Jervas, Charles

, a painter of this country, more known from the praises of Pope, who took instructions from him in the art of painting, and other wits, who were influenced probably by the friendship of Pope, than for any merits of his own, was a native of Ireland, and studied for a year under sir Godfrey Kneller. Norris, framer and keeper of the pictures to king William and queen Anne, was the first friend who essentially served him, by allowing him to study from the pictures in the royal collection, and to copy them. At Hamptou-cour the made small copies of the cartoons, and these he sold to Dr. George Clark of Oxford, who then became his protector, and furnished him with money to visit France and Italy. In the eighth number of the Tatler, (April 18, 1709), he is mentioned as “the last great painter Italy has sent us.Pope speaks of him with more enthusiasm than felicity, and rather as if he was determined to praise, than as if he felt the subject. Perhaps some of the unhappiest lines in the works of that poet are in the short epistle to Jervas. Speaking of the families of some ladies, he says,

Oh, lasting as thy colours may they shine, Free as thy stroke, yet faultless as thy line; New graces yearly, like thy works, display, Soft without weakness, without glaring gay, Led by some rule, that guides, but not constrains, And finish’d more through happiness than pains.

In this passage the whole is obscure, the connection with the preceding part particularly so; and part is parodied from Denham. It is no wonder that Jervas did not better inspire his friend to praise him, if the judgment of lord Orford be accurate, on which we may surely rely. He says, | that “he was defective in drawing, colouring, and composition, and even in that most necessary, and perhaps most easy talent of a portrait- painter, likeness. In general, his pictures are a light, flimsy kind of fan-painting, as iargv as life.” His vanity, inflamed perhaps by the undeserved praises he received from wits and poets, was excessive. He affected to be violently in love with lady Bridgewater; yet, after dispraising the form of her ear, as the only faulty part about her face, he ventured to display his own as the complete model of perfection. Jervas appeared as an author in his translation of Don Quixote, which he produced, as Pope used to say of him, without understanding Spanish. Warburton added a supplement to the preface of Jervas’ s translation, on the origin of romances of chivalry, which was praised at the time, but has since been totally extinguished by the acute criticisms of Mr. Tyrwhitt. Jervas died about 1740. 1


Bowles’s edition of Pope, see index.—Ruffhead’s Life of Pope, p. 147. 4to edit.—Walpole’s Anecdotes.