him 
then always cheerful, I knew better than they did 
what he thought, and that he was pleased. 

They said it was too young ; and he at last said so 
himself. But my answer was, that I wanted to paint 


his expression and features rather than little details, in 
order to give to my flat pictures life and movement. 
I found he generally, of his own accord, continued the 
sitting for two hours and a half; and as I arrived at 
the palace, by his appointment, about nine o'clock, he 
never kept me waiting, but at once was ready to begin 
the sitting. 

A French steamer now sails, and will -take this to 
Marseilles. I have just seen the partners of Messrs. 
Briggs, who expect the Oriental about to-morrow. 
I have written by this same occasion to Sir William 
Martins, of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, to announce 
my movement homewards. 

Give kindest regards to Helen, and also to Mar- 
garet. I am happy to read the account of the chris- 
tening. I shall perhaps get farther letters on touching 
at Malta. 

D. W. 


. Malta, on board the Oriental Steamer, 

My dear bister, 26th May, 1841. 

This letter I write to be sent per mail, which 
leaves this by steamer, for Marseilles, and which will 
probably reach London some days earlier than the 
mail by the Oriental. 

Since leaving Alexandria the weather has been 
most beautiful. We have splendid accommodations, 
so that all goes on agreeably. The first day made a 
great number of us squeamish, but as dinner came 
appetite revived, and cheerfulness and glee were 

H H 3 

470 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

renewed in the whole party. We have about sixty 
cabin passengers, nearly all but ourselves from 
India, and a good many were lodgers with us in the 
hotel in Alexandria. The party just arrived from 
Bombay are Sir James Carnac, with his lady, two 
daughters, and a son : we have also Sir "Willoughby 
Cotton, and a numerous class of naval and military 
officers on leave, with several married ladies and their 
children, with black and white nurses. 

While in Alexandria we were kept in a state of 
apprehension about the health of the city. We visited 
no where, and all were most anxious that the party 
who were to sail in the Oriental might he got on 
board with the certificate of perfect health. In this 
way, however, we had an agreeable society, all waiting 
with one object, and with a good deal of agreeable 

This led to my suggesting that Mr. Waghorn, who 
has done a great deal for the establishment of the 
overland passage, should be invited to dine with us 
at his hotel. A proposal was then made that others 
should be asked to meet him. Accordingly, on the day 
before we left, the 20th, we had a jolly party of a 
dozen. They had toasts and speeches, and eventually 
songs, recitations, and every thing that could create 
merriment. Mr. Waghorn showed great powers in 
promoting hilarity, and what with allusions to the 
children of Israel, the Eed Sea, Pharaoh's lean kine, 
the house of bondage, the flesh-pots of Egypt, and 
the land of Goshen, there was no forgetfulness of the 
time or place where we were. There was one song a 
youth sung about the Pope and the Sultan that had 


to be sung twice. The whole went off a marveille, 
and we were glad that such a compliment was paid 
to so efficient a promoter as Mr. Waghorn has been 
of the transit to India, and of the accommodation and 
comforts of English travellers. 

I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 
30th of April, and Thomas's of the 4th of May. I 
wonder none of our Syrian letters have reached : this 
makes me uneasy. I wrote immediately to Mr. Watson 
of Beyrout, to make inquiry about the numerous 
letters we sent from Jerusalem, and I trust still that 
they have before this found their way home. As 
Thomas requested, I wrote to Andrew, at Calcutta, 
from Alexandria, by the last mail. I hope still to 
find some letters for me at Malta. 

In the hope that we shall with the Oriental reach 
England in a day or two after this letter, I shall add 
nothing further, and only venture to hint, that the 
house may be got into condition for my arrival. 
With best regards to Thomas and Margaret, and with 
assurance to Sir Peter and Lady Laurie, Mr. Collins, 
and all other friends, how glad I shall be to see them 

I am, my dear Sister, 

Most faithfully and truly yours, 

D. W. 

Your letter about the Exhibition, with Collins's 
excellent addition, was most interesting, and seems 
to inform me of every picture and its situation in the 

D. W. 

H H 4 

472 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

JOURNAL, continued. 

Malta, 27th May, 1841. Amongst the many pur- 
suits of the human mind might it not appear a laud- 
able one, that of forming a sect, an order, or an ex- 
tended college for the dissemination of the knowledge 
of the localities of Scripture to the Christian world. 
Should not the commentators as well as the illus- 
trators of Scripture be acquainted with the country 
whose history and aspect they profess to teach? 

The last letter which Wilkie lived to write is full of 
hope, and a subdued anxiety to be again at home, 
the last entry in his Journal of his own curious and 
inquiring spirit. In his letter he directs his sister 
to put the house in order for his reception, and to 
assure his friends how glad he shall be to see them 
yet once more. Though far from well, he is silent 
on the subject of his health, unwilling to awaken 
unnecessarily the sensitive feelings of an affectionate 
sister in his behalf; but writes of his friends, his art, 
and the Royal Academy, not of his own impaired and 
enfeebled constitution. The surgeon of the Oriental 
steamer and the Log Book must relate the end of all 
these hopes. In five days from the date of this letter, 
Sir David Wilkie was no more. There is something 
truly peaceful and pleasing in the very briefness of 
what follows : 

" Sir David Wilkie, aged 56 years, and apparently 
greatly impaired in constitution, came on board at 

Mt. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 473 

Alexandria. On the voyage to Malta he suffered oc- 
casionally from affections of the stomach, but took no 
medicine, and appeared and expressed himself as 
having improved in his general health on the voyage. 
Whilst at Malta he indulged imprudently in drink- 
ing iced lemonade, and in eating fruit, and complained 
afterwards of uneasiness at stomach, with deranged 
bowels ; by the aid of an emetic and aperient medi- 
cine, he gradually began to get rid of these ailments, 
was yesterday evening on deck, and appeared to have 
almost quite shaken off his illness. On going to his 
cabin this morning to pay him my usual visit, I found 
him incoherent in his manner of expressing himself; 
he became shortly afterwards nearly comatose ; appre- 
hended imperfectly what was said to him, and could 
not give distinct answers to questions put to him; 
the pulse was rapid, indistinct, and easily compressi- 
ble ; the breathing stertorous ; the eyes suffused, and 
apparently insensible to strong light: a blister was 
applied to the nape of the neck; diffusible stimuli 
were administered, but without relief. In this state 
he continued, but gradually sinking, till about eleven 
o'clock, when he expired without a struggle. 

(Signed) " WILLIAM GETTY, Surgeon, 

" Oriental Steam Ship, 
" Gibraltar Bay, 1st June 1841." 

Extract from the Log Book of the Oriental Steam- 
ship : 

" Tuesday, June 1. 1841. 
" 8 A. M. Sir David Wilkie suddenly worse. 

474 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

"10. 30. Eeceived mails aboard, and at 10. 45 
anchor up. Full speed. 

"11. 10. A.M. Sir David Wilkie expired. 

"11. 15. Put back, to ask permission to land the 

"11. 45. Anchored. 

"0. M. Fine clear weather. The authorities would 
not allow the body to be landed. Carpenter making 
a coffin. 

" 0. 30. Anchor up. Full speed. 

" 8. 30. P.M. In lat. 36. 20. and long. 6. 42. stopped 
engines, and committed to the deep the body of Sir 
David Wilkie. Burial service performed by the Rev. 
James Yaughan, Rector of Wroxall near Bath." 




So lived and died David Wilkie, the most original, 
and vigorous, and varied of our British painters. 
When the tidings came to England, the public mind 
received such a stun as it received on the death of 
Byron. He was the darling artist of the people, 
learned or illiterate, for he spoke to all degrees of 
knowledge and to all varieties of taste. The Royal 
Academy, of which his works had long been an orna- 
ment, and his name a mainstay, was called upon by 
a large body of artists to express a sense of the genius 
of which it had been bereaved ; but as Wilkie had not 
reached the highest honours of the forty, etiquette 
stood in the way, members were heard to cavil, and 
the Royal Academicians escaped the outrage with 
which their regulations were threatened by a vote of 
condolence from the Council to his family. All this 
looks petty and paltry enough, but Wilkie' s honour 
was amply avenged by a public meeting to vote a 
public statue to his memory. Sir Robert Peel 
presided; and it deserves notice that it was on 
the day of his own triumph over the Whig admi- 
nistration, the very day on which the Whigs were 
overthrown. But to prove that art belongs to no 
political faction, Lord John Russell attended, and 

476 THE LIFE OF" 1841. 

moved a resolution expressive of the sincere esteem 
he felt for Wilkie as a man and an artist. A statue 
was, with slight opposition, voted ; a committee 
formed ; and near two thousand pounds subscribed for 
the purpose. Statues to artists are not numerous: 
there is one to Reynolds, and one to Northcote the 
latter erected in compliance with the painter's will, 
and with his own money. 

The honours paid to Wilkie were the spontaneous 
offering of public admiration, a reward for the plea- 
sure his works had afforded. In the speeches of 
several of the committee, his kind and gentle spirit 
was remembered in words which drew tears from 
many eyes ; and his looks and manners were recalled 
with a graphic force and effect which proved that 
words have colour as well as sentiment. David 
Wilkie was tall and handsome, with light sunny hair 
and clear blue eyes, and a look of calmness and intel- 
ligence sparkling with humour. When Beechey drew 
his portrait in 1809, he had something of a country 
air about him, which the artist caught. When Phil- 
lips painted him in 1829, that untamed air had been 
sobered by reflection and intercourse with the world, 
and his goshawk eyes had parted with some of their 
wild light. He was punctual in his attendance when, 
as a student, he had the knowledge of art to attain, 
as he was when, as an academician, he had become 
an instructor in his turn ; and as he loved brevity 
and clearness in others, his own style of instruc- 
tion was simple and clear. When some of the ar- 
gumentative class of students dissented from his 
doctrine, which rarely happened, and ventured to 


set up an opinion of their own in opposition, he 
would convince them in half-a-dozen words. " So," 
said he once to an artist .in my hearing, " you say the 
proportions are accurate by the compasses ; but I say, 
if the eye is not satisfied, then it is wrong, for the eye 
is the instrument by which you will be measured." 
He would then patiently enter into the meaning and 
aim of the figure illustrate all by examples see 
if the students had understood the matter thoroughly; 
and all this he did with wonderful calmness and 
clearness. It was by patience of investigation he dis- 
tinguished himself when a lad in Edinburgh, and it 
was by this that he triumphed over all obstacles; for 
he laid it down as a maxim that no man could paint 
a figure well without feeling to the full the sentiment 
it was to express. All that he painted was full of 
meaning, from his rude attempts with keel and char- 
coal at Cults, to his latest efforts ; and all that he 
drew was stamped with distinct and individual ex- 
pression from the heads which he pencilled on the fly- 
leaf of his Bible in his father's kirk, to his Maid of 
Saragossa and his Josephine and the Sorceress. His 
memory was that of an artist it retained chiefly, 
or rather collected, materials suitable to his own pur- 
poses : all that it stored past was for picture purposes, 
and had already shape and character. He did not 
fill his mind with curious lumber, and empty it upon 
his canvas at random. Sir Walter Scott, his admirer 
and friend, wrote him a letter full tef instruction, un- 
veiling the impressive points of Scottish scenery : it 
was wasted on Wilkie, for picturesque things he never 
dealt in : while the great poet was thinking on the 

478 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

hills rendered famous by the sword, and passes ren- 
dered immortal in tale and history, the painter was 
thinking on the groups which Scottish humour re- 
quired, and of looks which story demanded. Two 
men slaying a wild deer on the braes of Atholl had 
more interest for him, as he watched their faces, 
changing as a cloud, than had the pass of Killie- 
crankie, rendered sublime by the death of the Great 

It was set down to the waywardness of genius that 
Wilkie never painted a scene well when the subject was 
found for him ; but this, it is likely, arose from the 
subject not being selected by one who perceived the 
pictorial points. If it is true that a description in 
words is only excellent if it can be embodied in a 
picture ; then a picture is only excellent if it can be 
turned into bright words. Yet, how many passages 
are to be found in poetry on which painting cannot 
find colours to bestow; and how many pictures have 
been painted which cannot be described with success ? 
It is well it is so else either painting would be blot- 
ted out of the records of elegance as an useless thing, 
or verse as a thing unheeded. Those who choose to 
persevere in this opinion, vended as something very 
grand and conclusive by Northcote and others, should 
try to paint the love-bestrung Cestus of Yenus ; the 
Eod of Aaron, which he could turn into a serpent ; 
the Enchanted Kirtle, which dismayed Queen Gue- 
never ; the Wizard Pail of the northern witch, which 
could drain the cows of a thousand hills; while the 
poet, who thinks verse represents painting, would do 
well to apply all the powers of prose as well as of 


verse to render us brightly back some of the happiest 
scenes of Wilkie, and Rembrandt, and Correggio. 
Such flights are beyond the power of either, and this 
was felt by Wilkie, who knew that art had its limits. 
I have heard him say that many of the subjects which 
his friends selected like new inventions in machi- 
nery, were deficient in some notable point, wanted 
the key-stone of the arch the leading point of a 
picture. This, he said, came from men taking words 
for shapes: art could not work with such illusive 

He laid it down as a maxim, that a painter who 
desired to rise in and through his art, should consider 
the demand for his commodities in the market, and 
the character and influence of his purchasers, and fit, 
as far as art permitted, his works to their taste and 
mind. In the demand of our island for portraiture, 
he perceived the domestic feeling of the people : nor 
was he willing to set it down to selfishness and 
vanity, since it encouraged a flourishing bough in the 
tree of art. His notions of portrait-painting were at 
variance with the general opinion of the country, and 
yet he was right ; he desired rather to paint the mind 
and character of the individual, than the outer husk 
or shell ; yet the outer husk or case which enclosed 
the soul and mind, seems to be what the world is 
most solicitous about. The self-love which rules, 
since it dictates in this department, puts every sitter 
on excellent terms with himself; one wishes to be 
handsome, and as any man can paint a handsome 
face by following the rules of art, as any one can 
make a Scotch air by touching the black keys of the 



harpsichord; another loves all his blemishes so much, 
that he will allow no cast of the eye, or pimple, to be 
omitted, and, like Queen Elizabeth, expresses jea- 
lousy even of the necessary shadow which gives the 
character to the rest. In short, of all the shapes in 
which self-love appears, not one seems favourable to 
such conditions as require to be observed by those 
who would wish to paint like Titian, or Rembrandt, or 
Vandyke, or Yelasquez, or Reynolds. They are jealous 
of being forgotten in the liberties which require to be 
taken with the original : their self-love arms itself with 
the fear of the beauty which they desire to transmit to 
posterity, lest it should be lost in the proprieties of form 
and expression, which the true artist requires in obe- 
dience to the spirit of his profession. It was this which 
kept down in his life-time the high merit of Sir Joshua's 
portraits ; fame, at his death, found them standing with 
their faces to the wall, and turned them to the light, 
where they have remained ever since. It was this that 
made a coxcomb of the North say, that Raeburn could 
not see to paint his portrait, he stood at such a dis- 
tance ; but the distance at which that eminent artist 
stood, gave him all he required the man in the 
mass, not in the detail, for detail was a road to little- 
ness. In like manner, Wilkie complained that he 
seldom could make a satisfactory likeness : ladies love 
flattery both in verse and colours, and it is question- 
able if they care so much for mind as complexion. 
He dealt in character, and not in the delicacies and 
graces of sweet looks and alluring eyes. 

For his pictures he required time, and he took it : 
for a scene from the North he had characters and 

^Ex. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 481 

manners at command ; and these he chiefly found in 
Fifeshire, which some, not very profoundly, have im- 
puted to the prevalence of originality in that district. 
But originality may be found by an original mind 
any where, even in crowded cities, where the hypo- 
crisies of life too often rub out the mint stamp of 
Nature from the face ; in every country valley which 
holds a score of human beings, there is a score of 
original characters ; for human nature resembles a 
tree : plant it by itself and it grows vigorous, with 
its top towards heaven, and its branches reaching 
widely around; but plant fifty trees in a clump, they 
grow up all alike, with switch tops and weak stems, 
and look like a grove of fishing rods. Burns, one of 
our most vigorous thinking men, preferred a country 
ploughman to the per-t mechanic of the town. Of the 
rough homely simplicity of the one, a useful member 
of society he averred could be made ; but self- suffi- 
ciency rendered the other incurably useless. 

When Wilkie painted any of his leading pictures, 
he thought over, he said, his stock of characters; 
went out to hunt for more among his acquaint- 
ances, and then he supplied the others from his 
imagination. He seemed to have a relay of remark- 
able faces for every occasion: with highland and 
lowland both he was familiar. The proud visage 
which matched the tartan, and the serious look 
which suited the maud, he had at command. With 
all the pipers and deer stalkers in Atholl he seemed 
to be acquainted, and dearly did they love to get 
acquainted with him. A touch or two of his pencil, 
and they were immortal ; from a chief with his tail 


482 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

to the gilly who would be hanged to please the laird, 
he knew, and he limned all; nor had the bosom of 
snow which modestly swells below the tartan es- 
caped ; how could it at a glance which noted all, yet 
nothing seemed to note ? But his chief delight lay in 
his delineations of the character and manners of the 
Lowlands. He was familiar with all the varieties of 
the Lowland mind ; and with all the modifications of 
look and intelligence, from the damsel in her snood 
and her teens, watching lambs by the side of some 
Patie of the mill, all modesty, and grace, and love, to 
the sarcastic and mirthful maiden, who, like the lass in 
the tale, had nineteen lads and a chaser. But sagacity 
of mind, and kindliness of heart, such as pertain to the 
aged, he particularly excelled in. He could distinguish 
by a touch of his pencil between the humour which 
pertained to a heart naturally kind, and that which 
flowed from a nature sarcastic and biting. The 
advice-giving look of the North has found its way 
into most of his pictures in which manners mingle. 
When he desired to express intelligence and wisdom, 
he, it is said, sought for both in his mother's face, 
and readily found them. I have not observed the 
humorous part of his mother's character in any of his 
compositions : in her graver mood she may be seen 
admonishing the maiden, in his inimitable Duncan 
Gray ; but her admonition is in looks, not words. 

I remember once, on my way with Wilkie to a Lord 
Mayor's dinner, in the earlier days of our acquaint- 
ance, I told him of an old Scotch lady, such as he 
loved to draw, who resided at Brook Green. " Ay, 
ay," said he, " she maun be a nice body." " Indeed 

-&T. 6. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 483 

she is," I replied ; " she refused my offer of earnest 
money when I took lodgings in her house, saying, 
i Na, na, put up your money, man ; ye're a Scotch- 
man, and will pay me.' " " That's true," I said, and 
I looked on her curiously; " but I am glad to hear 
you are of that land yourself." '"Deed, Sir, I'm frae 
Edinburgh." "Weel then, Madam, I may say we 
are acquainted, for my father was an Edinburgh 
man, at least he came from Ratho, and that's as 
bad." " Ratho ! (she said, with a sudden change of 
voice,) I have na heard that sound these thirty 
years. I am a Ratho woman, and my maiden name 
was Somerville." Wilkie exclaimed with much ear- 
nestness, u Ay, really now, was your father frae 
Ratho? so was mine;" and the hearty soul- warm 
shake of the hand which he then gave me I shall, as 
long as I breathe, remember with delight. On pur- 
suing the matter further, we found that Wilkie's 
father and mine came from the same lands, viz. the 
farms of Upper and Nether Goger. 

Wilkie was a warm but not blind lover of his 
country : in the sight of Englishmen, indeed, he 
was regarded as one who half shut his eyes to 
all other merit save the Caledonians. " Thomson! 
ye maun be a Scotch Thomson, I'll warrant," said 
Wilkie to Henry Thomson, as they sat together 
for the first time at an Academy dinner. " I'm of 
that ilk, sir," was his reply ; " my father was a 
Scotchman." " Was he really," exclaimed Wilkie, 
grasping the other's hand quite brotherly ; " and my 
mother was Irish !" " Ay, ay, was she really ; " and 
the hand relaxed its fervour; "and I was born in 

ii 2 

484 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

England. " Wilkie let go Thomson's hand altogether, 
turned his back on him, and indulged in no further 
conversation. My friend Thomson, a wit as well as 
a painter, perhaps caricatured this conversation ; but 
I remember it was received as true to the spirit of 
Wilkie when it was first told. 

His love of country was not more remarkable 
than his prudence of speech. He seldom spoke with- 
out reflection; he uttered all he said as deliberately 
as he painted ; and he never drew or painted at ran- 
dom. When Wilkie first began to exhibit at the 
Eoyal Academy, the success of The Village Poli- 
ticians was so decided, that his friends gave him a 
dinner on the occasion. One, the pertest of the com- 
pany, rose and said, "We have met here to do honour 
to genius, but before we can honour genius, we must 
honour justice; and can justice be honoured while 
England groans from side to side? I give, gentlemen, 
the toast which will set all right, l A. full and free 
reform in the House of Commons/ ' All glasses were 
elevated and touching the lip ere the toast was given, 
and which Wilkie, at least, did not expect. There 
was no time to protest, and but little to hesitate ; 
" Ay, but very moderate though," he muttered, and 
emptied the glass: it was long remembered by his 
friends, by the name of Wilkie's protest. 

Wherever he went, he was on the look-out for 
fresh character, or change of costume. His eye, 
wearied in gazing on " the unlettered nameless faces " 
which crowd London streets, would rest with plea- 
sure on the parti-coloured vestments hanging at the 
door of an old-clothes shop ; he treasured the remem- 

^Er. 56. SIK DAVID WILKIE. 485 

brance of singular contrasts of colour, or accidental 
and happy casts of drapery, as surely as his pencil 
could portray them. He seized my arm at one of 
those pleasant breakfasts, prolonged to midnight, at 
the late Duchess of St. Alban's, and dragged me into 
a line of proinenaders who were musing under the 
moon. " Look at it, is it not elegant? how gracefully 
it hangs!" "What hangs?" I said. "Oh! don't you 
see the rainbow hue and stripe of that gown before 
us? it is perfectly beautiful." " And there is a beau- 
tiful body in it," I replied ; " that is one of the 
beautiful Miss Beauclerks." 

But Wilkie's happiest spot of study lay among the 
stores of a broker's shop; among the Gothic chairs, 
covered settees, queer glasses, long-shanked ones, 
like those in the pictures of Gerard Dow, he loved ; odd 
fiddles, saucepan lids, pipeless bellows, figured smooth- 
ing irons, three-footed stools ; all left-hand oddities 
and nick-nacks were welcome ; he would group them, 
and harmonize them in his pictures, inducing them to 
lend reality to a scene where an unobjectionable 
witness was wanted both to time and fashion. At an 
old English change-house he would look, and look, 
and turn again and look ; and one might see by his 
looks, that he was peopling the scene with the rustics 
of a bye-gone generation, and inspiring them with re- 
peated draughts of nut-brown ale, till the roof- tree 
shook with their jokes and the clamour of their feet. 
He confessed, however, that he never could enter into 
the spirit of English fun, as he could into the peculiar 
glee of Scotland ; jokes that had their source in 

ii 3 

486 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

drinking-bouts and sallies of humour, which smack of 
the spigot and faucet, he had no natural relish for; 
there was a smack of fried bacon in all their drollery 
which he could not away with. His picture, painted 
for a prince, The Card Players, has a vulgarity of 
character which explains the difficulty he felt: the 
heroes of the piece, a set of rustic gamblers, are either 
as fat as well-fed pigs, or dull and undiscerning, fit 
only to be swindled out of their cash by an overfed 
landlord, who cheats the guest whom his ale fails to 
poison. There is a sort of muddiness of intellect 
about all who drink ale in the pictures of Wilkie; 
see how different are the heroes of his "Whiskey Still ; 
their heads are clear, their eyes like stars, and humour 
flows improved from their lips. Even in his Irish 
Whiskey Still, where his object was to show the fatal 
effects of what the natives call " stupify " on the 
look as well as the mind, the pernicious liquor is 
long in tarnishing a natural brightness of intellect ; and 
an age of man's life has, at least, to be gone through, 
before the youth of one end of that warning pic- 
ture reaches the debility of the other. But what 
the whiskey of the North accomplishes by slow and 
insensible approaches, the porter of the South per- 
forms at once : as Eunjeet Singh said, when pressing 
a young English officer to drink a glass of his favourite 
decoction of raisins, u Your English wine is a foot 
soldier, who marches slowly but surely to the attack; 
my wine is a horse soldier, who gallops up to the 
charge at once." This martial simile was no truer 
in the Punjab than the use of beer is in England. 
Miss Edgeworth, of whom Wilkie saw much during 


his tour in Ireland, doubts whether he felt the na- 
tional character in all its strength and oddity. What 
that accomplished lady described in words not des- 
tined soon to die, Wilkie omitted to embody in the like 
imperishable colours. Irish wit and Irish humour 
are not in their nature artistical. Who has painted a 
bull, or who has given shape and colour, except in 
words, to any of those numberless sallies of wit which 
enliven the town. I remember hearing that brilliant 
picture The Irish Whiskey Still severely criticised 
by an Irishman for want of truth of character : the 
figures were not sufficiently squalid, and the young 
man and young woman were too gaudy in their 

Such strictures as these strike at the object and the 
end of art. Wilkie desired to exhibit human nature 
manly, erect, and lovely, in the morning of life ; and 
he fashioned that fine young man and woman as ex- 
amples before an evil calling and evil manners had 
corrupted and debased them. He dressed them after 
the manner of the peasantry of the land, who, amid 
much looped and windowed wretchedness, continue 
generally to show spotless linen and scarlet vests. 
Besides, youth is the season for finery; and Wilkie, 
no doubt, was true to nature in his delineation. At 
the Irish story of the red scarlet waistcoat I re- 
member Wilkie laughing till his eyes ran over. A 
country lad went into a shop in Dublin, and said to 
the dapper youth behind the counter, " I want cloth 
to make a red scarlet waistcoat." " Eed scarlet!" 
said the shopman. " Oh, I understand," and he un- 
rolled a web of blue cloth. " That's not it," said 

ii 4 

488 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

the customer ; " it's a red scarlet waistcoat I want." 
" Here's your article," said the shopman, throwing 
down the web of blue. " That's not it at all at all !" 
said the customer, losing patience. " You should 
have brought a pattern with you, friend," said the 
other. " Faith, an' you're right," and he gave him 
a blow on the nose till the blood sprang on his 
knuckles ; " then there's a swatch (i. e. a pattern) 
of it." 

But there is a better excuse for Wilkie than this. 
At the time of his visit to Ireland he was in search of 
higher subjects than those which excite mirth only. 
Out of the convulsed condition of Ireland, one half of 
her talent wasted in idle controversy, the half of her 
fine energies exhausted in religious rancour, and op- 
pressed by those who should befriend her, he desired 
to evoke a series of national pictures, of a moral as 
well as a characteristic kind, in which people might 
see her as in a mirror. In this spirit he executed his 
picture of The Peep-o' -Day-Boy and The Still among 
the Mountains ; and in the like train of moral thought 
he imagined several others, in which are sketched the 
devout feelings, unmingled with rancour or contro- 
versy, but calm and holy, of the ancient religion of 
the land. It is to be lamented that he did not obtain 
encouragement to work out those pictures in full 
size ; he found criticism and controversy instead. 

His feelings were calm, kindly, and constant; he 
was faithful to his friendships, and it was not for a 
slight offence that he weighed up the anchor of his 
regard. Of this his correspondence and memoranda 
contain some memorable instances. His regard lin- 


gered, as if loth to depart, for many years about 
Hay don, whom he respected for his genius, and loved 
for his impetuosity of character the reverse of his 
own. All who knew the men prophesied a sudden 
dissolution of their friendship ; and though this 
seemed sometimes about to happen, Wilkie was ever 
ready, when the other's imprudence required his as- 
sistance, with a soothing word or a kindly act. He 
was, indeed, warmly and widely beloved ; the statue 
voted to his memory rose as much from love to the 
man as admiration of the artist : and when a fiery 
Scot, who had studied with Wilkie in Edinburgh, 
heard his name slightingly spoken of by a southern 
friend, he kindled up at once, resented the words of 
the traducer with vehement bitterness, and refused to 
apologise ; he feared less to fight, he said, than to let 
such words, uttered about such a man, pass unre- 
proved. Wilkie stuck to his opinion in art, as he did 
to his friends. All his opinions were formed de- 
liberately, and, as they were in obedience to some 
settled principle, he was not prepared to resign them ; 
he could be silenced, but, so long as the principle 
stood firm, he could not be convinced ; he could be 
silenced, but, after a long silence, he would start up 
like a giant, and renew the onset. 

Another cause of his popularity may be found in 
his numerous and happy speeches on public and on 
private occasions ; they were studied, it is true, but 
they not the less expressed the sentiments of his 
heart. He had the art, which some speakers would 
do well to learn, of connecting all he said with the 
times and the company. If he addressed a Scotch 

490 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

provost in his own borough, he remembered some 
historical circumstance which endeared the town to 
lovers of Scottish story ; he pointed out the honours 
art had been enabled to acquire through the patron- 
age of corporations; and reminded them that the 
land abounded with subjects such as art loved to 
labour upon; and that, as Scotland had stood her 
ground in party and patriotism, so might she, with 
their help, hold up her head in art. A speech in 
London was of a different stamp : he beheld in the 
Nineveh of Scripture but a type of her greatness ; her 
merchants were as much greater than princes, as her 
commerce excelled the commerce of old ; the barks 
and shallops of that city, guided by ignorant and 
trembling mariners, kept close by land, and dreaded 
the cloud of night as they did an army; but the 
mighty ships of London traversed the ocean, united 
land to land and country to country, wafting civilisa- 
tion and knowledge wheresoever they went. It is 
true that works of art were not yet included amongst 
her export commodities, but the hour was at hand 
when that circumstance, so much to be wished for, 
would happen ; the merchants of London, having 
completed their own collections, would export the 
surplus, and show foreign lands that England, as 
had been injuriously said, was neither too cold nor 
too moist for producing works of genius. 

An address to the aristocracy of the land was 
handled with all the truth and delicacy with which 
he painted a picture. The arts of other nations might 
boast of their state patronage, of their pensioned 
professors, and of their scholars studying Michael 


Angelo and Raphael at the public expense. These 
were indeed great advantages, but rather in fancy 
than in fact. The patronage of Britain was all of 
a private nature : rank, wealth, and intelligence, were 
the patrons ; and, under such protection, see how 
much has been done, from the days of Hogarth to our 
own. The private munificence of the monarch, the 
uniform patronage of the families of Gower, of Rus- 
sell, of Petty, of Grosvenor, and of Peel ; nor should 
we forget the disinterested and discerning influence 
of Sir George Beaumont, nor hesitate to name the name 
of Yernon among the living patrons of art. Such a 
list as this Britain, and Britain only, could exhibit. 
All his speeches tended towards the arts of his native 
land, and their due encouragement. 

If we regard Wilkie as a writer, one who wrote to 
be understood simply and clearly, he merits much 
praise. Now and then, indeed, he labours to be elo- 
quent and profound : but when he has some valuable 
intelligence to communicate, some picture which for the 
first time touched his fancy, or any measure in which 
the progress of art is announced, he speaks with great 
force and great propriety. He is always easy and 
cheerful ; now and then he has a touch of humour, 
"but very moderate though;" and often, very often, 
reflections on art, alike simple and happy. His Re- 
marks on Art are the offspring rather of observation 
than of fancy : they are, it is true, imperfect ; but as 
far as he goes, he is practical and judicious. His 
Remarks on portrait-painting come from a mind filled 
with the true spirit of that part of the profession : he 
desires to paint the mind truly, and the character 

492 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

with force and elegance, rather than waste time and 
colours on painting the husk of the nut to the neglect 
of the kernel. We know not what the world, which 
allows little or no indulgence to fancy in faces, may 
think of this, but such has been the practice, nay the 
principle, of the greatest portrait-painters, from Van- 
dyke to Raeburn. 

The most remarkable as well as the most useful of 
Wilkie's writings are his notes of the daily progress of 
some of his principal works and the memoranda made 
on the collections of art in foreign galleries. In the 
former the student will see the study and labour re- 
quired in the purchase of lasting reputation ; and in 
the latter, the world will find the considerate and 
settled opinion of one of the ablest of our Island 
artists on works which are, in some instances, but 
gathering in their fame. In the notes he will see 
that the minutest object obtained its due share of 
thought ; that all the auxiliaries of the picture contri- 
buted to its sentiment ; and that he put in no article 
of furniture merely to fill up blanks ; that all were re- 
quired as matters of harmony, or confirmation to story. 
And in the memoranda it will be observed that 
nothing is said for the sake of saying something ; that 
all he has noted has reference to something important 
either in conception, composition, or colour; yet all 
is told so as the ordinary reader may understand ; for 
Wilkie was one of those who believed that no one had 
a right to maintain the mysteries of art ; indeed, with 
certain modifications, he held that talent and taste 
were the sole mysteries. 

His instructions were as plain and clear as either 

^x. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 493 

his writings or pictures ; meaning was the first thing 
he demanded. " What is this?" he said one day to 
a student. " It is a man, sir." u Yes, I see it is a 
man, yet I seldom see a man utterly idle with hands 
or with head ; now your man is doing nothing with 
his hands; what is he doing with his head? " " He is 
thinking, sir, what he will do with his hands." " Now, 
young man," said the other, with a grave smile, 
" your answer is naught : you have made this man 
because you can draw well; but you should never 
draw any thing with the hope of others finding out a 
meaning for it. If you had really thought of some 
work for the man's hands, or some sentiment to be 
expressed by his head, you would have made a far 
finer figure, because there would have been meaning 
in every limb." The students loved him for the 
mildness of his manners; he had nothing abrupt or 
stern about him, and they loved him too for trying 
their powers by change of light or posture in the 
models, and also for his great attention, which in him 
seemed a matter of conscience. He once said to me, 
" Eeally it is wonderful how young men will trifle 
with time ; they will squander hours, days, nay weeks, 
on the merest trifling, neglecting the study of an art, 
which, even with the most gifted, requires a lifetime 
to attain." He compared once the students who 
flocked annually to the Academy to the seed of a 
ripe thistle. " See," said he, " to each of these downy 
parachutes one grain of sound seed is attached, and 
as the wind lifts them into the air, they are wafted as 
it blows over the face of the earth. There cannot be 
less than a thousand seeds in the full-grown pod: 

494 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

the birds of the air take a third before the breeze 
scatters the whole ; another third falls on the water, 
or on a barren place; and at last, when nature examines 
the result, it is found that only one seed out of the 
thousand has fallen in a fruitful plain, and flourished. 
So it is with the students of art : a half who come 
can have no real natural call for the fine arts ; they 
come because others come, or because they dislike the 
study shaped out for them by their friends, or because 
they think art is a beautiful thing, and all her studies 
pleasant; in short, not one loves art with all their 
heart, and with all their soul, and with all their 
strength ; they linger for a few months, perhaps for 
a few years, about the Academy seats, and then 
silently make way for other swarms, who come and 
stare, or study or make mouths at Raphael and 
Reynolds, and finally go on their way, and are all 
save one in a season or so heard of no more. 

There seem two great epochs in the works of 
Wilkie ; the first, in which he wrought out the taste 
which he had from nature, and, perhaps, from the 
rustic drama-like poetry of Scotland ; and the second, 
which he did not live to work out, but which sprang 
from the first as surely as Jacob sprang from Abra- 
ham. The first, reprobated by criticism or artistical 
envy as the "coat and waistcoat or pauper style/' 
is true to nature, to manners, and character, and 
possesses a life, a reality, and a moral beauty, rare 
in any works which its bright delineations can be 
compared with. Some of the characters are as true 
and as vigorous as any that Shakspeare or Scott, 
those most eminent painters of mind as well as cos- 


tume, ever drew, painted with a dramatic skill which, 
in British art, Hogarth alone has equalled, while it is 
free from the caricature of that eminent painter of 
human character. Yet, with all its excellence, it is 
too laboured, too minute; the details are pursued 
with a spider-web-like exactness, till skill degenerates 
into littleness ; for, after all, buttons and button-holes 
are not in their nature sentimental, and a brass pan, 
ever so brightly painted, is but a brass pan at the 

In his second style, he made a stride which he had 
long meditated, and in which he was confirmed by his 
visit to the galleries of Italy, and to the pictures of 
Velasquez and Murillo, he not only forsook his usual 
humility of subject, and love of rustic delineation, 
but he selected themes of a more historic nature, 
composed them in a broader and more ambitious 
style, abandoned his minutiaB of Dutch detail, and 
made fewer figures tell the story. This I have heard 
condemned by members of the Academy as an error 
which was much to be lamented ; and commended by 
others, as a successful step from the lower drama of 
art into the higher. The public affected to complain 
of this change as an insult as well as an injury : all 
who preferred laughter to seriousness, all who could 
feel humour, and were inaccessible to the pathos of 
heroic feeling or noble acts, all who could laugh 
with the Souter cracking his thumbs in The Blind 
Fiddler, with the dinner-scene in The Kent Day, 
with the exasperated Grandame in The Reading of 
the Will, or the two tipsy soldiers in The Waterloo 
Gazette, had now to call a new set of feelings into 

496 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

action, and prepare themselves for the austere intre- 
pidity of Knox ; the heroic ardour of the fair Maid of 
Saragossa; the calm soul made up for all emergencies 
in the Columbus; the breathless suspense of the 
escape of Queen Mary from Lochleven ; and the 
diademed future opened by the St. Domingo Sybil to 
the eyes of Josephine. For one who could feel, as 
their sentiment merited, the heroic beauty of such 
pictures, an hundred could scratch the elbow, and 
laugh at the humour of the others, and at that literal 
reality of detail which appeals to the memory rather 
than to the imagination. 

There were other reasons which influenced this 
change. When Reynolds was urged to paint historic 
pictures, he answered, they cost him too much, and 
refrained. The reader will have long since perceived 
that Wilkie purchased his fame at a prodigious cost : 
in short, that the pictures which made him the popular 
artist of his time, he was enabled to produce by the 
income of his portraits ; and that, in reality, he was 
sacrificing his fortune to sustain his fame. Nay 
many and Hope we have seen was among them 
threatened to withdraw their patronage unless he re- 
linquished portrait painting blind to the fact, that 
if he cut off that branch, the rest of the tree would 
wither. They trusted to have him all to themselves, 
and have his pictures at the patronage price of fifty 

But Wilkie was far too acute not to perceive the 
noose thus openly prepared for him : so, for the 
time, he placed himself out of their reach, by aug- 
menting his price; but that price I have reason to 


know was grumbled at ; and the principle on which 
he charged it was required. Now, as Wilkie obeyed 
a principle in composition, he tried to establish a 
satisfactory one in the prices of his pictures. In this 
he failed ; but as " prudence was his oerword aye, '' 
he charged below rather than beyond the value of his 
works ; few, I believe, of his pictures would fail of 
doubling the price at which he painted them, if ex- 
posed to sale now. 

His mode of fixing his price was this : he calculated 
his time at 1000/. a year, and charged accordingly. 
This to me is no true mode of calculation ; it was 
treating a work of genius as a work of the shuttle. A 
picture when painted might not really be worth the sum 
which the time -scale fixed, or it might be worth double 
the amount; and it likely was. Any one acquainted with 
the process by which works of genius are produced 
cannot but know that genius, when working fastest, 
always works the most happily ; and that some of the 
very finest of modern works were accomplished at one 
or two heats of the fancy. "We should, however, recol- 
lect that this mode of measure and value was esta- 
blished during part of the period of his earlier class 
of pictures, when the subject introduced was not only 
minute, but extensive, or, in other words, the figures 
were numerous, individual, and laborious ; nor should 
we, perhaps, decide without a reflection which has 
crossed other minds before, that some men are so 
little capable of appreciating the efforts of genius, that 
they consider the longer the time the work has taken 
in execution, the finer the work must needs be, and 
that a labour which, like that of Puck, could be done 

VOL. in. K K 

498 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

in fifteen minutes, must be a crude and unfinished 
thing, without reflecting that the artist had spent a 
life-time in learning to achieve this with such por- 
tentous speed. On whatever principle Wilkie aug- 
mented the price of his pictures, it is certain that 
he augmented them ; and it is equally certain, that his 
commissions were in no way diminished. 

He felt early in his career that it was not only that 
good painting was required, but that a good place 
was essential to exhibit that painting to advantage. 
This made him desirous of painting his pictures for 
eminent men, and for their admission to distinguished 
galleries. Both these objects he achieved ; and to 
these he added the determination to have them, if 
engraved at all, executed in the best style, and by 
the ablest engravers. This was pressed upon him 
warmly by Sir George Beaumont, perhaps the most 
accomplished judge of his time ; and it was much to 
the furtherance of his views, that there lived at the 
same time two men who had talents and inclination 
for the task John Burnet and Abraham Raimbach. 

The gravers of these eminent men seemed, when 
they touched copper for Wilkie, to work in a spirit of 
emulation. The Jews' Harp, The Blind Fiddler, The 
Rabbit on the Wall, The Letter of Introduction, The 
Reading of the Will, and The Waterloo Gazette, 
were all from the graver of Burnet. While Raim- 
bach, with equal felicity, passed his graver over The 
Village Politicians, The Rent Day, and others. Nor 
should we forget that Charles Fox, taught in the 
school of Burnet, engraved with singular truth and 
force The Village Recruit, and Queen Victoria's First 


Council, or that Cousins preserved all the heroic 
grace and dignity of The Maid of Saragossa, or that 
Doo gave back to us with undiminished lustre the 
Preaching of Knox. All these and others were first- 
rate pictures, and the engravings from the hands of 
first-rate engravers. 

The care with which Wilkie wrought out all his 
conceptions, and the skill with which he selected cha- 
racters, modifying life to suit his imagination, was 
not more remarkable than his humility in listening to 
the counsel of his friends, which sometimes went to 
the rubbing out the groupings of a whole picture. 
This was the more visible in compositions embodying 
scenes in the south than in his pictures of a northern 
complexion; in the latter he had the picture ready 
formed in his mind, and had only to transfer it to the 
canvas ; while in the former he stood on more uncertain 
ground, and had, when in doubt, to grope his way by 
the help of the eyes of others. The English scenes, 
like the English songs to the muse of Burns, gravelled 
him, and deprived him of ease of hand, which always 
belongs to ease of mind. It was long before he fairly 
understood the social character of the people ; their odd 
mixture of drinking and devotion puzzled him : when 
he beheld " the House of God" written from end to 
end of a church wall, and heard psalms and anthems 
resounding from within, he was not prepared for the 
scene of tippling and revelry just opposite, where men 
and women with tables set, pipes reeking, and ale 
foaming, maintained an indecent opposition to their 
neighbour sectaries ; nor did it tend to reconcile this 
imperfection of national character, when on Sunday 

K K 2 

500 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

morning he beheld a portion of the people pass on 
devoutly to church, while another portion, equally 
respectable, were in the air on coach-top and chariot 
hastening to enjoy themselves in the green lanes and 
rising grounds of the country, while the more squalid 
portion of the population buried themselves in tippling 
houses, where they sotted their time and health alike 
away, and were heard not seen retiring to their 
cabins and their rooms past midnight guided by the 
lanterns of the watch. 

Much of this, but touched with a martial light, he 
had to contemplate when collecting materials for The 
Waterloo Gazette ; but he confessed that he found 
the disciplined much easier to control than the boorish 
character, and at the same time equally original. 
That happy group of the young soldier and the 
veteran, seated side by side, full of tipsy gravity, is 
in the first conception of the picture, and clings to it 
through all modifications and changes. It is now as 
it came first from his hand; and the same may be 
said of other figures. In truth, it may be remarked, 
that amid all the changes which he made in his earlier 
pictures, there were parts which he never changed, 
scarcely tried to modify : The Blind Fiddler came per- 
fect from his hand ; the central group of The Village 
Politicians is to be found as complete in sentiment in 
the first rude groupings of the subject as in the 
finished picture in the collection of Lord Mansfield. 

It cannot but be perceived that the conception of 
The Village Politicians is of the imagination ; while 
the conception of Pitlessie Fair is of fact and reality. 
The heads in the former picture are modified, both in 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 501 

age and in look, so as to give the sentiment of dis- 
putation, warm and obstinate, which political rancour 
engenders. The ploughman, the joiner, and the 
weaver are all marked out as plain as if their debate 
was put into words ; no other heads could represent 
these worthies ; they are personifications of their 
classes, and are perfect in their kind. The Rent 
Day, The Reading of the Will, and The Blind Fiddler 
belong to the same class, and may be called historical 
pictures, from that circumstance. It is otherwise 
with Pitlessie Fair, with The Waterloo Gazette, and 
in some degree with the John Knox. The first is an 
express image of Pitlessie ; and the faces with which 
the streets are thronged are those which the district 
at the time supplied. The minister, the miller, the 
artist himself, and his friends and companions, are all 
pourtrayed there ; and one acquainted with the pri- 
vate history of the village can rattle off their names 
as readily as a roll-call. That The Waterloo Gazette 
pertains to the same class we have the artist's own 
assurance. The names of the leading characters in 
the canvas, with the regiments to which they be- 
longed, are still remembered : the old veteran, with 
the young soldier, something overcome by the liquor 
which they loved ; the soldier of the guards holding 
up his son, that he may see as well as hear the 
gazette of the great battle read; the orderly corporal, 
who bears the tidings ; and the grey old Scotchman who 
hears in the words of victory the glories of the forty- 
second, are all portraits of men well known in the ranks, 
and are all united into one scene, recording the feel- 
ings of men who had borne their share in the great 

KK 3 

502 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

drama of peninsular battle, but from wounds had 
been excluded from a share in the last of Napoleon's 
fields. The business of the painter was selection 
rather than invention; therefore this noble picture, 
though it possesses from the circumstances described 
a deep claim to admiration, cannot take rank with 
those pure emanations of mind, where the heads 
are personations of passions rather than of indivi- 
duals. The Preaching of Knox, though of a loftier 
order of art, stands in the same rank of conception 
with the half portrait and half historical pictures of 
Reynolds and Lawrence, superadding a dramatic 
effect and power to which their finest conceptions can 
make but a slender claim. My friend Mr. Phillips 
(whose taste is beyond cavil or question) considers 
The Knox as one of Wilkie's finest works an ad- 
mirable union of the high qualities of the Italian 
school with the lower, but still valuable qualities of 
the Dutch, as a picture in which Wilkie had ex- 
tended the boundaries of art, and achieved that which 
no painter had done before him, or even attempted 
to do* 

When he had to record manners rather than senti- 
ment, Wilkie made faces equally expressive, but of a 
lower meaning, serve his purpose. Honest home- 
spun peasants, and rough-shod clouterly hinds, and 
girls who made up in agility in the dance for what 
they lacked of polish, were the staple commodity 
of the picture. Men who loved to indulge in sallies 
of jovial humour, who, amid their socialities, were 
likely to slide into intemperance ; these were the 
heroes proper for such domestic scenes ; and of these 


the country in which he lived had a full command. 
He has been known to go far for a peculiar some- 
thing which, when found, failed to fit; and then he 
had to draw on his imagination for that which reality 
did not supply. 

There was one race of people, the Scotch High- 
landers, whom he desired to represent rather by mind 
than by costume, rather by character than by tartan. 
I have heard him describe, in a mood betwixt mirth 
and lamentation, the mode in which English artists 
represented the ancient people of Scotland. First, he 
said, they took a man with gloomy brows and high 
cheek-bones, put a chequered kilt on him, a bonnet 
plentifully plumed on his brow ; hung a claymore at 
his side, put a snuff-mull in his hand, threw a plaid 
over the whole, and there was a Highlandrnan, of 
English, but not of Scotch manufacture. In the first 
place, he said, they failed nationally, for Scotland, the 
main portion of which was Lowland, had no more 
ado with the clan tartan, than an Englishman with a 
Welshman's leek ; and next, they erred individually, 
for the tartan of the Highlands was the cognisance of 
the clans to which the different colours and checks 
formed the most intelligible coats of arms ever in- 
vented. Thus, on the day of muster the chief ap- 
peared at the head of his clan or sept, all clad in one 
peculiar tartan, which it was treason to wear without 
permission or adoption. But an English artist dressed 
his Scotchman in a sort of imaginary tartan which 
never existed, and sent him out to herd amongst 
Lowlanders, to whom he appeared as a foreigner, 

K K 4 

504 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

claimed by no clan, and rejected by Highland and 
Lowland both. 

The true Highlander is much of a gentleman ; silent 
and reserved among strangers, one who lives in a world 
of his own, which he has peopled with the memories 
of his ancestors ; and out of the creations of a poetic 
imagination chooses his companions, for perhaps no 
human being lives so much in the past. With him 
every stream of his native hills has a voice ; and every 
breeze which sweeps his wild mountains, a tongue 
which speaks of the past. His language, his manners, 
his customs, his associations, are all different from the 
rest of the island : his literature has come to him on 
the truth of tradition ; his poetry, his history, his 
superstition, all are oral : in his humblest degree he is 
a martial shepherd, ready to fancy an affront, and 
prompt to resent it ; in his highest rank he is a high- 
souled prince, affable, generous, and as true to his 
word as the heather is to his mountains, with nothing 
mean or sordid in his nature. 

When the change to which we have alluded came 
over the compositions of Wilkie, he seemed to think 
it necessary to have new land and a new people on 
whom to try the effects of the new impulse. He first 
tried aim at Italy ; but all that religion, or superstition, 
or history could offer had been exhausted by her 
own mighty spirits. For the forgotten gods of heathen 
Rome he had no taste ; the Cupids, and Psyches, and 
Fauns had already done their duty ; so he turned to 
the pastures green which Spain, now washen from her 
own and her neighbour's blood, presented. The war 
for her independence, in which she was not too proud 

Jx. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 505 

or too superstitious to refuse the aid from the strong 
right arm of heretic Britain, had called forth the na- 
tural spirit of a land where all is noble, save nobility ; 
and of this spirit, yet unsubsided, Wilkie availed him- 
self, and painted to the astonishment and delight of 
her people, The Defence of Saragossa. For this he 
prepared himself by collecting materials both of scene 
and actors on the spot ; and setting to work in a 
happy mood, with the cloud which had so long ob- 
scured his health lifted up, if not removed, and with 
the heroes of Saragossa looking on, he produced a 
picture in which Spain saw her Velasquez revived. 
When the fame of this fine work reached England, it 
made a stir in art, both for the unexpected restoration 
of the painter to health, and the splendour of his suc- 
cess. His fame in Spain established, he tried his hands 
on other subjects connected with the patriotism of the 
war, with scarcely less success, and with probably more 
truth of character. 

The first of these, The Guerilla's Departure, repre- 
sents a young patriot peasant preparing to march to 
battle : religion is called in to add its influence to love 
of country, and the youth departs with a calm deter- 
mination on his broAV. The Guerilla's Eeturn exhibits 
the same young warrior returning victorious, but 
wounded, and uncooled in his patriotism, as uncon- 
quered in battle. The Guerilla War Council shows 
the customs of the peasantry, and the prudence 
with which they guarded their deliberations from 
discovery or surprises. But the crowning glory of 
all Wilkie's Spanish pictures is The Columbus ; this 
is treated in the true historical style. Three noble 



Spaniards are seated at a council table, and before 
them are laid such imperfect charts and maps as 
the world then afforded. One of these Spaniards, 
with a calm, discerning brow, looks favourably on, 
while Columbus, with a mind made up for all emer- 
gencies, is submitting and explaining the chart of 
a yet imaginary voyage, which is to give a new 
world to the old ; the second Spaniard's brow is 
crossed by a shadow of passing doubt ; but on the 
brow of the third, and a haughty one it is, a whole 
cloud has rested. The interest of this noble picture 
is much increased by the tranquil looks of young 
Columbus, who listens, with a brow worthy of his 
father, to the opinions expressed by the Spanish au- 
thorities. On Wilkie's return from Spain, I saw the 
original sketch of this fine picture ; and my friend, I 
am proud to remember, was not a little pleased with 
my commendations. 

These works were followed by others, in which the 
interest of the subjects was more general : some were 
of mingled portraiture and history, others strictly im- 
aginative ; but in none of which the minute and ela- 
borate style of his earlier pictures was visible. He no 
longer refused the help of history to tell the story of 
his subjects: 1. Queen Mary's Escape from Loch- 
leven. 2. Napoleon remonstrating with the Pope. 
3. Josephine and the Prophetess. 4. Sir David Baird 
finding the Body of Tippoo Saib, after the Storming 
of Seringapatam. 5. Benvenuto Cellini presenting his 
Work to the Pope. 6. Queen Victoria's First Council. 
7. A Turkish Messenger telling of the Fall of St. Jean 
d'Acre. 8. The Turkish Love Letter. 9. Our Saviour 

^Ex.56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 507 

before Pilate. Of these, the three last are matters of 
mind rather than of portraiture : the first represents 
a Turkish messenger precipitating himself amidst the 
crowd who frequent a public coffee -house, with tidings 
of a miracle wrought by British maritime thunder 
the sudden fall of a place reckoned impregnable. The 
audience is a sample of all nations: the swarthy 
Moor, the bronzed Egyptian, the poetic Arab, the tran- 
quil Armenian, and the silent Turk, are all influenced 
according to their character with the news ; and 
the painter asserts his dramatic power over these 
heterogeneous materials, and evokes his story clearly 
and vividly. The Turkish Love Letter is Wilkie's 
happiest Eastern performance : nothing can excel the 
earnest eye and brow of the waiting damsel who dic- 
tates the letter, save the undisturbed gravity of the 
Dervise who commits the words to paper, or the eyes 
of the Turkish maiden seated meekly between them, 
which speak things beyond the reach of words. The 
Christ is an unfinished picture full of grave and 
solemn beauty; the scene is copied from that house 
in Jerusalem, where tradition asserts Jesus was 
shown to the people; those who fill the places of 
apostles are selected from the living inhabitants of 
the city ; and the dresses employed are the graceful, 
and flowing dresses of the present day. Though 
made up in this manner and far from completion, 
the picture is a successful one; for in the wide 
selection of materials, the unlimited choice places it 
within the bounds of imagination, and the mind, by 
the eastern hue of the composition, is carried back, 
without any violence, to the period the picture repre- 

508 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

sents. From this and similar pictures, which were 
sketched, but not painted in, we may, with much 
propriety, regret that Wilkie did not live to work 
out a few of these scriptural compositions. By lay- 
ing down the landscape as it existed, by peopling it 
with the expressive faces of Judea, and casting the 
poetic costume of the east over the whole, there can 
be no doubt of his success, the sentiment insured, 
as it would have been, by the devout feelings of the 

Of his other pictures of an historical nature, the 
merit is various. Some, from the formal etiquette 
which courtly manners required to be observed, are 
less striking performances than those with humbler 
names, or whose subjects are sufficiently remote to 
justify a more poetic treatment. The Escape of Queen 
Mary is a charming picture, full of beauty and 
chivalry. Josephine and the Sorceress of St. Domingo 
is a romantic scene : the tawny sybil is opening to the 
lovely and blushing maiden, a page of fate in which 
her magnificent destiny is dawning; while the lily 
hue of the future Empress is contrasted in beautiful 
gradation with the complexions of the Sorceress her- 
self, and the dark African tint of the negro attendant. 
The perfect loveliness of these compositions, and the 
clear elegance and harmony of the colouring, place 
these amongst the finest pictures of the British 

Napoleon and the Pope is strictly of the order of 
portrait pictures, and has been accused of being some- 
thing stiff and formal. The Emperor has that command 
in his look with which he is said to have controlled 

^T. 56. SIR DAVID WILKIE. 509 

so many inferior spirits, and that is well met by the 
composed, yet firm, look of the Pope, who seems 
ready to prove the heroism of endurance. The Sir 
David Baird is an historical performance, represent- 
ing with much truth and vigour the British warrior 
finding the body of Tippoo, who to him, at least, had 
been a tyrant, pierced with mortal wounds, beside the 
dungeon door where he had so long been confined. 
Benvenuto Cellini presenting a silver cup of his own 
exquisite workmanship to the Pope represents a real 
event in the life of that rather romancing artist. 
Cellini, conscious that he is presenting one of the 
rarest bits of elegance, looks with delight on the won- 
derment of his Holiness, whose rapture, had it been 
a piece of the True Cross, could not have been 

Several of Wilkie's pictures are what Hogarth called 
" timed things " that is, things which are more for 
the present than any other time. Such works suit 
the public taste, and occupy their attention till some 
other timed or strange thing a well-fed ox, a new- 
caught rhinoceros, or some strange prince with 
whiskers cut square by the Russian standard 
arrests public attention. Of late years, indeed, our 
intercourse with cultivated nations, the dawning of 
a better spirit, a desire now growing upon us, have 
made us seek, in the works of art at home, for 
beauties which are readily found, or can as readily be 
created, should taste require them. But still it must 
be acknowledged that the great mass of the people are 
in a state of black nature with regard to high art ; 
they admire what is staring, and gaudy, and start- 

510 THE LIFE OF 1841. 

ling, and account it vigour and strength : the tranquil 
beauties of marble, with workmanship which Greece 
never excelled, they account tame ; they have no 
taste for creations, either of poetry or history; they 
love only literal things matters which occurred 
yesterday, better than those of the day before ; and 
things at which the lips can laugh, rather than the 
heart can dance. The strange love of the land for 
caricatures, in which all ranks and stations are ridi- 
culed, but of which none complain, must, I fear, be 
admitted as proof against the existence of refined 
taste, and be regarded as a will-o'wisp, to mislead to 
the deviation of these " timed things." Indeed, 
while the popular taste continues to be fed by such 
three days' wonders by records of passing events, 
rather than by works in which imagination shares 
with history, and the science of art unites with both, 
neither painting nor sculpture worthy of our poetry 
will ever be produced. Where would the poetry of 
the island have been had our Miltons, our Thomsons, 
our Cowpers, and our Burns' employed their genius 
in describing coronation scenes, court-day dresses, or 
in writing birth day odes ; told who ducked French 
nods the best ; whose body bore the heaviest load of 
diamonds ; and whose kirtle was surprisingly long, 
or suspiciously short. 

The genius of Wilkie, when it escaped from courtly 
formalities and took to nature, triumphed over all 
other obstacles. His invention was fertile ; his com- 
mand of character wonderful ; his powers of expres- 
sion both varied and extensive ; his skill in colours 
rivalling the proudest artist of old; his dramatic 

^T. 56. SIK DAVID WILKIE. 511 

tact of the first order, and his sense of propriety 
prevailing in all things. As he had all these ele- 
ments of art under controul, he used them with a 
master mind ; with an ease in which labour was never 
visible, but all seemed of as natural growth as a daisy 
to the fallow-field. Nor was the propriety which he 
observed in all things the least wonderful of his 
qualities; he never committed folly in colours. Dis- 
cretion was his controlling duty in all things ; no one 
ever overdoes in his canvas any act he has to per- 
form ; all is done with ease and grace ; his laugh is not 
loud, but the whole man laughs inwardly, and the 
same spirit of subdued enjoyment runs through all 
his compositions. For his command over human cha- 
racter we have only to look at his pictures ; there we 
have it in single figures, in groups and in crowds. 
Sometimes the heads are created to suit the sentiment 
in request, sometimes modified only from nature with 
a part of the original adopted ; and now and then, as 
in the case of The Maid of Saragossa and General 
Palafox, the scene is wrought out with no change but 
that which the action requires. He is no dealer in 
odd heads for oddity's sake, no more than he is of 
extravagant and outrageous postures. He knew 
that violent action distorted the human body ; and 
while it hurt its natural beauty abated the feeling 
of ease with which almost all deeds fit for art should 
be done. 

In dramatic skill he has been compared to Hogarth, 
who mingles caricature with his composition. This 
Wilkie never did : all is simple, clear, and unembar- 
rassed. He has been, and with more propriety, com- 



pared to Raphael; not in subject, for the Italian 
handles the loftiest of all themes, and Wilkie frequently 
the humblest ; but for the vivid truth of delineation, 
and the judgment with which he brings his characters 
into action, uniting them all in the task of making 
out and composing his story. The Village Politicians, 
The Blind Fiddler, The Rent Day, The Maid of Sara- 
gossa, and The Columbus, may be instanced as pic- 
tures which tell their stories as plain as with a tongue, 
and may be said to be represented on the stage in 
perfection whenever they are placed before us. In 
one thing these compositions have the advantage over 
literature : their language requires no translation ; 
they are addressed to all nations, kindreds, and 
tongues, and also that they require only to be seen 
to be understood ; the eye takes all in at a glance ; to 
read is but the work of a moment. 

The colouring of Wilkie is very various, for he had 
to seek his way to what was bright and lasting, 
through perplexing theories, and amid the thick 
darkness which still involves the mystery of colours. 
For a while, when he was yet unknown, he was an 
admirer of his countryman Carse, and, deluded 
by his brilliancy, imitated it with a skill which is 
observed in most of his Edinburgh pictures: he 
next mixed his palette to the theory of a man who 
had written a book on the subject, and his success 
is supposed to have lessened the lustre of The 
Blind Fiddler. From this he turned to the more 
natural colouring of the Dutch school, as in The 
Village Festival, and Teniers and Ostade were his 
favourites. He borrowed small Ostades and kept them 

-^T. 56. SIB DAVID WILKIE. 513 

beside him ; and hesitated not, when he found his 
pictures at houses to which his merit brought him 
invitations, to stay and ponder over them, nor leave 
them till he filled his mind with what was before 
him. He next became a follower of Correggio and 
Rembrandt, and drank in their peculiarities as parched 
ground swallows up rain. He was somewhat touched 
with the splendour of Titian ; and when he visited 
Spain he contended that Velasquez was the wisest of 
all great colourists ; and, without exactly imitating 
him, mixed his palette under his influence. Out of 
all these masters he compounded a style of colouring 
which, for brilliancy and beauty, has not been ex- 
celled, and which promises to be permanent. The 
streakiness which I have heard objected to by some, 
and which is observable in his fine portrait of Lady 
Lyndhurst, subsides by distance ; and in harmonious 
arrangement of colours, and luminous brilliancy of 
effect, he outshines all his contemporaries. 

As a portrait painter Wilkie had great but unequal 
powers. I have heard some of his brethren, whose 
talents have been confined to that line, refuse to re- 
gard him as a portrait painter at all, and say that 
Wilkie admitted that he was not a popular one. But 
though Wilkie in humility admitted that he failed to 
please, and was not popular in that line, we are not 
prepared in the presence of such portraits as those of 
Lady Lyndhurst, the Duke of York, Queen Adelaide, 
The Duke of Sussex, Lord Kellie, Sir James M'Grigor, 
and Sir Peter Laurie, to say that he was less than a 
portrait painter of a high order. Had he not been a 
great painter of better things, many of his portraits 



would have been thought exquisite. That of the Duke 
of Sussex is a light to the palace ; the likeness is excel- 
lent, the drawing good, and the colouring such as 
throws all neighbouring pictures into the shade; 
while that of Sir James M'Grigor, with the same 
fine drawing, and a similar brilliancy, has something 
of the land of the mountain and the flood in the air, 
which marks it for the north. The portrait of Queen 
Adelaide is particularly happy, not only for that un- 
affected lady-born air, but for the fine tone of colour 
which pervades the whole performance. 

Many portraits which he admitted into his pictures 
are as true as they are beautiful. Though purposely 
made loutish, that of himself in Alfred in the Neat- 
herd's Cottage, and those of his sister and his mother 
in Duncan Gray, are, I reckon, perfect. . The draw- 
ing of his cousin, Mr. Young, in a Dutch costume, 
though purposely grotesque, is exceedingly like ; nor 
am I disinclined to admit the likeness of his younger 
brother Thomas in the act of reading a book among 
his ablest portraits. But The Village Politicians, 
The Blind Fiddler, The Rent Day, The Reading of 
the Will, The Waterloo Gazette, The John Knox, The 
Maid of Saragossa, The Josephine, and The Colum- 
bus, will always stand between his portraits and pub- 
lic admiration, as they stand before all other works of 
art in the British School. 



U II KM , I IN ,1,1 I i: M. I III |. ATI Mil I, \VM. WII.MI., It. A. 

Tin. IVc.sidenl. and Council ..I' ill.' L'oyal Academy, nlllioii;- I. n- |.o oblrnde on NOITOWM loo recent DIM! severe to admit of 
present alleviation, yd cannot iv,;i.,l ll.e :i n \ KHI . dr. .11 < ll.ey feel 
n -. peclfully lo manife I lull..' family of lli' l:il- Sir l>..\i| Will.i.- 
how |.-.-|>ly Ili.-y \ iii|.:illn < in Hi-- lo,. Ih.-y l.nvc HUM! Ililicil liy (lie 
JiiiiH'i.lablc mid iinliiiK'ly dcnlli ol (lint "i < :ii pninlcr. ( 'oiincc.lcd 
with I. ini lor iiiiuiy yciifM Mocinlly and prolrHHioiinlly, JIM nn import- 
ant mrmlxT of llx-ir Ixxly, lli- Acad.-mv MI'C Inlly ..'ii .il.l.- li,, w 
iiiii.'l. ll.i-y li:i\<- IM-.-.I indebted lo In \alnallr iicr\ ices JIM a man 
and an arli.l: llicy largely pnrlicipiih 1 , then-ion-, in ll.c grid' 1111(1 
re;- rrl \\liirli li:i\f IxTII HO {/rlirrillly r.rili.l |iy ;ni . \ < ' 1 1 1 I 1 1 :i I li.i . 

di-privi-d Hi' arts mid liin mimlry ol' one of ll.rir IIIOH! (liHtinglliHliod 

Tin- PrcHidenl. and Comiril nre well n.wn.rr. thai lime alone can 
.1 u;i". Mi- ,n fieri n^H of fidecl ion under Much a bereavement , Iml, 
lli-y sinct i.'ly hope that when enlmer i'eeliti^H Hhn.ll HIK-. ..<! lo morn 
acute, cnioi .on, lli.- i.-l:iliv< . and Irirnd i ol thin eminent man will 
d.-nv inii.-l, ,-,,). .ohii.m I'roni UK- r.-llrd ion I hal, although h-- haM 
Ix . n unhappily cut oil' in the. full vigour of hi i powern, he I HIM lived 

loii enonj'h lor hi.i I'a.liH- ; lli;il In U oil n< I.IK.WII :ind admired 
wherever the arln are, appreciated; and thai he, linn achieved a 
ily uiiMiirpaMHed in modern timcM. 

JNlAIMIN Al( Illi: Slll.l,, /'n-:n/rnf 

JOHN l)i.i I:IN.. 
(il.ol.-r.l. .loNI-.M. 

10. |MND,".I i i: 

I ' i< 1 1 \ I:D ( < >OK . 

I ) \ I I I. l\l A< I.I I 

W ll.i.i \ M I' 1:1 1. 1 I:K i. VV ii in I.-IM. i . i , 

Sol.' >\i< i ', All . \ LI i: I I \ r i 

Ih.Nirv l'i iriro' i i I'.KK... , 

lllNKV HoWAKD, Sl'CITffiri/ 

LL 2 




Mr. President and Gentlemen, 

We the undersigned, Members of the Royal Academy, and 
other professional Artists, sensible of the irreparable loss the Arts 
have sustained in the death of Sir David Wilkie, and anxious to 
show how sincerely we deplore that event, beg to offer to his fa- 
mily, through the President and Council, the expression of our 
deep sympathy in their sorrow. We are particularly induced to 
request that this testimony to the memory of one so highly es- 
teemed, both as an artist and as a man, should be thus transmitted, 
not only as an additional mark of our regard, but because the 
lamentable circumstances attending his decease preclude the pos- 
sibility of paying that respect to his remains which the Royal Aca- 
demy and the Profession at large have been accustomed to show to 
artists of such pre-eminent talent and deserved celebrity. 
(Signed by 225 artists.) 


[From the Morning Chronicle of 30th of August 1841.] 

ON Saturday* a meeting of the admirers of the genius of the late 
Sir David Wilkie took place at the Thatched House Tavern, St. 
James's Street, for the purpose of taking the necessary preliminary 
steps toward the erection of a monument as a testimonial of the 
admiration of his countrymen for the genius of the lamented painter 
as an artist, and his worth as a man. The Right Honourable Sir 
Robert Peel took the chair. Among many other noblemen and 
gentlemen present we observed the Duke of Sutherland, Lord 
Francis Egerton, Lord Burghersh, Lord John Russell, Vis- 

* The 28th August, 1841. 


count Mahon, Lord Charles Townshend, Count D'Orsay, Hon. 
Leslie Melville, Sir Augustus Callcott, Sir James M'Grigor, Sir 
Charles Forbes, Sir Peter Laurie, Thomas Phillips, Esq. R. A., 
Charles Dickens, Esq., Sir Francis Chantrey, Allan Cunningham, 
Esq., Mr. Macready, C. Stanfield, Esq., R.A., Mr. Cockerell, 
Architect, P. M. Stewart, Esq. M. P., John Murray^ Esq., D. Mac- 
lise, Esq! R. A., George Rennie, Esq. M. P., &c. &c. Immediately 
after the Right Honourable Chairman had assumed his seat, a 
person who gave his name as Johnson started up and proceeded 
to exclaim against the right of Sir Robert Peel to take the chair 
without previously consulting the sense of the meeting. He pro- 
ceeded for some time amid much interruption ; but when he used 
the words " differing as I do from the Right Hon. Baronet in 
politics," the cry of " Turn him out ! no politics ! " became uni- 
versal. Mr. Johnson tried to make head against the storm for 
some time, but was at length compelled by the increasing dissatis- 
faction of the meeting to desist, and retire to a less prominent 

Sir PETER LAURIE explained that the committee, which con- 
sisted of upwards of one hundred members, had been but too happy 
in obtaining the Right Hon. Baronet's consent to take the chair 
(cheers). He trusted the meeting would stand by the committee, 
and not allow the proceedings to be thus interrupted (loud cheers). 

Sir ROBERT PEEL rose and said, I was under the impression 
that I had been invited by sufficiently competent authority to take 
the chair at this meeting (hear, and cheers). I was not aware that 
any preliminary form was needed for that purpose (renewed cheer- 
ing) ; and it was under that impression that I have assumed this 
chair. I think I am justified in doing so (cheers), and that I shall 
be best consulting the object for which we are met, and those 
feelings which I am sure animate the great majority of those pre- 
sent, if I abstain from any further notice of the late interruption 
(loud cheers). Gentlemen (continued the Right Hon. Baronet), 
I feel it a great honour, as it is a great satisfaction to my private 
feelings, to have been requested to preside at this meeting. I feel, 
too, altogether relieved from the necessity of pronouncing any 
studied or elaborate eulogium upon the merits of the late Sir David 
Wilkie. His loss has been so recent his name stands so pre- 
eminently high the productions of his genius are so familiar, not 
only to his own countrymen, not only to Europe in general, but I 
am justified in saying to the whole world, that I think it would be 
out of harmony with his character, unbecoming the simplicity of 

LL 3 


that character, were I to attempt to pronounce any studied or ela- 
borate eulogium upon it (cheers). Gentlemen, I had the honour of 
accounting Sir David Wilkie as one of my private and intimate 
friends. I am addressing many here who stood in the same relation 
to him who were not only admirers of his genius, but who were 
admitted to the intercourse of his private friendship ; and those 
among you who stood in that relation to him can sympathise with 
my feelings of deep regret for the loss which we have sustained. 
There was something in the simplicity of Sir David Wilkie's cha- 
racter, in the generosity which he showed to every competitor in 
art, that must have, and that has, endeared him to all who were ad- 
mitted to familiar intercourse with him. I have had that satisfac- 
tion personally, whilst he resided amongst us in this metropolis, and 
continued during his absence by a long and extensive correspond- 
ence ; and if ever that correspondence, at least his part of it, should 
see the light, it will, I am confident, serve to add to the honour in 
which he is already held from the devotion which it manifests to 
his art from the generosity which it testifies to every competitor 
in that art, and from the sincere satisfaction it displays whenever 
the tidings had chanced to reach him of the success of any rival for 
distinction (loud cheers). Gentlemen, although our primary object 
is to do honour to the late Sir David Wilkie, yet that is not our 
sole object in meeting here. The whole object of an assemblage of 
this kind is not confined simply to paying homage to the memory 
of one man, however illustrious he may have been. By meetings 
of this nature, we supply a great stimulus to the exertions of many 
a young man (hear and cheers), who is now toiling in his profession 
(loud cheers), whose hopes of pecuniary return from his exertions 
may have been disappointed, but who will be animated and consoled 
by the reflection, that the time may come when justice will be done 
to his merits, and when that fame which he prizes more highly than 
any emolument may be achieved (loud cheers). I know that these 
are the prevailing feelings among many artists (hear). I know how 
inadequate is their reward, how small compared with other profes- 
sions, in the return for great talents and great exertions. I know 
how vain the greatest efforts must often be to ensure success, if 
that success is to be measured by present applause or pecuniary 
advantage (hear). I know that the grand object with many artists 
is a noble ambition of fame; and by meetings such as this by 
manifestations such as this, of your respect for the memory of an 
artist, we are supplying an incentive to future exertions. We are 
affording the prospect of a reward not to be hoped for from other 


sources. On these grounds on the ground of doing justice to the 
memory of the late Sir David Wilkie, and for the grand public ob- 
ject of stimulating art, I invite you all cordially to co-operate with 
me in the promotion of the end for which we have met ; and I can- 
not doubt but that the resolutions which will be submitted to your 
consideration will meet with your approval, and that, ratified by 
your preliminary assent, they will form the first step towards erect- 
ing a testimonial to the brilliant genius and tried worth of the great 
man to whose memory we are met to do honour (loud and enthusi- 
astic cheering). 

The Duke of SUTHERLAND proposed the first resolution. He 
said : It is with feelings of melancholy satisfaction that I answer 
the call which has been made upon me. It is satisfactory for me 
to be allowed to take a public opportunity of testifying the respect 
which, in common with you all, I feel towards the memory of the 
illustrious deceased, that eminent artist, and that excellent man 
(cheers). The resolution I am about to read, so well expresses my 
feelings upon the subject, that I shall trouble you with but a very 
few words in addition. I think the propriety of this day's proceed- 
ings will be more universally acknowledged from the melancholy 
circumstances attending the death of the late Sir David Wilkie, 
which prevented us from joining together to confer upon his re- 
mains the honours of a public funeral (hear, hear). I feel, however, 
that, consigned as his body is to the deep, we may well say of him, 
as has been said of another illustrious man, that " The world is the 
tomb of distinguished merit" (hear, hear). He reared his own 
monument in his own works (hear, hear, and cheers). More than 
twenty years ago he had achieved trophies that would have for 
ever perpetuated his fame. He has not only been appreciated by 
us, but by the whole world. No artist has been more popular. 
From the highest in the land to the humblest mechanic, all have 
derived pleasure from the exercise of his genius. All have known 
how to value his works (cheers). It is with these feelings that I 
have great satisfaction in moving the following resolution : " It is 
the "opinion of this meeting that the genius of Sir David Wilkie is 
of that high order which entitles him not only to the admiration 
and gratitude of his countiy, but to be publicly regarded amongst 
those whom she loves to honour." (Loud cheers.) 

Sir JAMES M'G-RiGOR, after a few prefatory remarks, seconded 
the resolution, which was carried by acclamation. 

Lord JOHN RUSSELL, who was received with the most unbounded 
demonstrations of welcome, rose to propose the next resolution. 

L L 4 


He said, I am proud of having the honour of contributing to the 
purpose of this meeting, but I feel that after the speeches we have 
heard, and with the sentiments existing which appear to animate 
those around me, it will be quite unnecessary for me to say more 
than a very few words. I believe there is not one who knew the 
late Sir David Wilkie but who is ready and eager to testify to his 
worth as a man (cheers). Among his near relations he inspired the 
strongest affection ; among his friends he was universally received 
with the warmest regard and the most profound esteem (cheers). To 
brother artists of all descriptions he was a friend, a protector, and 
an assistant. There was nothing in his nature of ill-will, envy, or 
bitterness to any, be they whom they might (cheers). With regard 
to the merits of Sir David Wilkie as an artist, it is still less neces- 
sary for me to speak. His works testify that he must take his 
place among men of original genius, among those who have added 
lustre to their countries. The productions of his pencil are cele- 
brated now, and will be still more so when the mellowing hand of 
time adds to their beauties (loud cheers). But we have lost him ; 
and all we can do in testifying our admiration and our gratitude is 
to raise some monument to his memory ; and in so doing, we are 
benefiting ourselves and our country ; for by showing our regard 
for the genius of Wilkie as an artist, and for his worth as a man, 
we shall be doing our best to inspire others with a desire to attain 
similar honours ; and I trust that those in whom nature has im- 
planted genius sufficient to produce works worthy of following 
Wilkie's will make it their study to imitate his gentleness and kind- 
ness of disposition, which have so endeared him to all who knew 
him. With these few words I beg leave to read the resolution : 
" That this record should be a permanent and characteristic testi- 
monial of his worth as a man, and his great' excellence as a British 
artist." (Cheers.) 

Mr. PHILLIPS, R.A., seconded the resolution, which was unani- 
mously carried. 

Viscount MAHON said : In moving the next resolution I may 
say that my feelings towards the late Sir David Wilkie were not 
merely those of respect for his character, or admiration for his 
genius. I had also the privilege of enjoying his private friendship. 
It was my good fortune some years ago to be his fellow traveller 
through Spain (hear, hear), in company also with another gifted 
man, who I may remark also entertained the most sincere regard 
for Wilkie, and who I am sure will deeply lament his untimely 
fate I. allude to Mr. Washington Irving (loud cheers); and 


never, I trust, will the recollection of the days I passed with them 
fade from my memory of those days when I saw two men of such 
great, yet such different genius, employed in the observance and 
delineation of that most beautiful and most interesting country ; the 
one with a keen eye to discern, and a powerful pen to describe, all 
the traits of national manners ; the other ever and anon stopping 
amid some lonely landscape to consider how he might best transfer 
its beauties and its tints to his own as glowing but more permanent 
canvas (loud cheers). I well remember at Toledo a little passing 
scene a muleteer lighting his cigar from that of a monk, which 
gave rise first to a hasty sketch, and afterwards to that magnificent 
painting many of you must have seen at Somerset House (cheers). 
Sir David Wilkie was not one of those who visited Spain as I and 
many others have done, principally upon the impulse of curiosity, 
bearing nothing away with us, and leaving nothing to mark our 
course behind us. No : his genius imprinted its footsteps wherever 
it went. It was that genius which impelled him to visit that 
ancient seminary of art. To him might perfectly be applied the 
lines of Sir Walter Scott : 

" Go seek those regions where the flinty crest 
Of high Nevado ever gleams with snows, 
Where in the proud Alhambra's ruined breast 
Barbaric monuments of pomp repose." 

(loud cheers). It was not only as an artist I remember Wilkie ; 
my memory also dwells upon those many endearing qualities so well 
alluded to by Lord John Russell : upon that mild and fine temper 
upon that kind and feeling heart, so meek and so fearful of offend- 
ing, yet kindling to warmth whenever it could promote the interests 
of art, or advance the prospects of a brother painter (loud cheers). 
Well do I remember how severe a critic he was upon his own 
works how mild and merciful a judge he became upon the efforts 
of others (loud cheers). I think I may safely say that Wilkie was 
not only an extraordinary artist, but a good, a truly good man 
(cheers). And though it has pleased Providence to cut short his 
brilliant career, though his body is now rolled over by the waves 
of the Atlantic, within sight of those hills over which he and I 
have rambled together, yet one consolation still is ours we may 
unite and rear a trophy to his name, and by that very act, as 
our right honourable and eloquent chairman remarked, not only 
honour the dead but excite to emulation of like courses the 
living (enthusiastic cheering). The resolution I have to propose 


is "That a statue which preserves the manly and well-remem- 
bered exterior, and expresses with skill and taste the looks and 
sentiment of Sir David Wilkie, would be the most appropriate 

BENJAMIN BOND CABBELL, Esq. seconded the resolution. They 
had met with one heart to raise this testimonial to merit. It was 
particularly gratifying to notice the unanimous testimony that had 
been paid to Sir David Wilkie's universal kindness of heart ; a 
quality, which, among those who had many rivals in their career 
towards fame, was not more rare than it was commendable (hear, 
hear). He had great pleasure in seconding the resolution. 

Mr. GEORGE RENNIE, M.P., begged to propose a suggestion 
not an amendment upon the last resolution. He had been him- 
self an artist he had been so for twenty years, and he was now 
speaking the opinions of many brother artists in the hint he was 
about to give (hear, hear). He had always considered that the 
true monuments to artists were their works (hear, hear). If they 
looked back to antiquity, and took the most illustrious names in art, 
where would they find monuments to their memory ? And if those 
artists had monuments, he would ask if such structures would in- 
crease their fame ? He only remembered in ancient and in modern 
history two painters to whom monuments had been erected, one at 
Florence, to Michael Angelo ; the other to our own Sir Joshua 
Reynolds. Hogarth had no monument he found an imperishable 
one in his works. He hoped the meeting would not altogether 
throw overboard these hints. He should suggest that the money 
received be partly expended on a bust instead of a statue, and partly 
lodged in the hands of trustees to form a Wilkie premium for the 
encouragement of that branch of the art in which he most excelled. 

The Rev. Dr. DIBDIN thought that the money would be most 
advantageously applied in establishing a fund for the encourage- 
ment of historical painting. 

Mr. COCKERELL, R.A., supported the last speaker. 

Sir PETER LAURIE said the subject had been already discussed in 
committee, and that nothing was considered so suitable as a perma- 
nent monument. The committee alone had contributed 900/. to the 
erection of a monument. 

Mr. GEORGE FOGGO, at some length, and with much energy, 
supported Mr. Rennie's view of the case ; and, the resolution being 
put, only five dissentients were observed : upon which it was de- 
clared duly carried. 

Lord CHARLES TOWNSEND proposed the next resolution, " That 


tliis statue, the more effectually to excite the young to emulation } 
and to fulfil our object of honouring genius, should be erected in 
the National Gallery, and that application be made to the trustees 
of the National Gallery for the necessary permission. 

Sir AUGUSTUS CALLCOTT seconded the resolution, which was 
unanimously carried. 

Lord BURGHERSH proposed the next resolution, " That a com- 
mittee be appointed to carry these resolutions into effect. That 
Sir Peter Laurie and Peter Laurie, Esq., be requested to act as 
joint treasurers ; and that Allan Cunningham, Esq., be requested 
to act as secretary ; and Peter Cunningham, Esq., as assistant 

P. M. STEWART, Esq., M.P., seconded the resolution in a very 
eloquent speech, which we regret we cannot find room for. He 
did not lament that the elements of discussion had been introduced 
into the meeting. But although the original resolution had been 
carried, another opportunity might arrive for taking into considera- 
tion, and perhaps for acting upon the suggestions they had heard. 

Sir PETER LAURIE proposed the last resolution, " That the cor- 
.dial thanks of this meeting be presented to the Right Honourable 
Sir Robert Peel, for the ability and courtesy with which he has 
presided over the interesting proceedings of this day." 

The Hon. Mr. LESLIE MELVILLE seconded the motion, which 
was carried by acclamation. 

Sir ROBERT PEEL said he was very happy his conduct had met 
the approbation of the meeting, but he had that admiration for the 
genius of Wilkie, and that attachment to him as a friend, that he 
had been amply rewarded by having been enabled thus publicly to 
testify his respect for his memory. (Cheers.) 

The meeting then broke up. 

The subscriptions already received by the committee amount to 
above 1000/. 

%* The sum subscribed bas been about 2000/. At a subsequent meeting 
Mr. S. Joseph, not without opposition, was selected to execute the statue, the 
trustees of the National Gallery having consented to its erection in the inner 
hall of that gallery. 






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