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this very subject of Hudson, and his more fortunate scholar afterwards. P. 46. It might be thought that the talents of Reynolds, to which no degree of ignorance or imbecility in the art could be insensible, added to his extraordinary reputation, would have extinguished every feeling of Jealousy or • Rivalship in the mind of his master Hudson; but the malady was so deeply seated as to defy the usual remedies applied by time and reflection. Hudson, when at the head of his art, ad'mired and praised by all, had seen a youth rise up and annihilate both his Income and his Fame; and he never could divest his mind of the feelings of mortification caused by the loss he had thus sustained." This Mr F. actually considers as something quite extraordinary and unreasonable; and which might have been easily prevented by a diligent study of Sir Joshua's admirable aphorisms, against being affected by small things. Such is our Academician's ethical simplicity, and enviable ignorance of the ways of the world!
One would think that the name of Hudson, which occurs frequently in these pages, might have taught our learned author some little distrust of that other favourite maxim, that Genius is the effect of education, encouragement, and practice. It is the basis, however, of his whole moral and intellectual system; and is thus distinctly announced and enforced in a very elaborate passage.
With respect to his (Sir Joshua's) early indications of talent for the art he afterwards professed, it would be idle to dwell upon them as manifesting any thing more than is common among boys of his age. As an amusement he probably preferred drawing to any other to which he was tempted. In the specimens which have been preserved, there is no sign of premature ingenuity; his history is, in this respect, like what might be written of very many other artists, perhaps of artists in general. His attempts were applauded by kind and sanguine friends; and this encouraged him to persevere till it became a fixed desire in him to make further proficiency, and continually to request that it might be his profession. It is said, that his purpose was determined by reading Richardson's Treatise on Painting. Possibly it might have been so; his thoughts having been previously occupied with the subject. Dr Johnson, in his Life of Cowper, writes as follows-" In the windows of his mother's apartment lay Spenser's Faery Queen, in which he very early took delight to read, till by feeling the charms of verse, he became, as he relates, irrecoverably a poet. Such are the accidents which, sometimes remembered, and perhaps sometimes forgotten, produce that peculiar designation of mind, and propensity for some certain science or employment, which is commonly called Genius. The true genius is a man of large general powers accidentally determined to some parti
cular direction. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the great painter of the present age, had the first fondness for his art excited by the perusal of Richardson's Treatise." In this definition of genius, Reynolds fully concurred with Dr Johnson; and he was himself an instance in proof of its truth. He had a sound natural capacity, and, by observation and long-continued labour, always discriminating with judgment, he obtained universal applause, and established his claim to be ranked amongst those to whom the highest praise is due; for his productions exhibited perfect originality. No artist ever consulted the works of eminent predecessors more than Sir Joshua Reynolds. He drew from every possible source something which might improve his practice; and he resolved the whole of what he saw in nature, and found in art, into a union, which made his pictures a singular display of grace, truth, beauty and richness.'
From the time that Mr Locke exploded innate ideas in the commencement of the last century, there began to be a confused apprehension in some speculative heads, that there could be no innate faculties either; and our half metaphysicians have been floundering about in this notion ever since: as if, because there are no innate ideas, that is, no actual impressions existing in the mind without objects, there could be no peculiar capacity to receive them from objects; or as if there might not be as great a difference in the capacity itself as in the outward objects to be impressed upon it. We might as well deny, at once, that there are organs or faculties to receive impressions, because there are no innate ideas, as deny that there is an inherent difference in the organs or faculties to receive impressions of any particular kind. If the capacity exists (which it must do), there may, nay we should say there must, be a difference in it, in different persons, and with respect to different things. To allege that there is such a difference, no more implies the doctrine of innate ideas, than to say that the brain of a man is more fitted to discern external objects than a block of marble, imports that there are innate ideas in the brain, or in the block of marble. The impression, it is true, does not exist in the sealing-wax till the scal has been applied to it: but there was the previous capacity to receive the impression; and there may be, and most probably is, a greater degree of fitness in one piece of sealing-wax than in another. That the original capacity, the aptitude for certain impressions or pursuits, should be necessarily the same in different instances, with the diversity that we see in men's organs, faculties, and acquirements of various kinds, is a supposition not only gratuitous, but absurd. There is the capacity of animals, the capacity of idiots, and of half idiots and half madmen of various descriptions; there is capacity, in short, of all sorts and
degrees, from an oyster to a Newton: Yet we are gravely told,
To make any sense at all of the doctrine, that circumstances are everything and natural genius nothing, the result ought at least to correspond to the aggregate of impressions, determining the mind this way or that, like so many weights in a scale. But the advocates of this doctrine allow that the result is not by any means according to the known aggregate of impressions, but, on the contrary, that one of the most insignificant, or one not at all perceived, will turn the scale against the bias and experience of a man's whole life. The reasoning is here lame again. These persons wish to get rid of occult causes, to refer every thing to distinct principles and a visible origin; and yet they say that they know not how it is, that, in spite of all visible circumstances, such a one should be an incorrigible blockhead and such an other an extraordinary genius; but that, no doubt, there was a secret influence exerted, a by-play in it, in which nature had no hand, but accident gave a nod, and in a lucky or unlucky minute fixed the destiny of both for life, by some slight and transient impulse! Now, this is like the reasoning of the astrologers, who pretend that your whole history is to be traced to the constellation under which you were born: and when you object that two men born at the same time have the most different character and fortune, they answer, that there was an imperceptible interval between the moment of their births, that made the whole difference. But if this short interval, of which no one could be aware, made the whole difference, it also makes their whole science vain. Besides, the notion of an accidental impulse, a slight turn of the screws giving a total revulsion to the whole frame of the mind, is only intelligible on the supposition of an original or previous bias which falls in with that impression, and catches at the long-wished for opportunity of disclosing itself:-like combustible matter meeting with the spark that kindles it into a flame. But it is little less than sheer nonsense to maintain, while outward impressions are said to be every thing, and the mind alike indifferent to all, that one single unconscious impression shall decide upon a man's whole character, genius, and pursuits in life,-and all the rest thenceforward go for nothing.
Again, we hear it said that the difference of understanding or character is not very apparent at first:-though this is not uniformly true-but neither is the difference between an oak and a briar very great in the seed or in the shoot-yet will any one deny that the germ is there, or that the soil, culture, the sun and heat alone produce the difference? So circumstances are necessary to the mind: but the mind is necessary to circumstances. The ultimate success depends on the joint action of both. They were fools who believed in innate ideas, or talked of heaven-born genius' without any means of developing it. They are greater, because more learned fools, who assert that circumstances alone can create or develop genius, where none exists. We may distinguish a stature of the mind as well as of the body, a mould, a form, to which it is predetermined irrevocably. It is true that exercise gives strength to the faculties both of mind and body; but it is not true that it is the only source of strength in either case. Exercise will make a weak man strong, but it will make a strong man stronger. A dwarf will never be a match for a giant, train him ever so. And are there not dwarfs as well as giants in intellect? Appearances are for it, and reason is not against it.
There are, beyond all dispute, persons who have a talent for particular things, which according to Dr Johnson's definition of genius, proceeds from a greater general capacity accidentally determined to a particular direction. But this, instead of solving, doubles the miracle of genius; for it leaves entire all the former objections to inherent talent, and supposes that one man of large gencral capacity' is all sorts of genius at once. This is like admitting that one man may be naturally stronger than another-but denying that he can be naturally stronger in the legs or the arms only; and, deserting the ground of original equality, would drive the theorist to maintain that the inequality which exists must always be universal, and not particular, although all the instances we actually meet with are particular only. Now surely we have no right to give any man credit for genius in more things than he has shown a particular genius in. In looking round us in the world, it is most certain that we find men of large general capacity and no particular talent, and others with the most exquisite turn for some particular thing, and no general talent. Would Dr Johnson have made Reynolds or Goldsmith, Burke, by beginning early and continuing late? We should make strange havce by this arbitrary transposition of genius and industry. Some persons cannot for their lives understand the first proposition in Euclid. Would they ever make great mathema
ticians? Or does this incapacity preclude them from ever excelling in any other art or mystery? Swift was admitted by special grace to a Bachelor's Degree at Dublin College, which, however, did not prevent him from writing Gulliver's Travels: and Claude Lorraine was turned away by his master from the trade of a pastry-cook to which he was apprenticed, for sheer stupidity. People often fail most in what they set themselves most diligently about, and discover an unaccountable knack at something else, without any effort or even consciousness that they possess it. One great proof and beauty of works of true genius, is the ease, simplicity, and freedom from conscious effort which pervades them. Not only in different things is there this difference of skill and aptness displayed; but in the same thing, to which a man's attention is continually directed, how narrow is the sphere of human excellence, how distinct the line of pursuit which nature has marked out even for those whom she has most favoured! Thus in painting, Raphael excelled in drawing, Titian in colouring, Rembrandt in chiaro scuro. A small part of nature was revealed to each by a peculiar felicity of conformation; and they would have made sad work of it, if each had neglected his own advantages to go in search of those of others, on the principle that genius is a large general capacity, transferred, by will or accident, to some particular channel. It may be said, that in all these cases it is habit, not nature, that produces the disqualification for different pursuits. But if the bias given to the mind, by a particular study, totally unfits it for others, is it not probable that there is something in the nature of those studies which requires a particular bias and structure of the faculties to excel in them, from the very first? If genius were, as some pretend, the mere exercise of general power on a particular subject, without any difference of organs or subordinate faculties, a man would improve equally in every thing, and grow wise at all points. But if, besides mere general power, there is a constant exercise and sharpening of different organs and faculties required for any particular pursuit, then a natural susceptibility of those organs and faculties must greatly assist him in his progress. To argue otherwise, is to shut one's eyes to the whole mass of inductive evidence; and to run headlong into a dogmatical theory, depending wholly on presumption and conjecture. We would sooner go the whole length of the absurdities of craniology, than get into this flatting-machine of the original sameness and indiscriminate tendency of men's faculties and dispositions. A painter, of all men, should not give into any such notion. Does he pretend to see differences in faces, and will he allow none in minds? Or, does he make the