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2. With these what need of wealth have I?
The world is mine-earth, sea, and sky;
To give me pleasure has the power.
Has teachings rich and manifold;
4. The sun,
the moon, each lucent star, The birds, the streams, my poets are. What other pictures need I see
Than God, the artist, paints for me. toil, work hard.
manifold, different. covet, long for. lucent, bright and shining
1. The first display of talent in the infant mind of Benjamin West was curious, and still more so from its occurring where there was nothing to excite it. America, his native country, had, at that time, scarcely a specimen of the arts, and, being the son of a Quaker, he was not familiar with pictures or prints. His pencil was of his own invention. His colours were given to him by an Indian savage. His whole progress was a series of inventions, and painting
was not the result of a lesson but was an instinc-
he was one day left in charge of an infant in the cradle, and had a fan to flap away the flies from the child. After some time the babe happened to smile, and its beauty attracted his attention. He looked at it with a pleasure which he had never before experienced; and, observing some paper on a table, together with pens and red and black ink, he seized them with agitation, and endeavoured to draw a portrait, although at that period he had never seen anything of the kind.
3. Hearing the approach of his mother and sister he tried to hide what he had been doing; but his mother observing his confusion, asked him what he was about, and requested him to show her the paper he was concealing. He obeyed, entreating her not to be angry. His mother, after looking some time at the drawing with evident pleasure, said to her daughter, "I declare he has made a likeness of little Sally;" and kissed him with much fondness and satisfaction. This encouraged him to say that if it would give her any pleasure, he would make pictures of the flowers which she held in her hand; for his genius was awakened, and he felt he could imitate the forms of any of those things which pleased his sight.
4. Young West continued to make drawings with pen and ink until camel hair pencils were described to him, when he found a substitute in the tapering fur of a cat's tail. In the following year a cousin
sent him a box of colours and pencils, with several pieces of canvas prepared for the easel, and six engravings.
5. The box was received with delight, and in the colours, the oils, and the pencils he found all his wants supplied. He rose at the dawn of the following day and carried the box into the garret, where he spread his canvas, prepared a pallet, and began to imitate the figures in the engravings. Enchanted with his art, Benjamin forgot the school hours, and joined the family at dinner without mentioning the employment in which he had been engaged. In the afternoon he again retired to his study in the garret, and for several days successively he thus withdrew and devoted himself to painting. His mother at last suspecting that the colour box had occasioned the neglect of school, went into the garret, and there found him engaged on a picture.
6. Her anger was soon appeased by the sight of the performance. She saw not a mere copy, but a composition from two of the engravings. She kissed him with transports of love, and assured him she would intercede with his father to forgive him for absenting himself from school. Sixty-seven years afterwards, this piece, finished when the artist was in his eighth year, was exhibited in the same room with the sublime painting of “Christ Rejected," and West declared that there were inventive touches in his first and juvenile essay, which all his subsequent experience had not enabled him to surpass!
7. Having received some practical instruction from
a painter of the name of Williams, West set up as a portrait painter, first at Philadelphia, then at New York. In 1760, still but a youth, he went to Italy, and remained in that country, chiefly at Rome, three years. He came to England, and was employed by George III. for nearly thirty years. He was one of the original thirty-six members of the Royal Academy, established in 1768; and in 1792 he succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as President, a position he held till his death in 1820, in the 82nd year of his age. talent, extraordinary substitute, something ability.
used in place of someexcite, call forth.
thing else. instinctive, natural. pallet (palette), oval board experienced, felt.
on which a painter holds agitation, excitement. his colours. portrait, likeness.
enchanted, filled with concealing, hiding.
delight. entreating, begging. sublime, grand. evident, real.
subsequent, after. genius, talent.
original, first. dis-play en-grav-ing
sat-is-fac-tion per-form-ance cu-ri-ous ap-proach en-cour-aged in-ter-cede oc-cur-ring ob-serv-ing pic-tures ex-hib-it-ed A-mer-i-ca con-fu-sion de-scrib-ed ju-ven-ile in-vention o-bey-ed OC-ca-sion-ed es-tab-lish-ed
Where was Benjamin West born? Give an account of West drawing the baby in the cradle. What did his mother
say when she saw the drawing? What did West use in the place of camel hair pencils ? Where did he get his box of colours from? Where did he go to draw?
What opinion did West, sixty-seven years afterwards, give of his first drawing made in the garret? Where did West go in the year 1760? Who employed him in England? What institution did he help to establish?
Explain the following words: Talent, instinctive, enchanted, substitute, and sublime.
1. He who at the anvil stands,
Striking while the iron glows,
Nobly strikes the ringing blows.
In the shop, and on the soil,
There is dignity in toil.