« PreviousContinue »
state of things always most devoutly to be wished—would be raised, attended with manifest advantages to both. A standard of perfection none of us can dare hope ever to reach, much less to establish, however we may labour, strive, and emulate each other in a struggle towards it, for perfect excellence, is not in our nature or composition to attain. An old anecdote, in a new dress, here, may not be out of place.
An artist of old, of some eminence in his profession, painted a sign—'a Goat-inBoots'—for an hostelry so called, by the express orders of the landlord. The painting was admired by some, disapproved of by others, the common lot that befalls all handicraft. Its admirers, at first, were silent in their admiration, while its depreciators, were quite clamorous in their complaints and objections against it;—a state of matters, too common to be remarkable,
The painter, in consequence, was accused, by mine host of the hostelry, with having produced and sent home a mere daub. The artist, much incensed at an allegation so injurious to his fame, demanded to know the grounds for so mischievous an opinion, and mine honest host of the Goat-inBoots' readily gave them, and, at the same time, candidly admitted that the painting was not without its admirers, but that a brother of the brush-pardon is craved of the pencil, of some celebrity also, decided the question, and asserted, boldly, that the painting was such a daub that he could paint a better with the brush'-i. e. the fox's tail, which ornamented the wall, over the mantle-piece, in the parlor. “No doubt he could, my worthy Boniface,' said the master of the palette, but that should not lessen your estimation of my painting. You say that it is much disparaged, but, you also admit, it is not so by every body. Now take my advice; hang it, for one week, conspicuously and within reach, placing a notice over it to this effect, ‘the disapprovers of this painting are requested to mark, with chalk, the parts most disliked,' and at the end of the week, bring it to me, with all the marks of dishonor upon it, untouched.' Mine host of the Goat-in-Boots' did as he was desired, and at the time appointed, with dismay, brought the painting covered all over with chalk-marks--not a single feature had escaped condemnation—which the painter coolly washed off, tuning, all the while, an Italian air. He then returned the painting with a clean face' to mine host of the Goat-in-Boots,” saying, “ now hang it again, in the same place, for one week more, with a notice over it to this effect, 'the approvers of this painting are
requested to mark, with chalk, the parts most liked,' and at the end of the time, bring it again to me, with all the marks of honor, which may be upon it, likewise, untouched. Boniface went away grumbling, but did as he was desired. At the appointed time, he returned, and with his face now lit up with satisfaction, exhibited the painting more covered with chalk-marks than before, and expressed his perfect content with it. He, then, with cheerfulness, paid the gratified artist his charge, and invited him to the Goat-in-Boots, on the next Saturday evening, to meet a few of his admirers and friends, and drown the grievance over a reeking bowl of spiced sack.”
The Author of the following pages, hopes that in his production, he may meet with any thing like the painter’s good fortune, and that some merits may be seen in his efforts to deserve it. To please all, is quite