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had been consigned to immortality by Tinto's brush, custom began to slacken, and it was impossible to wring more than crowns and half crowns from the hard hands of the peasants, whose ambition led them to Dick's painting-room.
Still, though the horizon was overclouded, no storm for some time ensued. Mine host had christian faith with a lodger, who had been a good paymaster as long as he had the means. And from a portrait of our landlord himself, grouped with his wife and daughters, in the style of Rubens, which suddenly appeared in the best parlour, it was evident that Dick had found some mode of bartering art for the necessaries of life.
Nothing, however, is more precarious than resources of this nature. It was observed, that Dick became, in his turn, the whetstone of mine host's wit, without venturing either at defence or retaliation; that his easel was transferred to a garret-room, in which there was scarce space for it to stand upright; and that he no longer ventured to join the weekly club, of which he had been once the life and soul. In short Dick Tinto's friends feared that he had acted like the animal called the sloth; which, having eaten up the last green leaf upon the tree where it has established itself, ends by tumbling down from the top, and dying of inanition. I ventured to hint this to Dick, recommended his transferring the exercise of his inestimable talent to some other sphere, and forsaking the common which he might be said to have eaten bare.
“There is an obstacle to my change of residence,' said my friend, grasping my hand with a look of solemnity,
• A bill due to my landlord, I am afraid,' replied I, with heartfelt sympathy; 'if any part of my slender means can assist in this emergence'
No, by the soul of sir Joshua,' answered the generous youth, "I will never involve a friend in the consequences of my own mis. fortune. There is a mode by which I can regain my liberty; and
even through a common sewer, is better than to remain in prison. I did not perfectly understand what friend meant.
muse of painting appeared to have failed him, and what other goddess he could invoke in his distress, was a mystery to me. We parted, however, without further explanation, and I did not again see him until three days after, when he summoned me to partake of the foy with which his landlord proposed to regale him ere his departure for Edinburgh.
I found Dick in high spirits, whistling while he buckled the small knapsack, which contained his colours, brushes, pallets, and clean shirt. That he parted on the best terms with mine host, was obvious from the cold beef set forth in the low parlour, flanked by two mugs of admirable brown stout, and I own my curiosity was excited concerning the means through which the face of my friend's affairs had been so suddenly improved. I did not suspect Dick of
dealing with the devil, and by what earthly means he had extricated himself thus happily, I was at a total loss to conjecture.
He perceived my curiosity, and took me by the hand. 'My friend,' he said, 'fain would I conceal, even from you, the degradation to which it has been necessary to submit, in order to accomplish an honourable retreat from Ganderscleugh. But what avails attempting to conceal that, which must needs betray itself even by its superior excellence? All the village-all the parish-all the world-will soon discover to what poverty has reduced Richard Tinto.'
A sudden thought here struck me I had observed that our landlord wore, on that memorable morning, a pair of bran new velveteens, instead of his ancient thicksets.
What,' said I, drawing my right hand, with the forefinger and thumb pressed together, nimbly from my right haunch to my left shoulder, you have condescended to resume the paternal arts to which you were first bred—long stitches, ha, Dick?"
He repelled this unlucky conjecture with a frown and a pshaw, indicative of indignant contempt, and leading me into another room, showed me, resting against the wall, the majestic head of sir William Wallace, grim as when severed from the trunk by the orders of the felon Edward.
The painting was executed on boards of a substantial thickness, and the top decorated with irons, for suspending the honoured effigy upon a sign-post.
* There,' he said, “my friend, stands the honour of Scotland, and · my shame—yet not so—rather the shame of those, who, instead of encouraging art in its proper sphere, reduce it to these unbecoming and unworthy extremities.'
I endeavoured to smooth the ruffled feelings of my misused and indignant friend. I reminded him, that he ought not, like the stag in the fable, to despise the quality which had extricated him from difficulties, in which his talents, as a portrait or landscape painter, had been found unavailing. Above all, I praised the execution, as well as conception, of his painting, and reminded him, that far from feeling dishonoured by so superb a specimen of his talents being exposed to the general view of the public, he ought rather to congratulate himself upon the augmentation of his celebrity, to which its public exhibition must necessarily give rise.
You are right, my friend-you are right,' replied poor Dick, his
eye kindling with enthusiasm; "why should I shun the name of an-an-(he hesitated for a phrase)—an out-of-doors artist? Hogarth has introduced himself in that character in one of his best engravings--Domenichino, or some body else, in ancient timesMoreland in our own, have exercised their talents in this manner. And wherefore limit to the rich and higher classes alone the delight which the exhibition of works of art is calculated to inspire into all classes? Statues are placed in the open air; why should Painting be more niggardly in displaying her master-pieces than
her sister Sculpture? And yet, my friend, we must part suddenly; the men are coming in an hour to put up the—the emblem; and truly, with all my philosophy, and your consolatory encouragement to boot, I would rather wish to leave Ganderscleugh before that operation commences.'
We partook of our genial host's parting banquet, and I escorted Dick on his walk to Edinburgh. We parted about a mile from the village, just as we heard the distant cheer of the boys which accompanied the mounting of the new symbol of the Wallace-Head. Dick Tinto mended his pace to get out of hearing,—so little had either early practice or recent philosophy reconciled him to the character of a sign-painter.
In Edinburgh, Dick's talents were discovered and appreciated, and he received dinners and hints from several distinguished judges of the fine arts. But these gentlemen dispensed their criticisms more willingly than their cash, and Dick thought he needed cash more than criticism. He therefore sought London, the universal mart of talent, and where, as is usual in general marts of most descriptions, much more of the commodity is exposed to sale than can ever find purchasers.
Dick, who, in serious earnest, was supposed to have considera. ble natural talents for his profession, and whose vain and sanguine disposition never permitted him to doubt for a moment of ultimate success, threw himself headlong into the crowd which josiled and struggled for notice and preferment. He elbowed others, and was elbowed himself; and finally, by dint of intrepidity, fought his way into some notice, painted for the prize at the Institution, had pictures at the exhibition at Somerset-house, and damned the hanging committee. But poor Dick was doomed to lose the field he fought so gallantly. In the fine arts, there is scarce an alternative betwixt distinguished success and absolute failure; and as Dick's zeal and industry were unable to ensure the first, he fell into the distresses which, in his condition, were the natural consequences of the latter alternative. He was for a time patronized by one or two of those judicious persons who make a virtue of being singu, lar, and of pitching their own opinions against those of the world in matters of taste and criticism. But they soon tired of poor Tinto, and laid him down as a load, upon the principle on which a spoilt child throws away its plaything. Misery, I fear, took him up, and accompanied him to a premature grave, to which he was carried from an obscure lodging in Swallow-street, where he had been dunned by his landlady within doors, and watched by bailiffs without, until death came to his relief. A corner of the Morning Post noticed his death, generously adding, that his manner displayed considerable genius, though his style was rather sketchy; and referred to an advertisement, which announced that Mr. Varnish, the well-known printseller, had still on hand a very few drawings and paintings by Richard Tinto, esquire, which those of the nobility and gentry, who might wish to complete their collections of
modern art, were invited to visit without delay. So ended Dick Tinto, a lamentable proof of the great truth, that in the fine arts mediocrity is not permitted, and that he who cannot ascend to the very top of the ladder will do well not to put his foot upon it at all.
The memory of Tinto is dear to me, from the recollection of the many conversations which we have had together, most of them turning upon my present task. He was delighted with my progress, and talked of an ornamented and illustrated edition, with heads, vignettes, and culs de lampe, all to be designed by his own patriotic and friendly pencil. He prevailed upon an old serjeant of invalids to sit to him in the character of Bothwell, the lifeguard's-man of Charles the second, and the bellman of Ganderscleugh in that of David Deans. But while he thus proposed to unite his own powers with mine for the illustration of these narratives, he mixed many a dose of salutary criticism with the panegyrics which my composition was at times so fortunate as to call forth. Your characters,' he said, my dear Pattieson, make too much use of the gob box; they patter too much-an elegant phraseology, which Dick had learned while painting the scenes of an itinerant company of players)—there is nothing in whole pages but mere chat and dialogue.'
•The ancient philosopher,' said I in reply, ' was wont to say, “ Speak, that I may know thee;" and how is it possible for an author to introduce his personæ dramatis to his readers in a more interesting and effectual manner, than by the dialogue in which each is represented as supporting his own appropriate character?'
' It is a false conclusion, said Tinto; - I hate it Peter, as I hate an unfilled can. I will grant you, indeed, that speech is a faculty of some value in the intercourse of human affairs, and I will not even insist on the doctrine of that Pythagorean toper, who was of opinion, that over a bottle speaking spoiled conversation. But I will not allow that a professor of the fine arts has occasion to embody the idea of his scene in language, in order to impress upon the reader its reality and its effect. On the contrary, I will be judged by most of your readers, Peter, should these tales ever become public, whether you have not given us a page of talk for every single idea which two words might have communicated, while the posture, and manner, and incident, accurately drawn, and brought out by appropriate colouring, would have preserved all that was worthy of preservation, and saved these everlasting said he's and said she's, with which it has been your pleasure to encumber your pages.'
I replied, “ that he confounded the operations of the pencil and the pen; that the serene and silent art, as painting has been called by one of our first living poets, necessarily appealed to the eye, because it had not the organs for addressing the ear; whereas poetry, or that species of composition which approached to it, lay under the necessity of doing absolutely the reverse, and addressed itself to the ear, for the purpose of exciting that interest which it could not attain through the medium of the eye.'
Dick was not a whit staggered by my argument, which he contended was founded on misrepresentation. Description,' he said,
was to the author of a romance exactly what drawing and tinting were to a painter; words were his colours, and, if properly employed, they could not fail to place the scene, which he wished to conjure up, as effectually before the mind's eye, as the tablet or canvass presents it to the bodily organ. The same rules,' he contended, applied to both, and an exuberance of dialogue, in the former case was a verbose and laborious mode of composition, which went to confound the proper art of fictitious narrative with that of the drama, a widely different species of composition, of which dialogue was the very essence; because all, excepting the language to be made use of, was presented to the eye by the dresses, and persons, and actions of the performers upon the stage. But as nothing,' said Dick, 'can be more dull than a long narrative written upon the plan of a drama, so where you have approached most near to that species of composition, by indulging in prolonged scenes of mere conversation, the course of your story has become chill and constrained, and you have lost the power of arresting the attention and exciting the imagination, in which, upon other occasions you may be considered as having succeeded tolerably well.
I made my bow in requital of the compliment, which was probably thrown in by way of placebo, and expressed myself willing at least to make one trial of a more straight forward style of composition, in which my actors should do more, and say less, than in my former attempts of this kind. Dick gave me a patronizing and approving nod, and observed, that, finding me so docile, he would communicate, for the benefit of my muse, a subject which he had studied with a view to his own art.
“The story,' he said, was by tradition, affirmed to be truth, although, as upwards of a hundred years had passed away since the events took place, some doubts upon the accuracy of all the particulars might be reasonably entertained.'
When Dick Tinto had thus spoken, he rummaged his portfolio for the sketch from which he proposed one day to execute a picture of fourteen feet by eight. The sketch, which was cleverly executed, to use the appropriate phrase, presented an ancient hali, fitted up and furnished in what we now call the taste of queen Elizabeth's age. The light, admitted from the upper part of a high casement, fell upon a female figure of exquisite beauty, who, in an attitude of speechless terror, appeared to watch the issue of a debate betwixt two other persons. The one was a young man, in the Vandyke dress common to the time of Charles I., who with an air of indignant pride, testified by the manner in which he raised his head and extended his arm, seemed to be urging a claim of right, rather than a favour, to a lady, whose age, and some resem.