Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 2

By Horace Walpole | Go to book overview

Mr. Garrard in a letter to Lord Strafford, dated Jan. 9, 1633, says, " I had almost forgot to tell your Lordship that the diceing-night the King carried away in James Palmer's hat 1850 pieces. 1 The Queen was his half and brought him that good luck; she shared presently 900." In Stone's accounts, from which I have given some extracts above, is mention of a monument for Palmer's wife. If these men add no great ornament to our list, it will at least be honoured by our next; the Hogarth of poetry was a painter too : I mean


SAMUEL BUTLER,

the author of Hudibras. In his life prefixed to his works we are told, "That for his diversion he practised music and painting. I have seen," adds the writer, " some pictures said to be of his drawing 2 which remained in that family (of Mr. Jeffrey's), 3 which I mention not for the excellency of them, but to satisfy the reader of his early inclinations to that noble art ; for which also he was afterwards entirely beloved by Mr. Samuel Cooper, one of the most eminent painters of his time."

____________________
1
Palmer was the king's personal friend and cicerone, with whom he delighted to converse.—D.
2
Dr. Johnson remarks, that "his amusements were music and painting, and the reward of his pencil was the friendship of the inimitable Cooper." (Works, vol. ix. p. 185.) The assertion of Aubrey, who was personally intimate with both of them, deserves attention. " He employed his time much in painting and musique. He was thinking once to have made it his profession. His love to and skill in painting made a great friendship between him and Mr. Samuel Cooper, the prince of limners of this age." (Vol. ii. p. 262.) Dr. Nash has printed his opinion of Butler's proficiency as a painter, to which, from what appears in his caustic History of Worcestershire, it is certain that the said history is very notoriously deficient in all that belongs to the arts. He tells us, (from his own knowledge,) "In 1774, some pictures saidto have been by Butler, at Earl's Croome (Lord Coventry's), were used to stop up windows and save the tax ; indeed they were fit for nothing else."—Worcestershire, vol. ii. pp. 391.

However promising his early talent and inclination might have been for the profession of a painter, he must have relinquished it for other pursuits. Walpole has in several other instances admitted names, as of English painters, who, from no existing evidence, had ever extended the practice professionally, or for more than the gratification of themselves and friends.—D.

3
Several are actually extant in the possession of a person in Worcestershire.

-24-

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