The Newcomes, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER XXII

Describes a Visit to Paris; with Accidents and Incidents in London

Mr. Clive, as we have said, had now begun to make acquaintances of his own; and the chimney-glass in his study was decorated with such a number of cards of invitation, as made his ex-fellow-student of Gandish’s, young Moss, when admitted into that sanctum, stare with respectful astonishment. “Lady Bary Rowe at obe,” the young Hebrew read out; “Lady Baughton at obe, dadsig! By eyes! what a tip-top swell you’re a gettid to be, Newcome! I guess this is a different sort of business to the hops at old Levison’s, where you first learned the polka; and where we had to pay a shilling a glass for negus!”

“We had to pay! You never paid anything, Moss,” cries Clive, laughing; and indeed the negus imbibed by Mr. Moss did not cost that prudent young fellow a penny.

“Well, well; I suppose at these swell parties you ‘ave as bush champade as ever you like,” continues Moss. “Lady Kicklebury at obe — small early party. Why, I declare you know the whole peerage! I say, if any of these swells want a little tip-top lace, a real bargain, or diamonds, you know, you might put in a word for us, and do us a good turn.”

“Give me some of your cards,” says Clive; “I can distribute them about at the balls I go to. But you must treat my friends better than you serve me. Those cigars which you sent me were abominable, Moss; the groom in the stable won’t smoke them.”

“What a regular swell that Newcome has become!” says Mr. Moss to an old companion, another of Clive’s fellow-students: “I saw him riding in the Park with the Earl of Kew, and Captain Belsize, and a whole lot of ’em — I know ’em all — and he’d hardly nod to me. I’ll have a horse next Sunday, and then I’ll see whether he’ll cut me or not. Confound his airs! For all he’s such a count, I know he’s got an aunt who lets lodgings at Brighton, and an uncle who’ll be preaching in the Bench if he don’t keep a precious good look-out.”

“Newcome is not a bit of a count,” answers Moss’s companion, indignantly. “He don’t care a straw whether a fellow’s poor or rich; and he comes up to my room just as willingly as he would go to a duke’s. He is always trying to do a friend a good turn. He draws the figure capitally: he looks proud, but he isn’t, and is the best-natured fellow I ever saw.”

“He ain’t been in our place this eighteen months,” says Mr. Moss: “I know that.”

“Because when he came you were always screwing him with some bargain or other,” cried the intrepid Hicks, Mr. Moss’s companion for the moment. “He said he couldn’t afford to know you: you never let him out of your house without a pin, or a box of eau-de-cologne, or a bundle of cigars. And when you cut the arts for the shop, how were you and Newcome to go on together, I should like to know?”

“I know a relative of his who comes to our ’ouse every three months, to renew a little bill,” says Mr. Moss, with a grin: “and I know this, if I go to the Earl of Kew in the Albany, or the Honourable Captain Belsize, Knightsbridge Barracks, they let me in soon enough. I’m told his father ain’t got much money.”

“How the deuce should I know? or what do I care?” cries the young artist, stamping the heel of his blucher on the pavement. “When I was sick in that confounded Clipstone Street, I know the Colonel came to see me, and Newcome too, day after day, and night after night. And when I was getting well, they sent me wine and jelly, and all sorts of jolly things. I should like to know how often you came to see me, Moss, and what you did for a fellow?”

“Well, I kep away because I thought you wouldn’t like to be reminded of that two pound three you owe me, Hicks: that’s why I kep away,” says Mr. Moss, who, I dare say, was good-natured too. And when young Moss appeared at the billiard-room that night, it was evident that Hicks had told the story; for the Wardour Street youth was saluted with a roar of queries, “How about that two pound three that Hicks owes you?”

The artless conversation of the two youths will enable us to understand how our hero’s life was speeding. Connected in one way or another with persons in all ranks, it never entered his head to be ashamed of the profession which he had chosen. People in the great world did not in the least trouble themselves regarding him, or care to know whether Mr. Clive Newcome followed painting or any other pursuit: and though Clive saw many of his schoolfellows in the world, these entering into the army, others talking with delight of college, and its pleasures or studies; yet, having made up his mind that art was his calling, he refused to quit her for any other mistress, and plied his easel very stoutly. He passed through the course of study prescribed by Mr. Gandish, and drew every cast and statue in that gentleman’s studio. Grindley, his tutor, getting a curacy, Clive did not replace him; but he took a course of modern languages, which he learned with considerable aptitude and rapidity. And now, being strong enough to paint without a master, it was found that there was no good light in the house in Fitzroy Square; and Mr. Clive must needs have an atelier hard by, where he could pursue his own devices independently.

If his kind father felt any pang even at this temporary parting, he was greatly soothed and pleased by a little mark of attention on the young man’s part, of which his present biographer happened to be a witness; for having walked over with Colonel Newcome to see the new studio, with its tall centre window, and its curtains, and carved wardrobes, china jars, pieces of armour, and other artistical properties, the lad, with a very sweet smile of kindness and affection lighting up his honest face, took one of two Bramah’s house-keys with which he was provided, and gave it to his father: “That’s your key, sir,” he said to the Colonel; “and you must be my first sitter, please, father; for though I’m a historical painter, I shall condescend to do a few portraits, you know.” The Colonel took his son’s hand, and grasped it; as Clive fondly put the other hand on his father’s shoulder. Then Colonel Newcome walked away into the next room for a minute or two, and came back wiping his moustache with his handkerchief, and still holding the key in the other hand. He spoke about some trivial subject when he returned; but his voice quite trembled; and I thought his face seemed to glow with love and pleasure. Clive has never painted anything better than that head, which he executed in a couple of sittings; and wisely left without subjecting it to the chances of further labour.

It is certain the young man worked much better after he had been inducted into this apartment of his own. And the meals at home were gayer; and the rides with his father more frequent and agreeable. The Colonel used his key once or twice, and found Clive and his friend Ridley engaged in depicting a life-guardsman — or a muscular negro — or a Malay from a neighbouring crossing, who would appear as Othello, conversing with a Clipstone Street nymph, who was ready to represent Desdemona, Diana, Queen Ellinor (sucking poison from the arm of the Plantagenet of the Blues), or any other model of virgin or maiden excellence.

Of course our young man commenced as a historical painter, deeming that the highest branch of art; and declining (except for preparatory studies) to operate on any but the largest canvasses. He painted a prodigious battle-piece of Assaye, with General Wellesley at the head of the 19th Dragoons charging the Mahratta Artillery, and sabring them at their guns. A piece of ordnance was dragged into the back-yard, and the Colonel’s stud put into requisition to supply studies for this enormous picture. Fred Bayham (a stunning likeness) appeared as the principal figure in the foreground, terrifically wounded, but still of undaunted courage, slashing about amidst a group of writhing Malays, and bestriding the body of a dead cab-horse, which Clive painted, until the landlady and rest of the lodgers cried out, and for sanitary reasons the knackers removed the slaughtered charger. So large was this picture that it could only be got out of the great window by means of artifice and coaxing; and its transport caused a shout of triumph among the little boys in Charlotte Street. Will it be believed that the Royal Academicians rejected the “Battle of Assaye”? The masterpiece was so big that Fitzroy Square could not hold it; and the Colonel had thoughts of presenting it to the Oriental Club; but Clive (who had taken a trip to Paris with his father, as a delassement after the fatigues incident on this great work), when he saw it, after a month’s interval, declared the thing was rubbish, and massacred Britons, Malays, Dragoons, Artillery and all.

“Hotel de la Terrasse, Rue de Rivoli,

“April 27 — May 1, 183-.

“My Dear Pendennis — You said I might write you a line from Paris; and if you find in my correspondence any valuable hints for the Pall Mall Gazette, you are welcome to use them gratis. Now I am here, I wonder I have never been here before, and that I have seen the Dieppe packet a thousand times at Brighton pier without thinking of going on board her. We had a rough little passage to Boulogne. We went into action as we cleared Dover pier — when the first gun was fired, and a stout old lady was carried off by a steward to the cabin; half a dozen more dropped immediately, and the crew bustled about, bringing basins for the wounded. The Colonel smiled as he saw them fall. ‘I’m an old sailor,’ says he to a gentleman on board. ‘I was coming home, sir, and we had plenty of rough weather on the voyage, I never thought of being unwell. My boy here, who made the voyage twelve years ago last May, may have lost his sea-legs; but for me, sir —’ Here a great wave dashed over the three of us; and would you believe it? in five minutes after, the dear old governor was as ill as all the rest of the passengers. When we arrived, we went through a line of ropes to the custom-house, with a crowd of snobs jeering at us on each side; and then were carried off by a bawling commissioner to an hotel, where the Colonel, who speaks French beautifully, you know, told the waiter to get us a petit dejeuner soigne; on which the fellow, grinning, said, a ‘nice fried sole, sir — nice mutton-chop, sir,’ in regular Temple Bar English; and brought us Harvey sauce with the chops, and the last Bell’s Life to amuse us after our luncheon. I wondered if all the Frenchmen read Bell’s Life, and if all the inns smell so of brandy-and-water!

“We walked out to see the town, which I dare say you know, and therefore shan’t describe. We saw some good studies of fishwomen with bare legs, and remarked that the soldiers were very dumpy and small. We were glad when the time came to set off by the diligence; and having the coupe to ourselves, made a very comfortable journey to Paris. It was jolly to hear the postillions crying to their horses, and the bells of the team, and to feel ourselves really in France. We took in provender at Abbeville and Amiens, and were comfortably landed here after about six-and-twenty hours of coaching. Didn’t I get up the next morning and have a good walk in the Tuileries! The chestnuts were out, and the statues all shining, and all the windows of the palace in a blaze. It looks big enough for the king of the giants to live in. How grand it is! I like the barbarous splendour of the architecture, and the ornaments profuse and enormous with which it is overladen. Think of Louis XVI. with a thousand gentlemen at his back, and a mob of yelling ruffians in front of him, giving up his crown without a fight for it; leaving his friends to be butchered, and himself sneaking into prison! No end of little children were skipping and playing in the sunshiny walks, with dresses as bright and cheeks as red as the flowers and roses in the parterres. I couldn’t help thinking of Barbaroux and his bloody pikemen swarming in the gardens, and fancied the Swiss in the windows yonder; where they were to be slaughtered when the King had turned his back. What a great man that Carlyle is! I have read the battle in his History so often, that I knew it before I had seen it. Our windows look out on the obelisk where the guillotine stood. The Colonel doesn’t admire Carlyle. He says Mrs. Graham’s Letters from Paris are excellent, and we bought Scott’s Visit to Paris, and Paris Re-visited, and read them in the diligence. They are famous good reading; but the Palais Royal is very much altered since Scott’s time: no end of handsome shops; I went there directly — the same night we arrived, when the Colonel went to bed. But there is none of the fun going on which Scott describes. The laquais de place says Charles X. put an end to it all.

“Next morning the governor had letters to deliver after breakfast, and left me at the Louvre door. I shall come and live here, I think. I feel as if I never want to go away. I had not been ten minutes in the place before I fell in love with the most beautiful creature the world has ever seen. She was standing silent and majestic in the centre of one of the rooms of the statue-gallery; and the very first glimpse of her struck one breathless with the sense of her beauty. I could not see the colour of her eyes and hair exactly, but the latter is light, and the eyes I should think are grey. Her complexion is of a beautiful warm marble tinge. She is not a clever woman, evidently; I do not think she laughs or talks much — she seems too lazy to do more than smile. She is only beautiful. This divine creature has lost an arm, which has been cut off at the shoulder, but she looks none the less lovely for the accident. She maybe some two-and-thirty years old; and she was born about two thousand years ago. Her name is the Venus of Milo. O Victrix! O lucky Paris! (I don’t mean this present Lutetia, but Priam’s son.) How could he give the apple to any else but this enslaver — this joy of gods and men? at whose benign presence the flowers spring up, and the smiling ocean sparkles, and the soft skies beam with serene light! I wish we might sacrifice. I would bring a spotless kid, snowy-coated, and a pair of doves and a jar of honey — yea, honey from Morel’s in Piccadilly, thyme-flavoured, narbonian, and we would acknowledge the Sovereign Loveliness, and adjure the Divine Aphrodite. Did you ever see my pretty young cousin, Miss Newcome, Sir Brian’s daughter? She has a great look of the huntress Diana. It is sometimes too proud and too cold for me. The blare of those horns is too shrill and the rapid pursuit through bush and bramble too daring. O thou generous Venus! O thou beautiful bountiful calm! At thy soft feet let me kneel — on cushions of Tyrian purple. Don’t show this to Warrington, please: I never thought when I began that Pegasus was going to run away with me.

“I wish I had read Greek a little more at school: it’s too late at my age; I shall be nineteen soon, and have got my own business; but when we return I think I shall try and read it with Cribs. What have I been doing, spending six months over a picture of sepoys and dragoons cutting each other’s throats? Art ought not to be a fever. It ought to be a calm; not a screaming bull-fight or a battle of gladiators, but a temple for placid contemplation, rapt worship, stately rhythmic ceremony, and music solemn and tender. I shall take down my Snyders and Rubens when I get home; and turn quietist. To think I have spent weeks in depicting bony life-guardsmen delivering cut one, or Saint George, and painting black beggars off a crossing!

“What a grand thing it is to think of half a mile of pictures at the Louvre! Not but that there are a score under the old pepper-boxes in Trafalgar Square as fine as the best here. I don’t care for any Raphael here, as much as our own St. Catharine. There is nothing more grand. Could the Pyramids of Egypt or the Colossus of Rhodes be greater than our Sebastian? and for our Bacchus and Ariadne, you cannot beat the best you know. But if we have fine jewels, here there are whole sets of them: there are kings and all their splendid courts round about them. J. J. and I must come and live here. Oh, such portraits of Titian! Oh, such swells by Vandyke! I’m sure he must have been as fine a gentleman as any he painted! It’s a shame they haven’t got a Sir Joshua or two. At a feast of painters he has a right to a place, and at the high table too. Do you remember Tom Rogers, of Gandish’s? He used to come to my rooms — my other rooms in the Square. Tom is here with a fine carrotty beard, and a velvet jacket, cut open at the sleeves, to show that Tom has a shirt. I dare say it was clean last Sunday. He has not learned French yet, but pretends to have forgotten English; and promises to introduce me to a set of the French artists his camarades. There seems to be a scarcity of soap among these young fellows; and I think I shall cut off my mustachios; only Warrington will have nothing to laugh at when I come home.

“The Colonel and I went to dine at the Cafe de Paris, and afterwards to the opera. Ask for huitres de Marenne when you dine here. We dined with a tremendous French swell, the Vicomte de Florac, officier d’ordonnance to one of the princes, and son of some old friends of my father’s. They are of very high birth, but very poor. He will be a duke when his cousin, the Duc d’Ivry, dies. His father is quite old. The vicomte was born in England. He pointed out to us no end of famous people at the opera — a few of the Fauxbourg St. Germain, and ever so many of the present people:— M. Thiers, and Count Mole, and Georges Sand, and Victor Hugo, and Jules Janin — I forget half their names. And yesterday we went to see his mother, Madame de Florac. I suppose she was an old flame of the Colonel’s, for their meeting was uncommonly ceremonious and tender. It was like an elderly Sir Charles Grandison saluting a middle-aged Miss Byron. And only fancy! the Colonel has been here once before since his return to England! It must have been last year, when he was away for ten days, whilst I was painting that rubbishing picture of the Black Prince waiting on King John. Madame de F. is a very grand lady, and must have been a great beauty in her time. There are two pictures by Gerard in her salon — of her and M. de Florac. M. de Florac, old swell, powder, thick eyebrows, hooked nose; no end of stars, ribbons, and embroidery. Madame also in the dress of the Empire — pensive, beautiful, black velvet, and a look something like my cousin’s. She wore a little old-fashioned brooch yesterday, and said, ‘Voila, la reconnoissez-vous? Last year when you were here, it was in the country;’ and she smiled at him: and the dear old boy gave a sort of groan and dropped his head in his hand. I know what it is. I’ve gone through it myself. I kept for six months an absurd ribbon of that infernal little flirt Fanny Freeman. Don’t you remember how angry I was when you abused her?

“‘Your father and I knew each other when we were children, my friend,’ the Countess said to me (in the sweetest French accent). He was looking into the garden of the house where they live, in the Rue Saint Dominique. ‘You must come and see me often, always. You remind me of him,’ and she added, with a very sweet kind smile, ‘Do you like best to think that he was better-looking than you, or that you excel him?’ I said I should like to be like him. But who is? There are cleverer fellows, I dare say; but where is there such a good one? I wonder whether he was very fond of Madame de Florac? The old Count does not show. He is quite old, and wears a pigtail. We saw it bobbing over his garden chair. He lets the upper part of his house; Major-General the Honourable Zeno F. Pokey, of Cincinnati, U.S., lives in it. We saw Mrs. Pokey’s carriage in the court, and her footmen smoking cigars there; a tottering old man with feeble legs, as old as old Count de Florac, seemed to be the only domestic who waited on the family below.

“Madame de Florac and my father talked about my profession. The Countess said it was a belle carriere. The Colonel said it was better than the army. ‘Ah oui, monsieur,’ says she very sadly. And then he said, ‘that presently I should very likely come to study at Paris, when he knew there would be a kind friend to watch over son garcon.’

“‘But you will be here to watch over him yourself, mon ami?’ says the French lady.

“Father shook his head. ‘I shall very probably have to go back to India,’ he said. ‘My furlough is expired. I am now taking my extra leave. If I can get my promotion, I need not return. Without that I cannot afford to live in Europe. But my absence in all probability will be but very short,’ he said. ‘And Clive is old enough now to go on without me.’

“Is this the reason why father has been so gloomy for some months past? I thought it might have been some of my follies which made him uncomfortable; and you know I have been trying my best to amend — I have not half such a tailor’s bill this year as last. I owe scarcely anything. I have paid off Moss every halfpenny for his confounded rings and gimcracks. I asked father about this melancholy news as we walked away from Madame de Florac.

“He is not near so rich as we thought. Since he has been at home he says he has spent greatly more than his income, and is quite angry at his own extravagance. At first he thought he might have retired from the army altogether; but after three years at home, he finds he cannot live upon his income. When he gets his promotion as full Colonel, he will be entitled to a thousand a year; that, and what he has invested in India, and a little in this country, will be plenty for both of us. He never seems to think of my making money by my profession. Why, suppose I sell the ‘Battle of Assaye’ for 500 pounds? that will be enough to carry me on ever so long, without dipping into the purse of the dear old father.

“The Viscount de Florac called to dine with us. The Colonel said he did not care about going out: and so the Viscount and I went together. Trois Freres Provencaux — he ordered the dinner and of course I paid. Then we went to a little theatre, and he took me behind the scenes — such a queer place! We went to the loge of Mademoiselle Fine who acted the part of ‘Le petit Tambour,’ in which she sings a famous song with a drum. He asked her and several literary fellows to supper at the Cafe Anglais. And I came home ever so late, and lost twenty napoleons at a game called bouillotte. It was all the change out of a twenty-pound note which dear old Binnie gave me before we set out, with a quotation out of Horace, you know, about Neque tu choreas sperne puer. O me! how guilty I felt as I walked home at ever so much o’clock to the Hotel de la Terrasse, and sneaked into our apartment! But the Colonel was sound asleep. His dear old boots stood sentries at his bedroom door, and I slunk into mine as silently as I could.

“P.S. — Wednesday. — There’s just one scrap of paper left. I have got J. J.‘s letter. He has been to the private view of the Academy (so that his own picture is in), and the ‘Battle of Assaye’ is refused. Smee told him it was too big. I dare say it’s very bad. I’m glad I’m away, and the fellows are not condoling with me.

“Please go and see Mr. Binnie. He has come to grief. He rode the Colonel’s horse; came down on the pavement and wrenched his leg, and I’m afraid the grey’s. Please look at his legs; we can’t understand John’s report of them. He, I mean Mr. B., was going to Scotland to see his relations when the accident happened. You know he has always been going to Scotland to see his relations. He makes light of the business, and says the Colonel is not to think of coming to him: and I don’t want to go back just yet, to see all the fellows from Gandish’s and the Life Academy, and have them grinning at my misfortune.

“The governor would send his regards, I dare say, but he is out, and I am always yours affectionately, Clive Newcome.”

“P.S. — He tipped me himself this morning; isn’t he a kind, dear old fellow?”

Arthur Pendennis, Esq., to Clive Newcome, Esq.

“‘Pall Mall Gazette,’ Journal of Politics, Literature and Fashion, 225 Catherine Street, Strand,

“Dear Clive — I regret very much for Fred Bayham’s sake (who has lately taken the responsible office of Fine Arts Critic for the P. G.) that your extensive picture of the ‘Battle of Assaye’ has not found a place in the Royal Academy Exhibition. F. B. is at least fifteen shillings out of pocket by its rejection, as he had prepared a flaming eulogium of your work, which of course is so much waste paper in consequence of this calamity. Never mind. Courage, my son. The Duke of Wellington you know was best back at Seringapatam before he succeeded at Assaye. I hope you will fight other battles, and that fortune in future years will be more favourable to you. The town does not talk very much of your discomfiture. You see the parliamentary debates are very interesting just now, and somehow the ‘Battle of Assaye’ did not seem to excite the public mind.

“I have been to Fitzroy Square; both to the stables and the house. The Houyhnhnm’s legs are very well; the horse slipped on his side and not on his knees, and has received no sort of injury. Not so Mr. Binnie; his ankle is much wrenched and inflamed. He must keep his sofa for many days, perhaps weeks. But you know he is a very cheerful philosopher, and endures the evils of life with much equanimity. His sister has come to him. I don’t know whether that may be considered as a consolation of his evil or an aggravation of it. You know he uses the sarcastic method in his talk, and it was difficult to understand from him whether he was pleased or bored by the embraces of his relative. She was an infant when he last beheld her, on his departure to India. She is now (to speak with respect) a very brisk, plump, pretty little widow; having, seemingly, recovered from her grief at the death of her husband, Captain Mackenzie in the West Indies. Mr. Binnie was just on the point of visiting his relatives, who reside at Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, when he met with the fatal accident which prevented his visit to his native shores. His account of his misfortune and his lonely condition was so pathetic that Mrs. Mackenzie and her daughter put themselves into the Edinburgh steamer, and rushed to console his sofa. They occupy your bedroom and sitting-room, which latter Mrs. Mackenzie says no longer smells of tobacco smoke, as it did when she took possession of your den. If you have left any papers about, any bills, any billets-doux, I make no doubt the ladies have read every single one of them, according to the amiable habits of their sex. The daughter is a bright little blue-eyed fair-haired lass, with a very sweet voice, in which she sings (unaided by instrumental music, and seated on a chair in the middle of the room) the artless ballads of her native country. I had the pleasure of hearing the ‘Bonnets of Bonny Dundee’ and ‘Jack of Hazeldean’ from her ruby lips two evenings since; not indeed for the first time in my life, but never from such a pretty little singer. Though both ladies speak our language with something of the tone usually employed by the inhabitants of the northern part of Britain, their accent is exceedingly pleasant, and indeed by no means so strong as Mr. Binnie’s own; for Captain Mackenzie was an Englishman, for whose sake his lady modified her native Musselburgh pronunciation. She tells many interesting anecdotes of him, of the West Indies, and of the distinguished regiment of infantry to which the captain belonged. Miss Rosa is a great favourite with her uncle, and I have had the good fortune to make their stay in the metropolis more pleasant, by sending them orders, from the Pall Mall Gazette, for the theatres, panoramas, and the principal sights in town. For pictures they do not seem to care much; they thought the National Gallery a dreary exhibition, and in the Royal Academy could be got to admire nothing but the picture of M’Collop of M’Collop, by our friend of the like name; but they think Madame Tussaud’s interesting exhibition of waxwork the most delightful in London; and there I had the happiness of introducing them to our friend Mr. Frederick Bayham; who, subsequently, on coming to this office with his valuable contributions on the Fine Arts, made particular inquiries as to their pecuniary means, and expressed himself instantly ready to bestow his hand upon the mother or daughter, provided old Mr. Binnie would make a satisfactory settlement. I got the ladies a box at the opera, whither they were attended by Captain Goby of their regiment, godfather to Miss, and where I had the honour of paying them a visit. I saw your fair young cousin Miss Newcome in the lobby with her grandmamma Lady Kew. Mr. Bayham with great eloquence pointed out to the Scotch ladies the various distinguished characters in the house. The opera delighted them, but they were astounded at the ballet, from which mother and daughter retreated in the midst of a fire of pleasantries of Captain Goby. I can fancy that officer at mess, and how brilliant his anecdotes must be when the company of ladies does not restrain his genial flow of humour.

“Here comes Mr. Baker with the proofs. In case you don’t see the P. G. at Galignani’s, I send you an extract from Bayham’s article on the Royal Academy, where you will have the benefit of his opinion on the works of some of your friends:—

“‘617. ‘Moses Bringing Home the Gross of Green Spectacles,’ Smith, R.A. — Perhaps poor Goldsmith’s exquisite little work has never been so great a favourite as in the present age. We have here, in a work by one of our most eminent artists, an homage to the genius of him ‘who touched nothing which he did not adorn:’ and the charming subject is handled in the most delicious manner by Mr. Smith. The chiaroscuro is admirable: the impasto is perfect. Perhaps a very captious critic might object to the foreshortening of Moses’s left leg; but where there is so much to praise justly, the Pall Nall Gazette does not care to condemn.

“‘420. Our (and the public’s) favourite, Brown, R.A., treats us to a subject from the best of all stories, the tale ‘which laughed Spain’s chivalry away,’ the ever new Don Quixote. The incident which Brown has selected is the ‘Don’s Attack on the Flock of Sheep;’ the sheep are in his best manner, painted with all his well-known facility and brio. Mr. Brown’s friendly rival, Hopkins, has selected Gil Blas for an illustration this year; and the ‘Robber’s Cavern’ is one of the most masterly of Hopkins’ productions.

“‘Great Rooms. 33. ‘Portrait of Cardinal Cospetto,’ O’Gogstay, A.R.A.; and ‘Neighbourhood of Corpodibacco — Evening — a Contadina and a Trasteverino dancing at the door of a Locanda to the music of a Pifferaro.’— Since his visit to Italy Mr. O’Gogstay seems to have given up the scenes of Irish humour with which he used to delight us; and the romance, the poetry, the religion of ‘Italia la bella’ form the subjects of his pencil. The scene near Corpodibacco (we know the spot well, and have spent many a happy month in its romantic mountains) is most characteristic. Cardinal Cospetto, we must say, is a most truculent prelate, and not certainly an ornament to his church.

“‘49, 210, 311. Smee, R.A. — Portraits which a Reynolds might be proud of — a Vandyke or Claude might not disown. ‘Sir Brian Newcome, in the costume of a Deputy-Lieutenant,’ ‘Major-General Sir Thomas de Boots, K.C.B.,’ painted for the 50th Dragoons, are triumphs, indeed, of this noble painter. Why have we no picture of the Sovereign and her august consort from Smee’s brush? When Charles II. picked up Titian’s mahl-stick, he observed to a courtier, ‘A king you can always have; a genius comes but rarely.’ While we have a Smee among us, and a monarch whom we admire — may the one be employed to transmit to posterity the beloved features of the other! We know our lucubrations are read in high places, and respectfully insinuate verbum sapienti.

“‘1906. ‘The M’Collop of M’Collop,’— A. M’Collop — is a noble work of a young artist, who, in depicting the gallant chief of a hardy Scottish clan, has also represented a romantic Highland landscape, in the midst of which, ‘his foot upon his native heath,’ stands a man of splendid symmetrical figure and great facial advantages. We shall keep our eye on Mr. M’Collop.

“‘1367. ‘Oberon and Titania.’ Ridley. — This sweet and fanciful little picture draws crowds round about it, and is one of the most charming and delightful works of the present exhibition. We echo the universal opinion in declaring that it shows not only the greatest promise, but the most delicate and beautiful performance. The Earl of Kew, we understand, bought the picture at the private view; and we congratulate the young painter heartily upon his successful debut. He is, we understand, a pupil of Mr. Gandish. Where is that admirable painter? We miss his bold canvasses and grand historic outline.’

“I shall alter a few inaccuracies in the composition of our friend F. B., who has, as he says, ‘drawn it uncommonly mild in the above criticism.’ In fact, two days since, he brought in an article of quite a different tendency, of which he retains only the two last paragraphs; but he has, with great magnanimity, recalled his previous observations; and, indeed, he knows as much about pictures as some critics I could name.

“Good-bye, my dear Clive! I send my kindest regards to your father; and think you had best see as little as possible of your bouillotte-playing French friend and his friends. This advice I know you will follow, as young men always follow the advice of their seniors and well-wishers. I dine in Fitzroy Square today with the pretty widow and her daughter, and am yours always, dear Clive, A. P.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/newcomes/chapter22.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07