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where I took tea. He accompanied me to the
Queen's palace, where I beheld the finest collection
ol" paintings, I believe, in England. I also went to
Greenwich Hospital and to me Park, which has all
the beauty the most lively imagination can conceive
of. The ladies made such a show [this to his
wife ! ] that it was almost enough to warm a statue
and to endue it with life. * * » I have had a visit
from Sir Joshua Reynolds, and from Mr. Strange,
the celebrated engraver. Lord Gage is out of town ;
I have not, therefore, seen him or Lord Dartmouth,
but shall be introduced to the latter next week by
Governor Hutchinson. • » • I dine out every

After passing a few weeks in London,
Copley proceeded with a companion, Mr.
Carter, whose acquaintance he made there,
to Genoa, passing through Lyons and Mar-
seilles, the route so familiar to his country-

•<Arrwi coPLBY [aftbrward lord lyndhi'rst] and his eldest sister, (aktbr a drawing in sepia by benjamin WKST.)

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x>xe8y it is on so small a scale compared to
:hc cities of Europe ; and much greater re-
nain to be seen. Rome, if I mistake not,
nrill make Genoa even seem small ! "

After a delightful journey from Genoa by
x>st and by water, making short visits at
Jie principal cities on the way, of all of
nrhich he writes with enthusiasm, as well as
>f his enjoyment of the lovely scenery, he
urived at Rome October 24th, 1774. On
Jie 5th of November he writes to Mrs. Cop-
ley as follows :

" By your kind leUer of September Jth I am re-
icYed from mudi anxiety, as we were mformed by
tlie London papers that the ships had begun to fire
an the town of Boston. Although this was contra-
dicted, I could not but feel very uneasy. Your let>
ter, beinE two days later, gave me no such account,
Kod wooid make me very nappy, except I fear you
sofler great inconvenience. * * ^ I am very
fearfial that Boston will soon become a place of
bloodshed and" confusion. * * * It is truly as-
tontshinff to see the works of art in this city — ^paint-
ing, icaJpture, and architecture in such (quantity,
beauty, and magnificence as exceed description.

" I shall always enjoy a satisfaction from this tour
whidi I cooM not have had if I had not made it I
know the extent of the arts, to what len^ they
have been carried, and I feel more confidence in
what I do myself than I did before I came.'*

Later on, he writes :

"Everywhere I go I find some persons
to whom I am known, or am introduced
to, in some way. • • • When I ar-
nved in Naples I waited on Sir William
Hamilton, to deliver a letter from Mr.
Pah&er, ojf Boston. 1 was introduced into
a room where there was a concert and com-
pany. I inquired of the servant which was
Sir William, and delivered my letter. Mr.
Izard stepped forward and presented me.
Sir William read the letter, and politely
said: 'Mr. Copley needs no introduction;
his name is sufficient anywhere.' I cannot
but say I have been surprised to find myself
known in places so distant; 1 am happy, at
the same time, in being less a stranger in
the world than I thought, and have found
in every place persons desirous of render-
ing such kind offices as a stranger stands
k need of."

A letter to Mrs. Copley, dated Florence,
June 9th, 1775, ^^ ^^s ^'^^>^ ^^ Rome and
Naples, with the exception of some do-
mestic details, is as follows:

General Gage's opinion that I should not leave
till next spring is judicious, but I shall find
to carry with me the most valuable specimens
art in casts of plaster-of- Paris, of the finest works
the world; and had I staid in Rome till next
ing, my whole time would have been spent in the
Vol. XXI.— 56.

Pi u

study of the statues, but by having some of the best
models in my apartment, I shall alwap have the
advantage of drawing from them, which will be
much superior to spending one or two years in
Rome. I mentioned in td^^o&I that I had purchased
a cast of the Laocoon. This is not only the best
work of art in the world now, but it was esteemed
bv the ancients the first in point of merit that the
chisel had ever produced. Although I had seen fine
casts, and read Pliny's description, when 1 saw the
original I stood astonished, not that the copies are
defective in form, — for the models have been made
on the original, — but there is in marble that fine
transparence that gives it both the sofbiess and the
transparence of r^ life. The Apollo is another
wonderful production. After selecting a few of the
finest casts — for even in Rome the number of the
very excellent is not great — I shall possess all I
would recommend an artist to study, for it is not the
number, but thoroughly to understand the best, and
the principles of art, which alone can make him
great. , It is said that Michael Angelo obt^ned the
astonishing 'gusto ' that we see in all his works from
a fragment only of the body, — the * torso,' — ^yet we
see the great Angel in delicate as well as in the most
robust ne;ures ; and the same senius appears in all
that he does, as well in the folds of his drapery as in
his 'Christ Sitting in Judgment.' I am convinced
that a man who is incapable of producing a female
figure, in an excellent style, because he has only seen
the Farnese ' Hercules,' must, in his muscular figures
of men, be but a copyist of the Hercules, however
artfully he may disguise his theft, — ^the principle that

S'ves oeauty to the different characters, whether it is
e beauty of a Hercules or of a Venus, being the
same: a thorough knowledge of the human body,
with a fine taste to give to all the particular forms
that suit best with each, is absolutely necessary to
the character of a great and oririnal artist. All this,
however, is best calculated for Harry [Pelham], and
I leave it to you to communicate to nim."

When Copley received the case contain-
ing the casts above refened to, they were
found to be broken into a thousand pieces,
from want of proper care in packing — **a
disappointment which," in the words of his
son, ** he never ceased to regret during the
whole course of hip after life."

The day after writing the letter just quoted,
Copley started on his journey to Parma,
where he remained about two months,
engaged in making a copy of the "St.
Jerpme," by Correggio, for which he had a
commission from Lord Grosvenor, and
** which," he wrote, ** my anxiety almost ren-
ders me incapable of proceeding with "; for,
he continues:

** I am informed by a letter from London that what
I greatly feared has at last taken place, and the war
has begun, and, if I am not mistaken, the country
which was once the happiest on the globe will be
deluged with blood for many years to come. It
seems as if no plan of reconaliation caa now be
formed; as the sword is drawn, all must be finally
settled by the sword. I cannot think that the power
of Great Britain will subdue the country, if the
people are united, as they appear to be at present. I

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hen two years
* Minerva^
V, hich sailed
4 the British
■ .d ; among the
• ic ancestors of
'>ccial)Ie American
\ , and great regret
:-, s ) many children
v iieavily laden ship;
. - .; V ^ <lelighted in relating
nval at Dover, England,
, ;., after an unusually short
. a time, of twenty-eight days,
saying that her young family
. ' (inselvesasgood sailors as any
■, and were the delight of the ship's
' , wiio vied with one another in
^ :ind indulging them. Mrs. Copley
1 several weeks before her husband
i'arma, while he hurried his journey
jgh Lombardy, along the Rhine, and
' ugh the Low Countries, carefully exam-
s' the rich galleries on his route.
I hus the transfer of the family of our
1 list was made, and henceforth London
i>:came their home. After a short residence
in Leicester Square, where the house he
occupied still remains, in that greatly im-
proved locality, Copley removed to 25
tieorgc street, where his father-in-law, him-
self, and his son lived and died. The house
was purchased of a wealthy Italian, who
Kad built it for his own use a short time
previous, and was somewhat different in its
irraogements from most London houses;
that very dissimilarity probably recom-
mended it to the artist. In the center was
1 large, lofty saloon, lighted from the ceil-
ing, which offered a most favorable posidon
for his pictures, which, after being exhibited
It the Academy, adorned its walls. On
the back, adjoining this, was a smaller
^)artment, the painting-room, as it was
called, which, on the death of the artist,
became the study of the son.

Among Copley's companions on his voy-
age to England was Brook Watson, afterward
1-ord Mayor of London, a man in the prime
of life, whose lost leg was replaced by a
wooden one. Passengers in those days
were few, and voyages long, and the time
was beguiled by many a tale of truth and
fiction; few among the latter could pos-
sess more thrilling interest than the account
this gentleman gave of the loss of his leg,
hy the bite of a shark, while he was bathing
in the harbor of Havana. Again and again
Copley heard the scene described, and the

agony of dread recounted, with all the
vividness of experience : the awful pause ;
the swift retiUTi of the monster; the almost
hopeless deliverance of the victim at the
last moment, — till every circumstance of the
case was stamped on the artist's imagina-
tion with the fidelity of truth. Sketches
were taken, with a view to represent the
frightful occurrence on canvas. The picture,
represented in the engraving on page 765,
was given by Lord Lyndhurst to a near
relative in Boston, but is now the property
of the late Mr. Charles Appleton's family.
The monster, having taken off one leg, is
represented as returning for another attack
just as the youth is drawn into the boat.
The coloring, of the picttwe is extremely
soft and rich — the Moro Castle, the water,
and the expression of the terrified boat-
men, are very fine. There is great animation
in the whole group, and the picture always
rivets the attention of the spectator, even the
humblest. A housemaid, engaged in her
employment in the room where it hung,
said : " I cannot take my eyes off that pict-
ure." It was finished in 1778, and engraved
by Valentine Green in mezzotinto.

Watson delighted to relate the anecdote
connected with this picture — ^an anecdote,
by the way, which has gone into currency
with many errors. Being at a country inn,
in a remote comer of England, and the
servant coming to take off his boot, Watson
warned him that if he pulled too hard he
would bring the leg with it. To the inex-
pressible horror of the man, he found leg as
well as boot in his hand! Recovering in a
measure from the shock, and finding the leg
could be replaced, he begged to know how
the gentleman had lost it. Watson prom-
ised to tell him under one condition — that
he would not ask a second question. Assent-
ing to the condition, poor Boots heard that
it was "bit off," at which, scratching his
head, he exclaimed, " How I wish I could
ask one more ! "

Copley's reputation had preceded his
arrival in London. As soon as his easel was
mounted, he commenced a series of fine
portraits of distinguished persons, many in
their robes of office, with their orders and
insignia of rank. But his advance in
portraiture shows itself in the composition
of large groups of family and domestic
scenes, such as he had never attempted in
America: "The Red- Cross Knight" from
Spenser's " Faerie Queene " — his son, the
future Lord Chancellor, under the guise of
St. George, with his two sisters as " Faith "

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West's success

**ll as by his




. the

^.is he

u' - rhe

lit of uni-

■"» ni I'! n gland

•\ I. < \\ addressed

vn I pat hies. The

t imting statesman,

'u ^inf4 about him, the

' attendant peers, are

V and as much passion,

< Mi>istcnt with the scene in

I .uistrophe occurred. Great

u.rded to the artist, whose repu-

' rinanently established, and in an

v short time two thousand five hun-

•tgc impressions from the fine engrav-

^y Hartolozzi were sold, and the picture

exhibited and admired by thousands.

America, as well as in England, the news

t Copley's success was received with en-

'nusiasm, and by none was it more highly

appreciated than by hLs aged mother, who,

though feeble and suffering, enjoyed her

son's success to the utmost, as the following

extract from one of her letters proves :

*• Boston, Feb. 6th, 1 788,
** Your fame, my dear son, is soanded by all the
^^ of the art you bid lair to excel in. May
^I^Jprosper and cause you to succeed in all your
?"*«i1ikinK5, and enroll your name among tl^e first
"» your profession."

Again, Mr. Scollay, a compatriot, writes thus
to the artist :

" I truit, amid this blaze of prosperity, you do not
'^''K^Wir dear native country and the cause it is
jngaged in, which I knowr once lay very near your
''^rt, and I hope docs still."

This is good testimony to the side Copley
^ook in the political questions of the day, as
^dl as to the reputation he had gained in his
^rt. Mrs. Jameson cites this picture as an
example of what may be termed "historical
PJinHng." Copley presented an engraving
^Uhis picture to John Adams, whose letter,
^«<i January 27th, 1793, acknowledging
^"^ gift, is before me, in which letter he
"*«ntions having transmitted another of the
^'nc subject to Washington, and returns the
fnanks of the President, mentioning his
"»tention of writing himself as soon as he

For "The Siege of Gibraltar," painted
about 1789-90, for the City of London, and
placed in the Council-chamber of Guildhall,
Copley^ was sent to Hanover to take the
portraits of four of the generals of that
country who, with the English, had won
their laurels on that sea- washed rock. A
letter from the good-natured King George
III., in his own handwriting, claiming for
the artist and his family every aid, gave
him not only perfect facility for the execu-
tion of his commission, but rare oppor-
tunities for pleasure in a land dear to the
student of old German art.

Copley's wife and eldest daughter accom-
panied him on this delightful excursion.
Fresh and quaint were the anecdotes they
treasured up of that " golden time." Every
gallery of art unlocked its treasures, and
every mansion offered a generous hospital-
ity to the master whom "the King de-
lighted to honor." A tour through the old
towns that lay on their route was not the
hackneyed thmg it has since become, and
in after years they dearly loved to dwell
upon all they had seen, and to recall the
picturesque fashions of that old German

In 1 790 Copley obtained the honors of an
academician, after having been "associate,"
presenting a picture (" The Tribute Money ")
on his admission, according to the rules of
the Academy. He enjoyed the advantage
of having his works engraved by the
talented Bartolozzi, Strange, Sharpe, Thew,
Heath, Green, and other eminent artists,
and most enviable was the position he had
won by his talents and character in a
country he had sought as a stranger, and
whose social institutions at that time ren-
dered its attainment so difficult.

A more congenial sphere for a man of
genius can scarcely be imagined than Cop-
ley's London home. It was the favorite
resort of his countrymen in England, of
every shade of political opinion. Among
these were the Olivers and Hutchinsons,
connections of Mrs. Copley through her
Winslow ancestors, and all that were distin-
guished in the aristocratic circles of the col-
onial court; the first minister to St James,
in his diplomatic dignity, scantily paid
and coldly received; besides these there
were men of art and letters, — the refined
and gifted Sir Joshua Reynolds; the eccen-
tric Barry; Malone, the erudite annotator
and student of Shaksperc; the brilliant and
self-indulgent Stewart; the cold but gentle
West; Bumey, Bareth, and a host of distin-

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oompHment ever paid to a picture of this
class, perhaps, was the estimate expressed
by the late Duke of Wellington, who,
while highly admiring it, during a visit
to Lord Lyndhurst, said it was the only
painting of a battle that ever satisfied
him or faithfully depicted the scene, inas-
much as the artist had only attempted to
represent one incident, the rest necessarily
being concealed by smoke and dust. The
people of the island retain a vivid remem-
brance of the spirited deed, and, in com-
noemoration, show with pride a copy of
this picture.

Copley continued in pursuance of his
art as vigorously as ever, though in another
branch. " Abraham's Sacrifice," exhibited
in 1776; " Hagar and Ishmael," a com-
panion picttire, in 1798; ''Saul Reproved
by Samuel," the same year, besides " The
Nativity," "The Tribute Money," and
** Samuel and Eli," all engraved, show that
Scripture subjects were as famUiar to his
pencil as any other. The last-named, one
of the finest of Copley's works, painted for
the Macklin Bible and engraved by Valen-
tine Green, is remarkable for the compo-
sition as well as for the beauty of the

The beautiful portrait of Lady Frances
Wentworth, wife of John Wentworth, the
last loyal governor of New Hampshire, —
an engraving of which we give on page 768,
— was probably painted in London, soon
after Copley's return firom Italy. When the
Revolutionary troubles broke out in America,
Wentworth went to £ngland, where he was
created baronet, and appointed governor
of Nova Scotia. Lady Wentworth was one
of the maids-of-honor to the Queen, wife
of George III., and was greatly admired at
court for her beauty. The portrait by Copley
was thought an excellent likeness, and is
certainly a picture of rare excellence. Afler
many vicissitudes, it passed into the posses-
sion of the late James Lenox, Esq., and is
now one of the omaments of the library he so
generously endowed in New York. A litrte
romance attaches to Lady Wentworth's
memory. She was engaged to John Went-
worth, her cousin, who went away and loi-
tered too long for the lady's patience, till
she accepted another suitor. The first lover
returned to find her married. The man she
had taken in such haste died soon afterward,
and in one single week after the funeral she
maiTied her first love. She never returned
to America, and died in England in 18 13.

Notwithstanding Copley's success in his

art, as well as in the attainment of an hon-
orable social position, and his complete sat-
isfaction in his domestic relations, it appears
as if his thoughts were constantly dwelling
upon "his early home across the Atlantic,
and upon the possibility of returning to it.
Accordingly, when his son's course at Cam-
bridge was at an end and he had obtained
a traveling " fellowship," he improved the
occasion to visit the country of his birth,
with the ulterior view of gaining his father's
estate on Beacon Hill, which, without
proper authority, had been sold by his
agent. In this object the son failed, to the
constant regret of the family. Thus the
dream of Copley's life since he lefl Amer-
ica vanished ; " the fiwm " on Beacon
Hill, to which he was so warmly attached,
slipped from his grasp, and his last aspira-
tion of returning to close his days among the
congenial scenes of his youth ended in dis-

With the beginning of the present cent-
ury the material for something like a chro-
nological account of Copley's later years
and works are abundant, the history of the
works being the real history of the man.
Copley's eldest daughter, Eliza Clarke,
bora in Boston in 1770, married Gardmer
Greene, a man of high social and business
position, whom she accompanied to her
new home in that town, August, 1800, when
a very full and regular correspondence be-
tween the two branches of the family com-
menced. From this source we gain a
complete account of its members and of
Copley's closing career, while the details
of his pictures, as they progress, are men-
tioned in every letter and furaish an unfail-
ing topic of interest. Portrait after portrait
rises to notice and gradually vanishes from
the page. In 1800, the great pictiure of
"Sir Edward Knatchbull's Family" was
begun, and we find constant reference to the
work until it was finished, many years later.
** The canvas covered one end of the great
rooms in the Baronet's house, and con-
tained, at the beginning, a group of ten, to
which the owner subsequently insisted
upon having a second wife added, as well
as a little stranger, on its arrival." This
" superb " picture, as it was styled, unfortu-
nately for the artist's reputation was very
little known, in consequence of the unwill-
ingness of the owner to permit it to be ex-
hibited or engraved. " Monmouth before
James II., Refiising to give the Names of
his Accomplices," " The Oflfer of the Crown
to Lady Jane Grey," exhibited in 1808,

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• [The following paper by Mr. Theodore Thomas was written at our especial request The only regret
his many friends in America and Europe will have reading it Mrill be that it is not longer, — that m addi-
tion to the excellent and laborious work Mr. Thomas is doing for this country with his baton, he does not
have leisure from time to time to give the public also the benefit of his pen. — Ed. S. M.]

The Americans are certainly a music-
loving people. They are peculiarly suscep-
tible to the sensuous charm of tone, they
are enthusiastic and learn easily, and with
the growth in general culture of recent
years, there has sprung up a desire for some-
thing serious in its purpose in music, as in
the other arts. The voices of the women,
although inclined to be sharp and nasal in
speaking, are good in singing. Their small
volume reveals the lack of proper training,
but they are good in quality, extended in
compass, and brilliant in color. The larger
number are sopranos, but there are many
altos, and there would be more and they would
be better were it not for ruinotis attempts to
make sopranos of them. The men's voices
do not compare favorably with those of the
women. They lack strength and character,
and a well-balanced chorus is hardly possi-
ble as yet without a mixture of £nglish or
German voices to give body to the tone.
Of late years, probably because of the grow-
ing attention to ph3rsical training, there has
been a marked improvement, and many
good and beautiful voices have been
developed, chiefly baritones or high basses.
The incessant pressure of work which every
American feels, prevents the men from pay-
ing much attention to music, but as the
country advances in age and begins to
acquire some of the repose which age brings,
there will come possibilities of development
which cannot now be estimated.

In considering, therefore, the present
condition of musical development in this
country, I am led naturally to speak first of
vocal music. Although the contrary has
been asserted, I think that it is in the vocal
direction, and not in the instrumental, that
the present development of the art tends.
We have no public instrumental performers
of American birth who can rank with our
singers in public estimation, nor is there at
present more than a very limited demand
for instrumentalists. New York is the only
city in the country in which an orchestral
player can make a living, and even here he
must Rive lessons or play at balls and par-
ties, mereby losing or injuring the finer
qualities of an orchestral player. Boston,

in spite of many efforts, cannot support a
large, well-balanced orchestra. Philadel-
phia has no standing orchestra, and in Cin-
cinnati and Chicago the orchestral musician
must eke out a Hving by playing in beer-
gardens and saloons. The only demand
for piano-players, except of the highest
order, is as teachers, and of those we have
many and good ones, who do what may be
called missionary work. Singing, on the
other hand, appeals to almost every one,
and there is a certain demand, even if lim-
ited, for singers in the churches.

When we consider that music is taught in
the public schools throughout the country,

Online LibraryPaulist FathersThe Century, Volume 21 → online text (page 63 of 78)