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Hogarth has been called a moralist among painters, aiming, by his productions, to rebuke and benefit mankind; but good and evil are too often blended together. In the six paintings before me, great skill is conspicuous, and the lesson, that a course of profligacy leads to ruin and destruction, is strikingly set forth ; but the pencil of Hogarth, like that of many other painters, was not so chaste as a Christian spectator might desire, though in the series before me it has evidently been under stricter control than ordinary. It would be a difficult task to draw a boundary line for a painter not to pass, and a certain degree of freedom must be permitted, perhaps, to the pencil; but, with every desire to avoid prudery and hypercritical remarks, it seem to me, that in a picture, where the artist's object is a moral one, the very appearance of evil, if not necessary to point the moral, should be avoided. It is an adage, that.
“Vice to be hated needs but to be seen."
But this adage is too frequently misunderstood. When vice is seen in connexion with all its degradation, sinfulness, and punishment, it may be hated; but when seen in an alluring shape, without these accessaries, no hatred is excited by its representation.
This is the celebrated picture of the Raising of Lazarus, painted by Sebastian del Piombo, the most valuable in the whole collection. Though painted by Sabastian, it was designed by Michael Angelo, who, it is thought, in his impatience to see his vivid conception embodied, snatched the pencil from the hand of Sebastian, and in a kind of impetuous enthusiasm, dashed on the canvass the admirable figure of Lazarus, leaving untouched the remainder of the group.
How little can we understand the feelings of those who are influenced by emotions we have never experienced! The enthusiasm of the painter, and the fervour, and almost phrensy of the musician and poet are perfectly unintelligible to those who are strangers to the power of music, painting, and poetry.
For this picture it is said Napoleon Buonaparte offered the sum of ten thousand guineas, which was refused. Its worth has been estimated at fifteen thợusand; but the value of paintings is frequently nominal, and especially in cases where there is no desire to part with them.
This picture, though by no means a pleasing one in its general character, has in it some splendid painting, independent of the figure of Lazarus; and the Christian spectator will not fail, while he gazes on the shadowy representation, to ponder also on the reality of the miracle performed by our Saviour, of raising the dead to life. See how impatient Lazarus is to get rid of his grave-clothes! while his hand is putting off a part of them, one of his feet is busy too, in stripping from his legs the bandage with which they are bound. How sublime and simple is the New Testament record of this miracle ! “ And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes : and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go,” John xi. 43, 44.
And am I really gazing on a portrait by Raphael, the first of portrait painters? Yes. Between three and four hundred years ago, the eye of Raphael, now turned to dust, was lighted up with enthusiasm, and his
hand, now mingled with the clay, was actively employed in painting this portrait of pope Julius 11. Julius was the patron of Raphael and Michael Angelo, and a liberal supporter of literature and the fine arts ; but perhaps this picture, even more than all the actions he ever performed, has contributed to hand down his name to posterity.
The pictures by Parmegiano, Annibale and Ludovico Caracci, Guido, Correggio, Dominichino, Gaspar and Nicholas Poussin, Bath, Paulo Veronese, Salvator Rosa, and Rembrandt, are highly valued. I remember once reading an anecdote of the latter artist, wherein it was asserted, that on a certain occasion he used his colours so freely in painting a portrait, that the painted nose stood almost as high above the canvass, as the real nose did on the face of the person whose portrait he was painting
The visitor to the gallery must pause on the paintings of Vandye, Teniers, and Cuyp, nor hastily pass those of Wilson, Gainsborough, and Copley, though of a more modern date. The varied excellences of their different styles will excite pleasure, and a disposition to compare one master with another.
There are in the gallery nine or ten pictures of Claude de Lorraine, a costly group, most of them of the highest excellence. One of them represents the halting of Rebecca and her attendants, awaiting the arrival of Isaac. The best judges of Claude are the loudest in his praise. The general warmth, the sunny. glow, that pervades many of the paintings of this accomplished master, is truly astonishing. Claude, thou wert indeed a painter !
The vigour and vivid colouring of some of the pictures of Rubens are also wonderful. There is so much of bloom upon the flesh, so much of breathing life and buoyant spirit imparted to the figures, that you seem to be holding communion with the living rather than with the dead.
The painter's pencil with his ardour glows,
The olden masters have an excellent auxiliary in father Time, for he mellows their dazzling colours, harmonizes their strengthy lights and shades, and imparts a richness, a tone, and a finish, that a modern painting cannot possess. The eye sees less than the mind feels in gazing on them.
There is much to be seen here besides the paintings. Groups of living beings, full of character and originality. Three sailors have just walked in with blue jackets. There! I have hit off a sketch of one of them -a veteran, in a canvass hat, as he now sits, with leg flung across the other, as independent as a lord. He is gazing on the Holy Family, by Murillo. Well, a rough sailor has some tender touches of feeling in his heart, and that painting of Murillo is as likely as any that I know to call them forth. There are a few among the company walking about with their hats in their hands, and well would it be could they prevail on the rest, by their more civilized, courteous, and respectful demeanour, to follow their example; but, no, it will not do. It is only striving against an irresistible stream. The manners of the poorer and the middle classes of English people are growing freer and bolder every day. The gentleman of fifty years ago is not now very
often to be seen.
I have stood for ten minutes opposite Gaspar Poussin's landscape representing Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac. Stand in a good light; gaze for awhile, without speaking or stirring, on those influential depths of colour, those glorious masses of dark green foliage, and if you find not yourself breathing the fresh air, and holding communion with nature in her rural retreats, conclude at once that you have no soul for painting
There are capital paintings in the gallery by the three presidents of the Royal Academy, sir Joshua Reynolds, West, and sir Thomas Lawrence. The Graces, by Reynolds ; Christ healing the Sick in the Temple, by West; and the portrait of Benjamin West, by Lawrence, are all admirable. The last picture is now before me. It has a speaking face, and is in the very best style of portrait painting. Sir Thomas's pencil was a gifted one.
The picture by Nicholas Poussin of the Plague of Ashdod, is of an arresting kind. The Philistines were victors, for they had overthrown the Israelites in battle: but no sooner did they place the captured ark of the covenant in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod, than it fell down, and a loathsome plague raged among the Philistines. See that unconscious babe sucking nourishment from its plague-struck and deceased mother! Struck by the piteous spectacle, there are not wanting those to take
away the child from contagion and death. Some painters of wondrous power do not succeed in producing pleasing pictures. Nature may be correctly represented without affording satisfaction to the spectator. On the other hand, some painters are happy in the selection and execution of their designs, so that you