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horses" is mentioned; also " two plaques in old blue, one showing a flight of birds, and the other an owl;" also vases in Parian relief. "A slim vase, and an immense snowball, a guelder-rose being noticeable; another vase, showing upon a chocolate body splendid clusters of water lilies in Parian ;" also " two vases in Limoge, one showing birds, and the other a brace of geese;" still another "a graceful vase in old blue decoration, a stork brooding upon its nest, attended by its faithful mate on one side, and on the other, two storks fishing in a pool, typifying night and morning." Some of the choice bits were eagerly bought, showing how genuine was the admiration. Special reference should be made of Miss McLaughlin's Ali Baba vase, already mentioned, the largest with the exception of one she is now at work upon, ever cast in this country. It is thirtyseven inches high, not quite large enough to make a convenient hiding-place for even the most dwarfish of the forty thieves, but sufficiently handsome and valuable to constitute a most enticing booty for any modern thief. It is decorated in the Limoge style, in which she still holds the mastery, the foundation being in pearly tints, with an over decoration, consisting of a branch of the atiscis.
Mr. Bennet did not go to Cincinnati when urged to do so, but kept his secret in New York, where he turns out from his own furnace work that is the envy of all beholders. But who knows but that in time these dauntless workers in the Cincinnati faience may get at his secret? Already one sees now and then clever imitations of his ware, several of them being mentioned in the exhibit of the Pottery Club, notably "a chocolate pitcher, showing a cream body decorated with cat-tail rushes and sedgy grasses, with a rich band of color in arabesques at top and bottom, and across the top of the cover a spider's web in lines of black;" also "an antique pitcher with the handle and rim in deep blue, the body in ivory tint, decorated with clusters of the cyclamen in crimson purple flowers, and leaves in dark green."
A list of all these beautiful things reads like a romance, or as if they had been created at the command of some genii; but the struggles and disappointments that have been endured and the woes that still attend the pursuit of this department of art only the initiated can fully comprehend. Those who have any experimental knowledge of
china painting, and know the risks attended with the firing, in the process of which their cherished colors so often suffer damage, may have some slight idea of the amount of philosophy to be exercised by those whose colors are subjected to the still greater risks consequent upon the glazing process. The heat required in this work is several degrees less than that required in the common pottery work, and so long as it is subjected to the heat of an ordinary kiln, much difficulty will be encountered. A kiln is being constructed at the Dallas pottery better adapted to this work, and it is to be hoped that there will be fewer heart- j aches and more encouraging results. The colors are mineral, and when applied differ much from what they are after the firing. As yet the list of colors used is small, but is increasing every day. Indeed, the risks to be encountered in many ways is great, and she who intrusts her frail handiwork to the great kilns, knowing that it must take its chances along with the common pottery, must school herself to a vast amount of patience in awaiting the results. It may come out all right, but there is an even chance that the colors may be washed out, or changed past all recognition;
the clay may shrink too much, the glaze may look as if filled with tiny cracks, a pet rose or leaf may be broken off, or the entire article may be destroyed beyond reparation.
This work, which is yet in its infancy, promises much for the future. What secrets shall yet be unravelled, what results achieved, it is impossible to conjecture. Already it has attracted much attention, and some of it has met with ready sales. That these efforts may sometimes crystallize into a valuable industry is not too much to expect. That such beautiful objects can be fashioned from the crude material which is to be found almost at our doors is a fact which in itself is sufficient to recommend it to the popular heart. That the art has taken a strong hold upon the affections of its devotees is sufficiently evident when a trio of school-girls met together for a mutual holiday frolic, choose to convert it into a patient practice of their beloved art, the result being a pretty Pilgrim jar, a graceful pitcher, and a flower-pot ornamented in white Parian, which shall serve not only as a pleasing ornament to her father's grounds, but a lasting memorial to her industry and good taste.
A Few yards north of the railroad, and about the same distance from Swarthmore College, in Springfield, Delaware County, stands the birthplace of the celebrated American painter Benjamin West. The small house still there, is said to be the one in which he was born, though there have been disputes at times about the fact. The writer of this sketch recollects distinctly a decayed building standing within a few yards of the present one, that was claimed as the true birthplace. But this is a matter of little importance; the location is sufficiently designated to guarantee to the lovers of art a proper site upon which to erect a monument to American genius, if the idea should ever impress itself upon their generosity. The location is one of the most delightful along the line of the railroad, and will no doubt soon be occupied by neat modern suburban residences. A handsome monument to the artist would greatly add to the value and beauty of the place.
Benjamin was born on the 28th of September, 1738, of John and Sarah West, whose chief wealth consisted of ten children, Benjamin being the youngest. He had nothing to gain, therefore, from "pampered wealth." He is claimed by his biographer, Gait, to have been under the special charge and guidance of the Quakers; but this and many other sayings of that author are known to be purely imaginary.
One hundred and forty years ago the surroundings of the little hamlet were not so picturesque and fascinating as at present. It was in the midst of peril, plunder and difficulties of almost every description. Large forests abounded on all sides. For many years after, the noted "thousand acres" of dense woodland through which the Strasburg road passed, leading from the city west, loomed up in continued range to the north of the hamlet. Over this thoroughfare wagoners passed in sections with loaded muskets, and strings of bells arched
West sailed for Italy in his twenty-first year, with the view of obtaining full insight into the mysteries of the art. He was well prepared with letters of introduction, and had scarcely touched the pave of Rome ere his fame began to spread as the remarkable genius from the wilds of North America. Mengs, an acknowledged leader in art, became much attached to West, and together they made the tour of the art capitals of Italy, and it was undoubtedly to the advantage of both; for West manifested an independence of idea and style from the old authors that gave him eclat, and the art a new impulse. Two prominent paintings executed in Rome, " Cimon and Iphigenia," and "Angelica and Medora," added much to his fame as a shrewd delineator of character. He spent three years in Rome, gaining information and substantial fame.
In 1763 he returned to America via England. And now his life becomes involved in special romance. Soon after landing upon his native soil he met his future wife, Miss Elizabeth Shewell of Philadelphia. The attachment from the first seems to have been mutual, and as ardent as mutual. Her brother, Stephen Shewell, with whom she resided, and who had his own choice of a companion he wished her to marry, took violent dislike to West on account of his lack of wealth and the obscurity of his family. He used all the persuasive powers at his command; but she had repugnance to the man of his choice. She could not tolerate, and refused him in positive terms. This exasperated the brother, particularly so when he found that West had procured the affections he so desired to have bestowed upon his friend, and he resorted to violence as a means of severing the lovers. He placed her a prisoner under lock and key. This fact coming to the public ear produced a warm sympathy and many friends for the lady, who expostulated with the brother, but to no effect. Indeed, his arbitrary course seemed to increase rather than soften by these interferences, until it was found that West never attempted to procure an interview when she was released from her room; but not from the House.
West and Miss Shewell had passed their vows; talked the situation over calmly. West made his arrangements to return to England, and the time for his departure was fixed. This fact became known to the brother of his affianced. West would have been glad to have taken Miss Shewell with him as his wife, but the fates were against
that. So it was agreed between them that West should go alone, and she promised to meet him in any part of Europe whenever he should feel able and send for her. Stephen Shewell was not aware of this, and proceeded with his arrangements to thwart an elopement by turning the key upon her, and keeping her a close prisoner until after West had left the harbor.
It was a supposed triumph on his part. After a short interval the discarded friend was reintroduced, but only to be the more sternly rejected. In due course, Mr. West sent for his father and Miss Shewell, desiring them to take passage in the vessel by which he had sent the message. Miss Shewell made her arrangements; her brother objected; he said but little. Two days before the vessel was to sail, Stephen Shewell resorted to his former method of locking his sister in her room until after the vessel had set sail. But he had failed to estimate the feelings of the community. He was appealed to; but refused to listen to any one, and fearing interference as the time arrived, he determined, on the night before the vessel was to sail, to keep close watch. To this end he invited, unwittingly, some of her friends to remain with him during the night. They accepted; were on hand; but there had been whisperings with Benjamin Franklin; Franklin had a talk with Francis Hopkins, then about twenty-three, and with Bishop White, then about nineteen. About dark these three took old man West to the vessel, made arrangements with the captain to sail the moment they furnished the lady passenger. Then they procured a rope ladder, and just about midnight Shewell's invited friends got up a little boisterous jollification; they kept up the noise and confusion long enough to allow Franklin, Hopkins and White to make good use of the rope ladder, get Miss Shewell safely away, and on board the vessel; then they sobered down, and as everything seemed quiet, took a little nap. Shewell kept awake until near morning, then dropped into a profound slumber, from which he awoke about ten o'clock. When the party were ready to retire, they were all wonderfully surprised to find the lady had disappeared. It was too late; with an ebb tide the vessel was out of reach of the fastest team of the age. Shewell's chagrin knew no bounds; he acknowledged himself beat, but never recognized his sister after, though she made repeated advances.
Miss Shewell had a safe passage; met Mr. West on the wharf in waiting, and soon after the wedding was consummated. It was surmised they would have returned to this country; but for the brother's relentless opposition, London became their permanent residence, where the painter ended his career, March nth, 1820. Madam West died in 1817. They left two sons.
Notwithstanding West's birthplace, soon after taking up his residence in London he was claimed as an Anglo-American, subsequently as an Englishman. It was the highest compliment England could bestow upon him. America might claim West, but England demanded his genius. He rose almost at once under the patronage of George the Third, who continued his warm friend for forty years, during which time he executed twenty-eight large paintings for Windsor Castle. Of his earliest pictures, the "Death of Wolfe" is mentioned as having created pleasurable sensation, from the fact that it was the first and most radical deviation from the ancient Greek and Roman rule of painting in armor. The figures were habited in their appropriate costume. The painting of "Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus" is also mentioned with much pride as one of superior merit, though the "Battle of La Hogue" was considered by critics as its superior. •
West never rested upon others' ideas. His mind was grasping, and his ambition in proportion. He had no taste for fancy that did not harmonize with Nature; had nothing to do with chalk and carmine. He gave to his pictures the ruddy, rugged glow of the hardy knight or cavalier of the age; and blondes were not fashionable. In his conception of historical and Scriptural scenes he was beyond reach, and was always successful. Leaving portrait painting, he grasped at subjects requiring thought and correct information, as well as skill. One of his famous conceptions, "Christ Healing the Sick," originally designed as a present to the Pennsylvania Hospital, was not
allowed to leave London, but was purchased a the price of £3,000, and retained. A copy of ibr original was afterwards made by West, and is now in the possession of Philadelphia. "Death or the Pale Horse" has never been equalled \i thought or execution.
It is a pleasing task to thoroughly criticise W. West's paintings. At first glance they are plei; ing to the eye; but this is not sufficient; the mind becomes interested in the subject; if not. but little is gained to the beholder beyond tint or a pictorial sign-board. Let the critic read and understand thoroughly the scriptural accounts of "Christ Healing the Sick,"' then he will scartrit be content with a half-hours' examination of i painting that represents so faithfully, a scene that never after can be thoroughly effaced. So with "Death on the Pale Horse," he must read the Revelations. It is so with West's paintings gwfrally; they are emanations from the mind at the command of genius, and demand of the beholder more than eye service.
The sharpest, and yet unjust modern criticism that we have seen and which might readily pass unnoticed, is that he gave a peculiar sameness to all. his pictures by clothing his characters in a reddish brown cast. This is puerile at best West's paintings are far less susceptible of criticism in this respect, than modern effusions that are ran upon the other extreme of pearl and carmine. Admiration at the present centres on the blonde idea, and not upon the natural glow of health ami strength. We should not lose sight of this fact.
West's early display of genius is often attributed to precocity; but this could not be. Precocity leads to early decay of body, and often to imbecility of mind. West on the contrary retained his faculties until after his fourth score of Paris; a fact that proves his talent to have been true If nature. West was an exception in another respect: men of special genius are apt to fits of irritability' West, on the contrary, led an exemplary life.
The foundation of every good government is the family. The best and most prosperous country is that which has the greatest number of happy firesides.
True courage is cool and calm. The bravest of men have the least of a brutal, bullying inso
lence, and in the very time of danger are fecid the most serene and free.
The expectation of future happiness is the he* relief for anxious thoughts, the most perfect Oik of melancholy, the guide of life and the comf«t of death.