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shew how innocent, and respectable, and happy they were: and the picture is a delightful one;, and partly, at the same time, to explain how necessarily unpropitious their economy was, as well as the circumstances, of a settlement in a new and desert country, to any springing or cultivating of the fine arts. He justly observes how little power there is in the mere scenery of Nature, disconnected from mental culture and associations, to inspire a a prolific enthusiasm of imagination ; but it is a strange flighty excess to bring among the magnificent natural pheno nena of the place of West's nativity, mountains whose summits are inaccessible to "the lightest foot and wildest wing."
No mountains on this side of the great chain toward the shore of the Pacific Ocean, can take such a description as any thing better than irony.
From the moment of the incident above related, painting was the invincible passion of young West; and the Biographer briefly relates a long and very interesting series of occurrences which mark the stages of his progress, including the history of the little acquisitions and acts of patronage which were subsidiary to his labours and his success. Throughout the train, the power of genius is strikingly illustrated in the apparent disproportion between the means and the result, so much more being accomplished by slender aids and means than it would have been deemed possible to make them effect. That power is displayed also in the aptitude to perceive and turn to account the inthought-of capabilities of casualties and trifles; and in the inventiveness of expedients in default of the requisite inplements. One of the simplest of these, the camel's hair pencil
, was too outlandish a thing to be known otherwise than by description, in his part of the country; he was informed of the existence of such a thing after he had worked a good while with no better adapted an implement than the pen; and he quickly fell, for a substitute, on the fur of his father's favourite cut, which the frequent repetition of this clandestine pillage reduced to an appearance which excited the worthy elder's regret and inquiries. - It will often appear," Mr. Galt remarks, upon a careful 6 study of authentic biography, that the means of giving body and effect to their conceptions, are rarely withheld from men of genius. If the circumstances of Fortune are unfavourable, Nature instructs them to draw assistance from herself, by endowing them with a faculty of perceiving a fitness and correspondence • in things.' At a more advanced period, at the age of sixteen, he actually invented the camera in consequence of observing at first with inexpressible surprise, the moving apparitions of external objects across the ceiling of his chamber, admitted through the fissures of the window shutters, which had been
kept closed on account of his weakness in consequence of a fever. The whole account of this is extremely interesting.
In his eighth year he received from a Quaker relative, a merchant of Philadelphia, a box of paints, with six engravings, and a few pieces of prepared canvass.
• This was an æra in the history of the Painter and his art. He opened it, and in the colours, the oils, and the pencils, found all his wants supplied, even beyond his utmost conceptions. But who can describe the surprise with which he beheld the engravings; he who had never seen any picture but his own drawings, nor knew that such an art as the engraver's existed! He sat over the box with enamoured eyes; and could not refrain from constantly touching the different articles to ascertain that they were real. At night he placed the box on a chair near his bed, and as often as he was overpowered by sleep, he started suddenly, and stretched out his hand to satisfy himself that the possession of such a treasure was not merely a pleasing dream. He rose at the dawn of day, and carried the box to a room in the garret, where he spread a canvass, prepared a pallet, and immediately began to imitate the figures in the engravings.'
In this garret he painted a composition from two of the engravings,—the first of a series of compositions which has been progressive through seventy years! The Biographer says,
• Sixty-seven years afterwards, the writer of these Memoirs had the gratification to see this piece in the same room with the sublime painting of “ Christ rejected," on which occasion the Painter declared to him that there were inventive touches of art in his first and juvenile essay, which, with all his subsequent knowledge and experience, he had not been able to surpass. p. 24.
We cannot notice one-tenth part of the amusing and interesting particulars, so rapidly recounted in the Memoir. The Philadelphia merchant, who had given him the fascinating box, took him on a short visit to that city, where his faculties were absorbed in wonder and delight, and where he fell by accident into acquaintance with a respectable painter, who instructed and animated him, and lent him, to take home, the treatises of Fresnoy and Richardson. These inspired him with lofty ideas of the dignity of the art, which led to some curious little exhibitions of arrogance in his adventures and conversations with his juvenile companions; and, operating in conjunction with the notice and reputation they saw him acquiring, had the temporary effect of making them abandon their accustomed sports to become draughtsmen with chalk and ochre. From what he recollects of their rude essays, he is even now of opinion, that some of them evinced abilities which might have attained no small excellence in the art. His knowledge and understanding were very much improved by the discerning and friendly attention of an accomplished English governess, in the family of
another of bis father's wealthy friends. His reading having been entirely confined to the Bible, and the two books on painting, she read to him the most striking and picturesque passages from translations of the ancient historians and poetry; and it
was from this intelligent woman that he heard, for the first time, of the Greeks and Romans.' Some time afterwards he came within the potice, and soon became a subject of the most liberal and assiduous care of Dr. Smith, Provost of the College at Philadelphia; a man whose enlightened mind, attractive dispo. sitions, and indefatigable exertions, Mr. Galt represents as producing a very great and beneficial effect on the whole state of intellect and conversation in Philadelphia.
By this time, the youth was come into very high request as a portrait painter, and was venturing, with flattering omens, into the bistory department. But he had now attained an age, when the adoption of a regular occupation of life was become the subject of parental solicitude and deliberation :-deliberation, for it was by no means to be taken as a thing of course, that indications even so unequivocal and extraordinary, should be admitted as decisive in favour of a pursuit which the religious principles of the community had been accustomed to disapprove, as hardly less than criminal, though the censure had been thus far suspended in favour of this most amiable youth. It now became a matter of very serious consideration in the society to which he belonged. A meeting was called for the discussion of the subject; and we have a curious and interesting account of its deliberations. The independent and sensible reasonings of a Friend, of the name of Williamson, decided the question in favour of the young artist's wishes; and he received the solemn sanction and benediction of the community, accompanied with the most emphatic and affectionate injunction, that he should ever religiously preserve the art, in his practice, clear of those tendencies to vanity and immorality, on account of its liability to which, and evident frequent indulgence of which, the Quakers had on principle disproved and proscribed it. Nothing can be conceived more liberal and pleasing than the whole transaction. It would have been strange if the affectionate youth had not been deeply affected; and we can well believe that the impres-sion then made, has remained indelible through all his long sub sequent life.
A more beautiful instance of liberality,' says Mr. G. 'is not to be found in the records of any religious so'ciety.' p. 50–56.
It was about this period that he became for a short time a soldier, in the militia, which, even the Quakers felt the necessity of forming, at the perilous crisis which followed the destruction of General Braddock's army, by the Indians and French. A patriotic and martial ardour seized the young men of the province ; an elder brother of the Painter became a captain; and Benjamin was drilled in company with the boy who has since become so well known as General Wayne. He much excelled the young general in the manual exercise, and was not behind him in adventurous spirit. Captain West, the elder brother, a particu-, larly bold man, was sent with a party, conducted by Indian guides, to search in the remote forests for the dead bodies of Braddock's army; and it appears that Benjamin accompanied him. A very striking description is given of the discovery of the skeletons; and especially of the affecting circumstance of Major Halket, a British officer, ascertaining those of bis father and brother.
In 1756, he was hastily summoned from a distance to see his mother die ; she was only able to express by her look the satisfaction with whịch she saw him approach the bed, before she expired. He continued four years in America, visiting, and for a while residing in, several of the prineipal cities, supporting himself by portrait painting, making some aspiring essays in history, availing himself of all possibilities of improvement, but becoming, at every stage, more deeply convinced, that it would be impossible to attain any thing like the perfection of his art, without a view of the great works of the European artists.
His convietion and his wishes grew into a determined plan; and, in order to accomplish it, he accumulated all the money which a strict invariable economy could save from bis earnings by portrait painting. About the time that the sum approached toward a moderate sufficiency, a very favourable opportunity occurred for a voyage from Philadelphia to Leghorn, in a merchant-vessel. He seized it with a pleasure which was augmented by a signal act of kind and delicate liberality, on the part of a man on whom he had no claims but such as generous spirits feel imposed upon them by merit wherever they find it. At Leghorn, where he arrived about Midsummer of the year 1760, at the age of twenty-two, he experienced the utmost kindness from the merchants to whom the cargo of the ship was consigned ; and they gratified his eagerness to reach the grand metropolis of the arts by presenting himn with letters to Cardinal Albani, ' and several of the most distinguished characters for erudition
and taste in Rome; and, as he was unacquainted with French or Italian, they recommended him to the care of a French
courier, who had occasion to pass that way. It is not easy to conceive a state of mind more perfectly adapted than that of the young American genius, to receive a full and most exquisite impression of the character of art, and nature, and man, in Italy ; excepting, perhaps, in the circumstance of a deficiency of classical attainment. But even as to this requisite, the assiduous care of Dr. Smith had co-operated with the artist's inquisitive
ness and quick apprehension, to his attainment of a considerable share of what may be called the essence and spirit of ancient history. Probably not even Gibbon felt so powerful an emotion at the first sight of " The Eternal City."
When the travellers had reached the last stage of their journey, while their horses were baiting, West walked on alone. It was a beautiful morning; the air was perfectly placid, not a speck of vapour in the sky, and a profound tranquillity seemed almost sensibly diffused over the landscape. The appearance of nature was calculated to lighten and elevate the spirits ; but the general silence and nal:edness of the scene touched the feelings with solemnity approaching to awe. Filled with the idea of the metropolitan city, the artist hastened on till he reached an elevated part of the high road, which afforded yim a view of a spacious champaign country, bounded by hills, and in the midst of it the sublime dome of St. Peter's. The magnificence of this view of the Campagna excited, in his imagination, an agitated train of reflections that partook more of the nature of feeling than of thought. He looked for a spot to rest on, that he might contemplate at leisure a scene at once so noble and so interesting,' &c. &c.
In proceeding, however, to recount the train of reflections which passed through the artist's mind, at this moment, while sitting on a fragment of a column among ruins, we presume the Biographer may have thrown in a little of his own musings, or of the meditations which the artist indulged in a more calm and leisurely hour.
Before relating the incidents-the adventures we might call them-.of West's sojourn in Italy, Mr. Galt gives a lively, and we believe discriminative picture of the state of society, especially among the fine spirits, at Rome, at that period; with some disposition, however, to put too favourable an aspect on the moral character of the Italians. The young Painter was introduced, almost at the very instant of his arrival, into the very centre of the most brilliant assemblage of cognoscenti in Europe, under the auspices of Mr. Robinson, afterwards Lord Grantham ; something of a transition, truly; from a Quakers' Meeting at Springfield. : The circumstance of an American, and a Quaker, or a very Indian from the woods, as Cardinal Albani supposed he must be, come to study the fine arts at Rome, appeared so extraordinary, that they were all immediately swarming and buzzing about him. Their curiosity, however, was not malignant; they seem to have been all disposed with one accord to caress, and instruct, and patronize him.' But they must have the amusement of making some experiments upon him. The first was to shew him, suddenly, the Apollo Belvidere.
• At the hour appointed the company assembled ; and a proces