Perseverance & Enterise (2)
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The Sleeping Children (1817)
Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey (1782-1841)

The most eminent of our sculptors, was another noble example of successful perseverance.  From a boy, accustomed to drive an ass laden with sand into Sheffield, he rose to the highest honours of an exalted profession; a large proportion of the persons of rank and distinction in his own time sat to him for busts and statues: he was knighted, and, like Canova, left considerable wealth at his death, to be devoted through future time to the encouragement of Art.  His father, who was a small farmer in the neighbourhood of Sheffield, wished to place him with a grocer or an attorney; but, at his own urgent desire, he was apprenticed with a carver and gilder in that town.  An engraver and portrait-painter, perceiving his devotion to Art, gave him some valuable instruction; but his master did not incline to forward his favourite pursuits, fearing they would interfere with his duties as an apprentice.  Young Chantrey, however, resolved not to be defeated in his aims, and hired a room for a few pence a week, secretly making it his studio.  His apprenticeship to the carver and gilder having expired, he advertised in Sheffield to take portraits in crayons; and two years afterwards announced that he had commenced taking models from the life.  Like Canova, but untaught, he began to model in clay when a child; and, at two-and-twenty, he thus began to realize his early bent.  Yet patronage was but scanty at Sheffield, and he successively visited Dublin, Edinburgh, and London, working as a modeller in clay.  But neither in these larger arenas of merit did he immediately succeed according to his wish.  Returning to Sheffield, he modelled four busts of well-known characters there as large as life, one of them being the likeness of the lately-deceased vicar.  This was a performance of such excellence, that he was offered a commission, by a number of the deceased clergyman's friends, to execute a monument to the same reverend personage for the parish church.  Chantrey had never yet lifted chisel to marble; and it, therefore, required all the courage which consciousness or genius alone could give, to undertake such a task.  It was the great turning point of his life.  He accepted the commission, employed a marble mason to rough-hew the block, set about the completion himself; and finished it most successfully.  Thenceforward his course was open to the excellence he displayed in giving life-like expression to historic portraits, as in his marble statue of Watt in Westminster Abbey, and his bronze statue of Pitt in Hanover Square; and, above all, in infusing poetry into marble, as in his exquisite sculpture of the Lady Louisa Russell, at Woburn Abbey, and his unsurpassed group, "The Sleeping Children," in Lichfield Cathedral.

    In the lives of the great Michael Angelo himself, of Benvenuto Cellini, and others, may also be found inspiring records of the tameless and tireless energy which has secured to us many of the great triumphs of sculpture.  Our limits demand that we devote the remainder of a brief chapter to a glance at the struggles of painters.


Salvator Rosa (1615-73)

One of those high names which are everlasting monuments of the success with which true genius bids defiance to the hostilities of poverty and envy, might be claimed, with pride and fondness, by either of the sister arts of Poetry and Music, were it not that his greatest triumphs were won in Painting.  The wildness and sublimity of his canvas had their types in the scenery of his birthplace—the ancient and decayed villa of Renella, within view of Mount Vesuvius, and near to Naples.  His father was a poverty-stricken artist, and descended from a family to whom poverty and painting had been heirlooms for generations.  Determined to avert the continuance of this inauspicious union of inheritances in the life of his child, he took counsel with his wife, and they resolved to dedicate him to the service of the Church.  He was, accordingly, taken to the font in the grand church pertaining to the "Monks of the Certosa," and piously named "Salvatore," as a sign and seal of the religious life to which his parents had vowed to devote him.  But the method they took to bind him down to religious lessons was not wise, though their meaning was no doubt good; and the boyish Rosa often became a truant, wandered away for days among the rocks and trees, and frequently slept out in the open air of that beautiful climate.  His worship of the sublime scenery with which he thus became familiar was soon evinced in the fidelity of numerous sketches of picturesque he drew upon the walls of one of the rooms in the large old house his father inhabited.  Unchecked by the reprehension of his parents, who dreaded nothing more than the event of their child becoming an artist, he one day entered the monastery of the Certosa, with his burnt sticks in his hand—his only instruments of design—and began, secretly and silently, to scrawl his wild sketches upon such vacant spaces as he could find, on walls that abounded in the most splendid decorations of gold and vermilion and ultra-marine.  The monks caught him at his daring labour, and inflicted upon him a severe whipping; but neither did this subdue his thirst to become an artist.

    The perplexity of Salvator's parents was now very great, and they saw no chance of restraining the wayward spirit of their boy but in confiding him to other tutelage; not reflecting that he had displayed talents which it was peculiarly in their own power to direct and foster into a perfection, the result of which might have been their own relief and their child's happiness.  He was, at length, sent to a monastic school; and "Salvatoriello," the nickname his restlessness and ingenious caprices had gained him, was thenceforth clad in the long gown of a monk, in common with his young schoolfellows.  Repulsive as confinement might prove to his vehement disposition, it was it this period that his mind received the solid culture which enabled it to produce claims to literary distinction at a future time.  So long as his lessons were confined to Homer, Horace, and Sallust, he manifested no disquiet in his restraint; but when the day came that he must enter on the subtleties of the scholastic philosophy, all his youthful rebelliousness against the forced and injudicious religious tasks imposed on him by his own parents rose up, and he was expelled the school of the monastery for contumacy.  The grief of his father and mother at beholding their boy, in his sixteenth year, thus sent back in disgrace to his indigent home, may be easily conjectured.  Yet this heavier disaster does not, in the slightest degree, appear to have opened their eyes as to the want of judgment they had displayed in their child's training: the mother grew increasingly passionate in her desire that "Salvatoriello" should be a churchman; and the father resolved, let the cast-out schoolboy take whatever step he might, he should not, by his parents' help, become a painter.

    The occurrence of his eldest sister's marriage to Francanzani, a painter of considerable genius, opened, in another year, the way for Salvator's instruction in the art to which nature so strongly inclined him.  He had already essayed his powers in poetry and music, having composed several lyrics, and set them to airs dictated by his own imagination, feeling, and taste.  These were great favourites with the crowds of Naples, and were daily sung by the women who sat to knit in the sunshine.  His devotion to the composition of canzonets was, however, ardently shared with the novel lessons of the studio, as soon as the house of his sister's husband was opened to him for an asylum from the harshness of his parental home.  To the teaching of Francanzani he speedily added the copying of nature in the wilds of his truant childhood; and often, when he returned from the mountains with his primed paper full of sketches, his teacher would pat him on the shoulder encouragingly and say, "Rub on, rub on, Salvatoriello—that is good!"  The great painter often related to his friends, in the after days of his fame, what energy he had derived from those simple words of friendly approbation.

    Having learnt the elements of his profession, the young Rosa set out to take his giro, according to the custom of all young painters at that period.  He did not, however, take his way through the cities of Italy most famous for their galleries of Art, like other youthful artists; but, yielding to the bent of his natural genius, struck up, adventurously, into the mountains of the Abruzzi and the wilds of Calabria.  Here he was taken prisoner by banditti, and suffered great hardships.  Whether he escaped from them, or was, in the end, liberated, is not clear; but when he returned to Naples, his mind was full of the wondrous pictures of wild volcanic and forest scenery, and striking forms and features of mountain robbers, which he, forthwith, began to realize.

    New and more severe difficulties than he had ever yet had to encounter fell to his lot, at his return.  His father died in his arms; a few days after, his brother-in-law, Francanzani, was overwhelmed with poverty, and Salvator was left to struggle for the support of his mother and sisters.  Yet his strong spirit did not sink.  He laid aside music and poetry, and, although too poor to purchase canvas, began to depict his wild conceptions on primed paper; and, at night, used to steal out and sell his sketches to some shrewd Jew chapman for a vile price.  His gains were pitiful, but he strove, by redoubled industry, to swell their amount for a sufficient supply of the family's necessities.

    An accident served to bring into notice the genius whose high merit had hitherto met with no public recognition.  Lanfranco, the artist, who, with the courtly Spagnuoletto, shared the patronage of the rich in Naples, stopped his equipage, one day, in the "Street of Charity," and called for a picture to be brought to him which arrested his eye in the collection of one of the rivendotori, or second-hand dealers.  It was a masterly sketch of "Hagar in the Wilderness," and the obscure name of "Salvatoriello" was subscribed at the corner of it.  Lanfranco gave orders that all sketches which could be found bearing that name should be bought for him.  Rosa immediately raised his prices; but, although this high acknowledgment of his merit brought him the acquaintance of several influential names in his profession, he was speedily so deeply disgusted with the jealousy and envy of others, that he strapped all his fortune to his back, and at the age of twenty set out on foot to seek better treatment at Rome.  There he studied energetically, worshipping, above all, the kindred genius of Michael Angelo; but meeting with a renewal of neglect, and taking a fever from the malaria, once more returned to Naples.  The misery in which his family was plunged was still greater than at his departure; and another period of keen life-combat followed.  This repeated struggle did not depress him; but it gave his mind that bitter tendency which he afterwards displayed in his poetical "Satires."

    At twenty-four, under the humble patronage of a domestic of the Cardinal Brancaccia, he again went to Rome; and through the friendship of the same plain acquaintance had a large and lonely apartment provided for him, as a studio, in the cardinal's palace.  Dependence nevertheless revolted his lofty spirit, and he again returned to Naples, but engaged to send his pictures to his friend for public exposure in Rome.  His "Prometheus" was the first of his pictures exhibited at one of the annual shows in the Pantheon and the public voice adjudged it to be the greatest.  He obeyed a renewed invitation to Rome, but it was still to meet with disappointment.  The next carnival furnished his versatile genius with an occasion for winning, by humorous stratagem, the attention denied to his more sterling merit.  He put on a mask, and played the charlatan and improvisatore in the public streets, among a crowd of such exhibitors as abound in Rome at such seasons; but soon eclipsed them all by the splendour of his wit.  Curiosity was raised to the highest pitch, at the close of the carnival, respecting the identity of this unequalled exhibitor; and when he was proclaimed to be the painter of the "Prometheus" the admiration was unbounded.  Salvator, now, for some successive months, gave himself up to conversaziones, wherever invited; and there, by his wit, his lute, and canzonettes, paved the way for his greater acceptance as a painter.

    Jealousy, in that age of corrupt patronage and jealous artists, still pursued him; but his genius, thenceforth, rose above all opposition.  His landscapes were in every palace, and he soon rose to affluence.  Yet the remainder of his life was chequered with difficulties into which the vehemence of his nature perpetually plunged him.  That nature was unsubduable amidst all vicissitudes.  The magnificent creations of his "Socrates swallowing Poison," "Purgatory," "Prodigal Son," "St. Jerome," "Babilonia," and "Conspiracy of Catiline," with an almost innumerable catalogue of lesser pieces, flowed from his pencil, during a life alternately marked by devotion to each of the sister Arts, and, during one portion of it, to political contest—for he flew to Naples, with all the ardour of patriotism, and joined Masaniello, in his sincere but short-lived effort to rescue his countrymen from a crushing despotism.  His participation in the celebrated fisherman's conspiracy placed him in danger of the Inquisition on his return to Rome; but, on retiring to Florence, he became the favourite of the Grand Duke Cosmo the Third, and entered on a career of opulent success, which attended him to the end of life.

    The life-passages of Salvator Rosa, by injudicious thwarting of his nature, were rendered thorny beyond those of the great majority of men, and the amazing versatility of his talents, combined with almost volcanic ardour of spirit, defied common rules; but the strength of his judgment so completely gave him the victory over influences that might have destroyed him, as to lead him to seek the memorable "Triumphs of Perseverance" he secured by his supreme devotion to that Art, in which there is reckoned no greater name for sublimity and originality, and none of greater general excellence than those of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo.  Let the brief sketch of Salvator Rosa be compared with the much more "even tenor" of the life of another, that it may be seen how clearly, in spite of contrast, many of the same valuable lessons are deducible from it.


“Penn’s Treaty with the Indians” (1771)
Benjamin West (1738-1820).


An American Quaker by birth, was the youngest of a family of ten children, and was nurtured with great tenderness and care: a prophecy uttered by a preacher of the sect having impressed his parents with the belief that their child would, one day, become a great man.  In what way the prophecy was to be realized they had formed to themselves no definite idea; but an incident which occurred in young West's sixth year, led his father to ponder deeply as to whether its fulfilment were not begun.  Benjamin, being left to watch the infant child of one of his relatives while it was left asleep in the cradle, had drawn its smiling portrait, in red and black ink, there being paper and pens on the table in the room.  This spontaneous and earliest essay of his genius was so strikingly truthful that it was instantly and rapturously recognized by the family.  During the next year he drew flowers and birds with pen and ink; but a party of Indians, coming on a visit to the neighbourhood, taught him to prepare and use red and yellow ochre and indigo.  Soon after, he heard of camel-hair pencils, and the thought seized him that he could make use of a substitute, so he plucked hairs from the tail of a black cat that was kept in the house, fashioned his new instrument, and began to lay on colours, much to his boyish satisfaction.  In the course of another year a visitant friend, having seen his pictures, sent him a box of colours, oils, and pencils, with some pieces of prepared canvas and a few engravings.  Benjamin's fascination was now indescribable.  The seductions presented by his new means of creation were irresistible, and he played truant from school for some days, stealing up into a garret, and devoting the time, with all the throbbing wildness of delight, to painting.  The schoolmaster called, the truant was sought, and found in the garret by his mother.  She beheld what he had done; and, instead of reprehending him, fell on his neck and kissed him, with tears of ecstatic fondness.  How different from the training experienced by the poor, persecuted and tormented "Salvatoriello!"  What wonder, that the fiery-natured Italian afterwards drew human nature with a severe hand; and how greatly might his vehement disposition have been softened, had his nurture resembled that of the child of these gentle Quakers!

    The friend who had presented him with the box of colours, some time after took him to Philadelphia, where he was introduced to a painter, saw his pictures, the first he had ever seen except his own, and wept with emotion at the sight of them.  Some books on Art increased his attachment to it; and some presents enabled him to purchase materials for further exercises.  Up to his eighteenth year, strange as the facts seem, he received no instruction in painting, had to carve out his entire course himself, and yet advanced so far as to create his first historical picture, "The Death of Socrates," and to execute portraits for several persons of taste.  His father, however, had never yet assisted him; for, with all his ponderings on the preacher's prophecy, he could not shake off some doubts respecting the lawfulness of the profession of a painter, to which no one of the conscientious sect had ever yet devoted himself.  A counsel of "Friends" was therefore called together, and the perplexed father stated his difficulty and besought their advice.  After deep consideration, their decision was unanimous that the youth should be permitted to pursue the objects to which he was now both by nature and habit attached; and young Benjamin was called in, and solemnly set apart by the primitive brethren for his chosen profession.  The circumstances of this consecration were so remarkable, that, coupled with the early prophecy already mentioned, they made an impression on West's mind that served to strengthen greatly his resolution for advancement in Art, and for devotion to it as his supreme object through life.

    On the death of his affectionate mother, he finally left his father's house, and, not being yet nineteen, set up in Philadelphia as a portrait-painter, and soon found plenty of employment.  For the three or four succeeding years he worked unremittingly, making his second essay at historic painting within that term, but labouring at portraits, chiefly with the view of winning the means to enable himself to visit Italy.  His desire was at length accomplished, a merchant of New York generously presenting him with fifty guineas as an additional outfit, and thus assisting him to reach Rome without the uneasiness that would have arisen from straitness of means in a strange land.

    The appearance of a Quaker artist of course caused great excitement in the metropolis of Art; crowds of wonderers were formed around him; but, when in the presence of the great relics of Grecian genius, he was the wildest wonderer of all.  "How like a young Mohawk!" he exclaimed, on first seeing the "Apollo Belvidere," its life-like perfection bringing before his mind, instantaneously, the free forms of the desert children of Nature in his native America.  The excitement of little more than one month in Rome threw him into a dangerous illness from which it was some time before he recovered.  He visited the other great cities of Italy, and also painted and exhibited two great historical pictures, which were successful, ere the three years were completed which he stayed in that country.  He would have returned to Philadelphia; but a letter from his father recommended him first to visit England.

    West's success in London was speedily so decided, that he gave up all thoughts of returning to America.  For thirty years of his life he was chiefly employed in executing, for King George the Third, the great historical and scriptural pictures which now adorn Windsor Palace and the Royal Chapel.  After the abrupt termination of the commission given him by the king, he continued still to be a laborious painter.  His pictures in oil amount to about four hundred, and many of them are of very large dimensions and contain a great number of figures.  Among these may be mentioned, for its wide celebrity, the representation of "Christ healing, the Sick," familiar to every visitor of the National Gallery.  If polished taste be more highly charmed with other treasures there, the heart irresistibly owns the excellence of this great realization by the child of the American Quaker.  He received three thousand guineas for this picture, and his rewards were of the most substantial kind, ever after his settlement in England.  He was also appointed President of the Royal Academy, on the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and held the office at his own death, in the eighty-second year of his age.

    Though exposed to no opposition from envy or jealousy at any time of his career, and though encouraged in his childish bent, and helped by all who knew him and had the power to help him, without Perseverance of the most energetic character, Benjamin West would not have continued without pattern or instruction to labour on to excellence, nor would he have sustained his prosperity so firmly, or increased its productiveness so wondrously.




THE time may come when Music will be universally recognized as the highest branch of Art; as the most powerful divulger of the intellect's profoundest conceptions and noblest aspirations; as the truest interpreter of the heart's loves and hates, joys and woes; as the purest, least sensual, disperser of mortal care and sorrow; as the all-glorious tongue in which refined, good, and happy beings can most perfectly utter their thoughts and emotions.  Perhaps this cannot be till the realm of the physical world be more fully subdued by man.  The human faculties have hitherto been, necessarily, too much occupied with the struggle for existence, for security against want and protection from the elements, with the invention of better and swifter modes of locomotion and of transmission of thought, to advance to a general apprehension of the superior nature of Music.  "Practical men"—men fitted for the discharge of the world's present duties by the manifestation of the readiest and fullest capacity for meeting its present wants—are, naturally and justly, those whom the world most highly values in its current state of civilization.

    This necessary preference of the practical to the ideal may lead many, who cannot spare a thought from the every-day concerns of the world, to deem hastily that the stern and energetic quality of Perseverance cannot be fully developed in the character of a devotee to Music.  But, dismissing the greater question just hinted at, it may be replied that it is the evident tendency of man to form the lightest pleasures of the mind, as well as his gravest discoveries, into what is called "science;" and the lives of numerous musicians show that vast powers of application have been continuously devoted to the elaboration of the rules of harmony, while others have employed their genius as ardently in the creation of melody.  These creations, when the symbols are learnt in which they are written, the mind, by its refined exorcism, can enable the voice, or the hand of the instrumental performer, to summon into renewed existence to the end of time.  Before symbols were invented and rules constructed, the wealth of Music must necessarily have been restricted to a few simple airs such as the memory could retain and easily reproduce.  Perseverance—Perseverance—has guided and sinewed men's love of the beautiful and powerful in melody and harmony, until, from the simple utterance of a few notes of feeling; rudely conveyed from sire to son by renewed utterance, Music has grown up into a science, dignified and adorned by profound theorists, like Albrechtsberger, and by sublime creative geniuses, such as the majestic Handel and sweetest Haydn and universal Mozart and sublime Beethoven.

    For their successful encounter of the great "battle of life," a hasty thinker would also judge that the extreme susceptibility of musicians must unfit them; extreme susceptibility, which is, perhaps, more peculiarly their inheritance than it is that even of poets.  Yet the records of the lives of musical men prove, equally with the biographies of artists, authors, and linguists, that true genius, whatever may be the object of its high devotion, is unsubduable by calamity and opposition.  The young inquirer will find ample proof of this in various biographies: our limits demand that we confine ourselves to one musician, as an exemplar of the grand attribute of Perseverance.


George Frederick Handel (1685-1759)
by Balthasar Denner (1733)

The first of the four highest names in Music, was the son of a physician of Halle, in Lower Saxony, and was designed by his father for the study of the civil law.  The child's early attachment to music—for he could play well on the old instrument called a clavichord before he was seven years old—was, therefore, witnessed by his parent with great displeasure.  Unable to resist the dictates of his nature, the boy used to climb up into a lonely garret, shut himself up, and practise, chiefly when the family were asleep.  He attached himself so diligently to the practice of his clavichord, that it enabled him, without ever having received the slightest instruction, to become an expert performer on the harpsichord.  It was at this early age that the resolution of young Handel was manifested in the singular incident often told of his childhood.  His father set out in a chaise to go and visit a relative who was valet-de-chambre to the Duke of Saxe-Weisenfels, but refused to admit the boy as a partner in his journey.  After the carriage, however, the boy ran, kept closely behind it for some miles, unconquerable in his determination to proceed, and was at last taken into the chaise by his father.  When arrived, it was impossible to keep him from the harpsichords in the duke's palace; and, in the chapel, he contrived to get into the organ-loft, and began to play with such skill on an instrument he had never before touched, that the duke, overhearing him, was surprised, asked who he was, and then used every argument to induce the father to make the child a musician, and promised to patronize him.

    Overcome by the reasonings of this influential personage, the physician gave up the thought of thwarting his child's disposition and, at their return to Halle, placed young Handel under the tuition of Zachau, the organist of the cathedral.  The young "giant"—a designation afterwards so significantly bestowed upon him by Pope—grew up so rapidly into mastery of the instrument, that he was soon able to conduct the music of the cathedral in the organist's absence; and, at nine years old, composed church services both for voices and instruments.  At fourteen he excelled his master; and his father resolved to send him, for higher instruction, to a musical friend who was a professor at Berlin.  The opera then flourished in that city more highly than in any other in Germany; the king marked the precocious genius of the young Saxon, and offered to send him into Italy for still more advantageous study: but his father, who was now seventy years old, would not consent to his leaving his "fatherland."

    Handel next went to Hamburgh, where the opera was only little inferior to Berlin.  His father died soon after; and, although but in his fourteenth year, the noble boy entered the orchestra as a salaried performer, took scholars, and thus not only secured his own independent maintenance, but sent frequent pecuniary help to his mother.  How worshipfully the true children of Genius blend their convictions of moral duty with the untiring aim to excel!

    On the resignation of Keser, composer to the opera, and first harpsichord in Hamburgh, a contest for the situation took place between Handel and the person who had hitherto been Keser's second.  Handel's decided superiority of skill secured him the office, although he was but fifteen years of age; but his success had nearly cost him his life, for his disappointed antagonist made a thrust with a sword at his breast, where a music-book Handel had buttoned under his coat prevented the entrance of the weapon.  Numerous sonatas, three operas, and other admired pieces, were composed during Handel's superintendence of the Hamburgh opera; but, at nineteen, being invited by the brother of the Grand Duke, he left that city for Tuscany.  He received high patronage at Florence, and afterwards visited Venice, Rome, and Naples, residing, for shorter or longer periods, in each city, producing numerous operas, cantatas, and other pieces, reaping honours and rewards, and becoming acquainted with Corelli, Scarletti, and other musicians; till, after spending six years in Italy, he returned to Germany.

    Through the friendship of Baron Kilmansegg be was introduced to the Elector of Hanover, was made "chapel-master" to the court, and had a pension conferred upon him of fifteen hundred crowns a year.  In order to secure the services of the "great musician," as he was acknowledged now to be, the King provided that he should be allowed, at will, to be absent for a year at a time.  The very next year he took advantage of this provision and set out for England, having first visited his old master Zackau, and his aged and blind mother for the last time—still true, amidst the dazzling influences of his popularity, to the most correct emotions of the heart!

    His opera of "Rinaldo" was performed with great success during his stay in this country, and after one year he returned to Hanover; yet his predilection for England, above every other country he had seen, was so strong, that after the lapse of another year he was again in London.  The peace of Utrecht occurred a few months after his second arrival, and having composed a Te Deum and Jubilate in celebration of it, and thereby won such favour that Queen Anne was induced to solicit his continuance in England, and to confer upon him a pension of £200 a year, Handed resolved to forfeit his Hanoverian pension, and made up his mind to remain in London.  But, two years afterwards, the Queen died, and the great musician was now in deep dread that his slight of the Elector's favours would be resented by that personage on be coming King of England.  George the First, indeed, expressed himself very indignantly respecting Handel's conduct; but the Baron Kilmansegg again rendered his friend good service.  He instructed Handel to compose music of a striking character, to be played on the water, as the King took amusement with a gay company.  Handel created his celebrated "Water Music," chiefly adapted for horns; and the effect was so striking that the King was delighted.  Kilmansegg seized the opportunity, and sued for the restoration of his friend to favour.  The boon was richly obtained, for Handel's pension was raised to £400 per annum, and he was appointed musical teacher to the young members of the Royal Family.

    Prosperity seemed to have selected Handel, up to this period, for her favourite; but severe reverses were coming.  The opera in this country had hitherto been conducted on worn-out and absurd principles, and a large body of the people of taste united to promote a reform.  Rival opera-houses (as at the present period) were opened; and during nine years Handel superintended one establishment.  It was one perpetual quarrel: when his opponents, by any change, had become so feeble that he seemed on the eve of a final triumph, one or other of the singers in his own company would grow unmanageable; Senesino was the chief of these, and Handel's refusal to accept the mediation of several of the nobility, and be reconciled to him, caused the establishment over which he presided to be finally broken up.  The great powers of Farinelli, the chief singer at the rival house, to whom an equal could not then be found in Europe, also largely contributed to Handel's ruin.  He withdrew, with a loss of ten thousand pounds; his constitution seemed completely broken with the years of harassment he had experienced; and he retired to the baths of Aix-la-Chapelle, scarcely with the hope, on the part of his friends, that they would ever see him in England again.

    His paralysis and other ailments, however, disappeared with wondrous suddenness; after be reached the medical waters, he recovered full health and vigour, and, at the age of fifty-two, returned to England with the manly resolve to struggle till he had paid his debts, and once more retrieved a fortune equal to his former condition.  It was now that the whole strength of the man was tried.  He produced his "Alexander's Feast;" but, in spite of its acknowledged merit, the nobility whom he had offended would not patronize him.  He produced other pieces, but they failed from the same cause.  He then bent his mighty genius on the creation of newer and grander attractions than had ever been yet introduced in music, and produced his unequalled "Messiah," which was performed at Covent Garden during Lent.  Yet the combination against him was maintained, until he sunk into deeper difficulties than ever.

    Unsubdued by the failures which had accumulated around him during the five years which had elapsed since his return to England, he set out for Ireland, at fifty-seven, and had his "Messiah" performed in Dublin, for the benefit of the city prison.  His success was instantaneous; several performances took place for his own benefit, and the next year he renewed the war against Fortune, in London, by producing his magnificent "Samson," and having it performed, together with his "Messiah," at Covent Garden.  The first renewed performance of the "Messiah" was for the benefit of the Foundling Hospital; and the funds of that philanthropic institution were thenceforth annually benefited by the repetition of that sublime Oratorio.  Prejudice was now subdued, the "mighty master" triumphed, and his darling wished-for honourable independence was fully realized; for more than he had lost was retrieved.

    Handel's greatest works, like those of Haydn, were produced in his advanced years.  His " Jephthah" was produced at the age of sixty-seven.  Paralysis returned upon him at fifty-nine, and gutta serena—Milton's memorable affliction—reduced him to "total eclipse" of sight some years after: but he submitted cheerfully to his lot, after brief murmuring, and continued, by dictation to an amanuensis, the creation of new works, and the performance of his Oratorios to the last.  He conducted his last Oratorio but a week before his death, and died, as he had always desired to do, on Good Friday, at the age of seventy-five.  He was interred, with distinguished honours, among the great and good of that country which had naturalized him, in Westminster Abbey.  May the sight of his monument inspire the young reader with an unquenchable zeal to emulate, in whatever path wisdom may direct life to be passed, the moral and intellectual excellencies of this glorious disciple of Perseverance!


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
by Elias Gottlob Haussmann (ca. 1748)

Hereditary talent for one particular art was, perhaps, never more strikingly exhibited than in the Bach family of Saxony.  Four generations of the family, numbering fifty individuals, were more or less famous for musical ability.  One of these, Johann Sebastian, ranks with the greatest masters of the art, and owed his eminence, not only to great natural talent, but to most laborious and persevering study of musical science.  The ablest musicians of the present day acknowledge how much they are indebted to his consummate knowledge, and regard him as their teacher, and his sublime compositions are becoming more and more appreciated.

    Johann Sebastian Bach was born in the same year as Handel, 1685, at Eisenach, or Thuringia, where his father was a professional musician.  Before he was ten years old the boy was left an orphan, and dependent on an elder brother, an organist at Ohrdurf, from him he received some rudimentary instruction; but he was indebted more to his own quick perception and industry for the knowledge he contrived to acquire.  The elder Bach died in 1698, and Johann, then fourteen years of age, was left destitute.  Possessing a very beautiful voice, he obtained a place in the choir of St. Michael's, Lüneberg, which gave him the opportunity of acquiring a familiarity with some of the best compositions.  He studied hard, and continued his practice on the organ with such success that, in 1703, although only eighteen years old, he became court musician at Weimar, and in the following year organist to a church at Arnstadt.  While at Weimar, he composed many pieces of sacred music, among them some of the most beautiful of his cantatas.  In 1708, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar appointed him court organist, and while holding that office he laboured assiduously and made himself master of every branch of musical science.  His fame as a performer on the organ spread throughout Germany, and an amusing incident is recorded.  A French organist of great reputation, Louis Marchaud, who believed himself to possess unrivalled powers, was travelling in Germany.  He arrived at Dresden, and we read, "lorded it over his artistic colleagues at the Saxon Court in the most sublime manner."  They were not disposed to admit his pretensions, and proposed a contest on the organ between him and Bach.  The Frenchman almost contemptuously accepted the challenge, and a day for the competition was arranged.  The Duke and court, and all the musical celebrities of the place were invited to attend, and a grand display was anticipated; but Marchaud having had a private opportunity of hearing Bach perform, was afraid of exposing himself to an ignominious defeat, and quietly left the town before the day of contest arrived.

    After a residence of nine years at Weimar, he was induced by the Duke of Köthen to accept the position of musical conductor (Kapell-meister) at his court, and remained there six years, after which, in 1723, he removed to Leipsic, where he was appointed director of music at the famous St. Thomas' school, and organist at two of the principal churches.  At Leipsic he resided for the remainder of his life, and there he composed his greatest works, engraving some of the music plates with his own hands.

    The honorary distinctions of Kapell-meister to the Duke of Weissenfels and court composer to the King of Poland, were conferred on him; and, in 1747, he was invited by Frederick the Great of Prussia to visit him at Potsdam.  Frederick had a taste for music, was himself a composer and performer of fair ability, and was delighted to hear Bach play on the organ and pianoforte, an instrument then coming into favour.  Two years afterwards the sight of the great musician failed, and a surgical operation was followed by total blindness.  He lived about a year after, dying of apoplexy on the 28th of July, 1750.  He was married twice, and had by his two wives a family of eleven sons and nine daughters, four of the former becoming musicians of note.

    As an organist and composer for the organ, Bach was rivalled only by his contemporary Handel, and in power of improvisation, it is said, he had no equal.  Many of his works have been lost, but there remain enough to establish him as one of the greatest of musicians.  In 1850, a Bach Society for the study and practice of his compositions was formed in London, and in Germany they exercise a profound influence.  The "Passion Music," now frequently heard in London, is considered one of the most sublime and pathetic of musical compositions.

    The four sons of Bach, who most highly distinguished themselves, were Wilhelm Friedemann, Karl Phillip Emanuel, Johann Christoph Friedrich, and Johann Christian.  Of these, Karl Phillip Emanuel, the second son of the great composer, attained the greatest celebrity.  He was born at Weimar in 1714, and having been some time at St. Thomas's school, went to the University of Leipsic, intending to study jurisprudence.  But his musical taste was predominant, and influenced his career.  From 1738 to 1767 he was chamber musician to Frederick the Great, and afterwards, for twenty-one years, Kapell-meister at Hamburgh, where he died in 1788.  He was not only a composer and performer of great merit, but the author of valuable technical works of instruction.




IF great proficiency in tongues, skill to depicture human thought and character, and enthusiastic devotion to art, be worthy of our admiration, the toiling intelligences who have taught us to subdue the physical world, and to bring it to subserve our wants and wishes, claim scarcely less homage.  Art and literature could never have sprung into existence if men had remained mere strugglers for life, in their inability to contend with the elements of nature, because ignorant of its laws; and an acquaintance with the languages of tribes merely barbarous would have been but a worthless kind of knowledge.  To scientific discoverers—the pioneers of civilization, who make the world worth living in, and render man's tenancy of it more valuable by every successive step of discovery—our primary tribute of admiration and gratitude seems due.  They are the grand revealers of the physical security, health, plenty, and means of locomotion, which give the mind vantage-ground for its reach after higher refinement and purer pleasures,

    Should the common observation be urged, that many of the most important natural discoveries have resulted from accident, let it be remembered, that, but for the existence of some of our race, more attentive than the rest, Nature might still have spoken in vain, as she had undoubtedly done to thousands before she found an intelligent listener, in each grand instance of physical discovery.  Grant all the truth that may attach to the observation just quoted, and yet the weighty reflection remains—that it was only by men who, in the sailor's phrase, were "on the lookout," that the revelations of Nature were caught.  The natural laws were in operation for ages, but were undiscovered, because men guessed rather than inquired, or lived on without heed to mark, effort to comprehend, industry to register, and, above all, without perseverance to proceed from step to step in discovery, till entire truths were learnt.  That these have been the attributes of those to whom we owe the rich boon of science, a rapid survey of some of their lives will manifest.


Sir Humphry Davy, FRS (1778–1829)

The son of a wood carver of Penzance, was apprenticed by his father to a surgeon and apothecary of that town, and afterwards with another of the same profession, but gave little satisfaction to either of his masters.  Natural philosophy had become his absorbing passion; and, even while a boy, he dreamt of future fame as a chemist.  The rich diversity of minerals in Cornwall offered the finest field for his impassioned inquiries; and he was in the habit of rambling alone for miles, bent upon his yearning investigation into the wonders of Nature.  In his master's garret, and with the assistance of such a laboratory as he could form for himself from the phials and gallipots of the apothecary's shop, and the pots and pans of the kitchen, he brought the mineral and other substances he collected to the test.  The surgeon of a French vessel wrecked on the coast gave him a case of instruments, among which was one that he contrived to fashion into an air-pump, and he was soon enabled to extend the range of his experiments; but the proper use of many of the instruments was unknown to him.

    A fortunate accident brought him the acquaintanceship of Davies Gilbert, an eminent man of science.  Young Davy was leaning one day on the gate of his father's house, when a friend, who was passing by with Mr. Gilbert, said, "That is young Davy, who is so fond of chemistry."  Mr. Gilbert immediately entered into conversation with the youth, and offered him assistance in his studies.  By the kind offices of his new friend, he was afterwards introduced to Dr. Beddoes, who had formed a pneumatic institution at Bristol, and was in want of a superintendent for it.  At the age of nineteen, Davy received this appointment, and immediately began the splendid course of chemical discovery which has rendered his name immortal as one of the greatest benefactors as well as geniuses of the race.

    At twenty one he published his "Researches, Chemical and Philosophical, chiefly concerning Nitrous Oxide, and its Respiration."  The singularly intoxicating quality of this gas when breathed was unknown before Davy's publication of his experiments in this treatise.  The attention it drew upon him from the scientific world issued in his being invited to leave Bristol, and take the chair of chemistry which had just been established in the London Royal Institution.  Although but a youth of two-and-twenty, his lectures in the metropolis were attended by breathless crowds of men of science and title; and, in another year, he was also appointed Professor of Chemistry to the Board of Agriculture.  His lectures in that capacity greatly advanced chemical knowledge, and were published at the request of the Board.  When twenty-five he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and, on the death of Sir Joseph Banks, was made its President by a unanimous vote.  It was in the delivery of his Bakerian lectures, before this learned body, that he laid the foundation of the new science called "electro-chemistry."  The Italians, Volta and Galvani, had some years before discovered and made known the surprising effects produced on the muscles of dead animals by two metals being brought into contact with each other.  Davy showed that the metals underwent chemical changes, not by what had been hitherto termed "electricity," but by affinity; and that the same effects might be produced by one of the metals, provided a fluid were brought to act on its surface in a certain manner.  The composition and decomposition of substances by the application of the galvanic energy, as displayed in the experiments of the young philosopher, filled the minds of men of science with wonder.

    His grand discoveries of the metallic bases of the alkalies and earths, of the various properties of the gases, and of the connexion of electricity and magnetism, continued to absorb the attention of the scientific world through succeeding years; but a simple invention, whereby human life was rescued from danger in mines, the region whence so great a portion of the wealth of England is derived, placed him before the minds of millions, learned and illiterate, as one of the guardians of man's existence.  This was the well-known "safety-lamp," an instrument which is provided at a trifling expense, and with which the toiling miner can enter subterranean regions unpierceable before, without danger of explosion of the "fire-damp," so destructive, before this discovery, to the lives of thousands.  The humblest miner rejects any other name but that of "Davy Lamp" for this apparently insignificant protector, and ventures, with it in his hand, cheerfully and boldly into the realms of darkness, where the "black diamonds" lie so many fathoms beneath the surface of the earth, and, not seldom, under the bed of the sea.  The proprietors of the Northern coal mines presented the discoverer with a service of plate of the value of £2000, at a public dinner, as a manifestation of their sense of his merits.  He was the first person knighted by the Prince Regent, afterwards King George IV., and was a few years after raised to the baronetage.  Such honours served to mark the estimation in which he was held by those who had it in their power to confer them; but Davy's enduring distinctions, like those of the unequalled Newton, are derived from the increase of power over nature, which he has secured for millions yet unborn, by the force of his genius, girt up tirelessly by Perseverance till its grand triumphs were won.

    From this hasty survey of the magnificent course of one of the great penetrators into the secrets of nature, and preservers of human life, let us cast a glance on the struggles of one who has been the means of multiplying man's hands and fingers—to use a strong figure—of opening up sources of employment for millions, and of showing the road to wealth for thousands.


Sir Richard Arkwright (1732–1792)

Was a poor barber till the age of thirty, and then changed his trade for that of an itinerant dealer in hair.  Nothing is known of any early attachment he had for mechanical inventions; but, about four years after he had given up shaving beards, he is found enthusiastically bent on the project of discovering the "perpetual motion," and, in his quest for a person to make him some wheels, gets acquainted with a clockmaker of Warrington, named Kay.  This individual had also been for some time bent on the construction of new mechanic powers, and either to him alone, or to the joint wit of the two, is to be attributed their entry on an attempt at Preston, in Lancashire, to erect a novel machine for spinning cotton-thread.  The partnership was broken, and the endeavour given up, in consequence of the threats uttered by the working spinners, who dreaded that such an invention would rob them of bread, by lessening the necessity for human labour; and Arkwright alone, bent on the accomplishment of the design, went to Nottingham.  A firm of bankers in that town made him some advances of capital, with a view to partake in the benefits arising from his invention; but, as Arkwright's first machines did not answer his end efficiently, they grew weary of the connection, and refused further supplies.  Unshaken in his own belief of future success, Arkwright now took his models to a firm of stocking weavers, one of whom, Mr. Strutt—a name which has also become eminent in the manufacturing enterprise of the country—was a man of intelligence, and of some degree of acquaintance with science.  This firm entered into a partnership with Arkwright, and, he having taken out a patent for his invention, they built a spinning-mill, to be driven by horsepower, and filled it with frames.  Two years afterwards they built another mill at Cromford, in Derbyshire, moved by water-power; but it was in the face of losses and discouragements that they thus pushed their speculations.  During five years they sunk twelve thousand pounds, and his partners were often on the point of giving up the scheme.  But Arkwright's confidence only increased by failure, and, by repeated essays at contrivance, he finally and most triumphantly succeeded.  He lived to realize an immense fortune, and his present descendant is understood to be one of the wealthiest persons in the kingdom.  The weight of cotton imported now is three hundred times greater than it was a century ago; and its manufacture, since the invention of Arkwright, has become the greatest in England.


Must be mentioned as the meritorious individual who completed the discovery of cotton manufacture, by the invention of the power-loom.  His tendency towards mechanical contrivances had often displayed itself in his youth; but his love of literature, and settlement in the church, led him to lay aside such pursuits as trifles, and it was not till his fortieth year that a conversation occurred which roused his dormant faculty.  His own account of it must be given, not only for the sake of its striking character, but for the powerful negative it puts upon the hackneyed observation, that almost all great and useful discoveries have resulted from "accident."  The narrative first appeared in the "Supplement to the Encyclopoedia Britannica:"

"Happening to be at Matlock, in the summer of 1784, I fell in company with some gentlemen of Manchester, when the conversation turned on Arkwright's spinning machinery.  One of the company observed that, as soon as Arkwright's patent expired, so many mills would be erected, and so much cotton spun, that hands would never be found to weave it.  To this observation I replied, that Arkwright must then set his wits to work to invent a weaving-mill.  This brought on a conversation upon the subject, in which the Manchester gentlemen unanimously agreed that the thing was impracticable, and, in defence of their opinion, they adduced arguments which I was certainly incompetent to answer, or even to comprehend, being totally ignorant of the subject, having never at the time seen a person weave.  I controverted, however, the impracticability of the thing, by remarking that there had been lately exhibited in London an automaton figure which played at chess.  'Now, you will not assert, gentlemen,' said I, 'that it is more difficult to construct a machine that shall weave, than one that shall make all the variety of moves that are required in that complicated game.'  Some time afterwards, a particular circumstance recalling this conversation to my mind, it struck me that, as in plain weaving, according to the conception I then had of the business, there could be only three movements, which were to follow each other in succession, there could be little difficulty in producing and repeating them.  Full of these ideas I immediately employed a carpenter and smith to carry them into effect.  As soon as the machine was finished I got a weaver to put in the warp, which was of such materials as sail-cloth is usually made of.  To my great delight a piece of cloth, such as it was, was the, produce.  As I had never before turned my thoughts to mechanism, either in theory or practice, nor had seen a loom at work, nor knew anything of its construction, you will readily suppose that my first loom must have been a most rude piece of machinery.  The warp was laid perpendicularly; the reed fell with a force of at least half- a-hundredweight; and the springs which threw the shuttle were strong enough to have thrown a congreve rocket.  In short, it required the strength of two powerful men to work the machine, at a slow rate, and only for a short time.  Conceiving, in my simplicity, that I had accomplished all that was required, I then secured what I thought a most valuable property by a patent, 4th of April, 1785.  This being done, I then condescended to see how other people wove; and you will guess my astonishment when I compared their easy modes of operation with mine.  Availing myself, however, of what I then saw, I made a loom in its general principles nearly as they are now made.  But it was not till the year 1787 that I completed my invention when I took out my last weaving patent, August the 1st of that year."

    Challenged by a manufacturer who came to see his machine, to render it capable of weaving checks or fancy patterns, Dr. Cartwright applied his mind to the discovery, and succeeded so perfectly, that when the manufacturer visited him again some weeks after, the visitor declared he was assisted by something beyond human power.  Were these discoveries the fruit of "accident," or were they attributable to the power of mind, unswervingly bent to attain its object by Perseverance?

    Numerous additional inventions in manufactures and agriculture owe their origin to this good as well as ingenious man, whose mind was so utterly uncorrupted by any sordid passion that he neglected to turn his discoveries to any great pecuniary benefit, even when secured to him by patent.  The merchants and manufacturers of Manchester, however, memorialized the Lords of the Treasury in his behalf, during his latter years, and Parliament made him a grant of £10,000.  Dr. Cartwright directed his mind to the steam-engine, among his other thoughts, and told his son, many years before the prophecy was realized, that, if he lived to manhood, he would see both ships and land-carriages moved by steam.  From seeing one of his models of a steam-vessel, it is asserted that Fulton, then a painter in this country, urged the idea of steam navigation upon his countrymen, on his return to America, until he saw it triumphantly carried out.

    The new and vast motive power just mentioned conducts us to another illustrious name in the list of the disciples of Perseverance.  Like the names of Newton, Guttenberg the inventor of printing, and a few others, the name to which we allude has claims upon the gratitude of mankind which can never be fully rendered until the entire race participate in the superior civilization it is the certain destiny of these grand discoveries to institute.

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