« PreviousContinue »
of sentiment will excuse this little remonstrance; for, next to the infinite favor of what you do, will be placed that of a speedy information of what is inconvenient.
Lord Orford is now very aged, and tired of this world. He sees none but his own relations. I shall therefore esteem it a favor, if your lordship will direct subsequent packets to Andrew Stuart, Esq. M.P. Grosvenor Street, or send them at once to Mr. Herbert, who will esteem the postage a pleasure, considering the value of the contents.
My agent much surprised me, my lord, by writing to me a long list of subjects which you recommended to be copied. He is a mere lawyer, totally unknown to me, being recommended by the chamberlain of Edinburgh, and knows nothing of such matters. It was only for any expense attending the four drawings above mentioned that he was referred to. Had I meant to employ him in subjects so totally out of his line, I would have written to him at once. I should not grudge a little expense; but it would be ridiculous in me to furnish both money and labor. Accuracy, my lord, is not only useful in literature, but in politics and private life.
Mentioning politics, I think it not unnecessary to say that I am a mere literary man, unconnected with any party. As a professed historian, (who ought to be of no party,) it would ruin all my labors were I to belong to a party; nor would I, for any present boon, sacrifice all the reputation of my writings which may survive me. In quality
of historian I am therefore exempted from all party, and converse with literary men of all extremes without offence. I cannot acquit myself, however, of belonging to a very small faction, that of philosophy, truth, virtue, and rational freedom. But old times must be viewed through the proper telescope; and men can only be truly judged by the standard of their own age.
It will be a very great obligation, if your lordship will favor me with the following particulars; after premising that you need not add to your labor by attestations on the drawings, for that you sent them is a sufficient proof of exactness.
James IV.-I wish very much to have a small sketch of the under-part (the thighs and legs). Your lordship, I think, mentioned pointed shoes and chains, and the figure had better be engraved whole length. If you have not the under-part, I should be greatly obliged by an extract of your correspondent's letter concerning it.
In general, I wish to know if your lordship's be copies or originals, oil or water-colors, smaller or larger than the originals.
Mary. Is the line of Scotish poetry in the original, and coeval?
Buchan. The plate in the Bee cannot be had here, and the sending it would be a great favor. Elphinston. The motto seems Non confundar." Is there any other word in the middle? In Morison's print the nose of James IV. is more aquiline. Which is right?
I cannot too often repeat, in the name of the
literary world, my gratitude to your lordship for your invaluable exertions in favor of this work. They evince a love of the arts truly noble, and superior to all titles.
MR. PINKERTON TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN.
Hampstead, Dec. 20th, 1794.
I am infinitely obliged to your lordship for the numerous and very interesting drawings sent. They do great honor to your skill and taste as an artist, and are as complete as any engraver would wish. The last, a miniature of the worthy Regent Mar, is quite a gem. I hope you will grant me permission to have it framed, and to hang it in my little library.
In my last letter I think I mentioned six as arrived: Mary, James IV., Elphinston, Margaret Douglas, Admirable Crichton, Buchan. I have also received Arthur Jonston, Wallace, Treasurer Mar, Dr. Gregory, Maitland of Lethington, and Esme Duke of Lennox; in all, including Regent Mar, thirteen. The present is invaluable, and will do immortal honor to your lordship's taste and munificent spirit.
Buchan the Constable, M. Douglas, Crichton, Elphinston, Mary, are in the engraver's hands. Mr. Harding is not the engraver, but is merely consulted in the finishing. The work belongs to Mr. Herbert.
After the four I had the honor to mention, the following would be now very acceptable: Cardinal Innes, Bishop Lesly, Gordon of Straloch, Dunbar Bishop of Aberdeen.
How shall Mr. Herbert forward the numbers to Dryburgh Abbey? Messrs. Bell and Bradfute, Edinburgh, have some.
The power of a few precise words, my lord, is surprising. I am still quite at a loss if James IV. in your possession be a copy or the original brought from Tübingen; and I am equally ignorant as to the Mary. It will be a great favor if you will have the goodness to mention how many and what originals your collection contains, which will save all further questions.
The work is meant to be as authentic as possible; and therefore it is hoped your lordship will excuse a remark on two of the pieces. The Mary has no mark of royalty, nor, so far as yet mentioned, even a tradition in its support. It can therefore be only mentioned as a doubtful curiosity. The Wallace is a palpable French forgery of the sixteenth century. The dress, helmet, truncheon, inscriptions, are all of that epoch. The dragon is a familiar ornament on helmets. The hiding of one cheek occurs in all portraits. Barbour, I believe, does not once mention Wallace. It is Sir James Douglas of whose face he speaks.
The letter concerning the monuments of Buchan and Aubigny never came to hand, and is the first instance in my life of a letter miscarrying. I
wish much to know how it was sent. But I should be very extravagant, my lord, were I to accuse you of remissness; while, on the contrary, I, with the utmost gratitude, admire your zeal and diligence; and, if you do no more for the work, you will still be ever regarded as its greatest benefactor. But, as your pencil is so exquisitely in tune, perhaps your goodness may induce you to proceed; for engravers are very slow, and the more pieces that are in hand the better.
The dress with chains continued in England till the 24th of Edward IV., or the year 1483, at least, as appears from the statutes. There is room to believe that it lasted under Henry VII., 1485-1509, and in Scotland yet later. The jacket, &c. ascertain the picture to be of James IV. Three pictures of him, with a falcon on the hand, are mentioned in Vertue's catalogues of the Pictures of Charles I., &c. Perhaps your lordship may trace out one by this uncommon mark.
I remember nothing further at present, and the frost is so violent that I can hardly write.
MR. PINKERTON TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN.
Hampstead, Dec. 27th, 1794.
Since my last of the 2nd inst. there have come to hand Lord Belhaven, the tombs of Alexander Earl of Buchan, and Aubigny, two Scougals, Boyd of Trochrig, Bishop Lesley, and Patrick Hamilton.