MEMOIRS

OF

THE LIFE OF

WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

WITH SELECTIONS FROM

HIS JOURNALS AND CORRESPONDENCE.

BY HIS SON,

W. WILKIE COLLINS.

VOLUME I.

LONDON:
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS.

_____________

MDCCCXLVIII.

 

TYLER & REED,
PRINTERS,
BOLT-COURT, FLEET-STREET.

 

TO
THE RIGHT HONORABLE

SIR ROBERT PEEL, BART.,

ETC., ETC., ETC.,

THIS BIOGRAPHY OF AN

ENGLISH PAINTER,

WHOSE GENIUS HE ENCOURAGED

AND WHOSE CHARACTER HE ESTEEMED,

IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.

Frontispiece and illustrations

PREFACE.
_______

THE writer of such portions of the following pages as are not occupied by his father's diaries and correspondence, has endeavoured to perform his task with delicacy and care, and hopes to have succeeded in presenting to the friends and lovers of Art, a faithful record of a life devoted, with an enthusiasm worthy of its object, to the attainment of excellence in a pursuit which is admitted, by common consent, to refine no less than to exalt the human heart.

The Journals and Letters of Mr. Collins, which are interwoven with this Memoir, are not presented to the public on account of any literary merit they may be found to possess, but merely as expositions, under his own hand, of his personal and professional character—of the motives by which he was uniformly actuated, in his private and public capacities; and of the reflections which were suggested to his mind by his genius and experience throughout his professional career.

Having blended with the passages of the Memoir to which they refer, such explanations as might otherwise have been looked for in this place, the only duty which remains for the Author to perform, (and a most grateful one it is,) is to return his sincere thanks for the valuable assistance which has been afforded to him in various ways, throughout the progress of his work, by many of his father's friends; among whom he begs to be allowed to mention: the Right Honourable Sir Robert Peel, Bart, (who favoured him further by accepting the dedication of the book); the late Sir Thomas Baring, Bart.; C. R. Leslie, Esq., R.A.; C. L. Eastlake, Esq., R.A.; Joseph Bullar, Esq., M.D.; Mrs. Hunter; Miss F. Clarkson; R. H. Dana, Esq.; Bernard Barton, Esq.; William Richardson, Esq.; Samuel Joseph, Esq.; and E. V. Rippingille, Esq.

Among the more intimate associates of the late Mr. Collins, who have favoured the Author with anecdotes and recollections of their departed friend, are: William Etty, Esq., R.A.; C. R. Leslie, Esq., R.A.; James Stark, Esq.; and George Richmond, Esq.: whilst, by the courtesy of Thomas Uwins, Esq., R.A., he has been enabled to obtain access to his father's works, painted for His Majesty George IV., now in the private apartments of Windsor Castle.

Through the kindness of Messrs. John and James Kirton, in furnishing him with their recollections of Mr. Collins and his family, at a very early period, he has been enabled to present some interesting particulars of his father's life, at a time not included in the sources of biographical information possessed by other friends.

In conclusion, the Author has to express his sense of the benefit he has received from the valuable literary advice of Alaric A. Watts, Esq., during the progress and publication of the work.

 

MEMOIRS OF THE

LIFE OF WILLIAM COLLINS, R.A.

========

 

CHAPTER I.

1788-1807.

Introductory remarks - Mr. Collins's parents - Notices of his father's literary productions, and of "Memoirs of a Picture" especially - Anecdotes of his first attempt to pourtray coast scenery, and of his introduction to George Morland - He adopts the Art as a profession, and commences his studies under his father and Morland - Anecdote of the latter - Letters, etc. - Admission of Mr. Collins to study at the Royal Academy.

To write biography successfully, is to present the truth under its most instructive and agreeable aspect. This undertaking, though in appearance simple, combines among its requirements so much justice in the appreciation of character, and so much discrimination in the selection of examples, that its difficulties have been felt by the greatest as by the humblest intellects that have approached it. A task thus experienced as arduous, by all who have attempted it, must present a double responsibility when the office of biographer is assumed by a son. He is constantly tempted to view as biographical events, occurrences which are only privately important in domestic life; he is perplexed by being called on to delineate a character which it has hitherto been his only ambition to respect; and he is aware throughout the progress of his labours, that where undue partiality is merely suspected in others, it is anticipated from him as an influence naturally inherent in the nature of his undertaking.

Feeling the difficulty and delicacy of the employment on which I am about to venture, and unwilling to attempt a remonstrance, which may be disingenuous, and which must be useless, against any objections of partiality which may meet it when completed, I shall confine myself to communicating my motives for entering on the present work; thereby leading the reader to infer for himself, in what measure my relationship to the subject of this Memoir may be advantageous, instead of asserting from my own convictions, how little it may be prejudicial to the furtherance of my design.

To trace character in a painter through its various processes of formation; to exhibit in the studies by which he is strengthened, in the accidents by which he is directed, in the toils which he suffers, and in the consolations which he derives, what may be termed his adventures in his connection with the world; and further, to display such portions of his professional life, as comprehend his friendly intercourse with his contemporaries, as well as the incidents of his gradual advance towards prosperity, and the powerful influence of rightly-constituted genius in the Art, in exalting and sustaining personal character; are my principal objects, in reference to that part of the present work, which depends more exclusively upon its author, and less upon the journals and letters which are connected with its subject. In thus reviewing my father's career as a painter, it is my hope to produce that which may interest in some degree the lover of Art, and fortify the student, by the example of reputation honestly acquired, and difficulties successfully overcome; while it tends at the same time to convey a just idea of the welcome, steadily, if not always immediately, accorded to true genius in painting; not only by those whose wealth enables them to become its patrons, but also by the general attention of the public at large.

In what measure my opportunities of gathering biographical knowledge from my father's conversation, and from my own observation of his habits and studies, may enable me in writing his life, upon the principles above explained, to produce a narrative, in which what may appear curious and true shall compensate for what may be thought partial and trifling, it is now for the reader to judge. The motives with which I enter upon my task are already communicated. To emulate, in the composition of the following Memoirs, the candour and moral courage which formed conspicuous ingredients in the character that they are to delineate, and to preserve them as free from error and as remote from exaggeration as I may, is all that I can further promise to the reader, to give them that claim to his attention which may at least awaken his curiosity, though it may not procure his applause.

WILLIAM COLLINS was born in Great Titchfield-street, London, on the 18th September, 1788. His father was an Irishman, a native of Wicklow; his mother was a Scottish lady, born in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. He was the second of a family of three children, the eldest of whom, a girl, died a month before his birth; the youngest, a boy, lived to see his brother attain high celebrity in the art, but died several years before him. It was a favourite tradition in the family of the painter, that they were descended from the same stock as the great poet whose name they bore. Of his ancestors I am enabled to mention one — Doctor Samuel Collins — who signalized himself in the seventeenth century by his professional skill, and who has found a place in our Biographical Dictionaries as one of the most remarkable anatomists of his time. The family originally came from Chichester, whence, about the time of the Revolution of 1688, a branch of it emigrated to Ireland, and fought on the side of King William, at the battle of the Boyne; settling definitely in Ireland from that period to the birth of Mr. Collins's father. An imprudent marriage, bringing with it the usual train of domestic privations and disappointments, had so far reduced the pecuniary resources of the family of Mr. Collins's grandfather, that his father found himself, on arriving at manhood, entirely dependent on his own exertions for support — exertions, which were soon rendered doubly important by his subsequent union with a young and portionless wife.

It will be found that I —shall advert at greater length than may appear immediately necessary to some of my readers, to the character and employments of Mr. Collins's father. But the pursuits that he chose for himself, as a man of letters and a dealer in pictures, and the remarkable influence that his knowledge of art and artists had in determining his son in following the career in which he was afterwards destined to become eminent, concur to make him an object of no ordinary importance and interest, at this stage of a work devoted to the curiosities of painting, as well as to the biography of a painter.

His poetical abilities, developed, I believe, at an early age, and his social accomplishments as a man of polished manners and ready wit, soon brought Mr. Collins, sen., into contact with most of the painters and authors of his time. In choosing, therefore, as a dealer in pictures, a pursuit that might swell his precarious profits as a man of letters, the company he frequented may reasonably be imagined to have had no small influence in urging such a selection. But his choice was an unfortunate one; too honourable to descend to the rapacities, and too independent to stoop to the humiliations, attaching to picture-dealing in those days, neither by principles, nor disposition, was he in any way fitted for the uncongenial character he had assumed; and, though he continued throughout his life to force his attention to the pursuit in which he had engaged, he remained to the last a poet in his inward predilections, and a poor man in his outward circumstances.

His "Memoirs of a Picture" — to which I shall presently refer at length — his "Life of George Morland," and his "Poem on the Slave Trade," — illustrated by two of Morland's most successful pictures, subsequently engraved by J. R. Smith — were his principal works; but they brought him more popularity than profit. In those days, when literary genius was yet unemancipated from the fetters of patronage, the numbers of the reading and book-buying public were comparatively small; and the fine old race of genuine garret authors still existed, to fire the ingenuity of rapacious bailiffs, and point the sarcasms of indignant biographers. Articles in the public journals, songs, fugitive pieces, and all the other miscellanies of the literary brain, flowed plentifully from Mr. Collins's pen; gaining for him the reputation of a smart public writer, and procuring for him an immediate, but scanty support. No literary occupations were too various for the thoroughly Irish universality of his capacity. He wrote sermons for a cathedral dignitary, who was possessed of more spiritual grace than intellectual power; and, during the administration of Mr. Wyndham, composed a political pamphlet, to further the views of a friend; which procured that fortunate individual a Government situation of four hundred a year, but left the builder of his fortunes in the same condition of pecuniary embarrassment in which he had produced the pamphlet, and in which, to the last day of his life, he was fated to remain.

But no severity of disappointment and misfortune was powerful enough to sour the temper or depress the disposition of this warm-hearted and honourable man. All the little money he received was cheerfully and instinctively devoted to the pleasures and advantages of his family: and in spite of the embarrassment of his circumstances, he contrived to give his sons, William and Francis, as sound and as liberal an education as could possibly be desired. Surrounded from their earliest infancy by pictures of all ages and subjects, accustomed to hear no conversation so frequently as conversation on Art, thrown daily into the society of artists of all orders, from the penniless and dissipated Morland, to the prosperous and respectable West, nothing was more natural than that the two boys should begin to draw at an early age. In overlooking their ravages among old palettes, their predatory investigations among effete colour-bladders, and their industrious pictorial embellishment of strips of old canvas and scraps of forgotten paper, it was not difficult for the practised eye of the elder Mr. Collins, to discover in William,— who took the lead, on evenings and half-holidays, in all ebullitions of graphic enthusiasm,— some promise of the capacity that was lying dormant in the first rude essays of his childish pencil. Year by year the father watched and treasured up the son's drawings, until the boy's spontaneous intimation of his bias towards the painter's life enabled him to encourage his ambition to begin the serious direction of his studies, and to predict with delight and triumph that he might perhaps live long enough "to see poor Bill an R.A."

Before, however, I proceed to occupy myself with the incidents of Mr. Collins's boyhood, I would offer a few remarks on the principal work which his father produced,— the "Memoirs of a Picture." I have been told that this book enjoyed, in its day, no inconsiderable share of popularity. It is so novel in arrangement, it belongs so completely, both in style and matter, to a school of fiction now abandoned by modern writers, it is so thoroughly devoted to painters and painting, and so amusingly characteristic of the manners and customs of the patrons and picture-dealers of the day, (and I might add, of the hardihood of the author himself, in venturing to expose the secret politics of the pursuit to which he was attached,) that a short analysis of its characters and story, whether it be considered as a family curiosity, a literary antiquity, or an illustration of the condition of the Art and the position of the artists of a bygone age, can hardly be condemned as an intrusion on the purposes, or an obstacle to the progress of the present biography.

The work is contained in three volumes, and comprises a curious combination of the serious purpose of biography with the gay license of fiction. The first and the third volumes are occupied by the history of the picture. The second volume is episodically devoted to a memoir of George Morland, so filled with characteristic anecdotes, told with such genuine Irish raciness of style and good-natured drollery of reflection, that this pleasant biography is by no means improperly placed between the two volumes of fiction by which it is supported on either side.

The story opens with an account of the sudden disappearance from its place in the royal collection of France, of the subject of the memoirs, "an unique and inestimable jewel, painted by the immortal Guido." The perpetrator of this pictorial abduction is an accomplished scamp, named the Chevalier Vanderwigtie, whose adventures before the period of the theft, and whose safe arrival on the frontiers with his prize, advance us considerably through the preparatory divisions of volume the first.

All is not success, however, with the Chevalier. After he and his picture have run several perilous risks, both are finally threatened with ruin by a party of Prussian cavalry, who, utterly ignorant of the existence of Guido, begin paying their devotions at the shrine of his genius by scratching his production (which is painted on copper) on its back with their knives, to ascertain whether any precious metal lurks beneath. Finding themselves disappointed in the search, they resign "the gem" with contempt, but take care to make use of its possessor by enlisting him in a regiment of dragoons. Unseated, like many an honester man, in the course of his martial exercises, by his new Bucephalus, the Chevalier is placed, for the injury thereby contracted, in the hands of a surgeon, who robs him of his divine picture, probably from a natural anxiety to secure his medical fees, and sells it, after all its adventures, to a Dutch picture-dealer at Rotterdam for a hundred guilders.

At this point the narrative, true to its end, leaves the ill-fated Vanderwigtie inconsolable for his loss in the hut of a peasant, to follow the fortunes of the stolen Guido, which has become contaminated for the first time by the touch of a professed dealer.

And now has this charming picture — shamefully stolen by the shameless Vanderwigtie, outrageously lacerated on its sacred back by the knives of illiterate Prussians, treacherously ravished from its unscrupulous possessor by a larcenous Hippocrates, and unworthily sold for a paltry remuneration to a Dutch Maecenas with commercial views — fallen into hands that will treasure it with befitting respect? Alas, our virtuoso of the Dykes is darkly ignorant of the value of the Vanderwigtian jewel! he immures it contemptuously amid the gross materialism of oil, candles, and the miscellaneous and household rubbish of his upper shop. The cheek of the Virgin (who is the subject of the picture) is pressed, perhaps, by an old shoe-brush, and the fleecy clouds supporting her attendant cherubs are deepened to stormy tints by the agency of an unconscious blacking-ball! Does this profanation speedily end? — far from it. Two English dealers purchase "the show-pictures" in the burgomaster's collection, but think not of diving for concealed gems into the dirtiest recesses of his kitchen floor,— the shoe-brush and the blacking-ball remain undisputed masters of the sentiment they profane, and the atmosphere they cloud! But a day of glory is approaching for the insulted Guido: a Flemish artist discovers it, appreciates it, purchases it, carries it home, washes it, wonders over it, worships it! The professors of picture-dealing (ingenuous souls!) see it and depreciate it, but artists and connoisseurs arrive in crowds to honour it. A whole twelvemonth does it remain in the possession of the fortunate artist; who at the expiration of that period suddenly proves himself to be a man of genius by falling into pecuniary difficulties, and is compelled by "dire necessity" to part with the inestimable gem,— of which, however, he takes care to make two copies, reproducing the original exactly, down to the very scratches on its back from the knives of the Prussians. Scarcely has he completed these fraudulent materials for future profit before the story of the original theft of "Guido's matchless offspring" has penetrated throughout the length and breadth of artistic Europe. Among the dealers who now cluster round the Flemish artist are two, commissioned by an English nobleman to buy the Guido. After a scene of hard bargaining, these penetrating gentlemen relieve their professional friend of one of his copies, at an expense of seven hundred and fifty ducats, and start for England with their fancied prize; while the Flemish artist, having palmed off one counterfeit successfully in Holland, departs, like a shrewd man of business, to disembarrass himself of the other mock original in the contrary direction of Spain.

But the copy is destined to no better fortune in its perambulations than the original. The dealers are robbed of the counterfeit Guido, on English ground. In vain, on their arrival in London, do they advertise their loss of their "unique original" — it has passed into the possession of a broken-down dandy, the captain of the robbers; who, in a fit of generosity, has given it to a broken-down painter — a member of his gang — who, desirous of ready money, sells it to a broken-down lady of quality, who is the captain's "chereamie," and who leaving the mock Guido in the care of her servants at her house in London, shortly after purchasing it, starts with the captain on a tour of pleasure on the Continent. The poor painter is generously included in their travelling arrangements; and, to improve him in his art, the party visit the different collections of pictures on their route. While examining one of these, its owner, in consideration of the presence of the painter, volunteers the exhibition of a hidden and priceless gem; and, unlocking a drawer, displays to their astonished eyes the indubitable original Guido, which, under the seal of strict secrecy, he has purchased from the Flemish painter in his season of destitution and distress.

Meanwhile the story returns to the counterfeit picture, which the captain's lovely companion has left in the custody of her servants in London. These faithful retainers, finding their time in their mistress's absence hanging heavily on their hands, determine, like their betters, to employ it in seeing society. The rooms are lighted up; the company invited; the supper is prepared; the cellar is opened. Each courteous footman sits manfully down to his bottle; each skittish Abigail sips enchantingly from her partner's brimming glass. The evening begins with social hilarity, proceeds with easy intoxication, ends with utter drunkenness. On the field of Bacchanalian battle, sleep and snore profoundly the men of the mighty calf and gaudy shoulder-knot. The hours pass, candles burn down, sparks drop unheeded, linen catches light, no one is awake, the house is on fire! Then, "the summoned firemen wake at call;" the house is saved, but the furniture is burnt; and the counterfeit picture, among other valuables, is actually lost. Time wends onward, the lady and her companions return, and prove their patriotism by falling into debt as soon as they touch their native shores. An execution is put into the house, and marauding brokers seize on the domestic spoil. To the share of one of their numbers falls an old butt, filled with stagnant water. The myrmidon of trade's interests, on emptying his prize, discovers a cabinet at the bottom of the butt (thrown there doubtless during the confusion of the fire). He breaks it open, and the mock Guido, radiant and uninjured as ever, meets his astonished gaze. Friends are found to apprise him of its value, and swear to its originality: he endeavours to sell it to the connoisseurs; but failing in that, disposes of it, in desperation, for forty guineas, to a dealer in Leicester-fields.

Two years elapse, and the mock picture, for which all offers are refused, is still in the possession of its last purchaser. The story now reverts to the owner of the real Guido, and to a young artist whom he is employing, who is a son of the dealer in Leicester-fields. As a man of real taste, he recognizes in his patron's picture the original of his father's counterfeit in the shop in London; but his penetration is far from being shared by two illustrious foreign professors of picture-dealing, who are on a visit to the connoisseur's collection. One of these worthies is the celebrated Des-chong-fong, a Chinese mandarin, who presents himself as engaged, with his companion, by the Great Mogul, to strip all Europe of its pictures, to form a collection for the imperial palace. The artist and the patron shrewdly suspect the professors to be fools in judgment and knaves in intention. In order to prove their convictions they represent the real Guido to be a copy, and exalt the fame of the picture in Leicester-fields as the great original of the master. Des-chong-fong and his friend fall helplessly into the snare laid for them; and, after proving by an elaborate criticism that the picture before them is a most arrant and preposterous copy, set off for London, in order to possess themselves — or rather their master, the Great Mogul — of the original gem. After a sharp scene of diplomatic shuffling, they obtain the dealer's counterfeit Guido for six hundred guineas. With this, and other works of art, they open a gallery; and, determining to "break" the whole army of London dealers, commence purchasing; and (oddly enough considering their mission to Europe) selling again, at enormous profits, whatever pictures they can lay their hands upon. Matters proceed smoothly for some time, when they are suddenly threatened with ruin by the loss of their Guido, which is stolen for the second time; — all London is searched to recover it, but in vain. At length, one morning, a Liverpool picture-dealer calls on them with works for sale, one of which is exactly similar to the lost Guido. They tax him with the theft; he vows that the picture was never in England before it came into his hands. Des-Chong-fong and Co. are furious, and refuse to part with it. An action is entered; and all picture-dealing London awaits in horrid expectation the impending result of an appeal to law.

On his side, the Liverpool dealer is fitly furnished with evidence to support his cause. He has bought the picture of a captain in the navy, who, during the war with France, received it as part of his prize-money from the capture of a French lugger — the owner of the contested Guido having been slain in the conflict. On inquiry, this unfortunate virtuoso turns out to be our old friend the Flemish painter, who, not having succeeded in disposing of his second copy of the Guido, has retained it in his possession ever since it was produced. A young lady, with whom the copyist was eloping at the time of his death, still survives, to bear testimony, with the English captain, as to the manner in which the Liverpool dealer became possessed of the second of the counterfeit gems.

But this portentous mass of evidence fails to stagger the immoveable obstinacy of the great Des-chong-fong. He scouts logic and probabilities with all the serenity of a juryman waiting for his dinner, or a politician with a reputation for consistency. The action is to be tried in the face of everybody and everything. Already the gentlemen of the wig hug joyfully their goodly briefs — already the day is fixed, and the last line of the pleadings arranged, when a stranger darkens the Des-chong-fongian doors, and flits discursively among the Des-chong-fongian pictures. No sooner does he discern the disputed Guido than he flouts it with undissembled scorn, and declares it to be but the copy of a wondrous original that is lost. Des-chong-fong and Co. open their mouths to speak, but the words die away upon their quivering lips: the stranger explains it is Vanderwigtie himself!

And now, like one of the Homeric heroes, the enterprizing Chevalier — the old, original Vanderwigtie — narrates his achievements and adventures to the deluded ambassador of the Great Mogul. How he stole the real Guido from the royal collection of France; how he lost it to the Prussian doctor; how he heard of it in the foreign connoisseur's gallery; how that illustrious patron of the Arts has been lately driven from his pictures and his possessions by the Revolution; how his collection has been ravaged by the British troops; and how he himself has been sent to England, by the Elector of Saxony, to recover the lost Guido — which is suspected to have passed into Anglo-Saxon hands — flows overpoweringly from Vanderwigtie's mellifluous lips. Humbled is the crest of Des-chong-fong — he compromises, apologises, pays expenses, and stops the action. "A fig for all copies, where is the divine original!" is now the universal shout. Vanderwigtie has "cried havock and let slip the dogs of" picture-dealing! Des-chong-fong; the dealers of Liverpool and Leicester-fields; the Chevalier himself; all men who have a taste for pictures and a turn for knavery, now spread like a plague of locusts over the length and breadth of the land. But, alas, it is too late! The waters of Lethe have closed over the precious picture — bribery and intimidation, knavery and eloquence, exert themselves in vain — Des-chong-fong and "every beast after his kind," may howl their applications to the empty wind — the labours of the historian of the picture are irretrievably closed — the hero of the Memoirs: the real inestimable Guido, from that day to this, has never been found.

Such is an outline of the story of this amusing book. The Shandean profusion of its digressions and anecdotes I have not ventured to follow, from the fear of appearing to occupy too large a space in this biography with a subject connected only with its earlier passages. In originality and discrimination of character the work I have endeavoured to analyse may be inferior to the novels of Smollett; but in execution I cannot but think it fully their equal — for in some of its reflective and philosophical passages it even approaches the excellence of the great master of British fiction — Fielding, in his lighter and simpler moods. With these observations I now dismiss it — only remarking, that, though intellect is not often hereditary, it has passed, in the instance of Mr. Collins's father, from parent to child; for I cannot accuse myself of a supposition merely fanciful, in imagining that the dry humour and good-natured gaiety of the author of "Memoirs of a Picture," has since been reflected, through another medium, by the painter of "Fetching the Doctor," and "Happy as a King."

In mentioning the habits and customs of his father's household, as a cause, awakening Mr. Collins to a perception of his fitness for the Art, another advantage afforded to his mind at an early period should not have been left unnoticed: this was the uncommon enthusiasm of both his parents for the charms of natural scenery. The rural beauties of their respective birthplaces — Wicklow, and the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, on the side of Lasswade and Rosslyn — were themes of ever-delighting conversation and remembrance to his father and mother. While yet a child he became imbued with the spirit of these descriptions, which, acting upon a mind naturally formed for the appreciation of the beautiful and the pure, became as it were the young student's first alphabet in the Art — preparing the new field for its after cultivation; nursing the infant predilections that Time and Nature were destined to mature, until, in attaining their "local habitation" on the canvas, they became the missionaries of that universal worship which the loveliness of nature was first created to inspire.

Once set forth seriously on his new employments, the boy's enthusiasm for his pursuit began immediately — never afterwards to relax: every moment of his spare time was devoted to the pencil. Year after year passed on, and found him still patiently striving with the gigantic and innumerable difficulties attendant on the study of painting. Whatever natural object he perceived, he endeavoured to imitate upon paper: even a group of old blacking-bottles, picturesquely arranged by his friend Linnell, (then a student like himself) supplied him with a fund of material too precious to be disdained.

Ere, however, I proceed to track the progress of his mind in his youth, an anecdote of his boyish days may not appear too uninteresting to claim a place at this portion of the narrative: his first sight of the sea-coast was at Brighton, whither he was taken by his father. As soon as they gained the beach, the boy took out his little sketch-book, and began instantly to attempt to draw the sea. He made six separate endeavours to trace the forms of the waves as they rolled at his feet, and express the misty uniformity of the distant horizon line: but every fresh effort was equally unsuccessful, and he burst into tears as he closed the book and gave up the attempt in despair. Such was the first study of coast scenery by the painter who was afterwards destined to found his highest claims to original genius and public approbation on his representations of the various beauties of his native shores.

As he proceeded in his youthful employments in the Art, his studies became divided into two branches,— drawing from Nature as frequently as his then limited opportunities would allow, and copying pictures and drawings for the small patrons and picture-dealers of the day. In this latter occupation he soon attained so great a facility as to be able to produce resemblances of his originals, which I have heard described by those who have seen them as unusually remarkable for their fidelity and correctness. To the early habit of readiness of eye and correctness of hand thus engendered, is to be ascribed much of that power of transcribing the most elaborate minutiae of Nature, which, in their smallest details, his original and matured efforts are generally considered to present.

His father's intimacy with the gifted but eccentric George Morland enabled him to obtain that master's advice and assistance in the early superintendence of his son's studies. Mr. Collins's first introduction to the great painter was but too characteristic of poor Morland's dissipated habits. For some days the young student had awaited, with mingled anxiety and awe, his promised interview with a man whom he then regarded with all the admiration of the tyro for the professor: but his expectations remained unfulfilled, the tavern and the sponging-house still held Morland entangled in their toils. At length, one evening, while he was hard at work over a copy, his father entered the room and informed him, with a face of unusual gravity, that Morland was below, but that his introduction to his future master had better be delayed; his impatience, however, to gain a sight of the great man overcame his discretion. He stole softly down stairs, opened the kitchen door, by a sort of instinct, and looked cautiously in. On two old chairs, placed by the smouldering fire, sat, or rather lolled, two men, both sunk in the heavy sleep of intoxication. The only light in the room was a small rush candle, which imperfectly displayed the forms of the visitors. One, in spite of the ravages of dissipation, was still a remarkably handsome man, both in face and figure. The other was of immense stature and strength, coarse, and almost brutal in appearance. The first was George Morland; the second, a celebrated prize-fighter of the day, who was the painter's chosen companion at that particular time. As soon as his astonishment would allow him, Mr. Collins quietly quitted the room, without disturbing the congenial pair. The remembrance of this strange introduction never deserted his memory; it opened to him a new view of those moral debasements which in some instances are but too watchful to clog the steps of genius on its heavenward path.

My father was never himself of opinion, on looking back to his youthful career, that he gained any remarkable advantage in the practical part of his Art from the kind of instruction which Morland was able to convey. He always considered that he was indebted for the most valuable information of his student days, before he entered the Academy, to the higher and more refined taste of his father. Gifted and kindhearted as he undoubtedly was, Morland's miserably irregular habits, and coarse, material mode of life, rendered him poorly available as the instructor of an industrious and enthusiastic boy; and the young disciple reaped little more advantage from his privilege of being present in the room where the master painted, than the opportunity of witnessing the wondrous rapidity and truth of execution that ever waited upon poor Morland's vivid conceptions, and never, to the last hour of his wayward existence, deserted his ready hand.

Among the anecdotes of Morland mentioned in his Biography by Mr. Collins's father, is one that may not be thought unworthy of insertion, as it not only proves the painter to have been possessed of ready social wit, but shows him to have been capable of accomplishing that most difficult of all humorous achievements — a harmless practical joke:

"During our painter's abode in the rules of the Bench, he was in the habit of meeting frequently, where he spent his evenings, a very discreet, reputable man, turned of fifty at least. This personage had frequently assumed the office of censor-general to the company, and his manners, added to a very correct demeanour, induced them to submit with a tolerably obedient grace. George used now and then, however, to 'kick,' as he said, and then the old gentleman was always too hard-mouthed for him. This inequality at length produced an open rupture between the two, and one night our painter, finding the voice of the company rather against him, rose up in a seemingly dreadful passion, and appearing as if nearly choked with rage, muttered out at last, that he knew what would hang the old rascal, notwithstanding all his cant about morality. This assertion, uttered with so much vehemence, very much surprised the company, and seriously alarmed the old man, who called upon George sternly to know what he dared to say against him. The painter answered with a repetition of the offensive words: 'I know what would hang him.' After a very violent altercation, some of the company now taking part with Morland, it was agreed upon all hands, and at the particular request of the old gentleman, that the painter should declare the worst. With great apparent reluctance George at length got up, and addressing the company, said: "I have declared twice that I knew what would hang Mr. ——; and now, gentlemen, since I am called upon before you all, I'll expose it.' He then very deliberately drew from his pocket a piece of lay cord, and handing it across the table, desired Mr. to try the experiment; and if it failed, that would prove him a liar before the whole company, if he dared but to try. The manual and verbal joke was more than the old man was prepared for, and the whole company for the first time (perhaps not very fairly) laughed at his expense."

I am here enabled to lay before the reader some interesting particulars of the painter's boyhood, and of his connection with Morland, which are the result of the early recollections of Mr. John Kirton, (one of the oldest surviving friends of his family,) and which have been kindly communicated by him to assist me, in the present portion of this work:

"We were both of an age," writes Mr. Kirton. "At seven years old we went to Warburton's school, in Little Titchfield-street. He was not very quick, and was often in disgrace for imperfect lessons. Warburton was a clever man, but very severe. * * * His father often took him to pass the day with George Morland, at Somers Town, of which he was very proud. When Morland died, in 1804, we watched his funeral, which took place at St. James's Chapel, Hampstead-road; he was buried exactly in the middle of the small square plat, as you enter the gates, on the left hand. At that time I think it was the only grave in that plat. When all the attendants were gone away, he put his stick into the wet earth as far as it would go, carried it carefully home, and when dry, varnished it. He kept it as long as I knew him, and had much veneration for it.* His father is buried in the same cemetery a little farther down, on the left hand side, close to the path. His father, himself, his brother Frank and I, made long peregrinations in the fields between Highgate and Wilsden. He always had his sketch-book with him, and generally came home well stored. He was then very quick with his pencil. He had great respect for the talents of Morland. When we were by ourselves, more than once we went to the public-house for which Morland had painted the sign to eat bread and cheese and drink porter, merely because he had lived there for some time. The room where he had painted the sign was once, at his request, shown to us by the landlady, at which he was much pleased. Another time we went over ditches and brick-fields, near Somers Town, to look at the yard where Morland used to keep his pigs, rabbits, &c., and where he said Morland had given him lessons: he even pointed out their respective places, and the window where he used to sit. When Frank and myself were in the van, during a walk — he being behind, sketching — and we saw anything we thought would suit him, we called to him to come on, saying, ' Bill, here 's another sketch for Morland.' The first oil-painting he ever did was not a happy subject for a young artist; it was a portrait of himself, dressed in a blue coat and striped yellow waistcoat, a la Morland. I can now well imagine how he must have been vexed, when he showed it to me the first time, and asked if I knew who it was like: it baffled me to guess. However, as he said all our family knew who it was, I was allowed to take it home for their opinion: they were all, like myself, at fault. When he told me it was himself I could not help laughing; it was no more like him than it was like me: this made him very angry, and caused him to give my judgment in the Art a very contemptible name. When I got married our meetings became less frequent; and although we were friendly, and he called several times to see me in Wardour-street, they gradually became fewer in number."

* The deep reverence for genius in the art which induced the painter in his youth to preserve some fragments of the earth in which Morland was buried, as above described, animated him with all its early fervour in the maturity of his career. The same feelings which had moved the boy over Morland's grave, actuated the man, when long afterwards. On the death of Wilkie, he painted a view of the last house that his friend had inhabited, as a memorial of a dwelling sacred to him for the sake of the genius and character of its illustrious owner. Such are Mr. Kirton's recollections of the painter's early apprenticeship to the Art. To those who find pleasure in tracing genius back to its first sources, to its first bursts of enthusiasm, to its first disappointments, this little narrative will not be read without curiosity and interest, and will prepare the mind agreeably to follow those records of the youthful progress of the subject of this Memoir which it is now necessary to resume.

The year 1807 brought with it an important epoch in the painter's life. By this time he had for many years drawn from the best models he could procure, had studied under his father and Morland, and had attained correctness of eye and hand, while assisting, at the same time, in his own support, by copying pictures of good and various schools. He was now to devote himself more usefully and entirely to his own improvement in the Art, by entering as a student at the Royal Academy. His name appears in the catalogue of that Institution for 1807, as a contributor to its exhibition, as well as an attendant on its schools; but as I never heard him refer to the two pictures then sent in, (both views near Millbank) I can only imagine that he had forgotten them, or that he thought them productions too puerile to be deserving of mention to any one. In a letter from his pen, written to answer a demand for some autobiographical notices of his life, to be inserted in a periodical publication, he thus expresses himself with regard to his early education and first successes in the Art.

"My father, William Collins, was considered a man of talent. * * * In the early part of his life he contributed very largely to the Journal published by Woodfall. His taste in, and love for, the Fine Arts, he constantly evinced in his writings and his encouragement of rising merit. From such a source it is not extraordinary that I should derive a partiality for painting. He was my only instructor — indeed his judgment was so matured that the lessons he imprinted upon my mind I hope I shall never forget, * * * In the year 1807, I was admitted a student of the Royal Academy, where I was regular in my attendance on the different schools. In 1809 and 1810, I became honoured with some share of public notice, through the medium of the British Institution. * * * "

In the following letter, written by the painter from a friend's house to his family, and in the kind and cheerful answer which it called forth, will be found some reference to the time of his entry on his new sphere of duties, and employments at the Royal Academy.

 

"To MR. W. COLLINS, SEN.

"Dorking, July 8th, 1807.

"Dear Father,— I think I shall come home either on Saturday or Monday next; but as it will be probably necessary to pay the carriage on or before my arrival, (you understand me) and having got rid of most of my cash, it follows that, as usual, you must raise if possible a certain sum, not exceeding a one pound note, which I think will come cheaper to me than any smaller amount. I received the colours the same evening you sent them. I am very much obliged to you; as also for the letter. I live here like a prince.* I was at the theatre, Dorking, a few nights since, which most elegantly gratified the senses, that of smelling not even excepted — there being four candles to light us all; two of which, by about nine o'clock, (no doubt frightened at the company) hid themselves in their sockets! There were also four lamps for stage lights, which helped to expose the following audience: — Boxes, six; Pit, sixteen; Gallery, twenty-five!

"I should be glad to know if the Academy is open; and any other information you choose to give, will be very acceptable to yours affectionately,

"W. COLLINS."

* His usual anxiety to deserve the hospitality of his friends prompted him to ornament a summer-house, belonging to the gentleman with whom he was now staying, with imitations of busts, in niches, all round the walls. They remained there until very lately.

 

"To MR. W. COLLINS, JUN.

"London, 9th July, 1807.

"* * * We were certain our good friends would entertain you in the most hospitable manner, though we could have had no such ambitious hope of your being treated "like a prince." However, I trust my good friend Moore will impart a little of his philosophical indifference respecting the good things of this life to you, before you depart for humble home, lest the contrast between living "like a prince," and being the son of a poor author, may be too much for the lofty notions of your royal highness. Enclosed, for all this, you will find the sum you desired; and, were my funds equal to those of our gracious Monarch — or rather, had I as many pence as he is said to have millions of pounds, be assured you should be infinitely more than welcome to twenty times this paltry sum. You inquire respecting the opening of the Academy, and I can tell you it opened last Monday, notice of which was given to all the students by public advertisement; and I shall be glad if you can, without being pressed to the contrary, come up to town when my friend Moore does — knowing that you can never come in safer, or better company. * * *

"Your affectionate Father,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

A few days after this, the "son of the poor author" quitted his little paternal studio, and with a beating heart entered the Academic lists that were to prepare him for the Artist's course — then little suspecting that he was destined to add one more to the bright list of modern English painters, who have passed through the schools of the Academy on their way to the gates of Fame.

 

CHAPTER II.

1807-1816.

Summary of the course of study at the Royal Academy - The painter's industry in his duties there - Anecdote of Fuseli - Pictures of 1809 - Letter from Mr. Collins, sen. - Pictures of 1810, 1811, and 1812 - Epigram by James Smith - Correspondence with the late Mr. Howard, R. A. - Death of Mr. Collins, sen. - Extracts from the painter's Journal of 1812 - Pecuniary embarrassments of his family - Pictures of 1813 and 1814 - Election to Associateship in the Royal Academy - Anecdotes respecting picture of "Bird-catchers," communicated by Mr. Stark - Diary of 1814 - Anecdotes of the painter; of Ellison; and of James Smith - Pictures and Diary of 1815 - Tour in that year to Cromer - Letters - Removal of the painter to a larger house in New Cavendish-street - Letter to the late Sir T. Heathcote, bart. - Pictures of 1816 - Extract from Journal - Serious increase of pecuniary difficulties - Determination to set out for Hastings, to make studies for sea-pieces - Kindness of Sir T. Heathcote in making an advance of money - Departure for Hastings.

IN commencing his course of instruction at the Royal Academy, the student sets out by making drawings from the best casts of the finest antique statues. By this first process his taste is formed on the universal and immutable models of the highest excellence in the Art he is to adopt; and he proceeds to the next gradation in his studies, drawing from the living model, with such fixed ideas of symmetry and proportion as preserve him from confusing the faults and excellencies of the animated form, and enable him to appreciate its higher and more important general qualities, as the ulterior object of one main branch of his professional qualifications. While his ideas are thus preserved from the degeneration which the unavoidable imperfections of the models before him might otherwise inspire, the most perfect outward and mechanical correctness of eye and hand is demanded from him, in his representations of the form; while a readiness in rightly interpreting the position, action, and appearance, of muscles and joints, is instilled by the annual delivery of lectures on pictorial anatomy, by the best professors which that class of English medical science can afford. Nor is this all. While he is thus attaining knowledge of Nature, with ease, harmony, and correctness of pencil; from the study of the living model, he is enabled at the same time to learn colour, composition, and light and shade, by the privilege of copying from pictures by the old masters, in the School of Painting. Here his studies (as in the other schools) are superintended directly by the Royal Academicians, who advise, assist, and encourage him, until he is fit for the last ordeal of his student-life — the composition of an original historical picture, from a subject selected by the Institution to which he is attached. For this work, as for all his other labours, medals and copies of lectures on Art, are awarded by the Royal Academy. He is then left to the guidance of his own genius — either to continue his employments in his own land, or, if he has gained the highest gold medal, to be sent, at the expense of the Royal Academy, to study, for three years, among the great collections of Art which the continental nations possess.

In Sculpture and in Architecture, (as completely as, in the instance of the latter Art, its peculiar features will admit) the same gradations are observed, and the same privileges scrupulously offered — painting, sculpture, and architecture furnishing the travelling student, on each occasion of the grand award of prizes, in impartial rotation. Such is a brief summary of the course of study adopted by the Royal Academy of England — an Institution whose palpable and practical excellencies have ever been as sufficient to excuse error and to confute calumny, as to form the mind of genius, and to elevate the position of Art.

Mr. Collins's attention, during his attendance at the Royal Academy, was devoted to all branches of its instructions most necessary to the school of painting, towards which his ambition was now directed — the portrayal of landscape and of domestic life. As a student his conduct was orderly, and his industry untiring. Among his companions he belonged to the unassuming, steadily labouring-class — taking no care to distinguish himself, personally, by the common insignia of the more aspiring spirits among the scholars of Art. He neither cultivated a mustachio, displayed his neck, or trained his hair over his coat-collar into the true Raphael flow. He never sat in judgment on the capacity of his masters, or rushed into rivalry with Michael Angelo, before he was quite able to draw correctly from a plaster cast. But he worked on gladly and carefully, biding his time with patience, and digesting his instructions with care. In 1809 — two years after his entrance within the Academy walls — he gained the silver medal for a drawing from the life.

The gentleman who held the offices of keeper of the Academy and instructor of the students, in those days, was the eccentric and remarkable Fuseli. The fantastic genius and bitter wit of this extraordinary man did not disqualify him for the mechanism of his art, or the dogged patience necessary to teach it aright. His character was, in many respects, a mass of contradictions. He spoke English with an outrageously foreign accent, yet wrote it with an energy and correctness not unworthy of Johnson himself. He lived in carelessness of "the small, sweet courtesies of life," yet possessed, when he chose to employ it, a power of polite sarcasm, before which some of the most polished wits of the day irresistibly trembled. His pictures touched, almost invariably, the limits of the wild and the grotesque, yet he discovered and reprobated the minutest exaggerations of drawing in his pupils' works. By all the students he was respected and beloved; and by none more than by Mr. Collins, who trembled before his criticisms and rejoiced in his approbation as heartily as any of the rest. Among the few instances of his quaint humour that have, I believe, not hitherto appeared in print, is one that I shall venture to subjoin, as — although it does not illustrate his more refined and epigrammatic powers of retort — it is too good, as a trait of character and a curiosity of sarcasm, to be advantageously omitted.

When Sir Anthony Carlisle was Anatomy Professor at the Royal Academy, he was accustomed to illustrate his lectures by the exhibition of the Indian jugglers, or any other of the fashionable athletae of the day, whose muscular systems were well enough developed to claim the students' eyes. This innovation on the dull uniformity of oral teaching, added to the wide and well-earned reputation of the professor himself, drew within the Academy walls crowds of general visitors many of them surgeons of the highest eminence who seriously incommoded the rightful occupants of the lecture-room. One night, when the concourse was more than usually great, Fuseli set out from his apartments in the "keeper's rooms," to mount the great staircase, and join his brethren in the lecturer's waiting-room. The effort was a trying one; every step was crowded with expectant sight-seers, a great majority of whom were doctors of station and celebrity. Through this scientific mass the keeper toiled his weary way, struggling, pushing — advancing, receding,— remonstrating, rebuking; until at length he gained the haven of the lecturer's room, his brows bedewed with moisture, his clothes half torn off his back, his temper fatally ruffled. Under these circumstances, it was not in the nature of Fuseli to consume his own gall: he forced his way up to Sir Anthony Carlisle; and, looking at him indignantly, muttered, as if in soliloquy, (in an accent which the most elaborate distortion of spelling is, alas, incompetent to express) "Parcel of d—d 'potticaries' 'prentices!" Sir Anthony, though the mildest and most polite of men, could not swallow silently this aspersion on the dignity of his professional admirers on the staircase. "Really, Mr. Fuseli," he gently remonstrated, "I have brought no apothecaries' apprentices here!" "I did not say you did," was the prompt retort; "but they are 'potticaries' 'prentices for all that!"

In 1809, Mr. Collins contributed two pictures to the Royal Academy Exhibition, entitled, "Boys with a Bird's Nest," and "A Boy at Breakfast." He had previously exhibited, at the British Institution, in 1808 (having sent thither five small pictures: — A Study from Nature on the Thames; a Scene at Hampstead; a Landscape, called "A Coming Storm;" and two Views at Castlebridge, Surrey); and he now sent in, as his contributions for the following season, the same number of works. They were described in the Catalogue as, "A Green Stall,— a Night Scene," (now in the possession of Mr. Criswick); "A View in Surrey;" "Seashore,— a cloudy Day;" "Morning;" and "Evening,— a View on the Thames." All these pictures, presented under their different aspects the same fundamental characteristics of careful study and anxious finish, still overlaid by the timidity and inexperience of the " 'prentice hand." Some of them were here and there shortly, but kindly noticed, by the critics of the day; and among those sold, the "Boys with a Bird's Nest" was disposed of to Mr. Lister Parker, the painter's first patron, and a generous and discriminating supporter of modern art.

For the next three years little is to be noticed of Mr. Collins's life, beyond the works that he produced; but these will be found of some importance in tracking his progress in his pursuit. Throughout this period he enjoyed the calm uniformity of the student's life; save when his occupations were varied by a sketching excursion in the country, or interrupted by the petty calamities which his father's increasing poverty inevitably inflicted upon the young painter's fireside. The more perseveringly this honourable and patient man struggled for employment and competence, the more resolutely did both appear to hold aloof. The following extract from one of his letters, written during a picture-cleaning tour in the country, will be found worthy of attention. It displays his anxiety to forward the interests of his family in a pleasing light, and alludes, moreover, rather amusingly, to some of the minor characteristics in the composition of the niggard patronage of the day:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Ford Abbey, 1810.

* * * "The day after my last letter completely changed the scene here. A few moments before four o'clock the 'squire and his suite arrived in state. * * * * I have selected from the wreck of the pictures about sixteen, and have literally slaved at them, that I might be able to set off for home as soon as possible. God only knows how anxiously I have longed to be with you, and the pains I have taken to give satisfaction. Perhaps, as far as I ought to expect, these pains have not been altogether ineffectual. But there has been one great fatality attendant upon most of my exertions, namely, they have been generally made before those who were incompetent to appreciate their value. At all events, I have had some kind of satisfaction in refusing to undertake the recovery of some vilely injured pictures, under a remunerating price. The first intimation I gave of my incapacity to restore, or even line, the pictures, without the aid of my son William, was on last Wednesday. There was a beautiful large landscape by Ostade, the figures by A. Teniers. I pointed out the necessary repairs in the sky, which were wanted to make the picture complete; and of course mentioned Bill as superior to every other artist in that department! The 'squire listened very attentively until I had done, and then inquired what the expense of such repairs might be. I answered, about two or three guineas: ' Oh! d—n the sky! clean it, and stick it up without any repairs then!' * * * * Yours, &c.

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

During the three years already referred to, my father contributed, regularly to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy and to the British Institution. His pictures — for the most part small in size and low in price — generally found purchasers; and though not productive of much positive profit, gained for him what throughout life he ever valued more, the public approval and attention. In 1810, his new pictures exhibited were: — "Cottage Children blowing Bubbles," a simple, rustic scene, sold to Mr. P. H, Rogers and engraved in an "Annual" for 1831; "Boys Bathing;" and, "Children Fishing," sold to the Rev. E. Balme. Although these pictures displayed little of the grasp of conception and vigour of treatment of his matured efforts, they were remarkable for their fidelity to Nature, for their quiet humour, and for the real purpose and thoughtfulness of their unpretending design. In 1811, he advanced in elaboration of subject, exhibiting, "The Young Fifer;" "The Weary Trumpeter; or, Juvenile Mischief," sold to Mr. Mills; "The Tempting Moment," sold to Mr. Leeds, and engraved in the "Forget Me Not" for 1830; and a "Study of a Country Kitchen," now in the possession of Mr. Sheepshanks. The first three of these pictures challenged and received greater attention than any of his former efforts. On "The Young Fifer," which was purchased by the Marquis of Stafford, the following smart epigram was written by James Smith, one of the authors of the admirable "Rejected Addresses:"

"The Fifer when great Stafford bought,
The music was no more the same;
By him to public notice brought,
The Fife is now the Trump of Fame!"

"The Weary Trumpeter," and "The Tempting Moment," were as successful as the "Young Fifer." In the first picture, the trumpeter is represented sleeping uneasily in a cottage chair, while a little urchin, mounted upon another seat, has assumed the soldier's cocked hat, (which threatens to fall over his head and face, like an extinguisher) and is blowing, with distended cheeks and glaring eyes, into the sleeping hero's trumpet, the mouth of which he has mischievously placed within an inch of its possessor's ear. The other picture, "The Tempting Moment," depicts an old apple-woman, lulled in the slumbers of inebriation, and cautiously approached, in contrary directions, by two cunning boys, who are reaching out their hands to levy a peaceful "black mail" upon her unguarded stock in trade. A small print of this picture will be found in the "Forget Me Not" for 1830.

It may be some consolation to those ill-fated votaries of the graphic muse, who, in present, or future exhibitions, groan, or may be destined to groan, under the young artist's inevitable tribulation — a bad place on the Academy walls, to know that one of Mr. Collins's best pictures rested, this year, on that dark Erebus of pictorial indignity — the floor of an exhibition-room. The following correspondence on this subject is a curious exemplification of smarting disappointment on the one hand, and dignified official composure on the other:

"To H. HOWARD, ESQ., R. A.

"Great Portland-street, 1st May, 1811.

"Sir,— Finding one of my pictures put upon the hearth in the 'Great Room,' where it must inevitably meet with some accident from the people who are continually looking at Mr. Bird's picture, I take the liberty of requesting you will allow me to order a sort of case to be put round the bottom-part of the frame, to protect it (as well as the picture) from the kicks of the crowd.

"Even the degrading situation in which the picture is placed, would not have induced me to trouble you about it, had it been my property; but, as it was painted on commission, I shall be obliged to make good any damage it may sustain.

"I remain, Sir,

"Your obt. humble servant,

"W. COLLINS, jun."

 

"To MR. COLLINS, JUN.

"Royal Academy, May 1st, 1811.

"Sir,— I conceive there will be no objection to your having a narrow wooden border put round the picture you speak of, if you think such a precaution necessary, provided it be done any morning before the opening of the exhibition; and you may show this to the porter, as an authority for bringing in a workman for that purpose.

"I cannot help expressing some surprise that you should consider the situation of your picture degrading, knowing as I do, that the Committee of arrangement thought it complimentary, and, that low as it is, many members of the Academy would have been content to have it.

"I am, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,

"H. HOWARD, Sec.

Mr. Collins had undergone mischances of the same nature before, but this was the last disappointment of the kind that he suffered. In three years more, he was honourably connected with the Royal Academy, and became the friend, as well as the warm admirer of his former official correspondent — one of the most refined and poetical painters whom the English school has produced.

In the year 1812, the prospects of the painter's family showed some symptoms of brightening. His father's transactions as a picture-dealer began to improve in value and importance; and he, himself, had sold some of his later works, at what he then considered an encouragingly remunerating price. Each now ventured to plan more hopeful and ambitious schemes — one talked of enlarging his business; the other of extending his range of subjects. But a heavy and irretrievable affliction was approaching, to crush the new hopes and disperse the humble enjoyments of the artist's home. In this year, the father who had been to him master, critic, companion, and friend; who looked forward with eager impatience, to the time when he should enjoy the triumph of seeing his son widely celebrated and Academically honoured in the profession to which he was attached — in this year, leaving his beloved family destitute, the kind husband and generous father died!

Of the few journals kept by Mr. Collins, the first begins with this melancholy period. If it be objected that, in the extracts I shall make from it, I have exposed feelings too private and domestic to meet the public eye — I would answer, that the history of the heart of a man of genius is of as great importance, and is as much the property of his posterity, as the history of his mind: the emotions are the nurses of the faculties, and the first home is the sanctuary in which they are created and reared.

Journal of 1812

"January 7th. — At home in the morning — at home in the evening — sat up with my dear father till three o'clock — went to bed in my clothes. 8th. — At home in the morning, thought my dear father better, but was anxious for the doctor to come. Sharp called about two; my father shook hands with him and seemed better. Sharp thought he would have been well in a few days. Hyde came, for the second time, about six; when my father seemed to me to be worse, as he did not at all attend to what Hyde said to him. This alarmed me; when I requested he would send for a physician — he did so. Doctor Mayo came at about eight, to whom I stated the principal part of what follows; to which he particularly attended:

"The first symptoms of disease were observed about three weeks before he took to his bed, which were an inclination to be always dozing; frequent vomittings after meals, particularly breakfast; and excessive low spirits. On the 18th December, he was very low, which was caused in a great measure by the want of money, as there was very little in the house. He seemed completely dejected; when Mr. Heathcote* called and paid me £42, in advance, for a picture he had ordered. When I told him of this he seemed greatly relieved, and thanked God; which he never neglected to do. Upon every fortunate occasion, he always said, 'God be praised!' I gave him the cheque; it was of service in discharging some trifles about the neighbourhood * * After Christmas, he kept his bed, and came down on the Friday to my painting-room for a short time. He then did not come down again till Saturday, the 4th January, to see my pictures. He was very weak * * * A few days after Christmas, he was so violently attacked with cramp in his thighs and stomach that he quite alarmed me. I took some flannel and soaked it in hot water, wrung it out, and put it upon the parts affected; which did him so much service that he was never again troubled with a return, and he frequently said I had saved his life * * * I went to Mr. Carpue, and told him his case, and what I had done: he said it was perfectly right * * * I wrote for a friend of his, Mr. Hyde, who was out of town, but came the next day, (7th January) and said he would have him up in a few days. Hyde came the next day, as before stated, as also doctor Mayo, who, after hearing the material part of this statement, said it was a bad case — went up to see him — called to him — got no answer — said he wished to see his tongue, which he could not — felt his pulse — shook his head — and gave me the most severe shock that I ever felt, by telling me that my father might live a few hours, but was certainly a dying man; and that it was useless to give him anything, as it was utterly impossible he could live. I then told him he had been ordered a blister on the back of his neck; and I took him into my room and requested him, as a man of honour, to tell me, if he had been called in sooner, could he have done anything for him? He said that if he had been his own father, and he had known of his complaint from the first moment, he could have prolonged his life for probably one day, but that it was utterly impossible, from the symptoms, that he could have been restored, as his constitution was completely decayed. Hyde then came again; when he wished to give him a spoonful at a time, of brandy-and-water. Doctor Mayo said he might give him anything that he pleased, as it could do him no harm. * * * But it was all in vain; my father never struggled — breathed hard, and groaned. I gave him, about a quarter of an hour before his death, two spoonfuls of port wine, warm — by Hyde's advice. The rattles were in his throat, and he breathed his last!

* Afterwards Sir Thomas Heathcote, bart.

"It was twenty minutes after two, on Thursday morning, when this dear martyr to bodily and mental afflictions left his miserable son and family * * * He was completely insensible — had he been sensible, his only misery would have been to see his family in the anguish the certainty of his death caused them,— for his affection for them was beyond all comparison; and, thank God, it was reciprocal.

"9th. — Sat up the whole of last night and this morning, in the utmost misery, waiting for daylight, with my wretched mother, brother, and Mrs. Sharp. At home all day, lay down in my clothes in the parlour at night * * * 15th. — Went to the burial of my poor dear father, accompanied by my brother, Mr. Moore, Mr. Langdon, Mr. Cartwright, and Mr. Sharp * * * 17th. — Went out for half-an-hour, for the first time since my dear father's death (except the funeral). At home in the evening — my mother very ill: kept my clothes on all night, to attend her. * * * 28th. — Went to the Gallery, to see how my pictures were hung. Never felt so wretched, or less ambitious, although my pictures were most capitally situated. February 1st. — Went with Frank to Mr. Langdon's: from thence to the different offices, for the purpose of renouncing the administration, in favour of Mr. Langdon. Dined with him at Andrews's; and came home at eight o'clock, for the remainder of the evening. 3rd. — Mr. Heathcote called in; and, when I made him acquainted with my melancholy situation, most nobly offered to pay me the remainder of the purchase-money of the picture which I could not think of taking, as the picture was not a quarter finished and then offered me the loan of £50 upon my note of hand. This I also refused; but agreed, if I should be in distress, to write to him for the loan of £20. 4th. — Painted, for the first time since my dear father's death, for about an hour * * * 8th. — Signed a paper with Frank, containing our renunciation of the estate of my dear father; the one we signed before being only sufficient for my mother. * * * 12th. — Received a letter from the Gallery, containing an offer of fifty guineas for my "Trumpeter" — which I accepted. In the evening, Green was kind enough to bring me the money. I think highly of Green's friendship and feeling. * * * 17th. — The sale of the furniture took place; Frank attended, and purchased my dear father's ring, spectacles, and snuff-box. * * * March 1st. — At home in the morning — went to visit my father's grave! 3rd. — The sale of the stock took place to-day; at which the pictures I gave in for the benefit of the creditors, produced £57."

The painter's position was now seriously changed. Nothing remained to him of the humble possessions of his family: the small relics sacred to him for his father's sake — the ring, the spectacles, and the snuff-box — even these, he had been forced to purchase as a stranger, not to retain as a son! Insatiate and impatient creditors, unable to appreciate any sacrifices in their favour that he endeavoured to make, harassed him by their alternate disagreements and demands. His mother, overwhelmed in the first helplessness of grief, was incapable alike of consolation or advice. His brother, with the will, and the ambition, possessed little power and found few opportunities of aiding him in his worst exigences. To his genius his desolate family now looked for support, and to his firmness for direction. They were disappointed in neither.

As the lease had not yet expired, the family still occupied their house in Great Portland-street,— now emptied of all its accustomed furniture and adornments; and, while the elder brother, inspired by necessity,— the Muse not of fable, but of reality; the Muse that has presided over the greatest efforts of the greatest men — began to labour at his Art with increased eagerness and assiduity; the younger made preparations for continuing his father's business, and contributing thereby his share towards the support of their afflicted and widowed parent. So completely was the house now emptied, to afford payment to the last farthing of the debts of necessity contracted by its unfortunate master, that the painter, and his mother and brother, were found by their kind friend, the late Mrs. Hand, taking their scanty evening meal on an old box,— the only substitute for a table which they possessed. From this comfortless situation they were immediately extricated by Mrs. Hand, who presented them with the articles of furniture that they required.

In the year 1812, my father's exhibited pictures were:- "Children playing with Puppies," painted for his generous friend, Sir Thomas Heathcote; and "May-day," sold to the Rev. Sir S. C. Jervoise, Bart. Both these works were considered to display the same steady progression towards excellence as those which had preceded them. Of the latter, a critic of the time thus writes in one of the public journals:

"Mr. Collins has attained to a very high degree of success in this picture. The characters are various and natural, and of all ages. The groups are well distributed, and employed in a combined purpose, so that each severally assists the humour and action of the whole. There is great mellowness and richness in the humour of the several faces, particularly in the countenance of the drunken chimney-sweeper. Upon the whole, this piece has more imagination, and shows greater knowledge of life, than the 'Weary Trumpeter,' by the same artist."

In the course of this year, Mr. Collins produced a picture, the success of which at once eclipsed the more moderate celebrity of all his former works; it was "The Sale of the Pet Lamb," purchased by Mr. Ogden. Composed as it was during the season immediately following his father's death, the simple yet impressive pathos it displayed, was a natural consequence of the temper of his mind at the period of its production. It pleased at once and universally. People ignorant of the simplest arcana of art, gazed on it as attentively and admiringly as the connoisseur who applauded the graces of its treatment, or the artist who appreciated the elaboration of its minutest parts. The sturdy urchin indignantly pushing away the butcher's boy, who reluctantly and good-humouredly presses forward to lead the dumb favourite of the family to the greedy slaughter-house; the girl, tearfully remonstrating with her mother, who, yielding to the iron necessities of want, is receiving from the master butcher the price of the treasured possession that is now forfeited for ever; the child offering to the lamb the last share of her simple breakfast that it can ever enjoy, were incidents which possessed themselves, unresisted, of the feelings of all who beheld them; from the youthful spectators who hated the butcher with all their souls, to the cultivated elders, who calmly admired the truthful ease with which the rustic story was told, or sympathized with the kindly moral which the eloquent picture conveyed. From this work, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1813, two engravings were produced; and from fourteen to fifteen thousand impressions of the smaller print alone were dispersed among the many who recollected it with admiration and delight.*

* Vide "Literary Souvenir" for 1836. Art. — "On the Works of William Collins, R.A."

Among other pictures exhibited by the painter this year, the most important were: "The Bird-catcher Outwitted," sold to one of his first and kindest patrons, Mrs. Hand; and "The Burial-place of a Favourite Bird," purchased by Mr. T. C. Higgins. This latter picture aimed at the same pathos of subject as the Pet Lamb; but differed from it in this,— that it did not depend so greatly upon the action and expression of the agents of the story, but was mainly assisted by accessories, drawn from the most poetical qualities in simple and inanimate Nature. The background of this composition is filled by a deep wood, whose sombre array of innumerable leaves seems to stretch softly and darkly into the distance, beyond the reach of the eye. A perfect and melancholy stillness rules over this scene of dusky foliage, and casts a pervading mournfulness to be felt rather than perceived upon the group of children who are standing in the foreground, under the spreading branches of a large tree, engaged in the burial of their favourite bird. One boy is occupied in digging the small, shallow grave; while another stands by his side, with the dead bird wrapped in its little shroud of leaves. Their occupation is watched by a girl who is crying bitterly; and by her companion, who is endeavouring unsuccessfully to assuage her grief. Not devoted — like the sale of the Pet Lamb — to the representation of the stern and real woes of humanity, this picture addresses itself to feelings of a quiet, ideal nature, such as are easily and gracefully aroused by the representation of the most innocent emotions, simply developed, as they exist at the most innocent age.

During the year 1813, the painter continued to lead the studious and retired life to which he had now for some years devoted himself; and, on the tranquil monotony of which new and important events were shortly about to encroach. Whatever time he could spare from his professional occupations was still much absorbed by the attention required by his father's affairs; which, though fast becoming settled by the self-denial of the family, were still in a disordered condition. No inconveniences attendant upon these matters of business interrupted the rigid and ambitious course of study, to which he was now urging himself with increased vigour. He felt that the Academy and the lovers of Art were watching his progress with real interest, and he determined to fulfil the expectations forming of him on all sides. To the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1814, he contributed two pictures:- "Blackberry Gatherers;" and "Bird-Catchers." To the British Institution, he sent, in the same year, "The Town Miss Visiting her Country Relations," purchased by Lady Lucas; and "Fore-noon," a landscape, (sold to Mr. T. C. Higgins.) The last of these pictures is mentioned and criticised in a Diary which I am about to subjoin, and it is consequently unnecessary to describe it here. "The Town Miss Visiting her Country Relations," represented a young lady, dressed in the height of the fashion, sitting by a homely cottage fire; and, to the astonishment of some staring children, refusing, with a high-bred disdain of a very second-hand order, the refreshments which one of her uncouth rustic relatives is respectfully offering her. The "Blackberry-Gatherers," displayed a group of those charming cottage children for which his pencil was already celebrated, standing in a fertile English lane, whose pretty windings are dappled, at bright intervals, by the sunlight shining through the trees above. This picture exhibited throughout the highest finish and truth to Nature, and was purchased by Mrs. Hand. But the work which most remarkably asserted the artist's originality and power of treatment, was the "Bird-catchers." The vigour and novelty of this composition — its clear, airy expanse of morning sky; the group of boys standing upon a high bank, watching for birds, and boldly relieved against the bright, pure, upper atmosphere, proved his mastery over a higher branch of the Art than he had hitherto attempted. This work was purchased by the Marquis of Lansdowne; but the painter derived from his successes of this year a yet greater benefit than exalted patronage, and mounted the first step towards the highest social honours of English Art, by being elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.

I am here enabled to communicate some interesting particulars connected with the production of the picture of "Bird catchers" — kindly communicated to me by Mr. Stark, the accomplished landscape-painter — which, to those unacquainted with the practice of Art, will convey some idea of the intensity of study required (and in my father's case invariably given) for the production of a complete picture; while to those still occupied in surmounting the first difficulties of painting, the following extracts will offer encouragement to increased effort, by the practical example of successful perseverance. Speaking of the progress of the "Bird-catchers," Mr. Stark thus expresses himself:

"I was much impressed with his entire devotedness to the subject — every thought, every energy, was directed to this one object. I remember having attended one of Mr. Fuseli's lectures with him, and on our return home he said he had endeavoured to apply all that he had heard to this picture; and acting on one observation in the lecture, that 'breadth would be easily given, if emptiness could give it,' he determined on introducing more matter into the mass of shadow; and some implements used in the catching of birds were consequently introduced. In order to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the process of bird-catching, he went into the fields (now the Regent's Park,) before sunrise, and paid a man to instruct him in the whole mystery; and I believe, if the arrangement of the nets, cages, and decoy-birds, with the disposition of the figures, lines connected with the nets, and birds attached to the sticks, were to be examined by a Whitechapel bird-catcher, he would pronounce them to be perfectly correct.

"He was unable to proceed with the picture for some days, fancying that he wanted the assistance of Nature in a piece of broken foreground, and whilst this impression remained, he said he should be unable to do more. I went with him to Hampstead Heath; and, although he was not successful in meeting with anything that suited his purpose, he felt that he could then finish the picture; but, while the impression was on his mind that anything could be procured likely to lead to the perfection of the work, he must satisfy himself by making the effort — even if it proved fruitless.

"I have perhaps said more on this picture than you may deem necessary, but it was the first work of the class that I had ever seen, and the only picture, excepting those of my late master, Crome, that I had ever seen in progress. Moreover, I believe it to have been the first picture, of its particular class, ever produced in this country; and this, both in subject and treatment, in a style so peculiarly your late father's, and one which has gained for him so much fame."

The subjoined extracts from Mr. Collins's Diaries of the year 1814, contain several interesting opinions on painting, and show the perfect absence in his character of that spirit of petulant defiance of the opinions of others, which has sometimes conduced to narrow the hearts and debilitate the minds of men of genius, during their inevitable subserviency to the searching examination of criticism and the world. Passages in this Journal, also, remarkably display the leading influence in his intellectual disposition — his incessant anxiety to improve. Throughout life, he set up for himself no other standard in his Art than that of the highest perfection. Every fresh difficulty he conquered, every increase of applause he gained, was less a cause for triumph, than an encouragement to proceed. During the progress of his pictures, the severest criticisms on them ever came from his own lips. He never forgot, to the last day of his practice as a painter, that the inexhaustible requirements of Art still left him a new experiment to try, and a fresh dexterity to acquire:

 

Journal of 1814.

"January 21st, 1814. — Resolved that I keep a common-place book of Art, as I find the necessity of not depending solely upon my recollection for the many hints I get from the critiques of those who see my pictures; as well as for the purpose of retaining the impressions which I find so easily effaced from the blotting-paper memory which I have inherited from Nature, or derived from inattention.

"Two days since Constable compared a picture to a sum, for it is wrong if you can take away or add a figure to it.

"In my picture of "Bird-catchers," to avoid red, blue, and yellow — to recollect that Callcott advised me to paint some parts of my picture thinly, (leaving the ground) — and that he gave great credit to the man who never reminded you of the palette.

"Why would a newly painted carriage ruin any picture it might be placed in? Because the negative tints are the valuable ones. They are the trumpeters to Rembrandt, Ostade, Ruysdall, Vandervelde, Vandyke, and all the great colourists. Reynolds seems to have felt this; for example, look at his pictures of the ' Duke of Orleans,' 'Sleeping Girl,' 'Sleeping Child,' 'Holy Family,' 'Infant Hercules;' and, in short, all his best pictures. Titian is perhaps the finest example. His picture of 'Venus and Adonis,' has not one positive colour in it. The drapery of Adonis, although to superficial observers a red one, placed by the side of any of our modern painters' red curtains, would sink into nothing — notwithstanding which, it is really as much richer, as the painter was intellectually, compared with any of the present day.

"February 1st. — How much better informed should I be at this moment, if I had written down all the observations I have heard from the painters with whom I have conversed — at least a selection. This should be done as soon after the impression as possible; otherwise, there is danger of making them your own.

"Saturday, 5th. — Received notice from Young, of Lady Lucas having purchased my 'Town Miss.' Went to see Kean, in Shylock, in the evening. He appears to be fully aware of what the public likes in an actor, rather than determined to do what he< thinks right. Does this proceed from modesty, policy, or weakness? His voice is good; his figure too short — he has too much of Cook. The farce ('Rogues All') was justly damned — Elliston did much towards this — he was worse than impudent. Monday 7th. — Went to the Gallery with Deval. Painted in the morning; which I am now sure is the better plan, as I feel too idle to work, upon my return from any walk, except the walk before breakfast. 9th. — Young called to say he had sold my 'Sale of the Pet Lamb,' to W. Ogden, Esq. Fuseli's lecture in the evening — never more delighted than on hearing it.

"From the observations I made, and the hints I received at the British Gallery, on Friday and Saturday, I perceive the following:- A tameness, or want of spirit in the general appearance of my landscape — 'Forenoon' — occasioned, I am afraid, by the want of attention to the general effect — as when close it looks well enough. Too much attention bestowed upon things comparatively easy to paint, as the docks, old trees, &c. a want of connection between the sky and ground, or principal light. Owen observed that the painting was not equal, as the docks were too highly wrought for the distant trees, as well as for those not so far removed from the eye: he thought the foreground too minutely finished. Linnell thought the sunlight affected only the principal light, and that the trunks of the trees in particular had not the sharpness of sunlight. I think him right in insisting upon the necessity of making studies — without much reference to form — of the way in which colours come against each other. The sharpness and colour of the shades, as well as the local colours of objects, may be got in this way. Havell disliked the touchiness of the trees — thought they should be flatter in their masses; and the light, shade, and reflections, attended to. On the masses of leaves the green in some places too much of a pea-colour. My own critique upon the picture is, that I have certainly left all my other works behind in point of negative tint — although the greens are still too positive — that there is a want of opposition, approaching to monotony — and that there are (as Callcott once before told me of a picture I had painted) too many large, unbroken masses.

"I feel the necessity of looking at generals, as I conceive I have only arrived at the power of painting particulars. But, although I am not quite sure which I ought to have done first, yet I am inclined to think that, knowing what I do of particulars, I shall not make my generals too indefinite — and, in addition to this, I know more exactly what I want, as well as more how to value it when I get it.

"Those who never particularise, are apt to build entirely upon their general knowledge (which, after all, is only a slight knowledge of particulars); and those who never look to the generals, are not aware of their consequence. Both are wrong; and each from pure vanity ridicules the other.

"A painter should choose those subjects with which most people associate pleasant circumstances. It is not sufficient that a scene pleases him. As an extreme instance of this; the mere appreciation of the delight he felt at getting up at four o'clock to study Nature, will present itself, whenever he sees a picture painted so well as to indicate that period of the day, when the very same circumstances of a beautifully clear morning, etc., may recall, in the general spectator, only the disagreeable remembrance of being called up to go a journey in a stage-coach — or, to others, the uncomfortable recollection of having been obliged to get up, because they could not sleep. * * * March 2nd. — Rose at half-past seven; walked, for the first time this season, before breakfast. My pictures want a lightness in drawing and touch — objects too much detached — a lightness of hand quite necessary. * * * Heard this evening of Munroe's death — poor fellow, to be snatched away from his parents and the Art, at a time when he could least be spared! I should think he must have been about two-and-twenty. Can it be doubted that his parents will be compensated by Providence for their sufferings? Do not these things happen for the purpose of convincing us that we ought to have something to fly to in our greatest miseries? Can his parents, at this moment, derive any alleviation from anything, but a hope that his better part is not annihilated?

"* * * 12th. — Went to see Kean's 'Hamlet,' and had great reason to think most favourably of it. The nature without vulgarity, or affectation, which he displayed throughout the part, came home to the feelings. His crawling upon the carpet in the play-scene was bad. His kissing Ophelia's hand, his forgetting and recollection of the speech about Pyrrhus, &c., prove him to be a man of genius,— (notwithstanding, I prefer the purity of Kemble.) His walk on the stage is, I think, rather mean; but he improves most rapidly. 21st. — Flaxman's last lecture; his best. More thinking in it. * * * April 5th. — This evening my two pictures were removed to Somerset-house. I think it necessary to get the outline of my figures completely determined, before I venture to paint them. Sometimes, when a part is well coloured and decently painted, I am under the dreadful necessity of erasing it, because it is too small, or too large, or has some other defect in the drawing. The whole figure ought to be completely determined on, at the first, or second sitting; after which the parts may be successfully studied.

"The waving line and graceful playfulness of the joints of children, closely imitated, would immortalise the painter who should persevere in his observations on them — which he may, ad infinitum.

"Sparkle may be obtained without glazing. Linnell's observations, with respect to the warmth of objects, against the cold sky — always opposite the sun — is perfectly correct.

"Proportion of the parts is a quality my pictures have never yet possessed in a proper degree.

"The figures in my pictures do not induce the spectator to think I know what is under the clothing. (Haydon.) I saw a picture, this evening, of a lady, as large as life, where the head was not large enough for a girl of ten years old. Should I have observed this in a work of my own?

* * * April 25th. — Went to Spring-gardens, to see Haydon's picture of "The Judgment of Solomon." In this most extraordinary production, there is everything for which the Venetian school is so justly celebrated; with this difference only, that Haydon has considered other qualities equally necessary. Most men who have arrived at such excellence in colour, have seemed to think they had done enough; but with Haydon it was evidently the signal of his desire to have every greatness of every other school. Hence, he lays siege to the drawing and expression of Nature, which, in this picture, he has certainly carried from, and in the very face of, all his competitors. Of the higher qualities of Art are, certainly, the tone of the whole picture; the delicate variety of colour; the exquisite sentiment in the mother bearing off her children; and the consciousness of Solomon in the efficacy of his demonstration of the real mother. In short, Haydon deserves the praise of every real artist for having proved that it is possible (which, by the way, I never doubted,) to add all the beauties of colour and tone, to the grandeur of the most sublime subject, without diminishing the effect upon the heart. Haydon has done all this; and produced, upon the whole, the most perfect modern picture I ever saw; and that at the age of seven-and-twenty!

"30th. — The Marquis of Lansdowne desires to know the price of my 'Bird-catchers.' I wrote him the terms one hundred guineas (including frame). Sunday morning I received his polite note, agreeing to give me that sum. I do not think I was ever so much gratified by the sale of a picture, as in this instance.

* * * Sentiment in pictures can only be produced by a constant attention to the food given to the painter's mind. A proper dignity and respect for one self is the only shield against the loathsomeness of vulgarity.

"The habit of determining the course of action would prevent a great waste of time. In every ungratified desire, the mind is so worried by the continuance of doubts on both sides, that a complete debility ensues; the consequence of which is an uncertainty in all its speculations. What renders this still more vexing is, that, in general, the things about which it has the greatest doubt, are either above its powers, or beneath its notice. For an instance of the latter: a man orders a coat — he is in doubt about the colour — perhaps, he says, I will wait a few days. During these few days the cursed coat so frequently interrupts his more useful cogitations, that he orders one at last of, most likely, a colour he hates, merely to get rid of the subject. Had he, in the first instance, determined upon it before he set about anything else, his mind would have been in a more clear and proper state to receive other ideas. This would soon become a habit, and he would acquire a power, from necessity, of fixing his attention.

 

* * * *

"November 7th. — The election at the Academy, (at which, I afterwards heard, I was chosen an Associate.) Sketched at home in the evening — felt too anxious about my election to do much. 8th. — Received notice from the Secretary of my election. 12th. — To aim greatly at reformation in the leading features of my private character — the little weaknesses that almost escape detection, and which, notwithstanding their pettiness, seem to be the obstructing cause to all dignity of character in an artist, or a man. This improvement is not to be made by ridiculous and hasty resolutions, but by private reflections. The result, and not the means, ought to be seen. 16th. — Received notice to attend the Council of the Royal Academy, on Tuesday 22nd, at nine o'clock in the evening, for the purpose of receiving my diploma, and signing the instrument of institution. 17th. — From the great success I have met with, the eagerness I feel to deserve it, and my struggles against sluggishness, I never was more confused in my intellects than now — dreadful want of confidence — my mind must be weeded — method quite necessary — good habits may be gained by watchfulness — bad habits grow of themselves; good ones require cultivation. * * * December 3rd. — Remarkably dark day. This circumstance combined with the interruptions occasioned by some callers, and my own idleness, produced a great want of exertion on my part. Having taken snuff occasionally, since Tuesday last, and finding it hurtful, I again leave it off. Should I take any more, I will set down my reasons for so doing — bad, or good.

"Suppose the mind (vital principle, director of the body, or whatever else it may be called) obliged to pass through, or make use of certain organs, to the end that it may attain some purpose — suppose these organs in a morbid state, will the operations be sound? Certainly not. No more so than the attempt will be successful of a man who wishes to go a journey on foot and breaks one of his legs by the way. Then, how clearly does the necessity appear of doing as much as is in our power to keep these organs in the most perfect state. What excuse has the man to offer, who suffers them, or occasions them to be, in an unfit condition for the use of the mind?"

Such are the passages in the Diary of 1814, most worthy of attention. Those entries of a purely personal nature which have been inserted here, have not been introduced without a reason. It has been considered that they may contribute to vindicate genius from the conventional accusations of arrogance and irregularity, which are too frequently preferred against it, by demonstrating, in the instance and from the reflections of the subject of this biography, that the eager desire for fame may exist, without the slightest alloy of presumption; and that an ardent devotion to an intellectual pursuit, is not incompatible with the minutest attention to the moral cultivation of the heart, and the social training of the mind.

The painter's circle of friends now began to widen. Men of genius and reputation sought his acquaintance, and found his qualifications for society of no mean order. A plan of reading, various and extensive; an unwearied anxiety to receive and impart information on all subjects, from his Art downwards and upwards; and a fund of anecdote and capacity for humour, not easily exhaustible, fitted him well for the general topics discussed among the circles to which he was now welcomed. Among the gayest of his companions, at this period, were that "joyousest of once embodied spirits" — Elliston, and that inveterate jester and capital writer, James Smith; both of whom found in the artist's company no mean stimulus to conversational exertion; for when the ball of wit was once set going, it was rarely suffered to drop in Mr. Collins's hands. As an humble example of this should the incident not appear too trifling an anecdote may be mentioned, not unworthy, perhaps, to take its place among the laconic curiosities that enliven our jest-books.

Mr. Leslie, R.A., and an artist named Willis, were guests, one evening, at the painter's house; when Willis left his friends rather abruptly in spite of their remonstrances before the usual hour of parting. After he was gone his host sent out for some oysters, and proposed that Willis should be mortified, by being informed of the supper that he had missed through his hasty departure. Accordingly the painter wrote on a large sheet of paper — "After you left us we had oysters;" and sent it, without name or date, or paying postage, (which was then threepence) to Willis. The latter, however, discovered the hand-writing; and, to revenge himself, sent back for answer another letter — not paid of course — and only containing the words:- "Had you?" He was nevertheless mistaken, if he imagined that he had beaten his antagonist in brevity; for, the next day, he received, at the price of threepence again, an answer to the interrogatory, "Had you?" in a letter containing the eloquent monosyllable — "Yes!"

Whether, in these days of intellectual profundity, when books on abstract science decorate ladies' boudoirs, and children lisp geology to the astounded elders of a bygone generation, any appearance in print of such superficialities as puns can hope to be tolerated, is probably doubtful in the extreme. If, however, those light skirmishers in the field of conversation still find favour in the eyes of any readers, who may not yet be occupied in writing books to prove that Moses blunders in his account of the creation of the world, or in clearing up, wholesale, the reputations of all historical bad characters, from Oliver Cromwell and bloody Queen Mary, down to "lions" of later days, the following samples of the quick humour of Elliston and the elder author of "Rejected Addresses," may not be found unworthy to revive, for a moment, in others, the hearty laughter they once raised, in those to whom they were originally addressed.

Mr. Collins and some friends were one night sitting with Elliston in his box at the theatre, when one of the inferior actors attracted their attention by the extreme shabbiness of his costume, and the general poverty of his whole appearance. His stockings, particularly, were in a miserable condition; and the embroidered ornament at the ancle of one — called the "clock" — was positively ragged. Elliston first discerned the latter feature in the costume of his humble brother actor; and, in tragic seriousness of tone, directly drew the painter's attention to it, in the following words: — "Watch his 'clock!' — He got it upon tick!"

Between James Smith and the painter, a good-humoured reciprocation of jests of all sorts was the unfailing accompaniment of most of their meetings. The latter, however, in some instances, gained the advantage of his friend, by calling in the resources of his Art to the aid of his fancy,— as an example of which may be quoted his painting on the boarded floor of his study, while Smith was waiting in the next room, a new pen, lying exactly in the way of any one entering the apartment. As soon as the sketch was finished, the author was shown in, and stopping short at the counterfeit resemblance, with an exclamation at his friend's careless extravagance, endeavoured to pick it up. A few days afterwards, with the recollection of this deception strong in his memory, Smith called again on the painter, and found him working on a picture with unusual languor and want of progress. Anxious to take the first opportunity to return the jest of which he had been the victim, Smith inquired in tones of great interest, how his friend was getting on? The ether replied that he was suffering under so severe a headache as to be almost incapable of working at all. "Ah," said Smith, "I see why you have not got on; you are using a new material to-day,— painting in distemper."

In the year 1815, my father exhibited at the Royal Academy,— "The Reluctant Departure," (sold to Mr. Carpenter;) "Half-holiday Muster," (sold to Lady Lucas;) and "A Harvest Shower," (sold to Mr. Currie.) To the British Institution he contributed in the same season two pictures,— "A Cottage Child at Breakfast," (sold to Sir Richard Hoare;) and "Reapers," a landscape. In "The Reluctant Departure," the incident of a mother taking leave of her child as it lies in the nurse's arms, ere she descends to a boat in the foreground, which a fisherman and his boy are preparing to push off from shore, is treated with singular boldness and simplicity of effect. The drawing and action of the figures, the painting of the water in the foreground, and of the bank rising beyond it, with weeds and broken ground just visible beneath, in shadow, and the depth and harmony of tone thrown over the whole composition, combine to make this picture a fine example of the painter's careful observation of Nature and industrious study of Art. "Half-holiday Muster" will be found described in a letter which will be immediately subjoined. The "Harvest Shower" was suggested on a visit to Windsor, by a beautiful effect, produced during a shower, by the appearance of bright clouds behind falling rain. As soon as he perceived it, although reminded by his companion, Mr. Stark, of an engagement they had the moment before been hastening to fulfil, Mr. Collins produced his sketch-book; and, careless alike of rain and punctuality, made a study of the scene, which he afterwards transferred to canvass, and exhibited as above related. "The Cottage Child at Breakfast," and the "Reapers" are sufficiently indicated by their titles. From the former picture the artist executed a beautiful etching, included among a collection published by Hogarth, during the latter period of his life, under the title of "Painter's Etchings, by W. Collins, R.A."

His papers for this year are principally occupied by rules for conduct and experiments in practical Art. Among the few entries of general interest in them may be extracted the following:

 

DIARY OF 1815.

"* * * I must get the sparkle and vigour of objects in the sun; considering the distance at which most pictures are viewed, they ought to be painted very sharp.

"* * * I am now going to the Academy, where for some days I shall be in the company of, and in some measure on a footing with, the greatest painters in the country. To aim at surpassing them all; and, that my mind may never more be prevented from actual employment on this point, to discard all low and useless acquaintance with men, or things, not immediately connected with this aim.

"* * * To study in the country for future figures and groupings, with the accompanying backgrounds, and to make the most accurate painting and drawing studies of anything in itself a subject: sketches of anything I have too many. To be always looking for what constitutes the beauty of natural groups, and why they please in pictures.

"* * * In 1801, I began in the autumn to draw; although previous to this I had made some attempts, yet from this moment they were somewhat regular. Not long after this, I was instructed by a few lessons from T. Smith, to set a palette and begin to paint, which I continued to do with some degree of perseverance until, in 1805, I saw some necessity for drawing the figure. After much difficulty and fretting, I got into the Academy in the summer of 1806, where I passed my most happy moments, regularly attending that instructive and delightful place, the place where I dared to think for myself.

"My great desire for improvement and my acquaintance with those who could benefit me as a painter, was at its height when and whilst I painted the fishing picture,* 'Blowing Bubbles,' and 'Boys Bathing.' This was in 1809 and 1810. The notice taken of the fishing picture also brought me acquainted with some persons, from whom, although I gained a great knowledge of the world, I profited little as a painter,— as the pictures I then painted, although better, had less real study in them, and were produced notwithstanding, instead of by the help of the persons with whom I too frequently associated. * * * I had some heavenly moments when in company with my real and only friends, my pencil and palette. * * * After this I studied as hard as I could, but not as hard as I ought. * * * I have served my apprenticeship (fourteen years exactly.) Having now set up for myself, I must become a master. * * * I purpose to aim more at method and order; and to begin, have determined not to read in the morning, but to paint or draw all day, and to go out when I feel any lassitude. To attain lightness and correctness of drawing. My lights are too equally diffused. I generally want a form in my pictures. By painting three studies, and drawing three nights each week, as well as painting by night, I may improve much. * * * Why should I have one weakness? Why should I be anything short of a fine painter? I will certainly, at any rate, have the consolation of knowing why.

* Entitled "Children Fishing."

"Why I am not so at this moment — or, at least, some of the causes why I am not so, are indolence, (only habitual), and too much of what is termed the good fellow, by good fellows; but by hard-headed and sensible men, downright weakness."

Such evidences as these of the painter's increased longing after fame, and of his uncompromising reprobation in himself of the most venial habits and irregularities, if they caused him to retrograde for a moment in the pursuit of excellence, show that the elevation he was now shortly to acquire in his range of subjects, was already preparing in his mind. Circumstances, immediately to be detailed, suddenly and roughly urged upon him this direction of his studies towards higher and more remarkable progress in the Art. An excursion in which he indulged himself, in the autumn of this year, contributed, in no slight degree, to awaken his mind to the near prospect of the change in his style which was ere long to become necessary. Accompanied by his friend Mr. Stark, he visited Norfolk and its coast; and found himself standing by the after-source of no inconsiderable portion of his future popularity, as, sketch-book in hand, he looked for the first time over the smooth expanse of Cromer Sands.

Before his departure for Norfolk, he ventured on a domestic change of some importance the removal, by the advice of his friends, from the small and inconvenient house in Great Portland-street, to a larger and more eligible abode in New Cavendish-street. His success with the Academy and the world of Art, and the attention due to his interests as a professional man, appeared, to all who knew him, to warrant his incurring the increased expenses attendant on thus ' making a more respectable appearance, as regarded his abode. In a letter to Sir Thomas Heathcote, written in answer to an application from that gentleman for a companion picture to one he already possessed from the painter's hand, Mr. Collins writes hopefully — as the context will show, too hopefully — upon his future prospects.

 

"To SIR T. F. HEATHCOTE, BART.

"11, New Cavendish-street,

"18th July, 1815.

"Dear Sir,— It is not a little extraordinary that I should have a picture by me, precisely answering, in subject, size, etc., your descriptions. The picture was exhibited last month, under the title of 'Half-Holiday Muster,' (being an assemblage of village children, playing at soldiers before a cottage door), and as yours is an interior, I think this a most suitable companion. Should you think proper, I shall feel happy to have it sent for your inspection, which will not be in the least inconvenient to me. The price, including a frame of the right pattern, which I will have made, will be a hundred guineas.

"I thank you much for the hope you express as to my prosperity. I had intended to-morrow to have called in St. James'-square, to inform you that I have taken a very excellent house, in which I have been three days; and, as the situation and appearance are advantageous, I think my prospects are not altogether hopeless; although the artists have, this season, had much reason to complain.

"I remain, etc., etc.,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Of his excursion to Norfolk, the following incidents are related by the painter's companion, Mr. Stark:

"In 1815, he paid a visit with me, to my family at Norwich. There is but little in the city, or its immediate vicinity, to interest the painter; and, after two or three weeks' stay, we went to Cromer. An early patron of his was, at that time, residing at Cromer Hall (Mr. Reed), and he frequently dined at his table. But, however pleasurable the hours might have been to him so spent, he always regretted, if the evening chanced to have been sunny, that he had been shut up from the study of Nature under such favourable circumstances, sunlight being his great object. He was much delighted with the simple character of Cromer, and with the general colour and tone of its cliffs. The forms of these were then, as they still are, very monotonous; and some late landslips have not improved their character. Yet the impressions made upon his mind by the scenery of this place, seem to have lasted through life; for I find, so late as 1845, a picture entitled, ' Cromer Sands, Coast of Norfolk,' exhibited at the Royal Academy; and many of the backgrounds to his coast pictures I can trace to sketches made in this locality. He was much amused, on one occasion, by the remark of some fishermen. Having made a careful study of some boats and other objects on the beach, which occupied him the greater part of the day, towards evening, when he was preparing to leave, the sun burst out low in the horizon, producing a very beautiful, although totally different effect, on the same objects; and, with his usual enthusiasm, he immediately set to work again, and had sufficient light to preserve the effect. The fishermen seemed deeply to sympathize with him at this unexpected and additional labour, as they called it; and endeavoured to console him by saying, ' Well, never mind, sir; every business has its troubles.'

"As near as I can remember, we remained at Cromer about two months. He was indefatigable in his pursuits while there; but I have no recollection of his having sketched any figures. His attention appeared to be directed to the beach and cliffs, almost exclusively."

The painter's own studies and impressions in Norfolk, are glanced at in the following letters to his mother and brother:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS AND MR. F. COLLINS.

"Norwich, 1815.

"My dear Mother and Frank,— My reason for sending the last by mail was, that I began my letter too late for the post, and made a parcel of it, thinking it better to send it by that conveyance than keep it from you another day. * * * When you send the parcel, (I stand in great need of the shoes) I wish you to put as a base, two, or three, or four, (or more,) smooth, small panels. I wish to make some studies more finished than I choose to do on millboard. I do not wish them large. * * * I wish you would write often, telling me how you keep your health,— how you like the house,— whether you have found any defects, or 'unpleasantries,' in or out of it: how rich, or how poor, how the situation suits our profession,— and a thousand 'hows,' that would like me well at this distance from you. From the day you receive this, and as far back as you recollect, keep a diary of the weather to compare with one I intend to make. We have had much gloomy weather, and, except eating, drinking, and visiting, I have not done much. However, as I find much to admire, I shall exert myself to bring some of it home.

"With regard to the comfort and pleasantness of my situation in the family I am staying with, I cannot hope to give you an adequate idea of it on paper,— at least on so small a quantity as I find I have left. Suffice it to say, that Mr. Stark, his wife, and sons are so much to my liking, that I feel as if I had been connected with them by some closer tie than the one that at present exists. He is a fine, open-hearted, clear-headed, generous Scot; his wife, born in Norfolk, is in heart, a complete second to him. I cannot tell you how much, and how frequently, they talk of you both, and wish you here. Mrs. Stark has formed a decided friendship for my mother. I hope this is one reason for my fondness for the family; and about 'his ain kinswoman,' old Jamie Stark is continually ' speering.' I have also seen the daughter, who appears to be made of the same material as the rest of the family.

"I have met at this house, and at others in this neighbourhood, some of the most acute and learned men, from whom I have learnt enough to convince me that intelligent men are of more service to each other in a provincial place than in London. The sharpness of the air, or some other quality of this place, certainly tends to give a smartness to the people, surpassing the inhabitants of any locality I ever was in before. This, however, induces more equality, or attempts at it, in the common people, than is strictly consonant with my feelings.

"I will, in conclusion, put it to both your honours, whether or not I deserve a long letter for all this information. I am quite comfortable: how long may I stay? — send for me, if you want me,

"Most affectionately yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Cromer, September 18th, 1815.

"My dear Mother,— On this my birthday, I know not how I can be better employed than in writing to you. My reasons for not having done so before were, that I hoped to have had a letter from Mr. H—- , (which has not been the case) and, more particularly, because I had not made up my mind as to the time of quitting Norfolk. My plan, at present, is to leave this place for Norwich on Saturday next; to visit some places which I have not yet seen in that neighbourhood; and, in about a fortnight, to have the pleasure of presenting myself to you in London. I have made some sketches of sea-shore scenery, etc.; but, although I have opened the door of every cottage in the place, I have not yet seen an interior good enough for Mrs. Hand's picture. But I hope, and indeed from the description received of it, feel no doubt that, at a place called Arminghall, I shall get the thing itself.

"Tell Frank, that, although I have no (what is termed) certainty of becoming rich, in the world, yet I never lose hope; and that it is my decided opinion, that if the Almighty was to give us every thing for which we should feel desirous, we should as often find it as necessary to pray to him to take away, as to grant new favours. Whatever happens, as nothing can possibly happen without His permission, must be, and is, good. The thousand cases I could bring forward in proof of this assertion, (I mean cases that I have met with since I saw you last) I shall reserve till our meeting in London. * * *

"Most truly, dear Mother,

"Your affectionate son,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

To the Exhibition of 1816, the painter contributed, besides two portraits, a picture, called "The Argument at the Spring," and a sea-piece (afterwards engraved) entitled "Shrimp Boys — Cromer." The first work was in his now popular and accustomed style, and represented a young girl standing in the water, and endeavouring to induce a little urchin, ready stripped for the bath, to approach her and submit himself to the process of ablution. The second displayed extraordinary truth to Nature and originality of arrangement, but could hardly be said, though a sea-side view, to be — intellectually — the commencement of the series of coast-scenes, which he was afterwards to produce. It was an evidence, rather, of the dawning of the capability for new efforts in the Art, than of the triumph of the capacity itself. How that capacity became suddenly awakened and called forth, it is now necessary to relate.

Although Mr. Collins's pictures this year were sold — "The Argument at the Spring," being disposed of to Mr. Williams, and the scene at Cromer purchased by Sir Thomas Heathcote, (probably as the companion picture he desired; "Half-Holiday Muster," having been ultimately bought by Lady Lucas) his pecuniary prospects, towards the autumn, became alarmingly altered for the worse. Liberal and discriminating as many of the patrons of Art were in those days, they were few in number. The nation had not yet rallied from the exhausting effects of long and expensive wars; and painting still struggled slowly onward, through the political obstacles and social confusions of the age. The remuneration obtained for works of Art, was often less than half that which is now realised by modern pictures, in these peaceful times of vast and general patronage. Although every succeeding year gained him increased popularity, and although artists and amateurs gave renewed praise and frequent encouragement to every fresh effort of his pencil, Mr. Collins remained, as regarded his pecuniary affairs, in anything but affluent, or even easy circumstances. Passages in his Journal for this year, will be found to indicate his own consciousness of the gradual disorder that was, at this period, fast approaching in his professional resources.

 

JOURNAL OF 1816.

"January 1st, 1816. — Went with Willis to the Elgin Marbles, observed the simple attitudes of some of the figures to be peculiarly adapted to a new style of portrait. Then to Westminster Abbey, where I heard the organ playing, etc., and saw the bad monuments of some modern sculptors. I must write notes in my book before the thing criticised, mentioning the name, etc.; for I have seen most of the objects in this place often enough, but having forgotten them, I lost my time looking at them again, and coming, most likely, to the same conclusion, again to be forgotten, unless I keep a book for the purpose of entering everything I think worthy of remark.

"* * * Some time since I praised, from charitable and opposition motives, a certain picture, certainly much more than it deserved. I was told the other day, by an inferior artist, that he could not much value the opinion of one who had so much deceived him.

"* * * Feeling the thing, and being able to express it, makes the difference between amateur and painter — some persons put their ideas better than others. Has a man who cannot put them so clearly as to be understood, the ideas at all? Can he distinctly see it — could he not describe it, if he did?

"* * * April 13th. — Chatted with a visitor till twelve, when I posted this dreary ledger, on a dreary, black-looking April day, with one sixpence in my pocket, seven hundred pounds in debt, shabby clothes, a fine house, a large stock of my own handyworks, a certainty (as much, at least, a certainty, as anything short of 'a bird in the hand' can be) of about a couple of hundreds, and a determination unshaken — and, please God, not to be shook by anything of becoming a great painter, than which, I know no greater name. Although I have not at this moment a single commission of any kind whatever, I have property considerably more than adequate to discharge the debt above-mentioned — I mean property that would, even in these worst of times, sell for such a sum. Therefore, should my present views prove abortive, I shall not lose my independence — which whilst I have, I want no more.

" * * * July 5th — How comes it that after all my struggles, I am at this moment so poor in purse? Those of my friends able to push me, are not inclined; and those inclined, not able. Now, as it is impossible to rise in the world, without connection — connection I must have. Therefore, I will paint some high personage, for the next Exhibition. (Why not the Princess Charlotte?) For my own comfort, I must paint this, as well as everything else I touch, in a superior style. I have no reason to be dissatisfied with the public judgment on my works, although, from various causes, I am not rewarded agreeably to, or consistent with, their acknowledgment of my deserts. As I have great reason to believe that their approbation of any particular picture (although not the one that I consider the best, at the time) is the criterion, I shall certainly bow to it. In the particular instance of the Cromer scene, I feel now that their selection is marked by judgment: the faults, however, of the 'Spring,' I hope to be able to remedy in my future productions — for which purpose, I will note those objections which have been made by others, and follow them with a critique of my own. * * * "

Hopeful as the painter's anticipations still continued, untiring as were his efforts to extricate himself from his gathering embarrassments, they did not bring with them the success and security that he desired. The autumn was approaching, his exertions were the main support of his family, he had attempted to render them more advantageous by removing to a convenient and well situated dwelling; and now, to his dismay, he found, as the season advanced, that his income grew more and more insufficient to supply even the daily demands — economical though they were — of his new scale of expenditure; and that, unless some sudden change took place in his fortunes, his affairs were threatened — after all his industry, and all his successes — by no less a visitation than absolute ruin.

A calamity so severe and disheartening as this would have overwhelmed a man of inferior mental powers,— it stimulated the subject of this biography, however, to fresh effort, to stronger determination, to more vigorous hope. Gradually and surely, year by year and thought by thought, his old boyish anxiety to draw the sea at Brighton, had been expanding within him into a higher and finer aim; and, as he now looked the hard necessities of his position in the face, as he remembered the approval bestowed on the Cromer sea-piece, and as he saw that he must grasp at wider popularity, or sink at once into penury and failure, his mind opened at once to a knowledge of its resources, and to a discovery of all that it had hitherto left unstudied and unachieved on the English coast. That which, under happier circumstances, might have been a gradual process, became, under the pressing influence of necessity, a sudden operation — a thorough conviction that inexhaustible Nature presented, in the scenery and population of the shores of England, a fund of untried and original material for the capacities of Art. Thus has it ever been with genius. Thus, as the child of chance and the creation of sudden accident, does that mysterious gift vindicate its unearthly origin. The inferior faculties and accomplishments of the mind are under human control, are linked visibly to the chariot of journeying Time; but, genius owns no mastery, bows to no application, lives for no season. In one unregarded moment it springs into being, on the mute, obedient soil of the human mind! To the veriest trifles, the merest chances, is the world indebted for the most eloquent appeals of mortal intellect that have been addressed to it. A boyish frolic, or a momentary want, a heartless insult, or a careless jest, is the Prometheus that steals from its native heaven this hidden fire, this creating spirit that kindles in the poet's verses, and glows in the painter's forms.

Whatever intellectual rank Mr. Collins's sea-pieces may be considered to hold, as original and popular works of Art, it is not to be doubted that from them his highest celebrity as a painter first arose; and it is not less certain, that the immediate awakening of his mind to the conviction of the real extent of its capacities, and the discovery of the direction which those capacities for the future should take, was coeval with the sudden responsibilities forced upon him by his embarrassments at this period. Once conceived, his purpose was immediately settled. He determined to quit London and London friends; to proceed to Hastings; and there to make, on new principles, a series of studies on the coast, which should enable him to exhibit such thoroughly original works as would obtain for him an honourable celebrity, relieve his family and himself from the difficulties which oppressed them, and procure him the satisfaction of having restored the prosperity of his household, by the honest exertions of his own genius.

But so serious had the pecuniary pressure of his position now become, that he looked in vain for even the inconsiderable means necessary to accomplish this saving progress towards prosperity and fame. To procure any immediate assistance by his professional exertions in London was impossible, and to leave his mother and brother to struggle with their difficulties (the instant settlement of some of which had now become imperative), and depart for Hastings under all obstacles, was equally impracticable. At length, emboldened by this positive absence of pecuniary resources, he resolved, though at the risk of losing a valuable patron and generous friend, to state his case, and apply for an advance of money (on the strength, I believe, of a picture he was commissioned to paint for him) to Sir Thomas Heathcote.

The name of this good and generous man will be found in Mr. Collins's Diary for 1812, coupled with an offer of advancing a sum of money to him, during the time of trouble and confusion consequent upon his father's death. On this occasion, therefore, it will be readily imagined that the painter's application was not made in vain with the kindest expressions of sympathy and interest, Sir Thomas Heathcote responded to it, by the remittance of the sum desired.

The following passages in a letter from Mr. Collins to his liberal patron, account in a manly and candid spirit, for the disorder which was now prevailing in his affairs; and which, it is to be remembered, was produced by no careless extravagance on the part either of his family, or himself.

 

"To SIR T. F. HEATHCOTE, BART.

"New Cavendish-street, 1816.

"Dear Sir, * * * A part of the amount I requested of you, was necessary to prevent the seizure of my goods for taxes; and the remainder to pay a note of hand, (which, being overdue, left me at the mercy of a stranger who held it), and to procure a few pounds to enable me to obtain some studies I wished to make at Hastings.

"That you should be surprised 'at the pecuniary distress of a person of such apparently prudent habits,' I can readily conceive, for I am pointed out as one who has been extremely fortunate — and as far as popularity may be considered fortunate, I must confess myself peculiarly so; but I am sorely mortified to add, that it is only in report that I am in affluent circumstances; for allow me, sir, to assure you, that in some cases, the whole produce of a twelvemonth's study and its attendant expenses, has been rewarded by about a hundred guineas. The impossibility of living upon this sum, with the absolute determination I had set out with, to neglect no circumstance that could in any way tend to my improvement in Art, has produced difficulties not frequently paralleled.

"From these difficulties I had the fairest prospect of being relieved by the apparent increase of the importance of Art, and consequently its greater encouragement; but the unpropitious state of the times has produced a sensation, calculated to damp the hopes of those whose existence depends upon, what are termed, superfluities. Should I have power to struggle until these temporary evils are removed, I trust that, with industry and economy, I shall be enabled to devote my future years, undisturbed by pecuniary evils, to a pursuit (in that case) replete with happiness.

"In pursuance of our plan of economy, my mother purposes letting half the house we now occupy; which will reduce our annual expenditure for our greatest comforts, to the sum of sixty guineas. That I might accede to this proposal, I have, at a trifling expense, converted our attic into a most complete and desirable study.

"The pleasing way in which you desire an explanation of the causes of my difficulties, must plead my excuse for a letter necessarily egotistic. But, the interest you take in my success has produced an inclination to convince you that I really feel your kind condescension.

"I remain, dear Sir, "Your obliged and obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

With his departure for Hastings, which took place immediately, the first epoch in my father's life as a painter closes naturally with the first preparation for a change in his style. I have endeavoured, up to this portion of the narrative, to exhibit what may be correctly termed, looking to his after efforts — his early progress in the Art — to trace the pictorial faculty, as it originated in his mind, from self-bias, instruction and example — to follow it in its gradual development, during and after his academical studies — to display it, as fortified by steady industry, as dignified by regular improvement and honourable ambition, and as displaying itself in productions, drawn from sources of interest, eloquent in their simple homeliness to all. Arrived now at another period, another division begins in the Biography, as in the life that it commemorates — a division which is to describe the success of higher efforts, undertaken not only at the promptings of the noble selfishness of ambition, not only with the intention of attaining purer originality of pictorial design and stronger distinctiveness of pictorial illustration, but also for the sake of relieving the anxiety and meriting the gratitude of others, and of widening the influences of genius, to fit them the better, in the first instance, for the protection of home.

 

PART II.

CHAPTER I.

1816-1820.

Sojourn at Hastings in the autumn of 1816 - Letters to Mrs. Collins, Mr. F. Collins, and Sir Thomas Heathcote - Domestic and professional life in London - Sir David Wilkie and Mr. F. Collins - Mr. Leslie, R.A. - Anecdotes of the painter's dog "Prinny" - Pictures of 1817 - Mr. Gary's criticism on the sea-piece called "Sunrise" - Effect of the new coast scenes on the public - Journey to Paris with the late Washington Allston, A.R.A., and Mr. Leslie, R.A. - Journal of 1817 - Recurrence of pecuniary difficulties second application to, and timely loan from, Sir Thomas Heathcote - Pictures of 1818 - Sea-piece purchased by the Prince Regent Sir George Beaumont Lord Liverpool - Increase of employment - Visit to the Duke of Newcastle's country seat, Clumber Park - Visit to Sir George Beaumont, at the Cumberland Lakes - Anecdote of Southey Tour to Edinburgh with Sir Francis and Lady Chantrey - The late Mr. Marshall, of Leeds - Remarks - Sketches - Letter to Lady Beaumont - Notice of, and letters to and from Washington Allston, and S. T. Coleridge - Commission from Sir J. F. Leicester, bart. - Correspondence with that gentleman - Description of the picture painted for him - Pictures of 1819 - Extracts from Journal - Tour to Devonshire - Letters to Mrs. Collins - Elected Royal Academician in 1820.

HAD Hastings in 1816, been what Hastings is in 1848, the fashionable loiterers who now throng that once unassuming little "watering-place," would have felt no small astonishment when they set their listless feet on the beach, yawned at the library window, or cantered drowsily along the sea-ward rides, in beholding, at all hours, from earliest morning to latest evening, and in all places, from the deck of the fishing boat, to the base of the cliff, the same solitary figure, laden, day after day, with the same sketching materials, and drawing object after object, through all difficulties and disappointments, with the same deep abstraction and the same unwearied industry. Such a sight would have moved their curiosity, perhaps excited their interest, could they have known the object with which those sketches were made, or have foreboded the pleasure and instruction which, in their after combination they were so shortly to convey.

But, in those days, the visitors to Hastings were comparatively few, and the streets of the little watering-place had not yet expanded into splendid terraces, or spacious drives. Saving in the presence of a few local idlers, my father remained undisturbed by spectators, and unapplauded by friends. Conscious of the responsibility that now weighed upon him, of the serious chances that awaited the result of his new studies, he practised the most rigid economy, and laboured with the most unfailing care. The character, dress, implements, and employments of the fisherman, every peculiarity in the expression of his weather-beaten countenance, in the "fit" of his huge leathern boots, in the "rig" of his stout boat, was as faithfully transcribed by the hand, as his manners, feelings and pleasures were watched by the mind of the observant painter. Nor were the features of the sea-landscape forgotten in their turn. They were studied under all their characteristics,— in the glow of the morning sunshine, and the gloom of the evening shower. The cliffs were copied in their distant grace, and in their foreground grandeur; the beach was portrayed now as it shone, dry and brilliant, in the midday sun; now as it glistened, watery and transparent, from the moisture of the retiring wave. The ocean was transcribed in its calm, as the clouds breathed their shadows over its cool surface, and caught in its momentary action, as it dashed upon the beach, or rocked the fishing-boat on its distant waters: and the sky, in the variableness of its moods, in its fleeting and magical arrangement of clouds, in its spacious form and fathomless atmosphere, more difficult of pictorial expression than all the rest, was yet, like the rest, studied and mirrored on the faithful paper which was soon to be the rich storehouse of the artist's future wants. Studies such as these, interrupted only by the intervals of his scanty and simple meals and his needful rest in his humble lodging, he persevered in for six weeks, nursing his aspirations secretly in his own mind, and building his hopes where he found his pleasures, in the aspect of Nature and the capabilities of Art.

The subjoined are, unhappily, the only letters written by him during his sojourn at Hastings. His correspondence will, throughout his biography, be found to be in quantity the reverse of what it is in quality. Cheerful, graphic, and unconstrained as are most of his letters as compositions, they were all written with great labour and hesitation, from the nervous fastidiousness about the commonest words and expressions which invariably possessed him whenever he took up the pen, and which made epistolary employment so much a task and so little a pleasure to him, that he avoided it on all ordinary occasions with undisguised alacrity and delight.

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Hastings, 1816.

"Dear Mother,— The inconvenience occasioned by my folly in not taking your advice with respect to the boxes, namely, to send them by a porter before seven, is not worth paper, any further than as it may serve as a lesson. However, I give myself credit for starting when I did; for, although I ran almost all the way, the coach was coming out of the inn-yard when I reached it. But the impossibility of remedying an evil is its best cure, and the fineness of the day, and the beauty of the road removed all unpleasant notions. A person who sat on the coach with me, and who I expected was no joker, after about an hour's ride, turned out exactly the reverse, and more than this, an acquaintance — Mr. Collard, who has enabled me to look smart, by lending me a cravat, marked, too, with his initials, 'W. C.' I have a thousand other little things to say, but as I am under the necessity of writing by daylight, my mind is on the beach, and my only inducement to attempt this employment at such an hour is in the hope that you may receive my letter a day earlier than writing by candlelight would admit of.

"The packages came safe last night, and I am very comfortably situated in lodgings, (which are had with difficulty, poor, dear things) as under. — Frank's handwriting is much improved, and negligently neat.

"Your affectionate son,

"WILLIAM COLLINS. "At Mrs. Nash's, All Saints'-street, Hastings."

The following letter to his brother, not only illustrates the painter's constant anxiety for the welfare and pleasure of others, but exhibits some amusing and creditable details of his conscientious principles of economy under the straitened circumstances that now oppressed his household:

 

"To MR. F. COLLINS.

"Hastings, 1816.

"Dear Frank,— Your letter, with two halves of five-pound notes, came safely. My plan of coasting home I had entirely abandoned, before I received your opinion on that head. I now purpose quitting this place by the Wednesday's coach, should nothing arise to prevent it. Now, as London is so dull, and if there should be every prospect of a fine day on Monday, (there is no Sunday coach,) you might come down and return with me, if mother thought proper.

You would then have one clear day to dip in the sea, and stock yourself with some entirely new ideas. The whole amount of the expense would be the coach, provided you put two biscuits in your pocket, which would answer as a lunch; and I would have dinner for you, which would not increase my expenditure above tenpence. You could sleep with me, but as my lodging is out on Wednesday, it would be encroaching on a new week to stay any longer than Wednesday morning. I shall be at the place where the coach stops for you, should you be able to come. Write me nothing about it unless you have other business, for a letter costs a dinner. * *

"Now, observe, I shall be most dreadfully hurt and mortified if, during your absence, mother does not get Mrs. Langdon to sleep in the house with her. You are to consider, yourself, whether, under all the circumstances, the journey is practicable. The expense will be about twenty-five shillings altogether. This we can save in five-and-twenty other ways; and if everything at home can be made comfortable to mother, I think it will be of service to your head. Will the journey be too much for you? — sixty miles down, and, to the best of my knowledge, the same up again.

"I came here to make sketches and not acquaintances. I have had no heavy time on my hands; a man should be able to bear his own company. * * I spend my time more satisfactorily than I usually do; live at a fisherman's house; lodging, twenty-five shillings a week, (nothing to be had cheaper;) but as his wife cooks for me, and as I live upon fish and tea, (and live well, too,— sometimes to be sure with a chop,) I have something to spare for models, which I frequently make use of. * * *

"Don't trouble yourself about the exact tint of the painting-room wall. I shall cover it with sketches.

"Your affectionate brother,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

At the beginning of October the painter returned to London, and resumed his Journal in the following manner:

"October, 1816. — On Sunday, September 29th, 1816, I made a solemn resolution to abstain from any compliance with desires calculated to weaken my faculties. This resolution was made in St. Clement's church, at Hastings; and, as it has for its end the improvement of my powers as an artist and a man, I shall proceed to adopt a more strict and periodical examination of my conduct, with a view to banish from my constitution those inclinations to indolence, which, by their unobserved agency, might overcome my mental resources.

"I have for some years kept a common-place book and diary; but the irregularity with which it has been attended to renders it little more than a book of remorse. I shall, in order to make atonement for this neglect, .consider it an imperative duty to render the diary begun this day a more complete abstract of my employment of each four-and-twenty hours. It has this moment struck my recollection, that the day on which I made the above determination, which did not occur to me at the time, was my dear father's birthday. God grant him peace — he had little here! His life was one scene of narrow poverty; which, to my finite capacity, he less deserved than any one I ever knew. ' God's holy will be done!' was his saying under each affliction.

"22nd, Thursday. — Arose at seven o'clock; walked, thought, and planned; read and resolved; hoped for power to carry my plans into execution; found myself in health and strength of body; and, so far, with no excuse for gloom. Strict attention will, I hope, enable me to preserve this necessary condition of my faculties.

"At twelve, began to paint upon Mr. Heathcote's picture of 'The Kitten Deceived,' upon which I worked till five o'clock. 23rd. — Painted upon Mr. Heathcote's picture until five o'clock. Mrs. L—- called. In my endeavour to paint while I was talking to her, (or rather she to me,) I painted the wrong side of the kitten in the looking-glass introduced into the picture. This shows the futility of attempting to paint with company, and the necessity of giving the entire attention to the work in hand. Went in the evening to Mr. P—-'s, for the first time, where, in attempting to be as precise as himself, I rather bewildered myself. 24th. — Painted till half-past two; went out to walk till dinner. At Murphy's chess party in the evening. 25th. — Painted on Mr. Heathcote's picture till two o'clock, with repeated interruptions from the smoking of the chimney, the inconvenience of which was such as to induce me to submit to the alternative of taking down the grate, and having it reset upon my own plan. This occupied the rest of the day. Henry —- came to give us a lesson in chess. I fell asleep frequently between the moves. This I tried all in my power to prevent. I hope it is not a disease with me, perhaps being up so late might have produced this effect. 26th. — My study is in a miserable state, in consequence of the grate being reset; painted, however, till four o'clock; read the 'Antiquary' in the evening till twelve. * * November 1st. — Up at eight o'clock; heavy and gloomy, head wandering. Began to clear away obstacles at twelve. Read No. 127 of the 'Rambler;' then to study upon Mr. Heathcote's picture till five. Johnson says, in the above number, 'When indolence once enters upon the mind, it can scarcely be dispossessed but by such efforts as very few are willing to exert.' Perhaps I may be one of the 'few.' By a close examination of everything I see and hear, I hope to improve as a painter and as a man. 2nd. — Went to —- in the evening. My hours there were most foolishly, or rather, as affording a lasting lesson to me, most profitably spent. 3rd. — Rose ill; talked with visitors till three o'clock; also upon religion with Mr. Allston, whom I like much. Deduced the necessity of three resolutions from my follies of last evening, all to be rigidly enforced; read at night.

* * * 5th. — If I am indolent during the progress of a picture, that picture, at every sight of it, will make me so uncomfortable that I either risk putting it by unfinished, or getting it out of hand in a hasty manner."

Sentiments such as those above displayed will sufficiently testify that Mr. Collins's expedition to Hastings was morally, as well as intellectually, useful to him; and will, moreover, explain the secret of the unwearied endurance with which he struggled against the new disappointments which it will be seen misfortune for a time still directed against him — provided though he now was with the material, and the capacity to produce the most forcible pictorial appeals to the world of Art. Before however proceeding further in the progress of the painter at this important period of his life, it will not, in the first place, be irrelevant to show that one at least of his kind friends still continued to watch his doubtful fortunes with interest, by the insertion of the following letter, written by him in answer to a most liberal and spontaneous offer of payment in advance for a commissioned picture, by Sir Thomas Heathcote:

 

To SIR THOMAS HEATHCOTE, BART.,

"Dec. 7th, 1816.

"Dear Sir,— I shall not attempt to describe the pleasure I received upon the receipt of your letter of yesterday, nor to apologize for accepting your kind offer, as, after the account of my arduous situation which I troubled you with in a former letter, it would be perfectly inconsistent to conceal the necessity you have so generously anticipated.

"From my excursion to Hastings I returned early in October, with a sufficient number of sketches and observations to complete the pictures I propose exhibiting in the ensuing season; and should it please God to continue that degree of health which I have so happily enjoyed for the last twelve months, I hope to prove that I have not been idle.

"By the exhibition of these pictures, I trust I shall not lose that favour the public has shown towards my works; but, although I cannot exist without fame, yet I cannot live upon it, so that, in order to accomplish the increase of my resources, I must devote some of my intervening time to the production of one, or perhaps two highly-finished small portraits. Upon this subject, Mr. Owen has kindly given me advice, so decisive, that I shall not fail to adopt it. On this head, I hope to have the pleasure of communicating more at large when you favour me with a call. * * *

"Yours obliged and obediently,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

It is now necessary, viewing the painter as already provided with his new stock of materials, to return with him to the mingled pleasures and anxieties of his London home. Designs for his projected efforts, of all sizes and peculiarities, soon flowed from his pencil; and like the beginnings of all his other works, were shown to his family and his friends, before they were seriously undertaken for the approaching exhibition. In this peculiarity of his character, he differed all his life from some of his professional brethren. No man ever lived who less affected mystery in his Art, or more thoroughly despised the easy ambition of shining before a "select few" — the unworthy satisfaction of being contented to remain the colossus of a clique, the great man of a small party. His efforts, from first to last, were addressed to every grade of his fellow beings who were likely to behold them; and were tried in his own mind by no other final standard than that of general approbation.

Among those whom he most frequently consulted at the different stages of his pictures were his brother and his friend Wilkie, to whom he had been introduced while they were students together at the Academy. The first of these companions and advisers, Francis Collins, added to a quick and lively intellect a profound knowledge of the theory of Art and an uncommon capacity for just and intelligent criticism — qualities which his brother never omitted to call into action for his benefit, and never found to fail in directing and encouraging him aright. Of Wilkie's capabilities as the adviser of his friend it is unnecessary to speak. The powerful genius of that simple-minded and amiable man never failed in its deep sympathy with the efforts of his brother painter. From the first to the last day of their friendship, Wilkie and Collins sought each other's advice and enjoyed each other's confidence, without a moment's alloy on either side, of jealousy or doubt: both were as fully impressed with the necessity, as they were happy in the privilege, of a connection too rare among the members of their profession — the free communication between painters — of their thoughts, their hopes, and their undertakings in the Art. Each was more the enthusiast of the other's genius than of his own — rejoicing equally in each other's triumphs, and submitting equally to each other's criticisms.

Of the painter's household, at this period, one who was then, as afterwards, ever among the most welcome of his guests, and who still survives for the advantage of modern Art, Mr. Leslie, R.A., thus writes, in a communication with which he has favoured me on the subject of his departed friend:

"Very many of the pleasantest evenings of that period of my life" (1816 and 1817) "were spent at your father's house, in New Cavendish-street, looking over his beautiful sketches and valuable collection of prints. The recollection of your uncle Francis — whom you, I should think, can hardly remember — is associated with those evenings. He was a most agreeable man, and had a fund of quiet humour — he had also great information on all matters connected with the Art, and an excellent judgment. Your father's house was therefore to me like a school — but a school of the most pleasant kind."

The group that, in those days, often assembled in my father's painting-room, as they sat in judgment on his projected pictures, would have formed no unworthy subject for a picture in themselves. The calm serious features of Wilkie, as he silently and thoughtfully contemplated the work of his friend, contrasted by the merry countenance and animated gestures of Francis Collins, as he hinted a joke, or hazarded a criticism — the appearance on the scene of Mrs. Collins, a remarkably dignified and handsome woman, contemplating with all a mother's affectionate admiration the progress of her son's labours; and the position of the painter himself, as he sat at his easel, now adding and altering, and now watching the approbation of Wilkie's attentive eye — these, surrounded by the quaint furniture of the little studio — the heap of variously-tinted canvasses here; the articles of fisherman's clothing and models of fishermen's boats there; the finished studies, hung confusedly on the walls; and the painter's implements, scattered over the tables; in one place the green bough ravaged from Hampstead fields, as a study for foliage; in another the toppling "lay figure," displaying, above, the counterfeit resemblance of the female form, and ("Desinat in piscem mulier formosa supreme") clothed at its lower extremities with a fisherman's apron and boots — might have formed, altogether, a representation of an interior, not unworthy to rank, in point of interest, with many of those which have been already submitted, successfully, on canvass to the public eye.

While I am occupied in mentioning the companions of the artist's home, I must not omit to notice one who was ever as ready to offer his small aid and humble obedience as were any of his superiors, to confer the benefit of their penetrating advice — I refer to Mr. Collins's dog "Prinny" (Prince). This docile and affectionate animal had been trained by his master to sit in any attitude which the introduction of a dog in his pictures (a frequent occurrence) might happen to demand. So strict was "Prinny's" sense of duty, that he never ventured to move from his set position, until his master's signal gave him permission to approach his chair, when he was generally rewarded with a lump of sugar, placed, not between his teeth, but on his nose, where he continued to balance it, until he was desired to throw it into the air and catch it in his mouth — a feat which he very seldom failed to perform. On one occasion, his extraordinary integrity in the performance of his duties was thus pleasantly exemplified:- My father had placed him on the backs of two chairs his fore legs on the rails of one, and his hind legs on the rails of the other — and, in this rather arduous position, had painted from him for a considerable time, when a friend was announced as waiting for him in another apartment. Particularly desirous of seeing this visitor immediately, the painter hurried from the room, entirely forgetting to tell "Prinny" to get down; and remained in conversation with his friend for full half an hour. On returning to his study, the first object that greeted him was poor "Prinny," standing on his "bad eminence" exactly in the position in which he had been left, trembling with fatigue, and occasionally venting his anguish and distress in a low, piteous moan, but not moving a limb, or venturing even to turn his head. Not having received the usual signal, he had never once attempted to get down, but had remained disconsolate in his position "sitting" hard, with nobody to paint him, during the long half-hour that had delayed his master's return.

Out of the mass of his new designs, Mr. Collins selected two, which, when completed, were exhibited with other pictures in his usual style, at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1817. They were entitled, "Fishermen coming Ashore before Sunrise," and "Sunrise." To the latter picture, a melancholy interest attaches itself. As it was the first, so it was among the last of the great sea-pieces he ever painted; a repetition of it, having been produced by him at the Exhibition of 1846, the year in which his employments in the Art ceased for the public eye for ever!

In "Fishermen coming Ashore before Sunrise," the left corner of the sky is tinged by a mild, dawning light, which rises over a bank of misty vapour, and touches the wild, sharp edges of a large cloud, stretching across the heaven towards the light. Above this, still lingers the deep, purple, transparent atmosphere of the departing night, studded, in one or two places with the glimmer of a fading star. Beneath, the fresh, buoyant sea, dances onward to the foreground, garnished here and there fantastically with the rising light. In front, a single fishing-boat — (whose large sail, flapping lazily against the mast, rises grandly against the lighter part of the sky) — is stranded in shallow water. Around, and on it, stand the burly fishermen, hauling in their nets over the wet sand. In the distance is seen a town, faintly discernible on the cliffs that rise on the right hand of the picture; while, on the horizon, appears the sail of another boat, approaching the beach. The tone of colour in this elaborate work is dark, yet transparent representing a sort of brightening obscurity, and suggests at every point the mysterious morning stillness which reigns over the scene. The picture was purchased by the late Mrs. Hand.

Of "Sunrise," I am enabled to provide a graphic and masterly criticism, extracted from Mr. Carey's "Descriptive Catalogue of the Gallery of Sir J. F. Leicester, Bart;" (afterwards Lord de Tabley) in whose collection the picture was placed.

"Two fisher-boys are here, on the shore, at low water. One is kneeling in a front view, with a turbot in his hand, and his fish-basket beside him. He is looking up, in conversation with his companion, who stands beside him with his back towards the spectator. The latter has his prawn-nets suspended upon an implement like a short boat-hook, over his shoulder; and has also a small basket, slung at his back. The reflections of the rising sun are expressed with great richness on the face of the kneeling boy; and the warm light, with a vigorous glow, on the other. These figures are transcripts from Nature, painted with that admirable truth which stamps a superior value on the works of this artist. They occupy the right side of the rocky beach, and a large dog, of the Newfoundland breed, stands behind the prawn-fisher in the centre of the foreground. A buoy and chain, left aground by the tide, are the only objects in the left corner. A thin flow of water is visible in some parts of the strand; and, in the middle ground, a pier extends into the sea. A boat-builder's yard is behind it, with vessels lying dry — a horse and figures are seen near them — and a small house stands on the side of a high and sheltering hill, above. From the termination of this hill, the sea forms the extreme distance, and extends the whole length across the view. The sun has just risen a little above the horizon, and its brightness is reflected on the waves immediately behind the kneeling fisher-boy, with wonderful truth, brilliancy, and force of local colouring. The golden light is opposed to the deep blue of the ocean, with a lustre and vivacity to which no language can do justice.

"On the extreme sea, some dark sails are discernible against the bright light — on the same line the white sails of some fishing smacks, distinguished by remote distance, glitter in the sun, and help to soften the effect by spreading the light in these parts upon the water. The dark sails of a fishing vessel, which is much nearer the shore, rise above the horizon, take away from the formality of its line, give a picturesque effect to the angle formed by the boy, and contribute to unite the shadows of the sea and sky. The ruddy light is diffused upon the flickering clouds, upon the water, upon the distant hill, the sands, and the figures, with a variety and gradation of tint, a living glow and lustre, which place this admirable transcript of nature, as a standard of excellence, among the very finest productions of its class. As the spectator views this fascinating picture, the cool serenity of a clear summer morning, in all its aerial loveliness, sheds a sweet and tranquil influence on his mind."

"The Kitten Deceived" — a little incident of rustic life (painted for Sir T. Heathcote) pourtraying a group of cottage children astonishing their favourite kitten by exhibiting to it its resemblance in a looking-glass; with two other works, (portraits,) in one of which three children are represented playing at cards, in a garden, were the other productions of the painter, exhibited at the Royal Academy this year. The specimens of portraiture were painted in pursuance of the purpose he had expressed, in his letter to Sir Thomas Heathcote, of increasing his means of subsistence by the practice of that branch of the Art. Fortunately, however, a few years more worked such a change for the better in his circumstances that he was, from that time, spared all further necessity of quitting his own chosen studies to paint portraits, except when previously disposed to do so from his own inclinations.

At the British Institution the painter's new contributions were:- "The Young Cottager's First Purchase," (sold to Mr. Danby,) and "Preparing for a Voyage," (sold to Mr. Ludlow.) Both works were treated with the same truth and simplicity as their predecessors in a similar style.

Of all these pictures, those which attracted, and deserved to attract, the most attention, were the two sea-pieces. They presented to the public eye, in their genuine novelty of subject and treatment, the most welcome of all sights,— the appearance of thorough originality; and were at once admired and understood. The Art which connected the figures with the landscape, making each of equal importance, combining each into wholeness and singleness of effect, and yet gifting each with a separate importance and charm, was immediately acknowledged. Individual criticism found in them few latent excellencies, that general observation had left undiscovered and unapproved. They were works that attained a superior quality in all intellectual efforts — whether in poetry, painting, or music — that of levelling themselves, in expression, to the general capacity, while, in conception, they rose beyond it.

In the reception of these pictures by the public, Mr. Collins found some reason to hope that he should, ere long, accomplish his own extrication from his embarrassments — a process which he felt must be necessarily gradual, but which he now began to anticipate might be as inevitably sure. Elated by these reflections — more sanguine than any that had occupied his mind for some time past — he permitted himself, this year, the relaxation of a journey to Paris, in company with Mr. Leslie, and Washington Allston, the celebrated American historical painter.

It is a peculiar quality in the mental composition of those enthusiastically devoted to an intellectual aim, that they make — often unconsciously — their very pleasures and relaxations minister to the continued study of their pursuit. This was remarkably the case in the instance of the subject of this biography. In sickness and in pleasure, as in health and occupation, he was incessantly garnering up some fresh collection of material for his Art. Thus, in his journey to Paris, not satisfied with the acquisitions which, in the mere conversation of the two great painters who accompanied him, he was sure to obtain, he contrived in the short space of a month, and in the midst of the gaieties and amusements of the French capital, to make several copies of the great works in the Louvre, and to gain matter for two pictures of French subjects, and French localities, which he painted on his return to England. Of this short expedition, no notices beyond a few travelling memoranda, have been found in his Journal for 1817; which, however, during a later period of the year, when he was again occupied in London by his regular studies, presents some remarks on Art worthy of insertion, which are expressed as follows:

"* * * The foundation of the connoisseur's preference for the Dutch masters is exceedingly slender; it is the painter who in reality enjoys and admires their works; whose reputation (which induces the connoisseur to purchase them) is derived from the painter's appreciation of their technical merits. Most of the Dutch pictures are composed of subjects gross, vulgar, and filthy; and where this is not the case with the subjects, the characters introduced are such as degrade the human species below the level of the brute creation. As a proof of the correctness of this statement, let any one put the employments of most of the figures into words, and see whether the description would be tolerated in any decent company. And further, is the selection of scenery in these works remarkable (or is it not the reverse) for any of those features which delight either in Nature or Poetry?

"If the low and beastly characters pourtrayed by the Dutch painters were introduced by way of contrast, or for some moral purpose, as in Hogarth's works, there might be some excuse; but in their hands, even children have the faces of squalid old men and women: yet, notwithstanding these objections to them, they are most profoundly skilled in the great technical beauties and difficulties of the Art, and are accordingly highly valued by the artist. As these merits, however, can only be tested by the enlightened and initiated, persons who belong to neither class must buy the Dutch pictures, for purposes unconnected with a legitimate admiration of painting.

"* * * Daylight scenes are usually painted by inferior artists, with shadows resembling, because they are only painted at home, such as are never found but in rooms peculiarly lighted — these rooms being, moreover, seldom seen by any but painters. Hence, to those who are not accustomed to see groups of ploughmen, cattle, etc., etc., within doors, these pictures — though they know not how to express it — fail in producing the desired effect. For, although general spectators may not be so far acquainted with the minutiae of Nature as to be able to talk about them, the general characteristics are nevertheless strongly impressed on their feelings. This may be perceived, when pictures painted with a real knowledge of the peculiarities of daylight come before them; then, they instinctively declare their satisfaction by some such expression as, 'There I can breathe!'

"How frequently do we find views of interiors, of stables and cottages, not really differing in atmosphere, from pictures of midday and sunrise effects in the open air, where the glimpses of cloud and landscape without, visible through doors and windows, appear so dexterously lowered, as to form a delicious artificial half tint to a head placed in the middle of a room. If painters are too indolent to court Nature ad infinitum, their works should be described somewhat thus:- 'No. 1. Cottages and Cattle' in a painting-room! No. 2. 'A Thunderstorm' — raised in the artist's study!

"* * * The reason why most of the late attempts made in this country have done so little for the Art, seems to have arisen, not from a want of inclination to further the interests of the modern school, (except in one notorious instance) but from the difficulties which naturally attend an undertaking, which is now exposed to the danger of over-patronage on the one side, and of under-patronage — or as it has been said, the stimulus of the fear of starvation — on the other. It would be a wise plan to make 'places' on purpose for great talent in Art they are found a stimulus abounding with advantage in most other professions. Without the high rewards attendant upon brilliant individual success, what great lawyers and divines might we not have lost?

"Since the great demand for Art has been satiated with the works of the old masters, what encouragement has the modern painter now to hope for, beyond those honours which the Academy offers, unless he becomes a portrait painter? It is, by the way, a strong argument in favour of the excitement produced by hopes of great pecuniary profit, that in portrait painting, notwithstanding the disadvantage of the most unpicturesque dresses, the English school has attained to a decided superiority over that of any other country.

"* * * Difficulties overcome in any art or science, may give reputation of skill, on some occasions, where no really useful or agreeable object is attained. Amongst scientific men, artists and poets, who have little intercourse with the world at large, these technical triumphs are too much valued. What may be termed a legitimate and praiseworthy aim, is where success produces great general advantage or gratification. In my own branch of the Art, for instance, an undulating bank, made up of a great variety of grasses, wild flowers, docks, &c., &c., which, when represented with genuine taste and genius, is one of the most beautiful and attractive objects that can occupy the foreground of a picture, becomes in the hands of a man who can only paint it with considerable mechanical intricacy and skill, an ineffective, and sometimes even a disagreeable object.

"* * * A sketchy picture is easily done, because one is accustomed to overlook in it a hundred violations of truth, which are insisted upon in a finished picture. In making sketches, the very violation of the laws of Nature is a proof of 'spirit,' as it is called."

Notwithstanding all his successes of the past year, it was with feelings of bitter despondency that the painter proceeded with his works for the Exhibition of 1818, for he had the mortification to perceive, as time advanced, that the demands made on him, moderate though they were, still exceeded the resources of his purse, and that a second crisis in his affairs, as painful and peremptory as that from which the kindness of Sir Thomas Heathcote had formerly extricated him, was fast approaching. The times had indeed slightly altered for the better; but it is a convincing proof of the continued poverty of the general patronage of that day, as compared with this, that the sea-piece "Sunrise," universally as it had been praised by all classes of the public, by critics and connoisseurs alike, had remained upon the artist's hands since the Exhibition of 1817, and was not sold till the March of the following year. An extract from Mr. Collins's Journal will convey some idea of the state of his mind under this fresh check on his most darling hopes; this unexpected defeat of the hard economies and applauded pictorial efforts of a whole year:

"January 20th, 1818. — From this day until Monday 26th, a series of miserable feelings and disappointments. Pecuniary difficulties, debilitating idleness, waging war upon me; dreading what, to my poor and finite capacity, appear insurmountable embarrassments. Notwithstanding my conviction that my troubles are real, and their number great, yet I feel that my desultory habits are adding to the list, (which is voluntarily and criminally incapacitating me for the performance of my numerous duties,) and that my prayers for power cannot be from the heart, when the talents I already possess are suffered to lie idle until their whole strength shall be exerted against me; as the sweetest water becomes, under the same circumstances, first stagnant and then poisonous. Fearing consequences, which God of his infinite mercy avert, I once more implore his assistance."

His was not, however, a disposition to sink helplessly under such bitter and unjust self-upbraidings as these. His devotion to his Art upheld him now, under the crushing pressure of misfortune, as faithfully as it did long afterwards under the darker evils of debility and pain. From the time when he had first aided him, Sir Thomas Heathcote had never ceased to make constant inquiries, in person and by letter, after his well-being and success; and to this gentleman, after having tried in vain every effort to extricate himself, self-aided, from his difficulties, he once more addressed himself, applying, as a last resource, for the loan of a hundred pounds.

Most men in the position of Sir Thomas Heathcote would have hesitated at granting this fresh application; but, discriminating as he was generous, that gentleman had formed, from long and intimate observation of Mr. Collins, a true estimate of his character and genius. He saw that the painter's integrity of intention and energy of purpose fitted him remarkably to urge his intellectual qualities through all obstacles to ultimate competence and success; and once more, though he had made a general rule against lending money on any consideration, he complied with my father's request.

It may be imagined that, in mentioning these circumstances, and in publishing the letters on this subject inserted in a former part of the present work, I have dwelt somewhat too much at length upon matters generally held by the world to be of too delicate and private a nature for the public eye. But transactions such as those between Sir Thomas Heathcote and Mr. Collins, reflect too much credit upon human nature, and display too remarkable an example of graceful generosity on one side and manly integrity on the other, to be hidden at the promptings of morbid delicacy from the world. Let it be remembered by the wealthy, that for want of such timely kindness and confidence as are here exhibited, many a man of genius has lived for disappointment, or perished from neglect; and, by the suspicious or the cynical let it be equally remarked, that in this instance liberality was neither wasted nor outraged, that those pictures paid for in advance were completed first, and that the loan contracted unwillingly was gladly and scrupulously repaid.

To the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1818 my father contributed "The Departure of the Diligence from Rouen," and a new sea-piece, called, "A Scene on the Coast of Norfolk." At the British Institution his new productions were entitled "The Bird's Nest," and "A Scene on the Boulevard, Paris." These pictures, gaining for him more exalted patronage than he had hitherto enjoyed, marked the commencement of a new era in his fortunes. From this year, his pecuniary difficulties gradually ceased; and he laid the foundation of an after competence, alike honourable to his own efforts and to the encouragement and appreciation of them by others.

The "Scene on the Coast of Norfolk," a sea-piece full of the finest qualities of the painter's works of this description, is to be noticed first among these pictures, both from its own intrinsic merits, and from the fortunate destiny that it achieved. At the annual dinner given by the Academy to the patrons of modern art, Sir George Beaumont, (to whom my father had been lately introduced) intimated to him that the late Earl of Liverpool had become the purchaser of his sea-piece. He had barely time to express his acknowledgments to Sir George ere they were joined by the late Lord Farnborough, (then Sir Charles Long,) who informed them that the Prince Regent had been so delighted with the picture at the private view of the day before, that he desired to possess it. Mr. Collins replied that he had just sold his work to Lord Liverpool, and that under such embarrassing circumstances, he knew not how to act. Observing that the matter might, he thought, be easily settled, Sir Charles Long introduced the painter to Lord Liverpool, who expressed his willingness to resign his purchase to his royal competitor, and gave Mr. Collins a commission to paint him another sea-piece for the next Exhibition. The picture was accordingly delivered to the prince, and is now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The honest, uncompromising study of Nature, the high finish, the softness and purity of tone, united with power and brilliancy of effect, apparent in all parts of this work, combine to make it in every way worthy of the high approval that it gained. Nothing can be more simple than the scene it depicts: the level beach, in fine perspective, running into the middle of the picture from the foreground; two boys with fish and a fisherman's hut at the right hand; the sea at left; the sky above, charged with a mass of light, airy cloud, from behind which the sunlight is breaking in faint misty rays, are all the materials of the composition; but they are presented with such consummate truth and skill as to give to the picture that genuine appearance of originality and nature which in all works of art is the best guarantee of their value, as possessions which are always welcome to the eye, and never too familiar to the mind.

My father's introduction to Lord Liverpool was productive of advantages to him, which he ever remembered with gratitude and delight. At Fife House and Coombe Wood he was a constant guest. On all occasions his interests were forwarded and his pleasures consulted by Lord Liverpool, with a kindness and condescension, which the more important political occupations of that upright and amiable nobleman could never suspend. At no period of his intercourse with the world was the painter's time spent more delightfully and improvingly than in the cultivated society that he met under Lord Liverpool's roof. There, he was first introduced to the present possessor of some of his finest pictures — Sir Robert Peel; and there, in the beautiful scenery around Walmer Castle — then a country seat belonging to his noble host he found materials for many of the most successful of his works. One of the last acts of Lord Liverpool's life was as characteristic of his affectionate regard for Mr. Collins as any that had preceded it. During an interval of ease in the illness that produced his dissolution, he desired that the painter might be sent for to visit him, at Coombe Wood. As he was proceeding towards the drawing-room to welcome his visitor, he suddenly stopped, and, sighing heavily, exclaimed: "No, I cannot see him — I feel it would be too much!" Mr. Collins never beheld him again. He returned to his room, and soon afterwards died.

The painter's second picture at the Royal Academy Exhibition — "The departure of the Diligence from Rouen" — was well calculated to display the versatility of his genius. As the sea-piece was all repose, so this work was all action. The one was full of freshness — atmosphere — day; the other — representing the departure of the clumsy vehicle, on a dark night, surrounded by a bustling and varied crowd, and illuminated only by the wild light of a single lamp, swung over the middle of the old French street — displayed precisely opposite characteristics, in every feature of the subject which it portrayed. This picture (one of the results of my father's tour to Paris) was purchased by Sir George Beaumont. The "Scene on the Boulevards," (drawn from the same sources, and exhibited at the British Institution) was bought by the Duke of Newcastle, who invited the artist to Clumber, the same year, to sketch the scenery and paint the portraits of his sons. The fourth work, "The Bird's Nest," (also sent to the British Institution) was sold to the Countess de Grey.

The report that Mr. Collins's "Coast Scene" had fallen under Royal protection soon circulated, and aided the effect of the merits of the work itself so powerfully, that commissions began to flow in upon him with unaccustomed prodigality. It was necessary, however, before he proceeded to execute them, that he should repair to Clumber, in compliance with the Duke of Newcastle's invitation. Of his journey to that place, and of his studies, thoughts, and resolutions in the earlier part of the year, the following account is furnished in his Diary.

 

Journal of 1818.

"March 20th. — I received the Holy Sacrament at Fitzroy Chapel to-day; (Good Friday,) and in pursuance of certain hopes to amend my life, I commence this Journal for the purpose of examining how my time and talents, in this my thirtieth year, are employed. After having done all I can towards the attainment of any temporal object, should I not accomplish it, it is useless to lament the failure. I must never mistake the means for the end, must study hard, and for understanding must implore Almighty mercy. I believe that I must answer for every idle, vain, and unprofitable word that I utter; how absolutely necessary it is then, that I should use those means already in my power to attain the blessing of mental watchfulness. I know no cause so adequate to the entire frustration of the acquisition of this faculty, as indolence, which I believe to be of the will first, and then of the body; where, when it has once taken hold, it is cancerous. God of his infinite mercy grant that I may escape its fatal grasp! and become pure and holy through the merits of Jesus Christ — in the hope of whose assistance, I trust for the power to act consistently with hopes and fears drawn from an entire belief in his holy mission.

"23rd. — Went with Sir George Beaumont to visit Sir Thomas Lawrence — painted on the 'Departure of the Diligence.' Sir John Leicester called; and in consequence of a conversation with him, I offered the picture of the 'Diligence' to Sir George Beaumont; who desired to have it on Saturday last, but to whom I could not promise it then, as I conceived it to be in some measure engaged by Sir John Leicester; in which I now believe I had misapprehended him. Sir George and Lady Beaumont called, to thank me for .my note offering the picture to Sir George. Allston dined and stayed the evening with me.

"27th. — Only at work by half-past eleven, although I have but eight whole days to finish my pictures for Somerset-house; but, in addition to this loss of time, I begin to suspect that by doing disagreeable things to please others, we may come to doing bad things to please ourselves. Certainly there was nothing that used to be more disagreeable to me than inhaling the smoke of tobacco, and yet I now find myself inclined to take a cigar, as much for the purpose of gratifying my own indolence, I suppose, as from a companionable feeling. This habit of smoking begets an inclination, and in fact a necessity, to allay the heat and dryness of the throat; and, as one smokes in the evening, liquor is always at hand; in addition to which, although I have given up snuff, yet the use of cigars and spirituous drinks would of course beget an inclination for their former companion: seeing all this, I hope I shall be resolute enough to resist the slavery of attachment to what it is best that I should hate. * * * April 7th. — Finished the 'Departure of the Diligence,' and the 'Scene on the Coast of Norfolk,' and took them to the Royal Academy at five o'clock. * * * May 1st. — Overlooking and planning new subjects till two o'clock: at the private view of the Exhibition afterwards — the Prince Regent there. Dined at Wilkie's. 2nd. — At the dinner at the Royal Academy, where Lord Liverpool purchased my picture of a ' Scene on the Coast of Norfolk,' at a hundred and fifty guineas. A few minutes afterwards, Sir Charles Long told me that the Prince Regent desired to have the picture: Lord Liverpool afterwards expressed his willingness to give up his purchase to the Prince. 5th. — With Jackson, who called to say that the price settled by Sir George Beaumont, Mr. West, and himself, for the ' Departure of the Diligence,' was two hundred guineas. 6th. — Drowsy all day, from having taken spirits and water, to prevent catching cold after getting wet: the chance of a cold better than the remedy for it. 8th. — Called upon the Duke of Newcastle, who engaged me to paint a view of his country seat, Clumber Park, Notts; for which purpose I agreed to visit that place, soon after three weeks from this day. Afterwards saw Sir George Beaumont, in St. James's-street, who declared himself satisfied with the price Mr. West had put upon my picture of the 'Departure of the Diligence.' * * * 4th June. — Mr. Danby bought, for forty-five guineas, 'The Young Cottager's First Purchase.' Walked — and at Allston's late. 5th. — Mr. Danby called; and the result of our conversation is so highly pleasing to my mind, that I am most happy in having made his acquaintance. * * * June 11th. — Arose at about five o'clock: left the Saracen's Head, for Clumber, the seat of the Duke of Newcastle, at about a quarter before seven. Dreadfully hot day; six inside; three of whom, vulgar, common women, were certainly the most troublesome passengers I ever met with. One of them was particularly deaf; asking questions, and never remembering, even when she heard them, the answers she received. Unfortunately, this old lady had a very bad cold; or, what is every whit as disagreeable, had a trick of expectorating from the window. I thought I never beheld a more annoying physiognomy than Nature and her mind had conspired to furnish her with. It so happened that a very well-bred Irish gentleman, about fifty, one who had been a great traveller, and had evidently been in good society — really a sharp, witty, and gentlemanlike person — sat opposite this dame; and it is entirely beyond my powers of description to give an idea of his half-suppressed curses upon each of her gettings up to the window. Although I derived considerable information from this gentleman, my four-and-twenty hours' ride, with the disagreeable dozings I had by way of sleep, had so completely — with the foregoing accompaniments — exhausted my nerves, that I never recollect to have experienced a more grateful sensation than my arrival, rather before six o'clock, at Tuxford, occasioned me. At this place I went to bed for a couple of hours, by which I was so much refreshed as to be enabled to proceed to Clumber; for which place I left Tuxford at about eleven, and arrived there before two. The remainder of the day, (Friday the 12th) was devoted to exploring the beauties of this delightful seat. Saturday 13th. — During this day I made sketches in water-colours, and further explored the grounds, accompanied by the Duke. Sunday 14th. — Heard service in the Duke's chapel, where Mr. Mann preached a very excellent practical sermon. His Grace, the Duchess and family, with a numerous retinue of servants and persons in the Duke's employ, were the auditory. The remainder of the day spent in the park. * * * Monday 15th. — Began, in oil, a sketch of the house looking towards the bridge. Tuesday 16th. — Worked on the above sketch: stormy evening — lightning. * * * Saturday 20th. — Began a portrait of Lord Lincoln. In the evening began a south-west view of Clumber Park. * * * Monday 30th. — Painted a north-west view of Clumber, and finished Lord Lincoln's portrait. * * * July 9th. — Made studies for portraits of Lords Charles and Thomas Pelham Clinton. Very fine day; evening cloudy and without a breath of wind — a warm, calm scene. 10th. — Began the portraits of Lord Thomas Pelham Clinton, and Lord Charles. From Friday 17th to Tuesday 28th employed upon the portraits of the twins, and a sketch in oil at the old engine-house; and on that day (28th) left Clumber for Nottingham."

After quitting Clumber, Mr. Collins proceeded to visit Sir George Beaumont at the Cumberland Lakes. Here he was introduced to Wordsworth and Southey, and enjoyed the advantage of visiting in their company, as well as in that of his accomplished host, many of the most exquisite features of the surrounding scenery. He often mentioned, as an instance of Southey's remarkable facility in composition, his having been shown into the study of that fertile and valuable writer, while he was engaged over a MS, Before, however, the painter could make his apologies for the intrusion, Southey started up, threw down his pen in the middle of a sentence, and, taking his hat, gaily proposed a pedestrian excursion for the morning. They went out, extending their walk to some distance, and talked over no inconsiderable variety of miscellaneous topics. On their return, Mr. Collins again entered Southey's study, (for the purpose, I believe, of consulting some book in the library) when, to his astonishment, he saw his friend sit down again immediately at the writing table, and conclude the imperfect passage in his MS. as coolly and easily as if no interruption had happened in the interval to distract his mind for a moment from its literary task.

Notices of the above tour, and of one that followed it, with Sir Francis and Lady Chantrey, to Edinburgh, where he visited for the first time the lovely scenery of his mother's birth-place, are thus scattered among Mr. Collins's papers:

"August 22nd, 1818. — Left Manchester for Kendal, where I arrived at about 8 P.M. Beautiful day — stayed there till Monday 24th, at five, when 1 started for Keswick. Went to Sir George Beaumont's, where I spent the remainder of the day. 25th. — Rode with Sir George, to Borrowdale and Buttermere, where we dined; returned by Newlands — saw a man descend with a sledge of skates from Howester Crag: he appeared so small, from the height of the place, that I frequently lost sight of him during his descent. Occasional showers — fine effects: charmed with the place. 26th. — Rainy morning; painted from Sir George's window. 27th. — Showery day, walked about with Sir George; went to see Southey. 28th. — Made a sketch, for Sara Coleridge's portrait. 29th. — Painted all day upon the portrait of Sara Coleridge: a drenching day, hardly ceasing to rain from ten o'clock till bed-time. Mr. Coleridge dined with Sir George. 30th. — At Keswick Church, walked afterwards to Lodore waterfall — fine day, with a few slight showers. 31st. — A very fine day: at Ormthwaite and Applethwaite — sketching all day. September 1st. — From six o'clock, A.M., till night, hardly ceased raining a minute worse than Saturday: painted till three, on Miss Coleridge's portrait. 2nd. — Painted, from my window, Grisdale Pike — showery all day. Lord Lowther and Mr. Wordsworth at dinner. In the evening at Mr. Southey's — lightning in the evening. 3rd. — Showery day: painted, from the barn at Browtop, a view of Borrowdale. * * * 15th. — Started after breakfast from Keswick, with Mr. and Mrs. Chantrey, for Edinburgh: slept at Langholme — rainy. 16th. — Started early, and breakfasted at Hawick; from whence went to Melrose Abbey, and afterwards to Edinburgh, where we arrived at ten P.M. * * * 20th. — Went to hear Doctor Alison in the morning; and, in the afternoon, Doctor Brunton: excellent discourses from both. 21st. — Sketching at Leith with Mr. and Mrs. Chantrey — driven home by the rain. 22nd. — Breakfasted at Rosslyn; walked from thence to Lasswade, by the river side: beautiful day. 23rd. — Walked about in the morning; got wet through, in the evening, upon Arthur's Seat. 24th. — Saw Queen Mary's apartments at Holyrood-house; dined at Raeburn's. 25th. — Sketched the Castle, and left Edinburgh at two P.M., for Keswick. * * * 28th. — Left Keswick, with Sir George and Lady Beaumont, for Ulswater: dined and slept at Mr. Marshall's. 30th. — Left Mr. Marshall's for Patterdale; dined and sketched there: after dinner set out for Wordsworth's. * * * October 3rd. — Took leave of these excellent people: walked to Ambleside with Wordsworth and his wife — sketched the mill there. * * * 5th. — Rainy morning; Wordsworth read to me: walked out before dinner — took my farewell of the Lakes; and, at ten, arrived at Kendal."

Among all the pleasant acquaintances made during this tour, none was recollected with greater pleasure, or improved with more assiduity by the painter, than that procured for him by his introduction to the late Mr. Marshall of Leeds. While in the North, and ever afterwards, he continued to receive from that gentleman, and all the members of his family, the most unvaried kindness and attention. Many of his finest pictures are now in their possession; and many others owe their first conception to the sketches, which his visits to their mansion at Ullswater enabled him to make, amid the rarest natural beauties of the Cumberland Lakes.

It is not always that a painter finds a sketching tour productive, beyond his Art, of general intellectual benefit. This fortunate privilege was, however, enjoyed by my father throughout his excursion, of this year, to the North. Although but lately introduced to Sir George Beaumont, his acquaintance with that cultivated and amiable man speedily expanded into friendship. To sketch in his company, and in that of Wordsworth — to hear from the mouths of each the antiquarian and poetical associations connected with the scenes which the pencil portrayed, proved an addition of no slight value to the painter's professional studies; for it fortified him in the possession of the most important of the minor ingredients of success in the Art general information. It opened to his leisure hours new sources of literary studies; and by a natural consequence, roused in his mind new trains of pictorial thought. It is to the absence of habits of reading of frequent intercourse with the intellects of others, in a sister pursuit, that the inaptitude to originality — the perverse reiteration, by some modern artists, of subjects discovered and exhausted by their predecessors, is to be considered in no small degree to be due. The originality of the conception is more thoroughly dependent on the novelty of the subject, than is generally imagined. A new passage in history may mould a new form of composition, and a fresh description of Nature lead to a fresh choice of scenery, more frequently and more readily than the artist may always suppose.

During the tour to the Lakes — as indeed in all other country excursions — the number of sketches made by the painter excited the surprise of all who beheld them. No obstacles of unfavourable weather, incomplete materials, intrusive spectators, or personal discomfort, ever induced him to resign the privilege of transcribing whatever objects in Nature might happen to delight his eye. His talent in forcing a large amount of labour into a small space of time, and in making the lightest and hastiest touches produce an effect of completeness and finish, insured success to his industry, and advantage to his enthusiasm. To all his works of this description an extrinsic value is attached, through his invariable practice of never placing a touch upon his sketches after he had quitted the scene they were intended to represent. What they were at the time of their original production, that they invariably remained, when stored in his portfolio, or hung round the walls of his painting-room.

On my father's return from his visit to the Lakes, his collections of drawings did not, through the carelessness of the people attached to the different conveyances, reach London with him. They were at first supposed to be lost, but were subsequently recovered. Lady Beaumont wrote to him in London upon the subject of this misfortune, and began her communication by good-naturedly rallying him upon his notorious disinclination to letter-writing. The answer she received, was as follows:

 

"To LADY BEAUMONT.

"New Cavendish-street,

"November 1st, 1818.

"Madam,— That a most indescribable helplessness overcomes me, when I am under the necessity of writing, I readily admit; but, that I am not dead to the stimulus of a letter from your ladyship, this immediate reply will, I trust, furnish an adequate proof and the paper I sent to Coleorton, many days since, carries with it an assurance of unartistlike punctuality, which argues at least a desire to be a man of business.

"The recovery of my sketches, after having been separated from them for nearly a week, was a sensation amply repaying me for the three hundred miles I travelled, in a state little short of frenzy; for, notwithstanding I endeavoured to bring myself to a belief that they were not worth lamenting, still I saw them in the light of the most useful things I had ever done. The picture I have begun from these studies is somewhat advanced; and I have the very great advantage of occasionally painting upon it Sir John's Gallery.*

* This was a new commission, to which reference will be shortly made.

"I dined with Wilkie, about a week since. He is entirely recovered; and I feel the highest gratification in saying, that all that his picture of the Scotch Wedding promised in its unfinished state has been most essentially realized and I know not how I could say more in its praise. The depth of the tone and richness of colour are equal to Ostade. Of the characters, refined feeling, and exquisite humour, you have already a complete idea.

"I have also seen the head Jackson has painted of Mr. Smith. Of the likeness I know nothing, but do not hesitate to say that the clearness, colour, and spirit of the execution, surpass most of his other attempts.

"With my best regards to Sir George — to whom, and to your ladyship, I shall always consider myself indebted for some of the happiest moments of my life,

"I am, with great respect,

"Your Ladyship's obliged and obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Among others, to whom my father was largely indebted, at this period, for some of his most important mental acquisitions, may be mentioned the names of Washington Allston, the American painter; and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet. The first of these gifted men, is principally known in England, as the painter of the noble historical pictures:- "Uriel in the Sun" — "The dead Man restored, by touching the Bones of Elijah" — "Jacob's Dream" — and others of equal merit and importance; but, he possessed poetical and literary abilities of no common order as well. To a profound and reflective intellect, he united an almost feminine delicacy of taste and tenderness of heart, which gave a peculiar charm to his conversation, and an unusual eloquence to his opinions. It was on his second visit to England, from his native country, that he became acquainted with Mr. Collins, who soon found himself united to him by the warmest friendship; and who owed to his short personal intercourse with this valued companion, not only much delightful communication on the Art, but the explanation of many religious difficulties under which his mind then laboured, and the firm settlement of those religious principles, which were afterwards so apparent in every action of his life. After a stay of some years in England, (during which, the merit of his exhibited works procured his election as an Associate, by the Royal Academy; and would, had he remained longer, have insured his election as an Academician,) Mr. Allston departed for America — never, as it afterwards proved, to leave it again. During the years of his after life, he continued to enrich the collections of his native land with some of the most admirable productions of his genius; and, when in the year 1843, he died, so widely had the influences of his gentle and admirable character extended, and so intimately had they connected themselves with the beauties of his works, that his death was mourned by all — even by those among his countrymen, who had only known him by fame — as a calamity, in which the ranks of virtue suffered as great a loss as the interests of Art.

In a future part of this work will be inserted a letter by Mr. Collins, written on the occasion of his friend's death, and containing a just and interesting review of his character and genius. In the mean time, the following letters exchanged soon after Mr. Allston's return to America, will testify that though both the painters were indolent correspondents neither was forgetful, in absence, of the common dues of friendship and esteem.

 

"To MR. ALLSTON, A.R.A.,

"London, November 4th, 1818.

"Dear Allston — From my very heart's core do I congratulate you upon your election, as an Associate of the Royal Academy; a circumstance as honourable to that body as to yourself, and of which I received the gratifying intelligence yesterday. I immediately sent to Leslie, who came over, out of breath; and the news I had to communicate to him has, I believe, kept him, to a certain degree, in the same state ever since. Had you been here! — but you will come.

"And now to the fulfilment of your commission, to send all the news I can: to which end, I shall give you a succession of such events as may serve to remind you of ties you have in this country. The letter you sent me at Sir George Beaumont's, came during dinner; and I, of course, made Sir George and her ladyship acquainted with that part of it relating to themselves; if I have any knowledge of the human heart, what the two said of you was direct from that spot. May all the success we that day wished you, attend your steps!

"With the scenery of the North I am charmed; and, considering the time necessarily occupied in travelling, I have not been altogether idle. Your hints about Coleridge, I did not fail attending to. With his wife I am pleased; and his elegant daughter, Sara, I have made a painting of. She is a most interesting creature, about fifteen years of age, and the parties we occasionally form with these good people, Southey, Hartley, Coleridge, etc., I shall not soon forget.

"From Keswick I went with Chantrey to Scotland — and had this part of the world nothing but Edinburgh, it would be well worth boasting of.

"After spending ten days at Edinburgh, I returned to Sir George's; and, with himself and Lady Beaumont, visited Ullswater and Ambleside — where we stayed some days with Wordsworth, with whom I am very much delighted; and in some of our rambles, when he could have no motive but that of gratifying his own love of truth, he left me perfectly persuaded that, among all your friends and admirers, you had not a more disinterested one than himself. The kind regards I am desired by Wordsworth, his wife, Southey and Hartley, to send to you, are testimonies of a friendship by no means common; and, therefore, will have their true weight with you. My excellent friend Leslie was, of course, faithfully at his post for nearly two months; and a more complete Major Domo I could not desire. Frank has not yet returned from Northamptonshire — Willis is in France — Stark has just returned from Norwich, and I am attempting a mountainous subject, upon a large scale; the commission I was to undertake when I last saw you. My uncle has accepted a Chaplaincy at Cape Coast Castle, four degrees north of the line; which, although a lucrative appointment, is yet, from the nature of the climate, one of considerable risk — of course we are in great agitation about him.

"Having now, at the least possible expense of style, told you so much, I have only to assure you of the warm wishes and hopes of all your friends, and (as you already know) of how much I am — my dear Allston, Yours, ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. My mother has been unwell; but has now recovered — she desires her best regards. I shall expect a letter from you; and I beg to remind you, that this is a sample of the quantity of blank paper I am desirous of.* Come home, and take your seat at the Lectures — have you no esprit de corps.

* The whole of this postscript is written on the outer page of the original, leaving little more than room enough for the superscription.

"I presented your poems to Lady Beaumont, who had never seen them; and I had the very high gratification to hear them spoken of in terms of considerable approbation, not only by her ladyship, but by Southey and Wordsworth. Southey said that, whatever defects some of them might have, he had no hesitation in saying that they could not have proceeded from any but a poetic mind; in which sentiment he was most cordially supported by Wordsworth, who was present at the time. Fare thee well God bless you! How did you find your mother, relations, and friends? Have you numerous commissions? Write soon — Sir George Beaumont and Wordsworth propose writing to you."

Although a little advanced in date, Mr. Allston's reply to the foregoing letter will be inserted in this place, in compliance with a rule which will be observed throughout the present work that of making a correspondence as complete as possible by appending to letters the answers received.

 

"To MR. COLLINS, A.R.A.

"Boston, 16th April, 1819. "Dear Collins, I send you a thousand thanks for your kind letter. It should have been answered before; but you, who so well know my procrastinating spirit will easily forgive the delay, especially when I assure you that I have written you at least twenty letters in my head, whilst I have been smoking my usual evening cigar. The only way I can account for not putting them on paper is, that they invariably ended in a reverie on past times, which, carrying me back to London, placed us opposite to each other by the fireside, with your good mother, and Frank, and Leslie between: where we have generally had so much to talk about, that, when I at last thought of leaving you, in order to write, the warning hand of my watch would silently point to the hour of bed.

"I need not say how highly gratified I was at my election. Indeed, I was most agreeably surprised; for though I am generally sanguine, yet in this instance I had not suffered myself to calculate on success. It was, therefore, doubly welcome. To my countrymen here, who value highly all foreign honours, it seems to have given almost as much pleasure as if it had been bestowed on the country: it must, therefore, be no small aid to my professional interests. But, were it wholly useless, I should yet ever value it, as connecting me on more friendly terms with so many men of genius. If you know the members to whose good opinion I am indebted for my election, I beg you will present them my acknowledgments.

"I am pleased to find there is nothing like a French taste in Boston. A portrait by Gerard has lately been sent here, and still hangs in quiet on the walls, with no raptures to disturb it. There are few painters here, and none of eminence, except Stuart, who certainly paints an admirable portrait. There are some clever ones, however, I hear, in Philadelphia. Fisher, who was lately here, is a very promising young man; and would, I think, make a great landscape painter, if he could study in England.

"Your account of our friends at Keswick was read, as you may well suppose, with no small interest. I longed to have been with you; and, if it is lawful to be proud of praise from the wise and good, I may well be so of the esteem of such as Sir George and Lady Beaumont, Wordsworth and Southey. Perhaps it may be gratifying to Mr. Wordsworth to know that he has a great many warm admirers on this side of the Atlantic, in spite of the sneers of the Edinburgh Review, which, with the Quarterly, is reprinted and as much read here as in England. There is still taste enough amongst us to appreciate his merits. I was also pleased to find the same independence with respect to Coleridge and Southey, who are both read here and admired. You tell me to 'come back.' Alas, I fear it cannot be soon, if ever! Mr. Howard, in his letter to me, wishes to know when I shall return to England. I do not think there is any probability of my returning for many years, if ever. The engagements I have already entered into here will employ me for several years; and I have others in prospect that will probably follow them, which will occupy me as many more. Yet, should it be my lot never to revisit England, I still hope to preserve my claim, as one of the British School, by occasionally sending my pictures to London for exhibition — a claim I should be most unwilling to forego; my first studies having been commenced at the Royal Academy, and the greater part of my professional life passed in England, and among English Artists. At any rate, I may have the satisfaction of founding an English school here; and I may well stickle for it when I think of the other schools in Europe. If I ever write on the subject, I shall let them know here how much the Art owes to Sir Joshua Reynolds. By-the-by, could you procure me a copy (from Sir G. Beaumont) of the inscription for a monument to Sir Joshua, written by Wordsworth?

"Tell Chantrey that I made my report, and showed his letter to the Committee of Directors for the statue of Washington in this town; and they were highly gratified to learn that he had engaged to execute it. The Academy of New York talk of forming a Gallery of the works of some old masters, and the works of the principal living artists in England, when they shall have funds for the purpose, which I hope the State will grant.

"I did not forget to celebrate your and Mr. William Ward's birthday on board ship, and Stark's after I landed. The captain, whose father-in-law is a wine-merchant, lugged out some choice old Madeira on the occasion. I shall never forget the last evening we spent together. God bless you and yours! Remember me affectionately to your excellent mother and brother, and to Leslie and Collard, to whom I shall write very soon. I beg also to be particularly remembered to Mr. James Ward, and to Mr. Thompson, who treated me, when I last saw him, with a cordiality I shall not soon forget. Above all, present my best respects to Sir George and Lady Beaumont.

"Adieu, dear Collins, and believe me,
"Ever your friend,

"WASHINGTON ALLSTON.

"P.S. — In my next I will give you some account of what I have been and am doing; at present my paper will only allow me to say, that I have received a commission to paint a large picture for the Hospital of this town — the subject left to me."

Of the second of my father's remarkable friends, Coleridge, little need be said to an English reader. To state that from the day of his first introduction to that powerful and original poet, the painter omitted few opportunities of profiting by his extraordinary conversational powers, and that he found as many attractions in the personal character as in the poetic genius of the author of "The Ancient Mariner " would be merely to give him credit for a natural attention to his own pleasure and advantage, and an ordinary susceptibility to the pleasures of intercourse with an amiable and superior man. In subjoining the two following letters, it is therefore only necessary to remark, by way of explanation, that the portrait of the poet's daughter, referred to in both, is identical with the picture mentioned in Mr. Collins's Diary, and also in his letter to Allston.

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., A.R.A.

"Highgate, 1818.

"Dear Sir,— Do me the favour of accepting the inclosed tickets.* I flatter myself that the first course will prove far more generally interesting and even entertaining, than the title is, in the present state of men's minds, calculated to make believed; if this cause should not preclude the trial, by preventing even a tolerable number of auditors. The misfortune is, that, with few friends in any rank or line of life, I have almost none in that class whose patronage would be most important to me as a lecturer.

* Tickets of admission to Mr. Coleridge's first course of Lectures were enclosed in the above letter.

"Your exquisite picture of Sara Coleridge (which, from my recollecting it under the supposed impossibility of its being so intended — as Mr. Leslie had never seen her — I must suppose to be no less valuable as a portrait) has quite haunted my eye ever since. Taken as a mere fancy piece, it is long since I have met with a work of Art that has so much delighted me. If I described it as the union of simplicity with refinement, I should still be dissatisfied with the description — for refinement seems to express an after act, a something superinduced. Natural fineness would be more appropriate. Your landscape, too, is as exquisite in its correspondence with the figure as it is delightful to the eye, in itself.

"My friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gillman, desire their kind remembrances to you, and I remain, dear Sir, with sincere respect,

"Your obliged,

"S. T. COLERIDGE."

 

"To S. T. COLERIDGE, ESQ.

"Dec. 6th, 1818.

"Dear Sir,— For some months past I have indulged the hope of visiting Highgate. I should have done so immediately on my return from the north, had I not waited for Leslie's arrival in town, by whom I had resolved to send the picture of your amiable daughter. Coming at an unprejudiced opinion respecting the resemblance, I feel much flattered by your approbation of it.

"That I have, since that period, failed to deliver to you the kind regards I was charged with from our friends at Keswick and Ambleside must be attributed to the shortness of the days, and to somewhat of a disposition to procrastinate. I trust, however, I shall ere long have the pleasure of your conversation. For the tickets of admission to your lectures I send my sincere thanks. Would I could bring such an audience as you deserve, and that for their own sakes. With my best regards to Mr. and Mrs. Gillman,

"I am, dear Sir, with great respect and esteem,

"Yours faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

In adding to the above correspondence the subjoined letter from Coleridge, I am aware that (though it is apparently not directly connected with this Memoir) the patient and dignified sentiments, and the eloquent outbreak of warm and tender feelings, suffering under the chilling visitation of undeserved neglect which it exhibits, would of themselves make it of sufficient interest to demand insertion here; but this remarkable communication has a certain positive claim to introduction into the present work, inasmuch as the recommendation conveyed in it to the study of Herbert's Poems, which my father immediately followed, was the first cause of the conception, some years afterwards, of one of his most admired works, the picture of "Sunday Morning."

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., A.R.A.

"Highgate, Dec. 1818.

"My dear Sir,— I at once comply with, and thank you for, your request to have some prospectuses. God knows I have so few friends, that it would be unpardonable in me not to feel proportionably grateful towards those few who think the time not wasted in which they interest themselves in my behalf.

—There is an old Latin adage,— 'Vis videri pauper, et pauper es,' Poor you profess yourself to be, and poor therefore you are, and will remain. The prosperous feel only with the prosperous, and if you subtract from the whole sum of their feeling for all the gratifications of vanity, and all their calculations of lending to the Lord, both of which are best answered by conferring the superfluity of their superfluities on advertised and advertisable distress — or on such as are known to be in all respects their inferiors — you will have, I fear, but a scanty remainder. All this is too true; but then, what is that man to do whom no distress can bribe to swindle or deceive; who cannot reply as Theophilus Gibber did to his father Colley Gibber, (who, seeing him in a rich suit of clothes whispered to him as he passed, 'THE'! THE'! I pity thee!') 'Pity me! pity my tailor.'

"Spite of the decided approbation which my plan of delivering lectures has received from several judicious and highly respectable individuals, it is still too histrionic, too much like a retail dealer in instruction and pastime, not to be depressing. If the duty of living were not far more awful to my conscience than life itself is agreeable to my feelings, I should sink under it. But, getting nothing by my publications, which I have not the power of making estimable by the public without loss of self-estimation, what can I do? The few who have won the present age, while they have secured the praise of posterity,— as, Sir Walter Scott, Mr. Southey, Lord Byron, etc., have been in happier circumstances. And lecturing is the only means by which I can enable myself to go on at all with the great philosophical work to which the best and most genial hours of the last twenty years of my life have been devoted. Poetry is out of the question. The attempt would only hurry me into that sphere of acute feelings, from which abstruse research, the mother of self-oblivion, presents an asylum. Yet sometimes, spite of myself, I cannot help bursting out into the affecting exclamation of our Spenser, (his 'wine' and 'ivy garland' interpreted as competence and joyous circumstances,)

'Thou kenn'st not, Percy, how the rhyme should rage!
Oh if my temples were bedewed with wine,
And girt with garlands of wild ivy-twine,
How, I could rear the Muse on stately stage!
And teach her tread aloft in buskin fine,
With queen'd Bellona in her equipage
But ah, my courage cools ere it be warm! * * * '

"But God's will be done. To feel the full force of the Christian religion, it is perhaps necessary, for many tempers, that they should first be made to feel, experimentally, the hollowness of human friendship, the presumptuous emptiness of human hopes. I find more substantial comfort, now, in pious George Herbert's 'Temple,' which I used to read to amuse myself with his quaintness in short, only to laugh at than in all the poetry, since the poems of Milton. If you have not read Herbert, I can recommend the book to you confidently. The poem entitled 'The Flower,' is especially affecting; and, to me, such a phrase as, 'and relish versing,' expresses a sincerity, a reality, which I would unwillingly exchange for the more dignified, 'and once more love the Muse,' &c. And so, with many other of Herbert's homely phrases.

"We are all anxious to hear from, and of, our excellent transatlantic friend.* I need not repeat that your company, with or without our friend Leslie, will gratify

"Your sincere,

"S. T. COLERIDGE."

* Mr. Allston.

During his tour to the North, one of the painter's objects was to collect materials for a picture he had been desired to paint by the late Sir J. F. Leicester — afterwards Lord de Tabley — to whose liberality and enthusiasm, as a patron of modern Art, too much praise cannot be accorded. On my father's return to London, his first employment was to commence the execution of this commission to which slight reference has been already made in a note at a former page. The work was to be of the same size as one by Wilson, to which it was to hang as a pendent in Sir John's Gallery. The compliment to his powers and reputation, implied in this honourable comparison, was deeply felt by Mr. Collins, who laboured on his subject — a landscape with figures — with even more than his usual care and industry, in order to deserve the flattering confidence that had been reposed in his abilities. When his work had made some progress towards completion, Sir John Leicester forwarded his first opinion of it to the painter, in the following letter.

 

To W. COLLINS, ESQ., A.R.A.

December 6th, 1818.

"Dear Sir,— With the warmest wish for your advancement as an ornament of the British School, and hoping by my frankness, in the present instance, to conduce to your reputation and promote your best interests, I avail myself of my view of the picture yesterday, in its present state, to express my apprehensions that the class of subject which you have selected, although so congenial to your taste and general style, will not enable you to display your genius against so formidable a pendent as the Wilson, to as much advantage as I think you could, on a subject of fewer parts, and more simplicity and breadth in the masses. What strikes me as the feature most likely to operate against you in the comparison is, that his picture has but few objects, and those are largely treated, and the grandeur of his colouring consists in its sobriety and harmony. The landscape which would form a fit companion for his must partake of this magnificent character without servility or imitation.

"I offer these plain thoughts to your better judgment as an artist, with a reliance on your candid allowance. I am confident that your wish is to meet the public favourably, and to give me satisfaction; and you may assure yourself that my most earnest desire is to see your genius fully displayed and fully appreciated. I know you would be concerned were I to suppress what I think, on an occasion where my openness may be for your benefit; and I therefore leave it to your own choice, either to proceed and finish the picture for me, and send it, if you please, to the Exhibition at Somerset House, as it might not fulfil all our expectations opposed to the Wilson in my Gallery; or, as you have ten weeks yet, if you will, (having a compensation for what you have done on the present picture,) begin another with fewer parts and more simplicity, you will no doubt have it finished in time.

"The sketch which I saw and admired yesterday will, I think, with your powers, place you on a much higher ground of competition with Wilson. * * *

"I remain, dear sir,

"Yours truly,

"J. F. LEICESTER."

To this somewhat perplexing communication for the artist, Mr. Collins thus replied:

"Dec. 16th, 1818.

"Sir,— I know no event of my professional life attended with so unpleasant a result as the one upon which you have written to me this day.

"With the most gentlemanlike regard for my feelings as a man, and a solicitude for my reputation as an artist, you have thrown me into a situation from which I must confess my utter inability to extricate myself,— each of your proposals being so entirely impracticable. That a picture unfit to hang with a Wilson should yet have nothing to fear upon a comparison with the works of living artists at Somerset House, (notwithstanding the very high estimation I feel of Wilson's powers) is a reflection upon the painters of this day to which I can never subscribe.

"Respecting the other proposal. — When I take the liberty to assure you that my present picture engrossed my thoughts during the whole of my tour in the north; that the principal sketches I made there were done with a reference to this work; that I have already been actually engaged upon it for nearly two months; and that I have also put aside many considerable and lucrative commissions, which it would be highly imprudent longer to neglect, solely for the purpose of availing myself of an opportunity of painting upon a larger scale, I trust you will see the futility of my attempting to complete another picture, either by February, or for some time to come.

"I remain, Sir,

"Your most obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Further correspondence and explanations upon this subject ensued, before Sir John Leicester found reason to change his opinion. Ultimately, however — as might be conjectured from the candour, delicacy, and liberality, displayed by the patron, and from the firmness and courtesy preserved by the painter, throughout the correspondence of which the above was the commencement — the picture was placed in the position in the Gallery originally intended for it. The scene of this production (which was never exhibited) is laid in Cumberland. The middle distance is occupied by a mill, peculiar to that country — the stream from which winds smoothly onward, until it dashes out, into the foreground, over rocks, stones and brambles, that intercept it, to the left hand, in its course. To the right, some villagers approach the spectator down a mountain path, over-shaded by a large tree. Around the mill, and partly behind it, the summer foliage waves in thick and various clusters; while beside and beyond it, the open country — lake, plain, and river — stretches smoothly and shadily onward to the far mountains that close the distant view. The sky is at one point charged with showery vapour, at another varied by light, large clouds — tinged at their tips with a soft, mellow light, and floating lazily on the brighter atmosphere whose transparency they partly veil. The tone of colour pervading this picture was pure, deep and harmonious — it was considered by all who saw it to be one of the painter's most elaborate and successful works.

To the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1819, my father contributed two pictures:- "Portraits of Lords Charles and Thomas Pelham Clinton," painted for the Duke of Newcastle, and a new sea-piece, painted for the Earl of Liverpool, entitled "Fishermen on the Look Out." This picture is beautifully engraved by Phelps. It displays, throughout, that bold and successful simplicity, which at once strikes the eye as natural and true. On an eminence in the foreground of the picture, stands a fisherman, with his back to the spectator, looking through his telescope towards the distant horizon. By his side a lad reclines on the ground; and, at his feet sits a dog, looking up inquiringly into his master's face. The beach stretches beyond, through the rest of the picture, with its native accompaniments of distant figures, and fishing boats, while still further, smooth and brilliant beneath the morning sun, lies the peaceful ocean on which the fisherman's attention is fixed. In solemn, true, and vigorous "chiaroscuro" and in the poetical composition of the sky — in that power of presenting original and faithful combinations of atmosphere and cloud, for which, in Wilkie's opinion, his friend stood unmatched among his contemporaries — this picture surpasses all its predecessors. The pure harmony of the sky seems to shed an influence of Elysian repose over the rest of the scene, the sentiment of which is at once aided and reflected by the still, contemplative attitudes of the figures, and the deep shadows that appear to steal, at intervals, over the expanse of the distant beach.

As it is a remarkable fact that Mr. Collins's pictures, from the earliest dates, are still in as perfect a state of preservation, as regards colour and surface, as on the day when they were first painted, an extract from his Diary of 1819, mentioning incidentally a few of the mechanical aids to painting which he then adopted, may not be uninteresting — at least to such readers as happen to be intimately connected with the Arts:

"10th February, 1819. Lost my election at the Academy by one vote; Hilton chosen. Sent home, after having made considerable alterations, the large landscape to Sir John's Gallery, with a letter containing my sentiments upon this most unhappy commission. 23rd. — Took up my new subject — 'Fishermen on the Look Out,' which I had previously painted upon during one morning. 'The Harvest Shower' has been purchased by Mr. Currie at one hundred guineas. 'Fishermen on the Look Out,' is painted entirely in copal, thinned with turpentine, without wax. From 23rd February, to 5th April, painted upon 'Fishermen on the Look Out;' I believe in all about thirteen days; also upon the picture of the 'Twin Sons' of the Duke of Newcastle, about ten — a few days in October, and many at Clumber. April 5th. — Began the portraits of Master Cecil and Miss Fanny Boothby. 12th. — Began a 'three-quarter' of the 'Fisherman's Return' (in linseed oil, boiled with copal varnish — copal varnish in the colours, as a dryer), upon an unprimed cloth.* 13th and 14th. — Finished Mrs. Gurney's portrait. 15th. — Began a copy of Lord Radstock's Rembrandt, and a river scene for Mrs. Hand, in copal varnish. 16th. — Went to Coombe Wood to finish the heads in Lady Liverpool's picture of the 'Boothby Children.' 18th. — Returned from Coombe Wood. 19th. — Began a portrait of the Duchess of Newcastle — the face in copalled oil, the other parts in copal varnish. Engaged as above, until 20th May, at which time I had painted about six days, or rather, times, upon the Boothby Children, and about sixteen ditto, on the portrait of the Duchess of Newcastle — painting at the Academy, viewing Galleries, and sundry idle days making the balance, 'Fishermen on the Look Out' when at the Academy, I rubbed over with copalled oil, which I wiped as nearly off as I could. 8th, 9th, 10th, 18th, and 19th. — Making alterations upon the never-to-be-done-with picture at Sir John's. Sketch of Boothby Children, begun 29th March. 1st April. — Varnished the whole thickly in copal and finished it in the same."

* It may perhaps be necessary to inform the unprofessional reader, that a "three quarter" is a term indicating the size of a particular canvass, and an "unprimed cloth," a canvass, the surface of which is unprepared with the usual preliminary covering of white paint and size.

In the autumn of this year, Mr. Collins explored, for the first time, the scenery — coast and inland — of Devonshire. That he found in this tour many materials for extending his Art and increasing his variety of subjects, will be perceived in the list of his works yet to be enumerated. His progress and impressions, during his journey, will be found hastily indicated in the following extracts from his letters:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Dartmouth, 26th Aug., 1819.

"My dear Mother,— As it is probable I shall stay with Mr. Holdsworth long enough to receive a letter from you, I take the opportunity afforded me of sending a few lines. I am most comfortably situated here, close to the sea, in the house of a sincere and unaffected English gentleman, through whose knowledge of the scenery of this neighbourhood, I am enabled to see much more of the place than under other circumstances I could have expected. Brockedon is with us. I am writing with the sun shining on the sea before me, and this must be an excuse for not sending you a long letter."

"Plymouth, Sept. 19th, 1819.

"* * * I left Dartmouth and Widdicombe, Mr. Holdsworth's houses, about a week ago; and I purpose leaving this place for Birham, Sir W. Elford's, where I yesterday paid a visit, and where I shall remain a few days, and then proceed to Totness, Teignmouth, Sidmouth, and that neighbourhood, from whence I go to Frome. * * * I have just returned from Plympton, the birthplace of the immortal Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of which town he was mayor. I have made a sketch of the town and church, from a field at a little distance, and I prize it much on this great man's account."

"Frome, 3rd Oct., 1819.

"* * * Since I wrote to you last I have visited some of the vale scenery of Devon, which is exceedingly beautiful. From Plymouth I went to the river Dart, which I had great pleasure in tracing for many miles on foot. I then proceeded to Torquay, Babbicombe, Teignmouth, Dawlish, and Sidmouth, where I finished my coast tour, and arrived, after sundry bufferings, on Friday evening, at Mr. Shephards's, since which time I have been delightfully engaged in visiting the beautiful scenes with which this neighbourhood appears to abound; and although it is somewhat inferior to Devon, it is very excellent of its class.

"The weather, during my tour, has been exceedingly favourable, and, although showery at present, is still rich in the produce of picturesque light and shadow. * * * And now for 'the rub;' — I am worth, in the current coin of the realm, four of our smallest but one medallions! I shall therefore come upon my London bankers for two five-pound notes, the first halves of which I trust you will see the propriety of sending by return of post. * * * It is too late now to write a longer and better letter, so you must take this with all its faults, as you must the writer, knowing, however, how much he is your affectionate son,

"W. COLLINS."

In the February of the next year, 1820, having, as will have been perceived by his Diary, lost his election in 1819 by one vote only, the painter gained the reward of much labour, and the compensation for many anxieties, by being chosen a Royal Academician.

Few elections were ever made more completely to the satisfaction of the profession and the public than this. Mr. Collins had now, for a series of years, exhibited works which had stood amongst the foremost attractions of the Academy walls. He had displayed in his choice, treatment, and variety of subject, a genius and originality which had won for him not only the hearty approval of patrons and friends, but of the public at large. Viewed under any circumstances, the honour which he had just received was his undoubted due; and it was not more gladly conferred than gratefully and delightedly acknowledged. To a man whose powers, hopes, and efforts were bound up in his profession, whose darling object was to assist his brethren in raising it to its highest dignity and noblest possible position; whose enthusiasm for his arduous calling lived through all the privations of his early years, and all the bodily suffering that darkened his closing life, this testimony from his fellow-painters of their appreciation of his genius and their approval of his efforts, produced no transitory satisfaction, and was hailed as no common honour. But it had yet a tenderer and a deeper interest than lay in its promise of wider reputation, and its incentive to higher ambition. It brought with it the recollection of the old boyish studio in Portland-street, of the hard labour and crushing failures of those early days of imperfect skill, of the gay prediction of future Academic honours, and the cheerful confidence that he should live to witness them himself, with which his father had then cheered him through all obstacles, and of the bereavement which now, when the honours had really arrived, now, when the "poor author's" favourite day-dream had brightened at last into reality and truth, made that father absent from the family board, and voiceless for ever among the rejoicings of the domestic circle!

 

CHAPTER II.

1820-1822.

Remarks - Pictures of 1820 - Notice of John Constable, R. A. - Pictures of 1821 - Tribulations of a new Academician - Curious address to the Academy - Hanging Committee - Election at the Dulwich Picture Gallery - Letter to Mrs. Collins - Reflections - Letter to Mr. Joseph - Projected marriage and visit to Scotland - Pictures of 1822 - Notice, illustrated by Mr. Collins's anecdotes, of Sir David Wilkie - Journey to Edinburgh, during the visit of George the Fourth - Anecdotes of Sir Walter Scott and Sir Adam Ferguson - Design of painting the King's landing at Leith - Letters to Mrs. Collins - Visit to Blair Adam - Joint production of a sketch by Wilkie and Collins - Progress of the painter's marriage engagement - Letters to Miss Geddes and Mrs. Collins - Marriage - Anecdote of the Rev. Doctor Alison.

HAVING traced the progress of Mr. Collins in the preceding chapter up to the attainment of one of the great objects of his professional life, his election as a Royal Academician, it may not be irrelevant or uninstructive, to revert for a moment to the contemplation of some of the causes by which his success as a painter was produced.

It has, I trust, been already demonstrated by his Letters and Journals, and by the remarks that have accompanied them, that ardent as was his devotion to his pursuit, it did not so wholly engross his mind, as to leave it unfitted for watchfulness over his moral, as well as his intellectual advancement. From his earliest days of apprenticeship to the Art, his ambition to acquire renown as a painter was never stronger than his desire to preserve uprightness as a man. This guiding principle of his character cannot be too strongly impressed upon those, who are as yet but setting out on the toilsome journey from the porch to the penetralia of Art; for it offers to them, not a circumstance of biographical interest only, but a practical example and encouragement as well. If the circumstances attending the progress of the subject of these pages through the difficulties of his early career be generally reviewed, it will be found that he triumphed over none of the obstacles that beset him by the aid of his genius alone, but by the additional strength and elevation acquired by those higher qualities of personal character which it was his life's aim to form, and which shielded his intellectual powers against the bitterest enemies that could assail them,— poverty and neglect. His religious dependence on the saving influence of a right performance of his practical duties, as aiding to produce a happy result from his intellectual exertions, never abandoned, because it never deceived him. It nerved his mind to labour on, when distress sank heavy on his household, and his experience of his neglected efforts might well have bid him despair; its effect on his outward bearing and character raised up for him a friend in his extremity, in the person of Sir Thomas Heathcote: its influence preserved his genius, which it had sustained to success, from over-confidence; and strengthening it in its humility, matured it safely in the final completeness to which it was its privilege to attain: and, lastly, as inclining him to receive cordially the opinions of others, it raised him in the esteem of his professional brethren; and, as constantly presiding over the production of his works, in the honest elaboration of their design and execution, and in the conscientious equality of attention given to their slightest as to their most important divisions, it preserved his faculties throughout his career from the danger of being weakened by carelessness, or misdirected by caprice.

These remarks may appear to delay unnecessarily the progress of this Memoir, but they are suggested by the great truth which the career of Mr. Collins illustrates,— that the powers of the mind, however brilliant, are never too elevated to be aided by the moral virtues of the character; and that between the aims of the intellect and the discipline of the disposition, it is intended that there should exist an all-important connexion, which the pride of genius may easily sever, but which the necessities of genius are never enabled to spare.

On now returning to the regular course of the narrative, my father's pictures contributed to the Academy Exhibition of 1820 first claim attention. They were; "Portraits of Master Cecil and Miss Fanny Boothby," painted for the Earl of Liverpool; "A Capstern at work, drawing up Fishing Boats;" and "A River Scene — Cottage Girl buying Fish." In compliance with the rule of the Academy, that each Academician shall, on his election, present the institution with a specimen of his talents, he also painted this year what is called the "diploma picture." This work displays an extraordinary combination of deep tone and agreeable breadth, with minuteness, incident, and detail. It simply represents two boys fishing; but the water and foliage in the foreground, and the expression and position of the figures, with the village and trees in the distance, are all painted with that skill, industry, and nature, which give to subjects of this description a peculiar importance and charm. This picture was one of those exhibited after the painter's death at the British Institution, among the works of the old masters. In reference to his other productions this year publicly displayed on the Academy walls, it may not be uninteresting to observe, that the "River Scene," for which he received a hundred and fifty guineas, produced at the sale of its possessor's property, (the late Mrs. Hand,) two hundred and thirty guineas. It was a tranquil inland scene, the first fruit of his journey to Devonshire, delicately treated, and wrought to a high degree of finish. The "Cottage Girl" stands with a child, bargaining with a fisherman, on a wooden jetty at the left hand side of the picture. At the right, fishing boats are moored in the river, which winds onward past hill, village, and wood, until it is lost in the distance. Of the sea-piece, ("Capstern at work, etc.,) painted for Sir Thomas Heathcote, and much admired at the time as a new success for the painter in his most popular style, I am not enabled to furnish a particular description. These pictures are thus noticed in my father's Journals:

"14th Dec., 1819. — I began a coast scene, with fishermen hauling up boats, etc., for Sir Thomas Heathcote. Painted upon this picture until the first of January, when I went to Lord Liverpool's at Coombe Wood, for a few days. Returned on the 5th, and, from the 6th to the 28th, again employed on it, when I began a picture of the same size for Mrs. Hand. Sir Thomas Heathcote's picture is painted in linseed oil and turpentine, and macguilph made of the shook-up drying oil and mastic varnish, with gold size, in the slow dryers. Chrome yellow and orange, (Field's,) and cobalt, (French,) used occasionally. * * * Painted upon Sir Thomas Heathcote's picture until the 8th February, when I took up Mrs. Hand's, upon which and the sketch I had occasionally spent a few days, both during the progress of Sir Thomas's commission, and frequently before I began it. Mrs. Hand's picture was finished on the 3rd of April; upon this I worked more diligently than usual, though by no means so industriously as I ought to have done. This picture is painted, in all respects, with the same material as Sir Thomas Heathcote's, excepting the use of chromes; of the yellow chrome I believe hardly a touch, and very little indeed of the orange chrome, (Field's,) and that mixed with other colours.

"Without pretending to be quite correct, and without reference to my habit of occasionally devoting a few days, at sundry times, to arranging my composition on the large canvass, and of course excepting the time, whether long or short, devoted to the original sketch or sketches, I purpose setting down, (when I can do so,) the actual time consumed upon each of my pictures.

"Sir Thomas Heathcote's picture of a 'Capstern at work,' began 14th December, finished 8th February; deducting five days for absence from home, was painted in about seven weeks.

"Mrs. Hand's picture of 'A River Scene — Cottage Girl buying Fish,' begun 8th February, finished 3rd April; was painted in about the same time,— or rather, the days having much increased in length, this picture has had more time bestowed on it. * * *

* * 1820. May 1st. — Went to Bayham Abbey, for the purpose of sketching at the fˆete given in honour of the coming of age of Lord Brecknock, (May 2nd.) 3rd. Returned with Mr. Watson Taylor and Sir Henry Hardinge."

The result of the visit above mentioned to the seat of Lord Camden, was a picture, exhibited in 1822, of the birth-day fˆete. Later in the autumn of this year, (1820,) I find the painter, by the following letter, visiting Lord Liverpool at Walmer Castle; and afterwards extending his visit to Chichester and the southern coast.

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Walmer Castle, 1820.

"My dear Mother,— As I shall stay here until Monday evening, or, it is possible, till Tuesday, and consequently not arrive in London as soon as I had purposed, I write to beg you will send me a few lines by return of post, telling me whether by this latter plan, I shall be too late for any engagements you may have made for me in the way of business. I write this in great haste, as I am very busy sketching. I am, thank God, quite well and happy. Lord Liverpool will leave us on Sunday evening. His lordship will probably take some of my sketches to town with him. He will send them, if he does so, to you; but I am not quite certain whether I shall have them dry enough by Sunday." * * *

"Rye, Aug. 14th, 1820.

"Lord Camden will bring the sketch I made of the Abbey to town, as it was not sufficiently dry to be removed when I left him. Should my presence in any way be useful at home, I can return immediately. I find little here, or at Winchelsea, to sketch. I am, however, not quite idle; and, consequently, not quite miserable." * * *

"Little Hampton, Sept. 14th, 1820.

"I trust I shall escape the beauties, so 'flat, stale, and unprofitable,' of this neighbourhood in a few hours, when I shall have reached Arundel, from whence I propose proceeding to Bognor, Chichester, and home. Unless Bognor affords more substantial matter for the pencil I shall soon leave it; and, in that case, probably reach London on Saturday evening. Frank has lost nothing by not joining me, and if I find any place worth his visiting, I will write again. * * *

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

In this year the painter suffered the sudden loss of two relatives, an uncle and. a cousin. His father's brother, the Rev. James Collins, accompanied by his son, had, more than a year previously, departed for Sierra Leone; the former as chaplain to the British factory, the latter in some other official situation. Both, after a sojourn of short duration on the scene of their new duties, sunk under the pestilential climate of the place the son receiving the first intimation of the father's death by hearing the digging of his grave under the bedroom-window where he then lay, sick and exhausted himself.

Among Mr. Collins's professional friends, at this period, the name of John Constable, R.A., the landscape painter, must not be omitted. As original as a man as he was as an artist, his innocent and simple life contrasting strangely with his marked and eccentric character, Constable possessed unusual claims to the friendship of one, who, like my father, was connected with the same branch of Art as himself. An intimacy soon established itself between them; and, to a student of character, few more welcome companions than Constable could have been selected. He possessed a capacity for dry, sarcastic humour, which incessantly showed itself in his conversation; and which, though sometimes perhaps too personal in its application, was never false in its essence, and rarely erroneous in its design. Although occasionally a little tinctured by that tendency to paradox, which appears an inherent quality in the mental composition of men of strong individual genius, his opinions on Art were searching, comprehensive, and direct, and were often as felicitously illustrated as they were boldly advanced. I am here, however, trenching upon ground already well occupied: the character and genius of this admirable and original painter have become a public possession, through the medium of Mr. Leslie's interesting narrative of his life and labours. During the progress of that work, my father thus wrote to the author upon the subject of Constable; noticing, it will be observed, those sportive sallies, remembered with delight by his friends, but too private in their nature and too personal in their interest to be confided with advantage to the world:

"I have been cudgelling my brains on the subject of the Constable anecdotes, and the result is the recollection of a number of good things, calculated, alas! only for table-talk among friends. This, as I told you, I feared would be the case. The great charm of our lamented friend's conversation upon Art, was not only its originality but its real worth, and the evidence it afforded of his heartfelt love of his pursuit, independent of any worldly advantages to be obtained from it. I mentioned to you his admirable remarks upon the composition of a picture, namely, that its parts were all so necessary to it as a whole, that it resembled a sum in arithmetic, take away or add the smallest item, and it must be wrong. His observations, too, on chiaroscuro were all that could be made on that deep subject. How rejoiced I am to find that so many of the great things he did will at last be got together, for the benefit of future students!"

In the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1821, my father's pictures were,— "A Scene in Borrowdale, Cumberland," "Dartmouth, Devon," and "Morning on the Coast of Kent." He also sent to the British Institution, in the same year, one small contribution, entitled "The Bird Trap." The first of these pictures was a beautiful combination of mountain landscape and figures, fresh and graceful in colour and treatment; it was painted for Mr. William Marshall. The second, a clear, varied scene, finely diversified in its different parts, was painted for Mr. Phillimore Hicks. The third, a bright, delicate sea-piece, the largest of the artist's pictures of the year, was painted for Mr. Jesse Watts Russell, M. P. "The Bird Trap," a rustic scene, representing two cottage boys setting their trap, was made the subject of a mezzotinto engraving, on a small scale; which preserves much of the softness and delicacy of the original work.

Of all the Exhibitions at the Royal Academy with which the painter had been connected, that of 1821 was attended with the greatest anxiety and doubt that had ever tried his patience or perplexed his fancy; for in this year he incurred, as the new Academician, the ungracious duty of making one of the Committee appointed to hang the pictures at the annual Exhibition. It may not be uninteresting to the general reader to describe some of the tribulations attached to this difficult office; tribulations which are doubly felt by those who find themselves exposed to their share of them for the first time. From this moment they discover that one of the privileges attaching to their new dignity, is that of encountering the enmity of no inconsiderable portion of their profession at large. For, when it is considered that the average number of pictures which the Royal Academy has space enough to exhibit seldom amounts to more than two-thirds of the number of pictures sent to it for exhibition,— that out of those exhibited works certainly not more than one-third, from the natural construction of rooms, can be honoured with convenient and conspicuous places, and that, of these two classes of the unfortunate, the discarded and the indifferently hung, there are probably not a dozen individuals who do not labour under the most insurmountable conviction that their maltreated production is the finest work of its class that can be produced,— the amount of anger, disappointment and despair inherited by the "Hanging Committee" will not be easily calculated. None but those personally acquainted with the perilous process of publishing to the world the yearly achievements of contemporary Art, can rightly estimate the difficulties and fatigues of the task. The preliminary processes of accepting and rejecting are but " prologues to the swelling act." To give each picture its due position as regards place and light, to hang no pictures near each other but such as in tone and colour harmonize with, or agreeably contrast each other; to attend to the just claims of the members, while exercising strict impartiality towards the merits of the general exhibitors, to make such an arrangement as shall please the critics in its component and combined parts, and attract the public by the variety of its materials and the universality of its interest; are some of the labours attempted each year by the Committee,— labours involving doubts, which a synod of ancient philosophers might vainly endeavour to solve, and producing difficulties, in comparison with which the cleansing of the Augean stable must be viewed as the morning's amusement of a crossing-sweeper or a groom!

The length of time occupied by this more than Herculean task is three weeks; after which, the new Academician is not unfrequently startled by the following collateral phenomena, informing him as eloquently as a visit to the Institution itself, that the Exhibition has at last opened to the public:- He goes into the street, meets an artist whom he knows intimately, stretches out to him the hand of unconscious friendship, and is welcomed by a lofty look and a passing bow. This artist is disgusted with the position of his picture. Sad and sorry, he passes on,— ventures, perhaps, within the walls of the Academy itself,— pauses opposite a picture of some merit placed in an admirable situation, and is joined by a friend, (not a professional friend this time.) "Ah," says the latter, "grand work that; painted by a relation of mine, but it has been shockingly treated. Look at that picture by the side of it,— it absolutely kills it! He says it is all your doing, that you are jealous of his talent, and have done it on purpose, and so forth. Of course I tried to pacify him, but it was of no use: he is talking about it everywhere. Great acquaintance, you know — quite thick with the aristocracy may do you some harm, I'm afraid. — Sorry very sorry — wish you had taken more pains about him. Good morning." Irritated and disappointed, our new Academician goes off sulkily to dine at his club; and, taking up the paper, finds in it a critique upon the Exhibition. All is praise and congratulation until his own works fall under review, and on these sarcasm and abuse descend with crushing severity. He looks round indignantly, and becomes aware of the presence of a literary friend at the next table, who has been lazily watching him over his pint of Marsala for the last half-hour. Greetings, propinquity, explanations ensue. The literary friend's attention is directed to the criticism. He reads it coolly all through, from beginning to end; and then observes, that it was only yesterday that he saw a friend of his, an artist, who had heard that his water-colour portrait of an officer had been placed in the wrong light in the miniature-room, who had ascribed this indignity to the meddling spirit and utter incapacity of the new Academician, and who had gone off to his brother, who was a great critic, "in fact, altogether a very talented fellow — quite enthusiastic about all his relations," and had prompted him to forget his usual impartiality, and write down the new Academician's pictures in revenge. The junior member of the "Hanging Committee" stays not to hear more, but goes home in despair. On his table he finds several letters,— most of them in unknown handwritings. These he opens first; they are anonymous epistles, varying in style, from the abruptly insolent to the elaborately sarcastic. This last visitation of injury proceeds from a cause more deplorable than any hitherto enumerated; the authorship of the anonymous letters being attributable to those modern Raphaels and Michael Angelos whose pictures have been utterly turned out!

Such are some of the tribulations which Academic "flesh is heir to." For Mr. Collins, the task of assisting in the arrangement of the pictures was one which his extreme delicacy of feeling and great anxiety to be at once merciful and just, rendered of no ordinary difficulty and fatigue. Notwithstanding his solicitude at all times to fulfil his duties in the gentlest possible manner, the most satisfactory evidence that he inherited his due share of the persecutions above enumerated appears among his papers in the shape of letters and petitions,— some anonymous and some signed; some exceedingly insolent and some deplorably lachrymose. In addition to these, a few memorials have been found, addressed to the Hanging Committee of the Academy generally, one of which, emanating from an amateur artist, dated 1821, and consequently inferentially including Mr. Collins in its animadversions, is so unique a specimen of mock humility and disappointed self-conceit; and is, moreover, expressed with such a wonderfully romantic fervour of language, that I cannot resist the temptation of extracting it for the reader's amusement; merely premising that the different names appearing in it will be concealed, in order to avoid the remotest possibility of giving personal offence to any one.

The remonstrance, or memorial, begins as follows:

 

"To THE HANGING COMMITTEE OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.

"1821.

"Gentlemen,— If, in the following lines, any expression which may in the slightest, degree be construed into a want of respect to the Academy shall escape me, I must beg of you to lay it to the score of inadvertence only, and not to an intentional wish to offend, as everything of the kind is, I assure you, furthest from my thoughts. I declare, upon my honour, that I do not know the name of any one single person, out of the eight who compose the Hanging Committee (as I understand it to be called) for the year. Nothing, therefore, of a personal nature towards any individual among you, can possibly be laid to my charge.

"I have been in the habit, for the last fourteen years successively, of sending some specimens of my humble performance to your annual Exhibition, and I know, from various members of the Academy, that my pictures have been willingly received. Mr. — , Mr. — , Mr. — , Mr. — , etc., have all of them, in the strongest terms, been pleased to express to me their approbation, nay, even their praise, and these are not men to natter. Perhaps, however, a still greater proof, (or, what at least ought to be so considered,) of the favourable reception which my pictures have obtained, is, that they have on various occasions been placed in the 'Great Room,' — yes, in the very best situations in that room!

"This year I sent up two small pictures, (they are little, very little ones,) in the hope that one of them, at least, might get a moderately good place. As I did not think them inferior to my former attempts, (such is my own opinion,) there seemed nothing unreasonable in my indulging an expectation at once so pleasing to myself and so gratifying to my friends.

"In consequence of a severe illness, I have been hitherto disappointed in my annual visit to Somerset-house; but what think you, gentlemen, must be my disappointment, at being informed by my friends that my pictures are 'shaved down to the ground,' in the inner room, and consequently seen to the greatest possible disadvantage. To judge indeed from their report, a much worse situation, I conceive, could not easily have been assigned to them.

"Now, Gentlemen, I appeal to yourselves, is this handsome? Is this considerate? Is this just? I will answer for you; such a proceeding is no less unbecoming to yourselves, than it is injurious to the Art — an Art, for the advancement of which no one is more zealous, more anxious, than myself.

"How often have the very Academicians whom I have named declared to me, that the works of amateurs, of Gentlemen Artists, were most thankfully received by the Academy. 'Such little flowers, interspersed here and there,' have they said, 'make our Exhibition smell less of the shop — they prove to us, too, that the love of Art is disseminating through the country — they do more, they contribute themselves, very essentially, to that most desirable end: besides, they bring grist to the mill, by attracting, as they never fail to do, a host of visitors, whose contributions add to the general fund; that fund (observed they) which is our only support, and without which we should be no Academy at all.'*

* I cannot avoid hinting my suspicions, in this place, that the feelings of the Academy towards their amateur brethren, (although undoubtedly and properly those of friendship and respect) are coloured, here, a little too highly, by the fervid fancy of the author of the memorial.

"To what cause I may attribute the humiliation in my present case, I am at a loss to conceive. An enemy among you I cannot possibly have, I believe: on the contrary, I know full well that I may count many friends in the society to which you belong; and though I say it myself, (indeed it hurts me extremely to be thus compelled to recount favours conferred,) I feel that I have some claim to its acknowledgment and regard.

"Ask, I pray you, Mr. —-, whether he has not received payments from me for four different pictures — commissions — the produce of his masterly pencil? Mr. —-, can tell you who it was that, only last year, gave him the commission for his unrivalled picture of; — and who, he can inform you, in addition thereto, hath been mainly instrumental in obtaining this very year for that artist, no less than for Mr. —-, commissions for their respective pictures, (painted for my son-in-law) now hanging on your walls. Mr. —-, if I mistake not, will not be found backward in making you acquainted, if required, with the terms on which, some years ago, I gave him a commission, at a time when, as I was informed, his finances were low — his spirits depressed, and family afflictions pressed heavily on his mind. Mr. —-, too, has shared of my purse.*

* The gentlemen thus gracefully and opportunely twitted with their obligations to the memorialist were all Royal Academicians of "name and note." Of their number not one now remains to be the recipient of future remonstrances, and the scapegoat of artistic indignation that is yet to come.

"But I forbear, ashamed as I am at being driven to confessions like these!

"The inference which I wish to be drawn from all this, cannot be mistaken; and I leave you, Gentlemen, to decide whether the part you have acted in regard to me, can be considered such as I have deserved — in fine, whether that part is creditable either to yourselves, or advantageous to the Arts?

"For supposition's sake, let us for a moment contemplate your Exhibition (be the walls covered as they may) without the appearance of one single specimen from the pencils of Sir —, (that giant of an amateur;) of Sir —; of Mr. —; of Mr. —; of Mr. —;* and last of all, though perhaps not least, (for so I have been most kindly and encouragingly assured by good and candid judges, among whom was your late worthy President himself,) your humble servant.

* Here occur the names of gentlemen of deserved reputation as amateur artists.

"Would no sentiment of regret no feeling of disappointment, in such a case, allow me, with all due deference, to ask, pervade the bosoms of the more liberal — the high-minded Academicians, (of such there are to my knowledge many to be found) at a sight so alarming, at the appearance of such an hiatus in the show?

"Fully sensible how little there is of real value in my feeble attempts, I have never wished or even thought that they should interfere with the productions of Professors, to whom I am well aware a good place is everything. My claims have ever been of the moderate kind. (Mr. —-, and Mr. —-, will bear testimony, I am sure, to the truth of what I now say,) nor have I ever, even when an acquaintance has been of your number, sought by undue means an interference in my behalf, being firmly persuaded that integrity, that impartiality, that a strict attention to the fair and legitimate demands of real merit ought to be in the breast of the Committee the sole basis whereon its decisions should be formed. Such, I have no doubt, was the wise and ever-to-be-revered intention of the august founder of the Royal Academy.

"But I hasten to conclude, requesting your excuses for this long, and, doubtless to you all, most tiresome tirade.

"I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,

"Your very obedient servant,

"* * *"

Such is this ingenious protest. It is presented to the reader, (although he might well doubt it, from the perusal of some of its paragraphs,) exactly as it is written, down to the very italics. Long as it assuredly is, I cannot imagine that its introduction will be considered as wearisome, or that it will be read with any other feelings than those of the amusement which it is so admirably adapted to excite. Little, indeed, do the gay visitors to the Academy Exhibition imagine what an atmosphere of disappointment and jealousy, of petty malice and fruitless wrath, invisibly encircles no inconsiderable number of the failures they ridicule, and even of the successes they applaud.

The office of keeper of the valuable Gallery of pictures at Dulwich having become vacant in this year, Mr. Collins' brother, Francis, started as one of the candidates for the situation. With the deep affection for his brother and the ardent enthusiasm for his brother's interests, which ever characterized him, the painter exerted his utmost influence in all directions to ensure the election of Mr. Francis Collins: whose fitness for the honourable and responsible situation that .he desired to fill, involving as it did the whole care and cleaning of one of the most valuable collections of pictures in England, will be found well noticed in the following extract from Sir Francis Chantrey's testimonial in his favour:

"Through my act, Mr. Collins," (Francis,) "was employed two years ago to clean a valuable collection of pictures, amounting to nearly an hundred; and it was a trust for which I was responsible. I knew him to be perfectly competent; for he had been educated to this business under his father, himself a picture cleaner much esteemed by artists; and I also knew that he was living at the elbow of his brother, the Royal Academician, and was acquainted with the whole process of a picture, even from the bare canvass. On the whole, I know of no one more competent for the preservation of a collection like yours, and I know no one in whose abilities I would more readily confide. He is an unpresuming, good-tempered, and sensible man, with a love and knowledge of Art, and possessed of much curious information respecting its productions."

In spite, however, of this and many other valuable recommendations, Mr. Francis Collins was not so fortunate as to gain the keepership of the Dulwich Gallery,— Mr. Denning being the candidate ultimately elected to that office.

Some description of a second tour to Devonshire, undertaken by the painter in the autumn of this year, will be found in the following letter to his mother:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Bideford, Oct. 7th, 1821.

"My dear Mother,— My last letter contained, if I recollect with accuracy, an account of your dutiful son, up to his visit to Sharpham. We left that place for Ashburton, taking in our way the parsonage of Mr. Frewde, who, I am truly sorry to say, since I last visited this county has lost the mother of a numerous family. I am sure you must have heard me speak of a most elegant and amiable lady, his wife.

"We slept at Ashburton two nights; and during our stay there visited some of the finest, I think I may say all the finest scenes this beautiful part of Devonshire can show; all the property of my very excellent friend, Mr. Bastard. From thence we returned to Kitley, which I left the following day for Plymouth and Birham, Sir W. Elford's seat. I then paid a visit to the Leaches, at Spitchwick, where I made sketches of the scenes which Mr. Bastard and myself had pronounced picturesque; viz., fit for pictures. From Spitchwick I returned to Kitley, where I spent nearly a week; after which 1 made the necessary preparations for my northern tour. I have commenced it under the most melancholy circumstances. Upon our entrance into Torrington, we heard the most afflicting account of the loss of upwards of forty fishermen, who have perished in the gale of Thursday evening last, (all inhabitants of Clovelly and its neighbourhood.) With feelings of the deepest melancholy shall I to-morrow set out, please God, for this spot, the scene of so much affliction. The body of one of the sufferers has been found this morning, (a native of this place,) whose son perished at Clovelly on the same night. I shall not send this letter to the post-office until after I reach Clovelly, only eleven miles distant from this; when I trust I shall be enabled to give you some account of my future plans."

"Clovelly, Monday evening. — The above account is but too true, and the misery the accident has caused here can never be forgotten. I have this day seen some of the remains of the boats, torn to pieces in a way one would hardly have supposed possible. Going down the village, I saw a crowd assembled before a door; they were singing a psalm over the body of one of their comrades. Not above one half of the corpses have been found. I refrain from any further account of this most awful affair, as I am satisfied it would be too much for you.

"Clovelly certainly presents the finest scenery I ever beheld; but, as the days are now so short and cold, I must use despatch, particularly as I have yet many other places to visit. * * * It is possible you may receive a basket of stones, and old boughs, and roots of trees from Mr. Bastard, for me to paint from. I mention this, that you may not think you have been hoaxed when you open the parcel.

"Your affectionate son,

"WILLIAM COLLINS"

With the exception of the tour to Devonshire thus recorded, nothing occurred in this year to vary the easy regularity of the painter's life,— a life which, looked on under its brighter influences, (and to such Mr. Collins had now attained,) is perhaps the most delightful that the varieties of human existence can present. It is refreshing after having enumerated, some pages back, the petty tribulations and small worldly crosses attaching even to the most successful study of Art, to turn to the contemplation of the abstract and intellectual charms, as well as of the real, practical advantages of this noble pursuit. Viewed in his relation to the other branches of Art,— to literature and music alone — the painter enjoys many higher privileges, and suffers fewer anxieties, than either the poet or the composer. He is enabled, with comparatively little delay, to view his composition, at its earliest stages, displayed before him at once, in all its bearings, as one coherent though yet uncompleted whole. When dismissed as finished, it passes fresh from the care of his hand and the contact of his mind to a position where its merits can be easily judged, without taxing the time or risking the impatience of the public. It is then confided to the possession of but one — the individual who prizes it the most — not to be flung aside by the superficial, like a book, or to be marred by the ignorant, like a melody, but to be viewed by the most careless and uncultivated as a relic which they dare not molest, and as a treasure which cannot become common by direct propagation. Then, turning from the work to the workman, we find Nature presenting herself to his attention at every turn, self-moulded to all his purposes. His library is exposed freely before him, under the bright sky and on the open ground. His college is not pent within walls and streets, but spreads, ever boundless and ever varying, wherever wood and valley are stretched, or cliff and mountain reared. Poverty has a beauty in its rags, and ruin an eloquence in its degradation for him. His hand holds back from the beloved form that oblivion of the tomb which memory and description are feeble alike to avert. He stands like the patriarch, "between the dead and the living," to recall the one and to propagate the other,— at once the interpreter of animating Nature, and the antagonist of annihilating death.

Upon this subject, it was the often-expressed conviction of my father, drawn from his own experience of the good and evil of his pursuit, that "the study of the Art was in itself so delightful, that it balanced almost all the evils of life that could be conceived; and that an artist with tolerable success had no right to complain of anything."

In the following letter, addressed by Mr. Collins at the beginning of the next year, to a valued and intimate friend, Mr. Joseph, the sculptor, whose merits are well known to the public by his statues of Wilberforce and Wilkie, with many other admirable works, the painter's own reflections upon the attractions of his profession will be perused in this place with some interest:

 

To SAMUEL JOSEPH, ESQ.

"London, January 28th, 1822.

"Dear Joseph,— Hoping I should long ere this have seen you in London, I trusted I could have satisfied you that neither neglect nor any abatement of a most sincere regard for you, but an incurable habit of procrastination, has been the sole reason why your letter has remained so long unanswered. My anxiety however to hear from you, since I cannot see you, impels me to send you such London news as my scanty means of information will enable me to collect. In the Arts we are going on much as usual, and much as I fear will always be the case in this country, namely,— cramming the public with that which they have not power to digest. I think, upon the whole, there is more said and less done in the Arts than heretofore, the alarming increase of exhibitions having a tendency to produce derangements of the pictorial system which a little wholesome and legitimate nourishment might have altogether prevented. A lamentable demand for novelty is producing in the Arts, as well as in literature, exactly what might have been expected; and, although the last Exhibition at Somerset-house has been more crowded than upon any former occasion, and readers were never so numerous, the result has been a satiety truly alarming. Every one talks of painting and literature, and what is still worse, all conceive it to be their duty to have opinions; and instead of an ingenuous expression of their feelings, — by which painting and poetry might gather considerable improvement — their only aim seems to be, that of persuading those who are not to be deceived, that they understand both Arts.

"But, enough of the dark side. Notwithstanding the many disagreeable circumstances attending the prosecution of our arduous profession, the real charms of the pursuit are so great, that were the difficulties an hundred times greater, we ought to thank Heaven we are permitted to pursue an employment so replete with abstractions, in their nature scarcely belonging to what is earthly.

"Although I have not made inquiries of you, still your brother has been kind enough to give me information, which, together with your own letter, is upon the whole gratifying. I long to see some of your recent productions. Chan trey has just finished a bust of the King, which entirely surpasses any work he has done in this way. He tells me he has written to you; and I know he has a personal regard for you, and thinks highly of your works. Are we to expect you in the spring? Is it prudent entirely to leave London? Should you determine to take up your quarters in Edinburgh, why not occasionally pay us a visit? In my humble opinion, however, reversing this would be a better thing. Perhaps you could settle the matter more advantageously in London than by any information your friends at so great a distance could give you. I lament exceedingly that I had not the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Joseph, during her stay in London.

"I shall tell you nothing about the fish I am frying,— come and see. Write to me as soon as convenient; I hereby promise to answer any letter you may in future send to me directly. Other matters when we meet, and I most sincerely wish it may be soon. With kind regards to Mrs. Joseph, in which I am joined by my mother and Frank, I am, dear Joseph, with great esteem,

"Faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. — Best regards to our friend Allan, and such others as care whether I am alive or not. Wilkie has nearly completed his picture; I saw it yesterday. It is one of the most stupendous things ever produced."

The year 1822 was marked by some variety of incidents in the painter's life; among which may be noticed his entry on a new sphere of domestic duties as a married man, and his excursion to Edinburgh with Sir David Wilkie, on the occasion of the visit of George the Fourth,— the period at which he first became acquainted with Sir Walter Scott.

His pictures contributed to the Exhibition of 1822, occupying however priority of date in the year, claim priority of notice. They were entitled,— "A Scene near Chichester," painted for Mr. Isaac Currie; "Clovelly, North Devon," painted for Mr. Philips, M.P.; "Woodcutters,— Buckland on the Moor, Devon," painted for Mr. Lamb ton, M.P.; and "Bayham Abbey, during the celebration of a Fˆete given in honour of the coming of age of Lord Brecknock," painted for the Marquis Camden. "Chichester" and the "Woodcutters" were two of the painter's most successful landscapes. In the first the atmosphere is cool, gray, and serene; the high-road with trees at the right, and the open common with figures talking near an old white horse, occupy the foreground; while in the distance rises the spire of Chichester Cathedral, surrounded by the level, open scenery, presented in Nature by the view. The second picture, "Woodcutters," exhibits a background of soft, dusky, woodland foliage, sunk in quiet shadow. In front, a gleam of sunshine falls over a patch of open ground, encumbered with a felled tree, round which the woodcutters are occupied in their tranquil mid-day meal. "Clovelly," was the sea-piece of the year. The sketch from which it was produced was made after the storm mentioned in the painter's last letter to his mother, in which forty fishermen were lost. In the picture, the ocean is yet vexed with the subsiding of the tempest, which caused this terrific calamity; the waves dash brightly and briskly in upon the beach and the fishing-boats in the foreground. To the left of the scene rises the rocky and precipitous shore, studded with cottages, built picturesquely one above the other, and relieved against the sky, whose wild fitful clouds, and fresh vivid atmosphere, remind the spectator of the storm that has lately raged. This picture is, in every respect, a remarkable and original work. The view of Bayham Abbey was a smaller production. A river occupies the foreground, the fˆete is proceeding in the middle distance, and the foliage that clusters round the old abbey, is finely varied by the influence of the richest autumnal tints.

The tour to Scotland with Wilkie, which preceded the painter's marriage, and to which it is now necessary to revert, will, it is presumed, be not inaptly introduced by a more extended notice than has yet been attempted in these Memoirs, of the distinguished man who was my father's companion in his journey, and whose brotherly connection with him began with their first acquaintance to terminate only with his death.

It is of Sir David Wilkie, in the capacity in which perhaps he is least familiar to the world, as a companion and a friend, that I would here endeavour to speak. In what is called "general society," there was a certain unconscious formality and restraint about the manner of this gifted and amiable man, which wrongly impressed those who were but slightly acquainted with him with an idea that he was naturally haughty and reserved. He was never one of those who mix freely and carelessly with the world, whose movements, manners, and conversation flow from them as it were impromptu. With Wilkie, an excessive anxiety to contribute his just quota of information and amusement to a new company weakened, as in such cases it almost invariably does, his social efforts. It was only in the society of his intimate friends, of fellow-painters and fellow-countrymen whom he admired and loved, that the great artist's real kindness and gaiety of disposition appeared. Then his manners became playful and winning, his voice animated and cheerful, his laugh ready and contagious, as if by magic. Then the jests and witticisms with which his friend Collins loved to perplex him awoke his fund of anecdote, his peculiar vein of humour, his relations — exquisitely amusing in their sedate circumstantiality — of good jokes and clever retorts. No egotism or self-assumption ever tinged his thoughts, or deteriorated his conversation. He appeared, in these social hours, to be absolutely unaware of the illustrious position that he occupied. Although not gifted with that peculiar flexibility of mind which, to use the nursery phrase, enables "grown people to talk to children," his kindness and patience with them was one of the finest ingredients in his simple, affectionate character. The writer of this biography remembers being often taken, when a child, upon his knee, giving him pencil and paper, and watching him, while he drew at his request, cats, dogs, and horses with a readiness and zeal which spoke eloquently for his warmth of heart and gentleness of disposition. Although full of humour of a particular kind, and of a capacity to relish it frequently in others, he was by no means susceptible of all varieties of jests. Scotch stories and "Irish bulls," he heartily enjoyed; but to a play upon words of any other description, or to a joke by inference, the "portals of his understanding" seemed to be almost invariably closed. Any attempts to make him understand a "pun" were generally abortive. Two amusing instances of this are given, as follows, in a short collection of manuscript anecdotes of his friend, written by Mr. Collins, which have never before been published, and from which several extracts will be presented to the reader in this place:

"Wilkie was not quick in perceiving a joke, although he was always anxious to do so, and to recollect humorous stories, of which he was exceedingly fond. As instances, I recollect, once, when we were staying at Mr. Wells', at Redleaf, one morning at breakfast a very small puppy was running about under the table. 'Dear me,' said a lady, 'how this creature teases me!' I took it up, and put it into my breast-pocket. Mr. Wells said, 'That is a pretty nosegay.' 'Yes,' said I, 'it is a dog-rose.' Wilkie's attention, sitting opposite, was called to his friend's pun: but all in vain,— he could not be persuaded to see anything in it. I recollect trying once to explain to him, with the same want of success, Hogarth's joke in putting the sign of the woman without a head, ('The Good Woman,') under the window from whence the quarrelsome wife is throwing the dinner into the street."

As a balance against the above anecdotes, it should be mentioned that, on another occasion, Wilkie succeeded better in the mysteries of punning. On the day when he was knighted, he called on his friend Collins, and, not finding him at home, left his card thus inscribed: "Mr. David Wilkie,— a be-knighted traveller."

A more amusing instance of the simplicity of his character is thus described in my father's MS.:

"Chantrey and Wilkie were dining alone with me, when the former, in his great kindness for Wilkie, ventured, as he said, to take him to task for his constant use of the word 'relly,' (really,) when listening to any conversation in which he was much interested. 'Now, for instance,' said Chantrey, 'suppose I was giving you an account of any interesting matter, you would constantly say, "Relly!"' 'Relly!' exclaimed Wilkie immediately, with a look of the most perfect astonishment."

Another dinner scene of a different description, at Wilkie's house, is worthy of insertion. Mr. Collins's brother Francis possessed a remarkably retentive memory, which he was accustomed to use for the amusement of himself and others in the following way. He learnt by heart a whole number of one of Dr. Johnson's "Ramblers," and used to cause considerable diversion to those in the secret, by repeating it all through to a new company, in a conversational tone, as if it was the accidental product of his own fancy,— now addressing his flow of moral eloquence to one astonished auditor, and now to another. One day, when the two brothers were dining at Wilkie's, it was determined to try the experiment upon their host. After dinner, accordingly, Mr. Collins paved the way for the coming speech, by leading the conversation imperceptibly to the subject of the paper in the "Rambler." At the right moment, Francis Collins began. As the first grand Johnsonian sentences struck upon his ear, (uttered, it should be remembered, in the most elaborately careless and conversational manner,) Wilkie started at the high tone that the conversation had suddenly assumed, and looked vainly for explanation to his friend Collins, who, on his part, sat with his eyes respectfully fixed on his brother, all rapt attention to the eloquence that was dropping from his lips. Once or twice, with perfect mimicry of the conversational character he had assumed, Francis Collins hesitated, stammered, and paused, as if collecting his thronging ideas. At one or two of these intervals Wilkie endeavoured to speak, to ask a moment for consideration; but the torrent of his guest's eloquence was not to be delayed — "it was too rapid to stay for any man — away it went," like Mr. Shandy's oratory before "My Uncle Toby" — until at last it reached its destined close; and then Wilkie, who, as host, thought it his duty to break silence by the first compliment, exclaimed with the most perfect unconsciousness of the trick that had been played him, "Aye, aye, Mr. Francis; verra clever — (though I did not understand it all) verra clever!"

Further extracts from my father's notes on the subject of his friend, will be found to assist interestingly in the delineation of Wilkie's character. They are to the following effect:

"His friends relate of him, that he could draw before he could write. He recollected this himself, and spoke to me of an old woman, who had in her cottage near his father's manse a clean-scoured wooden stool, on which she used to allow him to draw with a coarse carpenter's pencil, and then scrub it out to be ready for another day. Showing so decided a fondness for drawing, he was sent to Edinburgh to study at a drawing academy there, and great was his despondency at what appeared to him the wonderful dexterity among the students. From the specimens that he sent home to his friends, their fears were so great that he would not succeed as an artist, that they seriously proposed making him a writer to the signet. However, it was finally determined that he should try his fortune in London. Some years afterwards, the change of life, anxious study, and confinement, produced a long and severe illness, about the period when he painted 'The Village Festival.' He went, during this illness, to Sir George Beaumont's; who, to the time of his death, continued to show the most strong interest and attachment to him. Sir George and Lady Beaumont used, by turns, to read to him. Upon one occasion, during the reading of Fielding's 'Amelia,' the wickedness of one of the characters so affected him, that he begged no more might be read. Sir George used to say that he often watched him while he was painting, when so intense was his labour that he did not appear to breathe."

"The theme on which he most delighted to talk with his friends, was painting. One day, at his house, we had been some time conversing on this fruitful subject — the mysteries of the Art — before the uninitiated, when his excellent mother thought she ought to apologize to a certain Captain present; which she did in these terms:- 'You must e'en excuse them, puir bodies — they canna help it!' The delicacy with which he always abstained from boasting of the notice shown him by the nobility, was very remarkable. He was especially careful never to mention any engagement he might have to dine with great people — but, if his engagement was with an humble friend, the name was always ready; unless, indeed, he had reason to think you were not of the party. The way in which he spoke of the works of contemporaries, without compromising that sincerity which was part and parcel of the man, was truly Christian; and the extreme pains he took in giving his most invaluable advice, showed an entire absence of rivalry. He never had any secrets — his own practice was told at once. His fears, when his pictures were well placed at the Exhibition, that others not so well off might feel uncomfortable, gave him real and unaffected pain. His own low estimate of his works was, to a student in human nature, marvellous. The very small sums he required for his pictures are an evidence of his innate modesty. Four hundred guineas for 'Reading the Will,' which occupied seven months of the year in which it was produced, and was afterwards sold for twelve hundred, in a country where that sum will go as far as double that amount in England, is a proof. Many others might be mentioned — as 'The Rent Day,' painted for two hundred guineas: sold for seven hundred and fifty — 'Card-Players,' a hundred guineas: sold for six hundred. It must be recollected that these sales took place during the lifetime of the painter — a most unusual circumstance. When Lord Mulgrave's pictures were sold at Christie's, Wilkie waited in the neighbourhood, whilst I attended the sale. It was quite refreshing to see his joy when I returned with a list of the prices. The sketches produced more than five hundred per cent the pictures three hundred. I recollect one — a small, early picture, called 'Sunday Morning' — I asked Wilkie what he thought of its fetching, as it did, a hundred and ten pounds, and whether Lord Mulgrave had not got it cheap enough? — 'Why, he gave me fifteen pounds for it!' — When I expressed my surprise that he should have given so small a sum, for so clever a work; Wilkie, defending him, said: 'Ah, but consider, as I was not known at that time, it was a great risk!'"

"In going over the pictures at Kensington with George the Fourth, he was much struck with the great knowledge His Majesty displayed, and the usefulness of his remarks to a painter. He was always most anxious to get the opinions of men of the world upon his pictures. I recollect his taking rather a cumbrous sketch in oil, for the picture of John Knox, (now Sir Robert Peel's) all the way to Edinburgh, for Sir Walter Scott's opinion. I was present when he showed it to him: Sir Walter was much struck with it, as a work of vast and rare power. Those who are exclusive admirers of his early style, ought not to forget this picture, and Lord Lansdowne's 'Monks at Confession' — 'Columbus,' painted for Mr. Holford — Mr. Rice's picture of 'Benvenuto Cellini' — Mr. Marshall's 'Pope and Buonaparte' — 'The Peep o'day Boy's Cabin,' at Mr. Vernon's, and many others, upon which his claims to the character of an historical painter may well be founded. I should scruple not to maintain, that such pictures as the 'Distraining for Rent,' at Redleaf, with all the pathos of a Raphael; and such exquisite touches of the deepest sentiment, as are to be found in the woman squeezing her way to look at the list of the dead and wounded, in the Waterloo picture, belonging to the Duke of Wellington, are standing evidences of his fitness for the highest departments of Art; although the figures are not dressed in the toga so lavishly bestowed upon the wooden perpetrations of many a Carlo Maratti and a Vanderwerf."

Such, briefly examined, were some of the peculiarities, moral and social, in the character of Mr. Collius's remarkable companion, during his Scotch tour: peculiarities, which, though apparently trivial in themselves, are yet, it is hoped, not useless to aid in the elucidation of his general disposition, and to conduct to some of the more secret sources of his genius. With Sir David Wilkie then, and another accomplished brother painter — the late Mr. Geddes, A.R.A. — Mr. Collins now set forth for Edinburgh. The journey, as may be imagined, was all hilarity — Wilkie's notice of it, in a letter to his sister is characteristic:

"We got through our journey famously, and were less fatigued than we expected. The only subject of regret was, that Geddes's snuff-box was done, by the time we got to Berwick. I was not asked to join, but the box passed between Geddes and Collins, and from Collins to Geddes, incessantly. You will readily imagine I did not feel much for their misfortune."

In this one particular, Wilkie remained excluded from the sympathies of his travelling-companions during all his after-intercourse with them. The tobacco-plant never put forth its kindly leaf for him. It was never his, to woo the balmy influence of companionable snuff, or to rejoice with the world-wide brotherhood of the contemplative and peace-compelling pipe!

With the advantages of reputation and excellent letters of introduction, the painters soon became involved in all the choicest dissipations of the Northern Metropolis, at that mirthful period when court gaiety and conviviality outmanoeuvred Scotch prudence, and half divested even an Edinburgh "sabbath" of its hereditary grimness and pious desolation. Wilkie forgot his discretion in a "new sky-blue coat," and caroused innocently with the rest, when the mirthful dinner closed, in gastronomic triumph, the bustling day. At one of these parties, at Sir Walter Scott's, Wilkie and Collins beheld the appearance of the author of Waverley in a new character. When the table was cleared after dinner, Sir Walter, in the exuberance of his loyalty and hospitality, volunteered to sing his own song — "Carle now the King's come." The whole company gave the chorus, and their host, regardless alike of his lameness and his dignity, sprang up, and, calling upon everybody to join hands, made his guests dance with him round the table to the measure of the tune. The effect of this latter exercise, indulged in by a set of performers, all more or less illustrious in the world's eye — and all, with few exceptions, of intensely anti-saltatory habits — would defy the pen of a Rabelais or the pencil of a Hogarth. It was enough, considering the nature and locality of the ceremony, to have brought back to earth the apparition of John Knox himself!

Among other favours conferred by George the Fourth upon his Scotch subjects, was the knighting of Captain Adam Ferguson and Henry Raeburn, the portrait-painter. A dinner-party was given, at the house of Chief Commissioner Adam, to celebrate the event. The company soon crowded about the new knights, to hear their description of the ceremony they had just passed through. Sir Adam Ferguson's narrative was quite Shandean in its quaint originality and innocent Uncle-Toby-like sarcasm. "Oh!" cried the new recipient of the baptism of chivalry, "His Majesty just gave me a smart slap o' the shouther with the back of his sword, and said, 'Rise, Sir Adam Ferguson.' The shouther was a wee bit bruised, but I just rubbed it wi' a little 'yellow basilicon,' and its aw' weel eneugh now!"

Turning from dignities and dinner-parties — preachings before the King and processions to the Castle, bonfires in the streets and balls in the houses to professional and biographical matters, it may not be uninteresting to mention, that Mr. Collins cherished the same intention as Sir David Wilkie — of painting a picture commemorative of the King's visit to Edinburgh; but, unlike the latter, did not carry his purpose into execution. The point of time he had fixed on was the moment of the Royal landing at Leith. But although he was enabled, by the intervention of his friends in authority, to obtain an excellent view of this and all the other ceremonies and proceedings that he desired to witness, and although he carried his investigations so far as to accompany the King's yacht on its homeward way down the Forth, (on which occasion, according to his friend's account, he narrowly escaped being taken all the way to London by mistake,) the contemplated picture never proceeded beyond the first sketches. Nor was this to be wondered at, in the instance of Mr. Collins. After the first excitement of the Royal visit had worn off, there was little really attractive, to a mind whose accustomed employment was the study of simple Nature, in the conventional pomps of a Royal progress, or the gorgeous vanities of a Civic welcome.

Some reference to the gaieties of Edinburgh will be found in the following letters from the painter to his mother:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Edinburgh, August 17th, 1822.

"My dear Mother,— As you have, I trust, received from Miss Wilkie an account of our safe arrival, I have now to give you some idea of our employment since that time.

"For some days we were uncertain when the King would arrive; and, on the day when we had great reason to expect him, the weather was so rough that it was apprehended he would land at Dunbar, and perform the rest of the journey by land. On Wednesday he was in sight, and anchored in my presence, opposite Leith, about a mile and a half from the shore, but resolved not to go on shore till the following day. The sight, of course, I took care to attend, and, as I had the advantage of a boat with six men under my command, as well as a pass-ticket from the Bailies of Leith — giving me the privilege of going into any seat on shore — the conveniences were considerable.

"I am at present quite uncertain with respect to the time of my return to London, but I think it is possible I may go to Stirling, and one or two of the Lakes; and, as I may move either in that direction or towards home, about the end of next week, I am very anxious to have a letter. I conclude you have received some communication from Mr. Lambton.

"* * * The letters we took with us have introduced us to some very agreeable society. With Sir Walter Scott we dined a few days, since, at his house here, and a most delightful evening we had. I am writing this just after dinner — we (that is, Joseph, his excellent wife, and your dutiful son,) most sincerely, and with the best wishes for your happiness, drink your health.

"I am most comfortably accommodated in Joseph's house, and want nothing but a letter from home; write, therefore, by return of post. The illuminations last night presented an appearance altogether unique. The effect from the Castle, looking down upon the old and new town, was magnificent: the Castle itself was lighted with crates on its walls, filled with burning coal. It is now so near post-time that I can only say, heaven bless you, and Frank, and all enemies and friends.

"Your affectionate Son,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

To THE SAME.

"Edinburgh, August 28th, 1822.

"My dear Mother, I should have written before this, could I have given you any correct views of my intended movements. As far as I am at present able to see on the subject, I may be from home some two or three weeks longer. Wilkie and your ungracious son leave this place on Saturday next for Blair Adam, a seat of the Lord Chief Commissioner's; where we stay a few days, and then proceed to Stirling, Callander, some of the Lakes, and possibly Glasgow; and, whether we afterwards return to London by Liverpool, or return to this place,— and, should that be done, how long we stay here,— is a matter upon which I cannot, in this letter, give you any further information. Of one thing I am pretty certain — that, unless we find better weather, we shall not make many sketches.

"The sketches I have already made are few and slight. I have had so much to see, that I have not yet made those more finished drawings at Leith, which, should I paint the King's landing, will be quite essential. I have been on board the Royal George, the ship in which His Majesty reached this port, and I have, from thence, made a drawing of Leith Harbour, backed by Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags; which I mean to paint, when I return, for "Mamma." What I at present purpose painting, upon a large scale, is the approach of the King to the Pier — the above sketch to form the background; but I am vastly secret and mysterious upon what I mean to paint of the King's history here, and I have seen so much of his doings that I could paint a series of pictures,— but not one will I do (further than making sketches when I return) without commissions. I think, however, that striking things might be produced.

"The country and city are so replete with subjects in the view way, that, should the weather be fine, I might, I think, make my stay here pay me well — for my picture of 'Chichester' has satisfied me that people like a name to be given to a landscape.

"To-morrow we hope to be present at the embarkation of His Majesty from Hopetown-house. The Chief Commissioner, who is the commander-in-chief, and who was the first person from this place who shook hands with the King — and is to be the last — takes Wilkie and myself to breakfast on board the Royal George; after which, I shall be upon the watch for a picture. The Embarkation may possibly afford a companion to the Landing. From the present state of the weather, however, I fear it may be a dull scene.

"The plan at Hopetown-house is this: The grounds are to be filled with visitors, who are to partake of a cold collation, and at twelve His Majesty is expected, when, after probably remaining some time among us, he will signify his intention to embark; and, after the great kindness and loyal attention he has received from his Scotch subjects, I think he must leave them with a heart overflowing with gratitude. The delight he has expressed himself as having felt, is great. I wish I could give you a connected and progressive account of his proceedings. You cannot possibly conceive the distinguished manner in which the Scotch people — from the lord to the meanest peasant — have behaved. The regularity and dignity of a Scotch mob is really surprising.

"Of His Majesty's landing I gave you an account in my last. The day following this was a quiet one, but in the evening there was an illumination of the finest kind. The old and new town had the windows of almost every house filled with candles, (generally one in each pane of glass,) the others illuminated with lamps — and, above all, the Castle, with crates of burning coal on its summit, as of old: and, at intervals, cannon firing salutes — answering each other from the Castle, the Calton, Salisbury Crags, etc. But the finest sight of all, notwithstanding the bad weather, was that of Thursday last, when the King went in procession to the Castle from Holyrood-house, through the High street. Upon his arrival at the Castle gate,— where Sir Alexander Hope, Governor of the Castle, presented him with the keys,— the show was most superb. His Majesty then entered the Castle gate, and, in about ten minutes, was seen standing on a platform, in the half-moon battery at the top of the building — when, notwithstanding the heavy rain, he took off his hat, and remained there, bowing in the most graceful manner, for upwards of ten minutes. As he had no umbrella, he must have been much wetted; but he seemed determined to show the people of Edinburgh that he was only anxious to return their acknowledgments of kindness.

"When we have the pleasure of meeting, I trust I can afford you some entertainment upon this and other Scotch subjects. I must not omit, although I have so little room left, to tell you a good joke I heard from a good and great man here: I fear, however, it may encourage Frank in punning — I mean the authority, not the nature of it, for it beats all his. Doctor Chalmers was asked by Wilkie, whether Principal Baird would preach before the King. (Now, Principal Baird has a sad habit of crying in the pulpit.) "Why," says Chalmers, "if he does, it will be George Baird to George Rex, greeting!" *

* To those unacquainted with the Scotch dialect, it may be necessary to observe, that "greeting" signifies, in the north, weeping as well as welcome.

"* * * I would give a trifle to have you here; and, please Heaven, some day or other this may be accomplished. I cannot tell you how kindly Joseph and his wife have treated me, and how happy I feel in their society. Joseph has done a bust of the King, merely from seeing him at the shows here, with which His Majesty has been so much pleased, that he has given him a sitting. * * * Heaven bless you, dear mother and Frank,

"W. COLLINS."

The expedition of the painters to Blair Adam — mentioned at the commencement of the foregoing letter — produced a sketch on the estate, (finished some years after their visit,) which was the joint production of both: Sir David Wilkie painting the figures, and Mr. Collins the landscape. This work — interesting, as being the only instance in which these two thoroughly national painters ever laboured, together, upon the same canvas — was presented to the hospitable owner of Blair Adam; an estate, which it may not be irrelevant to mention, was adorned with delightful park and garden scenery, on a soil naturally the most desert in Scotland, through the skill and enterprize of its possessor the Lord Chief Commissioner, who perfected and concluded the work that his father and grandfather had begun before him.

Shortly after this, the painters returned by way of Stirling to Edinburgh. Sir David Wilkie then departed for London, leaving his friend behind; and little suspecting, at that time, that Mr. Collins's delay in the northern metropolis, was occasioned by his venturing on the most momentous risk in which any man can engage — the speculation of marriage.

The lady to whom the painter was now to be united, was Miss Geddes, related to the family of Dr. Geddes of theological and critical celebrity and sister of Mrs. Carpenter, the portrait-painter. Their attachment had begun with their first meeting, at a ball given by a few artists to their lady friends, in 1814; but remained undeclared until many years afterwards. At that time, Mr. Collins felt that his straightened circumstances presented an insuperable obstacle to any project of immediate marriage with a portionless bride; and, with all the uncertainties that then attended his future prospects, he honourably shrunk from the responsibility of fettering a young girl with the anxieties and disappointments of that most weary of all social ordeals, "a long engagement." In 1816 and 1818, Mr. Collins and Miss Geddes met occasionally in society, but, it was not until 1821, when they accidentally met in London and found that each had still remained single, that the painter's attachment was actually avowed. The engagement which, in his now improved circumstances, he felt justified in contracting, received the unqualified approbation of his family: but, although she fully recognised the propriety of her son's choice, Mrs. Collins, with the prudence of her age and nation, desired to delay his marriage, until the pictorial successes of a few more years had made a few more solid additions to his still fluctuating income. She remembered the embarrassments under which he had suffered, but a few years since; and, dreading the possibility of their recurrence, if he married before his prospects definitely changed from the encouraging to the secure, withheld her consent from the union which he desired should be solemnized in this year (1822), inculcating the excellence of patience, proving the duty of making fit provision for all future emergencies, and addressing much advice of the same excellent, but unpalatable nature, to ears, which, as usual in such cases, heard but profited not. From Edinburgh Mr. Collins wrote, as follows, to his future bride — a vexatious Marriage Act, requiring various oaths and attestations from parents and guardians, having lately come into operation in England, and rendering it expedient, considering the deference due to Mrs. Collins's temporary objections to the match, that the young couple should be married in Scotland, if they were then to be married at all:

 

"To Miss GEDDES.

"Edinburgh, August 24, 1822.

"My dear Harriet. * * * As my former letter contained such accounts of my proceedings as were worthy your regard, I have now to give you some details, which I am sorry must be done briefly, as the bustle and confusion under which every one here labours, is truly harassing. I find that the King does not leave us till Thursday next; and on Saturday I must go northward, on a visit to the Chief Commissioner's. The country in the neighbourhood of his house will probably occupy my attention for about a week: at the expiration of that time, I really know not whether to return to London, or to Edinburgh.

"I think you had better either go to Alderbury, to Mrs. Bryan, or come down here (if you could get a companion to protect you.) And yet, I feel so nervous at the idea of your journey in your present state of health, and without me, that I am quite miserable. Write to me by return of post, and do help me to decide.

"Mrs. Joseph, to whom I have told my distress, will be most happy (and she is one of the best creatures in the world) to give you a bed here, and we might spend a short time in Scotland, and return to London, cemented by that tie, which, please God, may brighten our present prospects. * * * Believe me, my dear Harriet,

"Ever and only yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Shortly after this, Miss Geddes accepted an invitation from her friend Mrs. Joseph, to meet Mr. Collins in Edinburgh. While the simple preliminaries of his marriage were in course of arrangement, the painter wrote a letter to his mother, which, as displaying the filial affection and respect that he always accorded to the expression of her sentiments, however distasteful to himself, deserves to be sub-joined.

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Edinburgh, September 15th, 1822.

"My dear Mother,— As I much fear that I cannot reach London in time to dine with the Lord Mayor, I have to beg that you will send him a note, stating that you have received a letter from me, lamenting the loss of the pleasure I had promised myself in dining with his lordship, as I shall be unavoidably detained in Scotland until after the 24th.

"Since I wrote to you last, and indeed very frequently since I have been here, I have been sorely vexed with the toothache and to such a degree at last, that I have discarded my enemy, and am now quite easy. Upon another subject, I am not so gifted with the art of hoping, as at once to expect relief — although the only person on earth who can make me quite happy, is my own dear mother. I need not again tell you, that the only cause of my wretchedness of mind is our unhappy difference upon the most vital of all subjects, connected as it is with happiness here, and the hope of it in a better world. Your opposition to my union with Harriet, we are both aware has arisen from an affection for me, which has never ceased to show itself upon all occasions; and this affection has been met, I am ready to confess, on too many occasions, by an apparently heartless neglect of your kindness. Upon the matter nearest my heart at this moment, however, God knows I have never thought otherwise of you than as you deserve; but there are feelings which you cannot enter into, and which I shall not attempt to describe, and these tell me that, in the person I hope soon to call mine, I shall find all I can desire in a companion for the journey of this life, and through Almighty God's assistance, we feel determined to devote the best efforts of our existence to your comfort. * * *

"I have been in great uneasiness for some time upon the subject of writing to you the determination, however, to pay you that respect which is so entirely your due, precludes the possibility of my letting any one hear of my marriage before you.

"Miss Geddes is now on a visit to my kind friend Mrs. Joseph. She has many friends here, as well as relations, with one family of whom she spends some of her time; (the Smiths — bankers here) to whom I have been introduced, and a delightful and elegant addition to my catalogue of Scotch friends they are.

"I cannot tell you how much I shall long for a letter from you — and whether it breathes forgiveness or not, still, my dear mother, shall I always be,

"Your affectionate Son,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. I am getting sketches daily, which will, I doubt not, turn to account when I reach London; which I think may be in about a fortnight or three weeks. Love to Frank — please God we shall spend a pleasant winter all together. * * * "

Soon after this Mr. Collins was united to Miss Geddes, in the English Episcopal Church, in Yorkplace, Edinburgh, by the Rev. Dr. Alison — author of the celebrated work on Taste; who, on this occasion, exhibited his literary enthusiasm in a graceful and pleasing light, by declining to take any fees on the conclusion of the ceremony — "You bear the name of a great poet," said he to the painter, "and you are yourself increasing the honours of that name, by your progress in one of the intellectual Arts I could receive no fees from any 'William Collins;' and still less could I take them from you."

 

CHAPTER III.

1822-1824.

Pictures of 1823 - Summer residence at Hampstead - Method of painting - Anecdotes of models - Correspondence with Mr. Danby - Letter from Sir David Wilkie - Royal Academy Club - Sir George Beaumont, Sir David Wilkie, and Mr. Collins - Visit to Turvey Abbey - Anecdote of "Old Odell" - Visits in the latter part of the year - Pictures of 1824 - Method of painting children's portraits - Wilkie in the character of a sponsor - Commission from His Majesty - Second visit to Turvey - Letter to Mrs. W. Collins - Stay at the house of the late Mr. Wells, of Redleaf - Epigram on "Martin, the Game-keeper" - Difficulties of the Annual Royal Academy Dinner - Letter to Sir William Elford, Bart.

IN the year 1823, Mr. Collins exhibited at the Royal Academy three pictures:- "A Fish Auction, on the South Coast of Devonshire" — "A scene in Borrowdale, Cumberland," and, "A View of Walmer Castle." The first of these works represented a curious custom among the Devonshire fishermen — that of selling their fish on the beach by auction, and "knocking down the lots" by dropping a stone on the sand. In this picture, the fisherman, surrounded by men, women, and children, is on the point of dropping the stone, while the objects of the commercial contention — the fresh, tempting fish — lie around in baskets, and on the beach. The calm sea and the rocky coast, form the background of the work, which attracted universal attention, from its force and originality. It was painted with extraordinary care and brilliancy, conveying the idea of a clear, sunshiny day, and a varied, animated scene, with perfect intelligibility and success. The picture was a commission from the Earl of Essex. The scene in Borrowdale, (painted for Mr. Ripley,) was an inland view, with fertile wood and mountain scenery, rising high in the canvas, and a group of Cumberland children playing by the banks of a brook, that ripples into the foreground of the picture — the tone of which is bright, lively, and transparent; the character of the figures being remarkably attractive, in their aspect of simplicity and truth. In the view of Walmer Castle, that fine building is seen across a common, the sea occupying the left-hand side of the picture, and the sky being slightly overcast. The colouring in the composition is pearly and delicate — the tone, shadowy and sober. This work was painted for the Earl of Liverpool, and afterwards reproduced, on a smaller scale, for the Duchess of Devonshire.

During the summer of this year Mr. Collins took a cottage at Hampstead,— a place which, in spite of its vicinity to London, has been the source of some of the best pictures of our best landscape-painters, and which was the scene of many of the most elaborate and useful studies collected for future works, by the subject of this biography. Here, with his wife, he lived in perfect tranquillity and retirement through-out the summer months, studying Nature unremittingly in all her aspects, removed from the interruptions of a London life, enjoying occasionally the society of men of kindred talents and pursuits, and preparing his next year's pictures under all the peculiar advantages which his residence so liberally offered to the votary of landscape Art.

Some reference, in this place, to Mr. Collins's method of painting, may not be unacceptable to those who are admirers of his works, and who may be interested in the observation of practical Art. The general composition of his pictures, the arrangement of the clouds, the line of the landscape, the disposition of the figures, he usually sketched at once in chalk upon the canvas, from the resources of his own mind, aided by sketches. The production of the different parts, in their due bearings and condition, next occupied his attention. For this he made new studies and consulted old sketches with the most diligent perseverance, covering sheet after sheet of paper, sometimes for many days together, with separate experiments,— extended to every possible variety in light and shade, colour and composition; watching, whatever his other accidental occupations, and where-ever they might happen to take him, for the smallest and remotest assistance of external Nature, and not unfrequently consulting, on points of pictorial eloquence, probability and truth, the impressions of persons who, while conversant with Nature, were unacquainted with Art. After having thus collected his materials, as patiently and gradually as if he were the veriest tyro in his pursuit, after having realized completely in his own mind every part of his picture, after having weighed the merits of his projected work first in the balance with Nature and then with the old masters, he again approached the canvas; and then his power and dexterity became at once apparent, in the extraordinary freedom and decision with which he worked. His landscapes, after the first preparatory, or "dead" colouring, were invariably begun by the sky, which in many of his pictures was finished in one day, and painted honestly throughout, in all its finish, delicacy, and elaboration, with the brush, without any tricks of execution gained by the palette knife, or any artifice of surface acquired by the use of the finger. This was to him always the most anxious part of a picture; he estimated its vast importance and difficulty in their true light. When his sky was not finished at once, he never allowed any portion of it to get dry until the whole was completed; taking care, at such times, to ensure the moisture of the colours, by hanging a wet sheet before his picture during the night. His last operation was to go over the finished sky with a large camel's-hair brush, perfectly soft and dry, which he used with such extraordinary lightness of hand that it was difficult, with the closest watching, to detect that he touched the picture at all. His composition was then carried down, portion by portion, generally in a horizontal direction, to the foreground. His figures, (the true light and shade OIL which he sometimes secured by grouping them in a large box, using dressed dolls for the purpose,) were seldom finished till they could take their tone and sentiment from a large extent of completed landscape around them. In all these operations, from the delicate tinting of the distant horizon to the vigorous shading of the foreground masses, every touch of the brush produced an immediate and palpable effect. The applications of colour were neither wasted nor misapplied; every component part of the delicate and subtle workmanship proceeded smoothly, swiftly, securely. An instinctive impression of the harmonies of colour, the graces of shape, and the relative processes and varieties of execution, seemed ever present to direct the attentive eye, and to guide the quiet steady hand. But easy and successful as the painter's progress in his work appeared to others, his facility was not the facility of carelessness, mechanism, or chance. From the first moment when he sat down before his easel to the last when he rose from it, every faculty of his body and mind was absorbed in his task. While engaged in painting, he could seldom speak himself, or attend to what was spoken by others; the presence of any one, even a member of his family, looking over his shoulder while he was engaged in completing a work, perplexed and interrupted him if persevered in for any length of time. To so high a degree of finish were his pictures wrought, especially about this period, so frequently and perseveringly were the parts laboured and relaboured, that, but for the dexterity and security of workmanship above alluded to, he could seldom have succeeded in contributing more than one, or at most two pictures to each Exhibition. Among the first of his anxieties was to paint with such mechanical materials as should ensure the perfect preservation of his works, as regarded colour and surface, to the most distant time. Colours whose duration was in the slightest degree doubtful, any oils, varnishes, and other aids to painting which, in their various combinations he found by long and patient experiment to be doubtful in their application, he rigorously eschewed, whatever might be their actual attraction in the processes of his Art. It was his maxim, that the purchasers of his pictures had a right to expect a possession which should not only remain unaltered and undeteriorated during their own life time, but which should descend unchanged to their posterity, as a work whose colour and surface should last as long as the material on which it was painted. To produce a good picture was his first labour, and to make an endurable one was his last.

From the pictures of Mr. Collins, the transition is natural to the different original materials from which he formed their component parts; and especially, to the rustic figures, which so often supplied some of their most powerful attractions. In selecting the models from which these figures were painted, he enjoyed advantages, and, at the same time, incurred disappointments, to which the historical painter is a stranger. In choosing for his studies people, who in their most ordinary dress and appearance were most fitted for his purposes, he escaped the inconvenience of calling in the help of those who are models by trade, and whose modern and mechanical "presence," often renders them — however lusty of limb, or regular of feature — by no means inspiring, as a foundation for the pourtrayal of the heroes and heroines of poetry and adventure. But on the other hand, in selecting his models from the country lane and the village fireside, he occasionally encountered obstacles of a somewhat irritating, though decidedly amusing nature. On one occasion, when a little cottage girl was sitting to him, finding that the child figetted so perseveringly as to defy all his efforts to paint her, he endeavoured at last to quiet her by an appeal to her vanity, asking her whether she would not like to be "put into a pretty picture?" No sooner, however, had he pronounced the words, than the small model fairly burst into tears, and resolutely refused to sit any longer; because, if she was to be put into a picture, she should "never be able to get out again, and go home to Mammy!" At another time, having observed a little boy in a most picturesquely dirty and ragged condition, playing before a cottage door, he was so much struck with the excellent pictorial qualities of this unsophisticated young rustic, that he engaged the boy's mother to bring him the next morning to the house he was then staying at. At the appointed time, mother and son presented themselves; but, in the appearance of the latter, a fatal metamorphosis had been worked. His dirty face had been scrubbed with soap and water, into a shining, mottled red — his tangled locks had been combed down and flattened straight over his forehead, with mathematical regularity — his various, Murillo-like rags, had been exchanged for a clean pinafore; which, in dismal monotony of white, without speck or fold, covered him decently from chin to ankles — his hands were washed — his stockings were ironed — his shoe-strings were tied; in the theatrical phrase, he had been "got up, regardless of expense, for the occasion." When the astonished painter remonstrated against this alteration, and pleaded for a future resumption of the young gentleman's working-day vestments and impurified physiognomy, the good woman indignantly replied that he should not be painted at all, if he was not painted in his clean face and his Sunday clothes; and marched off with her offspring, in high indignation and alarm.

My father was not, however, always thus unlucky in the study of Nature. He often found cottagers who gloried in being painted, and who sat like professional models, under an erroneous impression that it was for their personal beauties and perfections that their likenesses were pourtrayed. The remarks of these and other good people, who sat to the painter in perfect ignorance of the use or object of his labours, were often exquisitely original. He used to quote the criticism of a celebrated country rat-catcher on the study he had made from him, with hearty triumph and delight. When asked whether he thought his portrait like; the rat-catcher,— who perhaps in virtue of his calling — was a gruff and unhesitating man, immediately declared that the face was "not a morsel like," but vowed with a great oath, that nothing could ever be equal to the correctness of the dirt shine on his old leather breeches, and the grip that he had of the necks of his ferrets!

The cool self-possession of an old deaf beggar, whom the painter was once engaged in drawing at Hendon, was as amusing, in its way, as the answer of the rat-catcher; and may serve, moreover, to tranquillize the natural apprehensions of those who may be placed, with regard to picturesque models in general, in the same position as my father on this particular occasion. Finding, from certain indications, that the body and garments of this English Edie Ochiltree afforded a sort of pasture-ground to a herd of many animals, of minute size but of magnificent propagating and feeding powers, he hinted his fears — in a loud bawl — to the old man, that he might leave some of his small pensioners, or body-guard, behind him. "No fear sir, no fear!" — replied this deaf and venerable vagrant, contemplating the artist with serious serenity — "I don't think they are any of them likely to leave me for you!"

In this year my father painted a small picture, engraved, but never exhibited — "View on the Brent, Hendon," for Mr. Danby, of Swinton Park; which, that gentleman criticised, in a letter containing so many excellent remarks upon the painter's style, exhibiting so intimate a sympathy with the objects of Art, and calling forth so characteristic an answer from Mr. Collins, as to make it, in every way, worthy of insertion in these pages. It was as follows:

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Swinton Park, June 1, 1823.

"Dear Sir,— Being lately arrived here, I am glad to take this early opportunity of expressing to you the satisfaction which the picture you last sent has given me. It is, I think, as beautiful a choice, and representation of natural scenery, as I ever saw, or can well conceive; and it has a clearness and freshness that remind me of your beautiful view on the coast of Norfolk, which was at the Exhibition some years ago, and is now, I suppose, in His Majesty's collection. The purity of the atmosphere in that picture, with which this corresponds, seems to me to be the greatest foundation of our enjoyment of natural scenery, however different it may be, and is, perhaps, one great proof of the general justice with which the Author of Nature has bestowed his gifts, as well as of the tendency which he means them all to have. In this little landscape of yours, there is, 1 think, everything that can be desired,— the distribution of light and shade, the brilliancy of light in the haystack, the transparency of the shades by the stream, the drawing, figures, distance, colouring, the general repose and harmony of the whole, have really a sort of magical effect, in reminding me of what I have seen of Nature in her happiest states, and of what has often occurred to me, viz. — how much the observation of natural scenery, and the representation of it in painting, assist each other. That you have felt this in the strongest degree, is, I think, evinced by the manner in which you have painted your picture; and that your feelings are, in other respects, correspondent with this, I am sufficiently induced to believe, from the little conversation I had with you in New Cavendish-street, about two years ago. That you may continue to enjoy such privileges as these, with the natural results of them, and health to secure them, is the best wish I can give you; and, should any occasion call you into these parts, I shall be happy to renew my personal assurance of it; and am, dear Sir,

"Very sincerely yours,

"W. DANBY."

 

"To W. DANBY, ESQ.

"New Cavendish-street

"Dear Sir,— I cannot do less than offer my best thanks for your very kind and flattering letter, as I have no greater satisfaction than that of pleasing one so well able to appreciate sentiment in a picture, as yourself. You do, sir, no more than justice to painting, when you say that the attraction of Nature, and the representation of it in painting, assist each other. There are a thousand beauties in landscape scenery, as there are expressions in the human face, which, but for painting, might ' blush unseen.' Sir Joshua Reynolds says that there are many expressions in faces which he either should not have observed, or, if he had, should have supposed out of the reach of painting, had he not seen them successfully imitated by great artists. Painting, too, when pursued legitimately, does, most assuredly, beget a habit of contemplating, and, as it were, tracing the hand of Providence. And when we see so many exquisite forms and colours added to objects, whose ends of being we have every reason to believe might as well be answered in a less attractive dress, we may safely conclude that they were formed to excite those feelings which attend the like pursuits of the Poet and the Painter, and which are a noble balance for the coarser pleasures of the man of the world.

"Trusting that I may have the pleasure of conversing more at large with you on these pleasing subjects, and hoping I may at some future time have it in my power to call at Swinton, I remain, dear Sir,

"Yours, faithfully and obliged,

"W. COLLINS."

Widely differing in subject from the letter of Mr. Danby, yet equally deserving of insertion, as showing the easy and cheerful terms on which the two painters lived, is the following congratulatory letter from Wilkie to his newly-married friend. Appreciating the excellent domestic qualities of his brother-artist, Mr. Collins had frequently recommended him to engage in matrimony himself, pointing out to him on all occasions, "eligible young ladies;" hinting, as a last resource, at public advertisement; and promising him, after a year of marriage, a true certificate of the state of his feelings under his own altered circumstances, but all without avail. Wilkie admired the "eligible young ladies" with a pictorial, however, rather than an amatory eye; reflected with considerable complacency upon the project of advertisement, and read the certificate of matrimonial tranquillity which was duly forwarded to him by his friend, couched in terms of the most legal formality, but continued, all his life, to hover irresolute at a discreet distance from Hymen's permanent grasp. That he did not glory, however, in his mateless solitude, but rather, like a true knight, longed for the first opportunity pour faire le gallant, vis-à-vis de sa maitrase, is pleasantly testified in the letter that is now sub-joined.

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Kensington, August 7th, 1823.

"Dear Collins,— It will be pretty generally admitted now, that it was not for nothing you and I went to Scotland last year. In starting with 'Mr. Collins,' I knew I should have no chance upon equal terms; a court dress was therefore an indispensable auxiliary with me.* But your return a married man, while I came back single, proved how vain my endeavour would have been, had my only object been to rival you with the fair sex. Had that been my purpose, therefore, it is clear you had the advantage of me; but I have now the pleasure of informing you of a piece of news, to prove that my court dress and my appearance in it at Holyrood, though unavailing with the ladies, has not been an idle speculation.

* Wilkie had been considerably rallied by his friend on the resplendent effect of the above important part of his preparations for the journey to Edinburgh.

"About three weeks ago, I had the honour of a letter from Mr. Peel, informing me that the appointment of "Limner to the King, for Scotland," become vacant by the demise of Sir Henry Raeburn, had been, by His Majesty, most graciously conferred upon me. This office, unsolicited and unexpected as it is, I have most joyfully accepted, as a very high honour — and I feel, both as successor to Sir Henry Raeburn, and in the manner of my appointment, that I am greatly honoured indeed.

"Being a man in office, and under the Crown, I shall now be considered a placeman, a pensioner, a non-resident, and a sinecurist. These are, however, not altogether without their reward; for unequivocal proofs show that there are emoluments in the case. All Edinburgh was in a ferment, the moment the office was known to be vacant; and I could tell you some odd stories about some of our great friends there, by whom wheel within wheel was set in motion to get it for artists who were friends, and also for gentlemen friends, who were not artists. This ferment extended even to some wise friends of ours in London, who have fairly acknowledged to me that, though no one was more fit for the situation than I, yet they never thought of me till they heard I had got it. It has even been hinted to me, as an objection, that I am not a resident in Scotland, and that I am unfit, from not being a portrait-painter. To the first of these I would plead guilty, if duty was to be done in Scotland, the latter, that of not being a portrait-painter, is what, in my estimation, gives me the greatest claim to it; and, until they can convince me that limner and portrait-painter are synonymous which they cannot — I shall remain of the same opinion.

"It will be evident to you now, that we have both made something of our Scottish visit. However, I will not put what I have gained in comparison with what you have gained by it. Mrs. Collins will agree with me in this; for, in respect to the improvement to your condition, I am as much behind you as ever. No lady has yet taken compassion upon me — court dress and all together; and, as the time (that is, the protracted time) of twelve months is now at hand, when Mrs. Collins and you are to make out a certificate, to warrant the married as an improved state of existence, I must request — as I have no doubt of the certificate being most satisfactory — that you and Mrs. Collins would give me the best advice, not only upon the sort of person to be chosen, but also to inform me by what means such a person as I am may induce a well-chosen lady to hearken unto reason.

"I saw your mother and brother yesterday; they told me what a delightful time you are now passing at Hampstead, in a beautiful cottage at North End. I saw two studies you had made, and rejoiced to see the dark-brown, vigorous shadows, with the fat surface you have got upon them.* This augurs well; you have, in landscape, the ball at your foot, and, in this rich line, an open and unoccupied field before you do go on!

* Wilkie was, at this period, very urgent in recommending his friend to use plenty of oil as a "vehicle" in painting, and not, as he expressed it, to "starve his pictures." Thin, pale, flimsy colouring, he always despised.

"Give my best and kindest regards to Mrs. Collins, in which my brother and sister most heartily join me; and

"Believe me, my dear Sir,

"Your very faithful and obedient Servant,

"DAVID WILKIE."

About this time was established the Royal Academy Club — one of those old-fashioned institutions, founded, like the Literary Club in Doctor Johnson's time, for the purpose of promoting occasional intellectual and social intercourse between men exclusively devoted to the same pursuit. Sir Thomas Lawrence was its chief promoter, and Sir Richard Westmacott, Mr. Alfred Chalon, Mr. Collins, and a few others, were the members. They met once a month, to talk of Art, and to dine together at the Freemasons' Tavern. On the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence, the Association began, however, to languish; and, soon afterwards, it came to an end.

While occupied with the social meetings of artists, it may not be unamusing to the general reader — as instancing the almost boyish delight in his pursuit which is part of the character of a great painter — to mention that, in the summer of this year, Sir George Beaumont, Sir David Wilkie, and Mr. Collins, in setting out to spend a day at Greenwich, mutually agreed to make it a condition of their excursion, that the whole day should be occupied in talking of nothing but Art. The engagement was not more curious than the performance of it was complete. Not one of the party broke the conditions of the journey, from the morning of the departure to the evening of the return.

In July, the painter paid a visit to Mr. Higgins, of Turvey Abbey, and to Mr. T. C. Higgins, of Turvey House. Besides the attractions presented to the pencil by the natural beauties of this neighbourhood, its vicinity to Olney — the favourite residence of the poet Cowper — gave it, to all lovers of poetry, a local and peculiar charm. Conspicuous among its inhabitants, at the time when my father visited it, was "Old Odell," frequently mentioned by Cowper as the favourite messenger who carried his letters and parcels. The extreme picturesqueness and genuine rustic dignity of this old man's appearance made him an admirable subject for pictorial study. Portraits of him, in water-colours and oils, were accordingly made by my father, who introduced him into three of his pictures, to which reference will be made hereafter. The donkey on which he had for years ridden to-and-fro with letters, was as carefully depicted by the painter as his rider. On visiting "Old Odell" a year or two afterwards, Mr. Collins observed a strange-looking object hanging against his kitchen-wall, and inquired what it was: "Oh, Sir," replied the old man sorrowfully, "that is the skin of my poor donkey! he died of old age, and I did not like to part with him altogether, so I had his skin dried and hung up there! "Tears came into his eyes as he spoke of the old companion of all his village pilgrimages. The incident might have formed a continuation of Sterne's exquisite episode in the "Sentimental Journey."

Visits, during the remainder of the year, to the country-seats of Lord Liverpool, Lord Essex, Sir Charles Long, and Mr. Wells, enabled the painter to make some valuable additions to his collection of landscape studies; a privilege of particular advantage to him this season, as his pictures for the next Exhibition comprised (in consequence of the terms of the commissions on which they were painted) no examples of his wonted coast scenes, but were all, more or less, to be described under the appellation of inland subjects. These pictures of 1824 were entitled: "Stirling Castle;" "The Cherry-Seller,— a Scene at Turvey, Bedfordshire;" "Buckland, on the River Dart;" and "Portraits of the Children of Henry Rice, Esq." In "Stirling Castle," (painted for Mr. C. Cope,) the view of the grand old fortress was brightly and tenderly touched, the atmosphere being divested of all national gloom and mist, and suffusing in a clear and delicate light the wide-spread objects of the northern scene. "The Cherry-Seller," painted for Mr. T. C. Higgins, was a large picture; the figure of the fruit-vendor himself being a careful study of "Old Odell." His donkey stands beside him at the cottage gate, bearing the cherry-laden panniers, from which he is weighing out part of his stock in trade to a girl who waits, dish in hand, ready to receive it. The other principal figures are, a child crawling under the donkey to pick up a cherry that has dropped, and a boy who is holding the animal's head. The background of the picture is formed by the picturesque and irregular village street. A perfectly simple and national air pervades the whole composition; its minutest technicalities, as well as its most important objects, are laboured to an extraordinary degree of finish. The tone of colour in the picture is bright, pure, and truthful, and perfectly suggestive of the clear English sunshine that is glittering over the rustic scene. "Buckland on the Dart," painted for Mr. Bastard, M.P., was full of the characteristics of a Devonshire view,— the dashing, joyous, rocky stream; the wooded hills and quarries in the background; and the fresh, cool, cloudy sky overhead. The figures in the picture were represented by some woodmen, occupied in a corner of the foreground in felling a tree. The "Portraits of the Children of H. Rice, Esq.," a valued and intimate friend of the painter, comprised a branch of the Art, which my father, except in the earlier parts of his career, rarely undertook but at the request of those with whom he was intimately acquainted. His portraits produced under these circumstances were few in number, and were almost invariably treated as pictures. In painting children, on this and other occasions to be hereafter mentioned, he pourtrayed no infant cherubs, fitted with speckless frocks, seated on aristocratic gilt stools, and leering ravishingly at the spectator, under a sky wreathed inconceivably with clouds of red curtain, and before a background spotted profusely with Elysian flowers, vapoury trees, and distant temples of immeasurable magnitude. Under his pencil, children retained their play-ground clothes, preserved their play-ground occupations, and were connected visibly and pleasingly with the surrounding landscape. Accordingly, in the portraits of Mr. Rice's children, a boy and girl are simply represented as feeding their pet rabbits; the background of the picture being a transcript of the farm scenery of a house of their father's at Oxgate, where the painter was staying at the time when the portraits were produced. So complete was this work as a picture alone, that it was afterwards engraved and sold under the title of "Feeding the Rabbits."

In noticing "The Cherry-Seller," it should have been mentioned that the original study of the figures of "Old Odell" and his donkey, as introduced in that picture, was purchased by Sir Robert Peel, and afterwards repeated for Mr. Marshall. The work belonging to the first-named of these gentlemen was one among the pictures exhibited at the British Institution after the painter's death. It may also be observed that, in addition to the works above enumerated, my father produced this year two small sea-pieces, not exhibited.

On the birth of his first son, at the beginning of this year, the painter requested Sir David Wilkie to become one of the sponsors for his child. The great artist's first criticism on his future godson is worth recording, from its originality. Sir David, whose studies of human nature extended to everything but infant human nature, had evidently been refreshing his faculties for the occasion, by taxing his boyish recollections of puppies and kittens; for, after looking intently into the child's eyes, as it was held up for his inspection, he exclaimed to the father, with serious astonishment and satisfaction, "He sees!"

A gratifying occurrence of my father's professional life was this year presented by the receipt of a commission from His Majesty, George the Fourth, fo another picture by his hand. The subject chosen for the King was a Hastings Coast Scene; and the wish to give the picture the most immediate and particular study, was one of the main reasons that induced the painter soon afterwards to fix his summer residence at Hastings. The work itself will be noticed at the period of its completion, the year 1825.

On his return from Hastings, Mr. Collins wrote thus to his wife, during a second visit to his friends at Turvey Abbey:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Turvey Abbey, Aug. 27th, 1824.

"Your letter gave me the greatest pleasure, and I write as you desire, in order that you may receive my communication to-morrow. You will be surprised (I am disposed to believe agreeably so) to hear that I purpose returning to London from this place; and that I have given up the idea of visiting Leamington. You will think me a whimsical fellow, but you know odd people do odd things. * * * My friends are very desirous to prolong my stay here beyond the original engagement, but I think I shall carry my point and reach New Cavendish-street on Monday next. * * * You desired me to be idle during my stay at Turvey. I can assure you I have been so, and heartily tired I am of the employment. You know, as well as myself, that it is much more difficult to be idle than busy; and that accounts, I suppose, for your having set me the task. * * * I shall bring some Turvey lace with me; and I have an apple for my mother, gathered from a tree planted by Cowper in the garden of the house he lived in here. * * *

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

In the autumn of this year my father again visited the late Mr. Wells, at Redleaf. On the attractions of his sojourn there, in a house filled with fine pictures, standing in lovely grounds, and surrounded by picturesque scenery, the painter thus expresses himself in a letter to his wife:

"The place and the figures and my most excellent host are all, everything I could wish. I cannot be in better hands than in Mr. Wells's, whose readiness to get me subjects, and whose kindness in every way, has much impressed me in his favour. To the poor he is a most invaluable friend."

It was during one of these visits to Mr. Wells that Mr. Collins wrote the subjoined epigram, which, as the production of a painter, may perhaps claim insertion among the curiosities of Art. One of his host's gamekeepers, named Martin, was confined to his bed in the shooting season by an accident. The disappointment of the man at his untimely confinement was extreme; and Mr. Wells, with his usual good- nature, proposed to the painter to pay him a visit of condolence. On being interrogated as to the state of his spirits and health, Martin replied that he got through his nights pretty well, as he had then "a knack at sleeping:" but complained that his " days were wretchedly black." When Mr. Wells and Mr. Collins returned from their expedition, the latter thus versified Martin's answer in his own words:

"Says Martin,— 'My life seems so drear,
My days appear wretchedly black,
It is not the nights that I fear,
As at sleeping I then have a knack.'
Oh, Martin, how silly is all that you say!
Of science how much you must lack!
Is it strange that an union of Martin and Day
Should a mixture produce that is black?"

Next in difficulty, perhaps, to making a proper selection of pictures for the Academy Exhibition, is the task of managing a good choice of the guests who are invited to the private annual dinner to patrons of Art and remarkable men which precedes it. In both cases, as numbers are necessarily limited, there is danger that a good picture, or an important guest, may in the confusion of the moment be inadvertently excluded: for, in arranging the invitations for the dinner, after the royal dukes, the cabinet ministers, men of high rank or fame, patrons of great celebrity, and others obviously eligible have been invited, there still remains a large list to canvas, whose claims, though not perhaps equally conspicuous, are yet often equally just. Of some of these difficulties, and of the methods of meeting them, an idea may be gathered from the following letter from Mr. Collins to Sir William Elford,— an amateur artist and patron himself, and an early friend of the painter's:

 

"To SIR WILLIAM ELFORD, BART.

"London, 1824.

"Dear Sir,— I shall feel great pleasure in receiving your picture for the Exhibition as usual. With respect to the other subject, I perfectly recollect that at the time you had the misfortune to break your arm, the Council, concluding you could not attend the dinner of that season, and finding, as they always do, the greatest difficulty in accommodating all those who have claims upon the attention of the Royal Academy, took that opportunity of passing over your name for that year; the Council not having the power to make any second issue of tickets, to fill the places of those who, being already invited, may send excuses.

"As I was not upon the Council last year, and as ballotting for invitations is a part of their business with which the body at large never interferes, I can only suppose that, as new patrons increase the difficulties become greater, and some must be left out for a time. Chantrey has not been on the Council for three or four years, and consequently has no more power than any other member out of office.

"As I had with regret missed you at the dinner of last year, I had, before I received your letter, resolved to see Sir Thomas Lawrence upon the subject; and, as I hope to meet him on Wednesday, I shall not fail to do as I had purposed. As the invitations will not be issued for at least six weeks, I shall be able to write to you again.

"Yours obediently and faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

A curious instance of misapprehension of the motives that guide the Royal Academy in issuing the invitations to their dinner occurred some years since. A certain Lord Mayor, who, as Lord Mayor only, had been one of the guests, found himself, of course, on the recurrence of the next year's dinner, unincluded in the list of invitations. Accordingly he wrote an angry letter of remonstrance to the Royal Academy, desiring to know the reason of his exclusion. For some time everybody was puzzled to discover who Alderman —- was, and how he could

possibly have attended the last year's dinner. At length, one of the Council suggested that their quondam guest might be the deposed Lord Mayor. His hypothesis was discovered to be correct, and the Secretary was charged with the disagreeable duty of informing the reclaimant that he had only been asked as first representative of the City of London, and that now that he had relapsed into plain Alderman, the invitation had necessarily been forwarded to his successor in the civic throne.

Besides the commission from His Majesty, my father was engaged to paint two more sea-pieces this year — one for the Duke of Bedford, and one for Sir Robert Peel. A visit in November to Lord Liverpool, at Walmer Castle, enabled him to continue those studies for his next year's efforts, which he had already begun in the summer, at Hastings.

 

CHAPTER IV.

1824-1827.

Pictures of 1825 - Practice in etching - Death of Owen, the portrait-painter - Letter from Mr. Collins to Lord Liverpool, on the establishment of the National Gallery - Summer residence and studies at Hendon - Parties at Coleridge's - Edward Irving, &c. - Liberal commission from Sir Robert Peel - Completion of His Majesty's picture - Description of the work, and reference to the Painter's interview with the King - Sir Jeffery Wyattville - Letters from and to Wilkie - Pictures of 1826 - Removal of residence to Hampstead - Researches with friends amid the scenery of his new abode - Extract from Diary, and from letter to a friend - Anecdote connected with the progress of Sir Robert Peel's new picture - Letter to Mrs. William Collins.

THE Exhibition of 1825 contained a landscape and two sea-pieces by my father: they were, "Kitley, Devon," (painted for Mr. Bastard, M.P.,) — a quiet, green, park-like view, treated with a pastoral serenity and repose; "Fishermen getting out their Nets," (Sir R. Peel's picture,) — a work of great originality and simplicity of incident, cool in tone, and pearly and delicate in colour; and "Buying Fish on the Beach," — the largest of the three, painted for the Duke of Bedford. This picture is remarkable for the boldness and success with which a transient atmospheric effect is produced on the canvas: it is a hazy morning, but the sun is breaking through the mist with a delicate, aerial, golden light, which gives the tone to the rest of the scene. Every touch of colour is laid on with reference to every variety of light and shade that can proceed from the influence of the soft morning sky. The fishing-boats on the foreground, the figures bargaining on the beach, the smooth sea in the middle distance, are relatively shadowed by the mist, or brightened by the warm, gentle light, with consummate skill. It is a work that betrays immediately, that from its origin Nature has presided, at every point, over its treatment by Art.

In this year, animated by the example of the great painters who had gone before him,— of Rembrandt and Hogarth especially,— Mr. Collins turned his attention to that all-powerful engine of pictorial fame — the graver. The branch of engraving he selected was "etching:" a process which, consisting of a combination of bold and delicate lines, traced on copper or steel,— at once superficial yet suggestive, free yet correct,— is the most flexible medium in the painter's hands for conveying and multiplying a graceful and striking summary of his own ideas. Of Mr. Collins's diligence and success in this new Art, the public had a testimony in the publication, many years afterwards, towards the latter part of his life, of a series of etchings executed by him from his pictures, which obtained the critical approbation of the press, and which would have been continued but for the obstacles presented by the long and severe illness which at length terminated in his death.

It was at this period, also, that he suffered the loss of an early and attached friend — one to whose taste and kindness he had been equally indebted in early life — Mr. Owen, R. A., the celebrated portrait-painter, who died under peculiarly distressing circumstances. In the plenitude of fame and patronage, when fortune and success opened simultaneously before him, this graceful and accomplished artist had been seized with an affection of the spine, which obliged him to resign the practice of his profession entirely. After a period of protracted suffering and compelled indolence, his medical attendants at length gave him hopes of a progress towards recovery. On the evening before his death, he took, as usual, a draught of composing drops — observing, however, at the time, that its taste was different from that of his usual mixture. About midnight, the servant entered his room, and was alarmed at hearing that his master was breathing with unusual heaviness and difficulty. Assistance was immediately sent for, but it was too late — a fatal mistake had been committed in labelling the mixture he was accustomed to take, and the unfortunate man had drunk, unconsciously, a whole bottle full of laudanum.

Under the Earl of Liverpool's administration, the foundation of the National Gallery was begun in this year, by the purchase of Mr. Angerstein's pictures, to form the nucleus of a collection. Such an opportunity of endeavouring, as far as lay in his own power, to procure the honourable advancement of his profession, and a liberal attention to the just claims of modern Art, was not to be lost by one so devoted to every interest and exigence of his pursuit as the subject of this Biography. Accordingly, he addressed to the Earl of Liverpool a private letter, which, written at the time of the establishment of an institution whose arrangements have since been the subject of so much angry discussion, and advocating by the strongest arguments the employment of practical artists in all the offices of a National Gallery, must be perused with curiosity and interest at least, if not with conviction and applause. In subjoining Mr. Collins's letter, it is worthy of remark, that a principal part of his claims for his profession, therein advanced, has been ultimately recognised by Government in the successive appointment of two Royal Academicians (Mr. Eastlake, R.A., and, on his resignation, Mr. Uwins, R.A.,) to a chief position in the responsible superintendence of The National Gallery.

Mr. Collins's letter is expressed as follows:

 

"To THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL OF LIVERPOOL, ETC., ETC., ETC.

"London, 1825.

"My Lord,— The great object of the foundation of a National Gallery having been achieved, and your lordship having taken an active part in its furtherance and plan, I hope I shall not be considered as taking too great a liberty in respectfully venturing to offer a few remarks upon the opportunity, now in the hands of His Majesty's Government, of hastening the fulfilment of the prediction of Richardson — that, 'if ever the Art should again be brought to perfection, it will be in England.'

"The plan I would propose confers a great benefit on the employed, at a very moderate expense to the employer. It is simply, my Lord, to bestow on artists of acknowledged talent those situations connected with the Institution for which, I venture to assert, they are the best qualified, and which legitimately belong to them. My plan by no means proposes the entire support of such artists in indolence, or any emolument that would not leave them still to exercise great exertion for their maintenance. Nor, however desirable such aid might be to the young student, or artists in the decline of power, would it be my object to see it conferred on either.

"The propriety of the constant attendance of respectable and responsible persons, in whose custody the national pictures might be left, would no doubt be highly satisfactory to the public; and artists are best calculated for the situations proposed, because, to them, such attendance would afford an opportunity of pursuing their studies with the greatest possible advantage to their profession; they would also, for that reason, be satisfied with a salary very considerably below what must be given, for the like attendance, to equally responsible persons in any other class of life,

"The consequences of immediate contact with such works as would belong to a National Gallery would not lead the matured artist blindly to copy merely the efforts before him, but would stimulate to the investigation and adoption of those principles which, in their result, have so constantly charmed the world — principles which, added to the intellectual choice of subject admitted to characterise the designs of our modern artists, would most assuredly add fresh influence, in a moral point of view, to the powers of Art.

"In our own times, no better instance of the success of a patient investigation of the works of the old masters can be adduced than that of our countryman, Sir Joshua Reynolds, who, with the most glorious success, added to their technical excellences a sentiment, character, and grace, not always to be found in their works.

"If it be essential, also, to the competency of the person filling the situation already proposed, that he possess judgment to decide on the merits of works of Art, the artist (imitations of whose works are constantly passed by picture-dealers on each other for genuine productions) will be the least likely to mistake copies for originals, in any new purchase His Majesty 's Government may think proper to make.

"Literary men, as your Lordship knows, and not booksellers, are employed as officers at the British Museum, as well as in the public libraries abroad,— and why should not painters be the fittest persons for the survey worship of public collections of pictures? It cannot be doubted that they who are most alive to the perception of the beauties and delicacies of fine workmanship, will be the most likely to keep a watchful eye over excellences which are so constantly sacrificed by the injudicious operations of those who are ignorant of the means by which such beauties are generally produced.

"It may be objected, I am aware, to a plan for the furtherance of Art by the study of the ancient masters, that those means have been already afforded with so little success in a neighbouring country; but it must not be forgotten, that their failure is entirely to be attributed to a want of the due appreciation of the high qualities of their predecessors, and a consequent rejection of the mode of using a National Gallery which I have ventured to urge. It is an acknowledged fact, that artists of the lowest rank have always been found most ready and eager to disparage the works of the old masters.

"It would, my Lord, on my part, be absurd to deny having, what may be deemed, a selfish view in this appeal to your Lordship; and that it is the interests of my brethren and myself, as well as of the Art, which I may seem anxious to advocate. But, when I know that an annual expense of one thousand pounds would be sufficient to satisfy at least three artists, in the vigour of their professional career, I cannot possibly let this opportunity pass of most earnestly and respectfully entreating the kind consideration of a nobleman who has so constantly evinced the warmest desire to uphold the interests of Modern Art.

"With every sentiment of respect,

"I have the honour to be, my Lord,

"Your Lordship's most obliged and obedient Servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

During this summer the painter fixed his residence at the little village of Hendon, taking with him the important pictures for Lord Northwicke, Sir Abraham Hume, and Mr. Morrison, M. P., on which he was then engaged. To the brooks, the meadows, and the woods, surrounding this thoroughly English retirement, his happiest leisure hours were devoted. Sometimes an old friend, a fellow-student, or a patron, visited him; sometimes he repaired to the abode of Mr. Gillman, at Highgate, where its illustrious inmate, Coleridge, then assembled around him the most gifted and remarkable men of the age. Here he first met that original and extraordinary character, Edward Irving, whose preaching was at that time drawing its greatest multitude of hearers, and whose religious opinions had not then assumed the marked and startling form in which they afterwards appeared. From the discussions upon matters of worship constantly occurring between Coleridge and Irving, Mr. Collins, and others of the poet's guests, gathered such fresh information, and acquired such new ideas, as they never afterwards forgot. Eloquent as he was upon all other subjects, neither in his conversation nor in his writings did the powerful and profound mind of Coleridge ever so thoroughly expose its secret treasures as when he spoke, or wrote, of religion. It was especially in his conversation on this subject that his brilliancy flashed out in all the blaze of inspiration — a brilliancy which wanted but a more popular direction, to shine before the world as widely and enduringly as the brightest poetic reputations kindled even in his glorious age.

Having been thus employed during the summer, the painter occupied himself, as usual in the autumn, in visiting his friends. After a sojourn with Mr. Wells, he proceeded to Dover Castle, the residence of his excellent friend, Mr. Jenkinson, a nephew of Lord Liverpool's, to whom he had been introduced in the present year. From this place, he writes as follows:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Dover Castle, October 7th, 1825.

"* * * I received your letter soon after my arrival at this place, and a great comfort I found it. You cannot tell me too much of your dear self and the sweet child. It really seems a year since we parted; and, notwithstanding the longing desire I feel to return, I fear I cannot accomplish the pleasing task until Thursday, or Friday, in the next week. Mr. Jenkinson will not hear of my leaving, and I have engaged to go to Walmer Castle for a day or two.

"This place affords so many hints for future subjects, and is so far from London, that I feel anxious to take advantage, now, of all it affords. Almost all my time is spent out of doors; and I think I derive much benefit from the sea air, and the delightful situation of this romantic Castle. The view from the living-rooms is magnificent, and the attentions of my host extremely gratifying.

"Yesterday, I dined at the house of the Archbishop of Canterbury — who has seven daughters, all unmarried — and a very pleasant party we had. This evening I have returned from dining with Mr. Hutchins, with whom Miss Wilkie has journeyed to Dover; and, I am happy to say, she gives a very good account of her brother, who is at Genoa. * * *

"* * * Before I left Mr. Wells, he wished me to put a price on my picture, which I improved much while at his house; having spent all the time not devoted to exercise upon it. I proposed one hundred and twenty-five guineas as the price; which Mr. Wells thought too little, and offered a cheque for a hundred, in addition to the forty-five already received; which I would not take: and so the matter rests. * * *

"* * * I am glad to find my mother has been with you, and I hope you will let her know my plans: tell her I would write to her, did I not know- she would hear as much from you as I could put into a letter to her. Surely Hendon must be beautiful, if you have such weather now as we have at Dover. * * *

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

During this autumn, the painter received, at Sir Robert Peel's table, the first intimation of that gentleman's wish to possess a new work by his hand which should be the most important that he had ever painted. The size of the picture, the subject, and amount of remuneration were left entirely to the painter's discretion. Of the manner in which this liberal and flattering commission was executed, and of the circumstances attending its completion, due notice will be taken, at the period when the picture was publicly exhibited — the year 1827.

The Coast Scene, ordered for His Majesty, in 1824, was now completed: it was entitled " Prawn Fishers at Hastings," and was never exhibited. A boy with a little child on his back, and a girl, holding up her apron to receive the Prawns which one of the "Fishers," is giving to her, occupy the beach in the left-hand foreground. Further out, in the middle distance, and finely relieved against the sky, are three other Prawn Fishers, pursuing their occupation among the pools of "tide-water." The flat rocks covered with sea-weed, on which these figures are standing, extend down to the right-hand foreground, and are painted with amazing power, finish, and fidelity to Nature. High cliffs rise in the left distance; while the calm ocean occupies the right. The sky, with its various combinations of light, large, and streaky clouds, blown about by the wind into different directions, and exquisite forms, is treated with an airy grace and delicacy, which the artist never, perhaps, surpassed in any of his efforts of this class. The figures in the picture are forcible and natural — the tone of colour is pure and masterly, throughout: it is, in every respect, worthy of the place in the noble collection of works of Art at Windsor Castle, which it still occupies.

After having received the congratulations of every one who saw this work during its progress, Mr. Collins had the final satisfaction of hearing its Royal possessor express his satisfaction at his new acquisition, in a personal interview, at Windsor; whither the painter had been summoned, to superintend the hanging of his picture in the proper light. The notorious ease and affability of the King's manners, when he was brought into contact with men of genius of any class, was as apparent in his frank and kind reception of Mr. Collins, as in all other instances. His shrewd and sensible remarks on painting; the warmth and interest with which he spoke of the prospects of national Art; and the hearty and discriminating praise he bestowed upon his new picture, were occurrences of the interview, to which the painter ever afterwards reverted, with equal gratitude and delight. But once did the King make a mistake in the course of the conversation on Art; and that was in relation to the precise bearing of the Coast, as represented in the picture. Mr. Collins ventured to set him right on this point; and the propriety of the correction was acknowledged with the most perfect good-humour. Indeed, the constant anxiety of this cultivated and high-spirited monarch, to profit on matters connected with Literature and the Arts, by the advice and opinions of professors of each science, was an interesting and remarkable trait in his character. On some occasions his patience was put to the test, in this manner of acquiring knowledge; and on none more frequently than when consulting on matters of Art, with his architect. Sir Jeffrey Wyattville; whose odd bluntness and hastiness, contrasted amusingly with the polish and temper of his Royal master. At the time when alterations were taking place in the Tower at Windsor the King gave some directions, not at all in harmony with Sir Jeffrey's taste: accordingly he put the King's plan on paper, but coolly followed his own, in reducing it to execution. When the work was completed His Majesty saw it, and immediately expressed his pleasure at seeing that his directions had been so well followed. Most men would have let the matter rest here: but Sir Jeffrey was determined not to hide his light under a bushel; and taking up the Royal plan that he had rejected, observed triumphantly as he showed it to the King; "If I had done as your Majesty desired, this would have been the effect!" — The King smiled at his architect's determination to keep to his own opinions and to gain all the credit for them; and quietly replied, as he laid down his despised plan:- "Well, Wyattville, I suppose I must acknowledge that you know best!"

The following letter, addressed to Mr. Collins, from Rome, by Sir David Wilkie, and the reply to it, mark the commencement of a correspondence, which was continued during Wilkie's progress through Spain, as well as during my father's residence on the Continent some years afterwards; and which will be found to contain, as it proceeds, an interesting account, recorded by each painter in turn, of his first impressions of the marvellous achievements of southern Art:

 

To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Rome, Dec. 3rd, 1825.

"Dear Collins,— After hearing, as you no doubt must have done, that I was laid up under the doctor's hands at Paris, where no good was gained by it; and after hearing, also, that I had been taken ill at Parma, where I have never been, you may be surprised to find that I am still in the land of the living. Of health, however, I have no wish to boast: nor do I wish to complain of the anxiety of friends. Glad should I have been to have seen the wonders of this Eternal City with greater powers of benefiting by the sight: but the journey of a thousand miles, while it has amused and diverted me, has at least done no harm; and, after its fatigues, I am quite as able-bodied as at starting; and if still unable for serious study and occupation, have the satisfaction of being more equal than I was to the effort of communicating my ideas and impressions to my distant friends.

"My first project of travelling with Phillips and Hilton being thwarted by my detention in Paris, we entered Italy at different times; and while they took the road to Venice, Parma, and Bologna, I, with my cousin Lister, took the western road from Milan by Genoa and Pisa; and arrived at Florence, our place of rendezvous, three days before them. Among us three, or rather between them and myself, when in this cradle of the revival of Art, there was naturally a collision of opinion; but in one thing we had formed the same conclusion, and that too from objects seen on our different routes, and before we met — namely, that the only Art pure and unsophisticated, and that is worth study and consideration by an artist, or that has the true object of Art in view, is to be found in the works of those masters who revived and improved the Art, and those who ultimately brought it to perfection. These seem alone, whatever their talent was, to have addressed themselves to the common sense of mankind. From Giotto to Michael Angelo, expression and sentiment seem the first thing thought of: while those that followed, seem to have allowed technicalities to get the better of them, until simplicity giving way to intricacy, they appear to have painted more for the artist and the connoisseur than for the untutored apprehensions of ordinary men.

"Such, I think, must be the impression of a stranger. The multitude of works pressed upon him at all hands would be distraction itself, but for the selection you have to make of the best; and everything commonplace, affected, or academical you reject by a kind of instinct; but in doing so, many a mighty name is, I assure you, thrust in the background, and many unknown and unscientific names brought into view. But this is a classification upon which all progress in Art must depend, inasmuch as a new power over the mind or feelings of man, added to the Art, is of more value than all the changes that can be rung, however dexterously, upon that which has been already invented.

"After viewing with extreme interest, at Pisa and at Florence, the series of Art from Cimabue and Giotto down to P. Perugino and Fra Bartolomeo, I was all expectation to see, on coming to Rome, the works of Raphael and Michael Angelo. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel were, therefore, my first objects of attention. On entering, the grayness of the frescoes first struck me, and some time elapsed before this wore off. The Raphaels resemble much the Cartoons; they are less finished, and a little more damaged than I expected, but in colour they are admirable, and lose nothing from being so. They have, indeed, this high quality, that the subject is uppermost, and they have more excellences addressed to the unlearned observers than any works I know of. When in the freshness of their first existence, they must have been most attractive to the common people, which, I doubt, is more than could have been said for Titian or Rubens.

"Michael Angelo's works I visited with greater apprehension, prepared almost for disappointment; but when the first impression of the grayness of fresco was over, they grew upon me with overpowering influence. The composition of the 'Last Judgment' and ceiling you know perfectly,— the colour, effect, and expression, therefore, is all that will be new to you as it was to me. As a colourist, people seem to apologize for him, but I assure you, quite unnecessarily; he is always appropriate, never offends, and in many parts is as fine as Titian or Correggio. Broken tints, with most agreeable arrangement and harmony, with all the suavity of richness and tone that we are accustomed to exact from the Venetians, seem quite familiar with him; and, high as his other qualities are for composition and mental intelligence, his colouring rather adds than detracts from them. And though Sir Joshua Reynolds seems to have overlooked this quality in Michael Angelo, where he says that severity and harshness are necessary to the grand style, I still give him credit for unaffected sincerity in his admiration of the great master, between whose works in the Sistine Chapel and his own we have been tracing many resemblances; not only in the high aim, the something unattainable, and the profound feeling for the indescribable thoughts of the inward man, but even in the more obvious qualities of light and shadow and colour. The wonders accomplished here in fresco suggest the question whether it should not be tried in England? Damp climate is objected,— but Italy is damp too; and the difficulty of the work is stated,— but this vanishes, since we see the artists here doing it with perfect facility. Several Germans,— namely, Overbeck, Fight, Schadow, and Schnorr, have painted two palazzos in the early German manner, imitating not Raphael, but Raphael's masters, and with great cleverness and research; but they have not hit the mark,— their style wanting so much of modern embellishment cannot now be popular, and can neither be admired nor followed, as Pietro Perugino and Ghirlandaio were in their early day. This has given occasion to the wags to say, that Overbeck has overreached himself; that Fight is shy and timid; that Schadow has neither depth nor softness; and that Schnorr is without repose!!! With all this, however, in our country of novelty and experiment, why do those, whose aim in the higher walks is so cramped and confined by a measured canvas and a limited commission not try at once to revive the art of fresco?

"After the above crude thoughts, I now come to consider what your dear lady, (to whom I beg to be most kindly remembered,) and yourself, will see is the postscript; and therefore, the most important part of my communication, namely — whether you should not come, to see and study this land of promise. For my own part, I am thankful that I have seen it; and if I should recover my health and powers of application, shall bless the present affliction for having put this long-looked-for gratification within my reach, at a period that I hope is not too late for benefiting by it. So much do I think I gain by seeing Art, however different from mine, yet exerted with an aim, capable of being infused into any style. It is for you to judge, whether a similar advantage can be derived in your line — with this difference, that while I see pictures of figures, you can see no pictures of landscapes, in this country. From my leaving Paris, not one landscape has presented itself, good, bad, or indifferent, of the Italian school. The Art of Italy therefore, except by analogy, can be of no use to you; but, even in this way, it would enlarge your views; and, in respect to the country, as a new material to work upon, the country of Claude and the Poussins, what might it not furnish you! For, in spite of the scanty verdure, the stunted trees, and the muddy streams, still this is Italy; and, until you see this, and the mountains of Switzerland, you can have no proper idea of what Nature is capable of. Here, everything is seen clearer than in England — the sky is bluer, the light is brighter, the shadows stronger, and colours more vivid than with you; and, besides a change of effect in the pictures of an artist, in the course of a long professional career — which I hope you still have before you — may not a change of subject — as well to develope your own powers, as to keep alive the public interest be a thing of consequence to you? Remember what Wilson and Turner have gained from Italy and Switzerland; and, though as a family man it will require a sacrifice, I think it well worth your deliberate consideration.

"In writing the above, let me not throw the apple of discord between you and your good lady. Her approval is necessary; but she has Mrs. Phillips as an heroic example; and it would be an advantage to your family, exactly in proportion as it would benefit yourself. Pray what would Sir George Beaumont, or Sir Charles Long, think of such a project? Mr. Higgins I saw at Florence; and I find he is now at Rome. He delivered your letter to Kirkup.

"Now, dear Collins, in answer to this monstrous long letter, which I can only write at intervals, to avoid fatigue, you must write to me, to give me a detail of all the news about London Art. We have heard of Allen's election; but this is almost the only thing we have heard of since we started — therefore, write me everything, and do not be long in setting about it — I have no other way of hearing about these matters, but through you; and, therefore, depend on your kindness in doing it.

"Here is quite a colony of English artists, and also many Scotch. Sculptors are very busy. Gibson has just finished a group of the Zephyrs bearing Pysche, for Sir George Beaumont. Joseph ought to come here; he will be lost in Edinburgh: Rome ought, of all places, to be seen by a sculptor: urge him to it. Phillips and Hilton desire to be kindly remembered. Having little time, they are most active, and purpose leaving for home, by way of Genoa and Mount Cenis, in a fortnight. Their visit was far too short, but must be useful to both. Eastlake has laid aside his banditti to paint an historical subject — Roman history — Poussin size. Lane's picture not yet visible to mortal eye.

"Give my best respects to Mrs. Collins, and to your brother; and with sincere esteem,

"I am, dear Sir,

"Yours very truly,

"DAVID WILKIE."

"P.S. Let me know what you are doing yourself."

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"11, New Cavendish-street,

December 22nd, 1825.

"Dear Wilkie — I received with the most heartfelt gratification the account, under your own hand, of your advance in health and spirits. Most sincerely do I trust your visit to Italy may be the means of effectually removing all traces of your late indisposition. If the earnest wishes of your numerous friends could aught avail you, you would be well indeed!

"The account you give of your feelings upon visiting the works of Raphael and Michael Angelo, although it does not altogether surprise me, yet, I must confess, it somewhat startles me. I have been so long in the habit of considering Titian a mighty man, that I cannot help feeling disappointed that you say so little about him; and I much fear that the excellences of the Venetian school are sinking rapidly in your estimation. As for the Dutch and Flemish heresies, I conclude it will be prudent, in their behalf, to hold my peace.

"I am much obliged to you for continuing to take an interest in my welfare, and were it practicable, I should have great satisfaction in joining you in Italy; but much as my wife admires the heroism of the lady you mention, she does not think I dare go alone, and so the 'scanty verdure, muddy streams, and stunted trees' must wait for a sitting until I have paid my just and lawful debts in my own country.

"You desire news of our proceedings here, and such as I can furnish you with you shall have. Our three gold medals were given to Wood, Dacre, and Basset for painting, sculpture, and architecture, and the usual number of silver medals; but I am sorry to say we had nothing particularly good in any department. The sculpture made the best appearance. The best picture, in consequence of the person who painted it (John Hayter, I believe,) not having attended as required by the laws, to make a sketch, was not allowed to compete. Mr. Peel has just purchased a very fine De Hooge, for twelve hundred guineas. Etty and Danby are busily engaged about large pictures for Somerset House; and I have been working hard for some months. During my stay at Hendon I painted a picture for Mr. Wells, and one for the King, which his Majesty desired me to take to the Lodge at Windsor, where I had the honour of an interview, (introduced by Sir Charles Long,) which was one of the most gratifying events of my life. Your two pictures were seen to great advantage, especially the 'Penny Wedding' which is certainly one of your most beautiful works. I have been to the Kentish coast, where I saw your sister, and from whom, during my stay there, I heard favourable accounts of your health, which I transmitted to Mr. Wells and other of your friends, who had been, as well as myself, misled by the newspapers on that subject. Since my return, I have been employed upon a picture for Mr. Morrison; and although I remained at Hendon until the beginning of this month, my protracted stay there has not prevented my receiving some new and important commissions.

"London is at this moment unusually full, and the monied interest in a deplorable way. One really finds some advantage in being too poor to keep a banker. Should you have it in your power to get some slight sketches made for you of the arrangement of the colours in the fine things you have before you, they might be useful.

"I have ventured to employ an engraver, who has just completed a small engraving from one of my pictures, and has begun one from Lord Liverpool's picture,* which will be a more expensive undertaking. I have engaged Hurst and Robinson to publish for me, and find I am to pay handsomely for everything they do. Callcott accompanied me to Mr. Wells's in the autumn, and a day or two since I took Mulready to Mr. Peel's. I find they think more highly of the pictures you and I (I fear I must only say I now) so much admire, than I could have expected.

* "Fishermen on the Look-Out."

"Regretting that I cannot send you a more entertaining letter, (for really there is little to be learned of what our artists are doing,) in return for one so full of novel information — and almost envying you the fine opportunities you have of holding daily converse with the founders of the great style,

"I am, with the greatest esteem,

"Your faithful and obliged friend,

"WILLIAM COLLINS.

"P.S. — Can I do anything for you? Do not scruple to employ me; and when you find yourself able to send a line, I shall be most happy to hear more about your health."

Foremost among Mr. Collins's contributions to the Exhibition of 1826, was the celebrated picture of "The Fisherman's Departure." The success of this work — painted for Mr. Morrison, M.P.,— was most brilliant. Once he repeated it himself, for Mr. Chamberlayne, M.P., and twice it was repeated by others — in two line-engravings, large and small. Among all his productions, none had hitherto more powerfully vindicated his claim to be considered a figure-painter as well as a landscape-painter than this picture, which continued, during its exhibition, to be a centre of attraction to all classes of visitors within the Academy walls. It may be thus described:

It is night; the evening has closed in tranquilly, and the moon is slowly rising behind a mass of dark, thick cloud. Its beams already tremble on the still waters of the sea — dotted, here and there, with a few fishing-boats — and tip with a soft light the jagged edges of a range of cliffs, stretching on the right of the picture all through the scene, from the foreground to the horizon-line. On a small tract of table-land, halfway down the nearest of these cliffs, stands the cottage of the fisherman. At irregular intervals, the tops of its rude gable windows, the thatch of its little outhouse, the meshes of the nets hanging at its simple doorway, partake the radiance that is fast brightening to light the seaward view. Here the "Departure" is taking place; here the fisherman is on the point of quitting his family for a night of toil upon the waters. His tall, manly form, equipped in a thick jerkin, an impenetrable apron, and ponderous boots, is raised to its full stature, as he holds his infant child high in his arms to give it the parting kiss, which the little creature receives, half in terror, half in satisfaction, as he feels his unaccustomed elevation from the ground. By the fisherman's side stands his eldest boy, half-smothered beneath his father's heavy watch-coat, which he carries over his shoulder, and furnished with the lantern, the two extra candles, and the loaf of bread, indicating the length of time that must elapse ere the fisherman can return. On the right of the father and son, and a little removed from them, are the rest of the family. The grandfather, whose days of adventure on the deep are over, leans on a rail, occupied in conversation with a woman whose back is turned to the spectator, and whose arm rests on the shoulder of one of the fisherman's female children. Opposite to this group sits the fisherman's wife, holding a sleeping child on her lap, and fixing her eyes tenderly and anxiously on her husband. At the extreme left of the picture, a rude wooden flight of steps and rail conduct to the beach beneath. On the top of these, near a boat-hook lying ready across the rail, stands a large Newfoundland dog, looking round impatiently for his master's signal of departure; while, distant and beneath, is seen a glimpse of the quiet beach, with the fisherman's boat and companion on the shore awaiting his approach. Such are the objects depicted in this simple and original work. To gain an adequate idea of the extraordinary truth and nature of the figures, of the perfect absence of any artificial refinement on the one hand, or exaggerated coarseness on the other, in the different personages composing the fisherman's family, it will be necessary — in the numerous cases where a sight of the picture itself must be impossible — to examine the large and admirable line-engraving by Mr. Phelps, in which the pure tone and sentiment of the original work is preserved with a rare fidelity and success.

Besides this picture, my father contributed two others, this year, to the Royal Academy Exhibition: "Young Shrimp-catchers," — a small, delicate, sea-piece, painted for Sir Abraham Hume; and "Hop-pickers" — a sunny, Kentish scene, rich and brilliant in tone, the background filled with tall hop-poles, through which the light breaks quaintly from a small patch of blue sky — the foreground occupied by a highly-finished group of girls, engaged in their labours on a space of cleared ground. This picture was painted for the late Mr. Wells, of Redleaf.

During the summer, my father's increasing anxiety to devote himself daily to the study and enjoyment of nature, induced him to quit London and fix his residence definitely at Hampstead. Here, while still within reach of the Great City, he could live surrounded by some of the prettiest and most varied inland scenery that this part of England presents,— scenery, the beauties and pictorial capabilities of which he never wearied of exploring, and was always anxious to communicate to others. Friends of all ranks and occupations, who came to visit him here, found in the painter, not only the warm partizan of the merits of Hampstead scenery, but the practical guide of their walks, and the ready tutor of their taste for Nature. Indeed, at every period of his life, an excursion with him in the country was a privilege thoroughly appreciated by all who knew him. He possessed the peculiar faculty of divesting his profession of all its mysteries and technicalities, and of enabling the most uneducated in his Art to look at Nature with his eyes, and enjoy Nature with his zest. People who possessed years of acquaintance with scenery to which he was a stranger, found themselves introduced by him to points of view which they had never before discovered, and enabled, for the first time, to separate through his teaching the valuable and the true from the common and the artificial, in landscapes among which from childhood their lives had been past.

I am here enabled, after a long absence of any such matter, to present a short extract from my father's Journal of this year. The dearth of material from his diaries in the more advanced passages of this work, has doubtless been already remarked. It is unfortunately the too faithful reflection of the aspect of the diaries themselves, which present, at this period of his life, nothing more than bare numerical entries of the days and hours devoted in succession to the production of his different pictures. But what the public may lose by this in his biography they have gained in his works; for the absence of extractable matter in his journals, during the maturity of his career, is to be attributed, in a great measure, to the continued increase of his devotion to his Art,— a devotion which made him jealous of every hour not directly occupied in the furtherance of his studies; and therefore careless of assigning to his personal affairs a place on paper, as memorials of the past, after they had ceased to hold a place in his attention as occurrences of the present.

 

JOURNAL OF 1826.

"March — Began Mr. Peel's 'Frost Scene.' Sir William Beechey called, and was astonished at the time I spent on my pictures: he said it was his opinion that Vandervelde painted Mr. Holdsworth's picture with ease, in two days. Although I do not agree with him in this opinion, I think Vandervelde, as well as many finished painters of the Dutch school, preserved the spirit of their work, by painting much faster than most people seem aware of; and I am persuaded that my own pictures would be better were they done with less timidity and anxiety; as nothing can replace the want of that vigour and freshness, which things done quickly (with a constant reference to Nature) necessarily possess. * * *

"Wednesday, 9th — Whilst supporting Shockley, the gardener, who was upon a high ladder gathering our pears, his knife fell from his hands, when he called, and I looked up; the knife fell into my face and cut the left side of my nose. That it did not strike my best eye, (which is my left,) that it did not penetrate my head, and that it struck where it did, and produced so little injury, I owe entirely to the great mercy of Almighty God, May this event open my eyes to the goodness of my Creator, and keeping alive the sense of humble gratitude that I feel, enable me to 'look to my stewardship' and 'redeem the time, through the might of Jesus Christ.'

"After the attendance of the surgeon, laid down and read. During the rest of the day, kept quiet and did no painting.

"* * * July 21st — Resolved to work five hours a day, keeping a debtor and creditor account; each day I spend out of my study, being entered on the debtor side.

"* * * Of spiritedly executed pictures, it is commonly said:- 'Tis not intended for close inspection.' — The real lover of painting, derives the highest gratification from this very sort of execution. However highly finished a picture may be, the beauty of the execution is in fact lost, when (as some wise- acres say) 'it requires a magnifying-glass to enjoy such handling.' Denner, Vanderwerf, the younger Mieres, and those who are interested in the sale of such works, have to answer for this." * * *

The "Frost Scene," mentioned at the commencement of the foregoing extracts, as "begun," was the composition which the painter proposed to execute on the liberal terms of Sir Robert Peel's commission of the preceding autumn. To paint a large " snow- piece," combining full illustration in landscape with stirring incident in figures, had long been an object of his ambition; and he gladly seized the opportunity which the freedom of subject and size, now conceded to him, so pleasingly bestowed, to gratify his own wishes, as well as to deserve the honourable confidence that had been reposed in his genius. Through the autumn and winter of this year, the picture, begun under these circumstances, proceeded slowly, surely and anxiously, towards completion. The flattering terms of Sir Robert Peel's commission had already become widely talked of in London society; and the painter felt that the completion of his arduous and responsible undertaking was awaited with as much impatience by those who envied, as by those who rejoiced, in his successes. His accustomed anxiety to achieve the highest excellence in his works was doubled during the progress of this picture. As the winter advanced every "frost scene" that Nature presented to his eye was studied as elaborately as if, instead of one, a series of "snow-pieces" had been expected from him. Among the figures introduced in his composition were a man and woman, mounted on a pillion. All Hampstead was ransacked without success for this old-fashioned article of travelling equipment; and the painter — determined, even in the minor accessories of his picture, to trust to nothing but Nature — had begun to despair of finishing his group, when a lady volunteered to hunt out a pillion for him, in the neighbourhood of Hackney, where she lived. Nor, when she had procured it, did she remain satisfied with simply obtaining the model. When the painter arrived to see it, he found her ready to illustrate its use. Her gardener hired an old horse, strapped on the pillion, and mounted it; while his mistress placed herself in the proper position, behind: the complete series of models, human, animal, and mechanical, remaining at the painter's disposal, until he had made a careful study of the whole. The group thus completed, was one of the most admired in the picture for its fidelity and nature; and the manner in which the requisite study for it was obtained, is here mentioned, in order to add one more to the numberless instances of the obligations of genius to the interference and enthusiasm of the gentler sex.

A letter, written by Mr. Collins about this period, answering an application for advice upon the future direction to be given to the productions of a juvenile prodigy, whose efforts in the Art had been submitted to his judgment, contains, in a small compass, so many judicious hints upon the caution necessary to be observed in such cases, in discriminating between empty ambition and real capacity, as to make its insertion likely to prove useful to others who may be placed under the same serious responsibility, of deciding on the future career of some "infant phenomenon" in the world of Art. The letter was expressed as follows:

 

"To —

"London, July, 1826.

"My dear Sir,— I have frequently thought your subject over, and am now not much nearer a decision than when I began; for, truly, it is a matter involving much of the boy's future happiness. That the drawings and picture are surprisingly clever for a child, every one must admit; but, whether the impulse under which they were produced, will be sufficient to carry him on — whether his constitution will support him under the fatigue of many years' study — and whether his love of painting will bear the trials of lack of encouragement, and the other ills to which a person is liable, by entering our profession, are questions which, at this very early period of the boy's experience, no one on earth can answer.

"Amid these difficulties, one piece of advice I may venture to give,— Let our little friend go on drawing, without being much encouraged or depressed; not allowing him to give up such other schoolboy employments as will be necessary and advantageous to him, whatever his future destination may be; and if, after a couple of years, his preference for drawing continue, and his works should improve, something may be determined upon. Any other course would be, in my opinion, highly imprudent; and if, either at the expiration of that time, or whenever you may choose, in the interim, you should think fit to send me any of his performances, I shall have the greatest pleasure in giving such advice as my knowledge will enable me honestly to offer.

"Faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The succeeding letter was written during the painter's usual autumn visit to the country seat of the late Mr. Wells.

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Redleaf, Sept. 23, 1826.

"* * * Judging from my own anxiety to receive a letter from you, I write, although I have little to communicate. My time is passed in the most agreeable manner, and principally out of doors, until six in the evening. Mr. and Mrs. S—- are of our party, and as she is fond of conversation, and from the extensive connection she has with the great world, has a vast deal of amusing knowledge to impart — she keeps us quite alive. Mr. Wells, I need not tell you, is the same unpretending, sociable, hospitable host, and, if possible, more unlike the selfish creatures with whom this world seems to be peopled, than ever. I take especial care to follow your instructions respecting the easy, quiet method of spending my time, which you have thought so desirable in my case, and I trust you do not neglect my wishes, in all that pertains to your own comfort. * * * I have just returned from hearing Mr. Dodd, who gave us a most impressive sermon upon sincerity — Heaven grant I may profit by it: I need hardly say I wish you to do the same, for you possess that virtue in a high degree already — do not let it go from you; it is unfortunately but little sought after in what is called 'the world:' Mr. Wells has it in a rare degree. How is my dear mother? Does Frank see you often? These, and other matters, let me know about at your early convenience. * * *

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. — I open my letter again, to say that I have heard that the pipe of a key, pressed for a few minutes upon the sting of a wasp or bee, is a cure. Mr. Parke mentioned this to us, as you know; but Mrs. S—- tried it, and succeeded in removing a sting from her brother. Mention this where you think it may be of use."

 

CHAPTER V.

1827-1831.

Letter to Mr. Joseph - Exhibition of 1827 - Malicious slander against the painter, on the subject of his "Frost Scene" - His refutation - Extracts from diary - Letters to and from Wilkie - Mutual opinions on the old masters, and on colour, and light and shade - Letter from the painter to his wife - Domestic events of 1828 - Letters to and from Wilkie - Pictures of 1828 - Desire of the King to possess one of them - Return of Wilkie to England - Visit of the painter to Holland and Belgium - Letters to Mrs. W. Collins from the Continent and from Leamington - Death of the Earl of Liverpool - Pictures of 1829 - Sonnet to the painter, by Mr. Bernard Barton - Correspondence with the author - Anecdotes of criticism on Art - Contemplated change of residence - Visit to Boulogne - Studies there - Noble humanity of a French fisherman - Letter to Mr. Francis Collins - Return to Hampstead - Commencement of French sea-pieces - Death of Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. - Pictures of 1830 - Letters to Sir Thomas Baring, Bart. - Removal to Bayswater - Extracts from diary - Lord Byron - Pictures of 1831 - Commencement of "the Skittle Players."

To Mr. Joseph, the sculptor, who was at this time much interested in matters connected with the progress of the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts, and who had written to ask him for a contribution to the Annual Exhibition of that Institution, my father thus writes:

 

"To S. JOSEPH, ESQ.

"Hampstead, January 22, 1827.

"My dear Joseph,— You will see by the above address that I am hermit enough to live away from London, even in the winter, and by what will follow, that whatever of the courtier might have formerly belonged to your friend's disposition, is now, in his old age, utterly cast off. In this, my new character, then, I find myself under the necessity of at once refusing your request, and, moreover, of offering a little advice. My reason for not acceding to your proposal is this, I have no time disengaged to paint a new picture for your Exhibition, and I am not willing to be judged in foreign, barbarous countries, by such works as those you mention. And now, my good friend, I must confess that I regret your present sacrifice of time and temper, in the vain endeavour to set matters right, where the patronage of our little understood and greatly undervalued Art is concerned. It is the nature of the world to neglect living merit; and as the pursuit of excellence brings its own reward, all attempt or longing after other good things, is just so much loss of time and power.

"Let me entreat you to leave all squabbling to those who love it —

'One science only can one genius fit;'

and, as all combinations to force real Art are miserable shackles to it, to depend upon your own unsophisticated study of Nature; to send the very best works you can execute to our Academy,— the least faulty of such institutions that ever has existed; bearing in mind that we have no sculptor on our Associate List, and that we have lost a most illustrious example from among our Academicians determine to become one of us.

"I have, as you desired, made your request to such artists as I have seen since I received your letter, and purpose calling upon Etty in a day or two. Trusting you will not fail to send something excellent, and in time, to Somerset-house; and with my best wishes for your success, and sincere regards to Jane,

"I am, yours faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The Exhibition of 1827 contained three pictures by Mr. Collins: "Buying Fish," painted for Lord Northwicke; "Searching the Net," painted for Sir Abraham Hume; and the "Frost Scene," painted for Sir Robert Peel,— about which so much had been conjectured during its progress, and in relation to which a false report was circulated, as contemptible in its nature as it was malicious in its design. Ere, however, the particulars of this affair are stated, it will be necessary to submit to the reader some description of the picture itself, not forgetting the other two works exhibited with it.

"Buying Fish" was a large, clear sea-piece, painted in the artist's most brilliant manner, with one of those serene, airy skies, studded with light fleecy clouds, for which his pictures of this class were so celebrated, and enlivened by a group of well-contrasted and characteristic figures, including the salesman, a cunning old fisherman — the purchaser, a perplexed and pretty young girl — and the spectator of the bargain, a little fair-haired, bare-headed child. A shrimp-boy and two children, examining the contents of his net, formed the subject of "Searching the Net" the engraving from which is widely-known, not only in England, but in America, where the print has been one of the most successful of modern English works. Great, however, as were the merits of these two productions, they did not rival the public attraction of the "Frost Scene;" which, as another effort by the painter in a new class of subject, and as a work, moreover, about which much useless gossip had been propagated while it was on the easel, aroused the general curiosity at the time in an unusual degree. Though a picture of large dimensions, it presented throughout an appearance of elaborate, and in some places of almost excessive finish. A wide river, frozen over, occupies the middle of the composition, from the foreground to the horizon. The ice in the distance is covered by an animated crowd, composed of skaters, sliders, spectators, and vendors of provisions. On the right-hand foreground is a large drinking-booth, at the entrance of which stands the merry old "Boniface" of the temporary ale-house, with a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, exchanging a brisk fire of jokes with two travellers, a man, and a handsome young girl mounted, pillion-fashion, behind him on an old clumsy white horse. The left bank of the river is occupied by groups in full activity,— some buying, some selling, some rushing triumphantly, skates in hand, to the frozen stream — others prostrate on the slippery ground which endangers its approach. In every part of the picture the drawing of the figures is vigorous and correct; while at the same time the bustling, animated character of the different groups, and the quaint contrasts of colour and form natural to the scene, are caught with extraordinary brilliancy and success. The heavy snow-clouds, brightened by the rich flashes of red cast on them by the approaching sunset — the glimpses of cold, pure blue sky behind them — the frosty stillness of the distant landscape, are all painted with a truth, finish, and nature, which attest the severe study bestowed upon the landscape, as well as the figures, in this fine picture. Forcibly, however, as it appealed to the approbation of all who beheld it, it failed to avert from the artist that worst consequence of success,— the detraction of others. On the close of the Exhibition, the following paragraph on the subject of the "Frost Scene" appeared in four of the London newspapers:

"We mentioned some time ago that Mr. Peel had given, or was to give, five hundred guineas for the snow-piece by Collins, in the late Exhibition. Such was, we believe, the understanding when the commission was given; but on the completion of the picture, no less a sum than seven hundred guineas was demanded; a sum which we are informed the right honourable gentleman declined to pay, as he considered it very much above the value of the picture. We can easily understand that the artist may have bestowed upon his work a great deal more labour than he originally intended to bestow, without rendering it at all more valuable to his patron; but it is of great importance to the body to which he belongs that the few noblemen and gentlemen who are just now manifesting so liberal a disposition towards modern artists should not be disgusted by even the appearance of a wish to take undue advantage of their generosity."

To this paltry attempt to injure his character Mr. Collins thus replied,— addressing his letter to one of the newspapers in which the false statement had appeared, and from which the refutation thus made public, was copied into several other journals:

 

"To THE EDITOR OF THE 'STANDARD.'

"11, New Cavendish-street,

"July 30th.

"Sir,— My attention having been called to a paragraph copied into your paper, conveying an imputation upon my conduct, with reference to the commission which I have recently been honoured with from Mr. Peel, I rely upon your candour to insert from me this declaration, that the whole is a groundless fabrication, a mere invention; that no such price as seven hundred guineas was ever demanded; that the price asked was not declined to be paid, nor any the least hesitation expressed on the subject.*

* The price paid for the picture will be found, by a reference to the list of my father's works at the end of this memoir, to have been five hundred guineas.

"As regards the tendency of the paragraph to impute to me the sacrifice of the interests of the body to which I belong for my own pecuniary advantage, I repel it with the contempt the falsehood deserves.

"I am, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS.

"P.S. — I trust that such journals as have given insertion to the above-mentioned paragraph, will do me the justice to publish also this contradiction.

"W. C."

The publication of the above letter produced the exposure of the worst peculiarity attaching to the fabrication which it was written to refute; one of the newspapers alleging, as a justification of their admission of the offensive paragraph, that it had appeared through the voluntary information of a member of the Royal Academy. Feeling that enough had been already done to justify his character, Mr. Collins only noticed the clue thus afforded to the discovery of his anonymous assailant, by communicating privately on the subject to the Council of the Academy, and leaving the matter to their discretion. Soon after this the affair terminated most triumphantly for him by the receipt of a new commission from Sir Robert Peel — from whom he had previously received a letter, contradicting in the most unqualified manner the newspaper report — for another large picture by his hand; an event as creditable to the taste and liberality of the patron as to the conduct and capacity of the painter.

The following short extract from Mr. Collins's Journal for this year may be deemed not unworthy of insertion, as showing that his success in his profession had not subdued his habitual watchfulness over himself, both as a painter and as a man:

"Sept. 18th, 1827. — I see that in finishing my pictures I am too apt to introduce the darkest opaque shadows, and that consequently, to preserve that breadth which the dead colour has, I must in a great measure avoid using any dark colour lower than 'raw umber.' I must not use black or Vandyck brown until the last finishing touches; and then very thinly. Pictures may be too strong in the darks for private rooms, as well as for an Exhibition-room. Cuyp's and Wilson's pictures are entirely free from this blackness, and have, I believe, consequently great breadth, glow, and power; and do not require absolutely, as mine certainly do, to be seen with a very strong light.

"Sept. 19th. — I have attained my fortieth year. May that Almighty Being, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is perfect, for Jesus Christ's sake, guide me through that remaining portion of my life which it may be his holy will that I should pass in this world, directing me in all things." * * *

In the subjoined letters will be found a continuation of the correspondence on Art between Sir David Wilkie and Mr. Collins, of which the commencement has appeared in the preceding chapter:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE.

"Hampstead, July 9th, 1827.

"Dear Wilkie,— I had promised myself the pleasure of writing to you upon the opening of the present Exhibition, intending to give you some account of the pictures, and more especially of the really kind things Lawrence said about you at the grand dinner; but of course some more punctual, though not more sincere admirer, has superseded me. An affair, however, of great importance to us all having taken place on Saturday, I write for the purpose of giving some details, which I doubt not will interest you.

"You may possibly know by this time that Lord de Tabley* died about the 20th of last month; but unless you have very recent intelligence of the circumstance, you will be as much surprised as most of the people here, upon finding that, notwithstanding the Parliament was up and the town getting very thin, his executors determined to sell by auction his collection of pictures in Hill-street. The artists in general, but more particularly those who had pictures in the sale, were more than bilious. Turner and Sir Thomas Lawrence did everything in their power to induce the executors to put it off; but they were bent upon turning the pictures into money immediately. I shall set down the prices at which the most prominent were sold."

* Formerly Sir John Fleming Leicester, Bart.

(Here follows in the original a long list of the different pictures sold; the artists being in some instances, so unfavourable was the time chosen for the sale, the purchasers of their own or of their friends' works. Two pictures by Mr. Collins, disposed of to connoisseurs, are quoted at a hundred and eighty and two hundred guineas respectively. The letter then continues:)

"That these pictures should have sold so well, notwithstanding all the disadvantages under which they were presented to the public, is, in my opinion, a strong proof of the high estimation of modern Art; and when we consider the unsettled state of political matters, and the occupation of the public mind upon the great changes in high places, we must not complain. I have said so much about our Art, that I have little room for a thousand other things I purposed saying about ourselves. I long much to hear from you. Let me know how you go on in health; and do say you are coming back again amongst us shortly. We want you much, I assure you. Your absence, and poor Sir George Beaumont's death, have been taken advantage of, and an unusual supply of chalky pictures adorn the walls of the Academy, to the discomfort of the old school. Hilton, Etty, Lawrence, Mulready, and some others, have not fallen away, however. I am delighted to hear from your sister that you have painted some pictures. Let me know how I can be useful,— do not fear giving me trouble. What sort of news can I pick up for you? I am, as you see by the address of this letter, living at Hampstead; so short a distance from London that I can easily avail myself of its advantages, and miss its discomforts, and study in quiet. I have just painted a picture for Mr. Peel, at the highest price I have ever obtained — five hundred guineas; and am full of commissions. Poor Lord Liverpool has, within these few days, suffered another attack: our friend Jenkinson is with him continually at Coombe Wood. And now, my dear friend, may God bless you and send you home well again!

"I am, dear Wilkie,

"Yours obliged and faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. Joseph has just arrived in London, and is making some capital busts; one he has nearly finished of the Duke of Sussex is excellent."

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Geneva, 26th Aug., 1827.

"Dear Collins, Your letter gave me great pleasure; filled as it was with news, and such news as I, of all others, sympathized the most in. The ordeal of the De Tabley sale you have all gone through has to me become quite familiar. I admit yours has been both severe and unfair; but you have had the more merit in sustaining it, and it appears to native residents here, as it does to myself, a most creditable display for British Art. Indeed, I wish our artists would think somewhat more of trials of this sort, that must be perpetual, and less of the short-lived triumphs of fresh paint at Somerset-house. We affect, at home, to despise the old masters; but by the same people and the same rules must we hereafter be judged; and our heavy gilt frames and central situations will avail us nothing.

"This is a subject upon which I claim the liberty (being able to do little else) to talk. I may call myself a sort of veteran in such contests; and thanks to one of my best friends at home, have come off upon a late occasion with most unexpected success, even before the eyes of a foreign people. The sale of my picture at Munich* made an impression at Rome among all descriptions of artists; and my ideas, known to be peculiar, began to be listened to even by my own countrymen, who began to suspect that what I have so often, as you well know, tried to din into the heads of some friends at home, might after all be right. And here let me assure you, that if the qualities of the picture of the 'Will' had any share in its advantageous destination, those of colour were quite the opposite to what would have fitted it for our Exhibition. The whites and some of the flesh tints were too bright, and it was the rich and low tones only that kept it in harmony with the choice Dutch pictures by which it was surrounded.

* "The Reading of a Will."

"After seeing all the fine pictures in France, Italy, and Germany, one must come to this conclusion, that colour, if not the first, is at least an essential quality in painting: no master has as yet maintained his ground beyond his own time without it. But in oil painting, it is richness and depth alone that can do justice to the material. Upon this subject, every prejudice with which I left home is, if anything, not only confirmed, but increased. What Sir Joshua Reynolds wrote, and what our friend Sir George Beaumont so often supported, was right; and after seeing what I have seen, I am not now to be talked out of it.

"With us, as you know, every young Exhibitor with pink, white, and blue, thinks himself a colourist like Titian; than whom perhaps no painter is more misrepresented and misunderstood. I saw my sell at Florence his famous Venus, upon an easel, with Kirkup and Wallis by me. This picture, so often copied, and every copy a fresh mistake, is what I expected it to be; deep, yet brilliant, indescribable in its hues, yet simple beyond example in its execution and its colouring. Its flesh (oh, how our friends at home would stare!) was a simple, sober, mixed-up tint, and apparently, like your skies, completed while wet. No scratchings, no hatchings, no scumblings, no multiplicity of repetitions,— no ultramarine, lakes, nor vermillions, and not even a mark of the brush visible; all seemed melted into the fat and glowing mass, solid yet transparent, giving the nearest approach to life that the painter's art has yet reached.

"This picture is perhaps defective in its arrangement, but in its painting quite admirable. Now, can nothing like this ever be done again? — Is such toning really not to be reproduced? I wish to believe the talent exists, and am sure the material exists. But we have now got another system,— our criterion of judging is changed: we prefer a something else, or, what is still more blinding, there is a something else that we mistake for it.

"Another picture, with which I was greatly pleased, was 'The Assumption of the Virgin,' by Fra Bartolomeo, at Lucca. This picture, painted by a monk before the time of Raphael, and in the retirement of a convent, has, to the fine qualities of the period of Raphael, superadded all the inventions in colour and effect of Rubens and Rembrandt. This is a style for Hilton to follow: brightness and richness are here combined. West used to talk of this picture, and our friend Woodburn used to say he would place it beside the 'Transfiguration.'

"I perhaps say more of colour than I ought; that, as you know, being with some of our friends the disputable subject. Sir George Beaumont used to say that water-coloured drawings had tainted our Exhibitions. I have observed throughout my travels, this difference between the pictures of the present day and the old masters, that they are never found in the same room, and seldom in the same gallery — collectors never place them together, and artists are contented with the exclusion. The Duke of Bedford seems actuated by the same feeling; he has parted with his old pictures, intending to collect modern pictures in their place: he perhaps judges that they cannot be amalgamated together! this is a prejudice that painters themselves should get rid of. He once asked me to paint a companion to his Teniers — he had then no thoughts of parting with it.

"Your picture for Mr. Peel, I hope you have succeeded in to your mind. Yours is a most enviable style. You are sure now to get full employment; but, for future fame, compete with the old masters; beside whom, modern Art is generally poor in the lights, and opaque in the shadows. From what I have seen of letters and heard from eye-witnesses, I can form in my own mind the whole of the Exhibition it remains quite unchanged. You mention some friends who have not fallen off. This is so far good for themselves, but what must it be for the Exhibition?

"If anything occurs worthy notice, write to me. You know the news perfectly that would interest an artist in exile. Give my kindest regards to Mrs. Collins, who I hope is, with yourself, well, and enjoying with you the youthful society of your little boy. He is now old enough to learn that there is such a person as his godfather he will be able to speak to me when I return. Give my remembrances to your brother, and should you see them, to Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. My brother will at any time tell you how to direct to me.

"With best regards, believe me, my dear Sir,

"Your very faithful servant,

"DAVID WILKIE."

From the perusal of these two letters, the reader will gather that the writers agreed in fixing their theoretical and practical principles of painting on the models of the old masters — a form of opinion which, fortunately for the prospects of modern Art, is less uncommon among their brethren now than it was at that time. Unanimous, however, as the two painters were in their convictions on this subject, they differed a little in their method of carrying them out. "Wilkie's notion of acquiring much of the grand tone of the master colourists, by the excessive introduction of rich, deep browns, into all the darker parts of a picture, was not shared by his friend, who, entire as was his veneration for Sir David's judgment, and his concurrence in his general opinions, steadily declined — during their whole intercourse with each other — to load his pictures with any prevailing tone of shadow, however lustrous, which he had not seen in the Nature from which they were derived. From Nature he believed that the old masters had drawn the moving principle of those mighty combinations of their Art, of that rich surface, that sublime tone of colour, that magical harmony of individual hues, which he and his brother painter so heartily admired, and so sedulously emulated; and firmly convinced that Claude, Ruysdael, and all "the better brothers," had done so before him, he persisted in applying himself as attentively to the harmonies of Nature as to the triumphs of Art, for his guiding theory of chiaroscuro and colour, as well as for his highest ideas of beauty, proportion and form.

From the Isle of Wight, whither he had repaired in the autumn of this year to collect materials for a picture of Freshwater Bay, to be painted for the Duke of Norfolk, my father thus writes:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Ventnor, August 29th, 1827.

"My dear Harriet, not liking the appearance of Portsmouth, I stayed there somewhat less than half an hour; and, without my dinner, embarked in a steamer for Ryde, at six o'clock; arriving in time for an eight o'clock dinner at the latter place. I walked about, and made some slight sketches during Tuesday. It is a very pretty place indeed,— all 1 have hitherto seen is fine; but I have sketched so many features of coast scenery that I find little or nothing new. From Ryde, I went in a gig to St. Helens, Brading, Sandown — the bay of which is magnificent — then to Shanklin Chine, and remained there about two hours with great pleasure. Arriving here about four, I walked till seven; and am now, just before going to bed, writing in a most romantic inn upon an enormously high cliff, backed by large hills, surrounded by woods, and with a beautiful view of the sea from my window. If you and Willy were with me, I might do well enough — saving and excepting the constant demands upon one's purse.

"To-morrow I purpose going on to Niton, about five miles from this place; where, if I have time before the post hour, I may add something more: but should that be out of the question, I expect my dear Harriet will write to me by return of post,— as a couple of days, at one place, seems quite sufficient for most, and too much for many, and more than enough for money. Tell Willy I have this day picked up two nice little scuttle-fish bones for him. Every day, nay almost every hour, how I have longed for you both!

"Thursday, August 30th. — I left Ventnor this morning after breakfast, walked to Niton, called upon Mr. Pine, who is now in London, dined at the inn, hired a gig, and went sixteen or seventeen miles over, for the most part, a wild country, averaging about two persons a mile. I am now at Freshwater Gate, where I find I cannot send you this letter before to-morrow morning. * * * Although I dare say I shall find where the Duke of Norfolk is staying when I reach Cowes, still, that I may be certain, I wish Frank to call at his house in St. James'-square, for the purpose of knowing the fact. If you cannot however, without delaying your letter, obtain this information, do not mind; as I feel so very anxious to hear from you: and, as I have no doubt at all that I shall easily find the Duke, do not by any means put yourself to the smallest trouble on the subject.

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The opening of the year 1828, found the painter busily engaged, at his Hampstead residence, on four sea-pieces, and a large landscape — one of the former, being a repetition of the popular "Fisherman's Departure," for Mr. Chamberlayne, M.P. At the commencement of the year, his small family circle was widened by the birth of a second son. With a cordial remembrance of the old friend and fellow painter far away in America, and with a wish to strengthen, in spite of absence, the bond: of their mutual regard, he made Mr. Allston one of the sponsors of his child, by proxy. Nor was the birth of another son the painter's only subject of personal congratulation at this period. Renovated in health, and prepared for new efforts, Wilkie was now soon to return, again to resume that wonted communion on Art that had been suspended between them personally, for three years. There were, however, professional events to be chronicled, and new ideas to be communicated, for which the time of meeting was to the painter, even yet, too far removed to be waited for; and once more they exchanged letters, ere they saw each other again, as characteristic and as cordial as any that had preceded them:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Hampstead, April 17th, 1828.

"Dear Wilkie — I should have written to you long ago, but I have waited from day to day for matter sufficiently interesting; and now, in despite of the absence of any topic better than usual, I must just content myself with saying whatever comes upper-most; and this, in the hope of obtaining something from you, who live in such inexhaustible mines; acknowledging at once the scantiness of my material, dig as hard as I may. Your last letter came most opportunely; its authority was almost my only support, under my usual eclipse at Somerset-house.* What a wretched thing it is, to find that the more fit one may become for the society of the old masters, the more one suffers in the company of the new! Poor Sir George Beaumont, backed and supported by your practical skill, had certainly considerable effect in keeping under the tawdry tendency of our Exhibition. But, after his death, the opportunity afforded to our opponents by the possession of the field, they seemed resolved not to lose; and, by one great and combined effort (I must in justice, except here, the names of Hilton, Mulready, Lawrence, and Jackson,) to set the question respecting what will, and what will not do for the Exhibition, for ever at rest. So most assuredly they did; and, were it not now for the support afforded by a reference to the National Gallery, and the occasional Exhibitions of old pictures in this country, the manufacture of any colour deeper than crome, must have been abandoned.** Under all this opposition, however, it is matter of great consolation that a standard is now forming, if not already formed, by which all will be, even in their own time, tried and judged too. I take this to be a matter of certainty, not merely from what is said outside the gates, but from the more solid evidence of the great and increasing demand for the 'genuine article.'

* It will be gathered from the context, as well as from some recent remarks, that the "eclipse" here spoken of, refers to the minority in which Mr. Collins was then placed, among some of his professional brethren, in discussions on Art, by his uncompromising opinions on the high station to be assigned to the works of the old masters.

** "Crome" is a bright vivid, yellow colour.

"There are other circumstances, from which, I confess, I take great hope that all is not yet lost; and the principle of them, is the increased weight with which what you have to say on the subject will be received, after the great opportunities you have had of consolidating opinions, not new ones, but those with which, to use your own words, you 'left home.' Under the impression that you could be mainly instrumental in effecting great reformation in our body, and with a view to give you that authority which you so justly deserve, I have taken such legitimate opportunities as fell in my way, of reading such portions of your letters, (particularly your first) as appeared to me calculated to weigh with the reasonable and most valuable portion of our circle; and it gratifies me exceedingly to assure you, that Lawrence, Mulready, Callcott, Phillips, and others — more especially the three first — declared it to be their united conviction, 'that highly as they had already estimated your powers as an artist, and a man of intellect, they were bound to acknowledge that you had surpassed, in the clear and philosophical views of Art expressed in that letter, their highest hopes.' This, coming, as it did, so soon after you quitted us, was I trust highly advantageous in keeping up that high character you had left among us. Did I not feel perfectly satisfied that you would do justice to my motives, or had I anything to gain, beyond what I must be ungrateful indeed not to acknowledge — I mean your genuine and kind friendship for me — I should hesitate to say so much. But, being perfectly easy on this head, I conceive it to be my duty to speak the truth.

"In a note I have this morning received from your sister, I find that you purpose leaving Bordeaux about the 12th of May; and, as I trust you will arrive in time to see the Exhibition before its close, I shall not fatigue your attention any longer. I have however much to say when we meet. In the mean-time you will be glad to hear that (notwithstanding some dirty work that has been attempted against me, of which it is possible some garbled account may have reached you)* I am, thanks to Heaven, enjoying the highest patronage. Your godson grows a strapping fellow, and has a little blue-eyed red-haired bonny bairn, as a brother, about three months old. I have now, for nearly two years, occupied a small house at this place, with I think no loss of advantage in my pursuits — enabled by the comparative retirement and consequent quiet, to keep down in a great measure that natural tendency to excitement, which I have always found so difficult a task; and, as the distance from the great City is only three miles, I have by no means given up useful contact with many of its most valuable contents. * This refers to the calumny (already related) respecting Sir Robert Peel's "Frost Scene."

"Hoping that, by the blessing of God, we may shortly meet, and trusting that when you have leisure you will let me have a few lines all about yourself and with my wife's kind regards to you, as well as those of my mother, brother, and Mr. Rice; I am, with great esteem,

"Yours most sincerely,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. — I cherish the hope that you may, at some future day, feel disposed to visit Holland again, for the purpose of seeing how far the pictures there will be able to stand the test you are now able to try them by, and that I may have the pleasure and advantage of being with you on the occasion."

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

Madrid, May 9, 1828.

"Dear Collins,— This I write on the eve of leaving the interesting capital of Spain, after a residence of six months; and as I find by your most kind letter, that you are far more disposed to over rather than underrate such reflections as have occurred to me on my journey, this at least encourages me to note down such as are immediately applicable to the subjects we are so often accustomed to discuss.

"Bayonne, May 14th.

"I need not detail to you what I have seen in Madrid, the Escurial, or Seville; it is general ideas alone I wish to advert to. Being the only member of our Academy who has seen Spain, perhaps it is to be regretted that I see it with an acknowledged bias or prejudice, in which, I fear, scarce any will participate. With some of my kindest friends, indeed, much of what I have seen, would produce between us an influence like the apple of discord; and if some of our youths with less matured minds than they — while I write this with one hand, fancy me covering my face with the other — should venture across the Biddasoa, what a conflict in testimony there would be! The spiritual Velasquez, whose principle and practice Sir Thomas Lawrence so justly calls 'the true philosophy of Art,' would be rendered with all the dash and splash that tongue, pen, or pencil is capable of; while the simple Murillo, perhaps despised like Goldsmith for his very excellence, would have his Correggio-like tones transposed into the flowery gaudiness of a coloured print. Even the glorious Titian, in this last stronghold, where his virgin surface will probably remain the longest untouched, might have his 'Apotheosis,' and his 'Last Supper' dressed up according to the newest version of blues, pinks, and yellows, adapted to the supposed taste of the picture-seeing public.

"But the system that we deprecate is, after all, not confined to our own school. Luca Giordano, and Tiepolo, have tried it with sufficient talent and éclat to prove that neither the one nor the other (the principle being wrong) can be a warrant for its success.

"There is just one test by which all artists returning from abroad should try themselves. You know the small head Sir Joshua Reynolds painted; the first after his return: it is in something like this, that is summed up to me all the law and the commandments.

"In viewing some of the finest works, I have been often reminded of Sir Joshua Reynolds, by their finest qualities. At Bayonne, in a parcel of prints, waiting there for me, are three from Sir Joshua; these, coming as I do from Velasquez and Titian, seem the work of a kindred spirit. With them are also some prints of my own; from which, as from my picture at Munich, I have learnt a useful lesson. They strengthen me in what I felt most doubtful, and weaken my confidence in what I felt most assured of. I feel the wisdom of Sir George Beaumont's advice to me, to reflect that white is not light, and detail is not finish.

"A casual remark in one of your own letters, though I have not before noticed it to you, has made a deep impression,— your observation on seeing the surface of 'the Penny Wedding,' in the Royal Cottage, Windsor. Your approval of the picture was unexpected, but has been lucky and useful to me; for I have since acted upon it as a principle. With me no starved surface now; no dread of oil; no ' perplexity for fear of change.' Your manner of painting a sky is now the manner in which I try to paint a whole picture.

"Much as I might learn from Spain and from her Art, you, as a landscape-painter, could learn but little, excepting only from some works of Velasquez, which are, even in landscape, so brilliant an exception to the rest of the school. Of him I saw a large landscape in Madrid, that for breadth and richness I have seldom seen equalled. Titian seemed his model; and if you could fancy what Sir Joshua Reynolds and our friend Sir George Beaumont would have approved as the beau ideal, it would be such a landscape. It was too abstract to have much detail, or imitation; but it was the very sunshine we see, and the air we breathe — the very soul and spirit of Nature.

"Spain herself is deficient in picturesque beauty. From Bayonne to Seville there is but little to interest — too much of the extended waste and sandy plain. The Sierra Morena, famous for the penance of Don Quixote, is however a true haunt for the imagination: it resembles much the Trosachs, which we both saw once, and I twice, under such unfavourable circumstances. They have been celebrated alike, as the retreat of beauty and chivalry, by the genius of Cervantes and of Scott; whose imitators in the Italian opera and the English melodrama, have familiarised their rugged eminences to us, upon the stage.

"I return highly satisfied with my journey. The seven months and ten days passed in Spain, I may reckon as the best employed to me of my professional life — the only part of my residence abroad for which I may be fairly envied by my professional brethren. To be all eye, all ear, and all recollection, has been my object; yet after all I could note down, or bring away, much must still be trusted to the memory. Spain is the wild, unpoached, game-preserve of Europe, in which I have had some months' pursuit and sport, all to myself. In returning among you all again, I must guard myself against attributing to the merit of the teller, that interest which belongs exclusively to the story to be told.

"I hope to be with you before the close of the Exhibition. I know already how it looks. You have got some beautiful things in it — Sir Thomas has got all the ladies of fashion, and Turner is as violent as ever. I have some doubt if Danby will do often — quantity and multitude are not legitimate. I shall have to refresh my memory, however, in the extraordinary styles of the English school, and to know what disposition of Crome, Lake, and Ultra-marine colour is the go for the next season among the Exhibitors.

"I am happy to hear good accounts of your thriving family. Give my best regards to Mrs. Collins; and for the young ones and yourself, accept my best wishes.

"I am, my dear Sir,

"Yours most faithfully,

"(The homeward bound) DAVID WILKIE."

At the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1828, Mr. Collins's pictures were four in number, and were thus entitled:- "Scene in Freshwater Bay" (painted for the Duke of Norfolk;) "Scene at Folkestone," (painted for Lord Charles Townshend;) "Doubtful Weather," (painted for Mr. T. C. Higgins;) and "Taking out a Thorn," (painted for Mr. J. Delafield.) "Freshwater Bay" was a small, light, delicate picture: the lustrous blue sea — the clear sunshine — the tranquil day-light sky, being all imbued with the same softness and purity. Near the foreground, a little girl, with a beautiful child by her side, sits with her arms clasping her knees, looking upward; while some younger children, paddling about the wet sands, diversify agreeably this principal group. The picture reflected from all its parts the same tender tranquillity, and was finely opposed by the Scene at Folkestone, whose broad, flat beach, far distant sea, brilliant sky, and animated group of fishermen and boys, gave it the different characteristics of simple vastness in the landscape, and stirring activity in the figures. In "Doubtful Weather," a boat lies close in the foreground; a boy in it, is occupied in preparing it for sea, while a fisherman stands near him, fronting the spectator, shading his eyes with his hand, and looking up steadfastly to a lowering cloud, immediately above him; through which a gleam of sunlight and blue sky is breaking quaintly. The atmosphere near the horizon is clear, while the ocean under it, in the background, tosses briskly beneath a fresh gale. The bold originality of the fisherman's position, and the striking contrasts of the whole landscape behind and above him, made this one of the most remarkable and powerful pictures of its class that the painter had exhibited. "Taking out a Thorn," was his only inland scene of the year. The locality of this picture is on Hampstead Heath; the point of view, the clump of fir-trees, near the inn called "The Spaniards," looking across towards "North End." On a bank sits an old furze-cutter, extracting a thorn from the finger of a chubby urchin, who rubs his eyes dolefully with the corner of his pinafore during the operation, which is compassionately and curiously observed by the unlucky patient's companions. The rich, soft colouring; the simple rustic incident; the vigorous truth and nature of this picture, rendered it immediately and widely popular. Among other connoisseurs, by whom the possession of it was desired, was the King; who expressed a wish, if it was not already sold, to add it to the two sea-pieces by the painter, which he already possessed. But the picture had been a commission; and its owner, very naturally, prized it too highly to be able to prevail on himself, under any circumstances, to forego his prior right to his valuable possession.

In the June of this year, Wilkie returned. The topics that had been but slightly touched in his letters to his friend, were now fully discussed; and the recollections and observations that had, as yet, been only casually noticed, were now carefully reviewed and circumstantially described. Throughout all these conversations on his past experiences, the anxiety of Sir David to set Mr. Collins forth on the journey to Italy, to urge him to gain the advantages of studying the works of the Italian school, and to fire him with the ambition to seek for new pictorial triumphs in Italian landscape, was ever uppermost. It was an opinion of Wilkie's, and — within certain restrictions — a true one, that variety of achievement is an essential ingredient in the success of all intellectual pursuits, and that the man, whether author or artist, who continues to turn the public channel of his labours in one direction, beyond a certain time, is risking the danger of the satiety of the public taste, or the degredation of indifference in the public attention. Believing sincerely in the various capabilities of his friend, Sir David was not easily wearied of disclosing to him all the temptations to attempt fresh successes presented by the land, from which Claude and Wilson had drawn their inspiration before him. But several reasons, connected with those family ties which were ever a moving principle in the painter's actions, then induced Mr. Collins — and, until eight more years had elapsed, continued to induce him — to decline following the advice thus given to him, and to remain satisfied with the subjects which the landscapes of his own country presented to his eye. To a less extended and important journey than that recommended by Wilkie, he was not however averse; and, in resigning for the present all prospect of communication with Italian Art, his long-cherished desire to study the works of the Dutch school, on the soil that had produced and still retained them, recurred with double energy. In a postscript to his latest letter to his friend, the reader may have observed an expression of his wish to see them in Wilkie's company. This plan, however, in consequence of Sir David's long previous absence, and many home engagements, was temporarily impracticable; and, giving up the pleasing idea of securing him for a companion, Mr. Collins, accompanied by another friend, took advantage of his spare time in the autumn of this year to pay the visit to Holland and Belgium, which he had so long proposed.

To the lover of the picturesque and the student of human nature, travelling in the country which Mr. Collins was now exploring, was a far more unalloyed pleasure then, than it is now. At that time the good old canal boats, with their spotless decks, glorious dinners, and discreetly Flemish rate of travelling, pursued their dreamy course, still un-threatened by the advent of the unadventurous railway. Then, the Dutchman with his mighty pipe, and the Belgian with his creamy beer, solemnly smoked and tippled the whole journey through; and the smart London shop-boy, out for a week's holiday on the Continent, was a jarring element unknown among the windings of the peaceful route. Then, when you took to land-carriage, you lumbered slowly, it is true, along the level roads; but, on the other hand, you passed through the quaint old towns on your journey, and not outside them — you stopped to change horses in the characteristic villages, instead of perching for one brief moment before the bars of a business-like "station." Then, it may be, that you met few waiters who could speak English, and were tempted not by the national apparition of "London stout;" but you had every chance, at the table d'hote, of sitting next to an unsophisticated denizen of the soil; you could see the courteous customs of the table, but little outraged by the barbarous exercise of foreign freedom. Privileges such as these — now alas to be imagined only! — were by a traveller of Mr. Collins's order, enjoyed with the highest zest. The horses, the wagons, the farming implements that he drew, seemed the very models from which Wouvermans had drawn before him; and the old houses, many of which are now pulled, or pulling, down, were then happily intact. Ostend, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, and as far as Dinant inland — Antwerp, the Hague, and Rotterdam — were the principal points of his journey. All that he saw the pictures, unrivalled by any foreign collections of the Dutch school; the flat, fertile country; the picturesque original people, delighted him. He was absent about six weeks. With his anxiety to see and to sketch everything, wherever he went, to register his opinions in a regular journal, or to describe his sensations in a series of letters, was unfortunately impracticable. Both with his family and his friends, the principal impressions of his journey were reserved for his fireside. Among his hasty letters to his wife during his absence, two however have been found of some general interest. They are subjoined:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Bruges, August 24th, 1828.

"My dear Harriet,— I write, as I promised, to let you know that our voyage thus far — for we came from Ostend by water — has been quite favourable. The day on the sea was beautifully fine, and we reached Ostend about eleven at night. Before we could get beds (and into them) the clock had struck one. We were called again before four, to go on board the trackschuyt, a voyage of only three hours and a half; and to-morrow we hope to reach Ghent. After the bad nights I have had since Friday night, (I mean bad, because I was obliged to sleep in vile beds, and be called so unusually early,) I feel really worn out, and, having the prospect of a comfortable bed, and a great appetite for sleep, I propose retiring without loss of time.

"I find myself unable to tell you, respecting the features of this country, more than that they are charming. * * * We have been this morning to an English Protestant church, and happened afterwards to go into a Romish church, where we saw a figure, full-dressed, nearly as large as life, of the Virgin; which, after being bowed down to and worshipped, was carried in procession on men's shoulders through the church, accompanied by torches, bells, smoke, and other symbols of man's weakness. The expression of devotion on the parts of the congregation was deep, and worthy of better teaching. * * *

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To THE SAME.

"Dinant, Sept. 2nd, 1828.

* * * "I trust you have received the letter I wrote you on Sunday, after our arrival in Belgium; but, as I have not yet had the gratification of getting your answer, I write again. Not that I can ensure the receipt of your letters, from the irregularity of our proceedings, and what we should call in our own country the clumsiness of the postmasters and their modes of communication. The letter I suppose you to have written to Cologne, I have desired the post-master there to forward to me at Namur, where I go this afternoon; but, as I fear I shall not get it there, I must have it sent after me to Rotterdam, where I wish you to direct your next letter. If you have not already written, and neither your communication there, nor the information you have now to give, is of great importance, do not write at all, as the chances are against my receiving your letter. You can easily imagine how much I feel this suspension of all intercourse between us. I pray God, however, who only can protect and prosper us, that all is well.

"We find the land-carriage in this country so slow, and we are so much delighted with the picturesqueness of the scenery, that, in order to do anything at all in the way of sketching, we must either abridge our route, (as at first proposed,) or delay our return to London greatly beyond our first intentions. We have determined upon the former plan, and have therefore given up the Rhine altogether, contenting ourselves with the best part of the Meuse, which is very fine as far as we have seen it, and the remainder of Holland.

"We have been blessed with the most delightful weather; and this, with the novelty of everything about us, has afforded us the greatest satisfaction. We find we must depend much upon our own researches for beautiful things; and this experience we have bought, of course, as in other matters of this sort must be the case, by commencing our route at four o'clock in the morning, being shaken over twenty miles of the worst road in the world, seeing a trifle; getting a vile dinner, and bumping home again over the same road. All this, I expect, will be of great use to us; and 'tres curieux!' and 'charmante!' and other notes of admiration from the guides, will lose some of their enchantment.

"And now, my dear Harriet, casting all my care upon Him who only and alone can help us and bless us,

"I am, your affectionate husband,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Later in the autumn, the painter, on his return to England, again visited Mr. Higgins, of Turvey Abbey, and extended his short country tour to Leamington. From the latter place he wrote as follows:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Leamington, Oct. 2nd, 1828.

* * * "I fear you had much difficulty in making out the letter I sent you from Turvey; indeed it so happens that the epistles I send you are generally, from the bustle in which I make my excursions and the desire I have to combine sketching with sight-seeing, fully deserving of the appellation of scrawls.

"I left Mr. Higgins on Monday, and arrived at this place on the same evening. During my stay at Turvey I saw many pretty things, and was much struck by Castle Ashby, a seat of the Marquis of Northampton, one of the most perfect dwellings, with endless drives through magnificent woods,— one, in particular, a green lane, or rather wide road, thirteen miles in extent, with the finest wood scenery I ever saw. Yet with all this beauty and splendour, the present owner deserts it for foreign fopperies! How utterly impossible it is to say in what happiness consists; in things, I am sure it does not. Ought we not, then, to cultivate inward peace, or rather those means by which it may be obtained from Him who alone can give it, and who, praised be his holy name, has promised it,— upon certain conditions, indeed; but his burden is light, and his yoke is easy.

"I cannot tell you, when I am alone, how I long for home. Why should we thus be parted I say continually, and my only consolation is that it is not for pleasure alone, (although, thank God, I relish the beauties of his creation more than ever,) but for the 'crumbs' I must take to my 'nest.' And what a 'nest' it is, after all! May we ever be grateful for so high a gift! I could go on for an hour describing our blessings; but your heart is not insensible to the merits of Providence, and when I return, we will thank our heavenly Father together.

"As the weather is broken, and the air too cold for sitting out to draw, I shall satisfy myself with seeing the beauties of this exquisite place, and I trust return to London by to-morrow's coach. Of this matter, however, I will write again.

"Affectionately yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The year 1828, closed with unusual gloom and melancholy for the painter. Late in the autumn, he suffered from a severe attack of illness; and early in the winter, occurred the death of his generous patron and sincere friend, the Earl of Liverpool.

But, notwithstanding these sources of trouble and regret, the beginning of the next year found my father more busily engaged than ever in the gradual completion of his new pictures, which were five in number at the Exhibition of 1829. They were entitled, "Morning after a Storm," (the large sea-piece, commissioned by Sir R. Peel, on the completion of his "Frost Scene:") "Summer Moonlight," (painted for the Rev. R. A. Thorpe;) "Prawn Fishing," (painted for Sir F. Freeling;) "A Scene in a Kentish Hop-garden," (sold to the Duke of Norfolk;) and "Fisher Children," (painted for the Hon. G. A. Ellis, the centre figure being a portrait of his son.) The painter also exhibited at the British Institution this year; sending there a work executed for Mr. Wells, entitled "A Scene on the Coast of Kent."

"Morning after a Storm," was the largest of my father's works of the year. The incident of the picture is thus embodied:- A storm is supposed to have raged during the night, and is indicated by the wild broken clouds, rolling away before the morning sun, and by the vexed waters of the ocean, which are still in process of subsiding from their recent agitation. On a cliff, to the left hand of the scene, is seated a fisherman's wife, with a baby at her bosom, and another little child clinging to her. Her face, shaded by her hand, is turned towards the sea, on whose brilliant expanse her eyes are anxiously fixed, watching for the first sight of the fishing-boat, in which her husband has risked the dangers of the tempestuous night. A dog, still and watchful as herself, stands by her side; while near her a man with a telescope, (a repetition, by desire, of the figure in the "Fishermen on the Look-Out,") scans thoughtfully and deliberately the ocean view. The profound and simple sentiment of this picture; the homely natural pathos in the attitude and expression of the young wife, still painfully doubtful of her husband's safety; the powerful and beautiful contrast between the brilliant action of the elements, the fast-parting clouds, the warm conquering sunlight, the brightly tossing ocean, and the expressive stillness of anxiety and fear impressed upon the very positions of the living agents of the scene, are qualities, as little to be interpreted by any description, however minute, as the remoter technical excellences of singleness of treatment and brilliancy of colouring apparent to the critic in the painting of the work. In relation, also, to Mr. Collins' second picture, "Summer Moonlight," the same poverty of the resources of description cannot be less severely felt. The two boys, pushing a little fellow in a tub across one of the pools left by the sea on the beach, and the expanse of wet sand leading smoothly out to the distant ocean, are parts of the composition which it might be comparatively easy to render here; but the dreamy, mysterious softness of the atmosphere, neither twilight nor moonlight, but partaking of both, the poetic stillness of the light, as it rests gently over the fishing-boats on the distant waters, the luxurious repose of the whole scene of smooth shore beneath, and half-radiant clouds above, must be beheld on the canvas itself to be properly divined, and cannot be meddled with by the tedious pen. The picture of "Prawn Fishers" added one more brilliant example to the list of the painter's most attractive sea-pieces. It was engraved in the "Literary Souvenir" for 1835, and has continued from the time of its production to be a most popular work. In the "Scene in a Kentish Hop-garden," the background is aptly filled by rows of tall picturesque hop-poles, while the foreground is occupied by a busy group of cottagers. The curious Kentish "hop-cradle," formed of clumsy sticks covered with a red cloak, and used by the women to hold their children when they are at work, is introduced with capital effect into the foreground of the charming English country scene which this picture pourtrays. "Fisher Children," a small delicate work, was engraved in the "Literary Souvenir." The portrait of the son of Mr. Agar Ellis, (for whom the picture was painted,) was introduced into the composition with the artist's usual felicity; the child being represented, dressed in homely garments, standing with a pan in his hand to receive some fish, which a boy and a girl are engaged in washing at each side of him. A remarkable tenderness in colour and delicacy in execution distinguished this picture.

In presenting the subjoined letters, exchanged during the summer of this year between Mr. Collins and Mr. Bernard Barton, the poet, the explanation of the circumstances connected with them cannot be better prefaced than by the insertion of a Sonnet, written by the latter gentleman, expressive of that admiration for the painter's works, from which the following correspondence first dated its commencement:

SONNET

TO WILLIAM COLLINS, R.A.

PAINTER! each British bard who loves the sea,
With all the scenery of its winding shore,
In sunshine's calm, or tempest's wild uproar,
Should hymn a song of grateful praise to thee!
For there thy genius seems at home to be,
And on thy living canvas we explore
Beauties which longer studied please us more,
Bulwarks which found us, and that leave us, free!
While, by the dwellers on our sea girt Isle,
Its billowy borders are with pride beheld,
So long shall bloom the wreath thon hast compell'd
Fame to entwine thee; and, with partial smile,
Shall England's voice in exultation style
COLLINS his native country's Vandervelde!

BERNARD BARTON.

Sentiments of approval as cordial as these, and excited, it should be observed in the case of Mr. Bernard Barton, by the only acquaintance with the painter's works that his country residence had permitted him — general report, and the notices of the press; formed great part of the first letter that he wrote to Mr. Collins. The remainder contained an expression of his anxiety to possess some small memorial of the painter's skill, which might be valueless to the giver, but which should not only be a treasured possession to the receiver, but a future inspiration to his muse. Feeling that the praise of a poet was not of ordinary importance, and that the kindred pursuit of a poet rendered superfluous the apologies with which his correspondent had closed his request, Mr. Collins answered his application by the offering mentioned in the following letter:

 

"To BERNARD BARTON, ESQ.

"Hampstead Green, July 7th, 1829.

"My dear Sir — I have to offer you my most sincere thanks for the flattering view you have been pleased to take of my reputation as a painter; and I have only to hope that should you ever see any of those works by which, such as it is, it has been obtained, you will not feel obliged to change your present favourable opinions.

"I have delayed answering your kind letter, until I could get from the printer an impression of a plate that is not yet published; and I regret much that this, and those that accompany it, are all I can have the pleasure of presenting to you — for I have no picture by me, that would not provoke, even from your kind feeling, 'a wreath' which it would not please you 'to weave' — particularly as you propose 'a fitting one' — for me to wear. In truth, all those which I do paint, are demanded to supply a table, where so many mouths are daily open, that even 'the crumbs' you ask for, by a sort of enchantment, immediately disappear.*

* The above sentence, refers to a passage in Mr. Bernard Barton's letter, where he had humorously compared his application to the painter, to the plea of the poor beggar in the parable, for "the crumbs from the rich man's table."

"Should any circumstance arise to induce you to visit this neighbourhood, believe me it would afford me very great pleasure to introduce you to our scenery; which, notwithstanding its proximity to the 'great Babel' is acknowledged to have many and peculiar beauties, and where you would at least find a hearty welcome.

"Trusting that an acquaintance begun so oddly, may not finish abruptly,

"I am, my dear Sir,

"Your obliged and faithful servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The reply of Mr. Bernard Barton to the above letter, expresses with so much frankness and clearness his motives for making his request to Mr. Collins, and contains so many just observations on the characteristics of men of intellect, as to render its publication as much a matter of interest to the reader, as of justice to the writer. It runs as follows:

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Woodbridge, Suffolk, 7th Month, 9th, 1829.

"My dear Friend — When I sent the letter and sonnet, which thy favour of the 7th instant has acknowledged, in a manner equally honourable to thy courtesy and kindness, I trusted for its indulgent reception to that liberal feeling which I believe to be the invariable accompaniment of true genius, in either a painter or poet. I never had been either deceived or disappointed in my reliance on this principle; for I never risked such an intrusion, without first having good grounds for believing that the party addressed would understand and appreciate my motives and feelings. There is a sort of esprit de corps, an union as mysterious almost as that of free-masonry, existing among the votaries of the sister Arts of painting and poetry, which is felt and understood in a moment, where the attachment of both to their favourite pursuit is genuine and generous. Had I seen an account, in the papers, of a goldsmith, silversmith, or jeweller, who had invented a new and elegant sort of snuff-box — though I am both a snuff-taker and a snuff-box fancier — I should no more have dreamt of winning a specimen of the man's craft, by addressing a Sonnet to him, than of obtaining the Chancellor's Seals, by an Ode to His Majesty. Archimedes is said to have declared he could move the universe, give him but whereon to rest his lever. The poet can do more than the mathematician, where mind is to be worked on; but he can only appeal to minds, native to the same element in which he lives and breathes. By them, he need not fear being repulsed with coldness or scorn; because their own love of all that is beautiful in Nature will lead them instinctively to sympathize with, and enter into, his thoughts and feelings, and to give him credit for better motives than those of cold, calculating, sordid selfishness.

"There now! — I think I have given my good and philosophical reasons for my intrusion on thee, and for thy frank, generous, and friendly reception of my unauthorised introduction of myself to thee. I am not however the less grateful for, arid gratified by, thy kindness. Though I have said so much to prove the ground of my reliance on it, I have done it rather to prove that I did not lightly, much less impertinently, venture to intrude on an R.A. The simple fact was, I had wished for years to see some performance of thine, however slight; whether a mere sketch in oil, or water-colours, or even in pencil, that might give me some idea of a master, of whom I had heard so much, and I wrote my letter and Sonnet, under the impression of that wish and feeling, considering that its existence did not discredit my own taste, and was the highest compliment I could pay to thy genius. For the manner in which my application has been met, I can only gratefully assure thee it has led me to join to admiration of the artist, cordial affection for the man,— a stronger, and yet more natural, feeling; for the first exists only from report, while the last is founded on experience. I shall therefore most thankfully receive thy prints, which will at least enable me to judge for myself of thy subjects and composition; and I doubt not that even from these, I shall cull materials for my Muse, which I shall have pleasure in sending thee.

"Thy obliged and affectionate friend,

"BERNARD BARTON."

"P.S. I certainly should not have come to town, without making an effort to obtain a sight of a painting of thine — I should now try hard to see Hampstead and its artist."

Applications for presents of sketches, from persons neither enjoying the peculiar privileges of Mr. Bernard Barton's position, nor entertaining his correct ideas of the value of works of Art, form one of the prominent social misfortunes of a successful painter's life. The system of intellectual extortion practised under the protection of that all-devouring dragon of pictorial offspring — a lady's album — is not the only trial of his professional patience which the artist must endure. Nothing is more common than to hear some of his well-meaning but uninitiated friends making a polite demand, on visiting his painting-room, for "a little sketch;" which generally means some study they observe hanging upon his walls, that they have not the most distant notion can be of any particular use or value to him, and that they imagine he can give away — especially if he has once used it in a picture — with as little loss to himself, as his old painting coat, after he has worn it out at elbows, or his spirits of turpentine, when he has washed his brushes in them. It is often in vain that the unfortunate object of their passion for the Fine Arts, endeavours to explain to them the importance of his sketch to himself; if they are not very easy and good-natured people, they go away with a firm persuasion that his refusal to oblige them arises from an absence of generosity, or from a mercenary objection to part with a single stroke of his pencil, for which he may chance to obtain money at some future time. There is probably no department of intellectual Art which is so incautiously approached by those who have never studied it, as painting. The immense increase, in the present age, of interest in Art, among classes or individuals who formerly paid no attention to such a source of attraction, has made it unpleasantly singular for anybody to be without a criticism of his own, for whatever pictures he may see — no matter how few have been his opportunities of acquainting himself with the subject. People, who, in music, will silently submit to the infliction of a modern symphony, because they suppose that their professional friends, who assure them that it is "full of tune," must know better than they do; or, who toil boldly through a volume of metaphysical poetry, because a learned acquaintance has described it (in the literary slang now in vogue) as "earnest," or "hopeful," or "subjective," or "esthetic," are, in many cases, the very people who, in matters of Art, scorn all guidance, and decide, ex cathedra, upon everything pictorial, over the last sip of a cup of coffee, or during a passing salutation in the crowd of an Exhibition-room. Part of this evil must, unfortunately, be always an inherent consequence of the peculiar nature of painting, which, unlike literature or music, appeals at once in all its parts to the judgment; and must, therefore, appear to the careless or uninformed as a comparatively superficial study, to be attained by tact and confidence, rather than by long devotion and anxious inquiry. Those who think themselves thus easily privileged to decide, without knowledge, on one of the most abstruse of sciences, are not unfrequently the critics who, on seeing a picture the day before it is exhibited, observe complacently that it will be "beautiful when it is finished," and who exceed all belief, in producing at a moment's notice, the most elaborately erroneous interpretations of incident and story, in beholding the clearest subject that can be placed before their eyes. Even in regard to the pecuniary value of works of Art, the absence of knowledge has often as little share in repressing the ambition to criticise, as in the higher matters of judgment. Of misapprehensions of this sort (oftener, it must be observed, ludicrous than offensive) an amusing instance occurred to Mr. Collins. His fondness for obtaining unsophisticated criticisms on the nature and value of his works, has been already noticed. It once induced him, on the conclusion of a large and elaborate sea-piece, to ask one of his servants, a north-country girl, what she thought ought to be the value, in money, of the picture she beheld. The "neat-handed Phillis," evidently imagining that her opinion was of some consequence to her master, examined his production with great seriousness and care, and then exclaimed in a broad Northumbrian accent, and with the self-satisfied air of having " touched the estimate" at its highest possible rate: "Well, sir, may be a sovereign!"

Another of the painter's favourite methods of procuring for himself the doubtful satisfaction of impartial criticism, was to join the groups of visitors to the Exhibition, who were looking at his pictures, and listen to their remarks. This rather perilous pastime he indulged in for many years, with tolerable impunity; but he was fated, at last, to suffer for his boldness. Having observed two gentlemen at the Exhibition displaying those decided symptoms of critical power over Art, which consist in shrugging the shoulders, waving the hand, throwing back the head, and marking the catalogue, before all the principal pictures, he was tempted to listen to their remarks, when they arrived opposite to one of his own works. "What's this?" cried the great man of the two, severely — "Sea-piece, by Collins? Oh, pooh, pooh! D—d tea-boardy thing!" The painter had not enough of the Roman in him to hear more. The incident so effectually cured him for some time of his predilection for sincere criticism, that when, shortly afterwards, he happened to be sitting next to Sir Henry Halford, at dinner, and was asked by that gentleman (who did not then know him personally), what he thought of "Collins's pictures;" he replied, with unwonted caution, "I think I am rather too much interested on that subject, to give an opinion,— I painted them myself." "Oh, you need not have feared my criticism!" returned Sir Henry, laughing, "I was about to tell you how much I have been delighted by their extreme beauty!"

In this year the painter contemplated another change of residence. The birth of his second child, and his determination, in consequence of her failing health, to take his mother under his own roof, where her infirmities might receive the most unremitting attention, were the chief causes which made a larger abode than that he at present occupied, an absolute necessity to him. His first project was to build a house for himself at Hampstead; and measures were taken for the purchase of the necessary ground. During the legal delays that ensued — delays, lengthened by a difficulty as to the validity of the land-holder's title — Mr. Collins resolved to employ the interval of technical deliberation, in which he could take no part, in a visit, with his family, to the Coast of France — the place he fixed on being Boulogne, which was then less unfortunately Anglicised than it is now. On hearing of this design, Wilkie again recurred to his old project, and urged his friend to make Boulogne but his starting-point to Italy. But as the painter's family party included his mother — one of the objects of his visit being to try the effect upon her constitution of change of air and scene — the "Continental tour" was more than ever impracticable; and, adhering to his first purpose, he fixed the sojourn of himself and his family, at Boulogne. The house he occupied stood in the market-place; and he had but to look from his window to find, in the picturesque dresses, curious gestures, and bustling employments of the agricultural peasantry, that ample occupation for his sketch-book, which was a requisite of his happiness wherever he went. His attention, however, was principally turned to the scenery and inhabitants of the sea-shore. For the former, he carefully explored the Coast, for many miles, on each side of Boulogne; and, in the latter, the differences in physiognomy, manners and habits, between the French fishermen whom he was then studying, and the English fishermen whom he had formerly studied, afforded constant employment for his observation and his pencil. These men, with their wives and families, formed the subjects of many of the most highly finished water-colour drawings that he ever executed. The women, young and old, in their bridal dresses, and their working-day garments — the men under every aspect, in their animated quarrels, and their regular occupations, were, each and all, delighting and absorbing studies, for one who saw fresh materials for his Art, and new incentives to the ambition of pictorial excellence, even in the humblest natural object that he beheld. Among the heterogeneous group of models — all more or less "characters," in their different departments — which he soon collected about him, was one fisherman, whose handsome, benevolent face, and fine athletic figure, particularly attracted his attention. On inquiry, the history of this man was found to embrace one of those noble acts of philanthropy, which it is more a pleasure than a duty to record. He was present at a shipwreck on a lonely part of the coast near Boulogne, where all the crew were cast on shore dead, with the exception of a poor negro, who still showed faint signs of life. But the Quarantine Laws (to which the wrecked ship was liable) were then in such force, that no dwelling-house was permitted to receive the half-drowned man. No one attempted to approach, or succour him, but the fisherman; who, in defiance of all danger and objection, carried the poor wretch to a straw-hut on the beach; and, taking off his own clothes, laid down by him the whole night long, endeavouring to restore the dying negro by the vital warmth of his own body. This sublime act of humanity was however unavailing — when morning dawned, the negro was dead! The Boulogne authorities, greatly — as he expressed it — to his own surprise, rewarded the fisherman for a violation of the quarantine, which moved the admiration of all who heard of it, and which is too glorious an addition to the records of human virtue to be easily forgotten or frequently paralleled. Mr. Collins' sketch of the "Good Samaritan," was an admirable and characteristic likeness; and is now in the possession of Lord Monteagle, who purchased it at the sale of the painter's works, after his death.

The following letter, from Mr. Collins to his brother, glances at his landscape and figure studies at Boulogne:

 

"To FRANCIS COLLINS, ESQ.,

"Boulogne, August 10th, 1829.

"My dear Frank — We had great pleasure in receiving, yesterday, your letter of the 5th, and we are rejoiced to find you are so comfortably and hospitably entertained. Although we may not meet here, I trust we shall at Dover; whither it is likely we shall go in about a month, and remain until some arrangement can be made about winter-quarters.

"The weather here has been very changeable: I have, however, made some sketches both of the place and the people; and in my excursions have derived considerable advantage, from the local information of Lieutenant King — an amateur painter of merit, whose wife, too, has been of great use to Harriet; she is a most ladylike person, a sister of Sir Nicholas Tindal's.

"With respect to the information you require for Lord Sheffield, my own opinion of the neighbourhood of Torquay, as well as of Torquay itself, is in the highest degree favourable. Buryhead, Babicombe Bay, and in that direction on to Teignmouth, are quite beautiful; and, in the opposite direction, Dartmouth, Start Bay, and on to Prawle Point, where the coast is more wild, and equally interesting. The inland scenery too, particularly the banks of the Dart, about Ashburton, Buckland, Holne Chase, etc., etc., is universally admired. The climate, in fine weather, is quite perfect — I say however in fine weather, for the greatest admirers of Devonshire are constrained to admit that, with them, 'the rain it raineth every day.'

"As Harriet claims some portion of my paper, and as she is a more methodical correspondent than I can pretend to be, I shall give her the remaining space.

"Your affectionate brother,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

About the middle of September, the painter returned with his family by way of Dover, proceeding from that place to Ramsgate, where — still unsettled about a permanent abode — he made a stay of a few weeks. "We have taken a house here, for a fortnight" — he writes to his brother; "sincerely hoping that, during this time, we may at last hear of an abode at Hampstead. Should you be able to put matters there in train, we see no reason why you should not spend at least a week with us, in the delightful air of this place,— Willy has plenty of room in his bed for you, and seconds the invitation with all his heart. I have not yet been to Broadstairs; which has more picturesque beauty, I believe, than any other place in this neighbourhood! There is nothing worth a straw at Ramsgate, except the sea; so I shall have plenty of idle time to go about with you."

Ultimately, on his return to Hampstead, Mr. Collins temporarily engaged a larger house than he had before occupied, near the Heath; intending it to serve the purpose of enabling him, by a short delay, to settle his plans judiciously, for a place of permanent residence. The difficulties attaching to the purchase of land, (which still continued) and the anxiety of Wilkie, who then lived at Kensington, that his friend should take a house nearer to him, had already raised doubts in the painter's mind, whether he should do well to settle himself at Hampstead at all. While these were being resolved, he found full occupation in his temporary abode in beginning those pictures for the next Exhibition which he had determined were to illustrate the peculiarities of the French Coast and its population, on the principles which he had so successfully adopted, in his wonted representations of the same subjects on his native shores.

Throughout the remainder of the autumn my father's attention was closely devoted to his new works; no interruption of sufficient importance to be narrated in these pages happening, to divert his attention from his professional labours, until the commencement of the new year — when an event occurred, which was not only personally distressing to him, but which cast universal gloom over the world of Art. This was the sudden death, on the 8th of January, of his intimate and admirable friend, Sir Thomas Lawrence, the President of the Royal Academy; with whom he had for many years associated in happy social, and intellectual intercourse, and to whom he was attached by the highest admiration for the endowments of his genius, and the most pleasing experience of the virtues of his character. On the last day of the old year, they had dined together; had conversed even more cheerfully and cordially than was their wont; and had parted in the highest spirits — Sir Thomas observing jestingly to his friend, as he wrapped himself up more carefully than was his custom, that he had "a slight cold," and must take care of himself upon the principle of the old adage, that "good folks were scarce!" Mr. Collins had then seen him, alive, for the last time. During the next two or three days, the "slight cold" increased alarmingly; and the medical attendant called in, fearful of inflammation, bled his patient largely. On the day of his death, Sir Thomas appeared better, and was capable of listening to a book which was read to him by a relative. He had just been laughing heartily at some humorous passage in the work, when he was seized with a sudden faintness. "I am dying," he whispered to his servant, who was attempting to relieve him. Medical help was called in, but it was useless,— he never spoke again; and on the same day he breathed his last. His funeral, it will be remembered, was public,— on a bitterly cold day, the members of the Royal Academy committed the remains of their honoured President to the grave, in St. Paul's Cathedral. The agitation produced by the burial ceremony, and the exposure to the inclement weather which was a necessary consequence of it, severely affected Mr. Collins: for some time afterwards he suffered from an attack of illness, which temporarily suspended his usual labours in the Art, at this period of the year.

On the opening of the Exhibition of 1830, three Sea-pieces, on French subjects, appeared from my father's pencil. They were entitled, "Les Causeuses," — painted for Mr. Tunno; "Waiting the Arrival of Fishing-boats — Coast of France;" painted for Mr. J. P. Ord; and "Muscle-gatherers Coast of France" painted for Sir Thomas Baring, Bart.

"Les Causeuses," presented the simplest of subjects — two French fish-women engaged in eager conversation, at one end of a pier overlooking the sea. In ordinary hands such an incident as this, when produced on the canvas, must have resulted in much that was conventional and little that was attractive; but under Mr. Collins's treatment, this apparently unprofitable fund of material produced the freshest and richest of effects — grace and novelty in the attitudes; national character in the physiognomy, gestures and expression of the figures; with brightness, truth, and harmony of colour in every part of the picture, from the dresses of the women to the hues of the tranquil sea and sky, being the successful means of producing this brilliant and original work. In "Waiting the Arrival of Fishing-boats," the same qualities of concentration of interest and grasp of effect were apparent, under different arrangements of colour and varied masses of composition. The figures in this picture were two women — one seated, the other standing by her, with a little child in an old basket slung at her back — and a boy placed near them, with a load of fish. "Muscle-gatherers," was the largest picture of the three. The landscape portion of the scene was a distant view of the Pier at Boulogne; the figures in the foreground were fishwomen, talking, gesticulating, and packing muscles, with that genuine French confusion and excitement, which is at once so perplexing and amusing to an English eye. This picture was magnificently toned, and painted throughout with extraordinary freedom, brilliancy, and vigour.

In noticing among the characteristics of these works, their originality of design, their brilliant colour, and their faithful reflection of the peculiarities of the people and the scenery which they were intended to represent, a few remarks on the progress that had now been made for many years by the painter, in that important branch of the science of Art which is termed "execution," may be permitted in this place; inasmuch as that progress was exhibited in his pictures of the present year in a remarkable degree. "Execution" — or the process of applying the tints on the canvas, and elaborating the whole surface of a picture — is, to a painter, what style is to a writer, a characterizing mark of his genius, which no imitation can ever completely copy. It gives individuality to the slightest, as to the most important, objects in pictorial composition; its value is never underrated by a great painter; and its excellence is always apparent as a remarkable component part in the beauties of his works. In Mr. Collins's pictures, the gradual formation of his powers of "execution" is interestingly developed. Those of early dates, exhibit him as commencing his practice of this part of his education in Art, by the most resolute labouring and relabouring of the different objects in his compositions, until they presented the requisite finish, purity, and completeness of surface. Subsequently, his works would be found to display — could they be viewed consecutively — his anxiety to add to these primary qualities, variety of texture, and brilliancy of effect; while, still later, his increasing capacity to accomplish successfully the objects of that anxiety, might be traced, year after year, as his new efforts succeeded each other, up to the time of his attainment of that firm mastery over the manipulation of the brush, which was presented by his pictures painted about the period of his career now under review. It is in his sea-pieces on French subjects especially, that the extraordinary vigour and freedom of "execution" which he had now acquired may be remarked. Bold carelessness, or timid finish of "handling," are alike avoided in them. Each object receives its due amount of manual attention, in proportion as it is necessary that it should recede from, or advance to, the eye. The firm shaping and reiterated application of the tints used to produce the solidity and roundness of the foreground masses, gives way to the light single sweep of the brush, where the line of the evanescent cloud, or the haze of the distant horizon, is to be expressed. And thus, harmonized throughout by texture and surface, pictures painted on these principles present nothing that is accidentally abrupt to the eye, but true in the balance of their individual parts, preserve the lasting attraction of variety and completeness in their general effect.

Additional remarks on this subject will be rendered necessary in other passages of the present Memoir; it is therefore inexpedient to continue them here. As new modes of study opened to Mr. Collins's mind, new stores of knowledge must be noticed as added to his previous acquisitions; for in painting, however much may have been attained, there is still ever something to be learnt. It is the privilege of the longest life, the firmest patience, the highest genius in Art, to make the discovery that the paths which lead to its sanctuary are as endless as the delights which accompany its pursuit.

In relation to the picture of "Muscle-gatherers," it may be mentioned that, while it was in course of completion, its possessor, Sir Thomas Baring, having seen one of the painter's sketches of a French fisherman, was so struck with it, that he became anxious that the figure should be introduced among the other groups in the work which was preparing for him. The two following letters, referring to this desired alteration, are so characteristic of two main qualities in their writer's disposition — his anxiety to oblige others, and his determination to do justice to himself — as to be worthy of perusal, notwithstanding their brevity:

 

"To SIR THOMAS BARING, BART.

"27th February, 1830.

"Sir,— As I feel exceedingly desirous that my present picture should be the best I have ever painted, and especially anxious to give you satisfaction, I purpose making the experiment of introducing the figure of the fisherman,— fearing, however, that the present principal figure will not bear so formidable a rival.

"I shall however this morning faithfully endeavour to effect the purpose you desire, and will have the pleasure of communicating the result to you by the next post.

"Your obliged and obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

To THE SAME.

"28th February, 1830.

"Sir,— I have not only tried the figure in a standing position, but have also painted him sitting; and in both cases found him a great intruder. The picture had already so much matter, that it became crowded with the addition, and suffered so great a loss in the most essential of all qualities,— breadth, that I found it quite necessary, in justice to your interests and to my own reputation as a painter, to restore it to its former state.

"Trusting you will believe that, under other circumstances, it would have afforded me the greatest pleasure to have adopted your suggestion,

"I remain, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Decided as was the tone of the second of Mr. Collins's letters, the alteration therein referred to did ultimately take place. So ready to be advised, and so perfectly free from professional obstinacy was the painter, that when, some time afterwards, Sir Thomas Baring and another gentleman of taste requested him to make a second experiment of the introduction of the fisherman's figure, he again attempted to produce the desired change. On this occasion, however, he was more fertile in his resources than on the last; and succeeded in making the required adjunct to his composition, upon the only condition on which (yielding as he was in all other directions) he would have permitted the change to remain on the canvas,— its non-interference with the pictorial value of the original groups. Indeed, so fully satisfied was he that the alteration as now effected was a decided improvement to his picture, that he refused all remuneration for the additional labour he had bestowed upon it.

During the summer of this year the painter again changed his place of residence. The inconvenience of his distance from London and London friends, combined with many disadvantages attaching to the accommodations of the house he had occupied since his return from Boulogne, had inclined him for some time past to resign all ideas of settling definitely at Hampstead, and to contemplate removing, as his friend Wilkie had recommended him to do, nearer to Kensington and to the metropolis. This project he accordingly executed, by taking a house at Bayswater; where he obtained a more commodious painting-room than he had occupied in his former abode, and where he found himself situated at a convenient distance from "London streets," and placed within half an hour's walk of the residence of his friend Wilkie.

About this period, also, occurred the death of Mr. Collins's most illustrious patron, His Majesty George the Fourth. The painter's Diary for the year contains some notice of this event, and presents also a short memorial of a conversation with the late Sir William Knighton, (to whom he had been recently introduced by Sir David Wilkie,) which must be perused with interest, as embodying some results of Sir William's experience of the personal character of the greatest poet of the age — Lord Byron.

 

"DIARY OF 1830.

"July 15th. — The King is to be buried to-day. I owe him much. The firing of minute-guns and the tolling of the church bells was truly melancholy. 16th. — To-day the new reign may be said to have commenced; Seguier says our new sovereign has great views respecting the Arts. To-night the Academy has called a council, to prepare the address to his Majesty. 20th. — The new King and Queen, with the other branches of the Royal family, accompanied by Sir Robert Peel, Lord Farnborough, etc., etc., visited our Exhibition. They were received by the President, Keeper, Secretary, and Council. The party remained about one hour and a half, and expressed themselves highly gratified. The King, in passing from the Model Academy through the hall, stated that he should on the following day, at the levee, knight our President. After the departure of our visitors, we drank Martin Archer Shee, Esquires, good health. His kind, excellent heart, made him feel this deeply. The address was signed to-day, and prepared for presentation. * * *

* * * In a conversation with Sir William Knighton, I heard from him the following anecdotes of Lord Byron. He attended his lordship, medically, for nine months, while he was writing the 'Corsair,' and other poems. During all his visits, he never heard him use an offensive word, either on religion or on any other subject. Lord Byron told him (Sir William Knighton,) that he once drank seventy pints of brandy, with Douglas Kinnaird, in as many days, to enable him to undergo the fatigue of writing. When the separation took place between Lord Byron and his wife, he allowed Sir William (who told him everybody was talking against him as regarded the subject, and that he wished for something to say in his defence) to state, that whatever offence he gave Lady Byron was in the way of omission rather than commission, that he never allowed himself to scold her, and only once showed temper in her presence, when he threw his watch into the fire." * * *

After a visit in September to Brighton — which was always associated, through all changes of external appearance, with his dearest childish recollections, as the place where he had first seen and attempted to draw coast scenery — the painter returned to his permanent labours over his next year's pictures, in his new painting-room. Here he continued to work — with many social meetings with the illustrious men of the day, and many a pleasant evening's debate on Art with Wilkie, to diversify the daily regularity of his studies; but with little of outward incident, or change of life, until the opening of the Exhibition of 1831, to which he sent three pictures: "The Venturesome Robin;" "Shrimpers,— evening;" and "The Morning Bath." Two other works by him appeared also at the British Institution this year, and were entitled, "The Old Boatbuilder," and "A Nutting Party."

A woody lane, bounded by a cottage on each side, and giving others to view in the distance, forms the scene of action in "The Venturesome Robin." On one side, near a high old stone well, is a young girl in a kneeling position, with two beautiful children clasped in her arms. On the other are two boys, the younger of whom holds a salt-box, from which his companion is extracting a pinch of salt, to be placed at the right moment, (in accordance with a well-known but rather superstitious method of bird-catching,) on the tail of a robin, who stands irresolute in the middle of the foreground, hard by the plate of crumbs which has tempted his venturesome approach. The quaint simplicity of this incident is admirably brought out in the action and position of the different figures; the quiet, smiling attention of the girl and the children being admirably contrasted by the intense slyness in the countenances, and the breathless anxiety in the attitudes of the two boys with the salt-box; who evidently believe devoutly in the efficacy of their ornithological receipt. The same minute and dramatic attention to Nature, apparent in the figures, is discernible in the landscape, which is so arranged as to present no artificial limits to the eye — the shadows of palings which are not seen in the picture, falling on the foreground; and the distant trees, leading out of the composition, past the sides of the old well. It was in every respect a thoroughly successful work; was painted for Mr. J. P. Ord, and was well engraved, in the line manner, in "The Amulet " for 1834. The figures in "The Shrimpers," (painted for Mr. Vernon,) are large in size and highly finished, they are grouped under a large cliff, arranging their fishing nets. A magnificent sunset sky, full of grand, aerial composition, and lustrous colouring, forms the most remarkable landscape object in this picture. "The Morning Bath," united the painter's domestic and sea-coast subjects. The waves fill the left-hand corner of the picture, to the foreground. In the shallow water stands a bathing-woman, restoring a baby whom she has just "dipped" to a nurse, on the beach at the right hand, who holds a warm blanket ready to receive her dripping little charge. Near her another attendant is dressing an elder child, who is shivering to the very fingers' ends. The clear, sunshiny sky, the buoyant, transparent waves, the characteristic action and varied expression in the figures, make this a most attractive and inspiriting picture. It was purchased by Mr. Henry M'Connell, of Manchester; and was engraved in "The Literary Souvenir." A beautiful water-colour drawing from the work exists by the artist's hand, and was bought at the sale of his works, after his death, by Mr. Russell Gurney.

Of the pictures at the British Institution, the largest was "The Nutting Party," painted for the Rev. R. A. Thorpe; a rustic, inland scene, with a fine group of children in the foreground. The second, "The Old Boatbuilder," was painted for General Phipps, and represented an old fisherman making a model of a boat for a pretty little child, who watches his progress, leaning on his knees. It was a small picture, painted with great care and delicacy, and was one of the artist's works exhibited at the British Institution after his death. It may be seen engraved in "The Amulet" for 1835.

Those momentous public occurrences, the outbreak of the cholera, and the Reform Bill agitation, of which England was the scene during this year, produced that long and serious depression in the patronage and appreciation of Art which social and political convulsions must necessarily exercise on the intellectual luxuries of the age. The noble and the wealthy, finding their lives endangered by a mysterious pestilence, and believing that their possessions were threatened by a popular revolution, which was to sink the rights of station and property in a general deluge of republican equality, had little time, while engrossed in watching the perilous events of the day, to attend to the remoter importance of the progress of national Art. As in other callings and societies, there were not wanting many to predict, from the aspect of the times, the downfall of all honourable and useful pursuits, the end of the aristocracy, and even the end of the world, so in painting there were found men of dismal mind, who foreboded the unhallowed arrival of a new series of "dark ages" for the perdition of the Arts. At such a time, to attempt any new experiments or superior achievements in painting would have appeared to those of this opinion as hopeless a waste of labour and anxiety as could well be undertaken. Yet more sanguine than some of his brethren, it was in this year that Mr. Collins began to put into execution a project which he had long entertained, of painting a large picture of some national English sport, in which, casting aside his wonted landscape attractions, he should depend entirely on the composition and character of his figures for success. The subject he fixed on was "Skittle-playing." Out of the few friends that heard of his design, many discouraged it. The subject, they thought, had been too often treated by the great Dutch masters, to be susceptible of originality; and to deprive himself especially at such a time of comparative indifference towards the Art of the "witchery" of his airy skies and sea-coast, or inland prospects, was, they urged, to risk failure with the public, from the dangerous novelty of the attempt. Wilkie, however, who best knew his friend's capacities, was delighted with his project, and warmly urged him to realize it without delay. At that time, the old Bayswater house of entertainment, called "The Wales Tea-gardens," stood unenvironed by the smart rustic villas, whose Gothic towers, of the height of a large sentry-box, and whose Arcadian gardens, of the size of a farm-house cabbage-bed, now spread their suburban fascinations to the citizen's view. Past one side of it flowed the stream, or rather large ditch of muddy water, (now built over,) from which Bayswater is supposed to have derived its name. To the more enterprising and inquisitive of the students of Art this place was not unknown. It presented good views of old wooden outhouses, nicely broken bits of bank on each side of the ditch, a passably rustic wooden bridge over it, prettily shaped trees around it, and now and then — rara avis in terra — a real countryman, caught from Uxbridge, or Ealing, and but slightly tainted with "London life." One great characteristic however of this house of call for artists as well as beer-drinkers, was its large skittle-ground; and here Mr. Collins now attended, sketch-book in hand, to gather materials for his picture. The greatest skittle-player amongst them took not more interest in "a good throw," than he. He learnt the rules of the game and the art of the play. He made studies, unobserved, of the individual character, the momentary position, and the accidental arrangement of figures in the time that would have been occupied by some fastidious sketchers in cutting their pencils and inspecting the surface of their paper. He bought skittles, and set them up in his garden. He risked turning his gardener,— a great skittle-player, and the model for one of his figures,— into a permanent Colossus of Rhodes, by keeping him striding in the action of bowling with all his might, as long as his legs would uphold him. In short, he persevered in a course of preparatory study of such a description as this, with a determination that would have astonished those gentlemen of the "poetical brush" who paint "at home at ease:" and the result was, the production of a picture which, in the opinion of Wilkie who watched it through every part of its progress would go down to posterity as one of the standard works of the English school. It will be fully described at the period of its exhibition, the year 1832.

Such was Mr. Collins's industry in the practice of a branch of painting already familiar to him; and such will it be found in the narrative that is yet to come of his studies in the new field of Art presented to his contemplation, by the people and the scenery of a distant land.

 

END OF VOL. I.

MEMOIRS

OF

THE LIFE OF

WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

WITH SELECTIONS FROM

HIS JOURNALS AND CORRESPONDENCE.

BY HIS SON,

W. WILKIE COLLINS.

VOLUME II.

LONDON:
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS.

_____________

MDCCCXLVIII.

Frontispiece and illustrations

CHAPTER I.

1831-1833.

Letters to Mrs. W. Collins and the Rev. R. A. Thorpe - Remarks - Exhibition of 1832 - "The Skittle-players" - Country Visits - Letters to Mrs. W. Collins - Labours in the Art - Letter from Sir David Wilkie - Exhibition of 1833 - Visit to the late Sir Thomas Baring, Bart. - Letters to Mrs. W. Collins - Illness of Mr. Francis Collins - His Death - Sketch of his Character - Death of the Painter's Mother - Remarks.

SOME notices of Mr. Collins's professional employments, and of the social and political events of the day referred to at the close of the preceding volume, will be found in the two following letters from his pen:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Bayswater, Oct. 17th, 1831.

"Your letter relieved our anxiety about your delayed journey, and I trust by this time, the weather having been favourable for Brighton rides and walks, you may, by the blessing of God, have found some benefit to your health. We have been dull enough without you. I know not what to say about going to bring you home; however, if you think it necessary, I will endeavour to do so. Write to me upon the subject again, in a day or two, and especially upon the state of your health. * * * Mr. Dodsworth continues his sermons upon the fearful character of the present times. What does our friend Dr. Thompson think of the signs afforded by recent events? You will have seen by the papers, that the French have determined to get rid of the hereditary peerage, by a majority of 384 to 86. The mob is quiet enough here; although the illness of the King and the report of a prorogation of Parliament till Christmas create much anxiety among the friends of the Reform Bill. * * *

"Affectionately yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To THE REV. R. A. THORPE.

"Bayswater, Nov. 26th, 1831.

"My dear Sir,— I cannot plead guilty to the charge of neglect in not having answered your former letter, for it was unfortunately without an address. As I am, however, a gainer by this omission, by receiving two letters from you instead of one, I cannot but rejoice,— especially as it affords me the opportunity of assuring you that, not being last year a member of the Academy Council, I had no share in the discredit brought upon us, as a body, by the accidental omission of your name at the dinner, which Etty, Landseer, and myself most sincerely deplored, and which we trust cannot occur again.

"Upon the receipt of your first letter, I put aside the picture I had begun for you, until I should have the pleasure of seeing you. A slight sketch of it I now send; the title I should give it is, ' The Stray Kitten.'

"Of the two scourges now afflicting us,* I know not which is the worst; but I do know that we have fallen into the hands of God in both cases, and not before we deserved it; but, now that we are brought publicly to acknowledge that our trials are of his ordering,** we may safely indulge in the hope that we may be preserved through all troubles. With respect to the pestilence, whatever our men of science — I am almost tempted to say, falsely so named — may choose to call it, we are all certainly much deceived upon the subject; but, although whatever may be the contingencies, we cannot but suffer much, yet great benefit must arise to all parties, from the course adopted in the holes and corners of our closely-packed and over-grown cities.

* The Cholera and the Reform Bill riots.

** Referring to the public appointment of a Fast Day.

"I have, since the spring, as usual, projected many great works. What is to become of them; whether we shall have another Exhibition at all, or whether, if we do, "The House of Delegates" will demand the produce of it, or whether the present aspect of affairs in Art may brighten after starvation has thinned the ranks of the artists, I know not; but as I am unfit for anything but painting, I go on, letting no day pass without a line; and, in justice to my stars, I must add, deriving new delights from my calling, 'as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on.' Were I not already ashamed of writing so much about myself, and what I think upon high matters, I should fairly tire you out. For the present, then, thanking you for your kind recollection of me, and most sincerely hoping I may soon see you in increased health and spirits,

"I am, most faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Though he writes jestingly, the painter had good reason to refer to the "great works " projected since the spring, which he notices in the above letter; for this autumn the well-known cottage scene, called, "Rustic Civility," shared his easel with the arduous experiment of the picture of "Skittle-players." Indeed, during the present year, the history of his life must be comprised in the history of his works. In the general panic of the times, when even social meetings and public amusements partook in a great degree in the disastrous influences that governed more important matters; when people thought more of preventives against infection than of invitations to assemblies, and found more interest in Parliamentary debates than in literary or pictorial novelties; the painter's usual visits and amusements suffered a temporary suspension. Thrown therefore upon his own resources more than usual, he naturally turned the more gladly to those projects in his Art which have been already noticed, and to those family pleasures which, being uninteresting to others, in proportion as they are delightful to those whom they most intimately concern, it is useless to refer to here. Of such anecdotes therefore of his intercourse with his fellow-painters and with the world, as have hitherto followed his progress in these pages, none present themselves during this year; and for those descriptions of his foreign adventures and foreign impressions, which have still to be recorded, the time has not yet come. It is for this reason that the present survey of his life will pass at once to the next season's Exhibition, in compliance with the plan of arrangement which has been adopted in these pages, to avoid the presentation of matter publicly uninteresting, viz., that of leaving all the intermediate portions of Mr. Collins's biography, from his birth to his death, to be limited and divided by the events, and not the years, of his life; thus securing, it is hoped, an equal diffusion of the incident and subject which it presents, over the whole surface of the present work.

The Exhibition of 1832, opened under the most unfavourable circumstances of commercial, political, and general depression. My father's contributions to it, were three in number:- the picture of "Skittle-players;" "Rustic Civility;" and a small sea-piece, called "Fisher Boys."

The general characteristics presented by the "Skittle-players" to the spectator, were — a strikingly original composition of eight principal, and eight second and third-rate figures; a disposition of light and shade, harmonious and scientific; and a tone of colour, brilliant, various and true. Of its more particular merits of story and character; of drawing, arrangement and execution, a more careful and particular review is required.

The skittle-ground is the stage on which the characters of the picture are displayed. It runs up obliquely, from the right-hand foreground, to the left-hand centre, of the composition. The game has been hotly contested for some time; and the decisive moment has now arrived. Five skittles are down; and four, in difficult situations, remain up, to be levelled at one stroke, if the game is to be won. Under a picturesque old shed, which occupies the middle of the picture, and on a line to the right of the skittles beneath it, stand three of the players — a cobler, a blacksmith, and another man. The two last, press forwards towards the skittles, in their over-anxiety to witness the decisive "throw;" but the cobler is too enthusiastic about the fairness of the game, to permit the possibility of their interfering with it, in any way. With his raggedly-clad legs fixed firmly on the ground, his aproned body bent forward in intense expectation, and his lanky arms stretched out horizontally on each side of him, he bars the sturdy blacksmith and his friend from advancing another step; while he turns his face in the all-alluring direction of the playing man. This figure is placed in the right-hand foreground of the picture. His back is towards the spectator, one of his legs is in a bending position, the other is stretched behind him to its fullest extent. His head is thrown back, and he is exerting his utmost strength, at the moment of "delivering" the heavy ball. The "pose" of this figure is magnificent clothed though he is, the violent muscular effort, the athletic fling of his whole body, is discernible in every limb. The perfect correctness in the drawing of this difficult and original attitude, preserves it from the slightest appearance of exaggeration, and makes the bold nature of its intention immediately apparent to the most ignorant eye. At the left-hand side of the skittle-shed, three lads, squeezing themselves half-through the aperture in the poles that support it, and watching the game with speechless eagerness, complete the skittle-observing and skittle-playing groups. The figures in the other division of the picture, finely contrast, in their comfortable, careless attitudes, with the agitation and action of the rest of the scene; but are preserved from any appearance of artificial separation, by the skill of the composition, which, though dividing them by almost the whole breadth of the picture, from the man bowling, connects them naturally with his companions, by the propinquity of a table, round which they are grouped, to the backs of the lads who are watching the game. One burly sun-burnt fellow, is lighting his pipe at a tallow-candle, placed on the table. A hearty, handsome, benevolent old farmer, sits next him, (in the left-hand foreground,) feeling for a piece of money in his waistcoat pocket, while he jests good-humouredly with a roguish little apple-girl, on the quality of the fruit she is offering to him for sale. Near the apple-girl, is the clumsy red-haired pot-boy of the inn, replenishing a mug of ale from his can, while the public-house dog by his side, sniffs inquiringly at the bright froth above a jug just filled. Beyond the table, and further towards the left-hand distance, "mine host" stands at his own door, giving a direction to a female pedlar and her child, at whom his wife looks suspiciously over his shoulder: while, still further, two little boys are walking through the public-house gate, with a jug of beer, towards the village, which is partially indicated in the distance. The branches of a large tree — the foliage of which is painted with wonderful intelligence and skill — extend over the roof of the skittle-shed, and fill two-thirds of the upper part of the picture; the rest being occupied by a patch of sky, and the trees behind the public-house. Such are the characteristics of this remarkable work which come within the imperfect limits of description. Of the dispositions of colour — powerful without exaggeration, and harmonious without monotony; of the "execution" — in which finish never degenerates into feebleness, nor solidity into coarseness; of the minute study of Nature — without meanness, or vulgarity — which the picture displays throughout, an idea can only be gained from a sight of the work itself. As an assertion of the versatility of the painter's powers, its success was triumphant: but one opinion prevailed, as to the high rank it held among the works of its class. It was called, punningly, in reference to the attitude of the principal figure, and the advance in excellence that it displayed — "Collins's stride." But the most amusing criticism on its merits, proceeded from Mr. Collins's gardener; who, as a great skittle-player, was called in to test the correctness of the picture, as to its main subject. "Well!" cried that horticultural functionary, with genuine delight — "this is as downright a tough game, as ever I see!" Such a "dictum," coming from such a quarter, was to the painter as decisive a testimony to the truth of his picture, as was the laugh of Moliere's old housekeeper to the excellence of his jokes, when the great dramatist read them to her in manuscript, before he committed them to the stage.

Yet, complete as was the success of this picture with the public, so universal was the depression that prevailed this year over the monied world, that no one, during its Exhibition both at the Royal Academy and the British Institution, was willing to become its purchaser, at the price which, by Wilkie's advice, Mr. Collins had demanded for it. Its existence and its merits were not however forgotten, when it was removed from the public view. As the affairs of the country brightened, and pictures of worth appeared, even as commercial speculations, to retain their importance as property of actual value, several offers were made for it, but still at a somewhat smaller price than the painter required and was still determined to require for it; viz,— four hundred guineas. It remained therefore on his hands, until the year 1844; when two gentlemen, each anxious to purchase it at the artist's price, came to his house on the same day — an interval of a quarter of an hour only, elapsing between their visits. The first, and consequently the successful applicant, was Mr. George Young, (an early and intimate friend of Sir David Wilkie's,) in whose collection the picture is now placed.

The cottage scene, called "Rustic Civility," was beautifully engraved in the "Literary Souvenir," by Outrim. It was sold at the Royal Academy, to the Duke of Devonshire; and was repeated by the painter, for Mr. Sheepshanks. With its perfect simplicity of subject, and its beautiful woodland landscape, this work was well adapted to hold its ground successfully, even against its more elaborate and ambitious companion. The ragged, good-tempered lad, who holds back the gate for the 'squire to ride through; the two smaller children, looking towards the new-comer — one roguishly ambushed behind the bars of the gate, the other hiding itself against its elder brother, and peeping out with wild shyness from his side — are unsurpassed, in their grace and nature, by any of the artist's figures of this description. But the picture had, independently of these qualities, a peculiar element of success, which consisted in the novelty of the manner in which the approach of the traveller, for whom the cottagers are opening the gate, is indicated; nothing being seen of him in the composition, but the shadow of his horse and himself, which is thrown on the foreground, as preceding him. This experiment, whether it be regarded as intimating the story of the picture with equal fancy and novelty, or as a new exhibition of the graphic powers of Art, must be admitted to display that thorough originality of thought and purpose, which forms the most indisputable credential of genius, in its appeals to the attention of the world.

The delicate little sea-piece, called "Fisher Boys," made a worthy third, in the series of successful works exhibited by Mr. Collins during this year. It was sold to Mr. Burton Philips.

Having thus noticed the progress and effect of the painter's labours in the Art at this period, it is next necessary to follow him in his autumn recreations. The principle of these consisted in country visits to Mr. Greene, M.P.; to Mr. Marshall; to Mr. Parry, at the Lakes; and, in company with Sir David Wilkie, to Sir Robert Peel, at Drayton Manor. His occupations and impressions during his absence from home will be found thus indicated in the following series of letters:

 

"To MRS. WILLIAM COLLINS.

"Whittington Hall, Kirkby-Lonsdale,

"Aug. 11th, 1832.

"I know jour anxiety to hear from me, and therefore assure you of my safe arrival in this beautiful country. My journey, though much longer than I expected, was less fatiguing than I could have thought; and although my cold has not entirely gone, I am already considerably better. I arrived here about eight o'clock on Thursday, and from eleven to eight on Friday have been flying about, visiting some of the most romantic spots in this lovely place. I am delighted with my host and hostess,— Mr. and Mrs. Greene. Mr. Greville and Miss Brackenbury form the rest of our party, and very pretty pastime we make amongst us. * * * To-morrow I hope to hear Mr. Carus Wilson, the rector of this place, to whom I was introduced yesterday. He seems a most amiable man, and bears an excellent character.

"The family here seem delightfully happy — everything goes on as it ought; prayers morning and evening, and their accompanying blessing cheerful and happy days. No dulness, no folly,— rational conversation: the beauty of the place, always suggesting the mercy and bounty of the Maker." * * *

"Aug. 20th, 1832.

"I am just on the point of setting off for Ullswater, and I hope to reach Mr. Marshall's by dinner-time. I cannot tell you how much I was delighted when I received your kind letter, just now. I see that I ought to have written on Saturday; but as you purposed writing at the end of the week, I thought it better to wait, in order to answer any part of your letter that might require a reply. I am sorry for your disappointment, and promise to gratify myself by more outward attention to all your little requirements; more inward and truly heartfelt attention to his wife, no one on earth desires to pay. So much for this little contretemps!" * * *

 

"To THE SAME.

"Hallsteads, Cumberland, Aug. 22nd, 1832.

"I arrived here safe and sound on Monday evening, and look forward with anxiety to Sunday next, when I calculate on the arrival of intelligence from home, to me the place of all others I delight in, unless indeed its great attractions were here.

"At this moment — eight o'clock, A.M. — I am in my room, from the windows of which I behold a perfect paradise. The house is within two hundred yards of the edge of the lake, upon a promontory jutting out into the lake itself. This spot, much to the credit of Mr. Marshall's taste, was selected by himself as the site of the house.

"My time, both here and at Mr. Greene's, has passed very agreeably; every sort of attention and kindness anticipating my wants. I parted from Mr. and Mrs. Greene on Monday, at Kendal, with much regret. More affectionate people I never saw; a fine little fellow, their son, about Willie's age, burst out crying during the ride, and after sobbing some time, upon being asked what he was so miserable about, said in the most artless manner, 'Because Mr. Collins is going to leave us!' The only drawback to all this delight is the state of the weather; it might, however, have been much worse, and I still hope may be found better. Tell Willie and Charley nothing affords their father more happiness than to hear they are good and attentive to their mother during his absence.— Adieu!"

"Sept. 8th, 1832.

"Your letter found me yesterday at Mr. W. Marshall's, in whose neighbourhood I had been sketching all day, so that I did not get it till six o'clock, when I returned to dinner. Mr. Marshall has a delightful house (Patterdale Hall), about six miles from this place. Our ride home by moonlight, the lake reflecting the mountains in a way 'tis impossible to tell of, either in poetry, or painting, was an enjoyment, like everything I have met with since I have left home, wanting but the presence of my wife to make it perfect. How grateful we ought to feel to Almighty God, for our perceptions of the witness he has not left himself without, anywhere; and in all his mercies to us, especially. Amidst the grand features of this country one certainly feels the littleness of all 'the peopled city's busy vanity.' With this feeling, I cannot but quote you a verse from a poem written by —-, who is really a gifted person, with a sense of religion in all her thoughts, which in our whole day's sketching has been to me most gratifying. When she accompanies us, she either takes some volume of Cowper, (the poet whom properly to feel, one ought to read in such scenes as these,) or repeats from a vast collection of his 'Beauties,' selected with the greatest taste, some of the loveliest of them. Now you must not say to any one that she writes poetry — the Goths of this world would think her crazy. She has given me a copy of her volume, upon condition that I divulge to no one the author's name. As I told her that I had no secrets and pleasures in which my wife did not partake, she of course consented to my wish that you should read them, and know about them. If I am not much mistaken, you will be as pleased with the book as I am. — The conclusion of this letter I must now however defer; for here I am, writing to my wife, before I have even made my toilet. I did not go to bed until one o'clock this morning, and it is now only just eight. Fare thee well for the present; but I must first remember to give you my promised quotation — it runs thus:

'Glory to thee, Almighty! who didst make
This earth a place of beauty, and who still —
Though earth be ruin'd for her master's sake —
Dost, with the outskirts of her glory, fill
The lone recesses of her majesty,
And mak'st her silence eloquent of thee!"

"I cannot even now tell you when I may turn homewards — my kind friends still press me to stay: next week I will write again. We are now going for a ramble over the mountains. Farewell! "

"Wednesday morning. I received your letter with much satisfaction, especially as I fully expected it the day before it arrived. I am sure if I were to remain at this place for a month, I should be a welcome guest — more kind and attentive people I never met with. The great facilities of moving about, I find of the utmost benefit both to my health and professional pursuits. The weather is the only thing against us: it has been raining almost incessantly, since two o'clock yesterday. Monday however was enchantingly fine, and we were on the lake for six or seven hours. Before we started for the day, we rowed about within reach of a messenger I had posted to bring your letter on board; for, notwithstanding the eagerness of three delightful young ladies, under my sole direction and care, who were not much disposed to linger about the shores, so near home, and the surprise of the rest of our party, from the windows of the house, at our delay, wait I would; and wait I did, till I got my letter — and then I was as merry as the best of them; and a most delightful day we had. I must now however break off: for some of the party are waiting for me; and, hoping the weather may favour our views, I must join them." * * *

 

"To THE SAME.

"Patterdale Hall, Penrith.

"The never-to-be-forgotten Sixteenth of September. This is I believe the first return of our wedding day, that we have been separated (in body) in spirit we cannot, I pray, be ever asunder. This day, as indeed every day since I have left you, I have drunk your health after dinner, to myself; and am now in my own room, writing another letter to you, on my way towards home. Yesterday, I left Hallsteads, where I experienced, within two days of a month's kindness and attention, which I can never forget. To-morrow I go to Grasmere, and thence, in three or four days, proceed to Birmingham; and then home. How have we been favoured, that during ten years, this is the first wedding-day we have spent apart. May it be the last!

"Your last letter, received on Thursday, was a great delight to me. I had been riding for some hours, came home about six, and found a nice fire (thanks to Mrs. Marshall's kind anticipation of my more than expectations) to dress by, and just time to read your epistle before dinner, which made me happy for the night. As your next is the last I am likely to receive, let it be a long one — I know nothing I have neglected to tell you, except the thousand things I reserve for our own fire-side I never have a moment to spare; this letter must be sent to-morrow morning before eight, and I have sketching to do till four, when I have ordered my chaise for Grasmere. * * "

 

"To THE SAME.

"The Cottage, Grasmere, September 22nd, 1832.

"I had intended to leave this place on Wednesday or Thursday next; but, Mr. and Mrs. Parry, like the other unreasonable beings I have encountered since I have left home, will not give me up. They have however agreed to make every arrangement for sending me back — at least from this place — on Monday week; so, about Thursday week, I promise myself the greatest earthly happiness, that of returning to my family — that I loved them greatly I always knew; but how much, never till now. I cannot tell you how kind the Parrys are, and how much I enjoy the beauties of this neighbourhood; which I saw something of, when I was last in this country, with poor Sir George Beaumont, fourteen years ago.

"I have many places yet to visit; and, if the weather be but as fine as it has been since my arrival, I hope to get some useful sketches, and at least to derive much benefit from the air and exercise I take daily. Yesterday I rode twenty miles, upon a beautiful little white pony, and have been out all to-day. We have two pleasant people, Mr. and Mrs. Stinton, of Hampstead, who go with us in our sketching parties. Mr. and Mrs. Wordsworth, wish much that I should spend two or three days with them; but I have positively declined their kind invitation, and am determined to refuse every invitation but yours, and I hope to stay with you, until you are tired of me.

"The cottage I am staying in is perfectly unique,— the vale most tranquil and lovely; but of this anon. Perhaps I may some day have the great gratification of showing this and the adjoining county to my wife and children. All my friends have been kind enough to express a hope that, some day, I may bring you to see them and their places. They all think that I have the best of wives, but that I am too fond of her, and, (which I know too,) that I am quite spoiling her; but be this as it may, I cannot change my conduct to her now.

"I think you have 110 reason to complain of the shortness of my letters; at least, upon this occasion. As probably the next you write will be received so shortly before my departure for home, I shall expect a volume. Short or long, however, you know how I shall prize it.

"Affectionately yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Soon after his return, the painter again departed with Wilkie to pay the last of his series of country visits at Drayton Manor, the hospitable mansion of Sir Robert Peel. From this pleasant sojourn, he writes briefly as follows:

 

"To MRS. W. COLLINS.

"Drayton Manor, Oct. 12th, 1832.

"I take advantage of a frank to Kensington to send you a line, although I cannot yet say when I may return. We are quite well, and go about seeing everything that is to be seen. Yesterday, Sir Robert Peel took us to Tamworth Castle, (mentioned in 'Marmion.') To-day we go to Litchfield. Chantrey has been here, and is just now gone. He came on Monday.

"I am writing in the midst of conversation, and moreover in the midst of the day, so must come to a speedy conclusion. Tell the boys that there are two or three really good boys here, and that I trust they have been most excellent children.

"W. C."

A prevalence of unusually bad weather, and the anxiety attending too close an application to the study of his new subjects and contemplated pictures, somewhat injured Mr. Collins 's usually good health at the close of the autumn. The bodily inconveniences of this year were, however, but the too faithful forerunners of the more serious visitation of mental affliction which was in store for him during the next, and to which it will ere long be needful more particularly to refer. In the mean time it is necessary to return to the date of his labours for 1833; and next, to notice the chief characteristics of the works he exhibited in that season.

His unwearied anxiety to diversify incessantly, his manner of making his Art instructive and interesting to the public, and his natural disposition to view success in one effort only as the incentive to attempt it in another, induced the painter to undertake another elaborate composition, which, while totally different in subject from the picture of "Skittle-players," should yet be treated upon the forcible and original principle that had presided over the execution of his last year's work. The scene he now selected to depict was the pursuit of the sea-fowl. His method of treating this subject was so bold and ambitious that a brother Academician, who was shown the sketch of the picture, declared that he had attempted to push the illustrative capabilities of Art beyond what they would bear, and that to execute such a design was next to an impossibility. It will be seen, when the Exhibition of 1833 falls under notice, that this impossibility was nevertheless accomplished, and accomplished so successfully that small repetitions of part of the composition were demanded subsequently by two of the numerous admirers of the work. In alternation with this undertaking, two other subjects occupied my father; one, another reminiscence of his tour to Boulogne, in the shape of a French sea-piece; the other, a third in the new series of cottage scenes, of which "The Venturesome Robin" and "Rustic Civility" had formed the first and second, called, "The Stray Kitten." This picture was twice afterwards repeated on commission, a line engraving from it being also published by Mr. Alderman Moon.

Wilkie — whose temporary attendance as Court Painter at Brighton, at the beginning of the new year, made him absent from the painter's studio; did not however forget his usual interest in the projects and employments of his friend, and wrote as follows, to encourage and congratulate him. Mr. Collins's reply has unfortunately, in this instance, not been found:

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Brighton, Feb. 14th, 1833.

"Dear Collins,— In case a continued silence might look as if I never thought of you and those about you during this protracted absence, I thus venture to break in on your unceasing labours, if only to assure you that I hope in a few days to interrupt them in another way, that I may have the pleasure of witnessing their successful result.

"I fancy how little I am doing and how much you have done since I saw you. For this year you will be strong with what you are getting up, while my year's labour is divided out into so many beginnings, that I shall be hurried now with any one. 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 Robert Peel a few days ago, who was at Drayton Manor before we came, and regretted he could not stay till our arrival. Offer my best and kindest regards to Mrs. Collins, and to Willie and Charlie, and to Francis when you see him. With esteem and regard,

"I am, yours most truly,

"DAVID WILKIE."

The feelings of despondency on the subject of his own efforts, expressed by Wilkie in the preceding letter, soon departed on his return to London; for his friend on again entering his studio, found in the new works that it displayed, the strongest arguments to convince him of the groundlessness of his temporary doubts. Both the painters therefore now recurred to their accustomed interchange of visits and advice, and both worked with their usual industry and care for the approaching Exhibition of 1833 — my father, succeeding in spite of many interruptions from illness, in completing the three pictures, which in the preceding autumn he had originally designed to produce.

Of these works, the first in size as in importance was that entitled, "Returning from the Haunts of the Sea-fowl." From the top to the bottom of the left-hand side of the picture, which was of an upright shape, run the precipitous extremities of a range of rocky cliffs, ending in a rugged ledge, extending across the whole foreground of the composition. Far beneath, and beyond this, lies the beach, dotted with a few figures reduced almost to specks by distance, and leading out hundreds on hundreds of yards onwards, to a rich luminous strip of sea. On the highest visible brow of the cliff, within a few feet of the sloping edge, and under an overhanging mass of rock, stands one of the sea-fowlers, relieved through the whole height of his figure against the sky, and looking attentively at his companion, who is descending the jagged face of the precipice before him. The position of this figure is most critical. Seated within a few inches of the perpendicular edge of the cliff, with one foot on a protuberance of rock, and steadying himself with a staff, he is attempting to find a safe place for his other foot on a point of crumbling stone and grass overhanging the outermost precipice; a sudden gust of wind would be enough, at such a moment, to whirl him over the giddy height. Below him is a deep recess in the rock, turning inwards, out of which some startled sea-gulls are flying. On a patch of ground, sloping outwards and downwards from this, stands the fowler's dog, his fore feet firmly fixed on the earth, to prevent his falling over the rocks immediately beneath. To his left rise two masses of stone, between which a boy is making his way, descending by his hands and knees; while still further below are two other fowlers, already disappearing from the eye as they proceed in another direction, down a lower range of cliffs. At the right hand extremity of the rocky ledge, running across the foreground of the picture, stands a girl, pointing out their securest footing to the lads above her, who have been attempting "to make a short cut," while she has herself descended by another and a safer way down the rocks. The bright windy clouds, rolling downwards from the upper sky, and obscuring the sun on the distant horizon,— the sea-gulls disturbed, whirling confusedly and wildly over the heads of the fowlers,— the soft shadowy painting and fine aerial perspective of the beach and distant ocean, contrasted with the sharp, vigorous modelling of the great cliff,— the elaborate finish of every patch of grass and morsel of stone that finds a resting-place on its sloping surface, and the firm drawing and brilliant colouring of the living agents on the scene, give to the whole composition the vast, precipitous, striking character, that it requires, and make the perilous position of the principal figures doubly apparent and exciting. Throughput the picture, the power of the "handling" aids at every point the originality of the design, and dispels the obstacles to expressing height, depth, and distance at once, on the flat surface of a canvas, with extraordinary felicity. Equal to "The Skittle-players" in general popularity, this work shared its fate in returning from the Exhibition unsold. Although the political and commercial agitation of the times was now subsiding, it was by no means yet calmed, and the general saleableness of costly and important works of Art still laboured under the depression of the former year. In 1837, however, during the painter's residence on the Continent, the picture was purchased by Mr. Bryant, of St. James'-street, passing afterwards into the collection of the late Sir Thomas Baring, Bart., and again changing its possessor at the sale of the modern portion of that gentleman's gallery, after his death. The two small repetitions of the upper part of it, referred to in a former page, were painted for the Rev. E. Coleridge and Mr. Alaric Watts; the work belonging to the latter gentleman being engraved as an illustration to his "Literary Souvenir" for 1835.

The widely circulated print of "The Stray Kitten," (the second picture of the year,) has rendered the general features of the work familiar to most of the lovers of nature and simplicity in Art. The swarthy, mischievous, merry-looking boy, and the pretty cottage girl and children, watching their chances of inveigling within their reach a plump, shy, little kitten, who has strayed, by the temptation of a dish of milk,— the sunny, fertile, woodland and mountain background, in the distant view,— and the rich soft glow of colour pervading the whole composition, were characteristics of this picture, not soon forgotten by any one who beheld them. Of the painter's two repetitions of this delightful cottage scene, (which was painted for Mr. Holden,) the first was purchased by Sir Francis Shuckburgh, Bart., and the second, commissioned by Mr. Sheepshanks.

The third and last picture of the year's Exhibition was called, "A Scene on the Coast of France." The view was on the shore, near Boulogne; the figures were small, and the treatment was as fresh, natural, and brilliant, as in all the painter's works of this description. The purchaser of this picture was Mr. Fairlie.

Soon after the close of the Exhibition, an invitation from Mr. Collins's valued friend and patron, the late Sir Thomas Baring, to his country seat at Stratton Park, not only enabled the painter to recruit his health by rest and change of air, but procured him the advantage of enjoying the most agreeable social intercourse, in a house made doubly attractive to the lover of historical associations of the past, as the favourite sojourn of Lady Rachel Russell, after her husband's death. From this place, the beautiful scenery of which produced some of his finest landscape sketches, Mr. Collins thus writes:

 

"To MRS. W. COLLINS.

"Stratton Park, Aug. 14th, 1833.

"You will be glad to hear that I find myself much better; my nerves are stronger, and the pain in my face is fast decreasing, my nights being almost as good as usual. I had, however, no idea how much 1 required quiet and change of air. Yesterday I rode out on horseback for many hours, with Sir Thomas, and visited the 'Grange;' a perfect palace, belonging to his brother, Mr. Alexander Baring. I am now snatching a few minutes to write to you, previous to a repetition of this delightful exercise. I cannot tell you how much consolation and improvement I derive from my host's conversation. He is a genuine Christian; we agree perfectly. Lady Baring, Miss Baring, and Miss Maitland are our present party, and I could not be happier anywhere — from home.

"This is the only time that I can possibly spare to write; and I regret I can devote no more to you, for I have now to finish a letter to your aunt. I wish Frank to send here some of my prints, in a tin case. I think there is one at Bayswater; and I can bring back in it some Sir Thomas has given me. Adieu."

"August 23rd, 1833.

"I should have written two or three days since, for I am longing for a letter from you; but as yet I have been uncertain when I should leave this place. I have gone on mending pretty regularly, have taken a good deal of care of myself, and although I have many indications that I am no longer a young man, I am much happier than I used to be, and, praised be God, I am by his grace 'content with such things as I have.' Wretched and ungrateful beyond the common measure of unthankfulness should I be, were I otherwise! I am writing this the instant I have risen, for somehow my whole day is much occupied. I seldom miss riding on a beautiful and safe horse belonging to Miss Baring. Yesterday, however, to Lady Baring's distress, I did; for she is determined I shall get all the benefit I can to my health, from the delightful air of this place. It is now striking eight. I must tear myself from you, and before post time snatch a moment to finish my scrawl.

"Since writing the above, I have received what I so much wanted,— your letter,— and am thankful that all is well. I have only time to add, that I know nothing but want of room in the coaches to prevent my starting for town on Monday.

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

On his return from Stratton Park, Mr. Collins sent his wife and children to make a short stay at Ramsgate, under the care of his brother; whom he intended to relieve of his charge by proceeding to that watering-place himself, as soon as he should have settled some necessary business in London. This little excursion, designed to promote the health and happiness of his family, proved the innocent source of death to one of their number, and of the bitterest affliction that had ever befallen them, to the rest.

On the arrival of the painter at Ramsgate, his brother, after a fortnight's sojourn there, went back to his London duties and engagements. In returning up the river he caught a severe cold, which almost immediately assumed so alarming a character, that his medical attendant wrote to Mr. Collins, to warn him that symptoms of typhus fever were already giving a serious importance to Mr. Francis Collins's disorder. Leaving his family at Ramsgate, the painter immediately repaired to his brother's bedside. Some days of anxious watching ensued; more medical attendance was called in; it was thought that ultimately the patient might recover. Mr. Collins then wrote to his wife to return — the chances of infection from the dreaded disorder having been declared to have diminished. She lost no time in obeying him; but, on entering the house, found her husband plunged in the deepest grief, and trying to console his aged and infirm mother. In the interval, the disease of the sufferer had suddenly and fatally increased; and on the day before, his brother Francis had breathed his last!

From the shock of this bereavement, Mr. Collins's moral system never entirely recovered. To the merest acquaintances, his brother had possessed the happy faculty of endearing himself in no common manner; to the painter, the void left by his death no other domestic tie was of a nature ever thoroughly to replace. His brother was associated with him, in his memory, as having painted by his side when as boys they amused' themselves with "drawing pictures" in the little parlour of their father's abode,— as having year by year, by his advice and approval, continued in the same position of encouragement and participation, which in those early days he so merrily and gladly held,— as having followed his father with him to the grave, and having laboured cheerfully with him, for the credit of his father's name,— as having partaken the bitterest adversities of his student life, and the happiest triumphs of his maturity in Art. It was to him one of those life-long afflictions which darken a bright trace of our connection with the past, and destroy a cherished source of our earthly anticipations for the future.

But it is in Mr. Collins's own words, as contained in some written reflections on the affliction that had befallen him, which have been found among his papers, that the best record is presented of his affection for his brother, and of his bitter grief at his loss. The following extracts from this document will, it is hoped, be found well fitted for perusal, as showing on what sources of consolation he depended under the bereavement which it had now become his duty to endure:

"1833. Saturday, November 2nd.— My beloved brother has this day been dead one month. During this period he has seldom, if ever, been out of my thoughts. God knows how much more unhappy I feel now, even since I awoke this morning, than I have felt since the day of his death! Why am I so cast down? How 1 loved him, and how good and humble in the sight of God he was I know well; that he sleeps in Jesus I fully believe; that Christ will bring him with him in the great day, I pray: 'They who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him;' and ought I therefore to sorrow as one who has no hope?

"November 12th.— This day seven weeks I returned from Ramsgate, to see my poor Frank. He was the most disinterested person I ever knew — how little did I then think he was so near the end of his pilgrimage! He seems to have had some indicatory symptoms even before he went to Ramsgate with my wife and children; but his extremely robust appearance (for him) after his return, gave us reason to believe that all was well. When I received a letter from Dr. Thompson, stating that he was labouring under fever, but that no symptoms indicating danger had yet shown themselves, I wrote directly, giving instructions for additional medical advice, as well as desiring further accounts. The next letter brought me to Bayswater, where he was staying when taken ill. I found that he had been wandering in mind and very restless; that he had endeavoured to leave his room, and that he had broken the window of the dressing-room, as it was supposed with a view of making his escape that way, crying, 'Murder!' and requiring the assistance of two or three men to restrain him. When I saw him, he was looking dreadfully ill, but was quite collected — occasionally however wandering upon the subject of being in a strange house, and under an impression that a vast time had elapsed, and that all things had undergone great revolutions during that period. He talked very sensibly at intervals on religious subjects, telling me he had always said his prayers since his strange views had taken possession of his mind. As he became worse, I remained in constant attendance on him. Never was I in such misery. My wife and children were sent from home, to avoid infection; I was not without fears that I myself might be in danger (reduced as I then was by bodily suffering and mental anxiety); and I knew not what to do for the best, or what comfort to find, but in casting my care upon Him who careth for us all. Dr. Thompson kindly slept in the house; and we were both of us continually in my brother's room, until it pleased Almighty God that he should die! This heavy blow — the heaviest I ever experienced — took place at about a quarter before nine o'clock in the morning, on the 5th of October. My wife returned a few hours afterwards. She was spared much suffering, where she could have rendered no service; and I had alone to witness a scene, which none but a merciful God could have enabled me to support.

"November 15th— This day I attempted, for the third time since the loss of my beloved brother, to begin again to paint; but now, as before, I cannot collect my thoughts sufficiently. A dreary blank, with much mental and nervous suffering, has succeeded to his death and burial. God help me!

"November 16th— My dear brother was, during his life-time, never three months together out of my sight, and never out of my heart. I felt a sort of fatherly care for him, (for he was always a tender plant) as well as a brotherly love. He has been taken, I most firmly believe, to that happiness prepared for those who love God, and long for the appearing of his son Jesus Christ. I cannot sorrow, as those who have no hope, about him, or doubt the mercy of God to myself. He could have had no happiness in this world, as it is now constituted — before the times of restitution; which it would not be madness to compare with that enjoyed by those who depart to be with Christ! I do not believe myself so selfish, wretched as I am, as to wish, could wishing bring him back.

"I have now increasing duties to perform to my wife and children, to my mother, to my wife's family, and to the poor; and as I cannot perform the smallest duty of my stewardship but by the help of God, (and I praise his holy name that I know I have no other help to lean upon,) I humbly pray that I may be strengthened, and so ordered, that in passing through things temporal, I lose not the things eternal! May I be able to say — 'it is good for me that I have been in trouble.'"

The character of the painter's brother was, in truth, one that claims a notice on the page, though it aroused no attention in the world. There are some men, whose minds, unselfish as their hearts, toil not for themselves, and take no thought of treasure for their own advantage; whose ambition, admirably destitute of self-interest, centres in the aspirations of those they love, lives but for their service, expands in no triumphs but theirs; who go through the world, in the noble privacy inherited by that widest of intellectual charities, which gives its privileges with its benefits, to its neighbour. Of such an order was Francis Collins. Penetrating and philosophic, his mind improved the various information it acquired, as rapidly as that information was received. His knowledge, on the subject of Art especially, embraced, in addition to its more important secrets, all those quaint antiquarian curiosities of the science, which still remain excluded from the world, in the memories of the few who have had the opportunities and the capacity to imbibe them as he did. Strange anecdotes of the old painters, amusing peculiarities in the modern pedigrees of their different pictures, picture-dealing frauds which were publicly unknown, extraordinary plagiarisms and errors in by-gone criticisms on Art, minute characteristics of different schools of painting, were some of the more generally attractive portions of his knowledge; to which he added that remarkable tenacity of memory, which enables a man to be always prepared with a reference to the books, dates, and circumstances, connected with whatever information he affords. Yet, finding as he did, that these qualifications made him welcome in all societies, and quoted in many disputes, he thought not of using them for his own advantage; of widening his circle of listeners, by seeking the approval of the world. If his knowledge and his anecdotes informed and amused his brother and his brother's friends; if they moved the interest and stored the memories; if they improved the conversation and increased the usefulness, of those whom he loved, they had fulfilled their highest purpose for him. Thus, his labours and his hopes beginning and ending within the magic circle of his brother's genius and reputation; happy in the privilege of existing for his brother's advantage, and rewarded by the constant testimony of his brother's affection and esteem; lived this amiable and Christian man. Dying, he left to all those who had known him, no remembrances connected with his character, that were not of kindly piety and natural gentleness, of various attainments and innocent humour, of good deeds humbly done, and of valuable benefits modestly conferred.

But it was not with the loss of his brother alone, that the family afflictions of Mr. Collins were to cease. While the traces of this first death were yet darkest in his household, another was soon to follow it. Age and infirmity but ill-disposed his mother's frame to bear the physical trial of her bereavement. Soon after her son's death, she was seized with a fit. For six weeks more she lingered — the object of the fondest care and attention — between life and death; and at the end of that time expired. She was laid in the same grave where, but two months back, her son had been buried before her. The last earthly tie that had still connected the painter with the home of his boyish studies in the Art, was now sundered for ever!

At the period of this event, the MSS. from which some of Mr. Collins's reflections on his brother's death have been already extracted, is continued. Portions of it may be inserted as follows:

"1833. December 29th— This morning, at ten minutes past one, my poor dear mother was taken from this state to one, I hope, of bliss. She had been a great sufferer for the last six years; and since the death of my beloved Frank, her infirmities of mind and body had much increased. She spoke to me about an hour before she died, and resigned her breath without a struggle. God have mercy upon her, and remember her when He comes in His kingdom!

"1834. January 5th, Sunday — This day (my mother's remains having been laid in the grave on Friday, the 3rd) our solitude seemed sad indeed. Poor Frank was our constant visitor on Sunday. Alas, what a wilderness is this world! I have no relative now, either on my mother's or father's side, that I ever saw — I have buried three, and am left the only survivor!

"February 4th— This is dear Frank's birth-day — a day on which we always made much of him. What a treasure he was: the Lord gave him and the Lord hath taken him away!

"May 5th— Yesterday was a particularly melancholy day — the nineteenth year since I became a member of the Academy, and the first without poor Frank's refreshing remarks upon all that I had to communicate to him about the Academy's anniversary. Perhaps had he lived, I had done better — never, never shall I look upon his like again! No day has passed without much thought about him, and, God help me, no thought without regret! But God only knew what was best for us both — His holy will be done!

"May 26th— I left town for Kent, on Wednesday last, and returned on Saturday; having enjoyed the consolation of passing these days amid the beautiful works of God, among scenes of peace, in the society of Christians. No other society can comfort me — the society of the world depresses me greatly. I am sadly low in mind at times, and in body weak — apt to be vexed, very impatient, not bearing my afflictions with that patience, which afflictions were sent to teach. My time is not so regularly employed as it ought to be, and I am therefore full of self- reproach — but praised be God, still desirous above all things to live to his glory!"

Here, although further details of these domestic calamities, and of their effect on Mr. Collins's projects and employments, might yet be given, the relation of his private afflictions must cease. In the progress of the page, as in the course of life, it is necessary to leave the departed to their dread repose, retaining them in thought, to resign them in action. But glancing therefore at the consolations derived by the painter, in the sadness of his first renewal of his Art, under auspices changed for ever, from the brotherly attention and kindness of his friend Wilkie, who was now more constantly with him than ever, let us pass from the observation of bereavement and grief, to the onward progress of the subject; to the new epoch in my father's life and studies, the fresh propulsion to his ambition and his energies, of which the occurrence and the history are now alike near at hand.

 

CHAPTER II.

1834-1836.

Pictures of 1834 - Tour, and studies in Wales - Project of travelling in Italy - Pictures of 1835 - Letter to Lord Chief-Commissioner Adam - Visits to the country, in the autumn - Letters to Mrs. Collins - Determination to pass a year in Italy - Notice of G. S. Newton, R.A., and letter on his character to Mr. Leslie, R.A. - Pictures of 1836 - Preparations connected with the tour to Italy - Farewell letter to Sir David Wilkie - Departure, in September, for the Continent - Remarks suggested by the painter's entry on a new career.

To the Exhibition of 1834, Mr. Collins contributed two pictures. One — a fourth in his new series of cottage subjects — was entitled "Rustic Hospitality;" the other was a Cumberland scene, called "The Morning Lesson." To the melancholy interruption that his employments had suffered at the close of the last year, is to be attributed the diminution in the number of his new works at the present season's Exhibition. His productions, however, though lessened in quantity, retained all their wonted attractions in character. Both were engraved.

On the withered trunk of a felled tree, before a cottage gate, sits the object of "Rustic Hospitality." His coarse, dusty garments, his listless position, and his half-suffering expression of countenance, indicate his humble station in life, his weariness, and the distance he has journeyed. In the middle of the picture is a group of three children, in many respects the happiest the artist ever painted. One fair, healthy little girl, advances slowly and seriously towards the traveller, carrying a jug of beer, with her younger sister by her side, who is turning to run away at the unusual sight of a stranger's face; while a chubby urchin, still more shy, crouches behind them both, taking an observation of the new guest from the securest position he can find. The children's dog, more inquisitive and less scrupulous than they, has already approached the traveller, and is relieving his doubts by the usual canine method of investigation, smelling the stranger's shin. At the opposite extremity of the picture, is the cottage gate. The door of the principal room in the little abode behind it, is open; and reveals the figure of the mother of the young cottagers, occupied in cutting bread and cheese for the traveller's meal. All the accessories of the picture suggest the primitive retirement and simplicity of the place and its inhabitants. The black-bird's cage hangs at the sunniest point of the cottage wall; the hollyhocks flourish brightly over its garden paling; the narrow strip of grassy ground between the gate and an old fence opposite, is marked but by one small foot-track, lost ere long amid the close tall trees, which — speckled here and there, through their graceful forms, with a glow of sunlight — present the woodland background of the composition. The breadth and grandeur of light and shade, and the deep richness and transparency of colour, discernible in this picture, testify to the painter's successful study of the theory and practice of the old masters, and add forcibly to the sterling attractions of his simple and natural illustration of the subject. The original work was painted for the late Mr. Marshall. A repetition of it was then produced by the painter, for Mr. Hogarth, the print-seller; who published a clever and faithful line engraving from it, by Mr. Outrim, in "Finden's Gallery of Modem Art."

"The Morning Lesson," with its fresh, open, dewy landscape, its tranquil Cumberland distance, its "misty mountain tops," mingling with the delicate airy clouds, and its group of three foreground figures, (a rosy girl, teaching a little child at her knees to read the alphabet, and repressing the importunate playfulness of an idle boy behind her,) formed a complete contrast to "Rustic Hospitality," in treatment, subject, and composition; and pleasingly attested the capacity as well as the ambition of the painter to sustain that variety in production which is an essential requisite of successful Art. This picture was purchased, to be sent to America, by Mr. Carey, of Philadelphia. A small, poorly-executed, engraving from it was published in an American annual.

When the anxieties connected with the preparation of his pictures and the opening of the Exhibition had passed away, and as the fine summer months approached, Mr. Collins began to feel that his constitution had been more shaken by the trials of the past autumn than he had imagined, and that a lengthened change of scene and a salutary withdrawal from the bustle and excitement of society were now the surest measures that he could take to effect the re-establishment of his health and spirits. Declining, therefore, all the invitations which now reached him as usual from his patrons and friends, he made arrangements for a tour with his family, through the scenery of North and South Wales; the attractions of which he had often heard of, but had never yet beheld. Accompanied, therefore, by his wife and children, he visited Chepstow, Tintern, and Ragland, proceeding through the beautiful scenery of that part of Wales to Aberystwith. Here, by the sea-shore, which his Art made an occupation and an enjoyment to him in all places, he remained for some time. His sketching excursions in this neighbourhood did not, however, delay him long from the contemplation of the more northward mountain beauties about Snowdon and Llanberris. With the pretty little village called by the latter name he was so much delighted, as to make arrangements for staying there several weeks. In the glens and lakes, mountains, and waterfalls around this place, he found new landscape materials for many of his future pictures; while the wild, barefooted, little Welsh children, scrambling about the mountain passes, presented a fresh collection of those unsophisticated rustic models which he most delighted to study. None of these children could speak English, or had the remotest idea of sitting still on their chairs to be painted. Mr. Collins was, however, too experienced a student of children's natures, as well as children's figures, to be defeated in sketching them by any obstacles of this description. No tyro in the potent diplomacy of pennies, cakes, and sugar-plums,— he made models of them all. One after another, as they hovered doubtfully about his parlour-window, he lured them into his room, displayed his stock of bribes; and seizing the first position into which their astonishment or their fear happened to throw them, drew them at once, just as they were. One plump little boy was caught with his father's old stock buckled tightly about his short neck. This peculiarity in his costume obliged him to sit steadily, for his face at least; for it absolutely incapacitated him from moving his head, and kept him staring upwards with a comic gravity of expression, which the painter transcribed on his paper with genuine delight. Of all these models, the most difficult to manage was a tiny, sun-burnt, little girl, about three years old, who could only be induced to look up, even for a moment, by the painter's expedient of holding a halfpenny before her with one hand, while he drew from her with the other. She was afterwards introduced, (as then sketched,) into his picture called "Welsh Guides."

I venture to mention the above particulars, at the risk of their being considered trivial, as they may convey some idea of Mr. Collins's quickness and facility in preparing those studies of cottage children, which, as transferred to his pictures, have afforded such general pleasure, and won him such general applause.

On leaving Llanberris, the painter proceeded to Bedgellert. Here the scenery changed. Less wild, varied, and original, the landscape now assumed a more quiet, pretty, monotonous character. Passing through it, therefore, with less delay than usual, my father gained his next place of temporary sojourn, Barmouth, without many additions of importance to his sketch-book. At this place he was once more by the seaside, with coast scenery of the most novel and picturesque order to employ his attention. Cottages perched grotesquely one above another on shelves of cliff,— a smooth winding beach,— the lofty Cader Idris close at hand,— and a noble background of clear blue hills, presented to him a familiar class of subject, displayed under a novel and attractive form. In the natural characteristics of this place, and in its motley population, composed partly of fishing and partly of market-people, he found the material for one of his next year's pictures, called, "Welsh Peasants, crossing the Sands to Market." In spite of the obstacles of frequent wet weather, he succeeded in making as many studies at Barmouth before he quitted it as he desired; for if a scene pleased his eye, he sketched its distinguishing features in the rain, under an umbrella, as coolly and resolutely as if he were drawing them from the window of a house, or under a tranquil sky. From Barmouth he went to Dolgelly; the journey to which he always spoke of as presenting the finest scenery in Wales. Dolgelly itself, with its lovely "Torrent's Walk," its dashing waterfalls and rich-spreading woodlands, would have delayed him as long as Barmouth, but that it was now necessary that he should turn his steps homeward. He proceeded, therefore, slowly, by Montgomery, Ludlow, Hereford, and Ross, to Bath; where he made some sojourn,— ultimately returning, by way of Salisbury to London; fortified both in mind and body, by four months' quiet study and enjoyment of many of the finest beauties of Nature, which the scenery of this island can present.

On the painter's arrival at home, Wilkie, who was as usual the first to examine his new sketches, did not forget to revive the old subject of the advantages to be gained by his friend, if he would determine on a tour to Italy; declaring that the satisfaction procured for him by the home journey he had just taken would be doubled and trebled by the more varied and exciting attractions of foreign travel and foreign subjects. This time he found my father less resolute in absolutely resigning all hope of prosecuting the continental plan. One reason that had hitherto operated powerfully to retain him in England, the care of his infirm mother, had, by the bereavement of the year before, been removed for ever; his energy and ambition, his own eagerness to behold Italian scenery and Italian Art, began irrepressibly to second Sir David's advice; and though as yet he determined on nothing absolutely, he already contemplated as probable that thorough change in his choice of subject and usual regular mode of life which, in the year 1836, did eventually take place.

In the mean time, through the autumn and winter, he now exclusively occupied himself in preparing for the Exhibition of 1835; to which he sent four pictures: "Children launching a Boat," (purchased by Sir George Philips, Bart.;) "Welsh Peasants crossing the Sands to Market," (purchased by Mr. Colls;) "Cromer, on the Coast of Norfolk," (purchased by Mr. Jacob Bell;) and "The Mariner's Widow," (purchased by Mr. Vernon.)

"Children launching a Boat" was a small inland scene, deeply and grandly toned, and of great freedom and simplicity in the arrangement. The "Welsh Peasants" were represented crossing the Barmouth sands on horseback; the sea and the hills beyond forming the background. The principal figures were women, dressed in that curious national costume of which a man's hat forms the most eccentric portion. The great beauty and originality of the lines of the composition in this picture, as indicated by the disposition of attitude in the mounted and walking peasants, struck every one who saw it,— and none more favourably than the painter's gifted friend, the late Sir Augustus Callcott, R.A.; who, viewing the work with the eye of a kindred genius, declared that the arrangement of the figures was one of the most successful efforts of its class that the painter had produced. The picture has been disposed of by its first possessor to Mr. J. Gillott, and has been engraved in the "Art-Journal." The sea-piece, entitled "Cromer," was one of the works exhibited at the British Institution, after Mr. Collins's death. A better example of his simpler and less ambitious productions of this order could hardly have been selected than this picture, in which the delicate tone of the whole scene is admirably heightened and invigorated by the red cloak of a female figure on the beach,— one of those judicious effects of colour which the painter so well knew how to employ. In point of subject, "The Mariner's Widow" was perhaps Mr. Collins's best picture this year. At the door of a fisherman's cottage, pointing to the place on the ocean where her husband was lost, sits the "Widow." Her only auditors are the occupants of the house,— a man and his wife; the former holding his child between his knees. The mournful contrast between the black weeds of the widow and the tender brightness of the sky and sea around her,— between her resigned, sorrowful features, and the kindly and simple outward appearance of the fisherman and his wife, gives a tranquil pathos to this natural incident which invests it at once with the elements of real tragedy and lasting interest. This fine picture requires, however, but little notice in these pages, as the public will be able to judge of its merits for themselves; the work being in Mr. Vernon's collection, and consequently included in his noble bequest to the National Gallery of England.

In the subjoined letter to Lord Chief-Commissioner Adam, the drawing, the completion of which Mr. Collins announces, was the scene at Blair Adam, which has been before mentioned as jointly undertaken, as a gift to the owner of that estate, by Sir David Wilkie and himself, (the former supplying the figures, and the latter the landscape,) when they were enjoying his hospitality in 1822. The notice of their visit will be found at the date of its occurrence; and the explanation of Mr. Collins's delay in the performance of his part of their engagement is contained in the following letter:

 

"To THE LORD CHIEF-COMMISSIONER ADAM.

"Bayswater, June 1835.

"My Lord,— I am conscious that none of the usual apologies for delay will answer my purpose, for the length of time your drawing has been in hand. Some few things I might offer, by way of extenuation; I will, however, acknowledge at once, that I am perfectly ashamed of my procrastination. All, under the circumstances, that I could do, has now at length been done; and I have used the little power I possess, in the department of organ-blower to one of my friend Wilkie's most tasteful little airs. And proud I confess I feel, even in this subordinate situation, in being coupled with so gifted an artist, in perhaps the only joint work he was ever engaged upon.

"Most sincerely trusting your lordship may be blesssed with all happiness, and with my best compliments to Miss Adam,

"I remain, my lord,

"Your obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

At the close of the Exhibition, the painter visited Sir Thomas Baring, Sir George Philips, Lord Northwicke, and Lord King, at their different country seats. The following letters, describing the kindness of his reception everywhere, and the quiet, rural expeditions and easy enjoyments, afforded by the country and the society around him, will be found strongly contrasted in subject, by the thronging and varied impressions of foreign travel and foreign Art, which occupy the next series of his epistolary communications, when away from home:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Stratton Park, August 19th, 1835.

"I write to-day, as I think we had agreed I should do so. I have only to say that my journey was pleasant and my reception kind; that my teeth are quite comfortable, and my spirits pretty good.* I am obliged to give you a short letter, as I am engaged on a sketch which I much wish to finish. Indeed, if I had time, I have nothing to tell you which would interest a dutiful wife so much, as what I have already written. We have much company here, and everything is conducted in the most delightful manner. Though seldom alone, I am often dull. Mr. Henry Wells is here: his father's farm, a very extensive one, at Birkly, you will have heard, perhaps, has been burnt down — no doubt by incendiaries. " * * *

* He had been lately under the care of his friend, Mr. Cartwright, the dentist, with a painful disorder in a decayed tooth.

"Stratton Park, August 28, 1835.

"Your letter gave me much comfort, so does the thought of returning; which, God willing, I hope to do to-morrow. I have been much in company, and have been sketching a great deal; but all will not do — dull I am, and dull I fear I shall be, until I find myself in the same house with those it has pleased God to spare for my comfort. Tell the dear children that the only way they can serve their parents, is to obey them in all things: let Charley find out the passages in Scripture where this duty is most strongly insisted on, and write them down for me.

"Ever yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Shortly after his return from Sir Thomas Baring's, my father again left home, to comply with an invitation from Sir George Philips — from whose house he writes thus:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Weston House, near Chipping Norton,

"September 25th, 1835.

"It has just struck eight, and I take the earliest opportunity at this hour of the morning, to have a little chat with you. To begin then, as you always desire, at the beginning. I arrived at Kensington half an hour before the coach made its appearance — the journey concluded soon after four: I found the house here most magnificent, standing upon an eminence surrounded by beautifully wooded hills, and a highly cultivated country in every direction. Notwithstanding the unpromising appearance of the weather, especially when I first looked out of my window on the morning after my arrival, the day turned out very fine; so I rode on horseback, as you desired, about ten or a dozen miles, between lunch and dinner — which is here, as everywhere else, after seven. This of course makes bedtime very late — half-past twelve at least. Last night I slipped off at half-past eleven; and this plan I must pursue, or I foresee I shall 'knock up.' The party staying here is very large, very clever, and very agreeable — especially the ladies, who form the majority. Of course the excitement is considerable, and my only defence is getting to bed before midnight. I promise you I will take care of myself, as you desired; and in this, and all other matters, reverse the order of things and obey my wife!

"Our present party consists of Mrs. Sharp, and Miss Kinnaird — who both inquired very kindly after you; and Lord and Lady King, (she is the celebrated Ada of poor Lord Byron, and is really a most delightful and simple-minded creature;) her husband is a man of much observation, and both of them are, apparently, without an atom of pride.

"Thus much I was able to write before breakfast: since then I have had a magnificent ride of twelve miles, with Mr. G. Philips and Lord King, and am now returned to finish your letter. As the day is one of the most beautiful I ever saw, I shall get out of doors again, as soon as I can, so the rest of our party must be described in some future letter. Sir George and Lady Philips insist upon my staying till Saturday week. They have written to Lord Northwick, to ask him to come here for a few days next week; and if he is going to his place in this neighbourhood, I can then accompany him."

"Weston House, September 29th, 1835.

"I do not much like the idea of going on to Staffordshire, but am unable to say what I shall do, until I hear from Lord Northwick. I cannot help longing for home, although I am so pleasantly spending my time — as pleasantly as the kindest friends, sprightly young ladies, and all the gaieties of this life can make me. I flatter myself that the idle life I am leading, will please you, and perhaps make me stronger; and therefore, I am determined to make the best of it. I feel convinced by this time, that I am not what I have been accustomed to think myself — an idle fellow!

"Lord and Lady King left us this morning. I have promised to go to them next month, for a few days, at Ockham, near Ripley in Surrey. Colonel and Mrs. Webster have been staying here, and a most agreeable family — Lady Waterpark and the two Miss Cavendishes. Dr. Roget, and our Hyde-park Corner friends, are still with us; Mr. Spring Rice comes on Wednesday: and so you see we go on merrily enough — but, as you know, I am getting old!"

"Weston House, October 4th, 1835.

"Perhaps you may have been expecting to hear from me before, and I hardly know why I did not write to you a day or two since. Although my time is fully occupied by day, and bedtime here is so late, I certainly could have scratched a line, for the purpose of repeating what you like so much to hear, and I so much to say that you become dearer to me every day.

"We have lately added to our party the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose conversational powers are so great, that the excitement of our days and nights is much increased; and I own that I go to bed not only very late, but without much inclination to go at all. I will, however, behave more prudently in this matter. We purpose going over to Northwick Park on Tuesday, the 6th; where I am to be left. Whether I shall stay there more than two or three days I cannot say. The weather, though unfavourable, has seldom interfered with my rides; so you see I still continue to attend to my health. I think I must give up the idea of going into Staffordshire for this season, as I must get to work after all this idleness, and the days are too short for much out of doors' work, and too cold even were they longer.

I never recollect spending a more agreeable time, whenever I have been absent from home;— so much good-humour, so much kind attention, and so entire an absence of selfishness as our whole party exhibit, is certainly rare. We have been getting up some capital Tableaux Vivans, which have made a great stir; and when you see a little favourite of mine in London, you will acknowledge that our principal figure had some attractions. We found a ready and useful figure, also, in a very pleasant member of our circle, who has just left us — the Solicitor-General. So here, you see, I am in the midst of the Whig ministry; and if pleasant manners, and an entire absence of the would-be great man, could convert me from my Toryism, I should soon change my politics. I think I am already neutralizing. 'Big-wiggism,' you know, I always had a contempt for.

"I sincerely trust I shall find the children all I can wish, when I come home again. Thank God, my trust in his mercy and pity is great; at this season, however, and on one subject, I lean too much to the gloom I am so prone to.* God only can help me, in this or any other matter. Pray for me.

"Yours ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

* This letter was written at the period of the year which was associated with the recollection of his brother's fatal illness.

Inclosed in the above letter was one from my father, which I shall next venture to insert, as assisting in that elucidation of his personal character which so many passages in his communications to his family have, I trust, already contributed to effect, and which it is not for me to endeavour to impress on the reader from my own convictions, or in any other manner less thoroughly testifying of impartiality than that of leaving him to unfold his own disposition, by the most unerring criterion for the judgments of others — his letters to home:

 

"To WILLIAM WILKIE AND CHARLES COLLINS."

"Weston House, Sunday morning.

"Dear Willy and Charley,— Your mother's account, in her last letter, of you both, pleased me much. Go on praying to God, through Jesus Christ, to enable you, by his Holy Spirit, to be blessings to your parents; and then you must be happy. Both your letters were well written, and I was delighted to hear you were pleased with the holiday you had on Michaelmas-day. I have made only a few sketches,— one of them, however, will, I think, please you both. It is a drawing of a large gray horse, which was brought to me from the plough. The drawing occupied my time, I dare say, four hours. The horse is evidently of the Flanders breed, and I know Charley always likes to see horses of that class. I think I shall have it framed, and make a present of it to my own Charley. I have a sketch of a water-mill, which I rode many miles yesterday to make, and which, if Willy should take a fancy for, I shall have framed and give to him.

"And now, my dear boys, I must leave you, and prepare for going to church, (which we have here in the afternoon,) where I shall pray for my two children and their mother, as well as for all the world besides.

"One of the prettiest little robin redbreasts is now singing to me on the balcony of my bedroom, where I am writing. This is as much as to say,— 'Come, my master! suppose you go home to your good people at Bayswater; for you know I am not fond of chirping about in this way, until the sharp mornings of October teach me to cultivate my acquaintance with your strapping fellows, who have so many crumbs that are of no use to you, and which you know we robins consider a great treat!'

"A pretty long letter, methinks, for two such short fellows! However, I never regret any trouble I may have in doing anything for good boys.

"From your affectionate father,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

From Weston House the painter proceeded to Northwick Park, whence his letters thus continue:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Northwick Park, Oct. 8th, 1836.

"I just steal a moment to say that I arrived here on Tuesday, that I am quite delighted with the very great beauty of this place, and the kindness of its elegant owner, with whom I have engaged to ride over to Lord Redesdale's. I think I shall leave Northwick on Monday, if the weather be fine, go to Worcester, stay in that neighbourhood one day, and then, please God, return to 'sweet home.'

"I think I am better in health, both of body and mind, than I have been for some time. Sir George and Lady Philips are to be invited here on Saturday. Roberts and Fraser arrived last night; and these, with a Mr. Lane, a nephew of Lady Stepney's, make our party. Write to me, not later than Saturday. If you should see Wilkie, give him my kindest regards, and tell him we often talk about him. I long to see what he has been able to make of his visit to Ireland.

"Affectionately yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

A visit, after quitting Northwick Park, to the seat of Lord King, closed Mr. Collins's excursions into the country, during this autumn. On his return to Bayswater, the subject of the journey to Italy was again revived; and on this occasion, not without producing some positive effect. Although as yet undecided about the precise time of his departure, his long-cherished convictions of the pleasure and advantage that would accrue to him from the proposed tour, had by this time become so much strengthened, as to determine him on taking the earliest opportunity — in the next autumn, if it were possible — of passing a year at least in Italy. A decision being thus arrived at, he now set himself seriously while the many minor preparations for his projected journey were still under consideration — to achieve a parting success, in his old range of subjects, at the next season's Exhibition, before he quitted the sojourn of his native country, for his studies on foreign shores.

Leaving the important pictures which his labours of this year produced, to be noticed at the period when they were exhibited to the public, it is necessary, in inserting a letter now about to be subjoined, to remark, that the subject of it — Gilbert Stuart Newton, R.A. — had been, for a long period, one of Mr. Collins's most valued transatlantic friends, and most admired brother painters. Favourably known to the lovers of grace and tenderness in Art, among the public, by his pictures from Shakespeare, Moliere, etc., etc., and by his exquisite illustrations of female character; and among his friends by his wit, vivacity, and professional knowledge; this accomplished painter was afflicted with sudden insanity in the maturity of his powers. It became immediately necessary to place him under medical care. While he was at the Asylum to which he had been removed, Mr. Collins, and his old friend and fellow Academician Mr. Leslie, visited him; and found him still partially deranged — but shortly afterwards, he became reasonable and resigned. This sudden tranquillity proved however, not a harbinger of recovery, but an omen of death! He breathed his last, a few days afterwards, on the 13th August, 1835. Some months subsequent to his decease, when a biography of him was projected, Mr. Collins wrote to Mr. Leslie the letter now presented, on the genius and character of their departed friend:

 

"To C. R. LESLIE, ESQ., R.A.

"Porehester-terrace, Bayswater,

"February 24th, 1836.

"My dear Leslie,— I regret much that, until this morning, my promise to write to you never once occurred to me; but I know you will excuse me, when you recollect that every evening since we met, has been devoted to the Academy.

"With respect to our lamented friend Newton, I feel anxious to mention a few general impressions of his character; especially because when I first became acquainted with him, nearly twenty years since, I certainly did not estimate him as I have since been fully persuaded he deserved. It appears to me that his vivid conception of character, and his exceedingly ready, happy, and often absolutely witty way of expressing himself, were calculated to lead those who did not intimately know him, to charge him with want of heart; I am happy however to say, that I sincerely believe him to have been a most estimable creature. To my late excellent brother — who lived near him, and saw a great deal of him — he was exceedingly kind, did everything in his power to serve him, and upon his lamented death, in the autumn of 1833, wrote me a letter which I shall ever highly prize. How little did I then anticipate that poor Newton was so soon to follow the friend, whose loss he had so feelingly and so lately deplored!

"Of his genius as a painter, I can speak with the highest admiration. Taste, that undefinable natural gift, pervaded everything he did. His 'conception of a subject was always judicious; his feeling for character and expression so nice, that he never degenerated into mannerism, or caricature. His chiaroscuro was conducted with great breadth, and was always in unison with the sentiment he desired to convey; and, above all, his talent as a colourist, was unexceptionable; not only as respected the general arrangement of colour and tone, but in the happy choice and delicate contrast of his local colours and broken tints. In some of his female figures, the flesh seemed to be an union of the beauties of Vandyke and Watteau — witness his 'Jessica,' especially. The 'Portia and Bassanio,' I saw a short time ago, with our friend Wilkie, in the collection of Mr. Sheepshanks; and we were much struck with the beauty of its tone, and its other high qualities. I know no one more sensible of poor Newton's merits, than Wilkie, whose great sincerity and sound judgment, you will agree with me, renders his praise truly valuable. Indeed, the painters, I think I may say without exception, unite in deploring the great loss the English school has sustained in the death of Newton. That he should have been taken from us in his vigour as an artist, and at a time when he seemed to have attained everything that could be desired in the most interesting relations of private life, is another lesson for us all. To her who loved him most, how great a blessing must it be, under her bereavement, to know that it pleased God to restore to him his faculties, previous to his death; and that the remnant of his time on earth should have been devoted so entirely to Him, who in mercy produced so wonderful and so unexpected a change.

"When you write to Mrs. Newton, pray offer her my sincere regards, as well as those of my wife; and believe me, my dear Leslie,

"Yours most faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The Royal Academy Exhibition of 1836, contained three pictures by my father — the last new efforts the public were to see by his hand, for the next two years. A sea-piece and two cottage scenes, composed these farewell offerings, in two styles which he had now made widely popular, for more than twenty years. The sea-piece, the incident of which was naturally suggested by the painter's own situation at the time it was composed, was appropriately called "Leaving Home." The two cottage scenes, were the well-known pictures of "Sunday Morning," and "Happy as a King."

In "Leaving Home," a family are descending the steps of a pier that runs out some distance into the sea, and are preparing to enter a fishing-boat, the sail of which is already set for the departure. The bright, airy colouring of the scene; the buoyancy of the water, as it dances round the old pier; the delicate painting and natural sentiment of the figures descending to embark; the bold attitude of the lad in the fishing-boat, "holding on" by a boat-hook to the steps of the jetty; all display the thorough individuality, which is the attractive characteristic of the artist's works of this class. The picture was engraved in the line manner, and was purchased by Mr. Jacob Bell. Of the painter's two cottage scenes of this year — both familiar to the lovers of Art by the widely-circulated prints from each — it may safely be observed, that as the closing productions in the series of rustic subjects which he had now for some years exhibited, they rivalled, in vigour and felicity of treatment, any of their predecessors. "Sunday Morning," breathes throughout the spirit of the beautiful poem by Herbert, which is the motto of the picture. A pretty cottage, with honeysuckles and creepers growing over its walls; an aged woman descending the steps between her son and daughter; a quiet old white horse waiting in the road to carry her; neat happy children grouped around the animal — the youngest of them trying to feed him with an apple; a winding avenue of great trees, with the lane beneath them dappled with spots of the pure sunlight from above; the village clergyman and his congregation walking quietly towards the church, whose white spire is seen in the distance — such are the simple materials of the picture, and over each and all of them the same pure and peaceful sentiment presides. In the most trivial, as in the most important objects of the composition, the resources of Art are used with equal skill and equal power, to produce that impression of mild religious tranquillity, which the successful treatment of the subject demands; and which makes this picture at once an eulogium on the humble piety of the English peasant, and a homily on the reverence that is due to the Christian's Sunday.

It happened that "The Peep-o'-Day-Boy's Cabin" — that powerful delineation, by Wilkie, of the home condition of the murderous Irish peasant — was exhibited in the same year as his friend's representation of the peaceful "Sunday Morning" of the English cottager. The striking pictorial contrast between the subjects of these two works, suggested immediately that social contrast between the poor of the two nations, in which the pictures of Collins and Wilkie had respectively originated; and was thus justly noticed by one of the newspapers of the day, in language which is unfortunately as applicable to the political part of the subject at the present moment as it was at that time.

After noticing the subject of Wilkie's picture, (the "Peep-o'-Day Boy" sleeping in his rags, while his famished wife listens at the door of his hut to another woman's tidings of his fellow-ruffians, from the hills,) — in terms of high and well-merited commendation, the critic proceeds:— "Let the lovers of agitation 'look on this picture and on this,' — Mr. Collins's 'Sunday Morning,' just by; an equally true delineation of an English cottage, of the same class of agricultural day-labourers as the inhabitants of the Irish cabin. * * * Such as Mr. Wilkie has depicted is the Irish cabin: such as Mr. Collins, with as true a pencil, has depicted, is the English cottage. Such, also, are the inhabitants of the one; and such, also, are the inhabitants of the other. Agitation, treason, murder, crowd the one; quiet, peace, content,— yea, even in poverty,— encompass the other. A quotation from one of O'Connell's speeches would be a worthy motto for the one; and for the other Mr. Collins has aptly chosen, from the poems of George Herbert, the following sweet and appropriate lines:

'Oh day, most calm, most bright!
The fruit of this, the next world's bud;
The endorsement of supreme delight,
Writ by a friend, and with his blood;
The couch of time; care's balm and bay;
The week were dark but for thy light,
Thy torch doth show the way.'"

The purchaser of "Sunday Morning" was the late Mr. George Knott; to whom it was sold for two hundred guineas. At the sale of his collection, after his death, it was bought by Mr. George Bacon, of Nottingham, for two hundred and eighty guineas,— a price amply proving the high estimation in which it was held by the world of Art. Those who have not seen the picture, cannot hope to become acquainted with any of its higher merits by the engraving executed from it in mezzotint, which is by no means a satisfactory transcript of the original work.

But little description is wanted to recall to most of my readers the picture of "Happy as a King." The extraordinary reality of the composition is enough of itself to fix it on the recollection. You seem to hear the shouts of the boys and the girl, swinging on the rails of the old gate; the barking of the dog, galloping after the lad who is pushing it; the screaming of the child, who has been heedlessly knocked down by the rest, at the moment of the start. You catch the infection of the ecstatic delight of the ragged little monarch of the party, perched, happy as a king, on the topmost rail of the gate, and kicking his shoe off in the intensity of his triumph. These noises, which you almost hear, and this action which you almost partake, are no mean agents in impressing the picture with unusual vigour on the memory; strongly supported, too, as are the merits of its subject, by the attractive accessories of the composition, by its beautiful lane background, its sweet play of light, and its rich harmony of tone and colour. The merit of discovering its thoroughly appropriate title, belongs to Wilkie, who, finding his friend in some perplexity on the subject, and hearing from him the anecdote of the country boy, (who wished to be a king, that he might "swing upon a gate, and eat fat bacon all day long,") by which the picture was first suggested, immediately declared that he should call it, "Happy as a King." Both the work and the title won their way to popularity at once. Critics jovially apostrophised the picture, rather than sedately judged it; and poets complimented it in copies of verses which I find still preserved among the artist's papers. The picture was originally sold to Messrs. Finden; but is now in the possession of Mr. Clough, of Liverpool. A repetition of it, by the painter, (exhibited at the British Institution after his death,) is in the collection of Mr. Vernon; and will, therefore, like "The Mariner's Widow," of the Exhibition of 1835 — be placed where it can be viewed by all classes, as a public possession in the National Gallery. The line engraving from it, vigorously and faithfully executed, was published by Messrs. Finden.

Such were the works with which Mr. Collins took his leave, for a time, of the English public, by whom his genius had been justly appreciated and kindly welcomed, and to vary whose sources of pleasure from his pencil, he was now about to enter on a new course of study among the wonders of Nature and Art in another land.

From the opening of the Exhibition to the day of his departure, whatever time the painter could spare from his labours over some commissioned pictures, which it was necessary that he should complete before he left England, was amply occupied in the preparations necessary to his journey. The usual business arrangements requiring settlement in the case of every one about to quit home for any length of time, were, in his situation, rendered doubly complicated by the existence of his large and valuable collection of sketches and partly-designed pictures, for which it was requisite to find a safe asylum during his absence. While he was still in some perplexity on this subject, he was most fortunate in meeting with a gentleman, willing to take his house furnished, for a year, or more than a year; who, as a warm admirer of Art in general, and of his own pictures in particular, was glad to become the guardian of his works, for the sake of enjoying them, as ornaments to the abode he was soon to inhabit. This difficulty thus satisfactorily settled, all the minor preliminaries of the journey soon moved merrily onward. Sketch-books and camp-stools, colour-boxes and canvasses were rapidly "cleared for action." Letters of introduction, manuscript hints for travellers, and first-rate routes, projected in every conceivable direction by obliging friends, flowed smoothly and continuously in. Wilkie, who was in as high spirits as if he were setting out on the journey himself, after deploring with humorous resignation the interruptions that would happen to his friend's studies, through his arrangement to make his family the companions of his tour, poured forth all his sources of continental information; now instructing the painter on the pictures he must particularly observe, now amusingly describing the peculiarities of the different classes of artists whom he would meet on his travels. And, finally, Madame Stark's "Handbook" then the same "guide, philosopher, and friend" of tourists in Italy that Murray's is now — was consulted and re-consulted as the future Delphic oracle of the party, from the morning of the departure to the evening of the return.

Meanwhile, Mr. Collins was not idle in his professional vocation. The pictures he had been commissioned to paint were, by the beginning of September, completed and sent home. They were,— a small view of "Bayham Abbey," for Mr. Sheepshanks; a repetition of "Happy as a King," for Mr. E. Finden, to be engraved; and portraits of the three daughters of Mr. George Philips, M.P., charmingly painted as a scene from "Little Red Ridinghood." None of these pictures were exhibited.

The last letter by the painter, before his departure, was written to take leave of Sir David Wilkie, who was then travelling in Devonshire. It is as follows:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Bayswater, Sept 8th, 1836.

"Dear Wilkie,— We were much pleased to find by your kind letter, that you have been enjoying yourself in the midst of perhaps the finest scenery in England. Clovelly is certainly unique. I hope you remained there long enough to see it, both from the heights above, and from the beach below. With respect to our own movements, we find that the plan we first formed has not been superseded by any of the numerous suggestions which have come before us; and we intend, God willing, to leave this place on Wednesday next, and proceed to Paris, and, after staying a week there, make the best of our way to the Mediterranean coast, where I expect to find much to interest me; and then, with the information we may obtain there, to form plans for further proceedings.

"Since I saw you, I have completed both the pictures you mention; and the portraits were yesterday sent to Weston.* My time has been, and is now, fully occupied in making arrangements about future communications with London, putting away the multitude of sketches, hanging up pictures with a view to their preservation, etc., etc. Harriet, too, has her hands full; but we hope soon to be at large. The meeting you could not attend at the Academy was a short and a small one, but most important,— as evinced by the President's relation of the kind interest the King takes in our affairs, as well as by his Majesty's signature, with the word 'approved,' to the address sent him. This now becomes a document which the Academy may find, at some future time, most useful.

* The portraits of the daughters of Mr. Philips, before referred to.

"And now, my dear Sir David, having come nearly to the end of my paper, and fearing that I shall not have an opportunity of personally taking my leave of you, it remains that I should say adieu. It may be long before we meet again. God bless and prosper you! Many, many thanks for all your kind words and kind acts to me and mine — they will not easily be erased from our hearts.

"Ever yours, faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Some delay occurred to protract the time of departure, as mentioned by the painter in the above letter; and it was not till the 19th of September that he and his family set forth at last for Paris, on their way to Italy.

Here the second epoch in Mr. Collins's life terminates. Before we enter on the third, it may not be uninstructive or uninteresting to revert for a moment to the first. It will be remembered that we left him at that period of his career in a position of no ordinary trouble and no easy responsibility. He had then struggled through the difficulties entailed on his family by his father's premature death, to no ultimate purpose; and had laboured meritoriously in his profession with no proportionate reward; for it was in poverty and ill-fortune that he journeyed to Hastings, with borrowed money, to depend on his own genius for the future happiness or misery of his after life. At that first period of his career, we left him struggling upwards in his Art, through adversity and doubt, bravely labouring to widen his reputation and to sustain his sinking household; warmly befriended by one or two patrons of Art, and but little considered as yet by the rest. At this second epoch in his life, we leave him in the possession of competence, and in the enjoyment of success: quoted, wherever painting is studied, and known wherever it is beloved in his country; favoured by the patronage of the illustrious and the wealthy, and honoured by the friendship of the greatest and best men of his day — a striking contrast, in the prosperity of his mature age, to the adversity of his youth; and knowing that contrast to be the work of his own genius and industry, made fruitful by the judgment and liberality of the public, to whom his efforts had been addressed. Traced thus far, his progress does not stop here; successful in his career, we do not find him yet satisfied that he has followed it to its limits, or idly convinced that he has yet served his Art with all the devotion which it deserves. Ever looking onwards and upwards,— as genius which is born of Heaven should look,— we see him now as anxious to attain to greater things as in his earliest student days; setting forth to study for new attainments in another land with the same spirit that had animated him when, as a boy, he tried to draw the sea by his father's side; when, as a man, he departed to follow his Art on his native shores. Scenes of a life such as this cannot be misapprehended: they have their lesson and their testimony in themselves: their lesson is of perseverance and hope to native genius; their testimony is to the justice and generosity of native taste.

 

PART III.

CHAPTER I.

1836-1837.

Extract from Diary - Events of journey from Paris to Nice - Letter to Wilkie, and answer - Studies at Nice, etc., etc. - Reports of cholera in Italy - Journey to Genoa - Works of Art, etc., in that city - Visit to Pisa - Arrival at Florence, and impressions produced by its picture and sculpture galleries - Departure for Rome - Letters to and from Wilkie - Models, studies, opinions, and employments at Rome - Two instances of remarkable designs for future pictures Second letter to, and answer from, Wilkie - Projects of departure - New rumours of cholera - Arrival at Naples - rich field for pictorial study, presented by the people and scenery of that place - Preparations for an extended sojourn there - Outbreak of cholera - Removal of the painter and his family to Sorrento - Its varied attractions - Remarkable landscape sketches there - Other studies - Excursion to Amalfi - Sudden illness - Sufferings from rheumatic fever - Departure in October, to try the efficacy of the sulphur baths of Ischia.

THE commencement of his journey to Italy, is thus described in Mr. Collins's note-book:

"1836, September 19th— Left London for Dover, with my wife and children, intending to travel into Italy, and to return in about a twelvemonth. We were accompanied by Mr. Henry Rice and his daughter, who were to go with us to Paris. 20th— Took our leave of dear England in a steam-boat, bound for Boulogne; where we arrived in about three hours — remained there the following day; and on the 22nd, departed in the 'diligence' for Paris; sleeping that night at Amiens, and arriving on the evening of the following day, the 24th. Remained at Paris until October 3rd, when we left Paris for Auxerre, on our way to Chalons-sur-Saone. During our stay in the French capital, the weather was generally bad. Saw the Louvre and the usual shows — thought the place had lost much of its peculiar character since I first saw it in 1816 — the Boulevards much injured, by the loss of many of the large trees, which gave so picturesque, and to an English eye, so novel an appearance to that part of the town."

Here the above introductory passage in the painter's Diary abruptly closes — the hurried character of his journey southward from Paris, leaving him little time to sketch, and none to journalize. By the time he arrived at Auxerre, the independent proceedings of the conductor of the diligence — who moved his passengers from a carriage to a cart, at the latter portion of the journey, and half starved them all through it, with genuinely French surliness,— so little inclined him to the public conveyances of this part of the country, that he posted the rest of the way to Chalons. Thence he proceeded by steam-boat to Lyons, and on to Aries; where the noble amphitheatre and the peculiar beauty of the female peasantry, provided good material for the sketch-book, and would have tempted him to delay on the journey, but for his extreme anxiety to enter Italy as speedily as possible, at all sacrifices. Accordingly he left Aries by a canal-boat, intending to meet the Marseilles diligence at a particular point, across the country, to the south-east. By this route he passed across a plain, intersected throughout by the mouths of the Rhone, wearing the appearance of a vast swamp, and little travelled over by any foreigners whatever. Here he was obliged to take refuge for the night, at a most extraordinary place, called Martigue — built upon piles, surrounded by water like a miniature Venice, inhabited by a race of people who seemed half-smugglers and half-fishermen, and furnished with one small inn, the master of which, never having seen an Englishman before, sat down to dinner with his customers, and kept his cap on with edifying independence. Other travelling adventures, of an equally amusing nature, occurred before the painter and his family finally succeeded in meeting the long looked-for diligence, and in reaching Marseilles. The dirtiness of the town and harbour, and the general dulness of this place — notwithstanding the attraction of the blue Mediterranean — soon induced Mr. Collins to hasten his journey onwards. The grand mountain passes leading to Toulon, and the city itself, were next travelled through; and thence, passing in the moonlight the lovely scenery near Luc, he proceeded to the pretty little coast town of Cannes, which profitably employed his sketch-book, and proved a pleasant resting-place for his travelling companions, during three days. The next few stages of his journey — displaying the snow-covered Alps on one side, and the bright Mediterranean, with orange gardens and vineyards on its shores, on the other — eloquently informed him that he had already gained the great starting- point of his journey, and had entered, as it were, the gates of Italy on arriving at Nice.

At this important part of his tour, however, where he had thought but to make a passing sojourn, he suffered great disappointment, and incurred unexpected delay, by the news that the cholera had broken out in Italy, and that further progress was for the present impracticable. Nice was filled with English travellers, stopped on their journey by this disastrous intelligence; long and severe quarantine regulations were reported as being established to protect the frontier towns; and, finding that there was no other course to follow, but to remain where he was and to watch the progress of events, Mr. Collins hired lodgings near the seaward quarter of the town, and prepared at once to occupy himself professionally, in a place where, though he had not the privilege of studying Italian Art, he had at least the advantage of sketching from Italian Nature.

One of his first letters to England from Nice, was to Sir David Wilkie. It was as follows:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Nice, November 4th, 1836.

Dear Wilkie,— You will have heard from our friend Rice of our arrival at and departure from Paris, since which time we have been, by degrees, working our way to this place. We found our journey more fatiguing and less interesting than we expected. With the exception of some of the towns, in France everything is barren and gloomy. Even in the south of France, until near Toulon, I saw little worth recollecting. With Marseilles, where I expected much, I was greatly disappointed. In this place, however, everything wears an Italian character. The figures, and the gloomy buildings in many of the narrow streets, remind me of some of the pictures of Velasquez. At a place called Cannes, about twenty miles before we reached this, we stayed a few days; and there I saw some pretty coast scenery; and I am told that at Villa Franca (the real harbour of Nice) there are some interesting matters, quite on the coast, which I hope soon to see. We have been so continually moving, that, although I have made many notes, I have not had much time for finished studies; but, now that we are somewhat settled, I look forward to better things. Our original project of getting to Rome is for the present quite abandoned, owing to the strictness with which the quarantine laws are enforced. Should the cholera however leave Italy, I am on the spot to take advantage of such a change; and then I purpose leaving Harriet and the children at this place, where we have found very comfortable quarters, and making my way to Genoa, Florence, Rome, &c. The number of English here, who, like ourselves, have been thwarted in their designs upon Italy, is so much greater than usual, that accommodation for them is found with very great difficulty.

"I long to hear from you, and to know something about Art in England. Since I left Paris I know nothing about the English, but what I learn from 'Galignani's Messenger;' and in that journal I was much shocked to read of poor Sir William Knighton's (to me) unexpected death. I feel most deeply the loss his son has sustained, as well as his family, and all who had the happiness to know him. I had so much gratification in his acquaintance, and had promised myself so many advantages from his society, that his death is a great loss even to me; but to you, who had enjoyed a long and most intimate intercourse with him, it must have left a melancholy void. Do, pray, give my kindest regards to his son, and tell him how much the Consul here deplores his loss. I delivered Captain Hawker's kind letter of introduction to him, (which was a joint one, containing as it did poor Sir William's recommendation, as well as the Captain's), soon after we had both become acquainted with the mournful intelligence contained in the journals.

"When at Paris, I saw Sir Robert, Lady, and Miss Peel, at the Louvre. Sir Robert was very kind in his inquiries about you. The Arts flourish at Paris: everything Bonaparte projected, is now finishing by the present government; and every artist is fully employed, at very competent prices. What is doing in poor England? I suppose you have now taken possession of the new Academy.* Of course, you are by this time established in the house I saw with you, and are hard at work. When I think of work and home, I fancy I should like to be back again; and yet, to be within reach of the Art of Italy, and not see with my own eyes, would be provoking indeed. I must therefore keep quiet, and hope for the best. Pray write as soon as your leisure will permit, and address your letter to me as under. Harriet (who will write below to your sister) and the children join me in every good wish towards Thomas, your sister, and yourself.

"Most sincerely, your obliged friend,

"WILLIAM COLLINS.

"P.S. Lord Brougham has building for him at Cannes a most delightful chateau, which we went to see. The grounds abound in orange groves, olive-trees, myrtles, Sec., backed by mountains, and open to the Mediterranean sea. Five thousand a year will enable the Ex-Chancellor to live here like a king.

* The Royal Academy removed, in 1837, from apartments in Somerset-house, to the present building in Trafalgar square.

I could not resist opening my letter to tell you this, that you may be enabled, when you see his Lordship, to congratulate him upon his taste. Regards to any Academic brethren who may care about us."

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Kensington. November 14th, 1836.

"Dear Collins,— 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 speak and write about to those at a distance. Interested as we all are in what you should see, I am glad, though not in Italy, that you have yet its climate, its buildings, and, above all — to you — its ancient, classical Mediterranean, before you; sure that, to your eye and your hand, such objects will turn to the best account.

"You mention the loss we have met with since you went, in the death of our most esteemed friend, Sir William Knighton, regretted much in 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, and no one more than myself. What you have with so much propriety stated, in regard to your own feelings upon the subject we all lament, I shall take occasion to convey to the present Sir William, who is now with the afflicted family, at Blendworth.

"You say how much every one must have "been working while you were travelling; but I feel as if I had done nothing since you left. I have not yet got possession of my new house. My subject of 'Queen Mary escaping from Loch Leven Castle' has just been painted by Leahy, at Brighton, to be in the Exhibition; same point of time, but, from his sketch, a different effect. Mr. Rice interested me much in your proceedings when at Paris. You say you are now comfortably accommodated at Nice. If so, do not leave: pick up what you can, in figures and buildings, for middle distances; and, if possible, 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.

"Pray offer my best regards to Mrs. Collins. If, per steamer, you could leave for a day or two, could you not get to Barcelona, or Genoa? but as to your leaving her or the youngsters for a more distant town, I should protest against it. I shall answer for this,— the young gentlemen have no dislike to travelling, with all its inconveniences, to any distance. Pray have they begun to 'parler' or 'parlare?' Kindest regards to all.

"Most faithfully and truly yours,

"DAVID WILKIE."

Of my father's various studies at Nice, those made from the inhabitants of the town and its neighbourhood were sometimes followed with more industry than success. Though an old beggar from the street, or an idle fisher-boy from the beach before the house, could be easily bribed to submit to the easy discipline of the painter's pencil, frequent obstacles to his studies from Nature were presented by the refusal of many of the female peasantry to permit their Catholic persons to decorate the sketch-book of a "heretic," until they had consulted their priest. In some cases, their spiritual advisers liberally left them to follow their own inclinations in the matter; and, under such circumstances, they seldom failed to present themselves to the painter immediately. When, on the contrary, the, permission to "sit" was refused, they as generally kept away. On such occasions, however, Mr. Collins was never entirely defeated. Trusting to his memory, which in matters of Art of this sort was surprisingly retentive, he drew them from recollection, composedly supplying any accidental slips of remembrance, from the dress or person of the first picturesque peasant woman he saw from his window, as for a few minutes only she passed by him in the street.

In his landscape studies, on the other hand, the painter found everything to attract and little to repel. From a hill near the town, noble views of the varied country, with its olive gardens, its vineyards, its pretty villages and its fine mountain background, freely presented themselves. At the neighbouring seaport of Villa Franca was to be found the fairest prospect of the town of Nice, seen from shores Studded with white villas, and enriched with orange groves down to the margin of the beach. Then, for foreground objects and more bounded scenes, he discovered a large garden near Nice, whose lofty trees and light vines, waving gracefully over their tall training poles, supplied him with the finest landscape materials, brightened by the dazzling brilliancy of an Italian autumn; saving, indeed, when the changeable climate of the place overcast the whole scene with the clouds, the mist, and the rain of a northern winter; for in this season, it was no uncommon sight at Nice, to perceive the countrywomen making hay on one day in November, and carrying their wares to market ankle-deep in rain, water, and mud the next. It was no uncommon occurrence to shade yourself one morning with an umbrella from the sun, and to fortify yourself the next with a great coat against the cold.

In sketching excursions and sight-seeing, in planning already new pictures, and in contemplating day by day different schemes for extending his travels, the six weeks of the painter's sojourn at Nice passed rapidly away. At the expiration of that period, he gained intelligence from a friend, to whom the best sources of information were open, that the reports of the spread of the cholera through Florence and Rome, and of the continuance of the quarantine restrictions, were groundless, and that a fair opportunity offered, at length, of proceeding southward without risk, not only for himself but for his family as well. These instructions at once decided him, and on the 14th of December he and his travelling companions were once more journeying onward, their next place of destination being Genoa, through the sublime scenery of the Cornice road.

The wild torrents,— the mighty precipices,— the cloud-topped mountains,— the little fishing-towns, perched among stupendous rocks,— the lovely glimpses of coast-view,— all the noble characteristics of the great track he was now following, in my father's own words, nearly "drove him mad." Now he leant out of the carriage-window, endeavouring to sketch the outline of a turn in the view, as he passed it by; now he half determined to stop the carriage, and settle himself for weeks amid the scenery that he longed to paint; but still the remembrance that Florence, Rome, and Naples were yet unseen, and might remain so if he delayed any longer on the road at that advanced season, sufficed to urge him onward. On arriving at Genoa, and repairing to the palaces, churches, and galleries of that splendid city, he found in their gorgeous architecture and beautiful pictures a noble earnest of the still brighter treasures of Art which, further southward, were yet in store for his eye. Among the great works he saw here during his short stay, the pictures by Paul Veronese, and the glorious "Durazzo" portraits by Vandyke — the latter impressing him as the finest efforts of the master that he had ever seen — principally excited his admiration. Still anxious, however, to reach Rome with the least possible delay, on the fourth evening of his sojourn at Genoa, Mr. Collins embarked with his family in a steamer for Leghorn. A night's voyage by moonlight on the smooth Mediterranean, and a few hours' ride inland the next day, brought him to Pisa. After devoting a day to the main objects of attraction in that desolately beautiful town — among which, the extraordinary frescoes in the Campo Santo particularly delighted and astonished him,— he departed for Florence, and arrived there on the evening of the next day. The snow was almost knee-deep in the streets, immense icicles hung from the water-spouts at the house-tops, the wind was piercingly cold,— nothing could be less inviting than the appearance of the Tuscan capital as he and his companions entered it on Christmas Eve.

As the public holidays incidental to the season prevented the painter from seeing the picture-galleries until two or three days after his arrival at Florence, he first occupied himself in visiting the different churches in the city. Among these noble edifices, the gorgeous interior of "Santa Croce," the chapel of the Medici, the tombs of two of the members of that family, by Michael Angelo, in the church of St. Lawrence, and the exquisite bronze gates of the Baptistery, were some of the principal objects of his admiration. The fine architecture of Florence,— its unique bridge, the "Ponte della Trinita," its noble statues, exposed to the view of all, under the "loggia" of the palace, while they led him to deplore the absence of such adornments in the cities of his own country, delighted him by the beauty and novelty of their effect. When at length the picture-galleries were once more opened, he, like the rest of the world, hastened to pay his first homage to the statue on which the praise of all Europe has been inexhaustibly lavished. Though profoundly penetrated by the divine loveliness of parts of the Venus de Medici, he was not so dazzled by her beauties as to be blind to the defects wrought on her by modern repairs; among which, her arms especially impressed him as being too long. A picture of Venus, by Titian, in the same room as the Venus de Medici, he beheld with admiration; and the first sight of the Niobe, he declared, affected him like a sudden enchantment. To the Pitti palace he made repeated visits, studying with eager attention the wonders of Art there laid before him. Of the famous gem of the collection, the "Madonna della Seggiola," it was his opinion that, as a picture of a beautiful woman and child, it was perfection; but that as a representation of the diviner outward attributes of the Virgin, it was surpassed by other similar creations of Raphael's mind. Every day at Florence was now occupied by him in fresh pilgrimages among great pictures, and fresh enjoyment and appreciation of their noble qualities until the 2nd of January; when, finding that the unusual severity of the weather precluded all possibility of sketching, or even of seeing the beauties of the neighbourhood of Florence, he determined to start for Rome, leaving the scenery of Tuscany for the chances of a more genial season on his homeward route. The journey was made by way of Sienna, over the frost-bound Apennines, at the rate of a road-wagon, and occupied no less a time than six days! All the privations, disappointments, and delays of the route were, however, forgotten when the cupola of St. Peter's first rose into view; and the painter felt that he had at last reached the shrine of his pilgrimage, and begun a new era in his study of the Art.

One of his earliest occupations on his arrival at Rome, was briefly to unburden his mind of its first impressions of Raphael and Michael Angelo, to his friend Wilkie, in the following letter:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Rome, January 14, 1837.

"Dear Wilkie,— Mr. Russell's kindness affords me an opportunity of writing a few lines, which I am happy to avail myself of, to tell you that we are all well, and that we arrived here in safety on Saturday evening last. After I wrote to you, all the 'cordons' were removed; and we took the earliest moment to put our original plans into execution. We are now comfortably settled in a neighbourhood you are well acquainted with, not five minutes' walk from the Trinita del Monte. Of course, I lost no time in getting to pictorial head quarters; and strange to say which I suppose proves that I am not a great man — the Raffaelles in the Vatican, and the frescoes of Michael Angelo, so far from disappointing me, surpassed, not only all I have ever seen, but all I had ever conceived, of these truly inspired men. The 'Transfiguration,' and indeed all the oil pictures I have seen since, appear to me hard and mechanical, and only saved by the wonderful expression in some of the faces and figures, which, to be sure, in the 'Transfiguration,' is most striking. Of these and other matters, I hope, when I come to my senses, to write more at large — but, obliged as I now am to make great haste, I must be brief.

"I trust your brother has entirely recovered — pray let us know; and, if you can find time to write, tell us as much about yourselves as possible. I long to hear, too, about the Academy. Have you taken possession of the new building? What are the prospects of our artists? Has Dr. Bowring extinguished our candle? — he has been busy against us here.

"Gibson was with us last night; we talked about you, and longed to have you with us. He, as well as Severn, Penry Williams, and Kirkup, at Florence, desire to be kindly remembered.

"Yours obliged and faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Kensington, February 6th, 1837.

"Dear Collins,— Your most welcome letter has given us all great pleasure, and enables me to write to report all that is doing. First, then, Reynolds requested me to look over his engraving (which I did, twice, with chalk) from your 'Sunday Morning.' 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 is, the showing too much of the etched lines on the ground and stems of trees. This could not be rectified; but the general effect is as near as possible.* The proof was presented to the Queen, at Brighton, for leave to dedicate it to Her Majesty. This was announced in the 'Court Circular.'

* The above criticism on the print from "Sunday Morning," may be contrasted so unfavourably, for the Author, with that appended by him to the notice of the picture itself, at the time of its exhibition, that he thinks it necessary to state, that he did not venture to express a different opinion from Sir David Wilkie on a matter of Art, from his own convictions, but from what he knew to be the unfavourable impression of Mr. Collins himself, on the subject of the print in question.

It may be also necessary to remark in this place, that the letters of Sir D. Wilkie to my father, during his tour on the Continent, which are here inserted with some omissions, are only deprived of those passages, which, having no connection with his journey or himself, and containing no remarks of immediate biographical or local interest, might interfere with the progress of the present part of the narrative of his life.

* * * * "In the 'Literary Gazette' of last week, is an article on the print from your ' Sunday Morning,' praising highly the subject and the point. I was much pleased with your remarks, though few, on the frescoes of Raphael; but on this subject you will write again. Look at the background of 'The Communion of St. Jerome,' by Domenichino. Sir George Beaumont thought it the finest landscape background in the world. May I hope to hear of what you have begun? Give my kindest regards to Gibson, to Severn, to Williams, and, if you see him, to Andrew Wilson. * * * *

"Yours most truly,

"DAVID WILKIE."

The comfortable apartments which my father describes himself as occupying, in his letter to Wilkie, were not obtained without a great sacrifice on his part of professional enthusiasm to domestic comfort. For the sake of the practical advantages of this abode, he had resigned the high privilege of living in the house once occupied by Claude, and painting in the great master's studio; which was pointed out to him as waiting to be let, like other ordinary apartments. This source of attraction was, however, the only one that the house possessed. The rooms were found to be so dirty, and the character of the landlord so bad, that Mr. Collins felt himself obliged to resign the idea of inhabiting the abode of Claude, with all the philosophy of which he was capable, an with a secret wish that the "purity of tone" distinguishing the pictures of the great landscape painter, had mysteriously communicated itself, for all after- times, to the walls of his habitation, and the character of its owners! Further down the street, of "which the house of Claude formed one of the ends, another set of apartments presented themselves, which, in comfort and accommodation, exactly suited the painter and his family. The street in which the house was situated led directly to the open Pincian Hill; the light in the rooms was perfectly adapted for painting; and they were, moreover, protected — as the good-natured landlady informed her customers — by the Virgin, whose image was placed on the outside of the house wall, and was sung to at evening by the pious of the neighbourhood. With such attractions as these, the apartments were immediately taken; and Mr. Collins lost no time in preparing his temporary painting-room, and beginning his new and welcome studies.

He was now in a place filled, not only with the mighty achievements of the old painters, but devoted to the convenience of their modern successors as well — a place where the profession of Art was as despotically pre-eminent as the profession of arms in a garrison town. In this city were to-be found rooms built expressly for painters' studios, to be let at all varieties of prices, commensurate with the finances of all classes of painters, from the pipe-loving German student, living upon forty pounds a year, to the polished amateur, travelling to patronize Nature with his trunks full of "circular notes," and his hands full of patent sketch-books. Here, whether you were of the medieval or the modern school; whether you were painter or sculptor; whether you wanted a cupid or a cardinal, a witch or a seraph, a patriarch or a piper, you found models of all ages, provided with all dresses and disguises, ready for all attitudes and expressions, and tenacious of their rights and privileges, down to the last farthing of their wages, and the last minute of their time. In pursuing his investigations among these ministers to the necessities of Art, Mr. Collins was most fortunate in having the experience of the English artists resident in Rome to guide him on all occasions. Some of them had known him in former years; all of them knew him by reputation; and all were willing and anxious to give him every assistance. His friends, Mr. Severn and Mr. Brigstocke, offered him the use of their studios, whenever he required a large room to paint in; and both aided him in discovering the best models that were to be had. He engaged one burly, handsome fellow to sit, who was ready to procure any dress and assume any appearance that was wanted, at a few hours' notice; and who was painted by him, in the somewhat dissimilar characters of a cardinal in full dress, and a Roman gamekeeper a monk in his everyday robe, and a country shepherd. Another of his models was a beautiful boy, with features dazzlingly perfect, who had sat to every one for cupids, angels, and whatever else was lovely and refined; and who was in "private life" one of the most consummate rascals in Rome — a gambler, a thief, and a "stiletto"-wearer, at twelve years of age! A boy bag-piper from the mountains, (one of a troop who played vespers to the Virgin at Rome,) clothed in the sheepskins, conical hat, and sandals of his race; a little peasant-girl, black-haired, olive-complexioned, southern in every feature and action; and a nurse in Mr. Severn's family, clad in her native Albano costume, were among the other models from which he now studied, either in his own lodgings, or in the more capacious rooms offered to him by his friends.

But, while thus occupied in amassing, part by part, the materials for the new style he was now forming, he was not forgetful of due attention to the formation of the whole that was to combine them — of the composition and arrangement that was to turn them originally and forcibly to account. His first sight of Raphael and Michael Angelo, at the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, had impressed on him, among other convictions, a decided opinion that no artist ought to come to Rome, until he had gone through a long course of severe study in his own country, and had arrived at an age when his judgment was matured, as the great works there were of a nature either to bewilder a young unpractised student, or to possess him with the dangerous idea, that from seeing such pictures only he had become at once the superior of his fellow-labourers at home. Another impression produced in the painter about this period, from deep and patient study of the classics of Italian Art, was, that Raphael and Michael Angelo had acquired their triumphant mastery over attitude and composition from close observation of the aspect of ordinary humanity around them. Conscious that he was now in a country where Art was still the missionary of Religion, and where the population associated their hours of devotion with the contemplation of all that was most beautiful and universal in painting, insensibly deriving from this very habit a peculiar grace in attitude and variety in action, he looked for his new theories of pictorial arrangement and form, where he believed that the great masters had looked before him — in the casual attitudes of the idlers in the streets. In their carelessness of repose, in their unconscious sublimity of action, in their natural graces of line and composition, the groups he saw formed accidentally in the roadway seemed the continuation — sometimes almost the reflection — of the glorious groups on the walls of the Vatican, or in the altar pictures of the churches of Rome. In sketching such dispositions of natural composition as were thus finely presented to his eye wherever he turned his steps, his quickness and dexterity well enabled him to note them down successfully in his little sketch-book ere they changed; and so preserved, they turned to admirable account in the pictures he produced on his return to England. Wherever he went — whether to a gallery of pictures, or a cardinal's levee; to a ceremony in a church, or a picnic in the gardens of a palace — his eye was ever observant, and his hand ever ready, as he passed through the streets. The designs for future pictures which he thus accumulated, would have occupied a lifetime to execute. Of those which he completed, it will be more fitting to speak at the time when they were undertaken in England: of those which he found no opportunity to finish, one or two may be mentioned here, as showing the discursiveness of his taste, as well as his desire for originality.

The curious annual ceremony of blessing the domestic animals of Rome, in the name of St. Anthony (patron of pigs and other four-footed beasts), which is performed by a priest, at the door of St. Anthony's Church, with a brush full of holy water, on each anniversary of the Saint's day, was a subject my father never entirely resigned the hope of painting. Pigs dragged up, squealing, by the leg; kicking donkeys beaten into being blessed by their pious owners; pet dogs and cats, barking and mewing, as their possessors presented them to the saving waterdrops; cattle running hither and thither in frantic bewilderment; the chargers of regiments of cavalry, ridden reverently up to the holy-water brush by soldiers in full uniform; the motley crowds of spectators of the ceremony; and, finally, the beautiful church of St. Maria Maggiore, bounding the whole scene at one end, produced an admirably graphic display of Italian life; which was reduced by the painter, immediately after he had beheld it, to one of his most spirited designs. It is much to be regretted that his attention to after subjects, and various other causes, combined to prevent his executing the large and elaborate picture, thus conceived, on his return to England.

Another picture frequently contemplated, but never more than designed, was suggested to him in the Colosseum. It was evening; the friars had retired, after singing before the little chapels placed round the interior of the mighty ruin; darkness was approaching. Beneath the tall crucifix in the middle of the arena, knelt a peasant woman, prostrate in adoration, and a Carmelite monk beating his breast — the two last-left worshippers at the holy symbol. At some distance from them stood a penitent — his face covered with a hood pierced with two apertures for the eyes — looking spectral, as his veiled, motionless form half disappeared in the gathering gloom. The glorious arches of the Colosseum, showing doubly mysterious and sublime in the dim, fading light cast down on them from the darkening sky, alone surrounded this solemn scene, whose tragic grandeur is to be painted, but not to be described. It impressed the painter with emotions not easily forgotten; and although he never lived to pourtray it as he desired, he embodied its sentiment of prayer, in after years, in the picture of "Italian Peasants at the foot of the Cross, on leaving their native shores."

Thus, in varied study,— in treasuring up whatever could improve or animate him, wherever he found it,— in enthusiastic communion with the triumphs of the masters of Italian painting,— passed Mr. Collins's days in the City of the Arts. When the evenings came, they brought with them to his rooms constant arrivals of friends following his pursuit, anxious to communicate their local and general information, to hear his opinion on the great works he daily beheld, to see his sketches, and to show him theirs. Truly, it is on magic ground that a painter treads, when the maturity of his career brings him to Rome.

But it is now time that my father's own expression of his projects and opinions in his new place of sojourn, should be laid before the reader, as conveyed in the third of his Letters from the Continent to Sir David Wilkie:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Rome, March 7th, 1837.

"Dear Wilkie,— We were exceedingly gratified by your letter, dated from the Vicarage; most happy to find that your brother had recovered; and that your whole communication had such a tinge of prosperity, which I can truly say, we enjoyed as if all its good things had happened to ourselves; long may our dear friend Sir David live to enjoy the blessings of Providence, was our united and sincere prayer. We had read, in 'Galignani,' the account of your visit to Brighton, and the presentation of the print of 'Sunday Morning,' in the same paragraph. It was very kind of you to touch the proofs for me.

"We have now been in Rome about two months and I am more pleased with it every day, although the weather has been remarkably cold and rainy. But, when a fine day has made its appearance, I have generally enjoyed it, in the walks in the neighbourhood of the city, especially among the classical features of the Campagna. Here I find the most exquisite combinations of buildings, with landscape scenery; and here, notwithstanding the absence of foliage, consequent upon the season of the year, I feel constantly impressed with the idea that great things might be achieved; and also, that since the time of Claude, justice has not been done to the sublime features, and especially to the tones of colour, peculiar to this region of creation. In this remark, however, I ought not to include poor Richard Wilson, whose characteristic pencil I am here continually reminded of; his choice of subject, and breadth of treatment, I reverence exceedingly. I trust the weather will soon permit me to make sketches out of doors; and although I cannot hope to succeed in that which others have so frequently failed to do, I am not so very modest as to give up without at least a trial. In the mean time, I am occupied in visiting collections and trying to compose subjects for future pictures, of which I think I have picked up some that may be interesting; in this, however, I find great difficulty. Mere costume pictures are a drug; and unless the dresses are made subservient, pictures of this class must always be failures. I hope my plans of present and future study are well digested, for I have had much leisure, free entirely from professional anxiety and pecuniary cares. With increased and increasing delight in my pursuits, I pass my time in thankful enjoyment, convinced that a landscape painter who has not seen Italy, has one sense less than he of that craft whose good fortune has brought him to her shores.

"In the pictures shown at the palaces, I find quantities of rubbish, with, certainly, many perfect specimens of the great masters of the various schools of Italy. The frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo, become more estimable at every visit. How I should enjoy looking, with you, at 'The Miracle of Bolsena.' It is impossible to say enough of this wonder; the colour, too, how perfect! The 'Heliodorus,' and the 'Incendio del Borgo,' are full of power of every kind; and when I think of these of the 'Sibyls,' in the Chièsa de S. Maria della Pace — the 'Prophet Isaiah,' in the pilaster of the nave of the church of S. Agostino, and compare them with the oil picture of the 'Transfiguration,' I cannot help feeling that my admiration of Raphael would be less like rapture, had he painted only in the latter method. Domenichino, too, how much of his reputation depends upon his fresco pictures. The angles of the cupola in the church of S. Andrea della Valle (the four Evangelists) — the 'Flagellation of St. Andrew,' in the church of S. Gregorio sul Monte Celio — the angels in the church of S. Carlo a Catinari, and St. Somebody giving away clothes to the poor, in the church of Francesi, in the Ripetta; and many others, how superior to his oil pictures! You speak of the background of the 'St. Jerome,' — I must confess it did not strike me so much as you seem to think it ought. I will, however, look at it again.

"The sculptors here, (English) are all busy for Torlonia's new palace. We have a great stir about a picture of the Magdalen — a repetition by Correggio, of that, I believe, at Dresden; which was purchased out of a collection in Rome for a trifle, and being pronounced a work of Correggio's own hand, the government have insisted upon taking it from its fortunate possessor, under a threat of imprisonment, (put in force indeed for five hours,) which it appears they have the power to do, under a law made to keep works of high Art in Rome. The object of the proprietors was to have sent it for sale to England.

"Our present plan is to remain here until the early part or middle of April, and then to proceed to Naples the ultimatum of my pictorial hopes; and by what turns up there, to decide upon future plans. Your friends Gibson, Williams, Severn, etc., have all sent works to your Exhibition. Of course I delivered your message of kindness to them. They were all much pleased that you recollected them, and desire their remembrances to you. Andrew Wilson had left Rome with his family (all out of health) for Florence. The Baron Camuccini, inquired yesterday kindly after you. Pray make my kind compliments to Miss Rogers: tell her that, finding her name in the book of the little inn 'Pincina,' at Cannes, I hoped to have found her at Nice, where that document stated she had gone a short time before. To Sir Martin Shee, and all our Academic brethren, (success to the next Exhibition!) present my kind regards. I will write to Phillips, when I have seen more of the treasures of Art in this place. I am quite pleased you have so many pictures for Somerset-house — how I wish I could see them in your new painting-room! With most sincere regards to your sister and Thomas, believe me

"Your obliged and faithful friend,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Kensington, March 31st, 1837.

"Dear Collins,— The impression Rome has made upon you, is not more than I expected, though it may be more than you anticipated could be made before seeing Rome. It is, as you say, not only a new sense added to a landscape painter; but, to you, it is a new field and impetus added, as an artist. And as you are now in the prime of life and height of your faculties and fame, why might not you, by the irresistible effort which a new theme inspires, form, with all your present excellences, a new style of Art for yourself; reflecting, that what Claude, Poussin, Wilson, and Turner, have owed to Italy, are advantages that are equally open to yourself? Your purpose of avoiding the beaten track of costumes, views, and imitations of others — the rock all young visitors to Italy split upon — is most judicious. The summer sky, rustic and wild nature, with the more simple monuments of ancient greatness, will most likely be objects of your attention and study; and would be hailed as the most pleasing recollections of the delightful country you are now visiting.

"You purpose going to Naples. This, after taking a glance at Tivoli, Frascati, and Grotto Ferrato, (which you probably have done already,) would be a good plan. When at Naples, the sight of Salerno, Eboli, and Pestum, may perhaps suggest Calabria as a place worth your particular study. However this may be, might it not be right to determine on staying the summer at Naples, taking up your quarters with Mrs. Collins and the youths, in the cool regions near Castel-a-Mare? The summer of Italy, they say, is beautiful, and perhaps you might be induced to pass over to see Sicily, during that season, by yourself: but of this you, who are on the spot, will be the best judge.

"Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, having come to town, I went to put up my picture of Napoleon. It is placed at the end of the drawing-room, between your picture and Callcott's — a splendid situation. They all three look well together; and I have assured Mr. Marshall that I have never had more honour done to my labours. The family have been all most interested in hearing about you. Wordsworth had just come to town, and left them a week ago, on his way with a friend to Italy; so that you will see him at Rome or Naples.

"Turner is to have five pictures in the Exhibition. Eastlake only one. It is thought members will be behindhand in the number of pictures they send; which, with your absence, will make us not so strong as last year.

Your two letters from Rome, I keep together: they are most interesting; and whatever you may be pleased to send me in the same style, will form a complete history of your journey for future reference. I hope you have examined the Doria pictures. My brother and sister join in kindest regards to Mrs. Collins, and to the young gentlemen. I am, with sincere esteem and regard,

"Most faithfully yours,

"DAVID WILKIE."

To follow Mr. Collins through all his opinions and employments while at Rome, would be to occupy far more space than the limits of this work can now afford. Further references to the impressions produced on him by Italian Art, are moreover unnecessary here, as other notices of the great pictures he saw will be found in his letters to Sir D. Wilkie that are yet to come. In following him now therefore, in his progress as a tourist, rather than as a painter, it is to be related that having, as the spring advanced, visited Tivoli, Albano, and the other environs of Rome — having sketched the landscape scenery of the Campagna; and having beheld the far-famed ceremonies of the "Holy Week," he began to make arrangements for passing the rest of the spring and the summer at Naples. The inquiries consequent upon this resolution, produced the unsatisfactory intelligence that the cholera had again declared itself, in one or two cases, at that place. Cautious friends, upon hearing this, advised avoiding all risk, and remaining some time longer at Rome; but Mr. Collins, finding his family ready to submit to the chances of a southward journey; anxious to behold the scenery of the Bay of Naples under the glow of early summer; and perfectly convinced that, if the cholera had really broken out at Naples, it would soon spread to Rome as well; determined on following his first plans; and after a delightful journey of rather more than two days, arrived safely at his place of destination.

Nothing in Naples, at first sight, conveyed the slightest idea that the city was threatened by a wasting pestilence. The gaieties of the place all moved on unchecked, and the idle and good-humoured populace lounged about the streets with the same sublime carelessness of all industrious considerations that had ever characterized them. To one who had been, like Mr. Collins, a painter of maritime landscape and domestic life, such a town as Naples was fertile as " a promised land " to the requirements of his Art. The incomparably lovely coast scenery on each side of the bay, glittering under the sunlight of noon, or softening under the lustrous haze of evening, made pictures at all points, ready to his hand. The picturesque fishing-craft and fishermen on the beach, so different from the English and French models that had hitherto employed him,—the great army of vagabonds, male and female, eating, drinking, and sleeping in the streets, from whose dress, figures, and actions Hogarth himself might have drawn new funds of pictorial humour,— and the gaily-attired country-people in the neighbouring villages, with their pretty floral festivities, and their patriarchal agricultural customs, so well fitted for new illustrations of Italian cottage life,— all presented to the painter such a wide field for future study, that he hardly knew where to begin first. Three weeks after his arrival at Naples were quickly consumed in making slight sketches, inspecting works of Art, and visiting all the different sites of beauty or antiquity in the neighbourhood of the city. At the expiration of this period he began to prepare for that more exclusive pictorial study of the people and the place, from which he expected to derive so much enjoyment and improvement in his Art. This plan was no sooner formed, however, than frustrated. Strange-looking yellow sedan chairs, with closed windows, had for some days been observed passing through the street before the painter's house. On inquiry, it was ascertained that their occupants were sick people, being conveyed to the hospital; and, on further investigation, these sick people were discovered to be cholera patients.

Those to whom Mr. Collins applied for advice under these circumstances, strenuously recommended him to quit Naples before matters grew worse and quarantine was established, unless he was ready to risk being shut up in the most crowded city of Italy, with a fatal pestilence raging in its streets. He took the hint thus given at once, and repaired with his family to Sorrento, a town beyond Castel-a-mare, on the left shore of the Bay. A very short time after his departure the cholera rapidly increased in Naples, the quarantines were drawn round the city, and on one day, when the pestilence was at its height, it was reported that as many as four hundred people died of it in four-and-twenty hours.

The painter could not have chosen a more delightful place of refuge from infected Naples than Sorrento; which presented to him the advantages of some of the most exquisite coast and inland scenery in Italy, of a healthy soil, of civil, orderly inhabitants, and of a pleasant circle of English visitors. To the elaborate oil and water-colour studies made by him in this interesting sojourn, are to be traced many of the best pictures and backgrounds of pictures that he painted on his return to England. Every object in the place adapted itself as delightfully to his Art by its beauty, as it appealed to his curiosity by its antiquarian associations. If he set forth to study the coast, he could descend to the beach from the cliff on which his house stood, through the winding caverns consecrated by Ulysses to the Syrens; and, arrived at the sea, could look one way towards the noble promontory of Massa, the ancient dominion of the Syren Queens, and could see in the other direction the clear outline of the classic Vesuvius, ever crowned, even on fairest days, with its thin volcanic cloud of white smoke. Or, if he desired to sketch the inland scene, he could wander through paths made over the sites of the country groves and villas of the old Romans, and still bounded on each side by orange and lemon gardens, by vineyards and fig-orchards, by cypress, pine, and olive-trees, which led him to the open, upper extremity of the plain of Sorrento, whence he could look down over the fertile scene he had just passed through, and the Bay of Naples shining beyond. Of the sketches he made from such points of view as this, and from the coast, the two largest bear the appearance of finished pictures; although not a single touch was laid on either of them at home. The first is coloured with surpassing brilliancy and vigour. Its foreground is a strip of cornfield, overhung by the branches of a large chesnut-tree; its distance, the olive-gardens of Sorrento, the coast of Vico, the bright Mediterranean, and Vesuvius beyond. As a piece of landscape-painting, it yields to nothing of its class that he ever produced. The second looks towards Vesuvius also, but from a different point. Here the smooth limpid sea, with gay market-boats floating idly on its surface, ripples into the foreground, tinged with the clear Italian reflections of the hour and scene. A strip of beach, an extremity of rocky cliff, and the point of Vico, presented the rest of the composition in Nature, and supply it in the sketch. The airy delicacy and day-light of the effect thus produced proved so popular in England, that the painter was commissioned to paint two pictures from it. The original study, (for which many offers have been made,) remains, as well as the landscape first mentioned, a treasured heirloom in the family of the painter.

When not engaged in studying the landscape of Sorrento, my father found ample occupation in making sketches from its inhabitants. There was an old lay-brother at the convent, who, provided he were well supplied with snuff, was perfectly willing to figure on the artist's canvas whenever he chose to paint him. Then there were the son and daughter of the tailor, a fine, wild, picturesque pair, who were quite as ready to earn money by sitting for their portraits, as by patching old clothes on their father's shopboard. A pretty little girl, too, was found spinning in a neighbouring garden, and painted in her attitude while at work; a picture being afterwards made of her from the study thus produced. These, and other models,— among whom a handsome sunburnt fellow who acted as a guide was especially prominent,— were all painted by Mr. Collins in the open air, either on the terrace of his house, or in the garden attached to it, in order that they might lose nothing in his hands of that bright glow of air and daylight which had shone over them when he first beheld them at the doors of their dwellings, or among the plants in their vineyards. It was well for the painter that he was thus constantly able to employ his pencil on the people and scenery of Sorrento; for all communication between that place and the towns in its neighbourhood was soon cut off by the establishment of quarantines,— the cholera having spread, but in a slighter degree, through the country villages, as well as the capital of the kingdom of Naples. An amusing instance of the manner in which the local sanitary regulations were observed occurred at the picturesque fishing-town of Amalfi, which the painter set forth to visit soon after his arrival at Sorrento. As soon as his boat approached the shore, two armed soldiers ran down to the water's edge, and forbade all projects of landing until the requisite quarantine had been performed in the lazaretto,— which bore the appearance of a ruined dog-kennel on a large scale. A demand for dinner was next proffered, and complied with by the landlord of the inn, who sent his cooks down to the beach in procession with the dishes, which were placed close to the sea, and taken into the boat by the sailors, after the bearers of the feast had retired discreetly, afar from the slightest breath of contagion. Even the money to pay for the repast was ordered to be thrown, with the empty dishes, into shallow water, that they might be purified by the sea, before the wise men of Amalfi touched either the one or the other. During these proceedings, the idle population, who flocked down to the beach, saw themselves, to their utter astonishment, quietly adorning from a distance the sketch-book of the painter; who on this, as on all other occasions, coolly made the most of his time and pencil which existing circumstances would allow.

My father's unabated enthusiasm in the prosecution of his studies, though leading to the happiest results for his Art, produced at this period of his tour the most unfortunate consequences for himself. Such of his friends at Sorrento as were residents there, constantly entreated him, as they saw him set forth, day after day, on his sketching excursions, not to risk exposure to the noontide heat, but to take the usual "siesta" enjoyed by the Italians during the middle of the day. Remonstrances of this kind were, however, in vain; he met all objections, by declaring that he had not come all the way to Italy to go to sleep in the daylight — that he could not remain within the house, even for an hour, while there was anything left to sketch without — and that he trusted to his temperate habits and good constitution, to enable him to follow his occupations, in his own way, with impunity. For some time he was not deceived in his confidence in his own powers of endurance; but one evening, at the end of July, he was seized, after a long day's sketching, with shivering, sickness, and pains in the head and limbs. A Scotch physician, who happened fortunately to be staying at Sorrento, was called in, and treated him with the greatest attention; but his symptoms gradually became worse. Violent rheumatic pains attacked his right hand, arm, and shoulder, his left knee and ankle, and even his eyes; and he found himself, at the commencement of the brilliant Italian autumn, confined in a state of helpless suffering to the limits of a sick room.

The mental prostration, produced by this calamitous suspension of all his pleasures and projects, strengthened, as may be imagined, the physical evils of his disorder. Remedy after remedy was tried without effect, and his rheumatic sufferings continued with more or less severity, until the beginning of October, when his medical attendant, as a last resource, ordered his removal to the natural sulphur-baths in the island of Ischia, celebrated for their restorative effect on the complicated disorder under which he still laboured.

He was carried down to the boat that was to convey him, with his family, from Sorrento, a melancholy contrast, in his helpless position, to his former active and industrious self. The servants at the Hotel, the models he had painted from, and others of the kindly, simple inhabitants of Sorrento, whose hearts his gaiety and good nature had completely won, shed many an honest tear of regret, and offered many a sincere prayer for his recovery, as they bade him farewell at the beach, and watched his departing boat, as it steered across the Bay for the shores of Ischia.

 

CHAPTER II.

1837 and 1838.

Gradual progress towards convalescence at Ischia - Return to Naples - Anecdotes of perseverance in studying Nature through all difficulties - Gradual recovery - Diary at Naples - Letter to Sir David Wilkie - Departure for Rome - Re-commencement of Studies there - Observations on the Painter while at Rome; communicated by Mr. G. Richmond - Letter to Sir David Wilkie, and reply - Plans for a homeward route - Difficulties about transporting sketches to England - Departure for Florence - Occupations in that city - Gradual progress through Bologna, Parma, Verona, and Padua, to Venice - Letter from Venice to Sir David Wilkie - Sketching from Nature on the Canals - Anecdotes of Lord Byron's cook, "Beppo" - Studies from pictures, and description of first sight of Tintoretto's "Crucifixion" - Departure from Venice - Inspruck - Saltzburg - Ten days' stay at Munich - Return to England by the Rhine.

AT Ischia Mr. Collins remained nearly a month. The warm baths — of which, while there, he daily availed himself — so favourably affected his disorder as to enable him, soon after his arrival, to visit much of the wild scenery of that remarkable volcanic island; at first, by the usual invalid mode of conveyance there, a chaise-à-porteurs, and afterwards, by riding like other tourists, on donkeys provided by the guides. Compared however with his usual active habit of setting forth on foot, to explore the scenery of a new place in his own manner, the plan of seeing Ischia, which he was now obliged to adopt, was so unattractive as to disincline him, at the beginning of November, to make a longer stay there, and he repaired once more to Naples — the cholera having at length worn itself out in that city — eager to take advantage of his increasing strength, to resume, at the first opportunity, those studies there, which had been interrupted in the summer, almost at their outset.

During the early part of his second sojourn at Naples, he still found himself incapable of greater exertion than walking across his room; but even this tardy progress towards recovery was hailed by his sanguine disposition as the prelude to a speedy restoration, and forced by his unabated energy into ministering to his improvement in Art. Seated at his window, which overlooked the whole Bay of Naples, and a considerable extent of the principal street of the city, he sketched day after day, as long as the light lasted, whatever he saw that pleased him in the landscape or the populace. Idlers in the street, fishermen, country people, and lazzaroni, church processions and perambulating provision-sellers — all the heterogeneous population of a Neapolitan highway — he thus studied indiscriminately, whether in action or repose, his extraordinary rapidity of workmanship enabling him to commit to paper the distinguishing characteristics of the different figures he saw in motion, as they passed by his window. His landscape-sketching was followed with the same industry and dexterity. One morning he began, at breakfast, to transcribe a gloomy effect of storm and rain over the Castello dell' Uovo, and the mountains and sea beyond it. He had scarcely finished, when the shifting clouds, at noon, produced a totally different aspect of delicate, airy, sunlight over the whole scene. Another piece of paper was handed to him, and another sketch produced of the old castle and its background, under the new light. A few hours afterwards, as the sun set, the clouds again gathered over the sky, and the view so tenderly tinted at noon, now became suffused in a rich golden glow indescribably brilliant and beautiful. Under this third aspect the same scene was again depicted by Mr. Collins in a third sketch; forming the last, and grandest, in one day's series of illustrations of atmospheric effect. When it is added that these, and all his other studies during this period, were made while his right hand was still so powerless with rheumatism, that he was obliged to lift it to his paper with the left, a better idea of the strength of his practical character, and the determination of his industry as a painter, may be gathered, than any prolixity of the most laboured narration can possibly convey.

This renewal of his well-loved employment as beneficially affected his health as it pleasantly occupied his time. Now, as in the latter scenes of his life, as soon as he was enabled after his illness to return to the Art, his strength seemed encouraged to return to him. By the beginning of the year 1838 he found himself sufficiently recovered to leave the house, and prosecute his out-door studies — with greater care, however, for his health — as had been his wont. Some of his occupations and impressions at Naples, during this period of his recovery, are mentioned by him in the following entries in his Journal, which form, unfortunately, the only matter of this description to be met with during his tour. Seldom able, as has already been seen in the previous divisions of his career, to detach from his Art the time necessary to keep a regular Diary, even when at home, it was little likely that he should acquire such a habit while abroad, where his attention was incessantly occupied by new objects and employments, and where his first opportunities of writing down his impressions and opinions, were invariably reserved for his letters to Sir David Wilkie.

 

DIARY WHILE AT NAPLES.

"1838, January 11th.— Went to the 'Tribune' where we saw a monk of the church of S. Maria della Nova, upon his trial for the murder of a woman. By his side was a priest, upon his trial for robbery. They were both young men, and good-looking: the monk, an intellectual-looking man, something like Buonaparte; his expression apparently that of endeavouring to be easy under great agitation of mind. His neighbour was much agitated, and less wicked in his general aspect. Two women, a very little boy, and two men placed near them on raised seats, were detained as accomplices, or rather, in some way implicated. The monk and priest sat on chairs on the floor, under the guardianship of soldiers with bayonets fixed. The monk had murdered the woman for her money — the order to which he belongs being under a vow of poverty! We went afterwards to his convent, heard his brethren chanting away, and were shown their great relic, the body of St. James, in a glass case: the church very large and handsome, a nice garden, and the whole premises upon a great scale. The inhabitants are said to be remarkable for the commission of the most disgusting crimes: this I was told by a Catholic — a man very likely, from his long residence at Naples, to know the truth, and, from his respectable character, entitled to credit.

"Afterwards we went to the church of the 'S.S. Apostoli,' erected upon the site of a temple of Mercury, and consecrated to the Apostles by Constantine; rebuilt during the seventeenth century. A large and good fresco, said to be by Luca Giordano; a Guido — our Saviour and St. John,— and a Titian-like picture; with a portrait of Raphael,— are the only pictures to qualify the rubbish in the Sacristy. Then, to the Capella de S. Severo, the mausoleum of the Sangro family. The curious piece of sculpture by Corradini, 'Modesty seen through a Veil;' another, called 'Vice Undeceived,' representing a man caught in a net, by Queirolo; and a dead Saviour covered with a veil, (the best of the three,) by Guiseppe San Martino, have no great merit; the novelty of representing figures under transparent coverings being their principal attraction, and the thing which travellers recollect. The chapel is very dark, some of the windows being blocked, or rather, propped up, the building having suffered much from earthquakes. Cloudy day; no rain until night.

"12th.— Mr. L—- called this morning. I gave him some account of our visit yesterday to the Tribune. He said he knew the convent of S. Maria della Nova, had dined there sumptuously, and was a little surprised that, as he knew the avocato to the fraternity, he had not been told by him that the trial I had seen was coming on, especially as he had promised to advise him of anything interesting of that sort. Of course, this affair was one which it was not thought necessary to make too much stir about. Gloomy day; heavy rain at night.

"13th.— Went to see the lottery drawn (the 'Reale Lotto'). This demoralizing business takes place in a large hall, nearly the size of Exeter Hall, sanctioned by the presence of many judges, (some in cocked hats), and even by what is termed the Church. The president puts the numbers into a box, which is then placed before a priest, who changes his dress, and, gabbling something like a prayer, takes the vessel with the holy water, and, with a brush, sprinkles the box several times. A little urchin, dressed in white satin and gold, (after the box has been shown to the crowd in the body of the hall, and well turned and shaken, to their great delight, expressed by hideous yells and calls to shake it well,) puts his hand into it, and pulls out a small box containing the number drawn, handing it to the president, who shows it to a 'lazzarone' behind, who roars out its number. The first drawn, No. 79, was a popular number, and was received with deafening shouts of joy. The next, No. 2, was not popular, and was received in silence. Three more numbers were drawn, each preceded by the exhibition of the box, rattled as before; and the affair terminated by the people dispersing. On the raised platform, as well as in the hall, soldiers of the king's body guard, with fixed bayonets, kept order. The boy who draws the numbers crosses himself many times before he begins his work. The 'lazzaroni' behind the president are placed there (about twelve of them) as a supposed check upon him. Whether they can all read the numbers he draws, is, I think, doubtful!

"16th.— Went to make a sketch of the Largo del Castello. Gloomy day, with occasional rain; London-looking day. Mrs. Carrington told us an extraordinary story of a murder which took place some time ago in Naples. The visits of a priest to the wife of a person of consideration being discovered by the husband, who expressed himself strongly upon the subject, the priest engaged a barber, who knew the habits and person of the injured husband, to murder him, for the sum of a hundred ducats: which he did!

"22nd.— To Pompei. Remarkably fine day; a most gratifying sight, full of the deepest interest to me. The most striking object I beheld was the Amphitheatre: the scenery around it is sublime, especially Vesuvius, whose original and beautiful shape was sacrificed to fulfil an act of Divine justice, in ending such scenes of cruelty and vice as existed in this profligate city ere it was destroyed.* As an instance of what may be termed the grand, wholly without reference to the moral degredation of the entertainments prepared for the people in ancient times, one can conceive nothing more striking than the vast assemblies that once congregated in this spot, which is worthy of an assemblage of Christians meeting for purposes of worship — the most glorious of all the scenes this state of existence can be susceptible of.

* The shape of Vesuvius is said to have been materially altered for the -worse by the eruption which destroyed Pompei.

23rd.— Went with our companions of yesterday, Sir Henry Russell, Lady Russell, and their son Henry, to Vietri. Thence, in a boat, to —-, and walked to Amalfi. The next day proceeded to the Valley of the Mills, and afterwards to Ravello, returning by Scala. The whole of this little tour was highly impressive: I never saw such fine scenery before: the Valley of the Mills presents a picture at every step; the picturesque buildings, and the lofty crags, and old castles in ruins, are most romantic: the road to Ravello full of beauty and grandeur; Ravello itself unlike anything I ever beheld. Here we saw, in the Duomo, the celebrated marble pulpit, with mosaics as fresh as if they had only been done a few years. From this we crossed a magnificent valley: the view from the terrace, at the back of a little miserable house where the guides stayed for refreshment, was quite beautiful. Scala itself was full of melancholy grandeur; old Saracenic castles, churches, and other buildings, offering endless food for the painter and the poet. Stopped at the cathedral, where a miserable, dirty old woman showed us a nasty mitre, worked all over with pearls and precious stones. Descended, by ten times ten thousand steps, to the cathedral of Amalfi, a rude building, very showy, and in miserable taste, with antique columns of all orders, patching up a temple fit only for those who crowd its neighbourhood — beggars, and dirty, ignorant, vulgar-looking priests. The approach to this building is by about a hundred steps. Arrived at Amalfi, you pass through covered filthy ways, up steps to the cliff; and then, by endless steps again, to the inn — a convent twenty-four years ago, but now happily turned to a useful purpose. Dined in a large room, formerly the refectory; and slept in a room about ten feet square, once the dormitory of a monk. The cloisters, the garden, etc., afford many interesting scenes for the pencil. How much I regret not having it in my power to study these, I dare not say. Here, but for my illness in the autumn of last year, I should probably have spent many weeks.

"25th.— Returned to Naples by Vietri, La Cava, Annuiiciata, etc. The new road from Amalfi to Vietri, along the cliff, about five hours' ride upon asses, was agreed by all to be most magnificent. Crags and castles, valleys and fishing-towns, goat- herds, the most picturesque figures with loads of sticks, and mules and their drivers occasionally enlivening the scene, produced altogether the most enchanting pictures. Here, too, they show you, built in a sort of grotto made by magnificent over- hanging crags, the remains of the 'Casa de S. Andrea.' A good deal of rain in the early part of our ride; the last half, pretty fine."

An interesting sequel to the painter's Journal which terminates here, will be found in the following letter, written by him from Naples:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Naples, January 16th, 1838.

"Dear Wilkie,— Your letter of the 12th November gave us all very great pleasure, notwithstanding the certainty now afforded us, that my last long letter to you has never reached Kensington, as well as the unsatisfactory intelligence that one I wrote to Howard, and sent from Sorrento on the 22nd of December, has also been lost. One writes letters in this country with the unpleasant feeling that it is two to one they ever get out of it. 'Tis almost as bad as painting pictures without the hope of purchasers,— a mortification which, amongst all my other troubles, I have escaped for some time. It seems a twelvemonth since I have heard from you. I long to see your new picture. I fancy something really original might, and I doubt not will, be made of it. Surely portrait-painting may become more like what it was two hundred years ago, and yet be more original than it now is. Do you recollect that magnificent picture by Sebastiano del Piombo, in the Doria palace? It is a portrait of an admiral,— a distinguished person at that time. I can never forget it. Perhaps I may have mentioned it to you before; but I am so much impressed with it, that were I ten years younger I would turn portrait painter, and ride in my one-horse carriage.

"I began this letter some weeks since, but was prevented finishing it by illness; and am now able, thank God, on taking it up again, to give you what I know you so much wish,— an excellent account of, I trust I may say, my recovery. After my return from Ischia, a most violent eruption took place in my head; the consequence, it is said, of using the waters for which that island is celebrated, and calculated, they say, to clear off the tendency to rheumatic affections lurking in my system. I am now able, with the help of a stick, to get about again. The first important step I took was to visit Psestum, which no doubt attracted your attention. I need hardly say I was charmed; and as the day was particularly fine, enjoyed myself much, regretting only that I had not at the proper season been able to visit that neighbourhood, for the purpose of making sketches there. La Cava, too, and Amalfi, have been for the same reason abandoned,— at least, as subjects for my pencil. I must, however, make the most of the time that remains, to lay in what Wordsworth calls 'the raw material for future works.' Under this impression, we have resolved to proceed to Rome forthwith; and after spending the remainder of the winter there to go to Bologna, Parma, etc., and on to Venice. Thence, through Switzerland, and home, God willing, by the beginning of July, hoping to arrive in time to see the Exhibition of this year. This plan, however, has been for a few weeks deferred, in consequence of an injury received in a fall by poor Charley, which, although not very serious in its effects, has made it prudent to remain at this place. By the end of the month we trust we shall reach Rome.

"Naples, of all the places I have seen since my departure from England, is the most perfectly adapted for the study of such a one as myself; not only that part of the Bay and city in which we live, but the neighbourhood all round the Bay abounds in materials of the most valuable kind. I am tempted to wish I could stay here until the autumn; but that is entirely out of the question, especially on the score of health. I would not venture' to live in Southern Italy during another summer; to be as great as Turner himself. So I am now picking up everything that comes in my way, with the avidity of a miser who has access only for once to those treasures which are his meat and drink.

"I long much to get to Rome, that I may see Williams, and get from him some account of the last Exhibition in London; as, owing to my misfortune in losing the letter you wrote to me in the spring, I know no more about what was done on that occasion than the 'man in the moon.' Almost every day whilst I was in Naples did I inquire at the Post- office myself; and after I went to Sorrento, how anxiously did I await the arrival of letters; but, alas, those that came, came only to tantalize me with the same remarks upon the subject of the display at the new Academy, namely:— 'Of course you have heard all about the Exhibition; I shall therefore say nothing upon that subject! '

"What effect the contemplation of Nature, and of no pictures but those by the old masters, will have upon my future efforts in composition, and the other parts of what poor Constable used to call 'picter-making,' I know not. I should like when you write again, to know what you think on the subject. Our cases are very much unlike in this matter. You, when you were able to work during your absence — beside the sketches you made — kept on with actual pictures; but I have done nothing of the kind. Whether the little power I had in getting up a picture, may have left me; or whether the want of Nature, which I always felt was the failing in my past works, may be rectified for the future, by my long devotion here to the goddess, remains to be proved. One thing I must confess I feel pleased at, namely;— that I now feel that the excessive anxiety I always experienced about my pictures during their progress, invariably made them the worse, and that I think I am now, more of what is called a philosopher, in that respect. So, if I should not be a better painter after my trip, I shall at least be a happier man; and perhaps turn out a better-humoured old fellow, than could have been expected.

"Will you be kind enough to tell Howard, that although the last letter I wrote to him was long, the business part of it was only to tell him I could not return to England until the end of June; and that consequently should my name come on as one of the 'Council,' I could of course not serve during the year 1838; but that if it was necessary, (from any difficulty that might arise) I hoped to be able to serve in the following year — although I must confess, if my name has been passed over, and a temporary successor has been found, I shall be quite as well satisfied. The visitorships I provided for also; and of course Mr. Howard was kind enough to procure some gentleman to serve for me. I begged him also to give my best regards and thanks to Sir Martin Shee. When you write again, pray tell me the names of the Council, and as much Academy news as you can. While upon the subject of the Academy, I may mention that I have received an offer, upon which you will be kind enough to take the opinions of those who know the statues in the Museum here (Eastlake, Uwins, and of course yourself, must recollect some of the most striking of them.) The offer is, that casts of any of these fine works will be permitted to be made for the use of the English Academy. I am informed that this favour has been refused to other countries, frequently. However this may be, you may ask the President and Secretary, whether they are disposed to negotiate for this addition to their collection. I will then make inquiries respecting the expense; and through the artist who suggested the purchase — Mr. Fluor, a German — carry the thing into execution.

"There are not many English people here — the place, for Naples, is rather dull; and we are told Rome is still more so. Your friend Sir William Knighton, is, we understand, at the latter place with his family. He will not proceed to Naples until February; in which case we may meet. Your friends the Thews, left us a few days ago for Rome; and it was arranged that we should accompany them, but Charley's illness prevented our having that pleasure — a great loss to us all, and especially to the children, who swear by the Major — he buys them swords, colours, hoops, and other heart-winning things. Mrs. Thew looks poorly; she is a most agreeable person, as well as the Major, and we hope to see a great deal of them in Rome. I know you must be very busy, (how I long to be so too, and within reach of you!) but perhaps Miss Wilkie, or Thomas, could write your thoughts some evening, as I want again to hear some of your news; and by the time I could receive your letter, a brace of new Academicians will have been elected.

"Your obliged and faithful friend,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

[As Sir David Wilkie's answer to the foregoing letter, contains no reference to the Art or scenery of Italy, and is almost wholly occupied by the relation of matters of private business in the Royal Academy, which can have no interest for the general reader, it has been judged unnecessary to insert it here.]

Excursions and employments of the same nature as those already reverted to, fully occupied my father's time at Naples, until the 8th of February; when he departed for Rome, to draw new improvement, and imbibe fresh impressions, from the fountain-head of Italian Art.

Having secured convenient lodgings, in the sunny and healthful situation in the "Corso," which his still delicate condition of health now absolutely required, he prepared immediately for close employment, by procuring permissions to copy from any pictures in the different galleries, of which he wished to retain more than the mere remembrance; and by engaging a large and commodious " studio," in which he could find space enough to paint whatever groups of figures he might desire to arrange. In taking this room he was joined by Sir William Knighton, who having, during his father's life-time, studied with great success under Sir David Wilkie, in England, was now well pleased to continue his progress in the Art, by painting from Nature, in Mr. Collins's company, at Rome. To detail my father's employments here, would be but to repeat the description of his close and constant study of the most picturesque among the people around him, which has been already attempted, in a preceding portion of these pages. I am fortunately enabled to avoid any tediousness of recapitulation, and at the same time to occupy agreeably this part of the present work, by presenting some interesting particulars of his impressions in the great city he was now inhabiting — full of true observation of his character — kindly communicated to me by Mr. George Richmond; whose practical and theoretical acquirements in the Art well fitted him to be the valuable and welcome companion of Mr. Collins's visits this year to the pictures of Rome.

"It was in 1838," writes Mr. Richmond, "that I had the happiness of meeting your father at Rome, and in his company saw many of the fine works of Art in that city; and had I followed the advice which he then gave me,— not to depend too exclusively on memory, but to note down at the time whatever forcibly struck me in the great works, and had applied this excellent advice to other matters, I should not now have to regret that many circumstances relating to him are either imperfectly remembered, or altogether forgotten by me.

"That, however, which I never can forget, was the fervour and youthful energy with which he, a veteran in Art, pursued his studies while in Rome, both from Nature and the great works there. He appeared, indeed, to have come to school again; and although at that time but weak in body, it was surprising to see how the energy of his purpose sustained him through periods of laborious study; when he was engaged, not so much in practising that form of Art in which none had excelled him, as in adding new materials for thought and future practice, which have been embodied in many of his latter works.

"It was a great lesson to the young men about him, to see with what simple earnestness he followed the chosen employment of his life, making all other engagements subservient or tributary to this one object. Well might he have adopted the motto of Michael Angelo,— 'Ancora imparo.'

"My idea is, that of all the painted works at Rome, those in the Sistine Chapel made the deepest impression on him. I have been there for hours together with him, and remember, among other qualities, his admiring the truth and nature in them; and, on one occasion, as we returned home from the Chapel, passing from the 'Borgo,'— among groups of figures lying in the street, he pointed out some, saying: 'How like Michael Angelo! How like what we have just been looking at! This is where he got his materials for those noble groups;' and went on to say, that, 'Given the seeing eye, there might we also find such material.'

"The inclusiveness of his taste sometimes came out in curious contrast to the lover of only this or that school or master. Your honoured father valued all schools, and revered all masters — but no bunglers. He did not,— if I report him truly,— see less in the Flemish and Dutch schools, because he saw so much in the Italian. Nor had he so learned to admire Raphael, that he could see nothing in Michael Angelo.

"The productions of early Art were something more than figures standing on tiptoe to him; for he had a heart to feel their tenderness and devotion, and an eye to see, that if they had known how, the painters of the age would have drawn them much better."

While engaged in his second course of study at Rome, my father did not forget to communicate again with his old friend and correspondent. He wrote thus:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Rome, March 9th, 1838.

"Dear Wilkie,— Your very welcome letter reached us in safety, and interested us very much. The doings of the Royal Academy had found their way to Rome, however, before I received it. Your determination respecting the election, or rather the non- election of persons residing abroad, is of course unpopular here; and I must say is not very judicious in such times as we live in. It checks the ardour of English artists here, and deprives the Exhibition of a very interesting class of works, which can be better done here than in England. Had such men as Wyatt and Williams been 'Associates,'— which they ought to have been long ago,— surely, when death sweeps off four Academicians at a time, your difficulties of election might be less. It is desirable, too, that English artists, who are the best at Rome, should be members of the Royal Academy in England. Wyatt has finished a model of a Hebe for Lord de Grey, which would warrant a departure from an old and absurd law, made when the Royal Academy was anything but a liberal body, as it is now.

"Your letter to Sir William Knighton he received about the time I received that you wrote to me. He is working, or rather has been working, (for recently he went to Naples, which interfered with his regular studies,) with great assiduity; and some drawings of heads from some fine living models now at Rome, executed by him, are most excellent. He has put himself under Minardi, in spite of which I think he will do well; and to-morrow we commence together in the same studio, where he means to try his hand at painting as well as drawing. He is quite as anxious as ever to be really an artist, and he will in every way do honour to the profession. He seems to me, if possible, more amiable and sincere than when plain Mr. Knighton. He comes of a fine stock, and seems to have happiness within his reach.

"I have very little to say about myself. I long to be at work in England. I imagine the materials I have collected may turn to account when I get home, and I have now had enough of the rambling, unsettled life a man necessarily leads when in a foreign country, with such a variety of attractions as are to be met with on the classic ground I am now treading. We think of taking our steps northward, perhaps, shortly; but, if you can find time, write to me as before,— for should I be gone, letters will be sent on to me.

"Pray, when you write, tell me all about your pictures. 'The Queen's First Council' will, of course, be finished for the ensuing Exhibition. Mulready, I hear, has a fine work nearly ready. I suppose the print from 'John Knox' will find its way to this benighted land. I long to see it. You don't condescend to notice any of the prints now in hand, or lately finished, after 'that once celebrated English painter, so long the ornament, etc., etc., but now on a shelf somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Tiber!' Nor, moreover, although I have asked you and others the question many times, do you tell me, or can I learn from anybody, whether the picture of 'Sunday Morning' is yet in your possession,— Mr. Walker having been desired to send it to you.

"I am longing to take lessons at Venice. Tell me when you write, what pictures I ought to devour, and what I ought only to look at when I get there. Is there much at Bologna?— besides the Correggios, I suppose nothing at Parma. I wrote lately to Rice: I hope he received my communication, for I shall be puzzled to get on without his answer, having written to him to send me two hundred pounds. As it is possible the letter may not have reached him, will you do me the favour to write to him, stating my wants? With kindest regards to your brother and sister, believe me,

"Yours most faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Kensington, April 16th, 1838.

"Dear Collins,— Your most obliging and interesting letter has this day been received. Happy we are to hear of all you tell us; and, if possible, everything you request shall be attended to. I was not aware that you had ordered the picture of 'Sunday Morning' to be delivered to me. I inquired of Mr. Carpenter, but he had not heard of it. He gave me the agreeable news of having sold your picture of the 'Rock and Seafowl Scene.' He was to write to you of this himself.

"The pictures were all sent into the Exhibition last week, the 9th and 10th of April. I sent 'The Queen's First Council,' containing about thirty portraits, which form the interest of the picture, My next was 'The Bride, dressing at her Toilette;' and the next,— oh, tell it not in Gath!— was a portrait, in full-length, of that most staunch supporter of Her Majesty's Ministers, Mr. Daniel O'Connell!— no doubt the 'very light picture' you heard I was painting.

"To-day Mr. Rice called, at my request, at the Academy. He says he received your letter, and two or three days after remitted the two hundred pounds as directed. He told Lord de Grey of Wyatt's model of Hebe; it pleased him much.

"On your return from Rome, could you come as I did, by Foligno, Loretto, Ancona, and Bologna? That coast is beautiful. From Bologna you must pass by Parma, where you should stop some days for the Correggios. At Mantua are some remarkable colossal paintings of Julio Romano. Sir William Knighton saw them, but I did not. Venice is of course well worth a month, if you have it. The Tyrol and Munich also; but you scarce have time for all these, and to be home by the time you mention. Could not you, as I did, pass the summer in Germany, now that your picture of the Seafowl is sold? * * *

" With high esteem and regard,

"I am, my dear Sir,

"Your very obliged and faithful servant,

"DAVID WILKIE."

The plans for a homeward route which now engaged Mr. Collins's attention, and which are hinted at in the preceding letters, underwent some alteration before he quitted Rome. Attending to Sir David Wilkie's recommendation, to allow himself more time for the remainder of his journey than he had at first intended to devote to it, he determined to resign the attempt to reach England in time for the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1838; and thereby to procure the means of making a longer stay at many places of interest he had yet to visit, at Venice especially, than he had hitherto contemplated. Hearing, also, that the scenery of the Tyrol was in many respects quite as fine as that of Switzerland, and was far less hackneyed by painters and tourists, he resolved to quit Italy by that route, leaving the snows of Mont Blanc and the Lake of Geneva for a separate tour at some future period. The difficulty of deciding on his homeward route was not, however, his only embarrassment during the latter part of his stay at Rome; the safest method of conveying to England the large collection of sketches he had now accumulated being a question of quite as much importance as ascertaining the most convenient manner of reaching home himself. Startling stories were related by some of his friends, of the Vandalic contempt for the Arts entertained by the Austrian Custom-house officers in Northern Italy, who were in the habit not only of treating sketches as roughly as shirts and dressing-gowns in the course of an official search, but even of detaining them from their owners if they happened to be unfurnished with a government "permit," providing for their free passage through the Austrian dominions, as works which could by no possibility be considered the property of the Austrian government. The only plan proposed as obviating any inconvenience of this nature was, that Mr. Collins should entrust his sketches to the English banker at Rome, to be sent to England by ship. Finding that his collection of studies was too bulky to be taken entirely under his own charge without the greatest trouble and difficulty, and yet unwilling to trust it altogether out of his own hands, he determined to pursue "a middle course," by sending one- half of his sketches by sea, and, after procuring the necessary permit, by taking the other with him at all risks. His note of the packages of his works sent by ship-carriage only, is worth inserting, as showing the numerical importance of the preparations for future labour which his indefatigable industry had now accumulated. It runs thus:

"April 28th, 1838.— Sent to Messrs. Freeborn and Jones, a parcel, comprising a blue portfolio with fifty drawings, and twenty-three sketches in oil, (principally made in the neighbourhood of Naples,) and a packet containing sundry drawings and slight sketches,— about three hundred. Also, a tin case, containing fourteen oil sketches,— figures done in Rome."

Having completed these arrangements, having lingered in Rome for a second view of the splendid ceremonies of the "Holy Week," and having largely increased his varied store of materials for the illustration of Italian scenery and Italian life, Mr. Collins quitted the scene of those delightful labours and vivid impressions which had given a new zest to his life and a fresh employment to his thoughts, and started, on the 30th of April, for a second visit to Florence, on his way to Venice.

The route he followed to Florence, was that by Perugia. The three old churches at Assisi, built quaintly one above another, and adorned by the frescoes of Cimabue and Giotto — the sublime waterfalls at Terni — the lovely shores of the Lake Thrasimene were prominent among the varied attractions on the road, now made doubly delightful by the warm sunlight that shone over them all. When the painter re-entered Florence, the streets, which he only remembered as covered with snow and darkened by wintry clouds, were now displayed before him in all their architectural grandeur, under the dazzling summer atmosphere that poured on them from above. Taking advantage of weather thus favourable for country excursions, he visited as much of the beautiful scenery in the environs of Florence, as the short stay he designed to make there enabled him to see. The Royal farms, or "Cascini," near the city; and the exquisitely varied and fertile scenery around the picturesque village of Fiesole, particularly excited his admiration. Among the pictures in the different galleries of Florence, which, on a second view, more remarkably impressed him, may be mentioned the portraits by Titian and Rubens, in the Pitti Palace. Like the Durazzo and Doria pictures, at Genoa and Rome, these great works led him to deplore the retrograde tendency of modern portraiture, and to lament that its professors did not — like Sir Joshua Reynolds — devote themselves to the study of the masterpieces of the old painters; and, beholding their perfect freedom from conventionality, their propriety of repose, their dignity and singleness of treatment — learn, even if they could not rival them in colour and nature, to abstain at least from distracting attention from the face portrayed, by abandoning all those combinations of tawdry accessories, introduced by modern bad taste into portrait Art.

At the close of his stay at Florence, my father was enabled — by the introduction of a friend — to gratify his enthusiasm for Michael Angelo, by visiting a gentleman who was a lineal descendant of the great master. At his house he beheld pictures illustrative of the life of Michael Angelo, painted by his contemporaries; various interesting domestic possessions that had belonged to the illustrious painter, and the original manuscript of his sonnets, in his own hand- writing. The sight of such relics as these, was in Mr. Collins's estimation, scarcely inferior as a privilege, to his first view of the immortal master's frescoes, in the Sistine Chapel at Rome.

In the midst however of his pilgrimages to the different shrines of Nature and Art at Florence, it became necessary for the painter to fix on his plan of departure; which, after a nine days' sojourn in the Tuscan capital, admitted — if the proposed limits of his time on his homeward route were still to be observed — of no further delay. By the advice of his friends, and in accordance with his own inclinations, he resolved to travel to Venice, by Bologna, Parma, Verona, and Padua, stopping on his way, at each of those cities, to examine the works of Art that they contained. On the 14th of May, he and his travelling companions quitted Florence, to enter upon the journey as thus arranged.

Bologna, with its fine pictures by the Carracci — its celebrated St. Cecilia, by Raphael; its noble palaces; and its long streets of colonnades; attractively delayed the painter on the second day of his journey. Modena also had in its pictures and churches, a welcome claim to his attention: but it was at Parma, among the renowned Correggios in that city, that his admiration rose to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. These wondrous pictures, he declared far exceeded everything he had ever anticipated from them. Not satisfied with seeing them in the same way as other travellers, he bribed the people entrusted with their care, to allow him to mount tables and ladders, and examine minutely all those that might happen to be hung above the level of the eye. The portrait of Correggio, by himself, (the features of which, he said, bore a striking resemblance to those of Sir Thomas Lawrence) the Madonna di S. Girolamo; the "Flight into Egypt;" and another Madonna, surrounded by saints, were the pictures of the master which he principally studied, during his short stay at Parma. His next halting-place was Mantua. Here occurred the dreaded examination of luggage by the Austrian Custom-house officers; but the "permit" that he had taken care to obtain, to ensure the safe passage of his sketches, was found to be as all-powerful in its protecting influence, as an amulet in a fairy tale; and he crossed the Po, on his northward way, with his drawing-cases and portfolios safe and undisturbed. Verona was the next city at which he stopped — its fine old streets and its grand Roman amphitheatre — its surrounding mountain country, and its picturesque inhabitants, impressed him as peculiarly adapted for the most interesting pictorial illustration. Time only allowed him, however, after he had seen the pictures there, to make a few hasty sketches, ere it was necessary to depart for Padua; whence — after having examined with deep interest the beautiful, but much-defaced frescoes by Giotto, in that city — he proceeded to the little town of Mestrè. Here the gondolas by the water side, and the distant view of Venice, informed him that his land journey was over, and that he had reached his last place of sojourn on Italian ground.

Mr. Collins's own account of his impressions of Venice and its pictures, in the following letter to Sir David Wilkie — although written towards the close of his residence there will be given before any relation of that residence is attempted, in order that it may serve as a test, by which to estimate the correctness of any description of his opinions on Venetian Art, which may occur in the narrative of this period of his continental journey:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"Venice, June 21st, 1838.

"Dear Wilkie,— At length, one of my great objects has been obtained, and I find myself surrounded by works belonging to that class which my own feelings have long led me to appreciate. With the pictures here I am perfectly satisfied — indeed, I knew them both by prints and by the many copies I have seen from time to time in England; so that they could hardly be said to be new to me. With Venice, however, which I also seemed to know equally well, I cannot say I was at first so much pleased. An air of melancholy in the more than deserted palaces, on the right hand and on the left; and the hearse-like gondolas, on our entrance from Mestrè, saddened the whole scene. This effect, although not entirely worn off, is much changed; and now our time of departure draws nigh, our melancholy is that of parting with a valued friend.

"Upon our arrival, one of our most sincere pleasures was finding two letters from our kind and estimable Kensington correspondent. In both, your accounts of the present Exhibition make me anxiously desire to see it, before the labours of my brethren will have been dispersed. But this I fear, unless the rooms remain open much longer than I can reasonably hope, is almost impossible. We shall, however, lose no time in getting home; this being our last resting-place, with the exception of about a week at Munich. On Monday we propose going through the Tyrol, to Innspruck, and, after staying there two or three days, getting on to Munich; thence to the Rhine; and so to London, by Rotterdam. I return by this route, in preference to going through Switzerland, because the latter journey would require more time than I can now spare, and is a thing to be done without much difficulty, at some future period, even at my time of life; and, moreover, because I want to keep my Italian schemes as distinct as possible, and to have as much time before the next Exhibition as I can, that I may do myself justice. You will think all this contrivance ought to be followed up by the production of something worth looking at: but this is no easy matter; for every place, and indeed everything in Italy, has been so besketched, that little remains, unless the old way of doing things be resorted to, by way of novelty. One thing I am more convinced of every day; namely, that the fine pictures of the schools I am surrounded by are built upon what is called common nature; the inhabitants of the streets furnishing the guest-table, and there playing their parts with a dignity to be found only amongst the people. But, if this introduction of the model be too literal, that common look which belongs to modern Continental pictures, and which is certain degradation, is an inevitable consequence.

"So much with respect to figures. In the case of landscape, the same thing, to a much greater extent, is sure to follow. Views, mere views, are detestable. What can be more like Nature than the landscape of Titian? I was yesterday looking at the 'Peter Martyr,' at San Giovanni,— I got up to it, on the altar. The painting is truth itself; and yet, how far removed from anything 'common or unclean!' (if one might venture on such an expression) — sober, solemn truth, coming from one aware of the real dignity of his pursuit. What a creature he was!

"By the way, we have taken our abode nearly opposite the house in which he painted for many years, and where he died. I hope this very day to finish a sketch I have begun, of the terrace upon which it is said he so frequently walked, looking on the grand canal. Paul Veronese, too, is here in all his glory; and Bonifazio — what great things he has done! Do you recollect the picture, in the 'Belle Arti,' of Lazarus and the rich man's table? What tone, and what real breadth! Then, Paris Bordone — the picture, in the same place, of the 'Fisherman presenting the Ring to the Doge.' Tintoretto, too — how can one speak of his pictures? the 'Miracle of S. Marco,' the ' Crucifixion;' and the many other fine things in the Scuolo di S. Rocco, and in the Church. But I must stop — you cannot answer my questions; but when we meet, as I trust we soon shall, we can talk these matters over and over again. What a lucky wight I have been, to be able to take my pleasure for more than a year and a half, rambling about amongst these glorious scenes, and for twice in my life escaping the responsibilities of an exhibitor! This ex officio life, however, must have an end; and then what is to become of me, I know not!

"My paper warns me (for Harriet claims a part of it for your sister) that I must be brief. I must find room, however, to tell you, that we are in daily expectation of hearing that 'the knot' has been tied in the case of our excellent friend, Sir William Knighton. His bride, as bride elect, we were introduced to at Rome: she is the daughter of Major Jamieson, and a most excellent and lady-like person. For some time I had observed symptoms in your pupil of slighting his former mistress — the Art; and now she, to whom we all thought he was for ever devoted, with her, or rather his, colour-box at her back, and her reticule filled with deserted and broken chalks, both black and white, is turned inhumanly out of doors, by him who had sworn, by the ceiling of the Vatican, never to wed another!

"And now, my dear friend, I must break off, trusting to your usual kindness to excuse the haste with which I must conclude. Again thanking you for all your favours, believe me

"Yours, obliged and faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

In his sketches from Nature at Venice, the painter — with the same originality of feeling which marked him in all that related to his Art — abstained from occupying himself with the representation of any of the celebrated views in that city, which had been already appropriated by other pencils. His time was employed, where his attention was attracted, by the fresher pictorial materials, presented in quaint corners of large old buildings, with gloomy strips of water gliding past their thresholds; in curious by-lanes; in unfrequented back canals, with narrow weather-stained bridges over them, and clumsy solitary boats floating drowsily on their waters. Nothing could be more independent, more delightfully easy and undisturbed, than his present process of sketching, as he glided along in his gondola, able to pause wherever he pleased, sheltered from the sun, and out upon the motionless waters with his companions,— where, though he was in the midst of a populous city, no loiterers could overlook him in his tranquil isolation. His sketches at Venice, made under these favourable circumstances, were all clear, sunny, and forcible, in an extraordinary degree. A circumstance attending the production of one of these sketches, exhibited in an interesting light the natural respect of the lower orders of Venetians for all that pertained to the Art. While he was occupied, one morning, in painting a distant building, Mr. Collins's gondola was kept stationary in the middle of the Grand Canal, on a market day, for more than an hour — a position somewhat akin to that of a man who should draw up a cab across the Strand, at noonday, to paint a portrait of the lion on Northumberland-house. But, though the owners of the little fleet of boats, laden with country produce, (which during the period of the painter's employment were ascending the canal in a long file,) found themselves delayed on their way, and put to some inconvenience, by being obliged to turn out of their course, as they approached Mr. Collins's gondola, not one of them, when they perceived his occupation, attempted to vindicate their right to the direct passage, which he was obstructing. Each, without a word of remonstrance, sloped quietly off on either side, and left him in his chosen position perfectly undisturbed.

A useful guide in some of Mr. Collins's sketching excursions, among the canals of Venice, was a former cook of Lord Byron's, named Beppo, whom the painter engaged in his "professional" capacity as a compounder of dishes, but who was highly delighted, in his leisure hours, to employ his local knowledge of nooks and corners in Venice for his master's benefit. Taking an oar in the gondola, the ready cook frequently piloted Mr. Collins through more of the strikingly picturesque back canal scenery of Venice, than even he, with all his industry, was ever able to transcribe to paper. Beppo's aid on these occasions was always given on one condition — that, when the gondola passed any large hotel, he should be suffered to lay down his oar, and relapse into a plain passenger; because, as a cook well-known in Venice, he could not lower his "profession," by exposing himself before the servants of the inn, in the act of rowing like a common gondolier!

Having served other Englishmen, besides Lord Byron, (whom he spoke of as a most generous and indulgent master, "though he eat little but biscuits and fruit,") this Beppo had picked up some ideas of manners and customs in England; one of which was, that all English gentlemen had their names written up over their house doors. Accordingly, he set to work to manufacture a name-plate for his master; which, when completed, he hung up in his absence, at the back gate of his abode, intending it as a surprise to him on his return. On regaining his own door, Mr. Collins, to his astonishment, found two or three idlers gazing up at a black board, nearly three feet long, hung over the entrance, and bearing in large white letters, this impressively simple inscription, "WIMICHIM COLLINS."

The master's appreciation of the comic was too genuine to permit him to disturb the servant's respectable "door-plate." The delighted Beppo was gravely thanked for his attention to English customs; no attempt was made to improve his notion of the orthography of the word "William;" and the painter remained — to the intense enjoyment of his English friends — placarded to all Venice, as "WIMICHIM COLLINS," to the last day of his residence there!

Not satisfied with admiring, only, the noble pictures mentioned in his letter to Sir David Wilkie, my father occupied part of his time at Venice, in making copies of groups of figures, and arrangement of colour, in many of the great works that he saw. The fidelity of eye and hand to his original, which had distinguished him in his student days, is exhibited undeteriorated in these studies of his mature age, combined with a spirit and vigour, far beyond what those youthful efforts ever attained. Among the pictures whose peculiar beauties he thus lastingly impressed upon his recollection, Tintoretto's mighty "Crucifixion," pre-eminently engaged his attention. Of the noble group at the foot of the cross, and of other figures in this vast and glorious work, he made studies, in which the magical colour and composition of the original were transcribed with remarkable success. The writer of the present work happened to be with him on his first sight of this picture — as indeed he was on most other similar occasions. The day was declining, as they entered the great room in the Scuolo di San Rocco, and beheld the light from without, falling soft and sober, upon the wall along which Tintoretto's immense composition extended. Thus seen, this sublime illustration of the Divine tragedy of Calvary assumed its grandest and highest aspect: it appeared to strike the painter speechless, as he looked at it. For some time, he and his companion believed themselves to be the only occupants of the room; but a half-suppressed sob, suddenly audible from its lower and darker extremity, informed them that they were not alone. It proceeded from an old man, dressed in the worn rusty cassock of the lower order of Italian country curates, who was standing before the picture, with his wan hands clasped over his breast, the tears rolling down his cheeks, and his eyes fixed immovably on the majestic composition before him. He appeared to be perfectly unconscious that any one was looking at the picture but himself; and Mr. Collins and his companion, on quitting the room, left him in the same position in which they had at first discovered him. It is in such triumphs as these, that painting attains its highest elevation; and, casting its mortal imperfections behind it, communes with universal humanity, in the mother language of that Nature from which it is derived.

After a month's stay at Venice, fully occupied by the pleasures and employments, of which some instances have been here enumerated, my father's anxiety to commence his new labours in England urged him at length to close his studies of the great works around him, to resign his sketching excursions on the canals, and to set forth definitively on his return to his native country. On the 26th of June, he quitted Venice; and looked his last at Italy, as, a few days afterwards, he ascended the Tyrolese Alps, on his way to Innspruck.

From this point it is unnecessary to follow Mr. Collins's progress with any minuteness. When he left Venice, the objects of his journey were achieved — those varied studies of the people, the landscape, and the Art of Italy, which had made the purpose of his departure from England, were now completed. His mind was stored with new ideas, and his hand impatient to embody them, as soon as he quitted Venice. He viewed the rest of the route with the eye of a traveller and a lover of Nature; but he did not study the different features of the countries northward of the Alps, with the strong intellectual purpose, which characterized his days of Italian travel — to illustrate which has been the main object of the present portion of this work. The further progress of his journey will be so managed, therefore,— to use his own words, in his last letter to his friend Wilkie — "as to keep his Italian schemes as distinct as possible;" little more being related of it, than the bare description of the route he followed; with the single exception of a passing notice of his short sojourn at Munich; which, as a city remarkable for its works of Art, attracted his attention somewhat prominently.

Having passed a few days at Innspruck and Saltzburg, in order to visit the fine mountain scenery of the country around those towns, my father next proceeded to Munich, where he made a stay of ten days. Contrasted with the Italian cities, to which for the last year and a half he had been accustomed, the capital of Bavaria wore a strangely new, neat, and modern aspect. Nothing of the venerable character of antiquity appeared to belong to it, but its works of Art; and in these — in the "Barberini Faun," and the Egina statues, in the "Glyptothek;" and in the Murillos, Vandyckes, and other old pictures in the "Pinacothek" he found much to remind him agreeably of his pictorial experience in Italy. It was, however, from an expedition to the Royal Palace of Schleisheim, to see there Wilkie's celebrated picture, "The Reading of a Will," that he derived his most genuine enjoyment while at Munich. He found his friend's work (which had been purchased by the King of Bavaria) in perfect preservation, holding its ground triumphantly against the old pictures which surrounded it, by its fine colour and chiaroscuro, and its strikingly dramatic developement of subject and character. With what he saw of the modern German works at Munich, Mr. Collins was not particularly impressed. Notwithstanding the inclusiveness of his taste in Art, (so well noticed in Mr. Richmond's observations on his character, in Rome,) he had little sympathy with the productions of the modern German school, at any time of his life; and that little, his fresh recollections of Titian and Tintoretto tended considerably to lessen, during his stay at Munich.

The painter's next place of destination was Mannheim; thence, after a visit to Heidelberg, he embarked on the Rhine — the banks of which, by no means bore comparison with the scenery he had left — and, after a passing look at Mayence and Cologne, he arrived at Rotterdam; which was already well- known to him, from his tour in Holland in 1828. From that place he reached London on the 15th of August, after an eventful absence on the Continent of almost two years.

Having now terminated the narrative of Mr. Collins's studies on the Continent, it next remains to display the practical result of his travels on his return to his native country, by noticing the public reception and intrinsic merits of the new works that his journey to Italy produced — works, which mark the commencement of the fourth epoch in his pictorial labours, and conduct to the closing scenes in his earthly career.

 

PART IV.

CHAPTER I.

1838-1842.

Conjectures in the world of Art about the painter's future works - His preparations for the next season's Exhibition - Italian pictures of 1839 - Their reception by the different classes to which they were addressed - Illness, from inflammation of the eyes, at the latter part of the year - Necessity of abstaining from general occupations and amusements, and consequent barrenness of biographical incident, at this period - Pictures of 1840 - Removal of residence, and short tour in Germany - Letter to Mrs. Collins - Appointment to Librarianship of Royal Academy - Departure of Wilkie to the Holy Land - Anecdote of the parting interview of the painter and his friend - Letter to Sir D. Wilkie - Curious effect of soil on constitution - Letter to and from Sir D. Wilkie - Pictures of 1841 - Death of Sir D. Wilkie, on his voyage to England - Letter to Sir R. Peel - Letters to Mrs. Collins - Partial return to English subjects - Letters to the Royal Academy, and to Mr. Eastlake. R.A. - Pictures of 1842 - First discovery of the disease, which afterwards terminated the painter's life - His departure on a tour to Scotland and Shetland.

As soon as it was known that Mr. Collins had returned to England, the curiosity of the world of Art was highly aroused, upon the subject of his future efforts. The reports that soon spread, respecting his sketches, described their number and variety pretty accurately; but were rather at fault, in estimating the exact use to which they would be turned. It was questioned in one quarter, whether he would not abandon landscape and rustic life altogether, n d enter the lists boldly, with the "Professors of High Art." Another party doubted this; but thought it extremely probable that he might take to painting classical landscapes, and follow in the steps of Claude and Wilson. A third opinion was, that he would commence a series of Italian cottage and coast scenes, which it was to be feared, however — after his long practice on home subjects — would have little that was strikingly characteristic to recommend them, and would present in heterogeneous combination, a little that was foreign with much that was English. A fourth set of connoisseurs took higher ground, declared that he had made a complete mistake in going to Italy, that his early style was the only style he was fitted for, that Wilkie had inoculated him with his own ill-advised bias for change of subject, and that his new pictures, whatever they might be, would prove utter failures.

Meanwhile, the object of all these conjectures lost no time in preparing for his future labours. His house at Bayswater having been taken as a permanent residence, by the gentleman who had occupied it on his departure from England, his first requisite was to find a new abode. This was, after some trouble, accomplished by engaging a convenient dwelling in the Avenue-road, Regent's Park precisely in the quiet situation, on the outskirts of London, which Mr. Collins most desired to occupy. Here, as soon as his painting-room could be furnished, he at once entered on the preparation of his new pictures. Chairs, tables, and even the floor, were soon covered with Italian sketches, from which to select subjects. Wilkie's frequent visits were again resumed; long conversations on Art — now more interesting than ever — were held between the friends; and in a wonderfully short space of time, the machinery of the painter's home employments, which had been suspended for two years, resumed its wonted regularity and regained its easy progress.

Having succeeded in the selection of three designs, which he and his friend Wilkie thought well calculated to open the Italian campaign with due completeness and decision, my father suffered nothing to interrupt him in proceeding to realise his new ideas. His mode of life now became as regular as it had lately been varied. He thoroughly appreciated the difficulties to be contended with, in suddenly assuming a new form for his Art; he remembered the outcry raised against Wilkie for abandoning his early choice of subject, and, conscious that his own position with the critics might, for aught he knew, soon become similar to his friend's, he determined to -neglect no effort to sustain his reputation by exhibiting, in its strongest light, the connection of his journey to Italy with decided improvement in the characteristics of his works.

A visit at Christmas to the country seat of Sir George Philips was the only suspension of his occupations which the painter allowed himself in the year 1838. Knowing that, as the new season approached, his engagements in London society would be such as to leave his employments less completely at his own disposal than during the autumn months, he made good use of his time while it still remained his own; and, on the opening of the year 1839, found his three pictures safely and satisfactorily advancing towards their completion. Indeed, his application to his profession was, at this period, closer perhaps than it had ever been before. His resumption of his labours would have been welcome to him, even as a new phase in the varying life he had lately led, but, recalling as it did, in every sketch that he consulted and every form of composition that he considered, the pleasant studies of the last two years — and ripening, as it could not fail to do, the first fruits of the pictorial hopes and projects of his travelled life — it assumed to him as new and as welcome a charm as if it had been his earliest experiment in Art for the public eye. Wilkie, the most constant and attentive of his professional friends in watching the progress of his new works, thus notices their commencement and conclusion, in two letters to Sir William Knighton:

"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." At the end of March, when the pictures were being sent into the Royal Academy, Sir David again mentioned his friend's works, describing their completion thus: "Collins has finished three pictures, and most happily. I took Seguier* to see them, who thought them as fine as Collins ever painted."

* A great judge of pictures, ancient and modern, since dead.

On the opening of the Exhibition of 1839 (one of the most important for Mr. Collins's interests to which he had ever contributed), his pictures were thus described in the Catalogue: "A Scene near Subiaco, Roman States;" "Naples Young Lazzaroni playing the game of Arravoglio;" "Poor Travellers at the door of a Capuchin Convent, near Vico, Bay of Naples."

The "Scene near Subiaco" was composed from sketches made during an excursion to that romantic town, on the painter's second residence at Rome. The foreground of the picture is the road leading to Subiaco, bounded on each side by high, picturesque hills. In the middle distance, rising over woods and fields, and situated on an abrupt eminence, stands the town — building perched upon building, with a convent and church, like a pinnacle, crowning all. Near a rude penthouse chapel, to the right of the composition, stands an old begging friar, holding in one hand his tin money-box, and raising the other to bless two lovely little peasant children, who are giving him a small copper coin, while their mother stands at a little distance, looking at the group. This incident the painter had often observed in Italy. It is rendered here with the same simple truth to Nature that characterizes his English works. The monk, the woman, and the children, are each as genuine types of their respective classes, as free from false refinement, and as simply and strikingly true, as any fisher boys or cottage children ever painted by his hand. The same unshrinking fidelity to Nature which marks the figures, characterizes also the landscape of this picture. There is no attempt to make the warm warmer, or the bright brighter than in the original scene. By turns airy and delicate, vigorous, glowing, and distinct, the landscape of Italy is reflected in its true colours, and decked only in its native merits. The technical qualities of the picture indicate at all points the painter's comprehensive study of the principles of the old masters — its breadth of treatment and harmony of colour being especially remarkable to the educated eye. It was purchased by Sir Francis Shuckburgh, Bart.

The four ragged little Neapolitan vagabonds, playing the game of "Arravoglio," and forming the subject of the second of Mr. Collins's pictures, were members of a class of "Lazzaroni," whose habits he took the greatest delight in studying. Generally haunting the beach — now basking in the sun — now swimming round their father's fishing-boats — playing, eating, sleeping, the livelong day, and sometimes, by way of variety, picking the pockets of English "Milords," — these happy little rascals lead a life more akin to the existence of the "Thelemites" of Rabelais than to that of ordinary mortals. Their great game was "Arravoglio," which consisted in bowling a ball through a ring just large enough to let it pass, and fixed upright in the ground. To accomplish this successfully, required great skill and exactness, and a particular swing of the body, which is illustrated in Mr. Collins's picture by the figure of one of the boys, who is just throwing the ball, while his companions are looking on. Every one of the attitudes, every inch of the rags, every peculiarity of the gestures of these "dolce-far-niente" urchins, was drawn by the painter from Nature, while his models were far too much occupied in their game to attend to him as he sat sketching them on the side of a fishing-boat, at a little distance. Thus produced, this picture has a quaint originality — perfectly removed from caricature or coarseness — which it is impossible to describe. The mountains of Castellamare, as seen from the beach at Naples, make the distance of the picture, which expresses the sultry glow of a hot Italian day with graphic eloquence and truth. It was purchased by Mr. John Baring.

The "Poor Travellers at the Convent Door" presented an union of extreme delicacy of treatment with great brilliancy of effect. The landscape part of the composition, displaying rich undulating lines of woody and rocky landscape, sweeping downwards to the sea-shore, and suffused in the light of a tender morning sky, speckled here and there by faint fleecy clouds, is finely contrasted in colour with the sober hue of the convent, which, backed by trees, occupies the high ground in the composition. A lay-brother is just opening the door in answer to the bell rung by a woman with two children, who is asking for charity and refreshment for herself and her other companions; one of whom is a wild, uncouth lad, leaning on a stick, the other, a little girl resting wearily on the ground; not in a studied attitude of indolent grace, but with her limbs stretched out straight before her, in the natural listlessness of perfect fatigue. This picture, differing from its companions in its extreme delicacy of treatment, was assimilated to both in its fidelity, as an illustration of the scenery and people of Italy. It was purchased by Mr. Marshall.

The general reception of these works among the different classes to which they were addressed, was most encouraging. The painter's Academic brethren marked their sense of their merits by the excellent positions they gave them on the Academy walls; the largest of the three being hung in a "centre" in the East Room. They were all sold before they left Mr. Collins's painting-room; and commissions for new pictures were received by him from the Marquis of Lansdowne, Sir Thomas Baring, and Mr. Marshall. With the patrons of Art, therefore, their success was immediate. Among those professionally and practically connected with painting, the main point noticed in them was the remarkable improvement they exhibited in the artist's style. Some among these critics, who had always acknowledged his originality and highly estimated his genius, had formerly lamented, as drawbacks to the excellence of his pictures, an occasional timidity in drawing, and a too frequent predominance of excessive and over-wrought finish, which they attributed to his almost morbid anxiety to labour his efforts to the highest pitch of excellence that he could attain. But now, on examining his Italian works, they one and all remarked the new force and boldness he had acquired in drawing the figure, and the increased degree of vigour, variety, and brilliancy of execution to which he had arrived. "Should you at some future time," said they, "depart from Italian, and return to English subjects, the benefit you have derived as a painter, from your journey to Italy, will enable you to excel all you have hitherto done, even in the branch of Art that you have made your own." With the general public, the improvement in my father's style thus noticed, combined with the complete change of subject which his works now presented, afforded abundant matter for observation. It was amusing to see many of the gazers at his new productions, looking perplexedly from catalogue to picture, and from picture back to catalogue, to assure themselves that they really beheld any of "Collins' works" in the bright southern scenes displayed before them. Whatever their opinions were on the change in the painter's subjects, there was no falling off in the interest with which his new experiments were regarded. The "Scene near Subiaco," and its companions, were examined with the same general attention which had formerly been bestowed on "The Fisherman's Departure," or "The Stray Kitten."

The solitary exception to the general welcome that the Italian pictures received, was in their reception by the Press. A few critics, here and there, who saw no reason why a man who had pleased the public in one branch of Art should be incapacitated to please them in another, spoke in terms of high praise of the painter's new efforts; but the majority disparaged them, either as more English than Italian in character, or as a misapplication of his genius, which might have been better devoted to those native scenes, by the representation of which his station in his profession had been won. To neither of these opinions is it necessary to demur in this place. The pictures to which they refer remain to vindicate abundantly their own intrinsic merits under any impartial observation; while of their extrinsic value, the most satisfactory evidence will be found in the fact, (to be detailed a few pages hence,) that the only one of them sold at public auction during my father's lifetime, realized a larger price than he had estimated it at himself, when completing it on commission.

Having partly anticipated remonstrance against his change of subject, from his recollection of Wilkie's experience under similar circumstances, the painter was not surprised at the critical objections offered to his new works. Well knowing that he had not abandoned all further illustration of English scenery, and well satisfied that the encouragement his Italian pictures had met with from the profession and the patrons, would justify their continuation, he determined to proceed un discouraged with the series of foreign subjects which he had designed, and to present them to the public under a newer form even than he had yet essayed. This resolution proceeded from no disregard of criticism on Art, as contained in the leading public journals. His own conviction of their importance to the cause of painting was plainly testified in his strong reprobation of the illiberal exclusion, by the Royal Academy, of the gentlemen connected with the Press, from the privileges justly conferred on them by all other intellectual institutions; but in pursuing the course that he now adopted he felt convinced that he was right; and when this was the case, neither opposition nor remonstrance ever turned him aside from the purpose he had formed.

At the outset, however, of his studies for the next Exhibition, he was afflicted with one of the most incapacitating maladies that a painter can suffer — inflammation of the eyes. His medical attendant, on examining him, declared that the remains of the rheumatic disorder, from which he had suffered in Italy, were still lurking in his constitution. His case, it was added, was one that required unusual caution in the minutest matters — even the clay soil on which his house was built was suspected of having some connection with the malady of which he complained; and he was strongly recommended to take another abode, on dry gravel ground. While this advice was under consideration, he repaired to Brighton, to try the effect of the sea air. This was found to be most salutary; and he returned to London, to all appearance perfectly cured. Later in the year, however, the inflammatory symptoms returned with all their former severity, with the pleasant accompaniment, soon afterwards, of a report generally credited — and inserted, I believe, in some of the newspapers — that the painter was seized with utter blindness.

One main condition, on which Mr. Collins's medical attendant was able to alleviate his symptoms, was, that his eyes should be as much relieved from any minute employment as possible. Incapable of suffering the privation of entirely discontinuing his labours on his new pictures, he could only submit himself to the doctor's orders by resigning, for a time, his other occupations. Reading, writing, and exposure to the night-air, he abstained from as completely as was required. This course of action, while it benefited his disease, rendered the events of his life, in the year 1839, unusually monotonous. Society, he was obliged almost wholly to avoid — neither journals nor letters emanated from his pen during this period — his pictures only occupied his attention, and to his pictures, therefore, the present passages in his career must necessarily, though abruptly, proceed.

Generally viewed only, the three works he completed for the Exhibition of 1840, were perfectly calculated to prove that his illness had not affected the usual value and number of his productions,— one of them, however, in particular, excited perhaps greater astonishment than any picture he had ever painted. He had already startled the attention of the world of Art, on more than one occasion, by variety in subject and treatment, but this year he put the finish to the surprise of painters, patrons, and critics, by exhibiting an historical picture, drawn from the highest of all sources, the history of our Saviour.

This work was entitled, "Our Saviour with the Doctors in the Temple." The desire to paint from a Scripture subject was no recent ambition of my father's. Among the MS. notes of contemplated pictures, scattered through his papers of early dates, are several plans for illustrating passages in the Old and New Testaments — here and there expanded into a rough sketch. His journey to Italy did not, therefore, prompt his present experiment, though it assuredly tended to hasten its trial, and to increase its chances of success. The model for the face of our Saviour, in the picture now under review, was the beautiful Italian boy, mentioned in the notices of Mr. Collins's first sojourn at Rome. Although the expression of his countenance is refined and elevated from the original, in the painter's work, the features retain the resemblance to the first study from Nature — thus mingling, in the personation of Christ, the human with the Divine, in a singularly eloquent and attractive manner. Luxuriant dark brown hair, parted back over his pure open forehead, falls on each side of the Saviour's neck. His face — serious, inquiring, holy — retains its loveliness of perfect youth, under its higher aspect of Divine elevation. A mysterious purple halo of celestial glory encircles his head, as he sits at the centre of a table, round which the doctors are grouped. These figures are painted with a dramatic energy of action, and vigour of expression, which contrasts them nobly with the calm dignity of the inspired disputant. Among them are the haughty, sneering Pharisee, openly expressing his scorn; the juster and wiser doctor, listening with candour and patience; the old man, of less vigorous intellect, lost in astonishment at the Divine question he has just heard; and the subtler philosopher, consulting with his companion for the triumphant answer that no one has yet framed. In the background, entering a door, are seen the figures of the Virgin and St. Joseph, pausing to listen to the wisdom that is dropping from the Saviour's lips. The composition of the whole picture is exceedingly simple and grand; void of the slightest affectation of mediaeval formality or modern exaggeration; and testifying throughout, that the painter's convictions of the methods of study adopted by the old masters, from the Nature around them, have presided over his work. The tone of colour is rich, varied, and solemn; the drawing, vigorous and correct. "As a first effort in a new path," observes the "Art-Journal," criticising the picture, "its effect is startling. It is such a work only, as a man of unquestionable genius could produce."

The possessor of this, the first of Mr. Collins's historical productions, is the Marquis of Lansdowne, for whom it was painted, and in whose collection, at Bowood, it is now placed.

In the second picture of the year, "Ave Maria," the soft brief twilight of Italy falls over every object in the composition, in which the mountains of Tivoli form the distance. The foreground is a bank of wild flowers, overshadowed by pine trees: on it is seated a beautiful girl, playing the evening service to the Virgin, on her mandolin; while a lovely little boy reclines on the ground by her side, his head resting on her lap, and his face expressing the rapt attention with which he is listening to her music. The refined sentiment of these two figures, seated alone in the pure twilight solitude — the still, religious, evening tranquillity of the scene around them — the ineffable tenderness and softness reigning over the whole composition, it is impossible to convey in words. Few pictures were ever produced, appealing more directly to the heart, and less to the colder critical faculties, than this work. It was painted for the late Sir Thomas Baring.

The third picture, "The Passing Welcome," was painted for Mr. James Marshall, and belonged to a perfectly different class from either of its companions. It depicted an episode in an Italian "Festa." Two handsome gaily-attired peasant girls, leaning over the balcony of a vine-dresser's cottage, and offering a bunch of grapes to a young fellow stopping to talk to them, as he passes on horseback to the "Festa," along the road beneath — made the incident of the picture, which was brightened and enlivened by the warm sunshine pouring down on every object in it — on the gay dresses of the two girls, on the vine-leaves waving above the balcony, on the gaudy accoutrements of the young peasant's horse, and on the glimpses of distant landscape, visible behind him. "Both works," remarks the "Art-Journal," of this and the "Ave Maria," "are exquisite in conception, and admirable in all their details."

During the latter part of the progress of these works, and after they had been sent to the Exhibition, the painter's health continued to be indifferent, and his eyes remained subject, at times, to the inflammatory symptoms from which he had already suffered so much. These evidences of the unfavourable effect of the situation he inhabited on his constitution, at length induced him to prepare for the speedy change of residence to a drier soil, which his medical attendant had recommended the year before. While this removal was under consideration, he joined a pleasant travelling party — among whom were his friends Mrs. and Miss Otter — on a trip to the baths of Schwalbach, in Nassau. Of the pleasure ensured for him throughout this excursion, by the agreeable qualities of his travelling companions, and of the general route they followed, some account is given in the following letter:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Schwalbach, 8th July, 1840.

"I received your letter on Saturday last, and much did it relieve and console me; for I had longed so much to hear from dear home, that I was beginning to lament that I had not made some arrangement — difficult as it would have been — to hear from you at some place on our route. However, everything is, as it always is, for the best; and most thankful I am to find all is so well in London.

"Nothing can be more pleasant and agreeable than the party I am with. Their virtues and tempers are beyond all praise; selfishness is a word none of them know anything about. You will say, then, why should I be in want of consolation? simply because I have here only one-fourth of myself. That the other three-fourths are well at home, and that I can send you a good report of the remaining quarter, is a cause of the greatest thankfulness.

"We have all had slight colds, but never anything to interrupt our cheerfulness; and although I do not think the waters here have much to do with health such as mine, (which, I am more convinced every day, depends on air, exercise, and plain and wholesome diet,) still I think of trying those of Ems — for which place we propose setting out to-morrow. We have had lately rather broken weather — indeed, some very rainy days — and on our journey, much such weather as you seem to have had in London.

"When you write again — which I hope you will do the day after you receive this — you had better address to, poste restante, Frankfort-on-the-Maine; where I shall hope to meet a letter, which I fear will be the last — as, after a day or two there, we shall make for dear home without delay. We are now just setting off for Nassau, and to-morrow we hope to be at Ems. Let me know how Landseer is, and also whether Stanfield is better. Tell Wilkie I hope to return in time for the dinner at the Royal Academy.

"Yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

On returning from Germany in July, Mr. Collins had the gratification of finding that he had been appointed Librarian of the Royal Academy — an office for which he had become a candidate on its vacation by the gentleman who had last held it, Mr. Jones, R.A. The duties of this situation require the Academician who fills it to superintend the researches of the students among the prints, and other works connected with Art, placed there to be consulted by them — as well as to undertake the charge of recommending the increase and insuring the preservation of the large collection that is placed under his care. For this office, which required his attendance on one day and two evenings in each week, Mr. Collins's character well fitted him. His habitual kindness and attention to all young men consulting him on matters of Art, was here constantly exhibited in his readiness to assist the students; and his industry and love of method were most usefully called forth for the branch of the Academy over which he now presided, in the careful revision of the Library Catalogue, on which he immediately and anxiously employed himself.

In the summer of this year my father removed to a new house at Oxford-terrace, Hyde-park,— a situation to which he was recommended, as one of the driest and healthiest in London. In the month of August, soon after his change of residence, occurred an event of great personal interest to him, and of no small importance to the world of Art,— the departure of Sir David Wilkie for the Holy Land.

The object of the great painter's journey was to gather materials for a series of Scripture subjects, among the descendants of the people with whom all the remarkable passages of the Bible are connected, and in the localities consecrated by the Divine events of the redemption of the world. This is, however, so generally known through the interesting details on the subject in Mr. Cunningham's Biography, as to render reference to it here almost unnecessary. Of Mr. Collins's sentiments on his friend's important pilgrimage to Jerusalem, of his full conviction of the success that awaited him in the new field of Art he was about to enter, ample evidence will be presented in a letter shortly to be inserted. In the meantime, an anecdote, contained in the painter's MS. notices of Wilkie's character, of the parting, and, as it afterwards proved, of the last earthly interview of these two firm friends, will be perused with interest:

"I went over to see Wilkie," writes Mr. Collins, "a day or two before he left home, on his last journey. He showed me all his contrivances for prosecuting his studies in Jerusalem, and spoke of the enthusiasm he must feel in painting from a young woman and child at Bethlehem, on the very spot, as the 'motivo' for a picture of a Holy Family. After he had put everything in order again, he said, 'But now I must show you my guide-book.' He then, took out a parcel, carefully enveloped in a cloth covering,— it was the Bible.

"I never saw him again; but, from many remarks in the letters I received from him during his absence, I have no doubt the book he showed me was truly his Guide."

The blank in his social enjoyments caused by Sir David Wilkie's departure, was strongly felt by my father. With all his enthusiasm for his friend's projects, he could not conceal from his mind, the evident personal risk — for one whose health was so delicate, as Wilkie's — of travelling to eastern climates. News of his progress therefore, as he advanced towards the great place of his destination, was awaited with anxiety, as well as pleasure; and the first letter that he wrote to Mr. Collins from Constantinople, announcing his arrival and describing his impressions on his route, was perused, as may be imagined, with the deepest interest. The answer to it was as follows:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"85, Oxford-terrace, 23rd February, 1840.

"Dear Sir David,— Your letter was a most gratifying sight to our family circle, confirming, under your own hand, all the good news we had heard at various times from your brother and sister. Our first anxiety respecting the voyage to Rotterdam, was happily soon relieved, and was succeeded by a curiosity and interest about your future proceedings, felt in common by all who know you, either in the capacity of friend or admirer. Indeed, should the political state of the countries now before you, and between you, and the objects you have in view in the Holy Land, render them unattainable, what you have already seen must afford materials, in your hands, highly attractive to a public now more interested in eastern matters than during any former period; and as figure-painters have done so little 'upon the spot,' and the material for landscape draughtsmen is at best hackneyed, I cannot but think your new line will be more than the world is accustomed to see from travellers in quest of subjects of a temporary character. You have hit upon a treatment of subject calculated to afford a lasting enjoyment, and one for the attainment of a glimpse of which Rembrandt must have been inspired a fact now confirmed by your testimony, for the benefit of those who ever doubted it.*

* This refers to the following observation in Sir D. Wilkie's letter: "The painter who has most truly given us 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 great painter of Amsterdam even higher than we had thought him."

The passages omitted in Mr. Collins's letter, refer at great length to private Academy business, which can be in no way interesting to the general reader.

"* * * There are great forebodings respecting our next Exhibition. The fears entertained, that your absence will prevent your supplying us with attractions always looked for from you; the absence of Landseer, still at Geneva, and I fear not likely to contribute much, should he even return; Callcott's ill health; and the apprehension that others, usually attractive, will not have time for great works; all conspire to produce, and indeed to give, serious reasons for anticipations of short- comings. I have however often seen that similar fears have not been justified, and we must therefore hope for the best.

"Your kind inquiries about our personal affairs, I am happy to be able to answer favourably. My health continues in our new abode, and on our new soil, in every respect well; and we are comfortably housed, although not in the dwelling which you were informed I had bought; which owing to the slippery conduct of its owner, I lost. Although I did not require your house as a temporary abode, believe me, I am equally impressed with your kind consideration in offering it.

"Richmond has gone to Rome, with the intention of "painting an historical picture; Leslie is painting something in secret; and Callcott, as usual, doing what his friend Allan calls, 'cabinet pictures.'

"I gave your letter into the hands of your sister, and I shall send to-morrow, before this goes to the post; and if they have aught to say, will communicate it to you. I presented, as you desired, your kind regards to as many of our brethren as I have seen, since I received your letter. They are all delighted to hear so good an account of you, and the interest they take in your welfare is very great. Jones, with whom I come most in contact, desires his best remembrances, as do our other friends; and I trust our joint prayers for you will be heard. When you can spare a few minutes, let us know something more about your proceedings. Give our best regards to Mr. Woodburn; and believe me,

"Ever yours obliged and faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

With the exception of one short visit to the country, my father remained, during the whole of this year, actively engaged on the pictures he was preparing for the Exhibition of the next spring. It may be mentioned in this place, as showing the remarkable effect of change of soil on some constitutions, that, after he had removed to Oxford-terrace he suffered no further inconvenience from the complaint in his eyes, until the date of his brief stay at a friend's house, above noticed. Here, the dwelling he inhabited being built on clay, the inflammatory symptoms appeared again almost immediately; subsiding, however, as quickly on his return to his own abode, built on gravel.

On the opening of the Exhibition of 1841, Mr. Collins again wrote on Academy news to Sir David Wilkie, who had by that time accomplished the great object of his journey, by reaching Jerusalem:

 

"To SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A.

"85, Oxford-terrace, May 3rd, 1841.

"My dear Wilkie,— Your sister has been so kind as to allow me room in her letter to say a few words; and as my space is small, I will begin at once with that which will be most interesting to you, considering the terrible distance you are at present from us all. The private view at the Academy, your sister will have described to you. The dinner, went off remarkably well; we had a most respectable company, and the great feature of the day was the presence of the Duke of Wellington, about whose health the greatest anxiety has prevailed of late. He looks much better than he did last year, and by a fortunate coincidence, Saturday (the day of the dinner) was his birthday. Upon this point, our President was more than usually eloquent. His Grace returned thanks in a vigorous and feeling manner, and the enthusiasm of the guests surpassed anything I ever saw in so distinguished a party. The Duke retired early; and in passing round the tables to the door, shook hands with almost every person in his route, amidst clapping of hands and every demonstration of respect and affection. The Marquis of Lansdowne made an admirable address to the President and Gentlemen of the Academy, congratulating them and the country, on the tendency of the English school towards the sublime subjects of Scripture. This was responded to by Sir Martin Shee, in one of his best speeches; in which I am most happy to say you formed a prominent part. His eulogy on your talents and character was most warm; and he set forth the great expectation with which the world looked forward to your return, quite admirably. He then noticed the absence of Edwin Landseer and Callcott, with much feeling, and led all to hope that, that absence was only temporary; regretted the want of taste for large works; set before the Government the fine opportunities now afforded them of decorating the Houses of Parliament with objects worthy of so great a nation; and trusted that "the rivalry of the Upholsterers," was on the decline.

"My own opinion of the Exhibition, which I am happy to say is the general one, is that the present show is most creditable to the Institution. Pictures of great interest are to be found in every corner; and although the Hanging Committee have had a most difficult task to perform — owing chiefly to the two half-lengths of the Queen and Prince Albert, by Partridge, being placed under the line — they have done it with great justice. What will be thought of them out of doors, I cannot say; but I fear there will be much dissatisfaction. The Octagon-room is crammed, and the Architectural-room looks a sad medley.

"Lord John Russell, on Friday, startled everybody by a declaration of his intention to bring on a motion, after Whitsuntide, upon the Corn-Laws. This, and the agitating state of politics generally, absorbs public attention, which is unfortunate for the Arts. We must, however, go on hoping.

"We are all longing most earnestly for letters from you — pray write to us as soon as you can. Did you get a letter in answer to that you wrote me, on the 15th October? — the only one I have received. I have always heard about you, when you have written to your brother and sister; and we all pray for your safe return it seems years since you left us. We are, thank Heaven, well; and this place so thoroughly agrees with me, that I have been able to work hard, and have five pictures at the Royal Academy. Adieu.

"Ever yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The following interesting answer by Sir David Wilkie to Mr. Collins's first communication of the 30th November, was the last letter that his friend ever received by his hand:

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Jerusalem, April 2nd, 1841.

"My dear Collins,— Your most pleasant and welcome letter, brought up greatly my leeward information of what is going on in the civilized world; and knowing both your own and Mrs. Collins's anxiety to receive 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 pouring 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 perpetual snows, was the first sign of the land of the Prophets; but we had to skirt along by 'the coast 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 fair 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 descending, it was only afterwards to rise higher still. At mid-day we stopped, a most 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 extended moor or table-land before us, we looked ahead; and not till after miles of level course, we saw the leader come to a stand, and indicate as we came up what a sight was before us. It was Jerusalem! Whether we should have discharged our fire-arms, or albeit have rent our Mackintoshes, at this 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 thought of. We scarcely stopped to compare thoughts, but jogged on, tracing with the eye the earthly form and extent of the Eternal City; which, after all her tribulations, presents even at this least imposing view, the adamantine appearance of durability. Her white stone walls and high square towers, recalled a little of 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 procession of horses, mules, and luggage, we proceeded by walls and narrow lanes, and were received and lodged with all due hospitality by the Latin Convent.

"You know the excellent drawings our friend Roberts has made of various scenes in this place: there have also been some German and French artists here; among others Horace Vernet, but who, I am told, did not make any drawings. But knowing the curiosity all of them will 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 printing are everything; and that now, when every one can read and write, no other mode of information is wanted. Whoever is here, and walks around these ancient streets, and stones and rocks, will be convinced that here are objects neither language nor printing can convey. Here are innumerable situations, as to distances, heights, and relative positions, which the reader of Scripture cannot help guessing at; but which our Art alone can help him to imagine rightly. In this view, Art, instead of supplying the mere fancied illustration, may give what this place so thoroughly supplies — a collateral evidence of the truth of the sacred writings, as well as 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 backgrounds, costumes, and characters, so purely imaginary, or so completely Italian, that Evangelical Syria is completely unrepresented, and, like a neglected constituency, seems to clamour for a fresh enfranchisement to modern Art. And if there are such pictures as 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 Levantine 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 representations by which, with a sort of glut, all future modern Art must be overwhelmed, I need not 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 Apostolic times, there may yet be the greatest interest in showing what Syria is now. Roberts, you know, has done much; but I almost wish he had done it more, and had been here longer. For a landscape-painter, the road from Jericho (as you come 'nigh to Jerusalem,' and after you pass 'the village right over against you,' and begin ' to descend by the Mount of Olives,') displays a view which, in its time of greatness, drew forth the sympathetic monologue of our Saviour — which now combines a scene that Claude Lorraine and the Poussins would have delighted in — and which, by the Jew in his desolate Zion, by the Mussulman in his declining power, and by the Christian in his daily contention for right and privilege in the Holy Sepulchre, seems by all acknowledged as the place on earth yet reserved for some great accomplishment of the Divine will.

"Sacred as this 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 greatly higher, much resembles. Here would be a rich treat and subject for your Art; but this journey, for you, is not to be thought of. Singular! we find other countries, Austria and France, sending their artists here; but for poor old England, the artists must come of themselves! Our journey, interesting as it is, and useful as I hope it will be, has found its chief impediment in the thwarting measures 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 be not 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 our nation that we should not be behind in the field upon the question that must now arise. With this view, I think of all you are doing. Though absent, I count the days of preparing and receiving and arranging the pictures, to an hour; and look forward to those spirit-stirring meetings 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 Charley and Willy, and all inquiring friends,

"Most faithfully and truly,

"Your obedient servant and sincere friend,

"DAVID WILKIE."

It is now time to notice the five pictures exhibited by Mr. Collins in the season of 1841 the third year since his return from the Continent. None of these showed any departure from the new range of Art that he had chosen. One was historical; the remaining four were Italian subjects. They were thus entitled: "The Two Disciples at Emmaus;" "The Peace-maker;" "Lazzaroni — Naples;" "Scene taken from the Caves of Ulysses, at Sorrento, the Birthplace of Tasso," and "Ischia — Bay of Naples."

In the second of the painter's Scripture subjects — the "Disciples at Emmaus," the moment chosen is that immediately following the supernatural disappearance of our Saviour. The two disciples are still sitting at the table, fronting the spectator, but one of them is evidently about to start to his feet. Eager wonder flashes from his eyes — all his features express the violent and sudden agitation that possesses his mind. His companion's action and expression are far different. He sits motionless, his countenance impressed with a solemn adoration — a devout, awful conviction of the Divine nature of the Being who has just vanished from his sight. Behind the disciples, seen far in the distance, rises a glimpse of mountain scenery, dimly lit by the furtive gleams of the departing sun. A solemn and supernatural tone — a deep light, mingled with transparent darkness, reigns over the whole of the picture, and, combined with the pure and forcible painting of the two figures in it, renders it impressive and Scriptural in no ordinary degree. It was painted for the late Mr. George Knott.

"The Peace-maker," was perhaps the most attentively remarked of any of Mr. Collins's Italian works of this year. The subject of the picture was thus indicated:— Against the low wall of a vine terrace, overlooking the Bay of Naples, is seated a brawny Neapolitan fisherman; his arms are crossed doggedly over his bare swarthy breast; his sulky face expresses a temporary and ungracious submissiveness; his heavy brows are knit with a sinister lowering expression — he is the sort of man, of whom any woman would declare at once, that he would "make a bad husband:" and a bad husband he is; as the suffering, forlorn expression of his wife's countenance, turned imploringly on his averted face, evidently shows. She is standing, silent, downcast, and wretched, at a little distance from him, holding her baby in her arms, while her eldest girl stands by her side, already old enough to sympathize with her mother, and to discourage the ill-timed playfulness of a younger child, crawling towards her on hands and knees. Between the refractory husband and the ill-used wife, stands the Peace-maker — a bare-headed monk, (mediator in all family disputes, like the rest of his fraternity,) indignantly reproving the offender, with both his hands raised in such thoroughly Italian energy of gesticulation, that you seem to hear the torrent of admonitory phrases rushing from his lips. The contrast of the figures in this picture, is eminently successful. The brutal respect in the countenance of the husband, as he submits to the all-powerful moral ascendancy of his "spiritual pastor and master;" the energetic determination to succeed as a peace-maker, in the expression of the monk; and the meek apprehension and sorrowful humility in the face of the poor wife, as she shrinks behind her reverend advocate, tell the story with amazing truth and distinctness. The accessories of the scene — the vine-leaves waving over the terrace, and the sky and sea beyond — are painted with that peculiar brilliancy and softness, which alone conveys an adequate idea of the bright warmth of a southern summer. In every respect the picture is a thoroughly faithful reflection of Italian life and landscape. It was painted for the same gentleman who had commissioned "The Disciples at Emmaus," the late Mr. George Knott. At the sale of his collection, it produced two hundred and sixty guineas — Mr. Collins having demanded and received for it, when its valuation rested with him, two hundred guineas. A more satisfactory proof of the public success of his Italian subjects could not have been desired.

"Lazzaroni," the third picture, was painted for Mr. James Marshall, and was devoted to the portrayal of some of the peculiarities of those easy-living vagabonds, who, forming a marked and original body in the population of Naples, have acquired an European reputation, as the most illustrious and genuine idlers in the ranks of "the human family"— fellows, who having earned enough by an hour's work in the morning, to keep them in macaroni for a day or two, heroically refuse all proffers of further employment as long as their money lasts them. The attitudes of these ragged votaries of indolence, as they sleep against the corners of old houses, lounge under the porticoes of churches, or bask in the sun on the broad flagstones of the Mole, present a perfect series of studies in picturesque composition and finely-developed form, to a painter's eye; and are most faithfully and humorously rendered by Mr. Collins, in the picture now under notice. He has taken the Lazzaroni at their favourite haunt — a church portico. They are grouped, in the composition, in all the different attitudes and degrees of sleep — one, sitting propped against the side of a door, his head drooping on his breast; another, stretched flat on his back, with his arms folded over his eyes, to shade them; some, half-falling off the church steps; some leaning against each other; and one tall fellow, an exception to the rest, awake, and drowsily eating his macaroni with his fingers. Of this graphic work, the "Art-Journal" well observes, that it is "redolent of the lazy south. The very air seems indolent, and the group, sleeping or lounging, appear incapable of exertion — even the fellow who eats his macaroni, does so as if it were a labour to move. The character is admirably rendered, and the tone of the picture natural and true."

The "Scene from the Caves of Ulysses, at Sorrento," was purchased by Mr. Gibbons, and was a copy, on a large scale, of the sketch noticed in the description of the painter's sojourn at Sorrento, as having been twice repeated by him, on his return to England. His picture possessed all the attractive simplicity of subject and purity of tone, of his original study; which it will be seen, on referring back, was mentioned as a view on the Mediterranean, with Vesuvius in the horizon, and a strip of beach and promontory in the right-hand foreground — the whole being treated with remarkable airiness and transparency of effect.

The fifth picture of the season, "Ischia — Bay of Naples," was painted for Mr. C. S. Dickins. The picturesque cottages of the Neapolitan fishermen, occupied the foreground, and led the eye agreeably to the more distant position of the Castle of Ischia, grandly situated on rocks jutting out into the sea — the whole composition being finely lighted by a glowing evening sky. It was a very brilliant work.

While the Exhibition of 1841 was yet open, while the world of Art generally was stirring with the pictorial attractions and events of the most brilliant part of the season, a new source of general expectation and excitement was opened, by the report that Sir David Wilkie might be expected daily to arrive in England, bringing with him perfectly original materials for the renewal and elevation of that Art, which he had already so remarkably contributed to adorn.

The high and various objects, with which the great painter set forth on his return to his native land, have been laid before the reader in his letter of a few pages back. They passed from mouth to mouth among all to whom the Arts were an object of anticipation and hope, and excited a warm and general interest in his return. This feeling of expectation, among his acquaintances and admirers, was, as may well be imagined, heightened, among his relatives and friends, to the most vivid anxiety for his safe progress homeward from his long and important journey. The day of his arrival was awaited by Mr. Collins and his family with a solicitude which was no faint reflection of the more eager anticipation felt in his own household. On a Sunday, early in June, the painter walked over to Kensington, fully expecting to meet Sir David; but he was disappointed — no news had yet been heard of the traveller. On the Tuesday after, Mrs. Collins went to Kensington, anxious to obtain for her husband the earliest intelligence of his friend's return. The house, as she entered it, bore no traces of gaiety or bustle; the servants' faces were grave and downcast; Mr. Laurie, the friend of the family, was alone present to receive her — he had arrived at the house a few minutes before — not with the welcome news of Wilkie's return; but with the fatal intelligence of his death, and burial, at sea.

The shock caused by this sudden and lamentable event to the public mind is well remembered, and need not be dilated on here. The effect on Mr. Collins of the death of his beloved friend, of his solemn and forlorn burial, of his sudden disappearance for ever, at the very moment when all were most ready to welcome him, was at first overwhelming. He had looked to Wilkie's new appearance before the public as anxiously as he had looked to his own; he had already anticipated with eager joy the new theories on Art that they should discuss, the new bonds of companionship in their pursuit that they should form, the new projects on which they should consult each other, as often as they met. And now, of all the days of their friendship, uninterrupted by a single feeling of indifference, or a passing moment of doubt, but the remembrance remained for him — of all his hopes, no vestige was ever to be fulfilled; there was nothing to think of now, but the death on the day of return,— the burial afar, in the great wilderness of the deep.

As soon as the death of Sir David Wilkie was publicly reported, many of those who had known him, incredulous of the affliction that had befallen them, and naturally unwilling, at such a moment, to seek correct information from his family, wrote to Mr. Collins, as his most intimate friend, to know the truth or falsehood of the fatal report they had just heard. In the occupation of replying to these inquiries; of announcing to some of Sir David's patrons and his own the loss the Art had sustained; and, subsequently, in aiding as much as lay in his power the labours of those with whom he was associated, in the Committee of the "Wilkie Testimonial," the painter found the best preservative against dwelling too unremittingly on the personal affliction he had experienced. One of the first of the possessors of "Wilkie's pictures, and the admirers of Wilkie's character and genius, to whom he conveyed the mournful intelligence of his friend's death, was Sir Robert Peel. To that gentleman he wrote as follows:

 

"To THE RIGHT HON. SIR ROBERT PEEL, BART., M.P.

"85, Oxford-terrace, 8th June, 1841.

"Dear Sir,— I have just received the melancholy and too certain intelligence of the death of poor Sir David Wilkie. As he always spoke of your friendship as one of the most flattering circumstances of his life, I cannot refrain from writing to you. His character as a man and his powers as an artist you appreciated — his family and friends are sure of your sympathy under this awful visitation.

"I received a letter from him about ten days since; and only on Sunday last, had three others read to me by his sister, who was hourly expecting his longed-for arrival. The letter containing the account of his death, I have just read: it states that he died last Tuesday, suddenly, at Gibraltar, of water on the brain. His grave was in the sea.*

* Sir David Wilkie died in the "Oriental" steam-ship, off Gibraltar. Permission to land the body was refused — it was therefore buried, from the vessel, in the sea.

"To myself — next to his immediate relatives, perhaps the most intimate of his friends — the loss is unspeakable. I have the honour to remain, Sir,

"Your obliged and faithful servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

To what is contained in the above letter, and in the remarks that have preceded it, on Sir David Wilkie's death, little more can advantageously be added in these pages. Fresh discussions on the genius of the great Scottish painter are unnecessary to his fame — he has been long since known and appreciated, wherever the practice of the Art is followed, or the influence of the Art enjoyed — and further illustrations of his character would be but a repetition of what has been already presented on that subject in these Memoirs. With the melancholy narrative of his death, the notices of him that have here been attempted must conclude. The fruits of his intellect will claim no larger a share of the genuine admiration of the public, than his personal endowments possess of the affectionate remembrance of his friends.

Of the two subjoined letters from Mr. Collins's pen, the first was written during Mrs. Collins's absence from home, on a visit to the family who had been the companions of the painter's tour to Germany in 1840; and the second is dated from a town on the Sussex coast, where while staying with some friends, he gathered materials for one of his finest sea-pieces, when he resumed his illustrations of English scenes:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Oxford-terrace, August 14th, 1841.

"I trust the weather is now taking up, and that a few dry days may be of great benefit to your health — take care that you come home well; I think I never knew so long a month as the month of your absence. We go on as smoothly as it is possible without you; but none of us will ever put up with your roamings again. You do not say half enough about yourself in your scraps of letters — I believe you have forgotten us altogether, visiting fine folks! I do not remember whether I told you that I had promised to go to Seaford on the first of September, with Mr. Antrobus. Yesterday, Jones (who, poor fellow, is in great distress, having lost a dear friend, another victim to foreign climates) offered to take my evening duty at the Library, so I came home to Willie, who would have been dull enough by himself — as it was he was amused; for I had asked Mr. Ward to spend the evening with us. I saw Miss Wilkie, on Saturday and Sunday. Sir Robert Peel is to take the chair at the meeting for the Wilkie Monument, on Saturday the 28th. I have received a letter from Sir William Allan, who writes affectionately of poor dear Wilkie.

"Our dinner here went off admirably; and if you had left us the key of the plate-chest, we should not have been obliged to help the peas with tea-spoons, nor have been under the necessity of wiping our forks quite so often as we did. However, we had plenty of fun about it; and as dinners are in general very stupid affairs, this was a feature in ours.

"I am now going out for a cool ride, and hope next week to be quietly at work: I have done nothing but meet talkers since you left us; and talking continually, whether on my part or on the part of others, worries me. I have found a title for my new picture, as well as a motto for it; the latter being in ' Measure for Measure.'*

* This refers to the picture, called "The World or the Cloister," then designed, but not exhibited till 1843.

"With many thanks to the party at Southsea for their kind attention to you,

"Ever yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To THE SAME.

"Seaford, September 1st, 1841.

"I have just a moment, before post time, to tell you that I am quite well, notwithstanding my very wet ride, and my folly in not taking my warm pea- jacket with me. My journey was not only a rainy one, but exceedingly cold. However, a comfortable meal about eight, a warm bed, and what I appreciate above all things, a warm welcome, brought all right again. I have just returned from a charming, sunny sea-side walk. To-day, with us, is the most complete summer's day I have ever seen * * *."

"September 13th, 1841.— I received your note, and having gathered from its random contents that you are all well, (devouring every day all the good things you can lay your hands upon, at my expense,) I could not but feel pleased and grateful. I am in pretty good health, but desperately idle; go to bed early, awake late, recollect how backward I am for the next Exhibition, what an idle wife I have, how poor I am, and that, unless I return to work, I shall be obliged to beat hemp in Her Majesty's bread-and-water Hotel.

"And now for sober matters. I think it likely I shall not leave this place till Friday or Saturday. The weather has continued so fine, except two days, that you will be glad to hear I have spent almost the whole of my time out of doors, with great benefit to myself. The pea-jacket has been most useful: even yesterday, in the hottest sun, I sketched in it four hours. With an easterly wind and hot sun, it is indispensable. I praise your prompt thought in sending it at once.

"With prayers for you all, yours ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

While thus pleasantly occupied at Seaford, the painter did not suffer the pleasure of renewing his sketching experiences on his native coasts, to interfere seriously with the prosecution of his efforts in the Art at home. Before he departed for his country sojourn, he had advanced most of his new pictures far enough towards completion to satisfy every one — but himself; and after he returned, in the month of September, he resumed his labours with such unfailing assiduity, that he was enabled to send to the Exhibition of 1842, seven contributions a larger number of works than he had ever painted for the Academy before, or ever succeeded in preparing for it afterwards.

A more important characteristic, however, of his pictures in this Exhibition was, that in two of them were displayed the first examples of his return to the portrayal of English scenery since his departure for Italy. This resumption of the former localities of his subjects proceeded from no conviction that he was exhausting his collection of Italian materials. Four of his pictures of the year still illustrated the features of the beautiful country from which he had derived so much improvement in his Art, and hundreds of designs for foreign scenes, equal in interest to anything he had hitherto painted from his continental sketches, lay ready for him in his portfolio. Still less could the apprehension of a decay of patronage for his new efforts have had any share in inducing him to interrupt their exclusive continuation; for all the pictures he had painted since his journey to Italy had found purchasers. His partial return to his English subjects was simply the result of his desire to persevere in constantly varying the productions of his pencil, and of the revival of his old associations, caused by his renewal, at Seaford, of his studies on his native shores. In looking over his portfolio of English sketches, on his return to London in the autumn, his drawings from the little Welsh children at Llanberris, in 1834, first met his eye. Forcibly struck by their value after his long separation from them, and well aware that they had not hitherto been used, he determined to introduce them in one of his old rustic scenes; and thus originated the composition of his picture called "Welsh Guides."

But it is necessary, before proceeding with the examination of his new works for the season, to insert two short letters from his pen, written before the opening of the Exhibition. Both are of some biographical importance: the first, as containing his reason for resigning this year the Librarianship of the Royal Academy; the second, as showing the nature of his opinions on the competition of 1842, for the decoration of the Houses of Parliament:

 

"To THE PRESIDENT AND COUNCIL OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.

"Feb. 21st, 1842.

"Gentlemen,— Having learned that the resolution, passed in the General Assembly on the 10th instant, requires the attendance of the Librarian a third night in each week, I am compelled respectfully to resign the office I have had the honour to fill; not being able to give up so much time from my more immediate pursuits as that appointment now requires.

"I remain, Gentlemen, with great esteem,

"Your faithful and obedient servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

 

"To WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Royal Academy, March 26th, 1842.

"My dear Sir,— The President and Council have directed me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, announcing your resignation of the office of Librarian to the Royal Academy; and to assure you that they accept with great reluctance and regret, your notification that other demands upon your time will make it impossible for you to give any increased attention to the duties of a situation which you have shown yourself so well qualified to fill. Believe me,

"My dear Sir, &c., &c.,

"HENRY HOWARD, Sec."

 

"To C. L. EASTLAKE, ESQ., R.A.

"85, Oxford-terrace, March 21st, 1842.

"Dear Eastlake,— In answer to your note of Thursday, I should say that, since it appears to be generally understood that our experienced painters will not compete for employment on the proposed decorations of the New Houses of Parliament, that therefore the competition must take place amongst the younger and less known members of the profession; and as it is also to be expected that the best of our established artists will, notwithstanding their refusal to compete, be employed; that consequently, the only inducement which can be held out to the young aspirants, is pecuniary reward,— not the hope of employment, but the chance of a prize.

"Should I be mistaken, and it is intended only to employ those who will submit to competition, then, of course, arises the great difficulty; for it by no means follows that he who makes the best appearance in competition, will be the best able to carry into completion the work itself. Believe me, Dear Eastlake,

"Very faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

My father's pictures of 1842, were thus entitled in the Royal Academy catalogue: "Prayer — a family about to leave their native shores, imploring Divine protection;" "Dominican Monks returning to the Convent — Bay of Naples;" "Sorrento — Bay of Naples; " "Villa D'Este — Tivoli; " "Welsh Guides — Llanberris, North Wales;" "A Scene at Aberystwith, Cardigan Bay,— with portraits of the three children of E. Antrobus, Esq.; " "The Residence of the late Sir David Wilkie, at Kensington,— the last he inhabited before his fatal journey to Jerusalem."

It may be remembered that the painter was described, on his first sojourn at Rome, as having been much impressed by a remarkable group he saw at the foot of the crucifix, in the Colosseum; and that it was further added, that although he never lived to paint the scene which he there beheld, he embodied its devotional sentiment in one of the finest of his Italian works: this work was the picture called "Prayer," now under review.

A large crucifix is placed on rising ground in the composition, with its back towards the spectator. Here and there the imaged limbs of the crucified Saviour are partly visible beyond the heavy wooden cross, at the top of which, shining red against the darkening sky, is hung a lamp. The rays of this light shoot downwards, and illumine the figures of some peasants and their children, kneeling beneath the sacred symbol. One of the worshippers is a man, whose upturned face expresses a deep abstracted awe. The others are women — one gazing stedfastly on the crucifix, and another burying her face in her hands. Of the children, one is old enough to imitate the occupation of his elders; the other is only capable of looking at them in silent surprise; and the third is an infant in arms. At a little distance, on the shore, is the boat that is waiting to convey the travellers to their destination. The rest of the scene is filled by the sea, the mountains, and the sky, which are fading in the last rays of the short Italian twilight. The dark ocean is calm; the pure sky, already speckled here and there by a bright star, is clear throughout its expanse, saving near the western horizon, where the last clouds of evening are sailing slowly out of sight. The lamp on the crucifix, thus surrounded by the softly-gathering darkness, shines with singular purity on the eloquent faces of the worshippers beneath it. The soft, subdued character of the landscape, finely impressed with the mournful mysterious stillness of the last moments of evening, at once reflects the sentiment and increases the solemnity of the figures before the crucifix, as it rises in solitary height, lofty and distinct, where all around it is distant and obscure,— assuming a grandeur of aspect at once poetical and true. The purchaser of this fine work was the Marquis of Lansdowne.

Far different in character was the picture of "Dominican Monks returning to the Convent: " all here breathes of gaiety, action, and sunlight. The monks have been out, levying contributions from the larders of the pious laity; and — evidently considering nothing that goes into the mouth "common or unclean" — have succeeded in loading mules, lay-brothers, and peasant boys, with provision for half the feast-days in the year. The advanced rank of monks and baggage-bearers is seen in the right-hand distance, winding up the steep road that leads to the convent. In the foreground marches the rearguard of this gastronomic brigade: seated lazily on their ambling mules, are two monks,— the one in his broad black hat, a Spanish friar, a visitor to the convent,— the other, the Dominican who has invited him. Both the holy fathers are talking with the easy gaiety and unctuous good-fellowship of men with the certainty of a capital dinner in perspective. Behind them is a mule, heavily laden with the carnal comforts of this life; and behind the mule trudges a lad, with a well-filled bag, containing the fag-end of the eatables, over his shoulder. The character of the monks,— whose lighter peculiarities the painter delighted to study, while in Italy, and with whom his attempts to "crack jokes" in bad Italian made him generally an immense favourite is admirably rendered. Both landscape and figures in the picture are delightfully bright and exhilarating. It was purchased by Mr. Colls; who disposed of it to Mr. Munro, of Navar.

"Sorrento — Bay of Naples," was a repetition of the study from the upper end of the plain of Sorrento, mentioned in the account of the painter's residence there, as containing in the foreground a strip of cornfield overhung by a large chestnut-tree; and in the distance, olive-gardens, the Mediterranean, and Vesuvius beyond. This picture, and its companion, "The Villa D'Este — Tivoli," which depicted the famous avenue of cypresses, four hundred years old, with the terraces and the palace at the upper end of it — were both executed with great vigour and brilliancy; and were painted for Mr. Sheepshanks.

In the picture of "Welsh Guides," the public found that their old favourite had lost none of his power of pleasing them in his accustomed manner by his three years' discontinuance of his rustic English scenes. Here, in the three Welsh children waiting on the banks of a lake to act as guides to some pleasure-seekers, (whose approach is indicated by the shadow of the sail of their boat on the water in the foreground) appeared the same quaint truth and genuine simplicity, that had always characterized the little cottagers in his pictures. The gaping good- humour in the round open eyes of the boy-guide, and the rustic shyness in the face and figure of the younger girl by his side, are most happily transcribed from the painter's original sketches at Llanberris, and display a freedom and nature thoroughly attractive to all classes of beholders. The landscape in this picture, formed by wood, hill, and mountain, is treated with delicacy and grace, and is perfectly characteristic of the scenery of Wales. Mr. Colls was the first purchaser of this work; it was afterwards sold by him to Mr. Joseph Gillott, of Birmingham.

The portraits of the children of Mr. Antrobus were treated with the picturesque effect always introduced by Mr. Collins into his works of this class. Representing the three little girls who formed his subjects, as about to set forth for a ride on donkeys along the sands at Aberystwith, with a boy waiting to attend on them, he produced a composition enabling him to exhibit all his skill in illustrating the coast scenery, which formed the bright and truthful background to the group. Valuable to its possessor for its correctness as a piece of portraiture, this work had the yet higher merit, for the public, of being interesting as a work of Art.

"The seventh picture of the year, "The View of Sir David Wilkie's Residence," claims especial notice as a striking testimony of Mr. Collins's affection and esteem for the memory of his great brother painter. Not the least among his sources of regret, on the death of "Wilkie, was the reflection that he should have lived so short a time as he did to make use of the new painting-room which he had built at Kensington, and in which he had hoped, on his return, to pass so many years of delightful occupation in his Art. This room, thus mournfully connected with the destruction of the highest and dearest aspirations of its owner, acquired a deep and melancholy interest in my father's eyes, which animated him with the desire to preserve some memorial of his friend's study, and of the house to which it was attached, where he had spent so many cheerful hours, ere both passed into a stranger's possession. The view of the dwelling, begun with this feeling, was taken from the large garden attached to it, embracing the painting-room and the whole back of the house, and was executed with scrupulous fidelity and care. When completed, Mr. Collins presented it to the sister of his departed friend; knowing that he could always see it at her house, and considering, with the delicacy of feeling which ever characterized him, that such an offering must have a value and an interest to her even greater than any that it could possess to him.

Such were the leading characteristics of my father's works of this year,— greater in number, and in many respects more remarkable in variety than any he had ever painted. But a deeper and more significant importance belongs to this period of his career than was conferred on it by any extraordinary success in his Art; for it was in the spring of 1842 that the existence within him of the fatal disease which at length terminated his life was first discovered.

He was seized one night, just before his pictures were sent to the Royal Academy, with a violent attack of internal pain. Medical assistance was immediately procured, and his most urgent symptoms were relieved; but the doctor, Mr. Richardson, feeling some secret misgivings about the cause of the malady he had been called in to treat, and therefore unwilling to rest satisfied with only curing his patient of his temporary uneasiness, proceeded to examine him with the "stethescope." The result of this investigation was such as to assure the doctor that Mr. Collins was labouring under organic disease of the heart.

This discovery he communicated to his patient, assuring him that his motive for doing so was the preservation of his life. The disease had, in his opinion, originated in the painter's rheumatic attack in Italy; it did not appear of a nature to shorten his life of itself; but sudden emotion, or too violent exercise, might make it fatal in an instant. It was therefore imperatively necessary that he should pay the most unremitting attention to his health; and to induce him to do this, it was equally requisite that he should be warned of his condition in time.

That cheerfulness and hope, which even in the last stages of his malady never deserted Mr. Collins, preserved him, at the period of its discovery, from the slightest depression of mind on his own account. He laughingly declared that heart complaints were fashionable, promised to submit himself to all medical orders as long as they did not debar him from painting, and turned to his old occupations and pleasures with as undiminished a zest as ever. It will be seen, as the present work advances, that this unflagging buoyancy of disposition not only sustained his spirits under all after-pressure, but nerved him to such a perseverance in his arduous pursuit, under severe suffering, as the lives of few men of genius have ever exceeded.

Early in the summer of this year, he received an invitation from his friend Captain Otter, who was then engaged in surveying the coast of Thurso, to visit him at that place; and it was shortly afterwards intimated to him, from another quarter, that if he was disposed to proceed as much farther northward from Scotland as Shetland, Mr. Cadell would be happy to have some drawings by his hand, illustrative of Sir Walter Scott's romance of "The Pirate," the Abbotsford edition of which was then about to be published. With the painter's love of travelling and enjoyment of fine scenery, the prospect of this double expedition was exhilarating in no ordinary degree. He accepted Captain Otter's invitation, arranged to confer in Edinburgh, with Mr. Cadell, on the Shetland project, and early in June (accompanied by the writer of the present narrative) set forth on his journey, delighted at the prospect of employing his pencil on scenes which would present Nature under a fresh aspect to his eye.

 

CHAPTER II.

1842-1844.

Letter to Mrs. Collins - Stay at Edinburgh and Thurso - Arrival at Lerwick, in Shetland - Company at the inn - Excursions to Scalloway and Sumburgh Head - Shetland ponies and Shetland hospitality - Adventure in a Dutch herring-boat -Illustrations to the "Pirate" - Sketching, etc., etc. - Departure from Shetland - Letter to Mrs. Collins - Journey home - Letter to Mr. Rippingille - Exhibition of 1843 - New painting-room and new house - Letter to Mrs. Collins - Death of Washington Allston - Letters respecting him from Mr. Dana and Mr. Collins - Removal to new house - Letter to Mrs. Collins, after visit to Drs. Bullar at Southampton - Journal, etc., etc., of 1844 - Letter to Mrs. Collins - Exhibition of 1844 - Continuation of Journal - Serious increase of symptoms of heart complaint - Country excursion in search of health - Ventnor - Sketching - New Forest - Shedfield - recollections of early studies - Visit to Stratton Park and Amberley - Letters to Mrs. Collins - Return to London - Sufferings from ill- health - Perseverance in labours in the Art.

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Edinburgh, 3, Donne-terrace,

"June 11th, 1842.

"As you will see by the date, I am writing this at your friend's, Mrs. Smith's; and you will also see and believe that I am alive and well enough to write. The voyage here, though not quite agreeable, I have borne pretty well — the night part of it was bad enough; with Willie, however, all has gone on remarkably well.

"I have just received a note from Henry Otter, saying that he is always at home at Thurso; but as the boat only goes to Wick on Fridays, we shall have time to determine in what way we proceed there. To-morrow, we hope to go to Melrose. I will write again, when our plans are more settled. I think my health is mending — I am not yet strong; but hopeful. When we return to-morrow, I hope to find a letter for me at Mrs. Smith's. I had a long and interesting conversation last night with Miss Smith the elder: she is full of love for you.

"Yours ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

It was under far different circumstances from those attendant on his visit to Edinburgh in 1822, that Mr. Collins again found himself in the Scottish capital, exactly twenty years after that date. The Royal visitor, whose presence had then spread unwonted gaiety, by night and day, through the whole city; Wilkie, with whom he had partaken in the brilliant festivities of that former tour; Scott, who had sung to them at his table, and had danced with them to the chorus of his song — the kingly patron of Literature and Art, the great Painter and the great Author — were now all numbered with the dead. There was, at first, something strangely depressing to him, about the aspect of those streets of the "New Town," that he remembered so gay and crowded, and that he now saw so quiet and empty. But the day of arrival once passed away, there was no lack of occupation and amusement enough in Edinburgh, to turn his attention from the memories of the past to the employments of the present. The Old Town, with its lofty houses, as thoroughly picturesque as ever; Melrose Abbey, that he had last seen with Chantrey; Lasswade, whose lovely scenery his mother had so often described to him as a boy; all presented themselves to be re-explored with new interest and delight. Then, there was the society of many old friends in Edinburgh to recall agreeably the stories, the jests, and the amusements of past times: and lastly, there was positive business occupation for him, in the necessity of settling, with Mr. Cadell, all the preliminary arrangements for illustrating "The Pirate," during his tour in Shetland.

A week passed quickly at Edinburgh, in employments and pleasures such as those above reviewed. At the expiration of that time, the painter and his companion started by steamer for Wick; and, on arriving there, proceeded by land to Captain Otter's at Thurso — their last place of sojourn, ere they set forth for Shetland.

The coast scenery of Thurso and its immediate neighbourhood, though less wild and extensive, was perhaps more varied than the shores of Shetland itself. The view across to the Orkney Islands (from which, one of the illustrations to "The Pirate" was afterwards produced) — the grand dark rocks beyond John O'Groat's house — the harbour and some of the houses of Thurso — presented excellent materials for the sketch-book. The colour, too, of the sea, as deeply and brilliantly blue, on sunny days, as the Mediterranean itself — and the extraordinary northern clearness of the atmosphere, lighted to a late hour of the night by a small dull glow of sunlight lingering in the western hemisphere, especially delighted and surprised the painter. Indeed, so amazingly radiant were the nights at Thurso, that Mr. Collins and his companion wrote letters to London, with the greatest ease, by the bright, pure, northern twilight, which streamed through their bed-room windows at midnight; and which rendered a candle or a lamp an encumbrance rather than an aid.

The great benefit that the painter derived, in his sketching excursions, from the attention of Captain Otter, whose knowledge of the north coast of Scotland was widely extended, may be easily imagined. After six days spent most agreeably at Thurso, it was time for Mr. Collins to resign further study of scenery, which, after his past experience of the softer beauties of Italian nature, presented itself to his eye under a delightful novelty and freshness of aspect, and to proceed at once upon his northward journey. This was accomplished by returning to Wick, and starting thence, by steamer, for Lerwick, the chief town of Shetland.

On landing at Lerwick, at six o'clock in the morning, my father saw enough, during his first five minutes on shore, to convince him that he had not taken his journey in vain. The quaint gray houses of the town; the absence of a single carriage or cart-road, through any part of it; the curious mixture of Dutchmen, Shetlanders, and soldiers from the garrison, passing through the narrow, paved lanes of the place, presented that combination of the new and the picturesque, which is ever welcome to a painter's eye. The mode of life at the inn, too, was admirably removed from the usual conventionalities of the hotel systems of more southern regions. The whole company occupied one sitting-room — the only apartment of the kind, in the house — and slept in chambers, all opening one into the other, in the most social manner possible. Every day at the inn recalled the travelling adventures of past times, so perfectly described by Fielding — with the exception, fortunately, of the pitched battles which adorn the pages of the master of British fiction; and which were all fought, under the roof of "mine host" of Shetland, with the tongue and not with the fist. The characters of the company, who met for eating, and drinking, and talking purposes, in the sitting-room, would have furnished famous material to any novelist; and especially interested Mr. Collins, who was as enthusiastic a student of the mental as of the physical characteristics of humanity at large. Three gay Scotch gentlemen, wonderfully successful in extracting amusement from all that passed around them; a pedestrian traveller who had walked half over Europe, and whose manners and conversation were by no means of the sanest order; two ministers of the kirk, both intelligent gentlemen-like men; and two French officers, whose vessel was anchored for a short time in the harbour, who spoke no English, and who smoked all day; were among the more regular attendants in the "general assembly" room. The individual who enacted the part of cook, chambermaid, waiter, and "boots," to everybody, was a slatternly, good-natured wench, who took extraordinary care of her master's guests, plying them with little dishes of sweetmeats of her own composing, as if they had been a large nursery-full of children, and answering calls in all directions, with a promptitude which made her the very impersonation of the Irish image — "ubiquitous as a bird, flying in two places at once." The conversation at the social table, thus provided with guests and attendance, was one stream of gaiety. The great centre of the hilarity, was the eccentric pedestrian; who, one day, insisted on settling off-hand the ultimate chances of salvation of all his fellow-travellers, by "physiognomic analysis;" and who produced roars of laughter, on a Sunday afternoon, by seriously rebuking the minister who had preached in the morning, for not "throwing a little more damnation into his sermon, to open the eyes of the miserable sinners around him."

Such were some of the elements of conviviality in the Shetland " society," in which the painter and his companion now mingled. Shetland scenery was, however, the object of my father's journey; and to this he devoted himself, therefore, exclusively, leaving the enjoyment of the "humours of the inn," for those evening hours, when his sketching labours had terminated for the day.

His first excursion was to the fishing village of Scalloway; of which, with its picturesque castle, he made a beautiful drawing, included in the illustrations to "The Pirate." Here he was entertained by a visit to the shoemaker of the place, who combined in himself the somewhat various characteristics of a turn for political discussion, and the possession of the largest nose and hand in Shetland. These latter ornaments, from which he derived immense celebrity in the island, he displayed with as much triumph as if they had been the rarest beauties that had ever decorated the form of man.

An expedition, shortly afterwards, to Sumburgh Head, (the scene of Cleveland's shipwreck, in Scott's romance,) exhibited the grandest beauties on the coast of Shetland to the painter's eye. The way thither, over vast treeless moors, intersected here and there by an arm of the sea, penetrated by nothing broader than a foot-path, bounded by bleak hills, and overshadowed by wild stormy clouds, presented to him a monotonous grandeur, in its very barrenness. The immense precipice of Sumburgh Head, hanging over as if it would fall into the sea, with the waves writhing about its jagged base, and hundreds on hundreds of sea-birds whirling above its mighty summit, was, he declared, one of the sublimest natural objects he had ever beheld. He made a careful sketch of it from the beach; from which he produced a striking and original illustration of the scene in "The Pirate," where Cleveland is saved from the wreck of his vessel, by Mordaunt Mertoun.

This excursion, thus happily productive of a third, in the series of drawings executed by the painter for Mr. Cadell's publication, was as fertile in occurrences illustrative of the virtues of Shetland hospitality and the capacities of Shetland ponies, as in materials for the pencil, and in subjects for admiration. The journey to Sumburgh Head, and back to Lerwick, occupied, with deviations from the direct route, two days, included upwards of seventy miles of riding, and was performed on two shaggy little Shetland ponies, which would have looked insignificant by the side of a small English donkey, and on which the painter and his companion were at first positively ashamed to mount. The first day's journey — thirty miles — these wonderful little animals performed with ease, over a country which would have knocked up the strongest "road hack" that ever was bred. At the latter part of the day, a dense dark mist coming on, in the middle of a solitary moor, their bridles were thrown over their necks, by order of the guide, who had lost his way, and who coolly observed that the ponies would find it, and moreover would avoid the dangerous peat bogs, which intersected the moor in every direction. Thus left to their own guidance, the sturdy little Shetlanders trotted along, through drizzling rain and impenetrable mist, with their noses to the ground, like hounds on the scent, crossing each narrow tract of marsh, by jumping from one morsel of firm earth to another; never making a false step or showing a moment's hesitation, or fatigue, for upwards of an hour, and stopped demurely, just as the vapour began to "lift," opposite a gate and inclosure. Through these the guide led the way, and brought his travellers to a halt, opposite the parlour windows of a private house. Time was barely allowed for the Englishman's feeling of dismay, at "committing a trespass" on a stranger's property, before the proprietor of the dwelling came out, and invited Mr. Collins and his companion to dismount and look over his house and grounds, as cordially as if they had come by invitation. After showing them over his property with the greatest attention, this gentleman, observing that a stormy evening was approaching, gaily forbade his visitors to think of proceeding that night, and insisted upon their returning to his house, supping with his family, and sleeping in the spare bed-room that was ready for them. It was not until his invitation was accepted, that he asked the travellers their names. During the conversation that ensued, it appeared he knew Mr. Collins by reputation; having visited London, and taken some interest, while there, in matters of Art. This circumstance caused the evening to pass with more than usual cordiality; and when, on the next morning, Mr. Collins and his companion prepared to depart, they found their kind entertainer ready to accompany them on the first stage of their journey, to "wish them God speed," like a host of bygone days.

Such is Shetland hospitality, on which, the guide informed his travellers, no one, rich or poor, ever counted in vain; and which now remains, in this little corner of the world, the same kindly institution that once existed among the tents of the patriarchs of old.

The day after the expedition to Sumburgh Head, (which ended on the part of the Shetland ponies in one of them running away, after a forty miles' journey, when he found himself near his stable!) a large fleet of Dutch herring-boats anchored in Lerwick Harbour, and considerably enlivened its generally vacant appearance. The sight of these vessels recalled to my father his old favourite studies among the fishermen of the English shores, and animated him with the desire of examining them, to discover any elements of the picturesque among their crews, and any varieties between the rig of a Dutch and an English fishing-boat. Accordingly he and his companion mounted the side of the outermost of the clumsy little vessels, (which were all regularly ranged side by side, like volumes of Hume and Smollett on a school-room bookshelf,) but without finding any one on board. A second, third, and fourth proved equally solitary; but in the fifth and largest of the small squadron, they found signs of life. Two portly Dutchmen, utterly drunk and perfectly good-humoured, received them on deck, and led them,— allowing the painter little time to make any pictorial observations of their vessel or themselves,— down a ladder into a dark wooden pit, smelling strongly of stale herrings, called the cabin; in which sat the skipper, a man of vast breeches and cloudy physiognomy. After a few words in Dutch between him and his crew,— neither of the three speaking a word of English,— the captain pulled from a shelf a bottle of "schnapps," three glasses, and a map of Europe. Having poured out the spirit, he spread forth the map on a locker, slowly placed his thumb on that part of it occupied by England, nodded his head solemnly at his guests, and drank off his dram in utter silence. He then pushed the map to the painter and his companion, who, finding it necessary to act their parts in this pantomime of international amity, put their thumbs on Holland, nodded their heads, and emptied their glasses in humble imitation of their host. Ludicrous as this part of the interview was, the scene became doubly comical when the painter, first making a series of elaborate signs, and then, in despair, speaking English with as strong a Dutch accent as he could assume impromptu, endeavoured to make the captain understand that he wanted to sketch from his vessel and his crew. All was in vain; this worthy man had but one idea in his head, and that was Bacchanalian. He nodded again, and prepared to fill the glasses once more: a course of proceeding which immediately drove Mr. Collins on deck. Here he had no better success with the crew. A gift of money produced a present of a bagfull of herrings; and more of the Anglo-Dutch, a hail for a shore boat. Finding the sketch-book an inscrutable mystery to the Hollanders, and fearing a further invasion of "schnapps" and herrings, the painter (who was by this time inarticulate with laughter) joined his companion in the boat that had now come alongside, and left the Dutchmen to continue their potations in peace.

During the next few days of my father's stay at Lerwick, excursions among the crags, hills, and valleys of Shetland followed each other in rapid succession, and were productive of two more illustrations to "The Pirate." One depicted the moonlight scene on the beach between "Brenda" and "Mordaunt," in a rocky sea-coast landscape of remarkable grandeur. The other embodied the departure of "Triptolemus Yellowley" and his party, on ponies, for "Burgh Westra." In this scene was introduced, with great effect, one of the quaint Shetland corn-mills, so correctly described by Scott as "no larger than a pig-stye," and pourtrayed by Mr. Collins with perfect fidelity in all its diminutive proportions. Indeed, throughout his illustrations for Mr. Cadell's publication, he preserved the same minute and conscientious fidelity to local peculiarities; a process by no means easy in the rough climate of Shetland, which often made careful sketching in the open air a considerable trial of patience and skill. Most of the painter's studies in his northern sojourn were produced under unpropitious skies; and he and his party would frequently have formed no bad subject for a picture in themselves, when they halted on a bleak hill-side: Mr. Collins, with one knee on the ground, steadying himself against the wind; his companion holding a tattered umbrella over him, to keep the rain off his sketch-book; the guide standing by, staring at his occupation in astonishment; and the ponies browsing near their riders, on the faded grass, with mane and tail ever and anon floating out like streamers on the gusty breezes that swept past them. Obstacles of weather, however, wrought no bad influence on my father's studies; he preserved his patience and composure through them all, and finished his sketches determinately, in spite of Shetland showers and northern gales.

After a seven days' stay at Lerwick, Mr. Collins, finding that he had seen the principal points of view on the mainland of Shetland, and knowing that he had completed his sketches for the number of illustrations to "The Pirate" required by Mr. Cadell, determined to take advantage of the first weekly departure of the Wick steamer, after his arrival, and to set forth upon his homeward voyage. A few hours before he took leave of the scenes that had so much delighted him, he wrote as follows,— reviewing the past events of his journey, and partly intimating the route by which he intended to effect his return:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Lerwick, Shetland, July 2nd, 1842.

"I received most joyfully and thankfully your note of Monday last, by yesterday's boat; and when you consider that we had not heard from home for a fortnight before, you will not be surprized that I should have become anxious. The last letter we received reached us at Thurso, which we left at nine o'clock in the evening, driven by Henry Otter, in his tandem, and arriving at Wick at half-past twelve, P.M. We stayed nearly a week with our friend, and spent every evening but one with Mrs. Slater, the widow of Captain Slater; a handsome, agreeable woman,— interesting in her manners and conversation. We started on Saturday for Shetland, and arrived early on Sunday morning; since which time we have had many pleasant adventures, some of which Willie has recorded in his letter for your amusement. Our course is now, thank Heaven, southward, and is to commence this afternoon. When we reach Wick, which we trust will be to-morrow, we hope to find one or two letters at the post-office. We then propose having another evening with Otter, on our way to Inverness, at a village where he is surveying, and then to be taken up by the mail.

"Tell Mr. Richardson, with my regards, that I am mending, I trust, very fast; that I am able, without fatigue, to take great exercise; and that my heart is very quiet.

"I cannot bear to think how great a distance I am from you — it seems months since I left home. I am quite pleased to find it is your intention to stay at Oxford-terrace till our return: however, should you require country air before that, do not wait for me,

"Ever yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The journey homeward — commenced, as above indicated — was continued from Inverness, through the fine scenery of the Caledonian Canal, to Glasgow; and thence, southward, by Liverpool. On his return to London, my father, as usual, resumed his old occupation of preparing for the next Exhibition. His labours on his pictures, alternating with one or two short visits to friends in the country, employed his time closely for the rest of the year. His correspondence this autumn, chiefly addressed to his family during his absence from home, is of too brief and private a nature to be generally interesting. The subjoined letter, however, to Mr. E. V. Rippingille, merits insertion, as a continuation of those opinions on the decoration of the Houses of Parliament, some of the first of which have been laid before the reader already, in the painter's communication on that subject to Mr. Eastlake:

 

"To E. V. RlPPINGILLE, ESQ.

"85, Oxford-terrace, 26th October, 1842.

"My dear Sir,— I send you the pamphlet on Fresco, which I regret has been so long delayed. You will find in this, and in the Report, almost all that can be said on the subject of the decoration of the new Houses of Parliament. For myself, I have very great fears that in this age of bustle, the poetry of our Art will be stifled altogether.

"The usual cry for novelty, by the time the mechanical power of painting in Fresco has been acquired, will be raised for 'the good old way'— but will the call be responded to? Encouragement will do much in the way of fostering genius, but neither money nor patronage, of any kind; no, nor even that mighty engine the Press, can produce genius — which, unless it first be given, can never exist at all. The most that these giant powers can do, alone, is to foster a race of tradesmen in painting — 'Decorators' — how I hate the word!

"Sincerely hoping, however, that I may be mistaken, and that the country which has produced such men as Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Wilson, Flaxman, Lawrence, Chantrey, Hilton, Stothard and Wilkie, may not be bullied, by our own countrymen, out of its just claims to be considered a school of Art,

"I remain, (in great haste,)

"Very faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P.S. I return the "Pilgrimage,"* with many thanks, for the great treat the reading it has twice afforded me. Would it be possible to get a copy of it? How delightful it is to find that the consummation of this world's goods has not, in the smallest degree, deadened the author's yearnings after those better things, which belong, thank God, to man if he will."

* A poem entitled, "A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem," by the Earl of Ellesmere

As the year 1843 opened, serious variations of health, seldom hitherto observed in Mr. Collins's naturally robust constitution, already presented, to those most interested in watching his physical condition, but too plain a testimony to the slow yet sure progress within him, of the malady which his medical attendant had pronounced to be a disease of the heart. These evidences of impaired strength — significant, though as yet comparatively slight — wrought however, no saddening influence on the painter's spirits. He still derided the idea that his loss of health proceeded from other than ordinary causes; still retained the cheerfulness and gaiety, which always made him "the life of the party," wherever he went; and still pursued, with no loss of success or cessation of assiduity, his indefatigable labours in the Art. As the month of April approached, five pictures by his hand were ready for the Royal Academy; two of them, separately exhibiting, in bold contrast, the relative peculiarities of an English and Italian coast scene; and a third, displaying the concluding, and, in many respects, the finest example of his capacity, as a painter of Scripture subjects.

The following were Mr. Collins's works for 1843, in the Royal Academy:— "The Virgin and Child" (now in the possession of his family;) "The World, or the Cloister?" (purchased by Mr. Colls; by whom it was sold to Mr. Wass;) "A Windy Day — Sussex," (sold to Mr. Hippesley;) "A Sultry Day — Naples" (purchased by Mr. Colls; afterwards sold to Mr. George Oddie;) and "A Girl of Sorrento Spinning," (sold to the Rev. S. W. Russell.)

Fully conscious that in painting the Virgin and Child he was attempting perhaps the most arduous of all Scripture subjects, Mr. Collins felt, that to attain real excellence in his work, it was necessary to depend entirely upon his own resources, avoiding all imitation of the peculiarities of any particular schools. Resigning, therefore, any idea of seeking models for his subject from the great pictures that he admired, but felt to be inimitable,— from the unapproachable perfection of the Madonnas of Raphael downwards,— he resolved to follow his own intention of personifying the tenderer and more maternal emotions in the adoration of the Virgin for her Divine offspring, exactly as his own deep feeling and vivid conception of the subject should direct him. Proceeding throughout his undertaking on such principles as these, he produced a picture which, whatever may be the opinions on its particular qualities, must be acknowledged to possess the first great merit of being an original work. The Virgin, in his composition, is placed at the entrance of a cavern, with her back towards the dim, solemn, twilight landscape that forms the distance of the picture. The infant Saviour is sleeping on her lap, suffused in the soft radiance of a beam of celestial light, which descends on him from a dark lustrous sky, and typifies the "youngest-teemed star — with handmaid-lamp attending," of Milton. The face of the divine Mother is bent down in solemn contemplation on the diviner Son. An ineffable tenderness, serenity, and peace, is expressed in her features,— in the tranquil simplicity of her attitude,— in the solemn, almost melancholy, stillness and repose of her whole figure. Depth of colour, and grandeur of light and shade, pervade the picture; a mournful, mysterious, evening atmosphere lingers over the landscape scenery, which thus assumes a solemn aspect, finely harmonising with the profound sentiment of the figures of the Virgin and Child. The following passage, in Milton's "Nativity Hymn," was appended as the motto to this work:

—"But, see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her babe to rest!
* * * *
Heaven's youngest-teemed star,
Hath yoked her polish'd car;
Her sleeping Lord, with handmaid-lamp attending!"

The painter's second picture, "The World, or the Cloister," takes its title from the subject the three figures in it are supposed to be discussing. They are assembled under the cloister of a convent, which discloses the church through one arch, and a strip of mountain landscape through part of another. One of the party is a beautiful girl, clothed in light brilliant attire, whose melancholy expression denotes that her experience of "the world," short as it is, has already been tinged with disappointment. Taking advantage of the effect produced on her mind by some recent slight, from which she is still suffering, the abbess of the convent (seated opposite) is exhorting her, with earnest gesticulation, to "forsake the pomps and vanities of this wicked world," and seek consolation in the "cloister." By the side of the abbess is one of the youngest of the nuns, who is regarding the disappointed, pensive girl, (still undecided to choose the world or the cloister,) with an expression of deep, affectionate interest. The face of this youthful "sister" is treated with exquisite purity and grace; her calm and melancholy beauty contrasts as impressively as her sober robe, with the softer attractions and gay habiliments of the object of the abbess's exhortations. Every part of the picture is painted with extreme clearness and delicacy, and it has the great merit of telling its story with perfect intelligibility. It was engraved in the "National Tableaux," (edited by Mrs. Alaric Watts) and was there made the subject of a graceful and pleasing story, by Mr. G. P. R. James.

"A Windy Day," the first English sea-piece produced by the painter since 1836, abundantly proved, like "The Welsh Guides " of the year before, that his capacity for attracting the public in his early branch of the Art had remained unimpaired since the period when he had first originated it. Every object in this picture is eloquent of a fresh gale blowing over the Sussex coast. The varied, moving clouds,— the light gray sea,— the wreath of smoke from a distant cottage, streaming low from the chimney,— the fisherman holding on his cap, with his legs planted firm and wide on the ground,— the girl buying his fish, with her bonnet blown back, her shawl floating out on the air, and her balance hardly preserved against the wind,— the boy by her side, with bent knees and hands in pockets, shivering as the gale rushes past him,— the dog, with his ears and tail wafted from their customary position — all concur to produce a composition exhilarating, buoyant, thoroughly windy. The picture is painted throughout with great purity of tone and fidelity to nature, and offers a most effective contrast to its companion, "The Sultry Day." Here everything is hot and still. The rays of the noonday sun pour down upon the Mediterranean, which wears the deep green hue always cast upon its waters by excessive heat. The island of Capri in the distance is hardly visible through the quivering white mist over the horizon. In the foreground is a fisherman's boat, under the shade of which a man is sleeping. His wife is near him, taking her siesta, with her head laid in an old basket, as a defence against the sun: even the dog at their feet is too lazy to open more than one eye, as he feels the light, which is gliding round the boat, touching the tip of his nose. The only one of the party awake is a little girl, who is mischievously attempting to tickle her father as he sleeps. This picture is as redolent of intense Italian heat as "The Windy Day" of a brisk English breeze. It is painted with great force and boldness, and with a happy absence of any violence, or exaggeration of colour.

The fifth picture, "The Girl of Sorrento Spinning," was a transcript of a sketch from Nature, noticed in the account of Mr. Collins's Italian tour. As he first saw his model turning the flax on her distaff into thread, in the old patriarchal manner, by rolling her reel off her knee into a spinning motion, so he now represented her in his picture, with as much striking truth to nature as he ever attained in depicting the rustic children of his native land. The simple and pleasing originality in the attitude of the little maiden of Sorrento, and the local truth and graceful arrangement of the landscape portion of the picture, caused it to be, perhaps, as generally admired at the period of its exhibition, as its other more important and ambitious companions.

During this summer, Mr. Collins, finding the accommodation in his house at Oxford-terrace, insufficient for his professional purposes, took another adjacent and larger abode, situated in Devonport-street, which presented the unusual attraction of containing a room capable of being converted into a spacious and convenient studio. It is not one of the least curious passages in his life, that he had never possessed a comfortable painting-room up to this period of his career. In all his changes of abode, he had been contented with taking any apartment in the house that afforded a tolerable "light;" resigning every other advantage of high roofs, and fine sky-lights. His first sea-coast scenes were painted in a garret of his house in New Cavendish-street. The "Fisherman's Departure," Sir Robert Peel's "Frost Scene," and a long series of other remarkable pictures, were produced in a little bed-room of his first abode at Hampstead. From the time of his removal to Bays water, when he began to inhabit larger dwellings, he painted in rooms, which, though less inconvenient than those he had formerly occupied, were still far from possessing the attractions of space and light, now at the service of so many young men, who are only entering on their career in the Art. That he should so long have remained unprovided with a suitable studio, after his circumstances enabled him to build one, must doubtless be a matter of surprise. It may however be accounted for, by many causes. His own singularly low estimate of the intellectual importance of his efforts in the Art; his great fertility of practical and theoretical resource in all difficulties; his early habits of labouring against obstacles; and perhaps, more than all, his habitual unwillingness to spend money upon any comforts, devoted only to his own gratification, easily inclined him to continue to defer any enjoyment of the luxuries of a good studio, from the period when he first attained a position in his profession, down to the year of his life which is under review.

The necessity of watching the progress of the workmen he now employed on his new painting- room, and of gradually collecting together his large store of sketches and prints for another removal, considerably diminished Mr. Collins's customary visits to the country, after the close of the Exhibition. The following letter to Mrs. Collins, while she was staying at Brighton, notices two of the short excursions proposed by him, for this year; which, however unimportant they may appear in themselves, are yet deserving of mention; for, like all his other pleasure- trips, they produced sketches by his hand, which contributed to increase his resources and his practice in the Art:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"85, Oxford-terrace, June 28th, 1843.

"I am quite charmed to find you are in such good health and spirits. Yesterday and to-day as far as weather can do anything, and it does much everywhere — must have delighted you. I hope you are much in the open air.

"On Wednesday, I heard some fine music at Mr. Tunno's. Grisi and Brambilla (the latter a new name, to me) were perfectly charming. The night was fearful, as regards weather; but I am happy to say I caught no cold, as I feared I should have done. Leslie's 'Life of Constable,' amuses me much — he and Robert came in for an hour last night. I suppose you saw another letter, in yesterday's Times, from Dr. Pusey. Surely his assailants are doing some good to the true cause, by producing such exposures of their own prejudices.

"I am trying new compositions, as well as old ones — perhaps the latter are the best. I contrive, however, to get out every day. I was present at Willis's Rooms, at the meeting for the purpose of giving Macready a handsome piece of plate, (valued at £500.) He was so much overcome, that he could not say all he intended — he looked almost miserable. The Duke of Cambridge was in the chair. I was on the platform, and was one of the first to shake hands with our great tragedian, on his leave-taking.

"I must write again on Monday, before I go to Mr. Wells', at Redleaf. When I return from Kent, I trust to be able to join you at Brighton. I went last night to the British Gallery, and go to-morrow to Lady Peel's ' rout.' I shall be happy to exchange hot rooms, for the sea-side.

"Yours ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

In the summer of this year, America lost her greatest historical painter, and Mr. Collins was deprived of another of his early and well-loved friends, by the death of Washington Allston. Some reference to this excellent and gifted man has been attempted at that part of these pages treating of the year 1818; the period when he and Mr. Collins formed a friendship, which neither ever forgot, though both were separated personally, soon afterwards, when Mr. Allston returned to his native land. That further mention of him, which the event of his death, here related, must appear to demand — and which my own sources of information would communicate most imperfectly — I am enabled to make, in a full and interesting manner, by inserting some passages from a letter to Mr. Collins, descriptive of the death of the great American painter, which the kindness of the writer, Mr. Dana, has permitted me to extract. In Mr. Collins's reply to this communication will be found an estimate of Allston's character and genius, which will be read as a gratifying sequel to the mournful particulars of the close of his earthly career:

 

"To W. COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

"Boston, Aug. 15th, 1843.

"Dear Sir,— You have no doubt heard of the death of my dear brother-in-law, Mr. Allston; and when I tell you that my letter relates to him, I need not make any apology for writing. For many years an invalid, and at times a severe sufferer, the three last years of his life were those of increased pain and weakness. For the last three months before his death, his strength had greatly diminished; and those who saw him less frequently than we did, were much struck with the change: yet no one feared that he would be taken from us so soon. He continued to work on his 'Belshazzar' to the last, though frequently obliged to sit down and rest. Not seven hours before his death, he must have been at work upon one of the most powerful heads in the picture. Mr. Morse, once his pupil in London, now has the brush that he had been using; and which we found fresh with the paint, with which he had given his last touch to canvas. The evening of his death, he seemed better than he had been for a few days past; his spirits bright and cheerful. After the rest of the family had retired, he sat till past midnight, talking to one of his nieces. His manner, always kind, was then unusually so. He spoke of his Art as a form of truth and beauty — of its harmony with our spiritual nature. Indeed, both Nature and Art were habitually looked at by him in this higher relation. But his manner this night was peculiarly impressive; and when he spoke to his niece of his hope that she would remember him, it was singularly serious and touching — as if there had been a mysterious communication to him. After a while, he complained of a pain in his chest; and going up to his wife's chamber, his niece retired to her own, not having the slightest apprehension of anything dangerous. On leaving his wife's chamber, he seemed as strong as usual; and in not more than five minutes, she followed him down stairs with something to relieve the pain. In the mean time he had taken out his writing apparatus, which, with his spectacles, was on the table beside him: his feet were on the hearth, and his head resting on the back of the chair, as if he was sleeping, but his eyes were open; and he had gone — and gone, no doubt, without a struggle. I have told you of his death — it was gentle; God took him. But how shall I tell you of his life? I need not do it, for years ago you knew him well: and though the deep religious convictions of his mind, and feelings of his soul, had been making him more and more an humble and confiding child of God in Christ; and his mind had been unfolding daily in his Art, and in great and worthy thought; yet was his spirit always a beautiful one! How often have I heard your name from him; and never without something which made me feel that he remembered with affection him whom he was speaking of. About a week before his death he spoke of you — I doubt not, the feeling was mutual.

* * * * * *

"Could I tell you how many hearts were touched by his death, you would scarcely believe me. Even those who had never seen him — some who had not even seen his works — seemed to be moved by a strange sympathy, as if a good spirit had mystic influences over those who had never known him. Morse was quite broken-hearted, and said to me that he felt as if the great motive to action had been taken from him; for that there could no longer go with him the thought — Will not this please Allston? My friend Bryant, our poet, writes to me of Weir, (one of the four commissioned to paint the National pictures,) 'Weir, who has just put the last hand to his picture of the "Embarkation of the Pilgrims," on which he had been earnestly engaged for years, is a man of great simplicity of character and depth of feeling." It was an encouragement to me during my long labours," said he to me last week, "that when they should be finished, Allston would see what I had done. I thought of it almost every day, while I was at work."' Such was the confidence with which artists looked up to his true and friendly judgment; and so sure were they that what they had done would give him pleasure. * * *

"I remain, dear Sir, etc., etc.,

"RICHARD H. DANA."

 

"To RICHARD H. DANA, ESQ.

"1, Devonport-street, Oxford-terrace, Sept. 26th, 1843.

"My dear Sir,— I am exceedingly obliged to you for your kind and very interesting letter; for although I had heard of the sudden death of our dear friend, I had been informed of few particulars: and the intelligence of his peaceful departure, and of the happy state of his mind, evinced in his conversation with his niece, so short a time before he 'fell asleep' is to me, as it must be to all who loved him as I did, most gratifying. I shall have a melancholy satisfaction in telling you all I can recollect of the happy and uninterrupted intercourse I enjoyed with him, in the few years during which I was honoured with the confiding friendship of the best of men.

"My acquaintance with Mr. Allston began in 1811. I was introduced to him by my friend Leslie; and from that moment, until he left England for America, 1 saw more of him than of almost any other friend I had. Every time I was in his company, my admiration of his character, and my high estimation of his mind and acquirements, as well as of his great genius as a painter, increased; and the affectionate kindness he showed to my mother and my brother, upon his frequent visits to our abode, so completely cemented the bond of union, that I always considered him as one of our family. Alas! that family, with the exception of your correspondent, are now no more seen!

"It was in the year 1817, that I accompanied Allston and Leslie to Paris; where we were benefited much by having Allston for our guide, as being the only one of the party who had visited that city before. During our stay of about six weeks, Allston made a beautiful copy in the Louvre, of the celebrated 'Marriage at Cana,' by Paul Veronese. As Leslie had professional employment at Paris, he remained there; and we returned together to London. During this visit, I had of course the very best opportunities of becoming acquainted with ray friend's real character; which, in every new view I took of it, became more satisfactory. The sweetness and subdued cheerfulness of his temper, under the various little inconveniences of our journey, was much to be admired; and his great reverence for sacred things, and the entire purity and innocence of his conversation, (coupled, as it was, with power of intellect and imagination,) I never saw surpassed. Blessed be God, these qualities, these gifts, were effectual to the pulling down of many strongholds and vain imaginations on my part! How then can I be too grateful to Heaven for my acquaintance with one, to whom, and to whose example, I owe so much? It is a source of great comfort to me to know., that although we were for so many years separated by the Atlantic, he yet sometimes spoke of me; and especially that so short a time before his death he had me in his mind.

"Very shortly before the sad news arrived in England, I had fully intended to write to my friend, to thank him for his beautiful and interesting story of 'Monaldi,' which he had so recently sent me; making the inscription in his own handwriting, an excuse for sending me a long letter. We had both been wretched correspondents. His name however was always before me; for in my high estimation of his character, I had, by proxy, fifteen years ago, ventured to connect him with my family, as god- father to my second son; who has been christened Charles Allston. And it is perhaps not unworthy of remark, that he, having been left entirely to his own choice as regards a profession, has determined to follow that of a Painter; and is now carrying on his studies at the Royal Academy — I desire no better thing for him, than that he may follow the example of his namesake, both as a painter and as a man.

"You speak of a period of uncertainty in our dear friend's religious opinions. If such was ever the state of his mind, it must have been before I knew him; and I think he would have entrusted me with that portion of his history. Be that as it may, I can safely bear testimony to the consistency and orthodoxy of his theory; and the beauty of his practice, during our whole acquaintance.

"* * * The first picture I saw of Allston's, was 'The dead Man restored by touching the Bones of Elisha,' exhibited at the British Gallery, in 1814. He received the two hundred pounds premium for his exertions. The same year, he had a small picture of 'Diana.' In 1815, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, 'Donna Mencia,' from Gil Bias, (book 1, chap. 10.) In 1816, at the Royal Academy 'Morning in Italy.' In 1817, nothing. In 1818. 'Hermia and Helena,' from Shakespeare. This year, he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy. In 1819, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, his exquisite picture of 'Jacob's Dream.' After this, he never sent a picture to the Academy; which all regretted, as it was the wish of the body to see him a Royal Academician; which unless he exhibited and returned to England, was not possible according to our laws.

" * * I will mention an anecdote of him, which it is probable he may have told you. Some years after Allston had acquired a considerable reputation as a painter, a friend showed him a miniature, and begged he would give his sincere opinion upon its merits, as the young man who drew it had some thoughts of becoming a painter by profession. Allston after much pressing, and declining to give an opinion, candidly told the gentleman he feared the lad would never do anything as a painter; and advised his following some more congenial pursuit. His friend then convinced him that the work had been done by Allston himself, for this very gentleman, when Allston was very young!

"Hoping that you will favour me with another letter, at your leisure,

"Believe me, my dear Sir,

"Your obliged and faithful servant,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

"P. S. May I beg my respectful regards and condolence to Mrs. Allston, and my best compliments to your daughter? When you see Mr. Morse, remember me to him kindly."

By the latter end of the month of September, Mr. Collins moved into his house in Devonport-street; the preparations in his painting-room being sufficiently advanced to enable him to work in it. Once established in the new locality of his labours; with more of his sketches, his designs, his relics of Art, about him, than he had ever been able to range in any former studio — with his painting-table, that had belonged to Gainsborough, with his little model of an old woman, dressed by the same great painter's hand; with the favourite palettes of Lawrence and Wilkie, hung up before him; with all the other curiosities, experiments, and studies in Art, that he had collected, now for the first time conveniently disposed around him; his enjoyment of his new painting-room was complete. No gloomy forebodings for the future — so often the result of impaired health in others — interfered with his pleasure in proceeding with the works that he had already begun for the Exhibition of 1844. He now laboured with all the buoyant delight, and more than the ardent ambition of his younger days; declaring that the new scene of his employments would produce from his pencil new efforts in Art, which he had as yet only ventured to contemplate; and that he looked forward hopefully, to such long years of study, as would enable him to exhaust all the designs that lay ready for him in his portfolio, and to show his younger competitors, that he could still toil as industriously and venture as ambitiously as the best of them. Such were the anticipations, which, but three years after were doomed to be numbered in the world-wide record of hopes that have perished. Like Wilkie, he laboured but a brief space in the first painting-room that he had ever completely prepared for his own occupation, before the hand of death arrested his pencil for ever!

At the close of the year, the painter accompanied Mrs. Collins on a visit to the companions of his German tour, at Southsea. On leaving her there, after a short stay on his part, he returned to London by Southampton, for the purpose of consulting his friends, the two Doctors Bullar, upon the subject of his complaint, which still manifested itself in the continuance of its weakening influence on his general health. Some idea of the result on his own mind, of the opinions formed on his case by his medical friends at Southampton, may be gained from the following letter:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Devonport-street, January, 1844.

"I stayed with the Bullars at Southampton, where I arrived about twelve on Tuesday, until the one o'clock departure of the train, on Wednesday. 1 found they were all expecting me, with a most hearty welcome; and very difficult it was to tear myself away: but having got over the great difficulty of leaving you, the victory was, without much hard fighting, obtained.

"The whole party at Southampton are most friendly, intelligent, and excellent people. The two doctors are indefatigable in my case, and most reasonable and sincere in their lengthened investigation of my symptoms; spending a great deal of their time on the evening of my arrival upon my peculiarities, and not deciding until the following morning, when I was examined before I got out of bed. You will be happy to hear that the report is, thank God, most cheering; provided I scrupulously devote myself to getting well, and keeping so. In all my friends say, I see not one atom of anything fanciful; they are so entirely reasonable, that no one with a grain of understanding could or would attempt to dispute their proposals.

"And so, as I was telling you,— or, rather, as I was about to tell you,— you may expect to find me, when please God we meet again, at least in the way, and full of the hope of, a better state of health. But prepare for great things in the way of self-denial of good things,— as the devil calls the dinners of our corporation-like people! However, I am not to be starved; good sheep-flesh and wholesome bread are to be my diet. But I am writing by daylight, and cannot therefore spare more time even for you,— so farewell.

"Yours ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

With the opening of the year 1844, commences the re-appearance, among my father's papers, of those personal records of his feelings and his progress in the Art which have been suspended through so many years of his life. These short Journals, which will be found to be fragmentary at first, become more regular during the closing year of his existence, and equal in interest his early diaries of 1812 and 1814, which have already been placed before the reader. For when the last scenes in his career approached, when his success in his Art began to depend not upon the temper of his mind, but the state of his health, his attention was directed forcibly on himself; and to note down the fluctuations of his strength, as they acted upon the progress of his pictures, for his own examination, became an employment possessing as vital an interest for him, as his former occupation of recording the variations of his mind as they affected his advancement in painting, in the diaries of his youth.

The opening passage in his Journal, which may now be immediately inserted, has in it a peculiar interest, as exhibiting his own anticipation of the production of that narrative of his life which forms the subject of the present work:

 

JOURNAL OF 1844.

"January 1st, 1844.— As I think it quite possible that my dear son, William Wilkie Collins, may be tempted, should it please God to spare his life beyond that of his father, to furnish the world with a memoir of my life, I purpose occasionally noting down some circumstances as leading points, which may be useful.

"One principal object I have in view, in this matter, is to pay a debt of gratitude, which I as well as many, I may say most, of the artists of my day, owe to the patrons of English Art; towards whom, I regret to say, there seems often to exist a most unthankful spirit. For, to judge from what is often said, and too often printed, a stranger might be led to suppose that artists had no encouragement, and that all the faults of modern pictures arose from the niggardly, heartless, and ignorant conduct of the nobility and gentry of this country.

"The converse of this proposition, to be shown by particulars gathered from the knowledge I possess,— not merely in my own case, but in many others: 1st, The names of many patrons; the sums expended in forming collections; the kindness, friendship, and hospitality evinced to professors — (this portion to be illustrated by anecdotes.) 2nd, Particulars, dates, etc., of leading circumstances of my life, family, etc., etc."

Of the autobiographical memoirs thus projected by Mr. Collins, nothing unhappily remains beyond the above evidence of the just and generous spirit in which their execution was contemplated: sickness and suffering occupied but too soon afterwards the leisure time that he had hoped to devote to his important task. New symptoms of his malady, shortly to be detailed, appeared as the spring of 1844 advanced, and unfitted him for any exertion besides the practice of his Art. Month after month passed away, finding him less and less able, after the effort of painting was over, to apply himself to his proposed employment, consistently with that careful preservation of his impaired energies from all extraneous demands on them, which his case had already begun most imperatively to demand; and the execution of his design was at length left to be fulfilled as best it might, from the impressions of his conversations and the gathered recollections of his career, treasured up by his family and his friends.

In the month of April, when the four new pictures he had prepared for the Academy had been sent in, and before the Exhibition had opened to the public, he gladly sought a short relaxation after his close employment, and a chance, at the same time, of improving his health by change of air and scene, by accepting an invitation to Oxford from his friend Dr. Norris, President of Corpus Christ! College. From the house of this gentleman, he thus writes:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Corpus Christ! College, Oxford,

"April 19th, 1844.

"I seize the only moment I have had, since my arrival here, to tell you that I am much delighted to find myself able to idle, without the smallest regret. This is surely, as poor dear Wilkie used to say, 'a point gained!' I have been out with the President nearly the whole day; indeed, he is indefatigable in his attentions to me. The house is splendid; we have company to dinner every day, or engagements out. I have been much amused and interested in all I see and hear in this place. I have seen two proctors made, and yesterday went to the trial of a candidate for 'B. D.' in the Divinity school, before the Regius Professor. The candidate was one of Newman's friends. His essay was masterly, devout, and, as I thought, unexceptionable. It belonged, however, to 'the Newman school;' and poor Mr. Macmullen was rejected. He is to present another exercise to-day, at two o'clock. The case has produced the greatest sensation; it is quite on a par with the Pusey persecution. Of course I am as quiet as I can be; and not so much excited as I am sure you think I must have been. I get out in the beautiful gardens and walks of this charming place; and except the cold I brought with me, and which is not quite gone, I am doing vastly well. My heart troubles me very little, except joyously when I think of home, and of the increasing charms it has for me. We had a dinner-party here yesterday; and to-day and to-morrow I am obliged (I wish I were not) to dine out. I have done all I can to hint to my most worthy and excellent host, how much I prefer his company,— but I must submit.

"The sun is shining, as it has been every day since my arrival, and under its blessed patronage, I must take a stroll in our lovely garden before I go with the Doctor to the Divinity Hall. The subject of the exercise, is 'The Danger of giving Tradition with Scripture.' This, and yesterday's, 'Upon the Consecration of the Elements in the Holy Sacrifice,' are subjects given by Dr. Hampden, to entrap the party, so much disliked by the steady-going jog-trots of this learned and powerful University.

"Yours ever,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

A few days before the opening of the Exhibition to the public, Mr. Collins returned to London. The following were the pictures he contributed to the Royal Academy: "The Catechist;" "Morning — Boulogne;" "Seaford Sussex;" and "A Patriarch."

"The Catechist," was the Italian subject among my father's pictures of the year. The scene is in the interior of the Church of St. Onofrio, at Rome, celebrated as the burial-place of Tasso. In a side chapel sits a benevolent old monk, intent on catechising two little girls; whose mother is listening at a short distance. One of the children — a beautiful little creature, with long curling hair — is half-turned from the spectator, and is evidently puzzled to reply to some question, which it happens to be her turn to answer. Her companion's head, clothed with its Roman covering of folded white cloth, is so disposed that her front face appears: her eyes are turned upward on the old monk, with an arch intelligent expression, as if she longed to solve at once the difficulty that embarrasses her timid little sister. The countenances of these children are treated with delightful purity and nature, and are finely opposed by the darker figures of the monk and the mother; and by the rich sombre light, pervading the interior of the chapel. The tone of colour in this work is deep and grand, and the finish of the different objects that it depicts, distinctive and careful in a high degree. It was painted for the late Sir Thomas Baring, and has since passed into the possession of the Marquis of Westminster.

"Boulogne," was a design drawn from the painter's portfolio of French coast studies, in 1829. The composition looks seaward from the Beach, not displaying the town of Boulogne, but including part of the harbour; occupied, as are also portions of the shore beyond, by picturesque fishing-boats. The figures disposed about the boats, and examining fish in the foreground, are painted with great depth and vigour; their solidity being enhanced by the pearly, delicate colour, and light aerial composition of the sky above. The picture was purchased by Mr. Hogarth.

The materials for the coast scene of "Seaford," were gathered from sketches made during Mr. Collins's stay there, in 1841. It is perhaps as strikingly original a work of its class, as he ever produced. A vast tract of beach, visible from high sand hills in the foreground, sweeps circularly through the middle distance of the picture: over this, and the clear green sea beyond it, fall the soft fleeting shadows — painted with wonderful lightness, transparency, and Nature — of large clouds which are rolling through the sky above; and which are seen floating in sunny, delicate masses, over the light cliffs that bound the far horizon. Seated under the shelter of one of the high sand banks in the foreground, is a beautiful group of three children, brightly and powerfully painted, and represented engaged in making a boat. The effect of this picture, whether seen from a close or a distant position, is powerfully vivid and original. Its perfect aerial perspective, its tender clearness of atmosphere, its bright purity of tone, unite to give it that complete naturalness of aspect which at once delights the eye, and conceals from it the Art by which that delight is produced. The picture was purchased by Mr. Sheepshanks.

"The Patriarch," was an effort by the painter, in a branch of Art hitherto untried by him. It was a life-size study of the head, and part of the body of an old man; treated upon those principles of portraiture, which had so much impressed him in the works of the old masters. Painted upon this plan, the figure is designed with great vigour and singleness of effect: the tone of colour throughout the picture is deep, powerful, and subdued; and eloquently reminds the spectator of the high qualities of the school of Art that it follows. The oriental robe in which "The Patriarch" is dressed, was painted from one brought by Sir David Wilkie from the Holy Land, and presented to Mr. Collins by his sister. The picture is in the possession of the painter's family.

Some reference to my father's health and employments, during and after the production of the above pictures, will be found in the following extracts from his Journal of 1844:

"May 8th, 1844.— From the 2nd of November, until the 4th of April, engaged more or less pretty regularly, upon various pictures; four of which I sent to the Exhibition of this year; viz., 'The Catechist;' 'Seaford — Sussex;' 'Boulogne;' and 'A Patriarch.' During this period, my health and strength have been by no means good. I trust I may in some measure attribute occasional discontents, to the defective state of my bodily health; otherwise I must be a most unthankful being; for the mercies of a condescending Providence have during this period, as well as during my whole life, been such as to call forth one stream of gratitude and holy fear.

"After the pictures were sent to the Royal Academy, I abstained from work; and spent a week with my kind friend Doctor Norris, in Corpus Christi College. Since my return, I have painted occasionally on my pictures, in their places at the Royal Academy; and attended the private view and the dinner, the day following: all of which, I find, have been too much for my strength. On Sunday, 5th instant, had a quiet day; heard an humbling but consoling sermon from Archdeacon Manning; passing the rest of the day in perfect quietness, the house being without visitors. May 10th.— Went to Woolwich, to see some transparencies, painted by Stothard, for the fˆete in Hyde-park, in 1814, upon the visit of the foreign potentates to this country; dined afterwards at Mr. Jones Loyd's. 12th.— Very unwell — too ill to go to church; the society and excitement of the past month, have sadly affected me. May I be more able, from henceforth, to study to be quiet. 13th.— My dear boy Charles has; this day, gone to be confirmed by the Bishop of London. God be with him, on this, to us both, most important day; and renew a right spirit in me and my child; and have mercy upon us all, for Jesus Christ's sake."

* * * * * *

"June 4th.— Began a small picture of 'The Morning Bath,' as a commencement of regular work for the season. Ill-health and broken days must now be made up for. Dined at C—-'s. Sat next to a gentleman, who seemed well informed on the 'wholesomes.' He told me that a very clever medical man, assured him that cancer in the nose, was not unusually the consequence of taking snuff. He had been a snuff-taker till that moment, when he left it off entirely from his fears of the consequence. I have occasionally given way to this useless habit, but will never return to it again. On my other side sat H—-, who took some highly-seasoned omelet. I asked how he could venture on such stuff; he said he could not resist it, although he knew how much he should suffer from it. He took a great deal of wine, to overcome the effects of the omelet; and assured me he should be ill for four days after such a dinner; and that he always suffered in the same way, after dining with C—-! How absurd such weakness appears; and yet how common it is! I was comparatively careful, avoiding all stimulating dishes and taking very little wine; and yet I was fevered at night. Dr. Bullar is quite right in persisting in the necessity of my giving up wine altogether; and avoiding dining out, as well as the stimulus of company and hot rooms —'studying to be quiet,' being, as he says, in my case, absolutely necessary, in my present state of health. 5th.— In my painting-room, hoping to be circumspect —-."

The frequent references, in the above passages of the painter's Journal, to the fluctuations in his health, and the precautions it was thought necessary that he should take to preserve it, proceeded from no hypochondriacal apprehensions of impending suffering, or decay. The spring of 1844, brought with it a more distressing symptom of his malady than had yet appeared, in the shape of a constant wearing cough, which resisted all remedies; and constantly interrupting his repose at night, soon weakened his strength in a palpable and serious degree. At the first appearance of this new form taken by his complaint, he struggled against it with his usual fortitude; determining — to use his own expression — "not to sink into the mere invalid, as long as he could help it." But after dining out one evening early in July, his cough afterwards, during the night, became so violent and unintermitting, that the conviction of his unfitness for the excitement of society was at length forced upon him. "I have dined out for the last time," he remarked, the next morning; and he kept his word. All invitations to London society, however attractive, were from that time resolutely refused by him, on the plea of ill-health.

His next proceeding was to follow the advice of Doctor Chambers, (whom he had consulted on his case,) by trying the renovating effects of country air, and country tranquillity. For the first time in his life, he now prepared for an excursion from home; in which sketching from Nature, was not to be one of the directing principles of his journey. A few pencils and water-colours, were the only painting materials he took with him; his medical attendants being afraid that the effort and excitement of his usual and more arduous studies in oils, would neutralize the good effect, which change of air would have, it was hoped, upon his health. Under these changed circumstances he set forth, with Mrs. Collins, for the country, in July. Anglesey, near Portsmouth, on account of its dry mild air, was the first place he was recommended to try. In spite however of his anxiety to make the observation and study of Nature subservient to the pursuit of health, during his excursion, he made but a short stay at Anglesey; the dull flat scenery there, soon becoming insupportable to his eye. His journey thence was to Ventnor, in the Isle of Wight. Here, although he had firmly persuaded himself, on his arrival, that he should be able to idle about the beach, as systematically as had been recommended, he soon found that the habits of a forty years' pursuit of Art were not to be easily suspended, amid the beautiful coast scenery which now surrounded him; and that his hand as instinctively sought his sketch-book, whenever he beheld a fine point of view, as in his best days of vigour and youth. His little hoard of drawing materials, was accordingly soon unpacked; and his pencil once more turned assiduously to its accustomed use. This resumption of his old employments was in itself not to be regretted: his pursuit of his Art was so bound up with all his enjoyments, that its entire suspension would have irritated, rather than tranquillized his system; but, viewed in relation to the locality by which it was now called into action, its effect upon his health was somewhat to be dreaded. The hilly nature of the scenery around Ventnor, obliged him to use far more exertion in exploring it, with his sketch-book, than was compatible with his enfeebled strength: already, his cough had brought with it a difficulty of breathing, which, although slight as yet, was painfully felt by him in the slowest progress up an ascent. In spite however of this new obstacle to sketching, he still proceeded, during a month's stay at Ventnor, in that study of Nature which made the intellectual gratification of his life; bringing away with him, at his departure, several beautiful water-colour drawings; from one of which, he produced a brilliant sea-piece for the next season's Exhibition.

From Ventnor he proceeded to Southampton, to spend a few days with his friends the Doctors Bullar, and to explore with them the fine scenery of the New Forest. While there, he was recommended to visit the little village of Shedfield, about twelve miles north of Southampton. On seeing this pretty, retired place, he was so pleased with it, that he bade farewell to his kind friends at Southampton, and determined to make some stay there. Though his sufferings from his cough still affected him as severely as ever, they could not debar him from the enjoyment of the quiet, fertile, inland scenery amid which he now resided. The bright glimpses of barn and homestead; the winding lanes, dappled with the pleasant sunlight shining through tree and hedgerow; the farmyard enclosures, with their toppling pigeon-houses, quaint old dog-kennels, and picturesque duck-ponds; the cottage gardens, bright with simple English flowers; the old cart-road over the common,— all these objects that were now spread around him, reminded him of his days of study that were passed for ever; of his early pleasures of painting that were now of the memory; of his rude, boyish sketches of hedge and farm-house, laboured hard to deserve Morland's approbation; of all that he and his father and brother had joyfully drawn and admired together, when a few days' holiday had led them to the country and the fields. The sketches he now made from scenery thus eloquent of the occupations of his apprenticeship to Art, were among the finest and most finished water-colour drawings he ever produced, and were striking evidences of the mastery of a great painter over the slightest, as well as the most important branches, of his pursuit. These studies formed, unhappily, the only event of his stay at Shedfield on which he could congratulate himself; for when, towards the latter part of September, he left that place to pay a short visit to Sir Thomas Baring, he departed still but little, if at all, relieved from the fatal cough which he had brought with him on his arrival.

From Stratton Park, the country-seat of his kind host, the painter thus writes to Mrs. Collins, who had returned to London from the cottage at Shedfield:

 

"To MRS. COLLINS.

"Stratton Park, Sept. 24th, 1844.

* * * "I met the carriage waiting for me at the station; Sir Thomas gave me a hearty welcome. At dinner, I found his son, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Wells and his wife, and some others whose names make no impression. To-day I have been to my old haunts, and have returned for my sketching materials; and find, of course, that some important articles have been forgotten. They are, I doubt not, in your large basket; look for them, and send them immediately, addressed to me here.

"My movements are uncertain; Sir Thomas so kindly and heartily presses me to stay, that it may be Thursday, or even Friday, before I leave this place. The weather, which has hitherto been charming, suddenly changed this morning; and to-day, with its easterly wind and rain, reminds me of the necessity of returning to home,— a place, however attractive other places may be, having always a charm for me. I have not yet lost my cough, although it is decidedly better.

"Do not fail to send me a few lines by to-morrow's post, even if you should have written to-day. You know I like to talk with you thus on a Sunday, when we are separated. Praying God to bless you all,

"I am, yours affectionately,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Shortly after quitting Sir Thomas Baring's, the painter visited his friend Mrs. Clarkson, at Amberley Vicarage; where he found the kindest attention unremittingly devoted to the care of his failing health. On his return to London, he wrote as follows to one of the members of the family, whose hospitality had so warmly welcomed him during his brief visit:

 

"To Miss F. CLARKSON.

"1, Devonport-street. November 3rd, 1844.

"My dear Miss Fanny,— Notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, I reached home perfectly dry; and certainly sustained no injury from the charming ride on the Brighton cliffs. I wish, indeed, most heartily, that I could have also enjoyed the 'sunny waves' on the following day.

"The magnificent present with which you have overwhelmed me I know not how to thank you for; the sight of it will not only scare away my cough, but constantly remind me of your kind commiseration. I should have had great satisfaction in wearing it to-day, but the weather with us, except for a short time in the early part of the day, has been by no means tempting. Yesterday I went out during the first part of a very fine day, and rather increased my malady; but by great prudence for a week or so, I hope to get rid of my troublesome companion.

"Mrs. Collins joins me in expressing a sincere hope that we may all meet in the spring, when we shall be most happy to give you at least a hearty welcome to such accommodation as our house will afford; and if anything should bring either your sister or yourself to London before that time, we shall be most truly glad to see you. Don't you think you could get your hair much better cut in London than at Brighton? Take my advice and try.

"In the course of next week I hope to send you a few etchings which I did many years ago, but which were only published last year, as well as a print or two that may be useful to your sister in her studies; and although the etchings are trifles, I thought, as you told me you liked figure- drawings, you might, overlooking their defects in your kind way, give them a place on your table.

"It is now getting dark, so I must (with regret to myself, though with charity towards my reader,) send my scrawl to the post; hoping soon to see one of your family arrive to a warm dinner.

"I need, I trust, hardly say how much I should like to hear a good account of the inmates of Amberley Vicarage, when you can throw away a few minutes upon

"Your faithful and obliged friend,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

As the autumn advanced, the symptoms of Mr. Collins's disease became worse; spitting of blood was produced by the violence of his cough, and the traces of illness became now but too plainly discernible in his altered face and wasted frame. Still, however, his buoyant spirits and determined patience did not fail him; the resolution that poverty had never quelled in his youth, sickness was now as little able to subdue. His panacea for sleepless nights, and his refutation of the forebodings of all who saw him, lay in his painting-room. Into this he entered, ardent and cheerful as was his wont, to prepare for the Exhibition,— sure that his Art was a solace that could not desert him, and satisfied in the conviction that the day had not yet come when his canvass should spread vacant before him, and his palette lie unbrightened by the presence of its old familiar hues.

 

CHAPTER III.

1844-1847.

Diary of 1844 continued - Pictures of 1845 - Remarks on the Painter's return to English subjects - Extract from Diary of 1845 Continued - Illness - Departure from Town - Letter to Dr. Joseph Bullar - Stay at Torquay - Letter to Mr. Richardson - Serious Increase of Illness - Return to London - Perseverance in Painting under severe Suffering - Journal of 1846 - Pictures of 1846 - Last Expedition to the Country - Stay at Iver - The last Consolations of Art - Increasing Illness and Return to London - Letter to Mr. Reinagle, R.A. - Final Meeting with his brother Academicians - His last Sketch - Fatal progress of malady, on the opening of the year 1847 - Fortitude and Hopefulness during his last Sufferings - His Death, on the 17th of February - Post-mortem examination of his Heart - His Funeral and Grave.

As the new year approached, a slight but encouraging improvement became manifest in my father's health, which is thus noticed in the following occasional passages of his journal for the latter part of 1844 and the beginning of 1845:

"1844, Christmas-day — I have been much out of health these many weeks. Mr. Richardson, the doctor, was sent for two months since, having, on the 24th of October, begun to try the various remedies his ingenuity could suggest. These were not very successful; the case is indeed a very complicated one. Doctor Chambers is puzzled too, evidently.

"My journal is sadly behindhand, and contains few of the recollections and memoranda I had intended to enter in it; but as it has pleased the merciful Giver of all good to restore to me so much of my former strength and spirits, I trust I may be more diligent for the future.

"This great day ought to be held in remembrance as the fountain of that 'peace and good-will toward men,' which ought to cheer us and enable us to 'rejoice evermore'— living a life of faith; recollecting that 'whatever is not of faith is of sin.' 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'

"28th December.— Contriving future pictures. 29th.— Composing a picture from a sketch of a scene at Ventnor, Isle of Wight. 31st.— Began a picture of this subject, wrote letters, and altogether worked too much for my nerves this day. Sleep at night disturbed.

"1845, January 1st.— Being overdone yesterday, too irresolute to-day to do more than read and talk with a visitor or two. I find myself not fit, at present, for my usual work at this season. But, as it has pleased the Almighty in his mercy that I should so far recover from my late attack, I trust I may have strength given me to fulfil the duties of my stewardship; and having so much to be thankful for during the past year, (as well as every year of my successful life,) I look humbly and cheerfully forward."

The partial return to somewhat of his former strength, noticed above, produced its most remarkable effect, in the number of new pictures which it enabled Mr. Collins to execute for the season of 1845. In the last year, he had painted four new works; in this — while the traces of his sufferings during the summer and autumn were yet recent — he completed five; one of which was in many respects the most amusing effort of pictorial comedy that he had ever produced. The close application which he necessarily accorded to these pictures, far from contributing to increase the physical weakness under which he still laboured, appeared to be the sole influence that frequently preserved him from the pressure of despondency and the chances of relapse.

On the opening of the Exhibition of 1845, my father's works appeared thus entitled in the Academy catalogue: "Fetching the Doctor;" "Undercliff, near Ventnor, Isle of Wight;" "Cromer Sands;" "Prawn Fishing coast of Sussex;" "Antonio."

"Fetching the Doctor" illustrated no remarkable passage in the career of a celebrated physician, but represented that most ordinary grievance in the professional lives of all medical men, commonly denominated "being called up." It is a frosty, starlight, winter's night — no living figure is seen in the village street — snow lies thick on the ground, on the thatch of the closed cottages, on the tower of the old church. Everything is desolate, and everybody is asleep — everybody but the unhappy "Doctor Green," (his name is seen inscribed on his door,) who stands fronting the nipping cold, at his threshold, having just answered the bell to a boy muffled up in a "comforter," who has ridden to fetch the doctor from a distance which may be easily conjectured by the condition of the pony standing by his side, whose plump flanks are steaming in the sharp night air. Doctor Green stoops down to listen to the urchin's message, with no very amiable expression of countenance. He is deaf, and old, and ill-tempered, this Doctor Green. He has got out of bed in such a hurry that his night- cap is still on his head, and his stockings about his ankles. Whatever may be the necessity that requires him — whether it be to preside "obstetrically" over some "village Hampden's" first introduction into this world, or to smooth the exit of some elderly patient to the other — Doctor Green evidently and naturally curses his fate and his case, in the depths of his own bosom, while he listens to the tale of the boy, and forbodes, from the presence of the pony, the long night ride that is immediately in store for him.

The treatment of this picture is as original and true as its subject is natural and amusing. The painting of the snow, ruffled by the boy's feet and the pony's hoofs; the situation of the candle in the doctor's hand, placed partly behind the door-sill, to keep it from the wind; the position of his rumpled night-cap, shoved off both his deaf ears in the hurry of the moment, in order that he may understand what the boy is saying to him; are all remarkable evidences of minute and graphic observation of Nature. The light and shade of the picture is exceedingly bold and grand; the large dark night shadows being finely opposed by the vivid, flaring light, thrown full on the doctor's figure, in the foreground. The expression and position of the village physician are characteristic and natural in an eminent degree. Both in his figure and in the boy's, the same comic truth and perfect freedom from caricature are immediately apparent. Nor should the pony be forgotten; he is both drawn and painted with no ordinary intelligence and skill. The work was universally popular and admired. It was painted for Mr. Gibbons; and was finely engraved in mezzotint, on a large scale.

The sea-piece of "Ventnor," was of the same bold, original order as the picture of "Seaford," of the last year. The cliffs and the distant wooded hills of the Isle of Wight almost filled the composition, the sea occupying only the left-hand corner. On the top of one of the cliffs in the foreground stands a boy, triumphing in having gained the summit before his companions, who are seen beneath, climbing to join him. The variety in the forms of the cliffs and hills, and the alternate vigour and delicacy in the painting of the foreground and background objects, give this picture a remarkable novelty, brightness, and purity of effect. It was commissioned by Mr. George Young, the possessor of the painter's "Skittle Players."

"Cromer," and "Prawn-fishing," were two smaller sea-pieces; the first pearly and delicate; the second clear and brilliant in effect; and both combining those peculiar qualities of Nature and originality, which mark all Mr. Collins's works of this class; and to notice which more minutely would be but to repeat what has been often already remarked, in these and other pages, of his long and varied series of productions of the same order. Both these pictures were painted for Mr. Wethered.

"Antonio," was treated on the same principles and on the same scale, as "The Patriarch" of the year before — the figure, in this instance, being that of a young man, with dark hair and beard, clothed in the costume of the middle ages. In depth of colour, in dignity of treatment, and in force and firmness of drawing, this picture was as striking and successful an experiment in the manner of the old masters, as its predecessor, and was in every way as creditable to the painter's theory and practice of Art. It is now in the possession of Mr. Collins's family.

With the exception of the last of them, it will be observed that my father's works of this season were all illustrative of the early subjects of his pencil — no Italian scene being comprised in their number. This suspension of his efforts in his "new manner" was intimately connected with the serious illness under which he now laboured. As the symptoms of his malady almost daily increased in their adverse influence over the intellectual habits of his life, so did his hand and eye wander more and more frequently to his early sketches and his youthful designs; his mind being incited to revert in sickness to its most familiar studies, by the power of long attachment, and the instinct of happy experience. Thus, the two pictures of English scenery first produced with his Italian subjects of 1842, increased with the progress of his malady, in 1845, to four — one of which, (the sea-piece of "Cromer,") was drawn from sources discovered during his visit to Norfolk in 1815, and produced under the influence of impressions which remained vivid and indestructible after a lapse of thirty years. Although, therefore, plans and purchasers for his Italian subjects were ready, whenever they should be resumed, his early sea-side studies now once more engaged his pencil, at the close as at the outset of his career; assuming to him, in his failing health, the aspect of old friends with whom he could communicate without effort — of studies which were too intimately connected with his mind, to cause him the anxiety of less familiar experiments — of those bright traces of the past, which most peacefully and gratefully influenced the dark shadows cast by suffering over the present.

The following fragmentary extracts from my father's Journal continue those personal details on the subject of his illness, which have been commenced in former passages; and which, monotonous though they may appear, must yet necessarily be inserted, as now mixing more and more determinately with the darkening current of his life; and as showing how constantly increasing were the obstacles under which his studies were still continued, and his pictures yet produced.

 

JOURNAL CONTINUED.

"1845, April 27th, Sunday.— Intended to have gone to church, but prevented by fear of the weather. I have not entered a church for more than six months, owing to the state of my health. To-day, nervous and weak, having been too much excited, especially during the past week — even talking has a most injurious effect upon my nerves.

"May, 1845, Trinity Sunday.— Still prevented, by fear of the effect of the cold wind, from going to church this morning. From my visit to Dr. Chambers, I find — under the blessing of God that more strictness of life may be beneficial to my health. Dr. Chambers thinks my complaint to be more a stomach disorder, than the heart disease to which most of the other medical men — especially Mr. Richardson — have attributed all my maladies. The difficulty of breathing and the constant liability to colds, he says, proceed from derangement of the digestive organs. Indeed, he gave me more hope of recovery than any other doctor I have yet consulted; and he expressed an opinion that the heart has been in its present state for many years, without my being aware of it; and that malformation was quite possible in my case. By the help of God, I will be more careful for the future. Moderation, as a rule, has always been Dr. Chambers' advice, rather than to attempt a cure by any confinement to weight and measure of diet too exclusively,

"June 1st, Sunday.— Praised be God, I was enabled to go to-day, for the second time these more than seven months, to church — this time, to the Morning Service. Mr. Archdeacon Manning preached a most searching sermon from the message of our Lord to the Church of Ephesus, from the Revelation of St. John. Monday, June 2nd.— The blessing of returning fine weather is vouchsafed to us — the temperature this morning at 77 degrees in the shade."

The subjoined letter by the painter was written in answer to an application for a sketch to serve the charitable purposes of a "Fancy Bazaar," in aid of the Southampton Infirmary, shortly after he had already executed one for the same object at the request of another friend:

 

"To Miss T—

"Devonport-street" (no date).

"My dear Miss T—, The note directed Devonshire-street, never reached me. Surely, however, it cannot be of any consequence who has suggested the gift of a sketch from me; if the object — that of assisting the cause of charity — be eventually effected.

"Should any visitor to the Bazaar, stimulated by the various attractions spread out by the cleverness of our modern modes of provoking to good deeds, be entrapped into helping forward the 'Infirmary' and patronising painting at one blow; and should the one sketch I have already made for Mrs. Bullar produce a fair price, rely upon it such a good work would not be done, if by granting your request I became the means of producing two sketches, by the same painter, for sale. Getting something that your neighbour cannot, I know, from long experience, to be one of the strongest motives for the attainment of bijouterie, of all sorts.

"I think I hear you saying — how nicely my friend preaches, and yet, he encourages in his small way, the very system he denounces! I gave a sketch to the Bullars, in acknowledgment for great favours received from Mr. John Bullar, and much kindness from his brothers. They may do what they please with it, when it becomes theirs.

"Regretting that I am obliged to refuse you anything, and trusting that you will take in good part my explanation,

"Believe me, with great esteem,

"Ever yours faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

As the season advanced, finding no remedies of any permanent avail, the medical attendants of Mr. Collins again fixed their hopes for their patient upon change of air and country tranquillity — small as had been the influence of either during the last summer. Accordingly, early in June he left home, settling, after short visits to two other places, at Tollbridge Wells. Thence, however, he was obliged prematurely to depart. Highly as he enjoyed the beautiful scenery of his sojourn, the hilly nature of the place made even the short walking excursions which he was now enabled to take, and which it was even yet impossible to induce him wholly to resign, an effort too oppressive for his weakened frame. He returned therefore to London, to consult his medical attendants afresh; having acquired nothing by his journey, but a few beautiful additions to his collection of water-colour sketches, and the bitter conviction that his malady already threatened to gain the victory over his Art, while his mental capacity for its practice remained as powerful and as industrious as ever.

The mild air of Devonshire was next recommended to my father. On his way thither he paid a visit to his friend Mr. John Bullar, who, with his family, was then staying at Bembridge, in the Isle of Wight. The pretty scenery of this place, combining sea-shore with lane and meadowland; the quiet retired life he led there; and the kind and unremitting attentions of his friends, soon acted most favourably upon his spirits. He recovered all his former cheerfulness, and gained a partial release from some of the more distressing symptoms of his disorder. His progress towards convalescence at Bembridge, will, however* be best related in the following letter to his friend Doctor Joseph Bullar:

 

"To DOCTOR JOSEPH BULLAR.

"Bembridge, August 19th, 1845.

"Dear Bullar,— I am very sorry to find that you are not likely to join our pleasant party for some time — indeed, I fear not until after our departure from this exceedingly pretty place, where we are enjoying ourselves very much. Until to-day, I have spent a large portion of every morning out of doors, with much profit to my health. The change, however, which took place last night, and the windy wintry aspect of this day, is a sore trial to my weakened frame.

"Since I saw you in London, I have been prevailed upon to see Sir Benjamin Brodie, who, after a very careful examination, (and without my giving him the smallest intimation of what had been pronounced as the state of the heart,) declared the lungs to be perfectly sound, and the state of the heart to be the cause of all the mischief. He thought that although the 'uvula' was relaxed, cutting it would give me unnecessary pain, and answer no good object. A gargle, which he wrote for, would answer the purpose quite as well. He seemed disposed to recommend bleeding by cupping, to obtain present relief; which I ventured to combat, from the lowering effects which I thought must follow that mode of treatment.

"When I had dressed, and could pluck up courage for the question, I begged he would candidly tell me whether he thought there was any danger from the state of the heart. He very sincerely gave me to understand that there was; and impressed upon me the necessity of the greatest attention to quiet, both of mind and body.

"Neither Sir Benjamin's matter nor manner, were calculated to produce at the moment much satisfaction; but I am now trying to make the most of his advice.

"My cough has not, since I have been here, proved so troublesome as in London — I get more sleep, and do not find it necessary to sit up in bed; I however feel extremely weak, and suffer from the cold weather. Everything that kindness and attention to my peculiarities of diet, etc. can do, is done to the utmost, by my most excellent host and hostess.

"One thing I want much to ask you about — If the lungs are sound, (I am not certain that you agree with Brodie that they are,) is Devonshire necessary? Or rather, is it not possible that the peculiar climate of that county might be too relaxing for my general health? When you are perfectly at leisure, pray do me the kindness to think of this matter, and favour me with a line on the subject.

"I shall not apologise for writing so much about myself, because I have already had such proofs of the kind interest which both your brother and yourself have taken in my case, and for which I feel truly grateful.

"With every wish for your comfort and happiness, in which Mrs. Collins most sincerely joins,

"Believe me, dear Bullar,

"Yours obliged and faithfully,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

Early in September my father proceeded from Bembridge to Torquay, with the intention of passing the winter there; but it was soon ascertained that the anticipations formed of the good influence of the air of this place would prove fallacious. The improvement that his sojourn in the Isle of Wight had effected in his health rapidly disappeared. Allured, however, by the beautiful coast scenery around Torquay, he determined to remain long enough to give the place a fair trial. During his residence there, he wrote the subjoined letter, on the subject of his health, to Mr. Richardson, who, it will be remembered, was described, in a former page, as the doctor who first discovered that he was labouring under disease of the heart:

 

"To WILLIAM RICHARDSON, ESQ.

"3, Beacon-terrace, Torquay, Oct. 8th, 1845.

"Dear Richardson,— I have been away in the difficult pursuit of health for a sufficient time to enable me to give you some account of my progress,— or, rather, no progress,— since I saw you last, now eight weeks. During our stay at Bembridge for about three weeks, although the weather was cold for the season of the year, I certainly felt better: the cough almost gone, and my breathing less difficult, with very little headache, and the action of the heart much as usual. Anxious to get on to this place, so far-famed for the perfection of its climate, we crossed from the Isle of Wight to Southsea, where we stayed a few days with our old friends, the Otters, and proceeded by night, in a capital vessel, to Torquay. I bore the voyage without the smallest inconvenience or injury to my health, and reached this place on a lovely morning; our friends here receiving us on the pier with a hearty welcome. We stayed under their hospitable roof a week, and then took very comfortable lodgings a few doors from their abode.

"Having been here nearly a month, I proceed to give you the result as regards my health. The cough is not quite so well as before my arrival; the action of the heart is certainly increased; the breathing is generally more difficult; on warm days I experience great lassitude and relaxation, accompanied by loss of flesh; and all this notwithstanding more than usual care in diet, and avoidance of causes of excitement as much as in me lies.

"I have taken some pains to describe, as accurately and as honestly as I can, the present aspect of my rickety case, in the hope that you will, with your usual kindness, give it your best consideration with a view to my future progress. Let me know whether, under the circumstances described, I had better return to Devonport-street, and live as quietly as I can, about the beginning of next month, (for I wish to give Torquay some weeks' further trial,) or what other course you would recommend. I feel certain that this place would do well for a consumptive case; but as the difficulty about my lungs seems to arise, as Brodie and yourself, as well as Dr. Chambers, have said, from the action of the heart, 'the seat of all the mischief,' the moist climate of Torquay, as it appears to me, avails me little.

"I fear I have given you rather 'a long screed;' I trust, however, to your kindness for my excuse, and remain,

"Ever faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

At Torquay, as elsewhere, Mr. Collins's sketch- book continued to be employed as often as his fast- failing strength would permit him to use it. His studies of coast scenery thus produced were few in number, and more than usually careful and elaborate in finish,— one of them serving to originate the picture of "Mede-foot Bay," exhibited in the season of 1846. But a term was soon put to these sketching excursions; the imprudent over-exertion which they naturally produced, added to the relaxing effect of the air of Torquay, weakened him more and more as the autumn advanced, and impressed him, at length, with a melancholy conviction, that a further stay in Devonshire would be worse than useless. "This is not the place for me," he confessed reluctantly to his friends; "the sight of the lovely scenes that I cannot now walk through to sketch as I used, is too tantalising; I shall never remain here the winter!" The doctor he consulted, evidently feeling that his case was hopeless, confirmed him in his opinion of the necessity of turning homewards; and at the end of October he came back to London, as he had come back the year before,— more shattered in frame and further advanced towards the grave than when he had left it.

On his return, to the astonishment of all who saw him, he again entered his painting-room, again ranged his sketches and canvasses round him, and again commenced the composition of new pictures as ambitiously and industriously as ever. Saving on those days when he was unable to leave his bed, or when utter exhaustion disabled him from moving hand or foot, he now sat regularly before his easel, eager and aspiring as in his student days. It was an impressive testimony to the superiority of mind over body, to watch him as he now worked. His heart was at this time fearfully deranged in its action, appearing not to beat, but to heave with a rushing, irregular, watery sound. His breathing was oppressed, as in the last stages of asthma, and prevented his ever attaining an entirely recumbent position for any length of time, night or day. His cough assailed him with paroxysms so violent and so constantly recurring, as to create apprehension that he might rupture a blood-vessel while under their influence. It was in spite of this combination of maladies, with all their accustomed consequences of sleepless nights, constant weakness, and nervous anxiety, that he disposed himself to labour in a pursuit exacting the most watchful and minute attention of head and hand, and that he succeeded in successfully accomplishing everything that he set himself to do. Sometimes the brush dropped from his hand from sheer weakness; sometimes it was laid down while he gasped for breath like one half suffocated, or while a sudden attack of coughing disabled him from placing another touch upon the canvas; but these paroxysms subdued, his occupation was resolutely resumed. His mind revived, his eye brightened, his hand became steady again, as if by magic. Sky, ocean, earth, assumed on his canvas their beauties of hue and varieties of form, readily and truthfully as of old. No touch was omitted from the objects of the picture in detail, no harmony of tint forgotten in the rendering of the general effect. The strong mind bent the reluctant body triumphantly to its will, in every part of the pictures, on which, already a dying man, he now worked. They were the last he produced.

Thus, with study for the mind and suffering for the body, ended for my father "the old year." As the new one opened, another consequence of his complaint (secretly dreaded by all his medical attendants as the worst) gradually became apparent. This was the commencement of dropsical enlargement of the extremities. Under this fresh visitation of bodily calamity, the painter's fortitude did not forsake him. While every one around him now began to despair, he alone was still cheerful, still determined to hope. The tone of his mind at this trying period, the chronicle of his painful but vigorous progress with his pictures, the readiness of his bright anticipations for the future, are all displayed with unwonted regularity and completeness in the pages of his last Journal, which it is now time to insert, and which will be found to present a more full and interesting record of his character than probably any of his former diaries have contained.

 

JOURNAL OF 1846.

"1846.— Pictures in hand:— No. 1. 'Early Morning — Cromer;' for Mr. Gillott. No. 2. 'Hall Sands — Devon;' for Mr. Sheepshanks. No. 3. 'Mede-foot Bay — Torquay;' for Mr. Ellison.

"January 6th.— Came down to my painting-room. Sat to Charley nearly all day, for a drawing of my head. 7th.— Endeavoured to make a beginning in earnest. Heaven grant me health to discharge the duties of my stewardship! Worked with many interruptions, this afternoon, upon a picture for Mr. Ellison; a scene in Mede-foot Bay, near Torquay, Devon. I had worked upon this picture about three short days, a month or so ago, when it was begun. 8th.— Sat to Charley, etc., read the paper, and went to work not much in the humour for it — for about an hour in the afternoon, upon Hall Sands. 9th.— Worked for about two hours, upon Hall Sands and Mede-foot, in the way of preparation for something, I hope in earnest. 10th.— Did not succeed in getting to work until one o'clock, not having passed a good night. Mr. —- staying late last night, till half-past eleven too much excitement for my present weak state. Painted about a couple of hours, upon Mr. Ellison's picture, 11th. Still too ill to venture out of doors; and, sad to say, still unable to go to church. Since October, at Torquay, I have never been inside a church. The Lord have mercy upon me! 12th.— Little work again to-day, too weak in body and mind to go to work, as Johnson says, 'doggedly.' Painted about two hours in the afternoon, upon Mr. Ellison's picture of Mede-foot. 13th.— In much pain and great oppression in breathing. Worked upon Mede-foot, rather more than three hours. 14th.— Painted upon Mede-foot, about three hours. Mr. Gibbons mentioned to me to-day a droll subject, and one very difficult to express, which Biard, the French artist, is painting for him. It is a blind fiddler, playing with all his energy to a parrot, whose voice he mistakes for that of a human being. His dog, better informed, is tugging at his master to get him away from such unprofitable labour. 15th.— Saw two very agreeable visitors, Mr. John Gibbons, and Dr. West. The former brought a most interesting picture, by the French painter, Biard, rather larger and more square than a 'kit- cat.' The subject is the youth-time of Linnaeus. He is represented with a flower in his hand, from which he is raising his eyes to Heaven, in reverent admiration of the wonders of Creation. Beside him, is an elderly person, looking like his instructor, examining a flower through a glass, intent upon his study. A tin case with gathered flowers, and the large leaves of the water-lily, are strewed on the ground, with various nets for moths, etc., forming the foreground objects. The scene, a solitary wood, with a brook and an unfrequented path, leading through it — the trees, as well as the figures, drawn with great excellence, taste, and truth — the hands, and all the accessories, most carefully and truthfully designed and executed. With all these great charms, the picture wants force and effect; the colour is clayey and cold; and all the objects, from the foreground to the extreme distance, are too much 'niggled'— no subordination of parts, and no chiaroscuro— the consequence of which is, that the picture has nothing at a distance to entice the eye to look into its really beautiful details. It is by no means a whole. Its price is so small, that it is surprising how the painter lives by his pursuit. Only guineas to be paid for it by Mr. Gibbons.

"With these pleasant interruptions, and after a feverish night, I did not work quite two hours upon Mede-foot. Dr. West does not think me so well as when he last saw me. Passed a restless night, in great measure owing to the necessity of taking calomel; and this morning (16th) breakfasted in bed, dined before two, and found myself too much unhinged to paint at all — my breathing much distressed. 17th— Thank Heaven, a good night — my breathing still bad — about two hours' work upon Mr. Ellison's picture. 19th.— 'Out of sorts' is the best excuse, bad as it is, that I can offer for having spent the day in reading the paper, etc., and preparing and making experiments for taking up, with what vigour I have, the finishing of Mr. Ellison's picture. My breathing bad — the Doctor says my liver will not be right, till I can get out; and to get out, in my case, requires summer weather — Patience! Patience! 20th— A beautiful sunshiny day; a complete day's work perfectly uninterrupted — painted my sky in Medefoot, at once — very close and hard day's work — about five hours the whole time and attention devoted to the subject. 21st.— Feverish, bad night: got to work, notwithstanding, upon Mede-foot — worked very hard, for two hours and a half; did a great deal. 22nd.— Passed rather a better night had great enjoyment in working with much vigour, and getting over a good deal of ground in two hours and a half, spent upon Mr. Ellison's picture. 23rd.— Mr. Gillott called — likes his picture much — worked about two hours and a half upon Mr. Ellison's picture. 24th.— Much jaded to-day, from a disturbed night, arising from the necessity of sitting up much in the night, owing to great difficulty in breathing. When I did get to work, interrupted by persons I was obliged to see. Only about one hour's work done to Mr. Ellison's picture. Yesterday and to-day, a letter each from Mr. Bullar and his son, Dr. Joseph Bullar, to Charley, with their most gratifying commendations upon the drawing of the three children of Mrs. John Bullar. Their hopes respecting his moral and religious duties and privileges, I most sincerely thank them for. God grant he may always 'first seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness;' the rest, by God's blessing and gift, will surely follow. I most fully and sincerely believe that, if this boy does justice to the genius with which he is endowed, and with the blessing of health — which most fervently I pray the Giver of all good to bestow upon him he will, with his tact and taste, produce most satisfactory and popular works. 25th.— Dear Charley's birthday. God be praised for having brought him to this his eighteenth birthday. I have only one thing to pray for, respecting him; that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will give him the true riches, preserving in him and daily renewing to him, that Holy Spirit bestowed upon him in his regeneration, at his baptism. Lord remember us, when thou comest in thy glory!

"26th.— Interrupted by various visitors, on business or otherwise; no painting done at all this day. 27th.— A very hard and very pleasant day's work upon Mr. Sheepshanks' picture of 'Hall Sands.' The sky and extreme distance finished three hours' work. 28th.— Painted from a model, on the child in Mr. Ellison's picture — four hours; tired; ill. 29th.— Painted the old woman and part of the foreground, in Mr. Sheepshanks' picture — three hours and a-half. 30th.— Painted on 'Mede-foot' about four hours; some part of the time making sketches from the model, for this and other pictures. 31st.— Completely done up by the time I went to bed. The impossibility of keeping off stragglers and kind friends, who are certain to come one after another, or at the same time, and who must be seen, is something that must be arranged in a better way, to keep me quiet. Wretched night, and to-day little better. Tried to paint, but interrupted; did not work half an hour. February 1st.— Poorly; lethargic. 2nd.— My breathing very bad during the night. So worn out during this day, my breathing continuing exceedingly difficult, that I was unfitted for work the whole day. 3rd.— Still bad nights, and difficult breathing. Painted from a boy, two studies for heads, in the pictures intended for this year's Exhibition. Worked about four hours. 4th.— Taken out in Mr. Richardson's carriage, for the first time since the beginning of December, a ride of nearly two hours; I think I am the better for it. Found bores, in the shape of morning callers, when I returned. How many idlers I know! Did no painting this day. 5th.— Restless night; breathing very heavy. Painted, notwithstanding, from a dog I had ordered, about three hours and a-half. Had he not been ordered to wait upon me, his portrait would have gone undone. Mr. Gillott called. 7th.— Painted about three hours on 'Hall Sands;' did a good deal in the time, as I generally do now I work so short a portion of the day. 9th.— Visitors, and the consequences — no work. Nerves cut to pieces; breathing bad. 10th.— Last night a bad one, little sleep; great weakness; starved with cold, the thermometer being 29 deg. out of my dressing-room window. Painted rather more than three hours on the large picture of 'Cromer Sands.' 11th.— Little sleep, consequently worse this morning. Many people called; amongst them, Mr. Ellison, who expressed himself perfectly gratified to possess the picture I am painting for him. Painted on 'Early Morning' about two hours. Perfectly done up. 12th.— Bad night. Head bad when I got up; better about twelve. Consultation between Mr. Richardson and Dr. West; to be more physicked! Painted with vigour rather more than three hours, upon 'Early Morning,' Mr. Joseph Gillott's picture; nearly finished. 13th.— Bad night again. Painted on 'Early Morning' and on 'Hall Sands' together, about two hours and a half. 14th.— Passed one of the worst nights I have had for some time perhaps not two hours' sleep altogether; nerves, especially of the stomach, apparently alive; breathing so difficult that I could not lie down five minutes together. I think the physic the principal cause: I have been drenched with drugs; they must be left off. I suppose I did not paint this day. The painting done from Monday to Thursday, owing to the state of my health, not much — principally, if not entirely, upon a picture begun many years since, of a scene at Boulogne, with a loitering Boy getting a Scolding. I have added a principal figure; but as I think I am not equal to finishing this picture, in addition to those in hand for the ensuing Exhibition, I must be content to try a smaller one, should the three others be finished in time. 21st.— Legs much swelled; breathing very bad; painted, in consequence, only about two hours; intended to have had a good hard day's work. Painted upon 'Hall Sands,' and upon a little picture for Mr. Gillott, which, should I be enabled, I hope to get ready for the ensuing Exhibition. Mr. Sheepshanks called, and with his characteristic generosity and kindly feeling, brought his cheque-book, and tried hard to persuade me to allow him to pay me something (a hundred guineas) for the picture I am painting for him. I saw he thought it might be useful. 23rd.— Forgotten; but I think I painted two or three hours on 'Hall Sands.' 25th.— Bad night. Worked hard on the corner rocks of 'Mede-foot' three hours. 28th.— Notwithstanding an opiate, a most disturbed night; very ill to-day; went for a drive. Perfect summer weather. Painted with much inconvenience from distressed breathing, little more than an hour. Leslie called; the toned picture did not seem to impress him so much as the others. March 2nd.— Weak and drowsy. With many rests, painted about three hours and a half on 'Mede-foot.' 3rd.— Almost the worst night I have had; the breathing so difficult, that I was obliged to have the bed made on the sloping chair, at three o'clock in the morning. Nerves all alive. Wheezing all day. Painted with much effort on 'Mede-foot' for three hours. Doctor Chambers called last night; he does not think the heart worse: agrees with Mr. Richardson's mode of treatment; wrote a prescription, and proposed calling again on Monday next, to see how things progress. 4th.— Bad night, as usual; almost worn out. Painted two hours on 'Hall Sands,' and one hour upon my new subject, 'Shrimpers hastening Home.' 5th.— I am so ill to-day, that Mr. Richardson says sleep must be had, if possible. I am to take a strong dose of Battley's Drops, with this view, to-night. Painted on 'The Shrimpers' about three hours; the sky entirely. 6th.— Took my dose of Battley, and, Heaven be praised, had a most excellent night, such an one as I have not had for many months; calm and collected all day, and feeling quite another person. Painted distant cliff and sea, as well as the Beach to the left of the figures — worked about three hours and a half. 7th.— Nearly as good a night as Thursday; but, having more cough, sleep not quite so sound. Painted the girl's face in 'The Shrimpers' worked about two hours and a half. Much troubled by callers, in the middle of the day. After sending Harriet to keep off one, whom I knew to be a long sitter; another came, with whom I wished much to talk and explain a matter of business, but the long-winded one would not 'budge,' as the Americans say: but literally saw the other to the door, fairly saw him out! and so spoiled the plan I had devised for seeing the person I wanted to see; and all this without, I do believe, ever thinking himself the least of a bore. 9th.— Suffering much from headache, general sense of fulness, and difficult breathing, all day — much broken in upon, besides: to complete my misfortunes, no painting whatever done. Dr. Chambers came, as agreed, to-day — cheerful about my case; never very gloomy about the heart. 20th.— Pretty good night: headache came on early in the day, however — became very bad towards the latter part of the day; was obliged to give up painting, after about half an hours' work, on 'Mede-foot.' Mr. Ellison, with his friend Mr. Frankum, came to see his picture — seems more pleased, if possible, than before. 21st. — Altogether forgotten; very ill. 25th.— Better night; breathing still bad; cough almost all day: painted on 'Shrimpers' about two hours; very unfit for painting — dead beat. 27th and 28th.— Not equal to do any painting — the little that remains to be done to the four pictures I am preparing for the Exhibition, must be done with more power than I happen just now to possess. My weakness, after my recent attack of influenza, added to my usual maladies, puts painting out of the question for a day or two, at the least. Mr. Gillott called to pay me for his two pictures, and expressed himself in high terms of both. Whilst he was here, Mr. Richard Ellison called, also, for the purpose of paying for his, and expressed himself quite as warmly in praise of the picture of 'Mede-foot,' as did Mr. Gillott for his pictures so that the four works are all paid for, (Mr. Sheepshanks having insisted, a few days ago, upon paying for 'Hall Sands') before they are entirely finished. April 3rd.— Except a very few touches yesterday, I have been too ill to paint since the last entry. My legs continue to be much swelled, no effect is produced by any medicine; I am indebted for what sleep I get, to Battley's Drops. I wait God's own good time, putting all my trust in that mercy which endureth for ever. April 4th and 6th.— The days appointed for my private view of my pictures (four) prepared for the Exhibition. They seem to have given much satisfaction; indeed surprise — considering the known bad condition of my health. Harriet, the boys, and Miss Musgrave, had the office of showing them, while I was shut up in the dining-room, seeing nobody.

"April 15th.— Since the pictures were removed to the Academy, until to-day, I have led a very uncomfortable and dronish life — almost sleepless nights, and sleepy days; no attempt at work, longing for weather fitting for going out. On Sunday, 13th, (Easter Sunday — blessed day, 'He is risen'!)— I made my first excursion, walking for about twenty minutes in the sun, on the Terrace. On Monday, 14th.— Easter Monday; intended to go to church — gave this up, fearing the weather; but this day, (15th,) blessed be God, was permitted to go to the eleven o'clock service — the Communion only; may this beginning be the earnest of good things, for Jesus Christ's sake!"

"May 15th.— From the above period, just one month to-day, I have been incapable of exerting myself sufficiently to paint, and have been kept back in bodily health, by the state of the weather, (cold — generally easterly winds.) I have occasionally gone out in a carriage; contrived to go to the Royal Academy, to see, and, indeed in a small way, to touch upon two of my pictures. Although I suffer a good deal of general pain and restlessness, my breathing is easier, and a small quantity of Battley's Drops procures sleep; and, God be praised, I am better altogether. Richardson promises great things from fine weather. God's holy will be done."

With such pious resignation and cheerful hope, closes the final entry in Mr. Collins's last Journal; in which an opportunity has been afforded to the reader of appreciating, from the painter's own simple narrative of the sufferings that darkened his last days of study, under what combination of bodily obstacles he persevered in the practice of his Art. It is now necessary to turn our attention to the nature and merits of the works thus painfully and patiently produced.

"Early Morning," (painted for Mr. Gillott) was the largest of the four pictures exhibited by Mr. Collins, and connected remarkably his first and last successes, as the painter of the beauties of his native shores — for it was identical, in distribution of figures, local scenery, and general tendency of effect, with one of the first two sea-pieces exhibited by him, on his return from Hastings, in 1817; and then entitled, "Sunrise." In "Early Morning," were the same two fisher boys in the foreground, brilliantly touched by the rays of the rising sun; the same sheltering hill to the left, terminating in the same long and lovely strip of distant sea; the same various bursts of growing light, which distinguished "Sunrise," and which will be found well noticed in the criticism on it by Mr. Carey, extracted in that former part of these pages, treating of the Exhibition of 1817. Beyond these points of general resemblance, however, it is probable that no more minute analogy could be found, could the pictures be seen together. The painter produced "Early Morning," from a former rough design for "Sunrise;" not only without seeing the picture of 1817, but without knowing into whose possession, in the lapse of time, it might have passed. The main features of his old design reproduced, his regulated fancy and reinforced experience were left, therefore, to supply all the details of the composition, without constraint. Never had his mastery over the minutest phenomena of cloud, sunlight, and atmosphere; his power of blending careful finish with brilliant effect; and his deep feeling for chiaroscuro and colour, been more admirably exhibited than in this picture. The wild, transitory, morning clouds; the bursting sunlight, flashing upon them from the horizon of the fresh, cold, green sea, warmed by one vivid streak of golden light; the shadowy beach, covered in places with the thin transparent flow of water, left by the retiring tide; the vigorous reality of the figures; the pure depth and brilliancy of the whole composition, invested this work with a power and originality, which profoundly impressed all who beheld it. The critic in the "Art-Journal," writing of the picture — produced as it was, in the painting- room now become a sick-room as well, under all the adverse influences of a fatal disease — finds it difficult to believe that it was all executed within doors. "The picture," he observes, "has not the appearance of one that has been entirely wrought out in the studio, (although it may be so;) such is the entire absence of affectation, the genuine simplicity of every motive, that it looks like a locality and an effect painted faithfully and absolutely from the reality. When weary with the platitudes of every day affectation, it is refreshing to turn to Art like this. Mr. Collins was wedded to Nature, and the match has turned out a happy one."

The notice of this picture cannot be better concluded, than in the language of the eloquent author of "Modern Painters;" who, in the second volume of his work, thus writes of its leading characteristics: "One more picture I must mention, as a refreshing and earnest study of truth, yet unexhibited, but which will appear in the Royal Academy — a Seashore, by Collins; where the sun, just risen and struggling through gaps of threatening cloud, is answered by the green, dark, transparent sea, with a broad flake of expanding fire. I have never seen the oppression of sunlight in a clear, lurid, rainy atmosphere, more perfectly or faithfully rendered, and the various portions of reflected and scattered light, are all studied with equal truth and solemn feeling."

"The second picture, "Mede-foot Bay," (painted for Mr. Ellison,) was a clear, tranquil representation of Devonshire coast scenery. An undulating rocky cliff, painted with extraordinary elaborateness and effect, occupies the greater part of the whole middle distance of the picture. At its base, reflecting its outermost rocks, lies the calm, waveless sea; rippling round the sandy rim of the beach at the foot of the cliff, as it curves gently onward to the rocky foreground. Here are placed some lovely children, grouped with all the painter's usual truth and felicity, and treated with remarkable brightness and purity of colour: the left-hand distance is all that is visible, and is closed by a bright glimpse of the Devonshire coast. The whole composition is tenderly and clearly lighted by a serene sky, over parts of which float light, still, summer clouds. The effect of this picture is surpassingly tranquil and airy: it is an epitome of the painter's best works, depicting the most delicate aspect of ocean scenery.

"Hall Sands," (painted for Mr. Sheepshanks) was another recollection of the Devonshire coast. In this picture, a cottage on the Beach; a little stream crossed by a bridge, with an old woman leading a horse, about to pass over it; a long expanse of distant sands, ending in a light green strip of sea, over-hung at the horizon by delicate showery vapours, formed the simple materials of a composition, whose purity and truth of effect, once seen, could not be easily forgotten. As an union of delicacy of execution, transparency of tone, and breadth of effect, it is one of the painter's most successful works.

The small upright picture, called "Shrimpers hastening Home," was one of those brilliant, sunny glimpses of the seashore in which Mr. Collins delighted. Of the Shrimp-boy on the Beach in the foreground, wending gladly homewards, and of the little child that he holds by the hand, it is enough to say that they were as bright, as natural, and as simple in treatment, as any of the long series of the painter's other seashore figures, which year after year had received the same welcome from all lovers of Art; from the time when they first appeared on his canvas. This little picture was painted for Mr. Gillott, the possessor of "Early Morning."

Such were the four pictures — all painted from the sources of his early subjects — which closed Mr. Collins's career in the Art, after it had honourably extended to nearly forty years. It would be perhaps impossible to find in the same number of any of his other sea-pieces, could they be produced together, four works so perfectly comprising in themselves all the various characteristics of this most popular branch of his Art, as the four last he produced. Within the limits of these, he summed up every quality that had hitherto been spread over a larger surface: they were at once the index to his style, the evidence of his knowledge, the assertion of his genius, as the most varied and original painter of English coast scenery, that this country ever produced.

Whatever hopes my father's medical attendants now entertained of successfully combatting his disease, still centred in a change to country air. A cottage was engaged for him, in the little village of Iver, in Buckinghamshire; and thither he departed, hopeful even yet for himself, in the month of June. A place better adapted for him could not have been chosen: the village was quiet and retired, the country presented a pretty combination of lane and heath scenery — of those winding level paths, smooth fertile meadow-lands, clear brooks, and open commons, which had so often employed his pencil, and which were so thoroughly in harmony with all his earliest, studies in Nature and experiments in Art good and careful medical advice was always close at hand, kind friends lived in the immediate neighbourhood — there was nothing that could be desired for him, that Iver did not afford; but his disease was already beyond the pale of any ordinary influences: week after week, it now gained perceptibly upon his frame. Rarely and more rarely, were his sketching materials employed; (although when they were used, they were as powerful in his hands as ever) less and less frequently was he able to walk, even in the little garden of his cottage. It was evident to every one who saw him, that the pure air, the warm sunlight, and the easy tranquillity of his country sojourn, were as powerless over his complaint, as the best efforts of medical skill had proved before them.

Still however, though less and less competent for any bodily exertion, the resources of his Art did not fail him. As he drove through the pretty inland scenery of Iver — now hardly ever able to study it, as had been his wont he acquired the habit of imprinting the different objects he beheld on his memory, with extraordinary vividness and tenacity. The irregular outlines of old cottages; and the soft lights and shadows on distant woods; the broad glow of the undulating field; the smooth dock-leaves, speckling the banks, and the tangled weeds festooning the marshy hollows of the road-side ditch; the passing shadow of a showery cloud; and the penetrating radiance of the summer sunlight all objects that caught his eye, whether ample or minute; were now stored up in his mind, as they had formerly been collected in his sketch-book. When night came, and whenever the complication of his sufferings from his complaint defied even the power of opiates to procure him sleep, it was his sole and constant solace during the weary hours of darkness, to make his recollection yield up all the new impressions of natural scenery, garnered there during the day; and from these visionary materials to compose new pictures, arranging their colour, their light and shade, their effect, incident and detail, before his "mind's eye," as he was used to arrange them on his canvas, in happier days. By this occupation, he declared that he robbed his wakeful hours of half their monotony and pain; preserved his mind from dwelling too exclusively on his malady; and fortified his hopes for an ultimate recovery and a return to his old pursuits. Such is the Art to a painter who serves it with the devotion which is its due; thus, not failing with failing strength, does it remain to him the solace of sickness, after it has ceased to exist as the charm of health.

After upwards of three months' stay at Iver, when all that could be done for my father's case had been done, and without effect, it was thought expedient by his medical attendants that he should return to London while he was yet able to accomplish the journey. On the 23rd of September he bade farewell (a final farewell, as it afterwards proved,) to country scenes.

Within a month from the time of his return, his increasing debility confined him entirely to his bed- room. After this period, to dwell more particularly upon any of the more personal passages in his life would be but to weary the reader with an unvaried detail of monotonous suffering and unavailing fortitude. It will be more fitting to pass to the few remaining acts of his career, which are of general importance enough to be here noticed. Among these was a letter dictated by him in the month of November, which may be perused with interest, as being the last communication of the kind which he was enabled to make to any of his friends, and as exhibiting a pleasing testimony of his regard for the high character of a brother painter, now, like himself, numbered among the dead. The " proposition " referred to in the letter, was communicated to him by Mr. Reinagle. It stated the propriety of inviting the late Mr. Howard, R.A., then Secretary of the Royal Academy, to retire from his arduous duties (on full-pay) in consideration of his failing health:

 

"To R. R. REINAGLE, ESQ., R.A.

"Devonport-street, Nov. 4th, 1846.

Dear Reinagle,— I do indeed most sincerely and most heartily concur in the proposition which your note this day conveys to me, and which can never fail to be unanimous. There can be no question that the genius and talent displayed by Mr. Howard for so many years on the walls of the Royal Academy, in the best days of that Institution, have had a very large share in procuring for our country a lasting name in Art. Mr. Howard, too, in the discharge of his duties as Secretary, has been in every way worthy of that character for integrity and Christian-like moderation, which are, I must say, the certain consequences of so happily constituted a mind and temperament as his.

"Under the pressure of a long and very distressing state of ill-health, I am obliged to abstain from any further attempt to express my sentiments, and from making this letter any longer than is absolutely necessary. I shall therefore only add that I cordially agree in the proposition, that ' Mr. Howard be invited to retire on full-pay.'

"Believe me, very faithfully yours,

"WILLIAM COLLINS."

The above letter marks the termination of Mr. Collins's connection with Academic affairs; to which he ever devoted himself with readiness and zeal. His last interview with his brother Academicians on the common scene of their labours for the public eye, had happened some months prior to the date of this communication, a short time before the opening of the Exhibition of 1846. On one of the days set apart for the members to varnish and touch upon their pictures in their places on the Academy walls, he with some difficulty collected strength enough to join them. As soon as he was discerned slowly and feebly entering the rooms, all his old friends and fellow-students left their labours, and approached him with the kindest expressions of sympathy and welcome, and the most fervent congratulations upon the works that he had produced. Deeply affected — more deeply than he dared to show — at the warm greeting that he received from every one, and at the cordial hopes for his recovery expressed on all sides, he unwillingly left his friends after a passing glance at their pictures and his own. They never again met him within the Academy walls.

Shortly after the date of his letter to Mr. Reinagle, my father made a last attempt to recur to the practice of his Art; which, slight and humble though it was, is deserving of a passing mention, as the closing effort in those pictorial labours, to chronicle which from their beginning has been the object of these pages. Happening — through much the same caprice of imagination which often disposes the eye to see old crags and castles imaged in the embers of a smouldering fire — to observe in the accidental arrangement of some writing and drawing materials placed in and about a small wooden tray at the foot of his bed, certain shades and outlines which resolved themselves to his fancy into the representation of an old ferry-boat lying at a deserted quay, he asked for some drawing-materials, and being propped up with pillows, proceeded to make a small water-colour sketch of the objects which his caprice of thought had called up before him in the manner described. The weary head drooped, and the weak hand flagged often at its old familiar task, as he slowly pursued his occupation; but the sketch was steadily continued. Slight as it was, perhaps comprehensible to the eye of a painter alone, it displayed in its narrow limits his wonted mastery over colour, and light and shade. With its conclusion, his long and happy labours in the Art ceased; from that moment, his pencil, which had never been raised but usefully to instruct, and innocently to amuse, was laid aside for ever!

His medical attendants, finding the dropsy rapidly gaining upon the vital parts, the pulse progressively intermittent, and the action of the heart more and more fatally deranged, believed it to be impossible as the year advanced that he could live to see the end of it. His robust constitution, however, falsified their forebodings. The January of 1847 approached, and he still existed. In this month he was induced by the earnest entreaties of his friends, and through his own continued hopefulness on the subject of his case, to seek the advice of a new doctor. But his disease was now far beyond any human interference. The fresh remedies that were tried, proved too powerful for his weakened frame. Still patient and self-collected, he sunk gradually until the 8th of February; when his intellect — for the first time, during his long and severe sufferings — began to give way. His last moments of mental consciousness, were occupied by him (as if he foreboded the approaching exhaustion of his faculties) in pronouncing an eloquent eulogium upon the Christian faith, and impressing the advantages of its constant practice upon his family, as the best legacy of consolation and hope, that he could leave to them upon his death-bed. After this, though he still recognised those around him, his thoughts wandered. He spoke of his perfect freedom from pain, of his conviction that he was fast recovering, of the number of new pictures that he intended to paint, of the country scenes that he soon proposed to go and sketch. For eight days he remained thus happily unconscious of the awful change that awaited him — but on the morning of the 17th of February, nature suddenly gave way: and in the presence of his family he breathed his last at ten o'clock, quietly and painlessly; the peaceful influences of his religion seeming to preside over his death as gently as over his life.

It had been his desire, even in the earlier stages of his illness, that when he died his body should be examined, in order that a correct estimate of the real condition of his heart should be formed. This was done by four of his medical attendants. Their examination justified the view taken of his complaint by the doctor who had first discovered it — Mr. Richardson. His heart was found to be in a state of disease which, in some respects, exceeded anything in the experience of the four gentlemen who examined it. It was a matter of astonishment to them that his vital energies had lasted so long as they did.

His funeral was private. It was attended by his brother Academicians, Mr. Leslie and Mr. Uwins, by his friend and executor, Mr. John Bullar, by his medical attendant, Mr. Richardson, and by his two sons.

He is buried with his mother and brother, in the cemetery of the Church of St. Mary, Paddington. The grave is marked by a marble cross, erected to his memory by his widow and his sons.

 

CHAPTER IV.

CONCLUSION.

Examination of Mr. Collins's genius as a Painter - His Originality - His Versatility - Reflections on his Journey to Italy - General Characteristics of his Qualifications for his Pursuit - His Observation - His Taste and Judgment -Examples His Imagination - His Capacity as a Colourist - Examination in detail of "Happy as a King" - Chiaroscuro, Drawing, Composition, etc., etc. - General Remarks - Various Illustrations of Mr. Collins's personal Character - Conclusion.

SUCH a narrative of the events of my father's life, and the progress of his works as my materials and my capacity have enabled me to furnish, has here arrived at a close. It is now necessary, before taking leave of the subject, to notice generally those productions of his intellect which remain for the observation of others, and which are therefore of sufficient importance to demand a separate and consecutive examination.

Mr. Collins's genius as a painter was essentially original. Whatever opinions may be held on the faults or beauties of his pictures, on the rank they may deserve as intellectual efforts, or the evidences they may display of technical knowledge; no doubts can be entertained that they are formed in a style wholly and entirely his own. They present themselves as undeniably impressed with a thoroughly distinctive character, as the offspring of a mind working out its genuine conceptions direct from Nature, and producing works which occupy their own separate position among the original contributions to contemporary Art.

To estimate Mr. Collins's genius in connection with any one branch of painting, would be to estimate it unfairly. The efforts of his pencil were diffused over a wide field of Art, and attained to a marked variety of production. The list of his works displays him as a painter of the coast and cottage life and scenery of England,— of the people and landscape of Italy,— of Scripture subjects,— and of portraits. Of the results of these labours, thus completely differing in character, none were deemed unimportant: all were purchased by patrons of Art; and such specimens from each class of subject as were resold at public auction during his lifetime, realized as large, and in most cases a larger sum than he had originally demanded for them. It was thus his privilege, while devoting his faculties to varying labours in his pursuit, to encounter failure in none.

Of the prominent share in the production of this versatility of his capacities as a painter, attributable to his journey to Italy, the reader has had opportunities of judging in a former part of these pages. That he should ever have relinquished his first popular range of subjects, was regretted with little justice and less cause by some connoisseurs in the world of Art. Both in motive and result, his departure for Italy was, in reference to his practice as a painter, a most creditable event in his career. Setting forth to study for improvement in the school of Raphael and Michael Angelo, he palpably gained the improvement that he sought,— not only in the Italian works which he produced, but also in his grander treatment of his own peculiar subjects, when they once again engaged his pencil. Ambitious to vary his capacity of pleasing by his pursuit, he fulfilled that ambition by the production of pictures which represented the Divine subjects of Scripture, or illustrated the beauties of the magic soil whence the master-minds of painting derived their inspiration and their birth — pictures which it is to be remembered, now rank among the treasured possessions of many of the most distinguished and discriminating of the patrons of modern Art.

In Mr. Collins's case, however, as in that of others, where many branches of attainment are followed, one will most generally be found to be practised with superior success, and while estimating his Italian pictures as equal, and in some qualities superior in intrinsic merit to any of his former works, it is necessary to give due importance to those productions of his pencil by which he first won his reputation, and by which he will in future years be longest recollected and best known. His representations of the coast and cottage life and scenery of his native land, were formed in their very nature to appeal to the liveliest sympathies of his countrymen, were associated in the public mind with the longest series of his successes in the Art, and, as most directly and universally connected with his name, must be ranked — however equalled in actual pictorial value by his works on other subjects — as first in asserting his claim to be remembered as one of the eminent painters of the eminent English school.

In reviewing the general characteristics of his genius, his power of observation may not unworthily first fall under remark. This faculty, which is more or less requisite to all practice of Art, was to him, as a painter of rustic character and native scenery, one of the most practically important among the qualifications necessary to success. What he naturally possessed of this capacity he improved by constant use and daily discipline; and thus regulated, it was seldom that the smallest object worthy of remark escaped its vigilance. It descended to the minutest particulars as readily as it paused over the most striking generalities: it noted the patches in the cottage-boy's ragged waistcoat, and the disposition of the nets that hung on the walls of the fisherman's hut, as carefully and spontaneously as the hues on the distant woodland, and the sweep of the curving beach; all the stores of material for illustration which it thus collected, it treasured up clearly, correctly, practically. It was one main cause of his success in the Art, for it gave to his pictures one of the most striking and admired of their peculiarities — their inflexible adherence to Nature and truth.

There were, however, two guiding faculties which accompanied his observation, and without which the materials which it had acquired for his Art, must have presented themselves but confusedly and ungracefully, whenever they were called forth. These faculties were taste and judgment;— they directed his observation, and selected harmoniously from all that it preserved. His taste, while it was perfectly catholic in its appreciation of the works of others — finding beauties in all schools of painting, and nursing prejudices in none — was nevertheless exclusive as regarded his choice of subject for himself. It led him intuitively to the contemplation of all in Nature that was pure, tranquil, tender, harmonious; and to the rejection of all that was coarse, violent, revolting, fearful. Throughout every variety of his efforts in Art, this predisposition of his mind is apparent. No hurricanes, thunder-storms, or shipwrecks, are to be found in the whole range of his sea-pieces; they uniformly express those infinitely more difficult subjects of effect, presented by the glow of a fine summer evening; by the gradual departure of the tempest of night, before the calm of morning; by the waves dancing beneath the spring breezes; by the shadows of soft autumn clouds, gliding over the mirror of the sandy beach. The same peculiarity of feeling is observable in his rustic scenes: no representations of the fierce miseries, or the coarse contentions which form the darker tragedy of humble life, occur among them. When his pencil was not occupied with light-hearted little cottagers, swinging on an old gate — as in "Happy as a King"— or shyly hospitable to the wayfarer at the house door — as in "Rustic Hospitality"— it reverted only to scenes of quiet pathos; to children taking leave of their favourite, in "The Sale of the Pet-lamb;" or tearfully making its grave, as in "The Burial-place of a Favourite Bird;" to "The Mariner's Widow," sorrowfully indicating to her kind-hearted companions the spot where her husband was drowned; to the fisherman's wife, anxiously watching with her children for her husband's safe return, on "The Morning after a Storm." Thus again, in his Italian scenes, it was not to the midnight assassination, or the death-bed confession, but to the gay Lazzaroni, lounging happily in the street; to the good monk, reconciling the profligate husband to the deserving wife, that he gave the preference on his canvas, in such pictures as "Lazzaroni," and "The Peace-maker." In his Scripture subjects also, it was to the wisdom of the youthful Saviour among the doctors; to the Virgin's meditation of piety and love over her sleeping Son, that he directed his Art; and not to the Agony in the Garden, or the pangs of the cross of Calvary. In him, taste was essentially a happy and a kindly gift; for it made him especially the painter for the young, the innocent and the gentle. Throughout the whole series of his works, they could look on none that would cause them a thrill of horror, or a thought of shame.

Thus directing him in choice of subject, his taste united itself to his judgment in presiding over his treatment of that which he selected to paint. Guided by both faculties, he was enabled to preserve a just and distinctive character in the productions of his Art. They instructed him, in landscape, to avoid the coarseness of mere view-painting, but to preserve, while he strove to elevate Nature, by distinguishing those harmonies in a scene which were to be retained, from those discords which were to be rejected — to acquire an original and striking manner of representing natural objects, from close study of the objects themselves, and not from the eccentricities of his own imagination, or from accidental experiments on the practical capabilities of Art,— in short, to endeavour to make his pictures a representation of all that was most beautiful in Nature, expressed through the medium of all that was most real in form.

In the treatment of his figure subjects, whatever the position in which his imagination might place the agents of a scene, his taste and judgment led him always to preserve the true action and the native peculiarities of character, as the firm basis of whatever he attempted. He perceived and felt that the pathetic was natural, and the joyful unaffected, in the rustic life that he studied — that action was to be indicated by expression, as well as attitude; and that simplicity was to be learnt from Nature, and not elaborated by Art. Upon these principles his cottage and coast-scenes were produced; and under their influence they acquired an all-important ingredient of their value as illustrations of character that were interesting as well as true. It was thus his privilege to be able to avoid what was gross or common, without falling into the opposite extremes of false refinement, or unnatural elevation. Throughout the whole range of his cottage and coast subjects, while there is no taint of vulgarity, there is no want of Nature. He saw what was permanently dignified, graceful, or pure, in rustic life, apart from its incidental and passing degradations; and as he saw, so he represented it. His villagers and fishermen are not fine ladies and gentlemen, masquerading in humble attire; but genuine poor people in every line of their countenances, every action of their forms, and every patch in their garments; characters, stamped with the thorough nationality of their class, whether they be viewed on his canvas, as the combined exponents of a rustic story, or as the individual types of a marked and interesting race.

An equally refined adherence to truth and nature distinguished his representations of Italian subjects. They present no false images of romantic beauty in the figures, or of more than oriental brightness in the landscape; but display the real characteristics of the peasantry, and the natural hues of the scenery, under the best aspect of each, as in his English works.

The capacity for preserving the realities with the refinements of Nature, produced by the healthy constitution of Mr. Collins's taste and judgment, conferred another power upon his Art — this was the gift of rendering the general sentiment of a picture eloquent without affectation, and simple without effort. As instances among his landscape works; in the sea-pieces respectively entitled "Sorrento," and "Seaford," it is no artificial contrast of light and shade, no prismatic eccentricity of colour, which produces the effect of magic stillness in the first picture, and of airy buoyancy in the second; but the simple truth with which the pure repose of sky and sea is delineated in the one, and the refined skill with which the shadows of driving clouds, floating over a vast expanse of sandy beach, are caught direct from Nature in the other. The same principle applies to his figure subjects. The fine sentiment of religious tranquillity pervading the departure of the villagers for church, in "Sunday Morning;" the poetic elevation of feeling in the girl singing the evening service to the Virgin, in "Ave Maria;" the genuine humour of the testy old doctor called up suddenly to practise his profession at midnight, in "Fetching the Doctor;" the quaint gaiety of the little Neapolitan ragamuffins amusing themselves with their ball and ring on the beach, in "The Game of Arravoglio," results, in each picture, from the unaffected discriminating truth of character and incident observed throughout, which at once impresses the mind as forcibly and convincingly as it attracts the eye.

Though practising a branch of painting in which correctness of observation was a main agent, Mr. Collins's pictures will not be found deficient in such qualities of imagination as were necessary to their completeness as works of Art. Evidences of this will be found in all his works. In "Rustic Civility," the indication of the approach of the horseman who is about to ride through the gate opened for him by the cottagers, by the pourtrayal of his shadow alone, thrown on the foreground as preceding him, is one among many other examples which might be quoted, were it not sufficient for the purpose of the present remarks, slightly to indicate, instead of regularly to enumerate them.

It was however in the Scripture subjects which Mr. Collins produced after his journey to Italy, that the powers of his imagination were fairly developed. They were then called forth to reflect the sentiment of inspired writings, and to deal with the glory of Divine events; and their resources did not fail them. In "Christ among the Doctors;" in "The Disciples at Emmaus;" in "The Virgin and Child," that elevated order of imagination presents itself, which avoids violent extremes, which moves in harmony with its subject,, and which, appealing by its vigour to the eye, fails not to penetrate by its refinement to the heart.

Among Mr. Collins's qualifications for those practical acquirements in Art, on which the ideas of a painter depend for expression to others, his powers as a colourist must be ranked first; in this vitally-important ingredient of pictorial success, he was unsurpassed by any contemporary painter. His intense feeling for the individual beauties and harmonies of hue, was present in everything that he touched in the rough road-side sketch, as in the elaborately finished picture. Let it not, however, be imagined that he was wholly indebted to Nature for this gift, or that his facility in using it was acquired without attention and anxiety. Although, undoubtedly, an eye for colour, like an ear for music, is a natural faculty, which forms the sole basis on which the superstructure of future practical eminence can be founded; it is, nevertheless, equally certain, that such a superstructure is not to be raised, strengthened, and completed, by an act of the will; but by an exertion of the energies. Between the feeling for colour and the art of colouring, as between the feeling for poetry and the art of writing good verses, "there is a great gulf fixed," which is only to be bridged and passed over, laboriously, anxiously, perseveringly; Mr. Collins's own works exemplify this. If any of his early pictures, at the time when he first began to exhibit, be examined, though they present nothing discordant, or false in their colour, they will be found wanting in that fine harmony, that powerful combination, that mingled richness, delicacy, and purity of effect, which afterwards distinguished his works, and which arrived at its highest perfection, after his return from Italy. At the outset of his career, he felt that his powers as a colourist were, as yet, hardly disciplined, that his capacity to arrange the general tone of his works into one correct, impressive whole, was undetermined. The predisposition to colour well was apparent in all his pictures; but the ability to make that predisposition practice, throughout, was still wanting. This deficiency he determined to supply. His unremitting diligence in gaining knowledge direct from Nature, by making sketches of the relative arrangement of tints, both with their accompanying forms and without; and his rightly-constituted reverence for the old masters, which led him to consult them, not for purposes of superficial imitation, but with the object of inferring from their works, their methods of study, as the guide to his, soon produced — aided by his natural capabilities — a striking improvement in his capacity as a colourist. As early as the year 1814, in a little picture called "Blackberry-gatherers," his truth and grace of colour were remarkably exhibited. Year by year afterwards, in his early sea-pieces, and in the landscape and cottage scenes which accompanied them, his power as a colourist increased; and his pictures acquired — independently of any other merits of subject and composition which they might possess an individuality and an attraction, in tone and tint, which had no small influence in raising them to a high station among the productions of modern Art.

To estimate the distinguishing characteristics of his style of colour, either correctly or comprehensively, is difficult, perhaps impossible, so remarkably is it distinguished by the absence of any noticeable extreme of affectation or trickery, and by that adherence to correctness of effect and simple unity of purpose, which is to be appreciated rather than described. It betrays no evidence of the elaborate care, the intricate Art that produced it, but strikes the eye at once as easy, inartificial, spontaneous. It displays no dull monotony of character, for it varies with the varieties of the subject that it expresses. Exhibiting no glaring brightness in one place, or gloomy obscurity in another, it is original in its very freedom from eccentricity or pretence; eloquent in its very absence of any artifice of appeal; direct in its influence over the humblest and most uncultivated admirer of Nature, because it does not perplex him with any visible display of the mysteries of Art.

Particular examples of Mr. Collins's knowledge of colour cannot advantageously be produced out of the large mass of his works; for it is hardly possible to distinguish with justice one of his pictures as more deserving of attention for its qualities of tone and tint than another. His English and French sea-pieces, his rustic scenes, his Scripture and Italian subjects, his later landscape and coast scenes, display such varying characteristics of fine colour, as to demand to be noticed consecutively, if noticed at all; a process for which there is no space, and, inasmuch as it would be wearisome to the reader, no necessity. There are three of his pictures, however, which, as forming part of Mr. Vernon's collection, may be considered exceptions to the difficulty of selection felt in reference to his other works: for through the munificence of their possessor they have now become National property, to be inspected by every one; and occupy, in consequence, a position of peculiar importance. Some notice in detail of the arrangement of colour in the principal picture of the three, may not therefore be misplaced;— every reader will be able to test its correctness for himself.

The work which it is intended to review with the above object, is the well-known rustic scene, called, "Happy as a King." The manner in which the separate hues in this picture are united to form a harmonious whole is especially worthy of consideration. The light, airy tints of the trees, and the glimpse of sunny sky in the left-hand distance of the landscape background, terminate in the more decided green, and the shadowed hues of the thicker foliage and the strip of meadow to the right. The contrast between the dark on this side of the composition and the light on the other is prevented from becoming too violent by the winding road running down the centre of the picture, which, alternately shadowed and lightened, blends together the opposite characteristics of the landscape on either side of it. Thus managed, the variously tinted details of the background and middle distance produce the necessary singleness and simplicity of effect. The same principle presides over the treatment of the figures in the foreground. The purplish petticoat of the child who has fallen down, brings the dark colour of the right-hand middle distance over to the left-hand foreground, and contrasts at the same time with the light grass beneath it. The flannel jacket of the boy pushing the gate catches up the lights; while his velveteen under-clothing continues the darks, and leads on to his shadow, falling before him. The reddish-purple gown of the girl next him, on the lower rail of the gate, carries on the colour of the fallen child's petticoat, and her light blue apron answers the tone of the boy's flannel jacket. The darks are again taken up by the patched brown breeches of the urchin on the top of the gate; the green tints throughout the landscape behind him, are contrasted, brightened, and enforced by his red waist- coat; and every light in the picture is caught up and centralized by the ragged white shirt sleeves which clothe his arms, as he flings them exultingly above his head. The different but harmonizing tints thus carried up into the picture, are directed out of it downwards, towards the right, by the boy on the second rail of the gate, with his back turned towards the spectator; his blue cap and breeches, and shadowed jacket carrying lights and darks soberly downward together, until they meet the gate-posts and dock-leaves which terminate the right-hand extremity of the whole composition. Thus coloured in its parts, the picture, whatever the distance it may be seen from, displays, as a whole, no undue preponderance of individual tints, but is powerful and general in effect, while it is careful and particular in detail.

The few remarks made upon "Happy as a King" apply equally to Mr. Collins's other works. They may be considered unnecessarily minute; but let those who may see the picture to which they refer, or any others by the painter's hand, imagine a change in the hue of any particular tint among the many before them, or hide it from the eye altogether, and they will then find that the rich, harmonious effect of the whole work is intimately dependent upon the true and subtle arrangements of its minutest parts; that the most apparently accidental touches of colour have been laid on with a deep purpose and an original skill, and that it is as difficult to omit or alter the position or hue of any one of the individual tints in the picture without deteriorating its effect, as to strike a single epithet out of a finely constructed sentence, without damaging its melody or endangering its sense.

The estimate that has been formed of the merits of the colouring in Mr. Collins's pictures, must also be considered as embracing their characteristics of light and shade; for the latter of these qualities being one great result, which all real excellence in the former tends to produce: both must necessarily be discussed together. Nothing in Mr. Collins's pictures more thoroughly testified to his study of Nature, and his observation of the principles of the old masters, than the broad, significant disposition of light and shade which they present to the eye, and which produces in them much of the vigour of effect they may possess when seen from a distance. Neither their darks nor lights appear, when thus viewed, as isolated, ungraceful patches; but assume, on the contrary, the appearance of a varied, harmonious whole, one shadow leading smoothly on to the next, and one light answered at intervals by another. As a test of the power and correctness of his chiaroscuro, let any of his pictures, with the exception of his earliest and immature efforts, be looked at under a dim light, when none of their individual qualities of form and colour can be plainly discerned, and it will be found that the general disposition of light and shade which is then alone visible in them, never assumes a disagreeably scattered, or disjointed aspect, but preserves a grace and balance, a vastness and harmony in its vague shapes, which attracts the eye, even in the absence of any definite object that it can observe. In those cases where his pictures are not within reach, any of the prints from "The Fisherman's Departure," "Fishermen on the Look Out," "Rustic Hospitality," "Fetching the Doctor," "The Stray Kitten," or "Feeding the Rabbits," will be found to produce, though in an inferior degree, the same result. As regards the value of this test of the correctness and feeling of an artist's chiaroscuro, its propriety must be apparent to any one who has observed the remarkable coherence and harmony of light and shade on natural objects when they are fading in the twilight, and who considers that all Art is excellent or faulty, in proportion as it gains or loses on being referred directly to Nature.

In drawing and composition, Mr. Collins's pictures will be found well worthy of the careful attention of the spectator. His industry and correctness in the study of the antique and living models, when he drew in the schools of the Royal Academy, was generally noticed among his fellow-students, and is thus referred to by his old and valued friend, Mr. Etty, R.A., who favoured me with a letter relative to the subject of the present work:— "Your father and myself started as 'probationers' at the Royal Academy in the same week; he drew the 'Laocoon,' and I the 'Torso.' His drawings were remarked for their careful execution and good effect." The qualities thus noticed as distinguishing Mr. Collins's practice of that branch of the Art on which the first and main foundation of excellence depends, remained with him throughout his career. The very faults of slight restraint and timidity, which were considered by some critics to appear in his early efforts, were the faults of too great an anxiety to draw correctly,— an anxiety which, as his grace and freedom in the expression of form increased with his general advance in his pursuit, assured to him that accompanying exactness in whatever he attempted, on which he could always depend, as a means of enhancing the value and securing the precision of his most elaborate studies and most ambitious ideas. Pursued honestly, steadily, and correctly throughout his works, his power of drawing acquired a final completeness from that contemplation of new forms in Nature and new merits in Art, which his journey to Italy enabled him to enjoy. His drawing of the figure in his pictures is characterised by an anatomical knowledge of form which never obtrudes itself in exaggeration of attitude, but which is apparent in correctness of proportion, in ability in rightly conveying the appearance of action in the clothed body, and in attention to the finish and completeness of the extremities. His landscapes also are drawn with a vigour which displays itself in general flow and decision of line, in the various and powerful modelling of his foliage and his skies, in the space and freedom of form in his distances, and in the firmness and clearness of shape in his minute foreground objects. In that arrangement of groups which it is one important labour of drawing eloquently to exhibit and enforce, and which is termed " composition," his pictures present in a pre-eminent degree the qualities of simplicity and grace. The general dispositions of his figures, and of the landscape objects surrounding them, are always in harmony; the composition of one part of his pictures being never neglected for the sake of another. Directness of motive is always combined with novelty in his arrangement of objects; and while his study of the old masters enabled him to avoid mistaking eccentricity for originality, his observation of Nature taught him to attain simplicity without sacrificing grace. In his more extended efforts, where complex or difficult groupings presented themselves, as in "The Skittle-players," "Christ among the Doctors," and other pictures, he preserved with great success the clearness and balance of his composition; impressing on it its due beauty and completeness as a whole, and maintaining the variety and subordination, the successive gradations of division proper to its parts. It is, however, unnecessary further to enlarge upon this portion of his qualifications for his Art; for the propriety and eloquence of his composition may be easily estimated by the reader; not only in all his pictures, but in the prints from his pictures as well.

The characteristics of his style of "execution" have already been referred to in a former page of these Memoirs. To what has been previously observed on the subject, it may be further added, that it would be difficult for those not practically connected with Art to form an estimate of the anxious labour and refined skill by which the truthful and various aspect of the surface in his pictures was gained. The objects in them appear as if abandoned by the labour of the brush exactly at the right moment; no traces of mannerism or monotony being observable in the purity of quality and correctness of gradation which distinguishes what may be termed the manipulation of his tints. If recourse be had, in examining his pictures, to the application of the magnifying-glass, it will then be seen by what conscientious, reiterated labour the surfaces of the objects in them were produced; tint will appear amalgamated with tint, alternately heightened and deepened, touched and retouched, with an almost imperceptible minuteness of handling. And yet, with all this elaboration, the general aspect of his "execution" is pre-eminently simple; it is not the less broad and comprehensive in effect, because it is in a high degree careful and finished in detail.

Such, briefly and imperfectly examined, were the more remarkable of Mr. Collins's qualifications for his Art. If it be imagined that too much has been in any respect claimed for the merits of his works, it is to be remembered that those works remain to be examined, to confute whatever may be erroneous in what has been remarked of them; or, far more probably, to prove that their evidences of genius are beyond, instead of below, the estimate that has been attempted in these pages.

Of the future position which Mr. Collins's works will occupy in general estimation, it may safely be predicted that it will be a high and a permanent one. He was essentially a painter for all classes: his pictures were produced upon the principle that what is most universally pleasing or instructive, is what is most undeniably good in all intellectual efforts; and they appeal, therefore, to the uneducated, as well as to the informed, in Art. While the critic and the connoisseur will find them interesting as studies; while the student will perceive in them the safe and comprehensive teaching which their clear, conscientious, practical construction is so thoroughly calculated to afford the general spectator will not behold them with indifference, or quit them unimproved. Identified, as the greater part of them are, with English people and English scenery, they will guide his taste pleasantly and securely in the observation of Nature in his own land; they will refine and enlarge his appreciation of its bright places and happy objects; under their influence on his recollection, the sports of children at the cottage door may assume a new attraction for his eye, and beach and ocean in their summer's day repose, grow gentler and lovelier in their tranquil ascendancy over his heart. Such were the objects with which the pictures described in this narrative were composed; for such was the mission which it was the life's anxiety of their originator that his Art should fulfil.

Of Mr. Collins's personal character, a few concluding particulars may be communicated, as not, it is hoped, inaptly closing this narrative of his life and works:

The conviction that his success as a painter was not only an incentive to constant exertion to sustain and increase his reputation, but also a means of enabling him to assist those who occupied an inferior station in his profession, was a guiding motive of his conduct throughout life. No poor and deserving artists ever applied to him for assistance in vain; his purse and his influence were always ready to relieve and to aid them. Upon the same principle, his advice was willingly and gently given to all students who consulted him. His constant readiness in applying his own knowledge of painting to aid others, made him an invaluable adviser in the difficulties of his younger brethren in the profession. His assistance was often applied for by young men, in that most frequent difficulty of early practice in Art — combining the different parts of a composition, so as to give the due importance to its general effect. His intuitive penetration in immediately detecting the weak point of a picture, and his kind and scrupulous sincerity in using it for the benefit of others, were then remarkably displayed. Finding the student, as he usually did, sitting before his canvas in utter despair; bitterly conscious that, after all his hard labour on individual objects, he was incompetent to combine them into the necessary singleness of effect, Mr. Collins never depressed him further by immediately exposing his incapacity. Examining the picture with the utmost care, he would first praise whatever it possessed of excellence in its parts — now commending the drawing of a figure, and now the skilful arrangement of an object. Then, giving further encouragement to perseverance and hope, by the relation of the difficulties he had himself experienced in the study of Art, he would take up the first piece of chalk that lay in the room, and by merely marking with it on the picture, would place its proper effect, its necessary distribution of light and shade, before the young painter's eye, in five minutes; leaving him, with much cordial encouragement to persevere, equally surprised and delighted at the easy extrication from his difficulty, accomplished by his adviser's skill. It was by such services as these, always cheerfully rendered when required, that Mr. Collins endeared himself to the younger members of his profession; by whom the loss of his counsel and encouragement still continues to be experienced with sincere and natural regret.

His method of enforcing his advice on others, lay almost entirely in practical illustrations, similar to that above mentioned; long practice, deep study, and natural capability, having made his knowledge of the Art so intuitive, that no other manner of explaining it ever served him to his own satisfaction. In reference to his opinions and practice in painting, and especially in that branch of it which comprises general effect, some brief, but interesting particulars, have been communicated to me by his friend Dr. Joseph Bullar, who writes thus:— "I happened to recollect just now a conversation of your father's, which, if new to you, may be of use. He was finishing a picture in his painting-room, and he said that the real genius of his Art lay not so much in painting each part, as in harmonizing the parts into one whole, after having painted them. How he did this, he could not say. He did not know that he had any rules for it: he went over the whole, and gave it its finishing completeness, instinctively as it were. * * * I also recollect distinctly, his great anxiety that your brother, in his studies at the Royal Academy, should not exchange the antique, too soon, for the living model."

Mr. Collins's firmness in adhering to that which he had satisfied himself was right in his practice in Art was unwavering. Though ready and anxious to take the advice of others, as long as he was undecided on the treatment of any part of a picture, when his resolution was once settled, no considerations of personal ease or interest ever induced him to alter it. As an instance of this, may be quoted his uniform determination not to heighten the cool gray lights of his pictures, which he knew were caught directly from Nature, for the sake of making them artificially prominent amid the glare of the large surrounding mass of works, at the Exhibition. He preferred to risk the superficial accusation of feebleness, rather than to change what he knew was true, to suit passing circumstances or to procure temporary applause.

The pliability with which his disposition adapted itself to the different requirements of his Art, was another distinguishing feature in his character. To those who witnessed his high flow of spirits in society, his genuine, and almost boyish enjoyment of the varying recreations of his leisure hours, it was a matter of astonishment to see how instinctively and completely, whenever he began to paint, or occupied himself in sketching from Nature, he changed from the easy pleasure-companion, to the earnest, industrious, plodding workman, resolute at all sacrifices in elaborating and completing whatever he had determined to perform. Although many instances of his firm perseverance, even at an early age, in overcoming difficulties of all kinds in his Art by his own energy and patience have been already related in these Memoirs, the following additional anecdote may be presented to the reader, without, it is hoped, involving any tedious repetition of the same subject:

His father found him, one morning, when he was quite a lad, sitting before a little picture on which he had been engaged for some time, weeping over his inability to paint some tangled grass and weeds occupying the foreground of his composition, and only wanting to complete it. Effort after effort had been made, each less successful than the other, until at length he had abandoned his work in a fit of temporary despair. His father, with his usual kindness, took up the palette, and endeavoured to give some assistance; but with so little felicity, that the unfortunate piece of foreground looked worse than ever, under the treatment of the new hand; and as a last resource, he recommended his son to change the refractory object into a sand-bank, or a ditch, or a heap of old timber. The young student was not, however, of a disposition to retreat from a difficulty thus: he started up, dried his eyes, took his sketch- book, and left the house; returning in the evening with a drawing from Nature of a patch of grass, in which the position of every blade was separately copied. The next day he painted the foreground object he had designed with complete success, in a few hours; telling his father, when he showed him the finished picture, that he had been to Hampstead to make a study for his foreground, because he was determined never to strike out what he wanted to do, in his work, for the sake of putting in what he could do; and because he was ashamed to call himself a painter, as long as he was unable to paint grass as he ought.

His estimate of his own position and power in his pursuit was always free from the slightest influence of self-assumption; and his appreciation of the productions, and satisfaction at the success, of his contemporaries, was in all instances thoroughly generous and spontaneous. His presence — welcome everywhere — was particularly valued by the members of his profession; for they knew that his praise was disinterested, and his advice sincere. His grateful sense of the attention shown to his works was unalloyed by any passing feeling of discontent: he always believed that they had been duly appreciated both by the public and the patrons. To the general correctness of the settled judgment of the former, even where it might hardly agree with his own sentiments, he rarely demurred; and to the justice and liberality of the latter, he ever bore willing testimony. One of his greatest anxieties — as the reader already knows, from the perusal of his Journal for 1844 — was, that if ever his biography was written, one of its main objects should be the refutation, from his own case, of the thoughtless charges of neglect to contemporary native talent, too frequently preferred against the patrons of English Art.

His talents for society were varied and attractive in an uncommon degree. His rich vein of humour and anecdote, and his faculty of leading others imperceptibly to discuss the subjects which most interested them, fitted him to be the companion of men of widely differing mental peculiarities. His intellectual sympathies moved as harmoniously with the deliberative observation of Wilkie, as with the sensitive imagination of Allston. On one day the profound and philosophic Coleridge would sit by his easel, and pour forth mystic speculations to his attentive ear,— on another the happy retort or the brilliant jest was addressed to him, as to a congenial spirit, from the mirthful imagination of James Smith. Though much of his power of thus easily adapting his mind to the minds of others, and of attracting and preserving the steady friendship of men of opposite intellectual characters was attributable to his natural pliability of disposition, much must also be ascribed to his stores of information on general topics, by which he became fitted for the observation and discussion of other subjects besides his Art. His anxiety for knowledge, and his wish to contribute, as far as his own example would go, to maintain in the world a high character for his profession, led him at an early age to adopt such a judicious system of reading as should enable him to appear in society not only as an eminent painter, but also as an educated man.

Of other additional features in his social character which may require notice, a just estimate is formed in a paragraph of the "Art-Union Journal" for April, 1847, (inserted by another hand, to conclude a short memoir of his life, furnished by the writer of these pages,) which is well worthy of insertion, as displaying some evidence of the influence of his character on those whose personal intercourse with him gave them the capacity to judge it aright. The passage referred to is as follows:

"In common with all who personally knew Mr. Collins, we feel that we have lost a friend. His merits as an artist have been universally appreciated; but his intimate acquaintances only could rightly estimate the high qualities of his mind and heart; generous and encouraging to young talent, he was always eager to accord praise; neither jealousy nor envy ever gave the remotest taint to his character. Men of note in all professions were proud to be his associates, for he was fitted to take his place among the best of them: his gracious manner and most gentlemanly bearing. no less than his cultivated understanding, exciting the esteem and respect of all with whom he came in contact. It is not always that a public loss is a private affliction,— in that of Mr. Collins it is eminently so: for while no artist of our age and country has more largely contributed to uphold the importance and augment the dignity of the profession, no man was more thoroughly imbued with the gentle and kindly, yet manly, attributes which excite affection. In the Royal Academy, his absence will, we are sure, be keenly felt; for a nature such as his was peculiarly calculated to disarm animosity, soften down asperity, and carry conviction that measures which appear unwise, arbitrary, and selfish, were in reality designed to advance the general good."

Of the measure in which the subject of this Memoir was possessed of that higher and nobler part of personal character, which religious principle and domestic affection compose; and to which it may appear, in conclusion, a duty to advert, it is above the province of the Author of this narrative to inquire or to judge. The numerous passages in the Journals and Letters that have been inserted in these pages, as displaying how invariably their writer guided the course of all his most cherished mortal hopes by the light of his religion; and how intimately the happiness of his social life was dependent on the influences of his home, afford the best, because the truest, criterion of his character. By their testimony, his religious convictions and his moral disposition stand displayed — through any other medium they could only be described.

Here, though more may yet remain to be told, the further progress of this work must cease; for if the purpose of its contents is to be answered at all, it is to be answered by what they already present. Whether the Design in which these Memoirs originated, and by which they have been introduced to the reader, has been duly fulfilled; and whether, should such be the case, it can be hoped, that in these times of fierce political contention, and absorbing political anxiety, they should be important enough to awaken the attention, or even to amuse the leisure of others, are doubts which cannot now be resolved; and which, could they be penetrated, I should at this stage of my undertaking be little willing to approach. In proportion as this work may contain what is valuable or true, will be its chance that what is imperfect in it may be forgotten, for the sake of what is useful that may be retained. I can therefore only conclude my undertaking with the hope that I have not so miscalculated my power of turning to some worthy account a daily observation of the intellectual habits, and an intimate connection with the social life of an eminent Painter, as not to have produced something that may be encouraging and instructive, as an example to the student of Art; and interesting, perhaps new, as the narrative of a pictorial career, to the general reader. My labours are closed.

 

APPENDIX.

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PICTURES

PAINTED BY WILLIAM COLLINS, ESQ., R.A.

THE following enumeration of Mr. Collins's works has been carefully compiled from his own private lists, compared with the Catalogues of the Royal Academy and the British Institution. It has been so arranged, as to present to the reader, in addition to the title of each picture, the date and place of its exhibition; the name of the individual for whom it was painted, or by whom, in the first instance, it was purchased; and the price received for it by the artist. Many of the pictures thus enumerated, through the deaths of their original possessors, and other causes, have changed owners. Wherever it has been possible to obtain information of the collections into which they have passed, (and the Author has gained much in his inquiries of this nature, from the kind assistance of Mr. Hogarth, and Mr. Colls,) such information will be found attached to the title of the work to which it refers.

Although many of Mr. Collins's unexhibited pictures have been added to the catalogue of those exhibited, the list, thus arranged, by no means includes all the works that he produced -his studies and sketches from Nature, some of his earlier and less important experiments in Art, and his water-colour drawings, being too numerous for regular enumeration in this place. Some idea of the extent of his miscellaneous works of this order may be gained, when it is stated, that out of the contents of his portfolios, those selected from the mass to be sold by auction, amounted, alone, to between seven and eight hundred; all of which were disposed of at Messrs. Christie and Manson's Rooms, with the exception of a few specimens reserved for private sale by his family.

At the commencement of the list of Mr. Collins's works, the names of the purchasers, and the statement of the prices received for a few of his earlier pictures will be found wanting; information on these heads not being regularly afforded in the opening entries in his account and commission-books. These omissions, however, do not occur after the dates of his first works (which were small in size, and sold at distant and irregular periods) ; the names of the possessors of all his more important and matured productions, with the prices received for them being mentioned in his books, and consequently presented in the list subjoined.

A catalogue of the engravings from Mr. Collins's pictures is attached to the catalogue of the pictures themselves. It is hoped that both will be found compendious and correct.

In conclusion, a few words on the subject of the illustrations to these Memoirs may not inappropriately be introduced in this place. The portrait-from which Mr. H. Robinson has produced the faithful and spirited engraving presented to the reader-exhibits Mr. Collins in his more reflective moods, pourtraying the expression assumed by his countenance when he might be mentally arranging the composition of a new picture, or pondering over any recent impressions that he had derived from Art. It is considered to be a most characteristic likeness by all who were personally acquainted with him. Of the two vignette engravings, that in the first volume is executed from one of Mr. Collins's designs for an intended picture; and that in the second, from one of his sketches from Nature. Both speak for themselves, as examples of the most popular branches of his Art; and in both, the vigour and freshness of the original drawings have been preserved with remarkable fidelity and success, under the graver of Mr. Hinchcliffe.

                           PICTURES PAINTED BY WILLIAM COLLINS, R.A.

 

Date. Title of the Work. Where exhibited. For whom painted or by whom purchased. Sum received.
         
1807 Morning - a View near Millbank Royal Academy    
  A Scene near Millbank Royal Academy    
1808 View of Castlebridge, Surrey - effect of a Shower British Institution    
  A Coming Storm  British Institution    
  Study from Nature on the Thames British Institution   4 gs.
  Second View of Castlebridge, Surrey British Institution    
  Study from Nature on Hampstead-heath British Institution    
  Boats at Low-water Not Exhibited   £3  16s.
  A Candle-night Scene Not Exhibited   8 gs.
  Portrait of the Honourable Mrs. Hare Not Exhibited The Honourable Mrs. Hare 30 gs.
  Portrait of Mr. A. Lee Not Exhibited   15 gs.
1809 A Boy at Breakfast Royal Academy    
  Boys with a Bird's-nest Royal Academy T. Lister Parker, Esq. 25 gs.
  Portrait of Master Lee--as he spoke the Prologue at the Haymarket Theatre Royal Academy