« 이전계속 »
or another, and chose Sir Godfrey head of their body; but no account of their proceedings has been preserved. Kneller's principal performances have already been mentioned: they comprise the pieces at Hampton Court Palace; the series of Admirals, originally dispersed amongst the Royal Palaces, but latterly allocated at Greenwich Hospital, by the taste of his present Majesty; the heads of the Kit-Cat Club; and portraits of almost every character who figured with distinction during the long period of his lifetime. Of all his productions, he is said to have set the highest value upon The Chinese Converted, in Windsor Castle, and certainly it is eminently entitled to all the honours of his preference. But if it displays how much he could effect, it also inspires a regret that he should have so rarely exerted the fulness of his powers. Upon a par with this, in the portrait line, may be placed a head of Sir Isaac Newton, which it would not disparage the pencil of any master to own. Nearly all his pieces have been engraved : the greatness of his reputation was therefore established by the most convincing earnest of value. His drawing is free and lively, but often loose; his attitudes are striking, but in the subordinate parts generally heinously proportioned ; his colouring is frequently true, and finely blended, but his imagination was poor. The air of his heads, though characterised by a sameness which almost approaches to physiogno. mical identity, is tasteful : the hair is made to fall with marked ease and nature, and the drapery which he invented for his females is fanciful and engaging. To judge, however, by the majority of his works, he was a mere portrait-painter : he bestowed all his care upon the head, and abandoned the rest of the body to dulness and defects. This observation applies to his best performances; but of the remaining multitude, which were evidently executed for money alone, the blemishes are so many, and so egregious, that it were vain to criticise their faults: they disgraced the art, and would sully the brightest talents.
Amongst other preferments, Sir Godfrey enjoyed the honour of acting in the commission of the peace for the county of Middlesex, a trust in which he acquired more credit for humanity than legal judgment. Of his proceedings with this bias, one anecdote has been preserved, which is so notable, that it deserves a place in every sketch of his worship’s life. A gentleman once charged his servant before Sir Godfrey with stealing some money, which, as it appeared during the course of the enquiry, had been exposed in a certain place for the express purpose of tempting the poor fellow's honesty. Whereupon the good-natured but indignant artist dismissed the servant, and committed the master to prison as the greater rogue. Pope alludes to this peculiar principle of iurisprudence in his Imitations of Horace, book 2, epistle 2, where he writes :
“ 'Faith, in such case if you should prosecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,
Kneller was as fond of flattery as of money, and his vanity was enviably gratified ; for, to say nothing of the complimentary treatment he always received from the great, poets, not fewer, or less eminent, than Dryden, Pope, Addison, Prior, and Tickle, concurred in versifying his praises. Of these various tributes, perhaps, Addison's Epistle, on his series of English Sovereigns, reflects the highest merits both upon the author and the artist. It has already been noticed and quoted from in the life of Addison, and need not, therefore, be farther expatiated upon here.
EARL OF MANSFIELD.
WILLIAM, the fourth son of David Murray, Earl of Stormont, was born on the second day of March, 1705, but at what place has been variously related. By some Scone is named, by others Perth, in Scotland, and by the registry of his admission into Christ's College, his birth is fixed at Bath, It is reported, however, that his lordship resolved these contradictions by explaining, that the officer at Oxford mistook the broad Scotch pronunciation of Perth for Bath. How far this may have been a true blunder, it were now hard to determine; but if we may suppose that it was young Murray himself who furnished the particulars of his birth and parentage to the re. gistrar, the confusion will still prevail. For it is certain that he came to London when only three years old, that he was edu cated in England, that he spent little or no time in Scotland, an was never infected with the dialect peculiar to that country. These latter facts render the first doubts almost of no moment, for the mere locality of a man's birth is utterly inconsequential. The parents who brought him into the world, or the people amongst whom he happens to be bred, are the only circumstances to which the curious in metaphysics can trace an effect, inasmuch as it is the disposition which a man may be supposed to inherit from the blood of his progenitors, and the degree in which the habits of his earliest associates may have tended to mould his character, which can alone impart interest to the stages of infancy.
At the age of fourteen he was admitted into Westminster School as a King's Scholar, and gave speedy proofs of uncommon abilities, amongst which an aptitude for declamation was particularly remarked. In 1723 he stood first on the list of those who competed for an election to Oxford, and was accordingly entered at Christ's Church College, on the 18th of July following. He took his degree of B. A. in 1727, and of M. A. in 1730, and is supposed to have left the place soon after to make a tour on the Continent. His name appears subscribed to one of the Latin poems, published by the University to honour the death of George the I.; and in the same volume will be found another effusion from his future parliamentary rival, the great Pitt, Earl of Chatham. This, and another collegiate exercise, in the same language, upon Blenheim, are the only public records of that poetical nature, upon which Pope founded the celebrated tribute
- How sweet an Ovid is a Murray lost;' but in all probability those who may take so much trouble as to judge for themselves, will at last determine, that, like most compliments, the present one is more imaginary than real.
After his return from the Continent, an event fixed at no positive date, Murray became a student-at-law, of Lincoln's Inn, and was in due course called to the bar. Unlike the generality of those who pursue the same profession, he grew at once into reputation, and rose rapidly in honours. His practice lay chiefly in the Court of King's Bench, and before the House of Lords; and it is observable, that at the very beginning he was estimated, in the opinion of the public, precisely in the same manner as at the climax of his career, being always regarded as one whose talents far exceeded his acquirements, a graceful and happy speaker, but an unlearned lawyer. His business, however, was considerable: in 1736 he was retained by the city of Edinburgh to oppose the progress of the bill of Pains and Penalties, by which the government evinced a displeasure, as passionate as it was unreasonable, at the excesses of that Porteus mob, which is now better known as an incident in the novels by the author of · Waverly than an historical fact. The bill passed into a law, and the unlucky Lord Provost and City of Edinburgh were heavily amerced ; but Murray's exertions so far fulfilled the expectation of his employers, that they afterwards presented him with the freedom of their corporation in a gold box.
From this period he seems to have ranked as one of the leading men at the bar: nor did the promises which his reputation held out remain long unfulfilled. In November 1738 he married Lady Elizabeth Finch, daughter of the Earl of Winchelsea ; again in November 1743 he was appointed Solicitor-general, in the room of Sir John Strange; and in the same year he was elected a member of Parliament for Boroughbridge, in Yorkshire, an honour which was repeated during the years 1747 and 1754. In the House of Commons he gave that assistance to the ministry which was expected from his station, and made his support more than ordinarily acceptable by the effect of his eloquence, which being characterised by great fluency, much temper, and a very zracious style, seldom failed to secure attention. For these qualities he was chosen by the Commons, one of the Managers to conduct the impeachment of Lord Lovat, in 1746, an irksome labour, which was in his case not a little aggravated by one of the parts which fell to his lot—that of making the last reply to evidence before judgment was delivered, and thus destroying one by one the best hopes of the accusedl. Yet such was the delicate propriety with which he acquitted himself of this duty, that he ensured the approbation of his own party, and was even complimented by Lovat. : The Lord Chancellor Talbot concluded his charge by observing— The abilities of the learned manager, who just now spoke, never appeared with greater splendour than at this very hour, when his candour and humanity have been joined to those great abilities which have already made him so conspicuous, that I hope one day to see him add dignity to the lustre of the first civil employment in this nation. To this praise Lord Lovat added with that air of noble good humour by which the close of his life was distinguished — “I thought myself very much loaded by one Murray, who, your Lordships know, was the bitterest evidence there was against me. I have since suffered from another Mr. Murray, who, I must say with pleasure, is an honour to his country, and whose ability and learning is much beyond what is to be expressed by an ignorant man like me. I heard him with pleasure, though it was against me. I have the honour to be his relation, though, perhaps, he neither knows it nor values it. But I wish that his being born in the North may not hinder him from the preferinent that his merit and learning deserve.'
The times, however, were bitterly distracted, and the Solicitorgeneral came in for no common share of obloquy. By one party he was disliked on account of his political station, and the strenuous manner in which he upheld it; and to another he was not less obnoxious, because his family, according to the opprobrium of the times, were Jacobites. From this latter circumstance resulted an affair strangely injudicious, but egregiously mortifying. In 1753, a Mr. Fawcett, then Recorder of Newcastle, happened to mention at a public dinner, that he remembered the time when Dr. Johnson, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester, was very ill-affected, and accustomed to drink the Pretender's health. The story got wind, and in time reached London, where it created so great an impression, that Mr. Pelham commissioned a friend to ascertain its truth. Being thus interrogated, Fawcett declared that at such a distance of time he could not positively remember whether or not Johnson had really done as he had first said ; but that he was certain the Solicitor-general and his old schoolfellow Mr. Stone Mad repeatedly drank the Pretender's health upon their knees.