would make me contemn my species.’ She also wrote a life of her father, and of her aunt, Mrs. Barbauld, and many minor pieces. Miss Aikin's conversational powers were remarkable, and she was a graceful and graphic letter writer. Her letters to her relatives and intimate friends show her relish for society, and are full of mother wit and lively anecdotes of distinguished literary persons. She maintained for almost sixteen years (1826 to 1842) a graver correspondence with the Rev. Dr. Channing, of Boston, on religion, philosophy, politics, and literature. Strong opinions freely expressed characterise these shrewd and vigorous letters. In religion, Miss Aikin was, like the other members of her family, a unitarian—a circumstance which, added to a keen recollection of hardships, one might almost say persecutions, endured by herself as a child, and by her father, at Yarmouth, gave her a liberal, but by no means a tolerant, political creed. Writing to Dr. Channing on the progress of tractarianism in England, she pronounces ‘our Church Establishment the most systematically servile in Christendom.’ In discussing the first Reform Bill, she defines radicalism as ‘the supremacy of the rude and selfish and ignorant many.’ Miss Aikin was, in fact, a whig, with a generous love of liberty wherever she found it under any conditions, but with cultivated tastes that precluded sympathy with democracy. In her letters to Dr. Channing she warmly praises the whig aristocracy, and defends with a certain degree of conservatism English manners and customs from the criticism of her correspondent. These letters, which were not published till after Miss Aikin's death, are not among her best known writings; but they record in an interesting manner both her own opinions and those of the unitarian body of her time.
[Lucy Aikin, Memoirs, Miscellanies, and Letters, edited by P. H. Le Breton; unpublished Letters and Reminiscences.]
AIKMAN, WILLIAM (1682–1731), a portrait painter, who attained celebrity in his day, was born at Caerney, Forfarshire, on 24 Oct. 1682. He was the only son of William Aikman, advocate, sheriff of Forfarshire, and a man of eminence at the Scottish bar. Designed by his father for the law, Aikman preferred art and studied for three years under Sir John Medina at Edinburgh. In 1707 he went to Rome, after selling his paternal estate near Arbroath. Here he remained three years, and then visited Constantinople and Smyrna. Returning by Rome and Florence, he reached Scotland in 1712. He practised in Edinburgh with much success till 1723, when he was persuaded by John, Duke of Argyll, to come to London, where he resided till his death, well employed and the friend of many of the most distinguished men of his time. He was fond of poetry and poets. At college he formed the acquaintance of Allan Ramsay, who wrote an eclogue to his memory. He interested himself much in favour of Thomson, introducing that poet to Sir Richard Walpole, Arbuthnot, Swift, Pope, and Gray. Thomson wrote verses bewailing his loss, Somervile addressed to him an epistle in rhyme, David Mallet wrote the epitaph on him and his son, Smollett also praised him in verse, and Samuel Boyse composed some lines eulogising his art. He painted a portrait of Allan Ramsay, engraved by G. White; one of Thomson as a young man, now at Hagley, engraved for Andrew Millar's edition of Thomson; one of Gay, engraved by T. Kyte; and one of Somervile. Amongst others whose portraits he is known to have painted were John, Duke of Argyll, the Countess of Burlington, and Lady Grissell Baillie. A number of full-length portraits by Aikman were painted for the Earl of Buckinghamshire, of Blickling Hall, Norfolk. He painted some portraits of himself, one of which is in the Uffizzi at Florence, and two others belonged in 1793 to his daughter, Mrs. Forbes of Edinburgh, one of which was engraved by R. Scott for James Anderson's ‘Bee.’ In the National Portrait Gallery is a portrait of Duncan Forbes ascribed to Aikman, and the Duke of Devonshire possesses a large unfinished picture by him of the royal family in three compartments. He was acquainted with Sir Godfrey Kneller, whose manner he imitated. Two portrait etchings by his hand are known, and there is an etching by him in the print room of the British Museum of several slightly executed heads, one of them after Van Dyck. His death took place at his house in Leicester Fields on 7 June 1731, and is said to have been caused by grief at the death of his only son at the age of 17. Both were buried in one grave in the Grey Friars Church, Edinburgh. Two daughters survived him.
[Stark's Biographia Scotica; Lempriere's Universal Biography; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painters; Anderson's Bee, vol. xviii.; Notes and Queries (2nd series), xi. 415; Heineken's Dict. des Artistes dont nous avons des Estampes; Cat. of National Portrait Gallery; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Nagler's Künstler-Lexikon (edited by Meyer, 1872).]
AILESBURY, Earls of. [See Bruce.]