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Excerpt from George Morland and the Evolution From Him of Some Later Painters
But though Morland's physical life, almost from his twenty-first year to the end, was so ungoverned, so abnormal that its very monstrosity might seem to preclude any considerations of heredity, it is worth while to say something about the tendency of his time, the tendency of his bringing up, and what little can be known of hereditary bias at least. So in the attempt to realize a mental portrait of him, the first thing, I take it, is to get as accurate an idea as possible Of the traditions which were at his back, both national and in his own particular line, the splendour or influence of those traditions, and whether they formed a solid point dappai to start from, gave a convention to defy on the one hand, or a torch to be carried on, on the other. The next thing is, before touching on the personality of the man, to find all that can be known of his bringing up and surroundings, and the infinitely subtle inﬂuences daily at work to form or deform character. And thirdly we should glance, however brieﬂy, at the contemporary as distinguished from traditional inﬂuences in his early life, in the particular line in which he achieved eminence, and note whether these inﬂuences were such as to help or hinder him, taking into account his temperament and Character, as the former was born with him and the latter moulded by Circumstances.
In the twenty years following 1763, the date of George Morland's birth, England was scarcely gaining prestige in her naval and military tradition, though martial spirit, according to Sir Walter Besant, ran high, and it was a great time for fighting in streets and roads. Every man who went out of doors knew that he might have to fight, to defend himself against foot-pad or bully most men carried a stout stick. The police or constables, when first appointed and for long after, were practically useless. The drinking of the last century went far beyond anything recorded; all classes drank; they began to drink hard about 1730, and they kept it up for one hundred years with great spirit and admirable results, which we, their grandchildren, are now illustrating. In 1736 there were 7044 gin-shops in London - one house in six - and 3200 alehouses where gin was secretly sold. The people all went mad after gin. The Clergy, merchants, lawyers, judges, the most responsible people, drank more than freely the lowest Classes spent all their money in drink, especially in gin, upon which they could get drunk for two-pence.
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bound: 154 pages
publisher: Forgotten Books (April 27, 2017)
isbn: 1332739598, 978-1332739592,
weight: 7.7 ounces (