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been long unoccupied; and so inspiriting is the lesson which it inculcates, of the admirable results of industry and virtue and perseverance, no matter what the obstacles through which they may be obliged to force their way.
The merits of West seem to us to be better calculated to attract the artist than the mere amateur. In the excel. lence of his composition and the correctness of his design, there is much that the former must love to contemplate, for purposes both of gratification and instruction; but admirable as those qualities are, they cannot be duly appreciated and enjoyed by the unscientific, when not befriended in just proportion by one or another of the two requisites most essential for communicating general delight, in which he was deficient-expression and colouring. He neither enthrals the mind, nor fascinates the eye. His is not the magic pencil around which the passions throng, nor that which is dipped in the hues of the rainbow. He rarely if ever “ gloriously offends,” or snatches a grace which uninspired art may not reach. Soul is wanting there, and the most attractive quality, upon canyass, of body likewise. Take, for instance, his celebrated work belonging to the Hospital of Philadelphia, Christ healing the Sick, and what are the effects which it is fitted to produce? It is doubtless skilfully and judiciously composed, and the figures are well drawn, but is not your eye immediately repelled by the want of morbidezza in the tone, by the hardness of the outlines, exhibiting the work of the pencil as distinctly as that of the brush, and destroying all illusion by the evidence thus afforded, that the personages before you were born not of women, but of the artist's hand, and by the absence of that genial glow of complexion which seems to indicate the active current of the life-streams beneath ? Is one inspiring
idea excited in your mind, one powerful emotion awakened in your bosom, by the sublimity and pathos of the subject? Does the head of the Saviour prompt you to adoration, and gratitude, and love ? do you commiserate the sufferings of the sick man, or rejoice in the release which he is about to obtain ? do you sympathise with the distress of the mother, desiring yourself to wipe away that tear which seems not to have dropped from her eye, but to have been placed on her cheek for the occasion ? do you second the father's prayer for his daughter's restoration to sight? or are you horrified by the malignant hatred and covert rage of the priests, or shocked by the contortions of the demoniac boy ? Imagine the same scene depicted by Raphael. What dignity inspiring homage, what compassion inducing love, would have been blended in the person of the Redeemer—what strength and diversity of sentiment would have been imparted to the apostles, the disciples, the priests, and the gazing crowd—what depth of parental and filial love, illumined by hope and yet tempered by awe, would have been impressed upon the countenances of those soliciting his mercy for their afflicted kindred—what commingling of physical infirmity with moral elevation would have been portrayed in the expectants of divine bounty-how vividly would the whole spectacle have spoken of helpless humanity and celestial power and goodness! The group of which the demoniac boy is the chief figure, is a strong reminiscence of the one of the same nature in the Transfiguration; the woman looking at the Saviour and pointing to the possessed behind her, is almost a copy ; but what a difference between her unmeaning, and we must say, rather vulgar physiognomy, and the striking countenance of Raphael's creation, so admirably contrasted
with that heavenly face of the other female, who is looking upon the poor boy with such indescribable feeling!
In making these remarks, we must be understood as speaking relatively. We are far from asserting that the picture is altogether devoid of expression. It affords abundant evidence that the author knew what ought to be done. Every one of the figures indicates the right intention, but in none of them is the deed as good as the will. The impression which they are designed to produce is true, as far as it goes, but it is weak at the moment of reception, and liable soon to be effaced.--It is but just also to acknowledge, that although the colouring of West is usually defective, instances could be shown in some of his works of an excellence in that respect, which might be deemed worthy of Titian.
“ Death on the Pale Horse,” is esteemed the loftiest effort of West, and it must indeed be a noble production, in which he has surpassed himself, if what is said of it be true. In it, according to Cunningham, he has more than approached the masters and princes of the calling. The Battle of La Hogue, and the Death of Wolfe, are the best of his historic pieces, and esteemed the best of that kind of the English school, which, however, they might easily be, without possessing half their merit.
In estimating the rank of West, it should be recollected, that although he is not the first in his department of the art, that department is the first; and that to attain the distinction in it which he did, a rarer combination of qualities was requisite, than is demanded for superiority in an inferior branch. The vast number of his compositions, also, almost all of which are at least respectable, should be taken into consideration, manifesting as they do, a wonderful fertility of invention and rapidity of ex
ecution. One circumstance should be recorded to his lasting honour, that he never prostituted his pencil to a subject on which the most delicate mind could not dwell, which could have been a source of the smallest regret upon his bed of death,
THE HUMMING BIRD.
BY ALEXANDER WILSON.
When morning dawns, and the blest sun again