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THIS fingularity of dress has given him an air of fuperiority, and credit of being a fingular good painter, he has had double the price of all others; and yet, if it was not for his beard, he would not be a better painter, nay not fo good, as many who refide in London. Thus, whilft gets five and twenty guineas for a three quarters length; Soldé, who is as good at least as any in this kingdom, is glad to get half that money: The firft has as many as he can paint, and Soldé has not fo many as he ought. At prefent the people of England feem to be more captivated with what is new, than what is extraordinary; and are more pleafed with fingularity in the person who produces any thing in arts and science, than with the production itself: it is this which has made this painter's performances fo valuable. They have measured the value of his works by the length of his beard, and conclude as much in favour of the excellency of the one as the longitude of the other; it is the rarity of a painter with a beard, that has drawn him the reputation of a great master in his art. This is the first time I have known beards being the type of any thing but wisdom: If he painted
in oil, I should imagine he made his brushes of his beard, and fucceeded by virtue of that advantage; but he paints in craions.
IN other parts of polite ftudies, the fame manner of thinking has often prevail'd; here is now an instance of a thresher, a very honest man indeed, who was made a divine and librarian to the late queen at Richmond, because he had found out the method of threshing words into verses; the excellency of the work is not confider'd, it is the wonder of a peafant's being a poet, which gained him his living and honours, during which time many others who were good poets, were starving without the least reward.
BESIDES this man, here is another mechanic, who is the candidate for the Laurel, after the prefent poet Laureat: This man has written a very indifferent tragedy, which has had great fuccefs, because it was the work of a bricklayer.
IN fact, this appears to me to be extremely mortifying to men of genius; their works are not attended with any esteem or honor, because they are the productions of men deftined to study,
study, whilft thofe of a threfher or bricklayer are admired, because coming from their hands. At the fame time, it is no fmall reflection on thofe who should support letters, that their patronage is bestowed on fuch understandings, and denied to men of true merit. This encouragement has already robb'd the world of two useful men to make two useless ones; and who knows where it may end? Humanity would be apt to conceive that this arifes from want of taste, not diftinguishing what true merit is, and malice from a mean jealousy which will not encourage it.
In every kind of work, the excellency of the workman in general is not confider'd here, as in France and Italy; the common artist is paid almost as well as the beft, and what can only be accomplish'd by one in a million, is as little esteemed, as that which can be performed by one in ten.
For this reafon it is that the most exquifite works in graving, fculpture, and painting, can with difficulty be brought to the highest perfection in London. An artist must starve if he waited
to give his pieces the last finishings; he gets
as much money by doing well, as if he excel
led all the world; whereas in France and Italy, he would be paid any price for that which no other could do, and not half what he receives in England for executing what he perform'd only as well as many other artifts. This is therefore the land at prefent for mediocrity in all things, and exclufion of excellency in any.
IN what I have faid, there is not one word to be applied to the mechanic inftruments of use; they are finished to a degree of perfection, that is not to be seen in any other country: Utility is the reigning idea of all that is done here, and tafte in that of Paris; for which reason England has the trade in one kind, and France in the other. And tho'. a fine imagination may not be so much pleafed with the English as the French productions; yet commodity makes a good amends for a small deficiency in figure; and not one in twenty, but is better pleased with the polish and tinge, than with the defign of the whole performance. All fee, but few have any taste.
In all objects which are offered to the eye, the French have an elegance and tafte which is much beyond that of England, and the English finish the French defigns better than their own work
workmen Ornaments in diamonds are much better difpofed at Paris than London, and the fetting much better in this city than in France.
ONE refpects the elegant fancy, and the other the elegant hand of the jeweller; and thus in moft kinds of manufactures, the defigns of France fhould be combined with the execution of England, to make a production perfect.
FROM what has been faid you may be inclined to believe, that, as taste and design are the effects of genius, and elegant finishing the confequence of patience and a mechanic hand the French furpass the English in genius: this is by no means true, I believe; and my next fhall bring you the reafons. Adieu,