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gether with pens and red and black will appear still more remarkable, ink, he seized them with agitation, when the state of the country at and endeavoured to delineate a por- that period, and the peculiar mantrait: although at this period he ners of the Quakers, are taken into liad, nerer seen an engraving or a consideration. picture, and was only in the seventh “ The institutions of William year of his age.
Penn had been sacredly preserved by “ Hearing the approach of his the descendanis of ihe first settlers, mother apd sister, he endeavoured with who:n the remembrance of to conceal what he had been doing; the causes which had led their anbut the old lady observing his con- Cestors to forsake their native counfusion, inquired what he was about, try, was cherished like the trudiand requested him to show her the tions of religion, and became a paper. He obeyed, entreating her motive to themselves, for indulging not to be angry. Mrs. West, afier in the exercise of those blameless looking some time at the drawing principles, which had been so obwith evident pleasure, said to her 'boxious to the arrogant spirit of the daughter, “ I declare he has made Old World. The associates of the a likeness of little Sally," and kissed Wests and the Pearsons, considered him with much fondness and satis- the patriarchs of Pennsylvania as faction. This encouraged him to having been driven from England, say, that if it would give her any because their endeavours to regulate pleasure, he would make pictures their conduct by the example of of the flowers which she held in her Jesus Christ, mortified the temporal hand; for the instinct of his genius pretensions of those who satisfied was now awakened, and he felt themselves with attempting to rethat he could imitate the forms of peat his doctrines; and they thought those things which pleased his that the asylum in America was sight.
chosen, to facilitate the enjoynient « This curious incident deserves of that affectionate intercourse consideration in two points of view, which their tenets enjoined, free The sketch must have had some from the military predilections and merit, since the likeness was so ob- political jealousies of Europe. The vious, indicating how early the effect of this opinion tended to prohand of the young artist possessed duce a state of society more peaceful the power of representing the ob- and pleasing than ihe world had servations of his eye. But it is still ever before exbibited. When the more remarkable as the birth of the American poets shall in future times fine arts in the New World, and as celebrate the golden age of their one of the few instances in the his- country, they will draw their des tory of art, in which the first in- scriptions from the authentic history spiration of genius can be distinctly of Pennsylvania in the reign of traced to a particular circumstance. King George the Second, The drawing was shown by Mrs. “From the first emigration in 1681, West to her husband, who remem- the colony had continued to thrive bering the prediction of Peckover, with a rapidity unknown to the was delighted with this early indi- other European settlements. It was cation of talent in his son, But the blessed in the maxims upon which fact, though in itself very curious, it had been founded, and richly ex
Liibited the fruits of their beneficent archal dignity to their benevooperation. Al the birth of Benja- lence. min West it had obtained great “ In beautiful contrast to the syswealth, and the population was in- tematic morality of the new inhacreasing much more vigorously than bitants, was the simplicity of the the ordinary re-production of the Indians, who diingled safe and human species in any other part of barmless among the Friends. In the world. In the houses of the the annual visits which they were principal families, the patricians of in the practice of paying to the the country, unlimited hospitality plantations, they raised their huts formed a part of their regular in the fields and orchards without economy. It was the custom among asking leave, nor were they ever those who resided near the high- molested. Voltaire has observed, ways, after supper and the last re- that the treaty which was concluded ligious exercise of the evening, to between the Indians and William make a large fire in the hall, and Penn was the first public contract to set out a table with refreshments which connected the inhabitants of for such , travellers as might have the Old and New World together, occasion to pass during the night; and, though not ratified by oaths, and when the families assembled in and without invoking the Trinity, the morning they seldom found is still the only treaty that has never that their tables had been unvisited. been broken. It may be further This was particularly the case at said, that Pennsylvania is the first Springfield. Poverty was never country which has not been subheard of in the land. The disposin dued by the sword, for the inha tion to common charity having bitants were conquered by the force no objects, was blended with the of Christian benevolence. domesiic affections, and rendered “ When the great founder of tho the ties of friendship and kindred state marked out the site of Philastronger and dearer. Acts of libe- delphia in the woods, he allotted a rality were frequently performed to piece of grouod for a public library. an extent that would have beggared It was his opinion, that although the munificence of the Old World. the labour of clearing the country With all these delightful indications would long employ the settlers, of a better order of things, society hours of relaxation would still be in Pennsylvania retained, at this requisite; and, with his usual sagatime, many of those respectable city, he judged that the reading of prejudices which gave a venerable books was more conducive to good grace to manners, and are regarded morals and to the formation of just by the practical philosopher as little sentiments, than any other species inferior in dignity to the virtues. of amusement. The different counWilliam Penn was proud of his dis- ties afterwards instituted libraries, tinguished parentage, and many of which the townships have also imihis friends traced their lineage to tated : where the population was the antient and noble families of insufficient to establish a large colEngland. In their descendants the lection of books, the neighbouring pride of ancestry was so tempered families formed themselves into som with the meekness of their religious cieties for procuring the popular tenets, that it lent a kind of patri- publications. But in these arrange
ments for cultivating the powers of nature makes on persons of cultithe understanding, no provision was vated minds, who fall into the mismade, during the reign of George take of considering the elevated tbe Second, for improving the fa- emotions arising in reality from culties of taste. The works of which their own associations, as being nathe libraries then consisted, treated turally connected with the objects of useful and practical subjects. It ibat excite them. Of all the nations was the policy of the Quakers to of Europe the Swiss are the least make mankind wiser and better ; poetical, and yet the scenery of no and they thought that, as the pas- other country seems so well calcusions are the springs of all inoral lated that of Switzerland to evil when in a state of excitement, awaken the imagination; and whatever tends to awaken them is Shakespeare, the greatest of all onfavourable to that placid tenour modern poets, was brought up in of mind which they wished to see one of the least picturesque districts diffused throughout the world. of England. This notion is prudent, perbaps “Soon after the occurrence of the judicious ; but works of imagina- incident which has given rise to tion may
be rendered subservient to these observations, the young artist the same purpose. Every thing in was sent to a scbool in the neighPennsylvania was thus unpropitious bourhood. During his hours of to the fine arts. There were no leisure he was permitted to draw cares in the bosoms of individuals in with pen and ink; for it did not require public diversions, nor any occur to any of the family to provide eniulation in the expenditure of him with better materials. In the wealth to encourage the ornamental course of the summer a party of manufactures. In the whole Chris- Indians came to pay their annual tian world no spot was apparently visit to Springfield, and being so unlikely to produce a painter as amused with the sketches of birds Pennsylvania. It might, indeed, be and flowers which Benjamin shewsupposed, according to a populared them, they taught him to prepare opinion, that a youth, reared among the red and yellow colours with the concentrating elements of a new which they painted their ornaments. state, in the midst of boundless To these bis mother added blue, by forests, tremendous waterfalls, and giving him a piece of indigo, so that mountains whose summits were in- he was thus put in possession of the accessible to “the lightest foot and three primary colours. Tbe fancy wildest wing," was the most favour- is disposed to expatiate on this inable situation to imbibe the enthu- teresting fact; for the mythologies siasm either of poetry or of painting, of antiquity furnish no allegory if scenery and such accidental cir- more beautiful ; and a painier who cumstances are to be regarded as would embody the metaphor of an every thing, and original character artist instructed by nature, could as nothing. But it may reasonably scarcely imagine anything more be doubted if ever natural scenery picturesque than the real incident of has any assignable influence on the ihe Indians instructing West to preproductions of genius. The idea pare the prismatic colours. The has probably arisen from the im- Indians also taught him to be an pression which the magnificence of expert archer, and he was some
times in the practice of shooting biography, that the means of giving birds for models, , when he thought body and effect to their conceptions, that their plumage would look well are rarely withheld from men of in a picture.
genius. If the circumstances of “ His drawings at length attracted fortune are unfavourable, nature the attention of the neighbours ; instructs them to draw assistance and some of them happening to re- immediately from herself, by engret that the artist had no pencils, dowing them with the faculty of he inquired what kind of things perceiving a fitness and correspondthese were, and they were de- ence in things which no force of. scribed to him as sınall brushes reasoning, founded on the experience made of camels' hair fastened in a of others, could enable them to quill. As there were, however, no discover. This aptness is, perhaps, camels in America, he could not the surest indication of the possesthink of any substitute, till he bap- sion of original talent. There are pened to cast his eyes on a black minds of a high class to which the cat, the favourite of his father ; world, in the latitude of its cxwhen, in the tapering fur of her pressions, often ascribes genius, but cail, he discovered the means of which possess only a superior capasupplying what he wanted. He city for the application of other immediately armed himself with his men's notions, inconnected with mother's scissors, and, laying hold any unusual portion of the inventive of grimalkin with all due caution, faculty. and a proper attention to her feel- “ In the following year Mr. Penings, cut off the fur at the end of nington, a merchant of Philadelphia, her tail, and with this made his who was related to the West family, first pencil. But the tail only fur- came to pay a visit to Mr. West. nished him with one, which did not This gentleman was also a member Jast long, and he soon stood in need of the Society of Friends, and of a further supply. He then had though strictly attentive to the perecourse to the animal's back, his culiar observances of the sect, was depredations upon which were so a man of pleasant temper and infrequently repeated, that his father dulgent dispositions. He noticed the observed the altered appearance of drawings of birds and flowers round his favourite, and lamented it as the the room, unusual ornaments in the effect of disease. The artist, with house of a Quaker; and heard with suitable marks of contrition, in- surprise that they were the work of formed him of the true cause; and bis little cousin. Of their merit as the old gentleman was so much pictures he did not pretend to judge, amused with his ingenuity, that if but he thought them wonderful he rebuked him, it was certainly productions for a boy only entering not in anger.
on his eighth year, and being told " Anecdotes of this kind, trifling with what itoperfect materials they as they may seem, have an interest bad been executed, he promised to independent of the insight they send the young artist a box of paints afford into the character to which and pencils from the city. On his they relate.
It will often appear, returo home be fulfilled his engageupon a careful study of authentic ment, and at the bottom of the box
placed several pieces of canvass pre- going up stairs every morning, and pared for the easel, and six engrav. suspecting that the box occasioned ings by Greyling.
his neglect of the school, went to the ". The arrival of the box was an garret, and found him employed on æra in the history of the painter the picture. Her anger was apand his art. It was received with peased by the sight of his performfeelings of delight which only a ance, and changed to a very differsimilar mind can justly appreciate. ent feeling. She saw, not a mere He opened it, and in the colours, copy, but a composition from two the oils, and the pencils, found all of the engravings. With no other his wants supplied, even beyond his guide than that delicacy of sight utmost conceptions. But who can which renders the painter's eye, with describe the surprise with which he respect to colours, what the musibeheld the engravings : he who had cian's ear is with respect to sounds, never seen any picture but his own he had formed a picture as complete, drawings, nor knew that such an in the scientific arrangement of the art as The engraver's existed! He tints, notwithstanding the necessary sat over the box with enamoured imperfection of the pencilling, as eyes ;. bis mind was in a flutter of the most skilful artist could have joy; and he could not refrain from painted, assisted by the precepts of constantly touching the different Newton. She kissed him with articles, to ascertain that they were transports of affection, and assured real. At night he placed the box him that she would not only interon a chair near his bed, and as often cede with his father to pardon him as he was overpowered by sleep, he for having absented himself from started suddenly and stretched out school, but would go herself to the his hand to satisfy himself that the master, and beg that he might not possession of such a treasure was not be punished. The delightful enmerely a pleasing dreain. He rose couragement which this well-judged at the dawn of day, and carried ihe kindness afforded to the young box to a room in the garret, where painter may be easily imagined; but he spread a canvass, prepared a who will not regret that the mopallet, and immediately began to ther's over-anxious admiration would imitate the figures in the engrav- not suffer him to finish the picture, ings. Enchanted by his art he for- lest he should spoil what was already got the school hours, and joined the in her opinion perfect, even with family at divner without mentioning half the canvass bare? Sixty-seven the employment in wbich he had years afterwards the writer of these been engaged. In the afternoon he Memoirs had the gratification to see again retired to, bis study in the this piece in the same room with garret; and for several days suc- the sublime painting of "Christ cessively he thus withdrew and de- Rejected," on which occasion the voted himself to painting. The painter declared to him that there schoolmaster, observing his absence, were inventive touches of art in his sent to ask the cause of it. Mrs. first and juvenile essay, which, with West, affecting not to take any par- all his subsequent knowledge and ticular notice of the message, re- experience, he had not been able to collected that she had seen Benjamin surpass."