« PreviousContinue »
which I think one of the most capital pieces of biography in our language. The Memoirs of Metastasio and Gibbon I have got, and shall sit down immediately to them ; but I despair of being able to read Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo de' Medici (which I am impatient to read), till the new edition shall appear; as it is now impossible to find a copy in any of the Dublin or London booksellers' shops. I am happy I can venture to say, that the sixth volume of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy will appear in October or November next. A few papers only remain to be printed.
MR. R, JOHNSON * TO MR. PINKERTON.
Kenmore, September 17th, 1796. I take the liberty of writing you along with these, in order to suggest a few observations which
* There is among Mr. Pinkerton's Correspondence another letter from this unfortunate young man, dated October 11th, 1796, and consequently written immediately before the commencement of the illness which termipated in his death. It is altogether confined to observations upon the portraits at Taymouth, at which he was then laboring with a fatal assiduity. The following account of the Genealogical Tree has appeared to me worth inserting, as it is a picture which has attracted much attention :-“The Genealogical Tree is a picture by itself, unconnected with any of the others, and appears to be the work of Jameson, having his name inserted on the corner, written on a slip of paper, and sealed upon the picture, with this inscrip
occurred to me while busy with them ; and particularly as Lord Breadalbane desires me to inform you that he wishes to have a copy of the work. I hope the drawings I take will give satisfaction ; but, as I am a little curious, I hope you will have the goodness to favor me with a few particulars concerning the nature of the publication for which they are intended, and also the style of engraving adapted for them; as it would, in a great measure, obviate some little uneasiness I have on that head, and regulate my manner of doing them in conformity to your purpose. In my opinion, they should be engraved (at least some of them) as much as possible in the manner of Houbraken's heads; as that sketchy, soft, close-stroked kind of engraving is the most beautiful and suitable representative of drawings, or old sunk-in indeterminate pictures, which a naked harsh outline, though sought with the most difficult accuracy, can but faintly express.
• The genealogie of the House of Glenorquie, and quah ereof is dessendit sindrie nobill and worthie houses.Jameson fec. 1635.' At the root of the tree is Sir D. Campbell, Knight of Lochawe, called Duncan in it, in an ancient Highland dress; and on the main stem
are the miniatures, undoubtedly Jameson's, of the knights of the family, in genealogical succession, one above another, inserted in circles, with their names and titles, down, or rather up, to Sir Robert Campbell, 1641 : also the miniature of Archibald Lord Argyle, on a small branch by itself; in all, ten small portraits. The inferior branches bear the several names, &c. of the descendants in circles of different colors, in a curious and intricate manner, according to their rank."
Mr. Morison informed me that he understands they are to be engraved by first-rate artists in London: if this is the case, I would like to take the utmost pains with them, whatever may be my reward, and would wish to know whether the name of the delineator is put to the prints ; being conscious of the very minute attention I pay to the resemblance of the originals. I hazard it to your judgment in excusing such boldness; and what I mean to say is, that except the engravings are done with judicious exactness from these drawings, I beg you will not put my name to them; as I think it a laudable precaution which every young artist should take and abide by, who has only his hands and his little name to depend on. From the price I have undertaken to do these at, and the loose open sketching mentioned in yours, a thought struck me, that a less laborious kind of drawing, with sufficient accuracy, (which I flatter myself able to do,) might answer your purpose as well, or, perhaps, better. I will thank
you few observations on this point, and request you will, as soon as possible, let me know which and how many I have to do here, or at any other place, as it is of some moment to me in other necessary arrangements.
I have not been able as yet to discover any more portraits of note about Taymouth House.
No. 56. Mary, Duchess of Longueville, is dated MDXIII: the picture appears original; perhaps the painter of the inscription might make a mistake and put MDXIII for maxLIII.
No. 60 is the Marquis of Argyle. I am in
formed by Mr. Kennedy there was only one Marquis.
No. 64 is an indifferent portrait of an aquilinenosed man in armour, and has for inscription, “ Archbaldus Campbell, Comes de Argyle primus, ætatis suæ xxxvi," and seems of the same kind of workmanship as some of the Campbell family in the lobby
MESSRS. MORISON AND SON TO MR.
You will no doubt be surprised when we inform you, that the purpose of this letter is to announce to you the death of poor Johnson. We have seldom met with an occurrence in which we have felt more interested than the latter end of that deserving young man.
The very day after we last wrote you, we received a letter from Kenmore, from the man in whose house he lodged, desiring us to send for him, as he was quite delirious; and by express, the day following, we were informed of his death. Some weeks before this, Lord Breadalbane and family had left Taymouth House, and he had continued his business in a large parlour, without fire. Anxious to get through with his job, and the hours of daylight but few, he frequently sat six and seven hours on a stretch, and contracted
a terrible cold: a fever was the consequence: no person to take a charge of him, he neglected himself: it flew to his brain, and, terrible to relate, he was bound with ropes, beat and treated like a madman. It is a subject too painful to be dwelt minutely on: fortunately, the day before his death, a Dr. M‘Lagan passing through Kenmore visited him, ordered him to be unbound, applied blisters, &c. : the day following the delirium abated : he became calm, and died in peace and composure. As none of us could go from home, we sent an acquaintance to see him decently interred; and so entirely were we strangers to him, that we know not more about his relations than that they lived at Newcastle. Mr. Kirkwood of Edinburgh, who recommended him to us, advised his friends of his death ; and a young gentleman went up to Kenmore and investigated his little matters. There are two finished portraits among his drawings, which will doubtless be sent you ; but the young gentleman's instructions were to seal up every thing and send them to Newcastle: we stated to him the circumstances concerning these portraits, and cannot for a mornent doubt their being immediately ordered back.
We have been informed of several anecdotes about him which are interesting. He was bound apprentice to the famous Bewick of Newcastle (who cuts figures on wood in so dexterous a manner), by his father. We should have set out with mentioning that he was the only son of an aged man, a carpenter, in Gateshead, near Newcastle : his master, observing his uncommon ge