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in the catalogue of worthy and useful members of society.


It has justly been observed, that as art never made a poet, so nothing but nature can make a painter. There must be a native in-born genius to give any person a pre-eminence in these exquisite graces and accomplishments. It is, however, pleasing and instructive to mark the early bursts of genius which indicate the turn of mind, and lead men to marked distinction, either as elegant writers or artists.

Thomas Gainsborough, one of the

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most original painters ever produced in this or any other country, was a native of Sudbury in Suffolk, and born in


He discovered a very early propensity to drawing. Nature was his teacher, and the woods of Suffolk his academy. Here he would pass his mornings in solitude, making a sketch of an antiquated tree, a marshy brook, a few cattle, a shepherd and his flock, or any other casual objects that were presented. His genius appeared confined to landscape scenery, till accident furnished him with an opportunity of displaying his powers in representing the human countenance.

In the neighbourhood of his father lived a very respectable clergyman of the name of Coyte. With the sons of

this gentleman young Gainsborough passed much of his time, and from the instructions of Mr. Coyte received considerable advantage. In one of these visits there happened a violent commotion in the family, on account of the clergyman's garden having been plundered of a very large quantity of wall-fruit; and much pains was taken, but without effect, to discover the thief.

Young Gainsborough having risen one summer morning at an early hour, walked into the garden, to make a sketch of an old elm tree. He had seated himself in an obscure corner, and had just taken out his chalk to begin, when he observed a fellow's head peeping over the wall of the

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garden which was next the road, with an apparent intention of seeing whether the coast was clear. This changed the young artist's object, and instead of sketching the elm, he, in the few moments before he was observed, made a sketch upon the rough board of the head of the man; and so accurate was the resemblance, that he was immediately recognised to be the inhabitant of a neighbouring village; and upon close inquiry, he proved to be the very fellow who had robbed the garden.

This drawing was shown all about the place, and made young Gainsborough to be considered as a genius above the common standard. The

young Coytes lent him their drawing books, and the boy showing extreme


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Instead of sketching the elm, he made a sketch upon the rough board of the head of the man, who proved to be the robber. 136

London:William Darton, 58 Holborn Hill.

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