Page images



LIFE AND ANECDOTES OF NOLLE- upon the return of this head, that its proporKENS, THE SCULPTOR. * tion and character accorded with his torso.

This discovery induced him to accept an

offer made by Jenkins of the head itself'; NOLLEKENS, the celebrated sculptor, was and two hundred and twenty guineas to the son of an indifferent painter (originally share the profits. After Nollekens had made from Antwerp). In early life he obtained it up into a tigure, or, what is called by the several premiums for medals, from the So- venders of botched antiques, “ restored it," ciety of Arts. In 1737 he went to Rome, which he did at the expense of about twenty where he applied himself to his art.

guineas more for stone and labour, it proved Whilst at Rome, Nollekens was recog- a most fortunate hit, for they sold it for the nized by Mr. Garrick, with the familiar ex- enormous sum of one thousand guineas ! clamation of—“What! let me look at you! and it is now at Newby, in Yorkshire. Nolare you the little fellow to whom we gave lekens, who wished upon all occasions to the prizes at the Society of Arts?"

save every shilling be possibly could, was “Yes, Sir,” being the answer, Mr. Gar successful in another maneuvre. He acturick invited him to breakfast the next morn- ally succeeded as a smuggler of silk stocking, and kindly sat to him for his bust, forings, gloves, and lace; bis contrivance was which he paid him twelve guineas. Sterne truly ingenious, and perhaps it was the first also sat to bim when at Rome, and that bust time that the custoin-house officers had brought him into great notice. Barry, the ever been so taken in. His method was historical painter, who was extremely in- this: all his plaster busts being hollow, he timate with Nollekens at Rome, took the li- stuffed them full of the above articles, and berty one night, when they were about to then spread an outside coating of plaster at leave the English coffee-house, to exchange the back across the shoulders of each, so bats with him; Barry's was edged with lace, that the busts appeared like solid casts. and Nollekens's was a very shabby plain His mode of living when at Rome was most one. Upon his returning the hat the next filthy: he had an old woman, who, as he morning, he was requested by Nollekens to stated, “ did for him," and she was so good let him know why he left him his gold- a cook, that she would often give him a dish laced hat.“ Why, to tell you the truth, my for dinner, which cost him dear Joey," answered Barry, “ I fully ex- than threepence. Nearly opposite to my pected assassination last night: and I was to lodgings,” he said, “ there lived a porkhave been known by my laced hat." This butcher, who put out at his door at the end villanous transaction, which might have of the week a plateful of what he called cutproved fatal to Nollekens, he often related, tings, bits of skin, bits of gristle, and bits of and generally added—“ It is what the Old fat, which he sold for twopence, and my old Bailey people would call a true bill against lady dished them up with a little pepper and Jem."

a little salt; and with a slice of bread, and The patrons of Nollekens, being charac- sometimes a bit of vegetable, I made a very ters professing taste and possessing wealth, nice dinner." Whenever good dinners were employed him as a very shrewd collectr of mentioned, he was sure to say —" Ay, I antique fragments; some of which he never tasted a better dish than my Roman bought on his own account; and, after he cuttings.” By this time, the name of Nollehad dexterously restored them with headls kens was pretty well known on the Stock and limbs, he stained them with tobacco- Exchange of London, as a holder to a consiwater, and sold them, sometimes by way of derable amount. favour, for enormous sums.

In 1771, enriched by such rascally purThe following is an anecdote concerning suits, he was elected an associate, and in the some of these fragments, which Nollekens following year a royal academician; and his himself related :-Jenkins, a notorious dealer practice in London increased to the utmost in antiques and old pictures, who resided at extent. He then married a Miss Welch Rome for that purpose, had been commis- (daughter of Justice Welch, and the l'ekuala sioned by Mr. Locke, of Norbury Park, to in Rasselas) ; an admirable match, if penusend him any piece of sculpture which he riousness and selfish wretchedness could thought might suit him, at a price not ex- make a match admirable. He was not surceeding one hundred guineas; but Mr. passed by Elwes himself; and of her like. Locke, immediately upon the receipt of a ness, praised be the sex ! we never read of a head of Minerva, which he did not like, sent sufficiently miserly prototype. it back again, paying the carriage and all It is surprising to consider how many other expenses. Nollekens, who was then persons of good sense and higli talent visited also a resident in Rome, baving purchased a Mrs. Nollekens, though it probably was printrunk of a Minerva for fifty pounds, found, cipally owing to the good character her father

and sister held in society. Dr. Johnsou and " Nollekens, and his Times : comprehending? Life of that celebrated Scuiploi, &c. c. Bys. T. Miss Williams were often there, and they Sath."

generally arwed in a hackney-coach, on acı

count of Miss Williams's blindness. When provided himself with a silver syringe, with the doctor sat to Mr. Nollekens for his bust, which he could easily throw the water into he was very much displeased at the manner the recesses of the model, without making so in which the head had been loaded with hair, disagreeable a noise in the royal presence. which the sculptor had insisted upon, as it Nollekens, with respect to this bust of made him look more like an ancient poet. bis majesty, affirmed, that he bad more The sittings were not very favourable, which trouble and anxiety with the drapery of it, rather vexed the artist, who, upon opening than with any of his other productions. He the street-door, a vulgarity he was addicted assured Mr. Joseph, the associate of the to, peevishly whined—“Now, doctor, you Royal Academy, that after throwing the cloth did say you would give my busto half an once or twice every day for nearly a forthour before dinner, and the dinner has been night, it came excellently well, by mere waiting this long time." To which the doc- chance, from the following circumstance:tor's reply was—“ Bow-wow-wow!" The Just as he was about to make another trial bust is a wonderfully fine one, and very like, with his drapery, his servant came to him for but certainly the sort of hair is objection- money for butter; he threw the cloth careable ; having been modelled from the flowing lessly over the shoulders of his lay-man, in locks of a sturdy Irish beggar, originally a order to give her the money, when he was street pavior, who, after he had sat an hour, forcibly struck with the beautiful manner in refused to take a shilling, stating, that he which the folds had fallen; and he hastily could have made more by begging! Doctor exclaimed, pushing her away--"Go, go, get Johnson also considered this bust like him; the butter.” And he has frequently been but, whilst he acknowledged the sculptor's heard to say, that that drapery was by far ability in his art, he could not avoid obsery- the best he ever cast for a busto. ing to his friend Boswell, when they were The following is a description of Nollekens's looking at it in Nollekens's studio—“ It is person. His figure was sbort, his head big, amazing what ignorance of certain points and it appeared mucb increased by a large one sometimes finds in men of eminence:" crowned hat, of which kind he was very though, from want of knowing the sculptor, fond; but his dress-hat, which he always a visitor, when viewing his studio, was sported when he went to court, or to the heard to say—“ What a mind the man must Academy dinners, was nearly fat, and he have from whom all these emanated!" brought it from Rome. His neck was short,

His singular and parsimonious habits his shoulders narrow, his body too large, were most observable in bis domestic life. particularly in the front lower part, which Coals were articles of great consideration resembled that of Tenducci, and many other with Mr. Nollekens; and these he so rigidly falsetto-singers; he was bow-legged and economised, that they were always sent early, hook-nosed-indeed, his leg was somewhat before his men came to work, in order that like his nose, which resembled the rudder of he might have leisure time for counting the an Antwerp packet-boat; his hips were sacks, and disposing of the large coals in rather thin, but between his brows there was what was originally designed by the builder great evidence of study. He was very fond of his house for a wine-cellar, so that he of his rutles, and continued to wear them might lock them up for parlour use. Candles long after they had become unfashionable ; were never lighted at the commencement of indeed, until they were worn out. A drab the evening; and wbenever they heard a was his favourite colour, and his suit was knock at the door, they would wait until they generally made from the same piece; though heard a second rap, lest the tirst should have now and then he would treat himself with a been a runaway, and their candle wasted. striped Manchester waistcoat, of one of Mr. and Mrs. Nollekens used a flat candle- which he was so fond, that he sat to Abbot stick when there was any thing to be done; for his portrait in it. and I have been assured that a pair of When Doctor Burney lived in St. Martin'smoulds, by being well nursed, and put out street, he frequently indulged his friends in when company went away, once lasted them small recherché musical parties; at one of a whole year!

which, whilst Piozzi and Signora Cori (le Nollekens was very ignorant of the com- Minitrici) were singing a duettino enchantmon forms of respect. During the time that ingly, accompanied by her husband Dominica, he was taking the bust of his late majesty, on the violin (the father of Madame Dussek), George III., be gave an instance of this. Nollekens happened to drop in by accident; A modeller keeps his clay moist by spirting and after the bravos, bravissimos, and all water over it, and this he does with his the expressive ogles of admiration had dimouth. Nollekens, in the presence of the minished, Nollekens called out—“ Doctor king, did this, and that without apprising his Burney, I don't like that kind of music; I majesty of what he was about doing. This heard a great deal of it in Italy, but I like coarse conduct was very different to Mr. the Scotch and English music better.”Bacon, the sculptor, who, before he attended Doctor Burney, with some degree of irritafor the purpose of taking the king's model, tion, stepping forward, replied—“Suppose a



person to say—“Well, I have been to Rome, mission to come down and rest himself; but saw the Apollo, and many fine works, but the poor fellow found himself so stiff, that for all that, give me a good barber's block.” he could not move. “ What!” exclaimed —“Ay, that would be talking like a fool,” Nollekens, “ can't you move yourself? then rejoined the sculptor.

you had better stop a bit." In eating, Nollekens was strangely insensible to the nothing could exceed the meanness of Mr. beauties of the immortal Sbakspeare. He and Mrs. Nollekens ; for whenever they had nerer visited the theatre when his plays were a present of a leveret, which they always performed, though he was actively alive to a called a hare, they contrived, by splitting it, pantomime, and frequently spake of the to make it last for two dinners for four percapital and curious tricks in Harlequin Sor- The one half was roasted, and the cerer. He also recollected with pleasure Mr. other jugged. Rich's wonderful and singular power of This couple were perfectly congenial in scratching his ear with his foot like a dog : point of meanness. It was the custom of and the street-exhibition of Punch and his Mrs. Nollekens, when purchasing tea and wife delighted him beyond expression. sugar at her grocer's, just as she was quit

Miss Welch brought down upon herself ting the counter, to request either a clove or bis eternal hatred, by kindly venturing to a bit of cinnamon, to take some unpleasant improre bim in bis spelling. She had a taste out of her mouth; but she never was little book in which she put down the sculp- seen to apply it to the part so affected; so tor's way of spelling words. The following that, with Nollekeps's nutmegs, which he instances may serve as specimens : "yousual, pocketed from the table at the Academy dinscenceble, obligin, modle, wery, gentilman, ners, they contrived to accumulate a little promist, sarvices, desier, Inglish, perscrip- stock of spices, without any expense whattion, hardently, jenerly, moust, devower, He for many years made one at the Jellis, Retier, sarved, themselfs, could for table of what was at this time called the cold, clargeman, facis, cupple, foure, sun for Royal Academy Club; and so strongly was son, boath sexis, daly, horsis, ladie, cheif, he bent upon saving all he could privately talkin, tould, shee, sarch, paing, ould mades, conceal, that he did not mind paying two racis, yoummer in his face, palas, oke, lem- guineas a-year for his admission ticket, in man, are-bolloon, sammon, chimisters for order to indulge himself with a few nutchemists, yoke for yolk, grownd,” &c. &c. megs, which he contrived to pocket pri

Before Nollekens became the reader of vately; for as red-wine negus was the printhe daily papers, he frequently amused him- cipal beverage, nutmegs were used. Now it self by recording on the covers of letters generally happened, if another bowl was what he considered curious daily events. wanted, that the nutmegs were missing. The following memoranda were copied from Nollekens, who had frequently been seen to the back of one of his charcoal sketches, pocket them, was one day requested by and will at once convince the reader of the Rossi, the sculptor, to see if they had not estimation in which he sometimes held his fallen under the table; upon which Nolleleisure moments :-“ 1803, May 23d. Lady kens actually went crawling beneath upon Newborough brought forth a second sun. bis hands and knees, pretending to look for Sweep the parlour and kitchen chimneys. them, though at that very time they were in Clean the cestern in the kitchen. Lent his waistcoat pocket. He was so old a Northcot the cable rope and the piece of stager at this monopoly of nutmegs, that he hoke tre.-1805, Dec. 30th. Mrs. Whiteford would sometimes engage the maker of the brought to bed of a sun.--1806, Feb. 8th. negus in conversation, looking at bim full in Died Mrs. Peck, in Marlbrougb Street. the face, whilst he slily, and unobserved as April 14th. The Duke of Gloster came to my he thought, conveyed away the spice: like bouse.-- June 28th. The Duke and Duches the fellow who is stealing the bank note of York came to my house.-July 7th. His from the blind man in that admirable print R. H. the Duke of Cumberland made me a of the Royal Cock-pit, by Hogarth.-I bevisit.-- July 19th. Lord Wellesley began to lieve it is generally considered, that those set. - August 4th. Sent to Lord Yarborough who are miserly in their own houses, almost the head of Sir Isack Nuton.– 1808. De- to a state of starvation, when they visit their eember 16th. Sent Mr. Bignell, by order of friends or dine in public, but particularly Lady Jersey, Lord Jersey's head in a case- when they are travelling, and know that they 1809, Jan. 12th. Cast-off Mr. Pitt for Mr. will be called upon with a pretty long bill —Wilberforce, by order of Lord Muncaster. lay in what they call a good stock of every April 1lth. The Dukes of York, Comberland, thing, or of all the good things the landlord and Cambridge, made me a visit.” Mr. thinks proper to spread before them. This Nollekens, when modelling the statue of was certainly the case with Nollekens when Pitt, for the Senate House, Cambridge, threw he visited Harrowgate, in order to take the his drapery over his man Dodimy, who, after water for his diseased mouth. He informed standing in an immovable position for the his wife that he took three half-pints of water unconscionable space of two hours, had per. at a time, and as he knew the bills would be

pretty large at the inn, he was determined to to go on with his busto? The king, howindulge in the good things of this world; ever, with his usual indulgence to persons as so that one day he managed to get through ignorant as Nollekens was of the common "a nice roast chicken, with two nice tarts marks of respect, observed—“ So Nollekens, and some nice jellies.” Another day he took where were you yesterday?" nearly two pounds of venison, the fat of Nollekens.--" Why, as it was a Saint's which was at least“ two inches thick ;" at day, I thought you would not hare me; so I breakfast he always managed two muffins, went to see the beasts fed in the Tower.” and got through a plate of toast; and he took The king:-“ Why did you not go to good care to put a French roll in his pocket, Duke-street?" for fear he should find himself hungry when Nollekens.“Well, I went to the Tower; he was walking on the common by himself. And do you know, they have got two such -Our sculptor would sometimes amuse lions there! and the biggest did roar so; himself on a summer's evening, by stand- my heart! how he did roar!” And then ing with his arms behind him at the he mimicked the roaring of the lion, so loud yard-gate, which opened into Titchfield- and so close to the king's ear, that his mastreet. During one of these indulgences, jesty moved to a considerable distance to as a lady was passing, most elegantly escape the imitation, without saying, like dressed, attended by a strapping footman Bottom in the comedyin silver-laced livery, with a tall gilt- " Let him roar agaio, let him roar again." headed cane, she nodded to him, and smilingly asked him if he did not know her. On his reply that he did not recollect her“ What, Sir!” exclaimed she-“ do you forget Miss Coleman, who brought a letter SIR WALTER SCOTT'S RESIDENCE. to you from Charles Townly to show legs with your Venus ? why I have been with you

“STEPPING westward," as Wordsworth twenty times in that little room, to stand for your Venus !" " Oh, lank-n-daisy! so you says, from the hall, you find yourself in a have,” answered Nollekens ;" why what narrow, low, arched room, which runs quite a fine woman you're grown! come, waik in,

across the house, having a blazoned wiridow and I'll show you your figure ; I have done again at either extremity, and filled all over

with smaller pieces of armour and weapons, it in marble." “When I was modelling George the Third's darts, daggers, &c. &c. &c. Here are the

such as swords, firelocks, spears, arrows, busto," observed Nollekens, “I was commanded to attend at Buckingham-house at pieces, esteemed most precious by reason of seven o'clock in the morning, for that was

their histories respectively. I saw, among the the time his majesty shaved. After he had rest, Rob Roy'sgun, with his initials, R. M.C. shaved himself, and before he had put on

i. e. Robert Macgregor Campbell, round his stock, I modelled my busto." I sot him the touch-house ; the blunderbuss of Hofer, down, to be even with myself, and the king

a present to Sir Walter from his friend Sir seeing me go about him, and about hiin, said Humphrey Davy; a most magnificent sword, to me—“What do you want?” I said as magnificently mounted, the gift of Charles “ I want to measure your nose. The queen the arms of Prince Henry worked on the

the First to the great Montrose, and having tells me I have made my nose too broad.”— “ Measure it then," said the king.-" Ay, hilt; the hunting bottle of bonnie King my good friend," observed Dalton, who had Jamie; Buonaparte's pistols (found in his been intimate with Nollekens during their carriage at Waterloo, I believe), cum mullis stay at Rome -“ I have heard it often men

aliis. I should have mentioned that stags'horns tioned in the library; and it has also been and bulls' horns (the petrified relics of the affirmed, that you pricked the king's nose old mountain monster, I mean), and so forth, with your said callipers.”

are suspended in great abundance above ali The following anecdote is current, but on the doorways of these armories; and that in what authority it rests, I know not: allow- one corner, a dark one as it ought to be, there ing the story to be truc, it could come only is a complete assortinent of the old Scottish from an attendant on the king-certainly instruments of torture, not forgetting the very not from his majesty, nor from Nollekens; thumbikins under which Cardinal Carstairs however, I could name half-a-dozen persons did not finch, and the more terrific iron who continue to relate it.

crown of Wisheart the Martyr, being a sort The story runs thus :- When Mr. Nol- of barred head-piece, screwed on the victim lekens attended the king the following day, at the stake, to prevent him from crying to receive his majesty's commands as to the aloud in his agony. time for the next sitting, as he approached Beyond the smaller, or rather, I should the royal presence, instead of making an say, the narrower armoury, lies the dining apology on the Saint's account, he merely parlour proper, however ; and though there wished to know when he might be allowed is nothing Udolphoish here, yet I can well believe that when lighted up, and the curtains the richest manner in scarlet, and stamped drawn at night, the place may give no bad with the royal arms, the gift of his present notion of the private snuggery of some lofty majesty. There are few living authors of lord abbot of the time of the Canterbury whose works presentation copies are not to be Tales. The room is a very handsome one, found here. My friend showed me inscripwith a low and very richly carved roof of tions of that sort in, I believe, every Eurodark oak again ; a huge projecting bow win. pean dialect extant.

The books are all in dow, and the dais elevated more mujorum; prime condition, and bindings that would the ornaments of the roof, niches for lamps, satisfy Mr. Dibdin. The only picture is Sir &c. &c.; in short, all the minor details are, Walter's eldest son, in hussar uniform, and I believe, fac similies after Melrose.

holding his horse, by Allan of Edinburgh, a A narrow passage leads to a charming poble portrait, over the fire-place; and the breakfast-room, which looks to the Tweed on only bust is that of Shakspeare, from the one side, and towards Yarrow and Ettricke, Avon monument, in a small niche in the famed in song, on the other; a cheerful centre of the east side. On a rich stand of room, fitted up with novels, romances, and porphyry, in one corner, reposes a tall silver poetry, I could perceive, at one end ; and urn filled with bones from the Piræus, and the other walls almost entirely covered with bearing the inscription—"Given by George a most valuable and beautiful collection Gordon, Lord Byron, to Sir Walter Scott, of water-colour drawings, chiefly by Turner, Bart.” It contained the letter which accomand Thomson of Duddingstone, the designs, panied it till lately : it has disappeared ; no in short, for the magnificent work, entitled one guesses who took it, but whoever he was, “ Provincial Antiquities of Scotland.” as my guide observed, he must have been a

Returning towards the armoury, you have, thief for thieving's sake truly, as he durst no on one side of a most religious-looking cor- more exhibit his autograph than tip himself ridor, a small greenhouse, with a fountain a bare bodkin. Sad, infamous tourist, in. playing before it the very fountain that in deed! Although I saw abundance of comdays of yore graced the cross of Edinburgh, fortable-looking desks and arm chairs, yet and used to flow with claret at the coronation this room seemed rather too large and fine of the Stuarts a pretty design, and a stand for work, and I found accordingly, after ing monument of the barbarity of modern in- passing a double pair of doors, that there was novation. From the small armoury you å sanctum within and beyond this library. Pass, as I said before, into the drawing. And here, you may believe, was not to me room, a large, lofty, and splendid salon, the least interesting, though by no mcans thic with antique ebony furniture and crimson most splendid part of the suite. silk hangings, cabinets, china, and mirrors The lion's own den proper, then, is a quantum suff: From this you pass into the room of about five-and-twenty feet square by largest of all the apartments, the library, twenty feet high, containing of what is prowhich, I must say, is really a noble room. perly called furniture nothing but a small It is an oblong of some fifty feet by thirty, writing-table in the centre, a plain arm-chair with a projection in the centre, opposite the covered with black leather-a very comforta. fire-place, terminating in a grand bow win. ble one though, for I tried it and a single dow, fitted up with books also, and, in fact, chair besides, plain symptoms that this is no constituting a sort of chapel to the church. place for company. On either side of the The roof is of carved oak again--a very rich fire-place there are shelves filled with duodepattern-I believe chiefly à la Roslin, and the cimos and books of reference, chiefly, of book.cases, which are also of richly carved oak, course, folios ; but except these there are no reach high up the walls all round. The col- books save the contents of a light gallery lection amounts, in this room, to some fifteen which runs round three sides of the room, or twenty thousand volumes, arranged ac- and is reached by a hanging stair of carved cording to their subjects : British history and oak in one corner. You have been both at antiquities filling the whole of the chief wall; the Elisée Bourbon and Malmaison, and reEnglish poetry and drama, classics and misa member the library at one or other of those cellanies, one end ; foreign literature, chiefly places, I forget which ; this gallery is much French and German, the other. The cases in the same style. There are only two pora on the side opposite the fire are wired and traits, an original of the beautiful and melocked, as containing articles very precious lancholy head of Claverhouse, and a small and very portable. One consists entirely of full length of Rob Roy. Various little anbooks and MSS. relating to the insurrection tique cabinets stand round about, each having of 1715 and 1745; and another (within the a bust on it: Stothard's Canterbury Pilrecess of the bow window), of treatises de re grims are on the mantelpiece; and in one magica, both of these being (I am told, and corner I saw a collection of really useful wea.. can well believe), in their several ways, col- pons, those of the forest-craft, to wit-axes lections of the rarest curiosity. My cicerone and bills and so forth of every calibre. There pointed out, in one corner, a magnificent set is only one window pierced in a very thick of Mountfaucon, ten volumes folio, bound in wall, so that the place is rather sombre ; the

« PreviousContinue »