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- .<uA;OV* iN T L -U iCANOVA IN THE SCULPTOR'S STUDIO
YOUTHFUL DILIGENCEFUTURE GREATNESS, N E T s2 SA 1i 0 !',1_TO_. I O.V FJOy iXSL' f6:, \~?T ', 'OZ
:'d ", : -" " -' ,I--YOUTHFUL DILIGENCEANDFUTURE GREATNESS.\ iw',I' for the ]: irnii .BY THE LATEREY. W. K. TWEEDIE, D.D.,ATTTlIOI f-l 'i T11' i, (' 1 'I E," " TEED-TrME AND HIAI!VEST,"LONDON:T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;EDINBURGH ; AND NEW YORK.1872.
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rc fate.-0-HERE are few things which it is moreimportant to impress upon theminds of the young than thesetwo facts;-first, that they have their com-fort and success in life very much in theirown hands; and second, that the manner inwhich they spend their season of youth musthave a powerfully determining effect upontheir whole future.The well-known saying of Wordsworth,that " the child is father of the man," is beingvisibly demonstrated every day, and in everyplace; and yet, amid the frivolity and impul-siveness of youth, it may not receive theamount of attention which so important apsychological fact demands.Hence the necessity for such " biographies"as those contained in the present volume,
Vi PREFACE.where the different seasons of life are shownto be linked to each other, and to grow outof each other, by a natural sequence; and whereit is obviously seen that the "germ and pro-phecy" of the future are contained in thedispositions and tendencies of early days. Thenumber of such biographical illustrations ofthis principle might be greatly augmented-the theme, as regards this, being almost inde-finitely extensive. It is believed that in thislittle work a useful and judicious selection hasbeen made.The book may be regarded as a posthumousproduction of the late Dr. Tweedie, whoseother works of a similar tendency have been,and still are, so deservedly popular. Thefirst seven chapters were written by him,the others were added by another hand; andthe whole is now given to the public withthe earnest hope and prayer that the selec-tion may be useful to many young persons ofthe present day.14' 'L
ontcn ts.-0-I. LEONARDO DA VINCI, ... ... ... ...II. BLAISE PASCAL, ... ... .. ... 25III. ALEXANDER POPE, ... ... ... .. 49IV. BENJAMIN WEST, ... ... ... 75V. ANTONIO CANOVA, .. ... ... ... 101VI. ALEXANDER WILSON, ... .. ... ... 138VII. HENRY KIRKE WHITE, ... ... ... 162VIII. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, ... ... ... 189IX. SIR MATTHEW HALE, ... ... ... 217X. JACQUES LAFITTE, ... ... ... ... 236
LF we heard it said of any man thathe was one of almost universalgenius, that he stood unrivalled forthe extent of his knowledge in art and science,our curiosity would surely be excited to knowmore of his history.If we were further told that he was as re-markable for the beauty of his person as forthe capacity of his mind, our desire would beincreased.If it were added that he was a man ofproud and kingly bearing, of sumptuous habits,and noble dispositions, all that would whetcuriosity more and more. And if the wholewere crowned by the intelligence that he wasone of those regal geniuses which are some-times sent into the world to impress us withthe conviction that He who made man's na-
10 BIRTH.ture what it is can exalt it far above thecommon standard, the question would pro-bably arise, Who was he? when did he live ?what was he in youth? what in manhood?whence arose his preeminence ?Such a man, then, was LEONARDO DA VINCI,a son of Pietro da Vinci, a notary of Florence.He was born at the Castle of Vinci, in the Vald'Arno, not far from the Tuscan capital, in theyear 1452, and his praise has seriously taxedthe language of encomium to utter it all. Therewas in him " a grace beyond expression, whichwas rendered manifest, without thought oreffort, in every act and deed."-" To whateversubject he turned his attention, however diffi-cult, he was able, by his rare ability, to makehimself absolute master of it."-" Extraordi-nary power was, in his case, conjoined withremarkable facility."-" Truly admirable, in-deed, and divinely endowed, was Leonardo daVinci."-Such are some of the expressionsused to set forth his gifts and his acquirements.Nay, the enthusiasm of his biographers riseshigher still, and we read that the radiance of hiscountenance, which was splendidly beautiful,brought cheerfulness to the heart of the most
EARLY TALENT. 11melancholy, and the power of his word couldmove the most obstinate to say " Yes," or" No," as he desired.-After making full al-lowance for such passionate praise, there stillremains enough to render this remarkableman an object of instructive study: there arelessons involved in his life which all would dowell to learn. In truth, the charms of chi-valry, the secrets of science, and the perfectionof art were all in his possession-" le scanned the heavens, and mysteries thereGrew patent to his eagle ken,While beauteous things from earth and air,Like new creations, smiled on men.lie seized his pencil-all was grace;His chisel-marble seemed to live:All Nature's glories he could trace,And ravishment to mortals give."What, then, does his life suggest to illus-trate our present topic-the influence of theboy upon the man ?Even when Leonardo was a child, we read,he displayed a strong inclination and talentfor painting. It appeared in several littledrawings and sketches, which gave promise inthe child of what the man did not belie.Captivated by these juvenile efforts and their
13 AN INCIDENT.success, Leonardo's father showed them toa painter, Andrea del Verocchio. He alsowas astonished, and in due time the boybecame the pupil of that painter, in whosestudio the productions of the juvenile artistformed the wonder of all. But not merelyaptitude for art, versatility in regard to otherdepartments rendered the boy remarkable; andin several of these pursuits, as well as in hisprofession, he found a guide and counsellor inhis master, Verocchio, who, it appears, lovedand prized his pupil as one so gifted andascendant deserved to be.An incident is recorded regarding the earlyyears of this boy, which may briefly illustratehis powers. His master was employed upona painting of Christ when baptized in theJordan by John, and the pupil was appointedto paint in one of the figures, which was thatof an angel. But so exquisite was his part ofthe workmanship, and so far did it excel thatof his master, that from that period the latterabandoned painting, and confined himself tosculpture and other departments of art,-" somuch was he displeased to find that a merechild could do more than himself."
154,THE PUPIL EXCELS THE MASTER
ACQUIREMENTS. 13The wonder produced by such early emi-nence is increased when we are told that afterall Da Vinci at times made painting his amuse-ment rather than his profession. A largeportion of his time was taken up with poetry,music, astronomy, mathematics, sculpture, ar-chitecture, engineering, mechanics, botany, andanatomy. Can it be literally true, as hasbeen recorded, that he was " not only a stu-dent of those arts and sciences-he was amaster in them all" ?As this gifted man was careful in youth tolay a good foundation for the future, thestructure which he reared on it was really oneof the most wonderful ever constructed bymortal skill. Ardent in study, and eager inthe pursuit of knowledge, his acquirementswere not of that superficial kind which servefew purposes but those of vanity and show.*On the contrary, he did thoroughly what he* This remarkable man left his opinions on various subjects in aboutthirteen manuscript volumes, in which the writing is from right to left.The following are some of the subjects discussed or referred to:-l. Onthe descent of heavy bodies, combined with the rotation of the earth.2. On the earth divided into particles. 3. Of the earth and the moon. 4. Ofthe action of the sun on the sea. 5. On tle ancient state of the earth.6. On flame ind the air. 7. On statistics 8. On the descent of heavybodies on inclined planes.--Besides these, we have his views on whirl-pools, on vision, on military architecture, on some chemical processes,and various others-and all these by a man who, from boyhood, was de-voted to painting
14 DISCOVERIES AND INVENTIONS.did at all; and in arithmetic, for example,while only a boy, so rapid was his progress,and so searching his study, that he often con-founded his master alike by the doubts whichhe raised and the questions which he asked.Even in early youth he thus gave premonitionof what was coming, and modelled figures"which might be supposed to have proceededfrom the hands of a master." In architecturealso he prepared designs for various buildings;and when only a lad, suggested what wasaccomplished two centuries after his time,namely, the formation of a canal from Florenceto Pisa, by utilizing the water of the Arno.In truth, this extraordinary genius actuallymade various discoveries in science, and pro.duced inventions in physics, some of whichhave been rediscovered and reinvented sincehis day.And lest it should be supposed that sohappy a genius accomplished so much, or be-came so remarkable without effort, it shouldbe noticed that he took elaborate pains infinishing what he pairited-pains as elaborateas if the persistent drudgery of a mere plodderor a servile copyist were all he could accom-
PAINSTAKING. 15plisli. The minutest parts were exquisitelyfinished. When representing woven cloth,for example, the very threads were individuallyvisible: when painting the countenance, eachhair on the eyebrows was also finely indivi-dualized. In landscapes, every leaf and budwas carefully traced-in some cases the verydew-drop is visible on the flower. And so inother examples: thus minute or microscopicwas his search for -. .-. I-..,---i determina-tion to be thorough.In his early youth Leonardo painted someobjects so grotesquely, and in combinations sohideous, that even his father was scared, andfled from the sight; but it is no part of ourobject to describe these products of his pencil,powerful though they were. Let us rather ac-company him along the path by which headvanced to his exalted place; and in doing so,we find him following any person of unusualappearance, studying, mentally copying, trea-suring up whatever was expressive, or grand,or peculiar, and then hastening to reproduceit in some work. A face full of character, ahead of unusual or dignified aspect, a strangeattitude, fun, fiolic, grief, rage, violence,-all
10 SEEKING KNOWLEDGE.were seized by the skilful student, all trea-sured up, and all employed as occasion arose.One of Leonardo's biographers tells us that heattended a supper to which the painter hadinvited a number of peasants, whom he highlyamused and prompted to laugh immoderatelyas well as display extravagant contortions; allwith a view to embody their exhibition insketches, and this he did with such effect thatthe whole was irresistibly comic.* In additionto all this, Da Vinci would follow criminalson the way to execution, that he might studytheir expressions, and eventually transfer themto canvas. In a word, if this man be on theway to preeminence, even his amazing powersdid not enable him to reach it by a bound;nay, he mounted step by step, just as he musthave climbed an Alp or advanced in a longday's journey. Indeed, his course of study,planned and long followed out, was both soextensive and so minute that only a buoyantgenius resolved to be daunted by no difficultycould have successfully carried it out.By these, then, and similar measures, did"* There is in the British Museum a volume of such drawings by Leo-nardo. It contains portraits, caricatures, tilting, horses, and a variety ofother subjects in different departments, illustrated by manuscript notes.
A POWERFUL MACHINE. 17this mere stripling lay the foundation for ex-cellence. And in sentences already quotedwe have seen what excellence he achieved. Itis no part of our design to criticise his produc-tions, or to show how, in some respects, herivalled Raphael himself. Even the wondrouspainting of the Last Supper, regarding whichperhaps more has been written than about anyother painting, we do not attempt to describe.Enough that in his chosen profession Leonardoda Vinci takes his place among the very fore-most, while in many respects he had no rival,no second, in his own time or since. Some ofhis inventions, indeed, appear to be mythi-cal. For example, when at Florence he con-structed or planned a machine, by which hesaid, in the spirit of Archimedes, that he couldraise the Church of St. John in that city fromthe ground in one mass, so as to admit of theedifice being under-propped without injury toits parts. And what is perhaps more wonderful-so persuasive were his words, and such hisspell-like power over men, that while he spokethe undertaking seemed feasible. Only whenhis audience got beyond the reach of the elo-quent artist's voice could they see that such a(107) 2
18 COLOSSAL CONCEPTIONS.thing was impossible by any power that mancould apply. Yet the very biographer, GiorgioVasari, who has narrated that trait, has addedthat " Leonardo was in all things so highlyfavoured by nature, that to whatever he turnedhis thoughts, mind, and spirit, he gave proofin all of such admirable power and perfectionthat whatever he did bore an impress of har-mony, truthfulness, goodness, sweetness, andgrace, wherein no other man could ever equalhim." It is recorded regarding him, that innatural philosophy he never was satisfied tillhe had proved his proposition by experiment;and with that before us we may wonder whatexperiment proved his ability to upheave St.John's.But the proposal to raise the Church of St.John from the ground was not the only projectof Da Vinci which could not be accomplished.Some of his works in art were planned on ascale so colossal that it was impossible toembody them in permanent forms. One ofthese would have required one hundred thou-sand pounds weight of bronze. The verygrandeur of his conceptions thus frustratedtheir realization; and his admirers do not fail
DIFFICULTIES. 19to tell that while he perpetually sought toadd excellence to excellence and perfection toperfection, he was at each successive stageoften rendering his plans less likely ever tobe completed. He had studied, he had la-boured, he had visited city after city, andkingdom after kingdom, to mature his mind,and acquire all varied accomplishments. Butwhen he tried to be practical, he found thatthere was a limit, often a narrow one, tohuman power; and some of the grand ideasof Leonardo da Vinci never escaped from theregion of the ideal. While he wrought, itwas often so slowly that ordinary minds chidhis delay; but he was slow because the con-ception in his mind refused to appear uponthe canvas,-it was genius picturing but notable to embody.To indicate more plainly how the wondrousboy, whose painting made his master abjurehis pencil for ever, grew into the man, it maysuffice to allude to some of the wonders whichLeonardo undertook to accomplish. Writingto Ludovico, Duke of Milan, in 1483,-thatis, when the artist was only thirty-one yearsof age,-he engages to construct light pon-
20 WONDERS.toons for flight or pursuit in war, and alsoto destroy those of the enemy; to draw offthe water from fosses during a siege, and sup-ply all kinds of engines for the leaguer; todestroy any fortress, not founded on rock,without the aid of bombardment; to striketerror into the enemy by a species of bombwhich he describes; to run mines under theditches of fortifications, or even under rivers, soas to reach any point desired in the interior ofa place; to construct covered waggons "se-cure and indestructible," to be driven amongthe enemy, and sufficient to destroy thestrongest bodies of men; to form bombs, mor-tars, and field-pieces, entirely different fromthose in common use; to prepare other enginesof offence where these cannot be used. Forsea-fights he was prepared to construct vesselsthat would be able to resist the most power-ful bombs, and employ "vapours" for theoffence of the enemy. In times of peace, hepromised plans for public and private build-ings, and to conduct water from place to place.Sculpture in marble, bronze, or terra cotta, healso undertakes. And to complete what seemsto have been designed as a kind of challenge,
GENEROSITY. 1Da Vinci says: " If any of these shall seem toany man impossible or impracticable, I amperfectly ready to make trial of them ....in whatever place you shall be pleased to com-mand ." Leonardo at least believed inhimself; his biographers evince no incredulity;and his treatise on hydraulics still remaining,as well as works, printed and in manuscript,upon subjects more connected with his profes-sion, attest beyond a doubt the versatility,the wide range, and the amazing penetrationof this man's mind.And as a man his friends clung to him withadmirable fondness. He encountered slightsfrom Pope Leo X. When pitted in advancedlife against the rising fame of Michael Angelo,Da Vinci disliked the competition; but thequalities of his heart are as loudly praised asare the works of his hands. With a generousliberality he extended shelter and hospitalityto every friend who needed his aid. Admir-ing excellence, and living for it, he rejoicedover talent wherever he found it. Even thelower animals shared his sympathy and hisheart, for he sometimes bought birds in themarket-place just to have the joy of settingL.
22 PERSONAL RELIGION.them at liberty. Though he was the com-panion of princes, nay, though he is said,though apparently without truth, to have diedin the arms of Francis I. of France, he did notrefuse to associate even with the poor whenthey were worthy. At first his own meanswere scanty, but as his resources increased hisheart enlarged, and his whole style of life wasin keeping with that of the man whose con-ceptions were so grand that they often couldnot be embodied, or so beauteous that theycould not be surpassed. Some of his produc-tions are placed side by side with those ofTitian.From all the Biographies of Da Vinci wecan learn little regarding his religion. To-wards his close a case is made out of professedpenitence, even to tears, for long neglect; andsuch ceremonies as Rome knows how to em-ploy to opiate conscience were employed in hiscase; but the veil is thick, and we have notfound the means of raising it. We are con-sequently compelled to speak of him mainlyin regard to this world, and eminence here.His example shows again what can be achievedby painstaking and persistent endeavour.
DEATH AND CHARACTER. 23Starting from a basis of unquestionable genius,but in common life, he soared, and built, andplanned, and constructed, till nature, throughmany a department, became tributary to hispower. We may not have the same gifts, butwe may, we should, have the same perse-verance,-and with that success is sure, evenin our distempered world.It may well be supposed that the death ofLeonardo, which took place at Fontainebleau,on the 2nd of May 1519, would occasiondeep grief to thousands. It is believed thathis health had been impaired and that he wasrendered prematurely aged in appearance byhis severe and protracted studies and labours-he was reckoned nearly eighty when hewas only sixty-seven. We have seen that hewas the companion of princes; and he wasretained as architect and engineer by PopeAlexander VI. He founded an Academy forArt at Milan, under the powerful family ofSforza, and in many ways promoted the wel-fare, as he was the chief glory, of his country.These things, then, together with his works,endeared himself and embalmed 'his memoryto many. And though collisions or envy drove
24 MORE THAN REWARDED.him from Rome to France, that did not marhis fame. By the King of that country hewas courteously and honourably received; andcertainly he deserved it all. To have anti-cipated what made Galileo, Kepler, and othersillustrious-namely, the Copernican System-and to have briefly sketched some of thetheories of modern geology in a way " whichstrikes us with something like the awe ofpreternatural knowledge,' was surely enoughto render any man illustrious. It more thanrewarded any amount of youthful toil; andsuch preeminence, Hallam says, belonged toLeonardo da Vinci.ttoi ^
i.-IL.S the world grows older, it seems togrow less and less likely that any"mute, inglorious Milton," shouldsteal through life unnoticed; or that any"Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood,"should not find an arena on which to act.There is so much in the world's condition nowto develop the latent and uncover the obscure,that whatever powers a man possesses willfind an outlet, or force one. Self-made menare becoming more numerous in every succes-sive generation; and while mere convention-alities, in certain circles, seem to be reducing allto a common level, or withering men away, inothers, the openings which are made for elas-ticity of mind insure preeminence to all whodeserve to be preeminent. It may be inengineering, like George Stephenson. It may
26 PARENTAGE.be in literature, like Hugh Miller. It may bein the mere amassing of wealth, like many amillionaire. It may be in doing good, likeJohn Pounds. But whatever be the sphere,openings abound. In its progress towards itsdestiny, the world and its inhabitants arepassing into new conditions as surely as theglobe revolves upon its axis. The man isgradually becoming of more importance thanthe circumstances.Our next study leads us to the contempla-tion of one who ranks among the greatest ofthe sons of men, and who took his place inspite of barriers interposed. BLAISE PASCALwas born at Clermont, in the province ofAuvergne in France, on the 9th of June1623. His grandfather and his father wereboth employed by the Government of their day.The former is called a Treasurer of France;and the latter, Stephen Pascal, was President ofthe Court of Aids in Auvergne. The familywas ennobled by Louis XI.-Blaise has beencalled one of the highest names, not only inthe annals of France, but of the human race."When he was only three years of age helost his mother. Her name was Antoinette
EARLY TRAINING. 27Begon, but little is recorded regarding herexcept that she had four children-two sonsand two daughters. The eldest boy died ininfancy, so that Blaise was like an only son;and on the death of Antoinette, his father re-solved to retire from public employment anddevote himself entirely to the child's educa-tion. His main attention was directed to theculture of the mind rather than of the heart,and as Stephen Pascal was addicted to scien-tific pursuits, he was early made glad byproofs of precocious ability in his surviving boy.Having surrendered his office in Auvergne toa brother, he removed to Paris when Blaisewas in his eighth year, there to prosecutewithout distraction his self-imposed task-theculture of the child. According to the methodthus adopted, the parent was the sole teacher;so that whatever the boy became, no por-tion of his ability or acquirements can betraced to the training of the schools. Intruth, that kind of home education whichthoughtful minds often strike out, is, perhaps,more conducive to the development of what isoriginal than our usual scholastic plans. Itwas so, at least, with Blaise Pascal.
2 T MiATHEMATICS EXCLUDED.His father was a proficient in mathematicalscience, and hoped to see his boy the same.In his early years, however, the child waskept carefully aloof from such studies, andhad his attention turned rather to the generalculture of his mind than to the indulgence orthe fostering of any peculiar tendency. Allfacts, the reasons of things, wonders in nature,-whatever, in short, could arrest a child'snotice, and draw forth his reasoning powers,the father of Blaise Pascal placed- under hisnotice; but mathematics were carefully ex-cluded. While the mind was placed as in ahot-bed regarding other things, it was chilledor repressed in regard to what proved, after all,one of its master pursuits in life. The exactsciences, with all their secrets, were as good assealed against the boy, till, according to hisfather's theory, the young mind should becomemature enough to comprehend them, or studythem to advantage. Books bearing on thesesciences were rigidly withheld. They werenot even spoken of in presence of the boy.He was taught that they were, in the mean-time, interdicted subjects for him.But all this was vain. There was some-
THE EXPERIMENTS. 29thing in that boy's mind which must be out.There were longings, tendencies, deep desires,which could not be resisted. He had workto do, and instinct cried, "Let me do it."He implored his father to permit him to beginthe study of mathematics; but his appeal wasin vain. Blaise was now about twelve yearsof age, but all he could obtain was the promisethat that study would be open to him as areward for diligence in his present pursuits-the study of languages and general learning.In the meantime, however, he had acquiredsome vague idea of the nature of mathematics,or, at least, of the objects at which they aimed;and boy as he was he set himself to elaboratea system of mathematics for himself. Heshut himself up in a room which was grantedto him as a place of amusement, and began aseries of rude but wonderful experiments, toguide him to some acquaintance with thecoveted but forbidden science. He coveredthe floor with figures drawn in charcoal-squares, triangles, circles, and other mathe-matical forms. He did not know even thename for a circle, but called it a " round;"or of a line, but called it a "bar." Yet in
30 THE DISCOVERY.that state of ignorance, he groped, or ratherreasoned his way to the conclusions of one ofEuclid's propositions, and indicated clearlywhat talents he possessed.When Stephen Pascal happened to enter theplay-room of his son, and saw what formed hispastime, his surprise may be imagined. Theboy was confounded when detected in the actof disobeying his father's prohibition; but thatfather, it is said, wept in deep emotion overthe discovery which he had made. Blaiseexplained the stages by which he had wroughthis way through various demonstrations bymeans of his "bar" and "rounds," and suchrude helps as a boy could fabricate; and itwill easily be believed that every barrier andall restrictions were now withdrawn from thepath of the boy mathematician. He was en-couraged and helped in his studies by his ad-miring tutor, his father, and we shall forthwithsee with what results.As Stephen Pascal, the father, had an ex-tensive acquaintance with scientific men, theconversations at his house were often wellfitted to arrest so inquisitive a mind as thatof Blaise. From some hints which he caught,
THE TREATISE ON " CONIC SECTIONS." 31it is said that in his eleventh year he wrote ashort treatise upon Sound. It was this thathad led to the prohibition of mathematics, andto silence regarding them in his home-asilence for which the boy was inconsolable.The discovery, however, of his diagrams, his" rounds" and "bars," necessitated the removalof the prohibition, and he was left at full libertyto follow where his genius led.And the boy followed with celerity. In ashort time he occupied a distinguished posi-tion among the mathematicians of his day.What was rudimental he easily mastered,and the soaring mind of a lad whom Baylepronounced " one of the sublimest geniusesthat the world ever produced," speedily roseso high that while only about sixteen years ofage, young Pascal was admitted a member ofa Parisian society for the cultivation of mathe-matics. Even before that age he had com-posed a short treatise on Conic Sections,-notthe least difficult portion of applied mathema-tics; and so meritorious was the work of thatstripling that another distinguished Frenchphilosopher, Descartes, persisted in ascribingit to the elder Pascal, in spite of his solemn
32 THE CALCULATING MACHINE.disclaimer. It has been said of this youngman that "his discoveries even in youth wouldhave intoxicated many men to madness "-while he remained humble, calm, and uncon-scious of any peculiar power.Stephen Pascal was appointed by the FrenchGovernment to an office in Rouen. This tookplace in the year 1641, and as some of theduties connected with that office, involvinglong calculations, were devolved upon Blaise,he invented a calculating machine, to abridgehis labour and economize his time. In theinvention and construction of that machinehe evinced a marvellous ingenuity, and anamount of perseverance scarcely to be expectedin one who was still only a lad. But heknew that- "the gods sell all things to manfor labour," and Blaise Pascal was one of thosewho acted betimes on that maxim. Themachine cost him two years of rarely inter-mitted labour, and though it has been surpassedin more recent times by similar machines,that does not diminish our admiration of theuntiring assiduity of this illustrious youth.But still more delicate engagements nowengrossed his mind. Why does mercury rise
THE MERCURIAL QUESTION. 33and fall in a tube in certain conditions? Thatwas a question which was then much agitated;and the received answer was, that Natureabhors a vacuum, therefore the fluid ascends.No valid answer was given, however, to thequestion; Why does the fluid stop at a certainelevation ? Does the abhorrence of Naturenot extend higher than a few inches, or a fewfeet, as the case may be ? A mind like thatof Blaise Pascal could not be satisfied withsuch reasoning, and he set himself to provethe true cause of the rising of the mercury ina tube. By experiments which could not begainsaid, he established the real cause,-namely, the weight of the atmosphere pressingon the mercury. Torricelli, the original dis-coverer, had died before his proofs were com-pleted; but young Pascal perfected the demon-stration, and so took his place, young as hewas, among the undoubted philosophers of hisday.He may now be regarded, then, as havingentered upon manhood; but he also entersupon much more. It was at Rouen that thePascals then resided, and while there a changecame over the youth which affected all his3
34 PRICE OF EMINENCE.future. He had already, it is believed, sotasked his strength by study, by amassingknowledge, and eagerly pursuing the objectsin which he was interested, that even in hiseighteenth year his failing health betokenedthe effects of excessive mental exertion. Thenerve-matter was overworked by the immortaloccupant of his bodily frame, and symptomsof disease appeared which increased withgrowing years, insomuch that he often hadoccasion to say that from that date,-hiseighteenth year,-he had never enjoyed a dayof entire exemption from pain. Such was theprice which he paid for eminence. But ashis earthly father's training had led him tothe knowledge of things which are seen andtemporal, his ,heavenly Father now began toinstruct him in a yet higher science, and itsoon appeared in this youth's case that "noneteacheth like God." Paralysis had attackedthe young man's frame, yet so devoted, sointense was his love of science, that he actuallygave himself up to the profound study ofmathematics to soothe and calm his spirit whenagitated by the violence of his pain! It washeroism-it was the very most that Nature
THE GREAT CHANGE. 35could do in such a case; but he was soon toknow a more excellent way, and discover amore abiding solace.Pascal has been compared to a youngGrecian wrestler, the perfection at once ofphysical beauty and physical strength; and asthe result of such high mental endowments ashis, the discoveries which he made are likenedto a kind of inspiration. Profound in them-selves, they were thrown off by him withouteffort. That they cost him much, we know-his health broke down under the strain of histhought; but so graceful and attractive are hisaccounts of his discoveries, that those who canfollow him in his soaring tell that they seemto have been revealed without the throeswhich some discoverers have endured. Won-derful attainments, surely, in one who was stillbut a young manThough all was morally correct and exem-plary in the house of Stephen Pascal, it doesnot appear that he gave that prominence to"the Truth" which is its due. Absorbed inscience, he, like many more, made that onlysecond which God makes first. But influenceswhich need not be described were at work
36 THE JESUITS.in his family, and Blaise was led thereby toadopt that system of truth which has beenrevealed to guide man back to God. He soondiscovered that high as scientific studies rank,there are many things in heaven and earthwhich transcend them far; and the youngdevotee of science was now as eager in thepursuit of salvation. He became the instructorof those who would listen to his lessons. Thefather was now in his turn the pupil of theson; for the high culture and the great attain-ments made by Blaise Pascal as a boy and ayouth came into full play regarding the thingsof eternity and the soul. His memory wasso great that he is said never to have forgottenanything that he had learned; so that hebecame one of a thousand as a counsellor andguide, and now most of all in regard to whatrelates to the coming glory of eternity.But the high mental culture which BlaisePascal had acquired in boyhood and youth,and the knowledge which he had collected,were to be turned to further account in man-hood. Circumstances arose which broughthim into collision with the Jesuits, then atthe height of their dark domination in France
THE " PROVINCIAL LETTERS." 37and elsewhere; and with such power, suchskill, such brilliance yet solidity, such wit,such penetration and effect did he assail theirhated system, that the fraternity was at lengthand for a time expelled from nearly everykingdom in Europe. Pascal's ProvincialLetters, designed to expose the corruptions ofJesuitism, became a French classic, and more,it helped to free the nations from a terribleincubus which pressed morality out of them,and corrupted religion till only the name of itremained. If ever it was true that we canconnect the achievements of the man with theacquirements or the gifts of the boy, the casebefore us shows the important dependence ofthe one upon the other. By the productioniust referred to Pascal took his place amongthe most gifted men of his day, in religion,as he had formerly done in science; and pos-terity to this hour continues to award to hima palm, as one of the most accomplished writersof all time. Some of his "Letters" are deemedas eloquent as the Orations of Demosthenes orthe Homilies of Chrysostom.Nor was that his only contribution to thecause of truth. His Thoughts form one of
38 THE " THOUGHTS."the most wondrous monuments ever reared bya mortal to himself, and in their own depart-ment are a befitting sequel to the doings ofthe boy who thought out for himself some ofthe truths of Euclid without even knowinghow to name them. Of these fragments-theyare scarcely even that-it has been said, that,out of Shakespeare and Bacon, nothing isknown which will bear comparison with them,in depth, subtlety, and comprehensiveness.The mathematical boy has grown up to be themarvellous man, and originality as well asa grace peculiarly his own signalizes his pro-ductions. As thought after thought rose upto his mind, sometimes during sleepless nights,or in the intervals between paroxysms of pain,he wrote them down; and they remain, evenin their fragmentary forms, a noble treasuryfor the defence of our faith. Pascal wentdown to the depths of man's soul, and rose tothe heights of man's soaring, meeting everywant, and that with such power that theyearning soul feels, this is truth or nothing is.All this was done while the state of his healthdebarred him from continuous exertion: andwhen the mere materials collected for the
BODILY SUFFERINGS. 39fabric are so exquisite and precious, howmajestic would the structure have been had hismaster hand been permitted to rear it! Withthe Redeemer for the central attraction for hisown soul, Pascal has helped to make him thesame to thousands.The four years of this wonderful man's lifejust prior to his departure formed merely acontinuous epoch of bodily suffering. Hewas incapable of much mental exertion now,but he had risen into the still higher regionof devotion. He had walked with God, andlofty as had been his early pursuits, those ofhis maturity are grander still, as the Eternaland the Infinite transcend the transient andthe finite. In sickness and in solitude thisunsurpassed mathematician, this victoriousassailant of corruption, this defender of thefaith, might be shut out from many of thedelights of his youth, but others had come intheir stead which brought foretastes of thosewhich are for evermore, and Blaise Pascalmoved forward to his appointed place amongthe true immortals. While here, he movedamong men like a summer cloud droppingmoisture on the parched earth as it flits along
40 THE TREATISE ON " THE CYCLOID."the sky. It is said of him that he actuallybeggared himself by his charities, and mort-gaged even his expectancies that he mighthave enough to give away.It is the policy of unbelief to allege thatthe more gifted minds have not bowed insubmission to the Redeemer's lessons till theywere weakened by sickness or decay. This wassaid of Newton, and it was alleged also ofPascal. But, happily, a circumstance oc-curred during his intense sufferings, and to-wards his close, which refutes the charge.His genius, it has been said, even then blazedup in all its splendour: the boy who hadcovered the floor of his chamber with dia-grams in charcoal, is, as a man, decorating hisvery tomb with still nobler tokens of hismental power. His nights were nearly sleep-less through pain; and during one of theseprotracted agonies, in the year 1659, heentered upon a train of profound medita-tion regarding the properties of the Cycloid-a recondite mathematical subject, which itwould take long indeed to explain." Certain"* A Cycloid is a geometrical curve on which depends the doctrine ofpendulums.
STUDY OF MATHEMATICS. 41problems were evolved by Pascal during hissufferings, but he was long reluctant to makethem public. His friends, however, prevailedby their entreaties; and the method which headopted to make them known was charac-teristic. He offered the problems to theworld of science for solution, promising afirst and second prize to those who should bejudged successful. Three months were allottedfor the competition; and the unknown authorof the proposal was to propound his ownsolutions, if none appeared prior to the lapseof that period. Several were sent in, butnone of them fully met the proposed condi-tions; and Pascal then gave the solution.Such was the ardour, almost the vehemence,of one who now felt that time could ill bespared for such pursuits, that he prepared atreatise on the subject for the press in a fewdays; " and the world of science was againastonished at the appearance.... of a workwhich equalled, if it did not surpass, all theformer efforts of his mathematical powers."The study of mathematics is often recom-mended as a means of bracing the reasoningpowers-and with truth. The mind is there-
42 RIGHT USE OF REASON.by enabled to advance with a firm step,proving as it proceeds, and challenging allgainsayers. It often happens, however, thatthey who have been thus trained blunderlike other men, or even worse, when theyreason upon subjects which do not admit ofabsolute demonstration. If La Place, for ex-ample, was an Atheist, as many have averred,his profound knowledge of mathematics haddarkened instead of bracing his reasoningpowers ;-and so of many besides. Pascal,however, escaped that damage. Profound andsoaring as he was-walking with Galileo andTorricelli, and even with Newton, in the fieldsof pure science-he was not less steadfast inwhat was moral or spiritual. And whereshall Reason seek her noblest topics, her richestenjoyment? In the creature, or in the Creator ?In matter, or in that God who is a spirit ? Inthe interests of a transient scene, or in theglories of Eternity ? Every sane mind isready with a reply; and Pascal gave his re-sponse with the fervour of a reverent andthe power of a transcendent mind. Notdespising the seen and the temporal-nay,investigating their profoundest laws-he yet
CLOSING DAYS. 43preferred at last the heavenly to the earthly,the divine to the human: and was he notwise ?But the closing moments of this remarkableman were fast approaching. His sufferingswere intense, but his patience was in propor-tion. He knew where to apply for a balm. Heapplied, and was not sent empty away. Hislast words were both humble and earnest:" Forsake me not, 0 my God !" And sopassed away one of the most gifted men of alltime;-an expounder of Nature's laws; a goodsoldier of Jesus Christ in repelling the ene-mies of truth; and, high above all his otherqualifications (that which made him what hehas been for two centuries and more)-ahumble believer in the Son of God. Pascaldied on the 19th of August 1662, when hehad lived just nine-and-thirty years. Hismonument tells that "if piety never dies, hismemory will be immortal." "Possessing un-bounded intellectual power, ..... the oratoradmired in him a model of eloquence, thecritic confessed the most elegant of writers,the scientific the profoundest of mathemati-cians. .. " But though no eulogy can tell
44 ABERRATIONS.all that he was as a burning and a shininglight, our superficial glance at his grand char-acter tells us how great God can make aweak mortal, and what great things God cando by him.It is painful, however, to have to noticethat even this great man was not proofagainst human error or the wasting power ofsuperstition. Trained as he had been in aPopish country, and living a member of thePopish Church, he was the victim of someof the dark deceptions of that system. Forexample, wasted and agonized as he wasby disease and pain, he did not reckon whatGod had appointed enough for him to suffer.In addition to his other pains, he wore a beltwith spikes in it round his waist; and as hedeemed it sinful to enjoy pleasure here below,when any such feelings were experienced hewould strike the belt with his elbow, that thepain produced by the spikes might be as anantidote to the pleasure-shall we say, atonefor the sin of being happy ? " I can approveonly of those who seek in tears for happiness,"-" disease is the natural state of Christians,"said the great Pascal; for even his mind
ROMANISM. 45was perverted by the dismal faith in whichhe had been trained.It is further recorded, that while his sisterstended the poor invalid with such affection assisters only can feel, Pascal treated them withunkindness, or repelled their tenderness, lestit should interfere with the love due only toGod. Oh, how Satanic that system must bewhich could thus sour or pervert a nature sonoble! How sad to think that even this"sublimest genius" sank into drivelling weak-ness when it misunderstood the truth otScripture which tells that "by one offeringChrist hath perfected for ever them that aresanctified" No need of self-inflicted torture;no need of supplementary atonements; noneed of human aid in accomplishing what isalready "finished" and "complete." Theperception of that completeness would atonce have emancipated this noble spirit fromits self excruciation, its self-righteous attemptto do what the Son of God had done, in theeternal purpose, before the world began.But one incident in the life of Pascal maybe mentioned, as explaining, in part, thesedark aberrations, or as deepening the darkness
46 AN EXPLANATION.by some additional shades:-In the year1654, as a shattered invalid, he was takingan airing, in the neighbourhood of Paris,in a chariot drawn by four horses, and hadoccasion to cross the Seine by a bridge atNeuilly. Part of the parapet was brokendown: the two leading horses took fright,and plunged into the stream. Happily thetraces were broken by their weight, so thatthe horses alone were precipitated into theriver, the carriage remaining on the bridge.But Pascal fainted away, and such was theshock which his nervous system receivedthat it greatly augmented his ailments.For some time he could not rest: he washaunted by fear night and day. He sawprecipices by his bed-side, over which he feltas if falling; and while the feelings whicharose out of his escape hastened or increasedhis separation from the world which he nowceased to relish, it is possible that a mind sodelicately constructed as his, so feminine andso sensitive, submitted amid his anguish toausterities which he might otherwise havespurned. But be that as it may, we havejust surveyed the career of one of the grandest
CONCLUSION. 47minds which grace or genius ever ennobled.On one side it was weak, for it was the mindof a man; but on the other side it wasmighty-mighty in the truth, mighty in thewisdom which comes from above, and wellfitted to be a help to all who would so spendtheir youth as to render manhood a blessing.But to close. Is there any means of ac-counting for the preeminence of this man ?Have we a key to open the mystery of hispower? No doubt his gifts from the Crea-tor were signal. Pascal was designed for agreat work, and was endowed with greatpower to do it. But that does not explainall. The self-culture of the youth was asremarkable as the acquirements of the man.We get a glimpse of his painstaking when weare told that some of his "Letters " cost himthe labour, the correction, and the re-writingof twenty days. His excellence was arrivedat by toil; and though we feel, while we readhis writings, that all is simple, natural, andwithout strain, that is only because Pascalhad so thought what he presents that it ismade as clear as a colloquial remark. Intruth, if ever there was a case which proved
48 CONCLUSION.that eminence is the result of well-directedendeavour, and that the dream of reachingexcellence by some happy bound, some royalroad, is only a dream-it is the case of BlaisePascal. Power and goodness met in hisspirit in a marvellous combination, and eachwas largely the result of persistent self-culture,from the dawning of thought to the margin ofthe grave.^131-' i
III.^fc ti : ilbcr L|opt.LEXANDER POPE occupies an ele-vated niche among those who haveenriched the literature of this coun-try; and his name has been often a watch-wordfor warfare between contending parties-onesection upholding his productions as perfect oftheir kind, another questioning whether theywere to be regarded as poetry at all. Butwithout entering far into such contentions, wemay find not a little in his life to show byone example more how the boy makes theman, as the foundation of a building deter-mines its character for stability or the reverse.Both the good and the ill which are in ournature are illustrated here.POPE was born in the year of the greatRevolution, 16 8 ; but the day and the place,like many other things in his life, have fur-4
5U " THE LITTLE NIGHTINGALE."nished materials for much discussion. Was iton the 21st of May or the 22nd, or on the 1stof January, or some day different from all thethree ? Was it in Lombard Street, accordingto Dr. Warton; or in Cheapside, according toanother authority; or in the Strand, accord-ing to a third? Was his father descendedfrom a noble family-that of the Earl ofDowne-or was he ignoble and obscure, asnobility itself has alleged? This much, atleast, is certain: Pope's father acquired acompetency as a linen merchant, while the sonwas most probably born in Lombard Street,though it is not necessary for our presentpurpose to prosecute such an investigationfarther here.From his birth, Alexander Pope was of adelicate constitution, and was remarkable inearly infancy for the sweetness of his disposi-tion. Nearly all his biographers, and they arenot few, are careful to tell that his voice wasso sweet that he was called " The littleNightingale;" and, indeed, from his infancyhe was considered a prodigy. When he wasseven or eight years of age he became fond ofbooks, and from that date, to study or to
HAIR-BREADTH ESCAPE. 51compose them became his ruling passion. Hisfirst writing was an imitation of printed letters,and through life he was distinguished for thatpeculiar penmanship. When he was abouteight young Pope was placed under a Romishpriest as his tutor-for his father had adoptedthe creed of Rome-and it was under thatmaster, we read, that the boy was first initiatedin poetry.Regarding men who have become notable,it is not uncommon to record some hair-breadthescapes in infancy or youth. The world, forexample, was nearly prevented from ever seeing"The Wealth of Nations ;" for its author wascarried off, when a child, by gipsies. Asimilar thing happened to Sir John Popham,who lived to be an eminent English judge;and young Pope had also his peril-less ro-mantic, but as real. When a child he wasgored by a vicious cow, and yet escaped with-out any serious injury, notwithstanding hisfeebleness and utter impotency to resist.From Hampshire, where his first teacherresided, Pope was removed to a school nearManchester, and subsequently to one or morein London. He there occasionally frequented
52 EARLY VERSES.the theatre, and formed a kind of play byuniting portions of Ogilby's Iliad by somelines of his own composition. His school-fellows and the gardener of the establishmentacted the play. While at school near Man-chester, he lampooned his master in a poem ofabout one hundred lines, and was flogged forhis freedom; but he was speedily removedfrom such discipline by his doting mother.This precocious satirist is careful to tell usthat he "began writing verses farther backthan he could well remember." Every onequotes his own words, that he lispedd innumbers, for the numbers came;" and whatwas said of one of our best legislators was true,though in a different sense, regarding Pope-" He never was a. child; he was a man evenin petticoats." A little after he was twelvehe began an epic poem, and wrote four books,containing about four thousand lines. It wasimitative, and designed to condense in itssingle self the peculiar beauties of Milton,Cowley, and Spenser, in our language; ofHomer in Greek; and Statius, Virgil, Ovid,and Claudian, in Latin. It was certainly abold effort for a feeble and decrepit boy, and
ODE ON " SOLITUDE." 53there must have been shades of excellence inthe production; for though he subsequentlydestroyed it, some of its couplets were em-bodied in future poems. It was about twoyears, he says, in hand. His application eventhen was indefatigable, and his attainmentssignal; though it must be borne in mind thatsuch of his juvenile poems as were publisheddid not see the light till he was about twenty,and were no doubt retouched and improvedby his maturer mind.When Pope was twelve or thirteen years ofage he was removed to Windsor Forest, wherehis father had purchased a small estate ; andthere the boy continued for six or seven yearsin what he calls the " close pursuit of pleasureand of languages,"-his own tutor and guide.But these studies were varied by attempts atoriginal composition, and the elder Popeassisted his son with his counsels and hiscriticisms. The lad, however, speedily dis-tanced his parent. Even before this date theboy had written an ode on Solitude, and aparaphrase on some portions of Thomas iKempis. The young satirist was then in hisgentlest mood, and these poems indicate all
54 WINDSOR FOREST.the affection and kindliness of his youngnature.But the mood changed. His proneness tosatire re-appeared; and when only fourteenhe wrote a poem of that class deemed remark-able for its ability. About the same periodhe was writing imitations of some of theEnglish poets, which are placed by some criticsabove the early productions of Cowley, Milton,and Chatterton. As a versifier, it has been said,Pope was never a boy : he stamped himself onour literature at an age when most children areonly learning grammar or groping for words.Has the reader ever wandered in WindsorForest as it now is? Has he admired thegoodly prospects which there greet the eye-as remarkable in their kind as those whichare enjoyed among the Alps or the Apennines? -Has he lost himself amid the interminableglades, till, like a pilot at sea, he may havehad to consult his compass in order to find away of extrication ? Has he read Pope be-neath those stately trees, some of which werelong regarded by his admirers as sacred to hismemory ? Then it is not difficult to fancy theinspiration of those deep recesses for such a
A PREDICTION. 55poem as that on Solitude, or ill7dsor Forest.Those resorts, in truth, were, in one sense, thenursery of Pope's mind. They gave a colourto many of his writings; and his memorywould have been at least a purer thing had henever plunged into other scenes.His youthful productions were characterizedby nearly all that is peculiar to Pope's moremature writings. Condensed expression, oftenembodying terse thought, stinging satire, andyet worse, a fondness for the impure, are thereapparent; in short, these things are the bud,and his future career is but its development.When he was about fourteen, one who casuallymet him predicted that he would " either be amadman or a very great poet;" and hisimpetuous pursuit of knowledge of a certainkind was perhaps the foundation of the pro-phecy. His incessant studies, one of his admir-ing biographers says, his impatience, and irri-tability, must often have made him appearway-ward and capricious inthe :.n iil circle, while yethe adds that young Pope's talents and affection-ate disposition made him an object of idolatry.** De Quincey says, " He was the idol of the nation before he had com-pleted his youth."
56 THE " PASTORALS."When in his sixteenth year this striplingwas engaged upon his Pastorals. He hadlived, he says, "like a boy gathering flowersin the fields and woods, just as they fell inhis way;" and many of these were employedto beautify his poetry. So intense was hisapplication and so eager his endeavour toadvance at this period, that disease was theresult, and in despondency he lay down to die.His desire of excellence, from the age oftwelve, had urged him onward in a plan ofstudy which he had laid down after his re-moval from public seminaries; and at the ageof fourteen he had made such acquisitions, bothas to public affairs and human life, as evenDr. Johnson confesses are not easily conceivedto have been attainable at such an age. Nodoubt it is amusing to hear the boy confessthat " he thought himself the greatest geniusthat ever was ;" but while we laugh at thategotism, we may concede that his industry,his perseverance, and his pursuit of all variousknowledge, prove that he was indeed no"vulgar boy." How could he, when one ofhis admirers could write: " Pope, whilst yetonly sixteen years of age, was caressed, and
CROWDING ADMIRERS. 57even honoured." " Wits, courtiers, statesmen,grandees the most dignified, and men of fashionthe most brilliant, all alike treated him notonly with pointed kindness, but with a respectthat seemed to acknowledge him as their in-tellectual superior." All that towards a self-taught lad-one whose education was like thewanderings of a brook at its own sweet will,rather than the scholasticism which Englandregards as one of its glories.Brief as these notices of Pope's early boy-hood are, they have brought us to what wasin his case incipient manhood and maturity-the age of sixteen. His poems now began toattract attention; and, stripling as he was,some of the titled in point of rank, and of thelauded in point of genius, became his associatesor admirers ; they courted his society some-what as he courted theirs-for all his life longPope was a devotee to the great. Hitherto,as he has been described by one whose sentenceswill tell his name, Pope had been " indefati-gably diligent and insatiably curious, wantinghealth for violent, and money for expensivepleasures; and having excited in himself verystrong desires of intellectual eminence, he spent
58 DISSOLUTE COMPANIONS.much of his time over his books ; but he readonly to store his mind with facts and images,seizing all that his authors presented withundistinguishing voracity, and with an appetitefor knowledge too eager to be nice." Now,by such discipline his mind became early ripe,and hence the ascendency just mentioned ;but, in consequence of his eminence or ambi-tion, he became the associate of some menwhose society should rather have been shunned.They might be agreeable-like Cromwell,who appears to have been little else than anexhausted debauchee; or like Wycherley, whowas no better; but to an ambitious youth ofsixteen or seventeen they were like the matchwhich fired the train: and however men maypalliate or apologize for the habits which werein consequence formed, and never abandoned,Pope, as a mere lad, became a man of theworld; he caught the spirit of the reigningmorality, low-not to say gross-as it was;and it does not appear, after all that can besaid in his defence, that he ever really roseabove the level at which he started. He wasstill devoted to study, and still elaboratingpoetry such as will never entirely fade while
MOlAL RESULTS. 59our tongue is spoken. He affected, however,to be gay, careless, and indolent; and he madea mock at sin, or gloried in it. The compan-ion of old and worn-out men of the world re-quired to have something in common withhis associates, and Pope at least wishedthem to believe that their habits and hiswere alike.Reference has been made to Pope's Pas-torals. They were the production of aself-taught lad of sixteen, and written in therecesses of Windsor Forest; but they placedtheir author at once side by side with someof the famous men of his day. His elaboratestudy, his gathered stores, his exquisite cultureof the harmony of verse, his bee-like industryand love of the beautiful, had begun toproduce their natural results; and had themoral standard been as pure as the poeticalwas high, the early life of this stripling wouldhave yielded more unmingled pleasure. " Ibelieve," said a sister of Pope, "nobody everstudied so hard as my brother did in hisyouth. He did nothing but write and read."And the saying is well warranted. But truthnevertheless compels us to confess that at this
60 A LOW ESTIMATE.early age he was busily engaged sowing theseeds which bore fruit so peculiarly in futureyears. Some of the levities of his youth arepainful. Even then his thirst for fame was insa-tiable, and it continued to dominate in his na-ture till his closing days. No doubt the timeswere " unscrupulous; " and nearly all the menwho helped to mould Pope's character weredissolute, profligate, unprincipled. But whywere they his associates at all ? Only becausethey were what he relished; and so he nur-tured his own tendencies by the hot-bed inwhich he planted them. The perception ofthe beautiful and the good, and the pursuitof them-how often widely sundered !*Having thus fully entered on his life-career,then, and taken a place among men of thatage who were unprincipled like Bolingbroke,and gross like Wycherley, what was the estimateformed of Pope by some of those who knewhim best ? One speaks of him as signalizedby "low deceit." " Malignity," it is said,"was rampant in him." His "duplicity andfalsehood " are not overlooked. His elevation* It is well-nigh as painful to read the palliations or defence of Pope'sconduct, by some of his biographers, for example Roscoe, as it is to tracethe career of the poet himself.
MODES OF STUDY. 61and success as a poet, the ample remunera-tion received for his translations, and otherthings,* had raised him to such an elevationthat he could ill brook a rival near his throne.With fretful anxiety, and a jealousy which isdescribed as mean, he watched over his ownsupremacy. No right of challenge, scarcelyeven of dissent, was tolerated in another : sothat his case exemplifies once more the balefuleffects of power without holy principle toguide it; of great acquirements, the result orpraiseworthy assiduities, but largely counter-acted by a mean nature, in which the moralhas not been cultivated side by side with themental.We have seen enough to show by whatsecret impulses this lad became what he was.His mind was at once adventurous and ambi-tious: "he longed without ceasing to advance,and never rose so high but that he wishedto be higher;" always imagining somethinggreater than he knew, and endeavouring morethan he could do. Unwearied diligence; inter-course both with the living and the dead;studiousness so great that if a happy thought" The Iliad brought him more than 5310, and the Odyssey above 3685.
62 STRONG OPINIONS.or expression, or even word occurred to him,he would jot it down for future use, and fre-quently awoke his attendant at night for thatpurpose; no fault ever passed uncorrected;no labour deemed too great; no finish tooexquisite; no hasty publications, for somewere kept for years beside him, and touchedand retouched till he deemed them perfect;the counsels and criticisms of friends;-thesewere some, but only a few of the appliancesemployed by Pope to promote the excellenceat which he aspired. It was sleepless industryingrafted upon genius. Now, had everythingin his life been as admirable as his assiduity,he would have been more of a model, and lessof a beacon than, unhappily, he is. He wouldhave been less exposed to the charge of a"low avarice of praise," amid all his unques-tioned power.But one is almost afraid to record thestrong opinions entertained by some regardingAlexander Pope. He has been called "alittle affected hypocrite," even in youth; andwith all his glitter, or all his solid power,that character did not improve by age. Evenas a stripling he wantonly provoked the rage
DEPORTMENT. 63of men; and, in retaliation, they recordedopinions which are surely sometimes to bereceived with caution. When he gave pain,and perhaps there never was an author whodid so more pertinaciously or on a larger scale,he was compelled sometimes to shuffle, some-times to deny, and sometimes to apologizeto those whom he assaulted. In short, theirritable boy, " voracious of fame," grew upinto a man who delighted to irritate andchafe all whom he chose to assail. He mightweep, indeed, as one of his friends has said,"when reading very tender and melancholysubjects;" but nevertheless, he could freelycast firebrands, arrows, and death around him.Even Roscoe likens him to a savage conquerorraising a trophy with the skulls of his enemies.The indefatigable youth, who had gatheredknowledge from every available source, andbeautified nearly all that he touched, hasgrown up into a man whose name is a power-not seldom a terror. Around him we haveseen the titled, the wealthy, and even theroyal gather; so that, in spite of his " ambitiouspetulance," and all the drawbacks of a bodilydeformity, or a peevish nature, he shone like
64 UNPRINCIPLED PROCEDURE.a star of wondrous brilliance among his fellow-men, till the desolation of his latter days drewon, and his love of stratagem, of mystification,and of strife died with him rather than wasabandoned by him. He was once called "aportentous cub;" and we might indeed regardhim as a portent, did we not understand thatwondrous powers are no guarantee for moralgrandeur. The description of him was just. He" Made every vice and private folly known,In friend and foe-a stranger to his own."Do these strong words call for proof? Itis at hand. Pope printed his own letters,after having had recourse to false pretences toforce on their publication: and not only so;he printed letters as addressed to Addison andother celebrities, which had previously beensent to a humbler friend. "To some lettershe affixed great names, that he might renderthe correspondence attractive, and elevate hisown social importance; while others wereframed to suit some personal object, or carryout enmities, or commemorate friendships."Such meanness and such unprincipled pro-cedure are to be stigmatized wherever they
CHARACTER. 65appear, and certainly not least in one so in-tellectually gifted, so morally pretentious.*But Pope's sad words hasten to be realized.He once said, and is now to feel, that "life,after the first warm heats are over, is all downhill, and one almost wishes the journey's end,provided we were sure to lie down easy,whenever the night shall overtake us." Wehave said nothing of the religion of Pope: itwas Romanism, and he adhered to it amidmany discouragements, or even temptationsto forsake it; while some admired him for hissteadfastness, and others for his laxity in regardto it ; some " for his pretty atheistical jests," andothers for his belief in Revelation at a periodwhen all that was solemn and serious was toogenerally laughed at. Neither has referencebeen made to his strong filial affections-hisfondly clinging with great tenacity to hisparents while living, and to their memorywhen dead. "There was no virtue," one ofhis biographers says, "which Pope did notdesire his friends to believe that he possessed;but in truth this self-portraiture was a mere* De Quincey has ventured to say, "The moral character of Pope is ofsecondary interest; " but surely the words should be qualified.(107) 5
66 DEATH.mirage or delusion continued from habit.""It would be absurd," the same author con-tinues, "to descant on his morality;" andeven after the glimpse here given, there canbe no doubt that the little idol of Twickenhamwas morally as low as he was poetically high.His model of female excellence, for example,was a mistress of the king; Bolingbroke theinfidel he regarded "as the most transcendentof mortals." In truth, the farther we explorethe poet's life, the more clear does it becomethat a boyhood such as his necessarily ends ina manhood that is gross, or low-an outrageon the decencies, an ignoring of much thatman ought profoundly to admire."Doubt not to reap, if thou canst bear toplough." Pope ploughed; but in the view ofeternity, and with the Bible open as ourstandard, he reaped but chaff. He died onthe evening of Wednesday, the 30th of May,1744; and passed away so gently that hisattendants did not perceive the exact momentof his departure. It is in keeping with hisown pretentious life to say that some weptbeside his dying bed who afterwards becamethe eager assailants of his memory.
AN ENCOURAGEMENT. 67For the purposes of this volume, the life atwhich we have now merely glanced suppliestwo illustrations, each of them indicating thatjust as the twig is bent the tree is inclined.First, Pope's unsurpassed assiduity in culti-vating his poetical powers, even in boyhood,followed by the imperial position which heheld among the leading minds of his age, maywell lead to a corresponding culture, if we bewise indeed. He once said that to " followpoetry as one ought, he must forget fatherand mother, and cleave to it alone;" and heacted in spirit on his own maxim. "Givethyself wholly to these things," was by himapplied to poetry, and excellence there. Nocriticism has been attempted upon his poems:some of them have long taken their placeamong the gems of our literature, and willkeep that place while the language is under-stood. How could it be otherwise, when acritic so competent as De Quincey calls TheRape of the Lock "the most exquisite monu-ment of playful fancy that universal literatureoffers " ? But connecting that fact with hisearly assiduities-his straining after excellence,his painstaking and persistency, his eye ever
68 A WARNING.open to beauty, and his mind trained to expressit in exquisite forms-we clearly see whatculture, when it is added to mental power,can accomplish: and in this aspect, the boyPope may be viewed as a guiding star for allfuture ages. " I am sure," Sir T. F. Buxtononce wrote to his son, "I am sure that ayoung man may be very much what hepleases ;"-and the life whose early years andleading incidents have now been touchedseems to verify the saying.But, secondly, not less eloquent is the lifeof that boy and man in another point of view.As a moral being he was untaught in youth,and his manhood was too often a disgrace tothe name which he affected-that of a moralistand a Christian. Even in his infancy, asRoscoe tells, Pope's ruling passion was the loveof fame. It dominated in boyhood, and inmanhood, on to the edge of the grave; sothat "it would scarcely be possible to pointout a single incident in his life which does notbear some relation, either immediate or remote,to this pursuit." Now, from such a passionwhat real good could result ? Not more cer-tainly do the stalk and the leaves and the blos.
A FAVOURITE THEORY. 69soms and the seed of a flower rise from itsroots, than did the mature life of this manemerge from his earlier years. His acrimony;his delight in giving pain; his actual andalmost fiendish enjoyment of the woundswhich he inflicted--for example, by theDunciad and other poems; his meanness;his falsehoods; his grossness on some occasions,in contrast with his high pretensions uponothers;-all manifest a moral lowness such astruth compels us to condemn, and compassionto deplore. One of Pope's favourite theories-the imperial ascendency of some rulingpassion in every soul of man-was vividlyillustrated in his own case: from boyhood tomanhood and the grave, he took pleasure inlampooning and paining, garnishing the wholewith beauties which made his attempts sofascinating as to be perilous. Wherever sucha life is brought to the test of the Divine andonly standard, its beauty goes up like rotten-ness; its very excellencies but render it moreand more to be shunned.Such are, briefly, the lessons derivable fromthe life of Pope : they are, in truth, so magni-fled and so manifest, owing to his high posi-
70 A RARE PHENOMENON.tion, that they need only to be named. Andlet it be repeated,-with the word of God forour standard, is not Alexander Pope a beaconin some aspects, while in others he may wellbe a guide ? His life does present a rare phe-nomenon, namely, that before he had reachedhis twenty-fifth year he had written and pub-lished nearly all the works on which his repu-tation now rests: and the study of such acase is laden with many lessons. But thereis something higher, nobler, and more preciousthan fame,-immortality, such as Revelation,not man's breath, imparts; and viewed inregard to that, the life of this man, like thelife of many of his contemporaries, was sad.One of his most popular couplets was this,-" For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight-His can't be wrong whose life is in the right;"and in his " Universal Prayer" he putsthe worship of Jehovah and Jove upon alevel;* that is, the eternal God and a pagandivinity may equally be worshipped, if menbe sincere in the worship! Such was the* Pope's will contains the following clause:-" I resign my soul to itsCreator, in all humble hope of its future happiness, as in the disposal of aBeing infinitely good."-That is all from this Christian.
COWLEY. 71religion of this man; and they who knowhow shallow, nay, how infidel, such sentimentsare, will not wonder that he who held them ledsuch a life, or displayed such a spirit as causedhim to be called a " vile slanderer," a " rank,loathsome miscreant," guilty of " the grossestlicentiousness." Such is genius without god-liness.As a sequel to this notice of a precociouspoet, it may be observed that he is not the'only one in the annals of our literature whowears that character. ABRAHAM COWLEY, whowas born in the year 1 618, and died in 1 667,was still more precocious than Pope; at leastCowley's youthful productions are betterauthenticated than some of those first pub-lished by the idol of Twickenham, for a volumeof poems was published by the former in histhirteenth year according to some, in hisfifteenth year according to others, while thejuvenile productions of Pope were not printedfor years after their composition, and weremost probably improved. Among Cowley'sthere is a poem written when he was only tenyears old, and another composed when hewas twelve. While at school he composed a
72 MILTON.comedy; and while at Cambridge, whither hewas sent when he was about eighteen yearsof age, he wrote one of his poems, hisDavideis, of which Dr. Johnson says,-"The materials could not have been collectedwithout the study of many years, but by amind of the greatest vigour and activity."With great assiduity Cowley continued fromyear to year to cultivate and to produce,-tossed and tumbled by the agitations of histimes, but still pressing toward the mark forexcellence in his art. He also, then, is aguide or a model, in so far as excellence de-pends upon effort, upon pains-taking and per-sonal exertion. Some of his compositionshave been said to stand " unrivalled and alone:such gaiety of fancy, such facility of expres-sion, such varied similitudes," and othercharms need be sought in Cowley alone, socompletely has the persevering boy shot upinto the lauded man; and his epitaph wastrue :-" To him no author was unknown.Yet what he writ was all his own."And MILTON'S is another name which is tobe placed among those which were made famous
CONCLUSION. 73by precocity as well as power. At fifteen hetranslated some of the psalms, and the trans-lations were published. Many of his elegiesare believed to have been written in hiseighteenth year. Other proofs of his early ac-quirements are recorded, and if these helpedto train up Milton for the lofty position whichhe occupies in the higher minds of every land,no more need be said in the enforcement ofour present subject. No doubt Cowley, Milton,and Pope were destined for greatness by Himwho divides to one after this manner, and toanother after that. Withal, however, theirearly devotedness to self-culture, and whatJohnson calls their " vernal fertility," point usto the path which even the loftiest genius musttread if it would cultivate and mature thegift of God as God designed. Milton's assi-duity was life-long, so was Pope's, and somust that of every mortal be who wouldrightly employ and prepare to account forwhat the Father of lights, the Author of everygood and every perfect gift, has bestowed.
IV.Vinjamin i'lst.ENJAMIN WEST, a native of Penn-sylvania in North America, wasborn on the 10th of October 1738,and was the youngest of ten children. At-tempts have been made, and perhaps withsuccess, to prove him to have been descendedfrom the Lord Delaware who distinguishedhimself at the battle of Cressy ; and ColonelWest, another of his ancestors, was a com-panion in arms to John Hampden: but thesemartial tendencies were changed when thefamily became Quakers about the year 1667.In 1699 the Wests emigrated to America,though John, the father of Benjamin, did notjoin the rest till the year 1714. When hemarried he received a negro slave as part ofthe marriage portion of his wife; but eventhen the passionate and most praiseworthy
SINGULAR BIRTH-PLACE. 75affection of the Friends for the slave madeitself felt, and that negro was soon set free.Not only so, John West endeavoured to in-duce others to do as he had done; and aftersome formal discussions, it was resolved, " Thatit was the duty of Christians to give freedomto their slaves." As time rolled on, the reso-lution became still more explicit; for in 1753it was decided that no one could belong tothe Society of Friends " who held a humancreature in slavery."The birth of Benjamin West took place inpeculiar circumstances. His mother had goneto hear a famous orator among the Quakers,whose ascendency over his audiences waswonderful. He glowed, and flashed, andthundered, so that those who heard him werebowed down by terror, or melted into tears athis will. Such was the effect produced uponMrs. West, that she gave birth in one of theseassemblies to her tenth child, Benjamin. Themeeting was of course broken up by an eventso peculiar; and the depth of parental fondnesswas not needed to occasion hopes the mostbright or find omens the most flattering re-garding the future of one whose birth was so
76 THE FIRST PORTRAIT.peculiar. The preacher in his turn was nowdeeply impressed: he predicted that " a childsent into the world under such remarkablecircumstances could prove no ordinary man,and charged the father to watch over the boy'scharacter with the utmost degree of paternalsolicitude."Of the first six years of that child's lifenothing is recorded to show that these presagesand predictions were then fulfilled. But inthe year 1745, when in his seventh year,Benjamin happened to be left for a little incharge of an infant relative, who was asleepin a cradle. That little charge smiled in sleep,and Benjamin was so struck with the beauty,that he procured paper, with black and redink, and attempted a portrait of the sleeper.It is believed that up to that day he hadnever seen a picture or an engraving; butthere was something stirring within the boywhich pointed to his future, though nonecould then know it; and from that first por-trait, the result of an infantine incident, West'sfriends and admirers date the commencementof that career which made him conspicuous inhis day. He attempted to conceal the portrait
THE JUVENILE ARTISTlla,,t 76
STATE OF AMERICAN SOCIETY. 77from his mother ; but when she saw it she atonce recognized the likeness, fondly kissed herson, and drew forth an offer from him to" make pictures" of some flowers which sheheld in her hand. While such a feat by sucha child indicates the force of the natural bent,it has also been hailed " as the birth of thefine arts in tile New World." It now ap-peared that the prediction of the orator wasabout to be fulfilled-so a fond father andmother thought; and it is at least certainthat in few cases can the first forth-puttingof genius, in art or any department, be socertainly connected with a particular incident.It has often been said that West was wont toexplain his predilection for art by declaringthat " his mother's kiss made him a painter ;"and whether that be fact or only fancy, thetwo things do stand closely related in the his-tory of West.Nor should we fail to notice here that thisearly preference, or this early display of power,becomes more remarkable in that child whenwe recall tile state of society in general, and ofthe Quakers in particular, at the period nowreferred to. Pennsylvania was colonized by a
78 PERMITTED TO DRAW.people whose life and manners were avowedlya protest against the dissoluteness and thegrossness which prevailed in England underthe Charleses and others; and in subsequenttimes that spirit was paramount, at leastamong the Friends. They discountenancedall that could excite passion or pamper pride.Young West had therefore no stimulant fromwithout. His predilection was a springwelling up in the wilderness ; it was a blos-som blooming in the desert. The powerwhence it sprung was within; for " in thewhole compass of the Christian world no spotwas apparently so unlikely to produce a painteras Pennsylvania,"* and yet a painter Pennsyl-vania did produce-not, indeed, unrivalled, aswas once believed, but yet of no mean order.The boy was now allowed to employ someof his leisure hours in drawing with pen andink-his only implements till a party ofIndians visited Springfield, his home, andtaught him to prepare the red and yellowcolours with which they painted their owngrotesque decorations. His mother addedblue; and, thus furnished, Benjamin entered* See " The Life and Studies of Benjamin West," by John Gait.
PROGRESS-THE CAT'S TAIL. 79a new world. His tutors, the Indians, alsotaught him to shoot with the bow; so thathe could always command birds for modelswhen he advanced so far as to require them.His sketches at length began to attract atten-tion. Happily his friends were influencedby the persuasion that he was " endowed byHeaven with a peculiar gift." He was, inconsequence, encouraged rather than repressedin his boyish efforts. Nor was he withoutthe need of aid. Some of his neighbours,when inspecting his workmanship, expresseda regret that he had no pencils. The boynaturally inquired what they were, and wastold that they were small brushes made otcamels' hair. A camel was not easy to find,but a cat was within reach, and from its tailhe procured what served his purpose for atime-West's first pencil was actually madeof that material! Gradually the tail was de-nuded: the father, with whom the cat wasa favourite, complained: the young artist con-fessed that he was the spoiler, and was notpunished. Michael Angelo, when a mere lad,modelled and drew in a style which surprisedhis master; Raphael, when not more than
80 A NEW ERA.nineteen, had become the rival of his instruc-tor; but of neither of these is any incidentrecorded which so clearly evinces the fertilityof invention as in the case of the little boyWest.His father was visited about this time bya Friend who could not but notice the draw-ings of birds and flowers which adorned thehome at Springfield-a decoration quite un-common in the house of a Quaker. To himthey seemed wonderful productions, as exe-cuted by a boy just entering his eighth year;and the visitor promised to furnish the child-artist with a box of paints and a supply ofpencils from his city home. He did so, andat the same time sent some pieces of canvasprepared for the easel, and some engravingswhich might serve as models. This has beencalled an era in the boy's life. He lived forsome time in a flutter of joy: the box washis delight by day, his dream by night. Butmore than that: he retired to a garret, be-came absorbed in his work, forgot his schoolhours, and ventured to repeat that seclusionfrom day to day for the sake of his much-loved work. His master sent, at length, to
YOUNG WEST AND THE INDIANS
THE UNFINISHED PICTURE. 81inquire for the absentee; and only then wasit discovered how the last few days had beenemployed. But the copies of the engravingswhich he had made so charmed his mother,that she at once, and with affection, forgavethe truant; and not only so, but secured apardon from the father and the master also.She would not, however, suffer the boy tofinish the picture, lest he should spoil whatseemed to her already perfect; and sixty-sevenyears after that incident, when the boy-painter had become a septuagenarian andmore, he declared to one of his biographersthat "there were inventive touches of art inthis first and juvenile essay, which, with allhis subsequent knowledge and experience, hehad not been able to surpass."* So surely inthis case did the boy make the man.We have already glanced at four differentstages in the life of young West as a painter.First the portrait of his little niece; then thelessons of the Indians in the use of theirbright colours; then the hair pencil; and,fourthly, the receipt of a box of paints alongwith some engravings. Each in succession* See Galt's " Life," chpi. i.W1,7:
82 VISIT TO PHILADELPHIA.gave a new expansion as well as additionalforce, to the youthful predilection; but we arenow to notice a fifth stage in his progress.He has began to do what he afterwards, in apresidential chair, counselled others to at-tempt,-" like the industrious bee, to surveythe whole face of nature, and sip the sweetsfrom every flower." He was now invited tovisit Philadelphia, and entered upon a newworld there. "The imaginary spectacles ofmagic" are referred to, as describing the effectsproduced by what he saw. The sight of apainting excited him to an extent that arrestedthe notice of strangers; and fresh assurancesreached his friends that " he was no commonboy." He began now to feel, as his mind ex-panded by reading, that "a painter is a com-panion for kings and emperors;" and thoughhis youthful associates deemed him mad whentalking thus in a land where neither kingsnor emperors existed, young West was readywith a reply,-" They exist in other parts ofthe world;" and he continued to prosecute theobject of his passion with something which ap-proached the character of a furor. From theshop of a workman, as well as from the kind-
HISTORICAL PAINTING. 83ness of friends, he obtained materials for indulg-ing his predilection. From a cabinet-makerhe begged some boards; painted figures uponthem with ink, chalk, and charcoal; obtaineda dollar for each board from a friend; and, thusfurnished, he both obtained his first patronin art and was stimulated to persevere in hischosen path. The little artist was about thesame time employed to paint the portraits ofa family remarkable for their beauty; andsuch was his success, that his celebrity spreadfar and wide, while applications for portraitsfrom his hands now became so numerous thatscarcely could he meet them allBut his aims were enlarging. On the sug-gestion of a friend, West already rose above por-trait-painting, and betook himself to historicalsubjects. The Death of Socrates was selectedfor his first effort; and so successful was theyoung artist in that work, that it led to hisremoval for a time to Philadelphia, to promotehis improvement at once in art and in learn-ing. He was passionately enamoured of hisprofession, and his progress was in proportion.He actually re-invented the camera obscurato facilitate some of his studies, though he had
84 A PROFESSION CHOSEN.never heard of the existence of that instru.-ment; and while considering these incidentsin the life of this lad, we are apt to forget thathe has not yet reached his sixteenth year. Itnow became necessary, however, that heshould formally select a profession. Hisfather grew anxious on the subject, and ameeting of the Society of Friends was held toconsider what should be the career of thisyouth. " God has bestowed on him," saidone of the speakers, "a genius for art; andcan we believe that Omniscience bestows hisgifts but for great purposes ?" The appealwas not to be resisted. The assembly agreedto allow the youth to indulge the predilectionsof his genius, in spite of the Quakerly aver-sion to such pursuits; and, at a subsequentmeeting, Benjamin formally received the sanc-tion and the blessing of the Society. " I thinkthe fine arts ordained by God for some greatand holy purpose," was a sentiment uttered inthat assembly; and, in the hope that the in-terests of fraternal love might be promoted,the lad received a license to be a painter." The women rose and kissed the young artist;and the men, one by one, laid their hands on
IMPENDING WAR. 85his head and prayed that the Lord mightverify in his life the value of the gift whichhad induced them, in despite of their religioustenets, to allow him to cultivate the facultiesof his genius."Thus stimulated and encouraged, youngWest pressed onward for honourable emi-nence in his chosen profession. But warbetween America and Britain was impending.Wayne, the companion in arms of Washing-ton in that war, drilled West for a time asa soldier. He was subsequently chosen,Quaker as he was, to act as commandant tothe boys of Lancaster, who formed themselvesinto a patriotic corps. He was recalled home,however, by the last illness of his mother;and the duties of the stripling soldier did notlong conflict with those of the stripling artist.At Philadelphia his reputation as a portraitpainter had rapidly spread. His youth andthe peculiar incidents of his history attractedmany to his studio, and his merits were every-where acknowledged. His own mind, indeed,was always straining after an excellence whichhe was still far from reaching; but he was ad-vancing. He began to long to visit the great
86 VISIT TO NEW YORK.scenes of the fine arts in Europe, and hus-banded his gains to enable him in due time togratify his desires. Two guineas and a halffor painting a head, and five for a half-length,did not form a golden remuneration, whentried by modern standards; but West's habitswere simple, and Italy, with all its treasures,need not be regarded as indefinitely remote.West's style is now taking a wider range,and portrait-painting is united to historicalproductions in such a manner as to mature hispowers. To find paintings in America worthcopying was then no easy task-but one or twowere procured; and one so single in his aim andso persistent turned them at once to account.A farther expansion was given, both to hispowers and his resources, by a visit to NewYork, where he resided for nearly a year.Though he did not find there all that he de-sired, he laboured with ardour, and was mani-festly improving upon himself, and advancingto a position where he might claim a placeamong the foremost.In the year 1759, when West was twentyyears of age, an opportunity for his visitingItaly was presented. He had now collected
VISIT TO ROME. 87money enough to meet the expenses of thevoyage and a short visit. Other circum-stances favoured his proposal, and after a voy-age involving some adventures, West reachedRome on the 10th of July 1760.At this point, then, we may regard the boyor the youth as merged in the man; and on aretrospect of the first twenty years of West'slife, it is manifest that never was there a moreremarkable instance of an early choice dictatedby inborn tendencies; never a more persistentprosecution of that choice when made; andnever more notable success in the pursuit.Difficulties were surmounted or disappeared.Friends rose up to aid the child, the boy,the stripling, the youth; and now he is atRome, the focus of the arts, there to revel andluxuriate amid all that can gladden artist life.When West arrived at that capital, some ofthe leaders of taste could scarcely divine whatan American would resemble. " Is he black orwhite?" was the inquiry of Cardinal Albani(who was blind), when told of the youngAmerican who had just arrived at Rome. Onhis first visit to the Vatican, West was met byabout thirty of the most distinguished men
88 WRETCHED STATE OF ROME.then in Rome, drawn together by their com-mon anxiety to mark the effects which theApollo, and other works of antiquity, wouldmake on the young savage. When he com-pared that statue to a young Mohawk warriorthe Roman connoisseurs were disappointed, till,through their interpreter, they learned fromWest the attributes and character of that tribe.Their disappointment then passed into admira-tion, and the youth took his place among themas a critic who could judge, though the standardwas both exotic and unique. He admired,but not with the flimsy rapture of superficialminds; and ere he could catch or give ex-pression to the beauty which was folded up ina statue or a painting, he would study andtest for himself,-too lofty in mind to run inthe ruts which guide vulgar visitants, andtoo profound in his sentiments to emit themin the hackneyed terms which we hear fromhour to hour in the corridors and galleries ofthe VaticanHis biographers, however, have been care-ful to record that it was not the Apollo, northe stores of the Vatican, nor the gorgeoussensuousness of the Papal worship that affected
TESTS. 8.this true man, so much as the terrible squalorthat haunts the visitor in Rome. The wail,the implorings, the adjurations by every sacredname, employed by Roman beggars to extortrelief, shook the sensitive Quaker to the core.Their clamours thrilled in his ears, we read,and smote upon his heart to such a degree,that at times he could scarcely stand. It wasa part of his travelled experience for which hewas little prepared; and all who have visitedthose scenes have witnessed, like him, the in-effable abundance of beggary.As a wonder at Rome, West was put tomany proofs by some of its artists, to test hisability as a painter. One of his paintings,privately executed, was exposed to criticismat a meeting where the artist's name was un-known. His work, however, was universallyapplauded, and he at once took his place sideby side with some of the most famous paintersthen in Rome. Such were the results of hisearly devotedness, and his assiduous self-cul-ture. From the very first he started abreastwith some of the most accomplished artistseven in the capital of art. He had, no doubt,much to learn, and he was not tardy in ad-
90 FEVER.dressing himself to study; but the force ofnatural genius had carried him over not a fewobstructions, as spring-tide lays regions underwater which at other times are only dry sand-flats.So intensely 'was West excited by what hewitnessed at Rome, or by the study of itsextraordinary treasures of art, that he wasactually fevered. A consultation of physicianswas held, and he was advised to quit the citywithout delay. He retired for a time to Leg-horn, and after having somewhat recovered hereturned to Rome. The same exciting objects,however, that had previously affected him,occasioned a relapse. His powerful imagina-tion influenced his nervous system, the diseasesettled in his ankle, and for eleven months hewas confined to his chamber and couch atFlorence. " The restless ecstasy" in which hehad lived in Rome was too much for his frame,and these sufferings formed part of the pricehe had to pay for excellence as a painter.He had been advised when at Rome to visitBologna,. Parma, Venice, Genoa, and otherplaces famous for their art-treasures; and asfriends generally supplied him with the means,
STATE OF ITALY. 91West proceeded to those cities. He was nowregarded in America as an honour to hiscountry, and some Americans were forward toplace at his command unlimited supplies forcarrying out his studies; but on his return toRome he finished some of his paintings, andthen began to think of returning to America,taking Britain in his way. That proved theturning point in his history. At variousplaces in Italy honours had been awarded tohim for his works. The ardour of the boyand the devotedness of the youth thus broughtto the man the rewards which await well-directed exertion. True, on a retrospect, Italywas to West in some respects a land of dark-ness. Everything there had fallen into a stateof lamentable decay. Despotisms reignedsupreme.*" Men, morals, governments, lifepublic and private, all were corrupt. Every-thing appeared to him as in a state of disease,especially in what were called the States ofthe Church. "A few embers of intellect"might be seen here and there among thepriests ; but even their brightness was owingmainly to the blackness of death which reignedS See Galt's " Life of West," chap. vill
92 ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND.around. The moral paralysis which he wit-nessed at Rome filled him for a while withindescribable anxiety, and all his youngveneration for Roman majesty was lost amidthe grossness of Roman life. In the north ofItaly there were some redeeming traits; but,on the whole, Benjamin West, like Luther,and many more, turned away from Rome sickat heart on account of its immoralities. Thisis not the place to trace these to their foun-tain-head; but it may be remarked that itseems to be a general law that where publicfreedom is repressed by despotism privateiniquity grows rampant. Man blames thereigning system, and sins without restraint.Our artist travelled northward throughFrance, everywhere studying, and treasuring upboth mental stores and professional acquire-ments for future use. He reached Englandin the month of August 1763, when he wasin his twenty-fifth year; and it soon becameapparent there what the boy was to make ofthe man. He formed a friendship with SirJoshua Reynolds, which lasted for life; hebecame acquainted with Johnson, Burke, andother celebrities of the day; and he of whom a
PATRONIZED BY GEORGE III. 93Roman Cardinal had lately asked whether theAmerican, as a savage, was black or white,takes his place among the most gifted men ofhis age. It was not long till commissionspoured in upon West. In the year 1765 hewas married to an American lady. TheArchbishop of York, of that day, became hisfriend, employed him as an artist, and ledothers to do the same: nor was that accom-plished man's patronage misplaced, for Westthe man in London was as ardent and inde-fatigable as West the boy had been with hiscat's-tail pencils and his Indian ochre. Anoble offered him 700 a year to paint forthe decoration of his mansion; but that sumwas now no lure to West. He continuedchiefly to paint portraits, till ArchbishopDrummond. induced him to enter on a differ-ent course, and, moreover, introduced him tothe King. We may now regard him, then, asin the highway to all the favour that royaltycan confer, and all the fortune that mortalsneed expect. West received commission aftercommission from royalty. The King becamein some sense his personal friend, and theirintercourse was sometimes such as is rarely
94 ROYAL ACADEMY FOUNDED.conceded by the crowned to the subject. Amidthese engagements, West became one of thefounders of the Royal Academy of Arts inLondon, in the year 1768: so that, whereverhe went, he was spreading wholesome influ-ences, fulfilling the prediction of the Quakerorator at his birth, and gathering not merelygolden opinions but golden rewards withboth his hands. The King gave him orderafter order. " Regulus Returning to Rome,"the " Death of General Wolfe," and many othersubjects, were suggested, and, of course, under-taken when majesty wished it. George III.,perhaps under West's inspiration, became a de-votee to the fine arts. West was appointedpainter to the King, and even the Americanwar did not disturb their intercourse. Thepainter had no relish for political cabals. Hehad little of the spirit of a partisan. Artwas the beginning, the middle, and the end ofhis pursuits; and as he had now reached anelevation where his youthful days of labourand nights of study were to be amply re-warded, he was not to be lured away from hischosen path. In truth he lived wholly for it.In the year 1791 he was elected president of