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nous. Out of a hundred of those readers, who seek no more than amusement, and that kind of information, in regard to the ordinary intercourse of domestic or fashionable life, which we glean from the drama, the novel or the popular essay, nine-tenths are not capable of forming any opinion on the merits of a book; and they content themselves with a sneering repetition of the term “ American;" and so the book goes to the trunkmakers. But in religion, in law, in politics, medicine, and the useful arts, the case is different. Under these beads we can arrange a number of books, which any nation might be proud to claim. These are topics which come home to every man's business and bosom. We have no bereditary fortunes, which will enable a well educated man to pursue or patrovize literary studies: no men of leisure, except here and there an opulent merchant, whose better days have been spent in poring over a leger, and whose mind can now grasp no more than the current news of the day. As to our poets, who are yet slumbering in the caves of obscurity, we need add nothing to what Mr. Galt has said.
Poetry is the art of connecting ideas of sensible objects with moral sentiments; and without the previous existence of local feelings, there can be do poetry. America to the first European setulers had no objects interesting to the imagination, at least of the description thus strictly considered as poetical; for although the vigour and stupendous appearances of nature were calculated to fill the mind with awe, and to exalt the contemplations of enthusiasm, there was nothing connected with the circumstances of the scene susceptible of that colouring from the memory, which gives to the ideas of local resemblance the peculiar qualities of poetry. The forests, though interminable, were but com. posed of trees; the mountains and rivers, though on a larger scale, were not associated in the mind with the exertions of patriotic valour, and the achievements of individual enterprise, like the Alps or the Danube, the Grampiads or the Tweed. It is impossible to tread the depopulated and exhausted soil of Greece, without meeting with innumerable relics and objects, which, like magieal talismans, call up the genius of departed ages, with the long-enriched roll of those great transactions, that, in their moral effect, have raised the nature of man, occasioning trains of reflection, which want only the rhythm of language to be poetry. But in the unstoried solitudes of America, the traveller meets with nothing to awaken the sympathy of his recollective feelings. Even the very character of the trees, though interesting to scientific research, chills, beneath the spaciousness of their shade, every poetical disposition." pp. 99, 100, 101.
Wbile Mr. West was at New York, he saw a Flemish picture of a herinit, praying before a lamp, and he painted a companion to it, of a man reading before a candle. It was a long time before he could produce, during the day, a proper light; but genius, though often baffled, is
He persuaded a person to sit in a dark closet, with a
mandle in his hand, and thus he obtained precisely what he desired. Here, as in the invention of the camera (p. 60), West had no other instruction than what his own ingenious observation suggested. About this time he sopied a Belisarius, from the engraving, by Strange, of Salvator Rosa's painting. Many years afterwards, when he saw the original, we may easily conceive his gratification, on finding that he had coloured his copy almost as faithfully as if it had been painted from the original.
In 1759, his steady friend, the provost, male an arrangement in his behalf, for a voyage to Italy, by which he was to accompany the son of a Mr. Allen to Italy. Mr. Kelly, a merchant of New York, was then sitting to him, and West, having heard that a vessel was about to sail from Philadelphia to the region of the arts, expressed the ardent desire which he felt to repair thither, and drink of the pure fountain of inspiration. When he finished the portrait, Mr. Kelly requested him to take charge of a letter, addressed to an agent in Philadelphia, and to deliver it personally when he should go to that city. Mr. Smith's letter reached him about the same time, and he left New York. On his arrival in Philadelphia, the letter from Mr. Kelly was found to contain a draft in favour of “the ingenious young gentleman," who was the bearer of it, for fifty guineas, as a present, to assist him in the voyage which he wished to make. Such in stances of noble munificence are rare, but West's good genius always found a friend for him. Scarcely had he touched the shores of Italy, when he was loaded with letters to cardinal Albani, and scveral other persons in Rome, who were most distinguished for erudition and taste. When he was within a few miles from the eternal city, West, having walked forward while his horses were feeding, sat down to rest himself, and contemplate the scenery by which he was surrounded. The reflections which are said to have occurred to our young traveller are somewhat beyond bis years (æt. 22), and we should rather refer them to the more matured understanding, mingled with the sympathy and taste of the author.
“ The sun seemed, to his fancy, the image of truth and knowledge, aris. ing in the east, continuing to illuminate and adorn the whole earth, and with. drawing from the eyes of the old world, to enlighten the uncultivated regions of the new. He thought of that remote antiquity when the site of Ronie itself was covered with unexplored forests; and passing with a rapid reininiscence over her eventful story, he was touched with sorrow at the solitude of decay with which she appeared to be environed, till be adverted to the condition of his native country, and was cheered by the thought of the greatness which even the fate of Roine seemed to assure to America. For he reflected that, although the progress of knowledge appeared to intimate that there was some great cycle in human affairs, and that the procession of the arts and sciences from the east to the west demonstrated their course to be peither stationary nor retrograde;
he could not but rejoice, in contemplating the skeleton of the mighty capitał before him, that they had improved as they advanced, and that the splendour which would precede their setting on the shores of Europe, would be the gorgeous omen of the glory which they would attain in their passage over America.” pp. 117, 118.
The sixth chapter commences with an interesting view of the society which West was about to visit. The difference between it and that which he had just quitted is pointed out in a beautiful contrast. “ In America," says the author, “all was young, vigorous and growing,—the spring of a nation, frugal, active and simple. In Rome all was old, infirm and decaying,—the autumn of a people who had gathered their glory, and were sinking into sleep, under the disgraceful excesses of the vintage.” Mr. Robinson, afterwards lord Grantham, who lodged at the same hotel to which West was conducted, was so struck with the circumstance that an American, and a quaker, had come to Rome, to stuuy the fine arts, that he immediately introduced himself, and insisted that he should dine with him. Upon being informed of the letters which West had brought, he observed that they were addressed to his most particular friend, and he added, with that frankness wbich is so common among our southern gentlemen, that as he was engaged to meet them at a party, in the evening, he expected (this is the author's word) his young friend would accompany him.
Our limits begin to warn us that we cannot indulge the pleasure which we feel in following Mr. West, on his visit to the seat of the arts. His first introduction to the Apollo is an animated picture; and there is an interesting account of his first essay, which we cannot extract. Our readers have often heard, no doubt, of the improvisatori of Rome, and they · will be pleased to find, in these pages, something more than mere description to prove their existence. Mr. West was introduced to a venerable old man, with a guitar on his shoulder, who was called Homer, in consequence of the splendour of diction and grandeur of conception which he displayed. In the true spirit of his vocation, this descendant of the rhapsodists preferred a wandering life to a settled income; and like the immortal bard whose name he bore, he might have begged his bread, in his old age, among those who had hung with rapture upon his tones, but for the liberality of several Englishmen, who gave him an annuity, which enabled him to live as he wished. The moment it was suggested to him that West was an American, who had come to study the fine arts in Rome, he
“ took possession of the thought with the ardoar of inspiration. He immediately unslung his guitar, and began to draw his fingers rapidly over the
strings, swinging his body from side to side, and striking fine and impressive chords. When he had thus brought his motions and his feelings into unison with the instrument, he began an extemporaneous ode, in a manner so dignified, 50 pathetic, and so enthusiastic, that Mr. West was scarcely less interested by his appearance, than those who enjoyed the subject and melody of his numbers. He sung the darkness which for so many ages veiled America from the eyes of science. He described the fulness of time, when the purposes for which it had been raised from the deep were to be manifested. lle painted the seraph of knowledge descending from heaven, and directing Columbus to undertake the discovery; and he related the leading incidents of the voyage. He invoked the fancy of his auditors to contemplate the wild magnificence of mountain, lake, and wood, in the new world; and he raised, as it were, in vivid perspective, the Indians in the chase, and at their horrible sacrifices. But,' he exclaimed, 'the beneficent spirit of improvement is ever on the wing, and, like the ray from the throne of God which inspired the conception of the virgin, it has descended on this youth, and the hope which ushered in its new miracle, like the star that guided the magi to Bethlehem, has led him to Rome. Methinks I behold in him an instrument, chosen by heaven, to raise in America the taste for those arts which elevate the nature of man,-an assurance that his country will afford a refuge to science and knowledge, when, in the old age of Europe, they shall have forsaken her shores. But all things of heavenly origin, like the glorious sun, move westward; and truth and art have their period of shining and of night. Rejoice, then, 0 venerable Rome, in thy divine destiny; for though darkness overshadow thy seats, and thongh thy mitred head must descend into the dust, as deep as the earth that now covers thy ancient helmet and imperial diadem, thy spirit, immortal and undecayed, already spreads towards a new world, where, like the soul of man in paradise, it will be perfected in virtue and beauty more and more. The highest efforts of the greatest actors, even of Garrick himself, delivering the poetry of Shakspeare, never produced a more immodiate and inspiring effect than this rapid burst of genius. When the applause had abated, Mr. West, being the stranger, and the party addressed, ac. cording to the common practice, made the bard a present. Mr. Hamilton ex plained the subject of the ode: though with the weakness of a verbal translation, and the imperfection of an indistinct echo, it was so connected with the appearance which the author made in the recital, that the incident has never been obliterated from Mr. West's recollection.". pp. 145, 146, 147.
The continual excitement which our painter's feelings endured brought on a fever, and it became pecessary to seek relief in quiet and retirement. He went to Florence, where he suffered a painful confinement of eleven months. Here he met with another of those fortunate accidents which distinguished his professional career. He became acquainted with Mr. Matthews, one of those few merchants who combine
" the highest degree of literary and elegant accomplishments with the
“A more splendid instance of liberality is not to be found, even in the records of Florence. The munificence of the Medici was excelled by that of the magistracy of Philadelphia.” p. 160.
After visiting most of the repositories of art in Italy, he returned to Rome, and devoted his time to the study of the ornaments of that capital. He painted a picture of Cimon and Iphigenia, and, subsequently, another of Angelica and Madoro; in consequence of which he was honoured with the usual marks of academical approbation, which reward and stimulate the ambition of young artists. He was also elected a member of the academies of Florence, Bologna, and Parma. He had the honour of being introduced to the prince of Parma, by the desire of his highness. At p. 182 we have a melancholy picture of the powerful effects upon the arts, as well as morals, of that theocratical despotism which overspread the whole country. The same state of disease, we are told, pervades Spain, where so much chivalric generosity has recently poured torrents of blood in vain. Mr. West visited Paris, where he inspected the principal works of the French artists, and the royal collections. He thought that the true feeling for the fine arts did not exist among the French to that degree which he had observed in Italy. On the contrary, says our author, it seemed to him that there was an inherent affectation in the general style of art among them, which demonstrated, not only a deficiency of native sensibility, but an anxious desire to conceal that defect.
He intended to have returned home, but he received a letter from his father, advising him to go to England; and here Mr. Galt drops the curtain.
We shall trespass upon the reader a little longer, to make but a few remarks. At p. 52, the author mentions Francis Hopkins and Thomas Godfrey, among the early associates of West. The former, we imagine, was Francis Hopkinson, the father of one of our most distinguished advoeates, and at present a representative in congress, from this city: the lat