New Church Worthies
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bayley
The World-Renowned Sculptor
WHOEVER contemplates the magnificent memorial raised by the Queen and her people to manifest their admiration for the character of Albert the Good, may observe the group of distinguished sculptors on the west side of the white-marbled base, and at the head of these stands the figure of Flaxman.
All who are moderately acquainted with the history of art will know how great was his eminence in sculpture, in some respects unrivalled, how universally he was esteemed and beloved for his amiable and gentle spirit by his great contemporaries in art and literature, for these have been described by Allan Cunningham in his history of great painters and sculptors, by Dr. Smiles in his excellent Self-Help, by Harriet Martineau in her History of the Thirty Years Peace, and many others, but few are aware that he was one of the very earliest readers and receivers of the Writings of Swedenborg; and formed his character and conduct by the truths they contained, from his early manhood to his life's end.
In the list of those who attended the meeting with Mr. Hindmarsh and others in the New Court, Middle Temple, in 1784, when as yet they had no place of worship of their own, given in page 23 of the History of the Rise and Progress of the New Church will be found Mr. John Flaxman, the celebrated sculptor, Wardour Street. This was only two years after his marriage which, as we shall see later, took place in 1782. In 1797, the friends who desired to worship in strict harmony with their convictions, took possession of Cross Street, then recently erected, and they enjoyed the ministry of Mr. Proud. Flaxman was one of the committee for two years, at the end of which time the Society found the expenses too heavy for their early condition, and accepted an offer of the eligible chapel, at a very moderate rent, in York Street, Hanover Square, better suited to their circumstances, and in which they continued to worship for fourteen years.
Flaxman constantly supported the Society for printing and publishing the Writings of Swedenborg, now called the Swedenborg Society, from ITS COMMENCEMENT IN 1810 TO HIS DEATH, attended its meetings, and advocated its objects. At the annual meeting in June, 1817, he is reported to have been present, as a distinguished member of the Royal Academy, and to have made a very eloquent and appropriate speech, to weaken the prejudices entertained by many against Swedenborg and his writings.
He was a bosom friend of Charles Augustus Tulk, then chairman of the Society, who, on the death of Flaxman, in 1826, wrote to The Times of December 15th, assuring the readers from his personal knowledge, that Flaxman's "religious sentiments had for many years been formed entirely on the doctrines of Swedenborg."
Members of Mr. Tulk's family have mentioned to me from time to time how devoutly Flaxman was in the habit of expressing his indebtedness to New Church principles, not only in his life, but in his art. And, from one of that family, a very dear friend of my own, one of the members of the Kensington Society, we have three tablets done by Flaxman, now erected in our church in Palace Gardens Terrace, which had remained with them from Flaxman's time.
Two are in the church itself, illustrating the two sections of the Lord's Prayer, "Lead us not into temptation," and "Deliver us from evil," and there is one in the schoolroom, which represents "Mercury bearing Pandora to earth," all three exquisite specimens of his spiritual and refined genius.
Having shown how thoroughly Flaxman's mind and character belonged to the New Church I will now request my reader to accompany me in a survey of his life and works.
He was born at York on the 6th of July, 1755, and was brought to London, where his father brought his family when John was a very little, weakly boy, and settled as a seller of plaster casts. His shop was in New Street, Covent Garden.
He was five years old, and could only hobble about on crutches at the time of the coronation of George III., but he was for all that a bright, intelligent little fellow, and entreated his father to bring him one of the coronation medals back, that he might take an impression of it.
He usually sat behind his father's counter, propped up by pillows, for there was a curvature in his back, and would amuse himself by drawing, and getting help while he strove to learn to read.
He got on rapidly, and was so studious and intelligent that a kind clergyman in the neighbourhood named, Matthews, took an interest in the boy, brought him books, and encouraged him in every way.
In the meantime he got stronger and at length could lay his crutches aside, and then he was invited to visit his friend at home, and Mrs. Matthews made him also a favourite, praising his youthful efforts, which, for a boy almost self taught, were extremely good.
He began to imitate the figures in his father's shop, in modelling with plaster of Paris, wax, and clay. His kind friends told him much about history, and the Greeks and Romans, and interested him in Ajax, Achilles, and Homer. They gave him lessons in Latin and Greek, which he prosecuted with ardour at home.
Don Quixote, and Paradise Lost, also, they introduced to him, and found that these writings were a constant delight to the earnest boy.
His chalk drawings, poor enough at first, gradually improved, and Mrs. Matthews was at length so pleased with them, that she got a commission from a lady friend, for him to draw six original sketches, in black chalk, of subjects in Homer.
His first commission! The boy duly executed the order, and was both well praised, and well paid.
At fifteen Flaxman entered as a student at the Royal Academy, and in the same year he won the prize of the silver medal. The next year he competed for the gold one, but did not succeed, though his fellow students generally believed he deserved it.
A young man named Engleheart, however, obtained the prize, of whom nothing, or next to nothing, was afterwards ever heard.
The failure did Flaxman no harm. When a youth is made of the true stuff, he feels he will succeed in the end, and he continues to bring out his ever-improving powers. "Give me time," said young Flaxman to his father, "and I will yet produce works that the Academy will recognize." He redoubled his exertions, spared no pains, and consequently made steady progress.
Having now grown to be a young man, and becoming better acquainted with life, he observed the bare living which his father was able to obtain for the family, and he resolved to lay Homer aside for a while, and heartily assist his father in plaster-cast making. He was willing to work for years at this humble business, and he did so, and kept the wolf from the door, and made the family circle more comfortable.
We observe in this the excellent disposition of young Flaxman. He drudged with his father a long apprenticeship at very humble work, but this was ultimately for his good. It accustomed him to steady work, and to self-sacrifice; at the same time he communicated a grace to what he did, which came to the ears of Mr. Wedgwood, then greatly desirous to improve the style of English pottery.
Anyone, who has gone to observe the beautiful wares at the Japanese Palace, at Dresden, where the Saxon elegant manufacture is set forth to great advantage, and compared it as is pretended to be done with the artistic work of other nations, will have seen the dowdy articles, the blue old teapots, and the crude cups and saucers, which are set forth to exhibit English skill and taste. They were what could be seen in full use before Wedgwood's time, but are the veriest caricature of what has since been produced in the elegant work of Copeland, Spode, Elers, Minton, and others, leaving the Saxons and their finest past work far behind. From Wedgwood's time undoubtedly England in porcelain has stood first, France second, and Germany third.
During my own residence in Dresden, thirty years ago, I was often greatly annoyed at seeing the old fashioned wares of England, a century ago, set forth as specimens of what the England of 1855 could do. The English authorities resident there ought to have taken care to have the country properly represented in such things, but they were overlooked.
Wedgwood, as has been remarked, having heard of young Flaxman's taste and skill, paid him a visit, and addressed him in an open-hearted cheery way, "Well, my lad," he broke out, "I have heard you are a good draughtsman and clever designer, I am a manufacturer of pots, named Wedgwood. Now I want you to design some models for me, nothing fantastic, but simple, tasteful, and correct in drawing. I'll pay you well. You don't think the work beneath you?" "By no means, sir," replied Flaxman; "indeed the work is quite to my taste. Give me a few days, and call again, and you will see what I can do."
"That's right, work away. Mind, I am in want of them now. They are for pots of all kinds;—teapots, jugs, teacups, and saucers. But especially I want designs for a table service. Begin with that. I mean to supply one for the Royal table. Now, think of that, young man. What you design is for the eyes of royalty!"
"I will do my best, I assure you." And the kind and generous Wedgwood went smartly out of the shop, as he had come in.
Young Flaxman did his best. By the time Mr. Wedgwood called again, he had a numerous series of models, prepared for various pieces of earthenware. They consisted chiefly of small groups in low relief, the subjects taken from ancient history and poetry. Many of them are still in existence, and are equal in beauty and simplicity to his after designs in marble. He visited the museums, where the celebrated Etruscan vases were to be seen, and these suggested to him the most graceful forms, to which he added his own elegant devices. Stuart's Athens, then recently published, also furnished him with specimens of the purest shapes of Greek utensils, and he was not slow to adopt the best of them, and work them up into new and wondrous shapes of elegance and beauty.
For several years he worked on at the employment chiefly provided by Mr. Wedgwood, executing but few works of art of any other kind, and at rare intervals. He lived a quiet, secluded life, working during the day and sketching and reading during the evenings. He was too poor to find much marble for his works; so generally confined himself to plaster of Paris.
He had however met with an amiable young lady, Miss Denman, a bright-souled, cheery, well informed, intellectual, noble young woman, with whom he felt he could be entirely happy, so he resolved to marry, and he left home and rented a small house and studio in Wardour-street, Soho. He was confident that with such a helper he should be able to work with greater devotion, for she too had a taste for poetry and art, and besides was an enthusiastic admirer of the genius of her lover. They married in 1782, and made their little home a paradise. He was then 27 years of age. Sir Joshua Reynolds, himself a bachelor, met Flaxman shortly after, and broke out upon him in sharp reproach, "So, Flaxman, I am told you are married; if so, sir, I tell you, you are ruined for an artist." Flaxman continued his journey home, and soon seated himself beside his wife, and taking her hand in his said with a look of great concern, "Ann, I am ruined for an artist." "How so, John?" she replied, "Who has done it, and how has it happened?" "It happened," he rejoined, "at church, and Ann Denman has done it."
He then told her what Sir Joshua had said, whose opinions on that subject were well known and had often been expressed. He maintained the absurd proposition, that students who would succeed must suspend all other pursuits, however proper and natural, and bring the whole powers of their minds to bear upon art from the moment they rose in the morning until they went to bed, as if proper leisure and change did not strengthen the mind, and prolonged monotony did not weary and weaken it.
He added, "Sir Joshua said no man can be a great artist unless he studies the grand works of Raffaelle, Michael Angelo, and others, at Florence and Rome: and I (said Flaxman) wish to become a great artist." "And a great artist you shall be, John," said his wife, "and visit Rome too, if that be really necessary to make you great." "But how?" asked Flaxman. "Work and economize," rejoined the gallant wife I will never have it said—'Ann Denman ruined John Flaxman for an artist.'" And so it was determined by the pair that the journey to Rome was to be made when their means would permit. "I will go to Rome," said Flaxman, "and show the president that wedlock is for a man's good, rather than for his harm; and you, Ann, shall accompany me."
For five years he worked patiently on in their humble home in Wardour-street. The affectionate couple, cheerful and happy, never lost sight of the journey to Rome, he working mainly for the Wedgwoods, who were good paymasters, and she taking care that not a penny should be wasted on useless expenses, but, after necessary home comforts were provided, the surplus should be hoarded for the journey to Italy and the sojourn at Rome. They solicited no help from others, no aid from the Academy, but trusted to their own patient labour and love to achieve their object.
During this period Flaxman exhibited very few works, but obtained many commissions for monuments, by the profits of which he added to his store; and he was thriving, hopeful, and progressive. He was universally respected by his neighbours, and his artistic circle of friends, amongst whom were Blake, also an earnest reader of Swedenborg, and Stothard, both great artists, and in many respects of kindred spirit.
All who knew Flaxman greatly esteemed his sincerity, his honesty, and his unostentatious piety.
It was at this period (1784) that is about three years before leaving England for Rome, that he became interested in the Works of Swedenborg, then being translated into English, and met with other friends similarly affected, to cultivate their spiritual knowledge.
When Flaxman, with the aid of his true helpmeet, his invaluable wife, (to whom on all suitable occasions he refers by her pet name Nancy), had saved enough to undertake their journey to Italy, they left England in 1787. He was then 32 years of age, and had already achieved a high reputation.
Arrived there, he applied himself diligently to study, making copies from the antique. English visitors soon found out his studio, and gave him commissions, and it was then that he composed his beautiful designs in illustration of Homer, Aeschylus, and Dante. Flaxman worked for Art as well as money, and the beauty of his designs brought him new friends and patrons.
In 1781 his beautiful memorial to Mrs. Morley and her child had been placed in Gloucester Cathedral; and his Chatterton for St. Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol, was finished in 1784. There was a quiet spiritual beauty, and a refined imagination about his productions thus early, which had made him known to the judges of high Art beyond the precincts of England.
On arriving at Rome, and in the early months of general observation, he became acquainted with Canova, whose own glorious talents enabled him to appreciate a kindred nature, and who encouraged and befriended Flaxman on every occasion.
Canova was in the full zenith of his popularity and his studio often filled with visitors from the British nobility. He often intimated to those who were pressing more commissions upon him than he could possibly accomplish, that they would do well to go and look at Flaxman. He was astonished that they so little noticed their own countryman. "You Englishmen," he said on one occasion, "I believe, see with your ears." This friendly appreciation by Canova (great in his own beautiful talent and without envy) continued after Flaxman's return, and was warmly appreciated by him.
Some years later, when Cambridge wanted a fine statue of some great man to adorn one of the buildings of the University, and formed a Committee of Public Taste to decide what should be done, Sir Charles—, the chairman, being asked who should do the work, oracularly declared that there was only one man fit for its accomplishment, and that was Canova in Italy.
Canova was consulted, and declined, saying he was too busy, and besides they had the right man in England. They wrote again to ask who it was, and Canova replied he was sorry they had a Flaxman in England, and did not know it. One English nobleman, Lord Egremont, the most intelligent Art patron of the time, was a warm adherent of Flaxman, both when he was in Italy and all his life afterwards. For him, his great work of Michael Conquering Satan, very late in life was executed, and it remains at his seat at Petworth. On the base his Lordship affixed the following appreciation of the sculptor:—
"This group was executed by John Flaxman, R.A.P.S., a man who presented the most striking example of the pre-eminence of the mental over the corporeal faculties of human nature, in the union of the most tender frame with the strongest energy of character, with the most exalted sentiments of honour, with a heart actuated by benevolence, and with a sublimity of genius of which this work remains a splendid monument, hardly surpassed by the most celebrated productions of ancient times, and certainly by none in his own."
During all his time in Italy he continued to supply Wedgwood with designs and patterns, and, considering the rate of payment for Art at that time, was generously supported.
He also executed his drawings of the Illustrations of Homer, Aeschylus, and Dante, which were sought after, and were a source of income.
At the end of four years of residence in Rome, and travelling to the south to see Naples, Paestum, and Virgil's country, as well as Herculaneum and Pompeii, he was preparing to return home, when his friend Canova introduced the Earl of Bristol, who was also Bishop of Derry, and who prevailed upon him to execute for him a large work, The Fury of Athamas, which kept him two years and a-half longer at Rome.
In December, 1794, he returned to London, and settled in Buckingham-street, Fitzroy Square, to the great joy of his old friends, and with increased public estimation.
He was appointed to execute the monument to Lord Mansfield for Westminster Abbey, which greatly increased his fame, and is the object of public admiration still. The great judge is seated in a curule chair, supported by Wisdom and Justice, with Truth represented sustaining the background. This was followed soon by the memorial to Mr. Bosanquet, in Leyton Church, with the representation of The Good Samaritan.
Thenceforward his work was called for in the great cathedrals, and distinguished churches far and wide in England, so as to keep himself and his pupils incessantly employed.
Besides St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, Winchester contains several of his works; Chichester, I think eight; Gloucester, Christchurch, Harrow, Oxford, Cambridge, and many others.
Each work is an historic picture, as well as a specimen of the highest art and beauty.
Take the one to Sir William Jones—the great Indian scholar, said to be master of twenty-eight languages—which was set up in the Chapel of University College, Oxford: you see Sir William himself, the picture of kindness and intelligence, with open book, and Hindoo pundits and pupils before and about him.
See the one on Charity in Campsull Church, near Doncaster, Yorkshire; and the tablet set up in St. John's Church, Manchester, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the ministry of the Rev. John Clowes, which was done in 1818. Flaxman, we are informed in the biography, was a particular and esteemed friend of Mr. Clowes. This beautiful tablet will have been seen and admired, no doubt, by many of my readers, and represents the reverend subject of it addressing three generations—the children, their parents, and grandparents—an angel standing behind, with palm branch, the emblem of victory. The intelligent observer of the works of Flaxman will have noticed the influence of his religious views on his art in many ways, but especially in his so often representing both angels and evil spirits without wings. It is not only the conclusion of thoughtful minds like that of Dr. Young that—
Angels are men in lighter bodies clad,
And men are angels, loaded for an hour:
But the direct and distinct teaching of the New Church is, that all angels and devils are from the human race. Indeed, without this, it would be very difficult to give a reason for the creation of this world at all.
The human body, with its glorious arms, hands, and fingers, the embodiment of human power, and its adaptation, is the perfection of form.
Wings are not something higher than arms, but, indeed, are far less perfect. They are the imperfect substitutes for arms in a far less noble creature. Fins are the same things for fish, and, though the indications are there, serpents drop them off altogether.
Wings are the emblems of the elevating and protecting power of truths, and so may be allegorically used, as they are in Scripture. The good man is said to mount up with wings like eagles; the Almighty to protect us with His wings; but neither one nor the other have these appendages literally.
In representing his angels and evil spirits, as he frequently does, without wings—as in the illustrations, Lead us not into temptation and, Deliver us from evil in our New Church, at Kensington, in Mr. Clowes' tablet, and many others—Flaxman was presenting the real forms of angels; while in other instances, as in The Guardian Angel, where a lovely baby is guarded by a motherly angel with very large wings, he is indicating the great protection needed by helpless infancy and innocence.
In 1800 he was made an Associate of the Royal Academy; in 1803 he became Fellow; and in 1810 the Academy instituted a Professorship of Sculpture, and requested him to accept it, which he did.
He delivered several courses of lectures, some of which were printed, and were so saturated with the exalted spirituality which pervaded, as religion ought to do, everything of the Professor, that Fuseli, who was a great artist and a devoted friend of Flaxman's, too, but with little religion, used waggishly say, he was going to hear the Reverend Professor Flaxman.
In 1818 he completed that splendid work of art, the Shield of Achilles. It was the labour of many years, done for Rundel and Bridge, goldsmiths, and the history of the world, in the flow of time, is depicted upon it. During its progress the Duke of York would occasionally come in and admire it.
The practical wisdom of Flaxman was evinced in his evenness of temper; if he experienced from anyone the irritability which they had not yet been happy enough to subdue.
Mr. —— called about a work which had taken longer than expected, and the purse-proud gentleman was noisy and insolent. Flaxman quietly explained the fact, and took no notice of the ungentlemanly manner or expressions. After a little time, his assistant mentioned his astonishment at his gentleness, when Flaxman replied, "I always think it the best way to treat such persons; they are much to be pitied. They lay themselves open to their own unhappy reflections. For they cannot but feel as the victims of their own ignorance and bad temper; and in such reflections find the bitterest self-reproof."
G. F. Teniswood, F.S.A., to whose admirable papers in the Art Journal for 1867 and 1868 I am greatly indebted in this sketch, says, of Flaxman, "Among his brother artists no man enjoyed a higher share of sincere regard. Beloved by Lawrence, the bosom friend of the gentle Stothard, the intimate companion of the mystic Blake, and the admiration of the philosophic Fuseli, his position with those among whom he worked and walked is more than explained. So thoroughly unselfish was he by nature, and so touchingly alive to the thought of human misery, that the ministrations of private charity were his frequent office. To the suffering he had ever a word of consolation; to the striving he brought encouragement; while his power of winning the esteem of all lay in the sincerity of motive regulating his actions."
In 1821 a change took place, which very sadly affected Flaxman. After nearly forty years of the happiest married life, the dear partner of his toils and triumphs ended her career on earth. She had been his true helpmeet, his other half, his better half; and he could not exhibit at the Royal Academy that year. Her sister, Miss Maria Denman, a lady of kindred spirit, filled her place in the household as well as it could be done by another; his own sister also resided with him; but the remaining years of his life were somewhat as those of a dove that had lost its mate.
He was sixty-six years of age, and his pupils and assistants were friends, full of admiration and affection; but it was evident that a certain charm of his life was at least dimmed for a time.
There is an interesting story told of one of his pupils, Mr. L. Watson—the same who executed the marble statue of Flaxman, now at the entrance of the Hall of University College, London. After his afternoon labours, Flaxman usually had a moderate quiet walk through the fields towards Hampstead, now covered with houses, and took a little refreshment at the end of his journey, for a short rest, and then returned.
Young Watson would follow at a distance, wait until his master came out, notice his kindly acts to the poor, and go happily home. This habit continued for a long time. Such are the deep attachments which arise from genuine goodness.
In 1826, on the 7th of December, his health having been long declining, a severe cold in three days brought his beautiful life on earth to a close, in his 72nd year. His remains were followed to the grave by the President and Council of the Royal Academy. Part of the burial ground where his body was laid was taken by the Midland Railway but the portion including the grave of Flaxman has lately been put into good order, and his monument is kept in a position of honour, and near which children now can rest and play.
On the 11th of December, before the funeral had taken place, Sir Thomas Lawrence, at the annual meeting of the Academicians, pronounced on Flaxman a high and solemn encomium pointing to his genius, his abilities, and his virtues, which will fully warrant our placing him among the most estimable and beloved of our New Church Worthies.
We extract from the Morning Herald of Dec. 19th, 1826. After the delivery of the premiums, the President in his address to the students introduced the following tribute, which we have somewhat abridged to the memory of Mr. Flaxman:—
"I know that the regulated proceedings of this night might justify or impose my silence: but why, when the form of that estimable being, whose death we are lamenting, is not consigned to earth—why should we not speak to you, gentlemen, who may be considered as part of the family of this mansion, of the loss we have mutually sustained? Why should we hesitate to offer to you sympathy and condolence, and to claim them from you? It is just that you should admire and revere him—it is just on every principle of taste and virtue that you should venerate his memory! And is it not equally so that you should mourn for him who toiled to do you service? You remember the feebleness of his frame and its evident though gradual decay. Yet it was but lately that you saw him with you, sedulous and active as the youngest member, directing your studies with the affection of a parent, addressing you with the courtesy of an equal, and conferring the benefit of his knowledge and his genius as though he himself were receiving obligation.
"If on the last meeting of this Academy, any member had been justified in declining to quit the happy seclusion of his studies, it surely was this admirable man; whose solitude was made an enjoyment to him, by a fancy teeming with images of tenderness, purity, and grandeur, and whose imagination, at the close of his life, was severely intent upon subjects which called for his greatest energy; and which, had he lived to execute or direct them, would have left permanent records of his genius on the palace of his King. But nothing of present distinction, or future fame, made him forgetful of a duty.
"On the Friday, when the premiums were to be voted, he was punctual in his attendance in these rooms, patiently going round to the performances of the candidates—intently observing each, and if a doubt existed in his mind, with that modest candour which never left him seeking to guide his own opinion by the impressions of his friends. To you, gentlemen, this was benefit and honour. Yet it was but one example of the tenor of his conduct in this Academy.
"Mr. Flaxman's genius, in the strictest sense of the words, was original and inventive. His purity of taste led him in early life to the study of the noblest relics of antiquity, and a mind, though not then of classical education, of classic bias, urged him to the perusal of the best translations of the Greek philosophers and poets, till it became deeply imbued with those simple and grand sentiments which distinguished the productions of that favored people.
"He was still more the sculptor of sentiment than of form, and whilst the philosopher, the statesman, and the hero, were treated by him with appropriate dignity, not even in Raffaelle have the gentler feelings and sorrows of human nature been traced with more touching pathos than in the various designs and models of this estimable man. The rest of Europe knows only the productions of the early periods of his fame; but these, which form the highest efforts of his genius, had their origin in nature only, and the sensibility and virtues of his mind.
"Like the greatest of modern painters, he delighted to trace from the actions of familiar life the lines of sentiment and passion; and from the populous haunts and momentary peacefulness of poverty and want, to form his inimitable groups of childhood and maternal tenderness; with those nobler compositions of Holy Writ, as beneficent in their motives as they were novel in their design, which open new sources of invention from the simplest texts, and inculcate the duties of our faith.
"In piety, the minds of Michael Angelo and Flaxman were congenial. I dare not assert their equality in Art; yet the group of Michael and the Fallen Angel is a near approach to the grandeur of the former; and sanctified as his memory is by time and glory, it gained no trivial homage in the admiration of the English sculptor, whose Shield of Achilles his genius only could surpass.
"But I trespass too long on the various business of this evening. To be wholly silent on an event so afflicting to us all was quite impossible. I know the great and comprehensive talents that are around me—I know the strength remaining to the Academy, but knowing likewise the candour that accompanies it, I feel that I may safely appeal to this assembly for their acknowledgment with mine, that the loss of Mr. Flaxman is not merely a loss of power but loss of dignity to the Institution. Deep and irreparable loss to Art! to his country and to Europe! Not to posterity, to whom his works; as they are to us, will be inestimable treasure, but who, knowing how short and limited the span that Providence has allotted to the efforts of the longest life and the finest intellect, and learning that his genius (though his career was peaceful) had inadequate reward, will feel it to be their happier destiny to admire and not to mourn him—to be thankful that he had existed, and not like us to be depressed that he is gone—to revere and follow him as their master, and not, as is our misfortune, to lament him as their friend.
"He died in his own small circle of affection, enduring pain, but full of meekness, gratitude, and faith, recalling to the mind, in the pious confidence of his death, past characters of goodness, with the well remembered homage of the friend.
'And ne'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed
A purer spirit, or more welcome shade.'"
To this high and authentic praise nothing need be added, except the remark in The Intellectual Repository for the New Church of the time:—
"The world's admiration can confer no lasting benefit; and Mr. Flaxman had the happiness of feeling his proper home was heaven."
Very soon after the earth had received his remains, there arose a desire to have preserved in some permanent form what could be collected of his, in his studio and elsewhere, and have a Flaxman Gallery. University College, Gowerstreet, was decided to be the appropriate place, and the authorities willingly gave their assent.
Miss Denman was delighted at the respect thus shown, and presented 140 models, casts, &c.; and a collection of his drawings was afterwards obtained.
Samuel Rogers, the poet and banker, called attention to the project by a circular, asking for contributions to defray the expenses incurred in carrying it out. These were contributed, and the permanent home for this interesting collection was secured.
In 1867, Mr. Henry Crabb Robinson, the last remaining personal friend of Flaxman, died, aged 90 years, and bequeathed £2,000 to the Council of University College, so that the Flaxman Gallery might always be kept in good order, and be open on certain days of the week to the public.
His fame increases with time, and, as is justly remarked by Mr. Teniswood, "The term Flaxmanic is now synonymous with the highest conceptions of imaginative sublimity, ideal beauty, purity of sentiment, and tender pathos."
Grateful to the Lord, who has already shown us such men, who have walked in the light of the Holy City for our examples, we close with Flaxman these Sketches of NEW CHURCH WORTHIES.
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