Perseverance & Enterise (1)
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THE TRIUMPHS OF PERSEVERANCE


CHAPTER I.

LINGUISTS.
_______

SIR WILLIAM JONES.—DR. SAMUEL LEE.


"IF that boy were left naked and friendless on Salisbury Plain, he would find the road to fame and riches!" the tutor of SIR WILLIAM JONES was accustomed to say of his illustrious pupil.  His observation of the great quality of perseverance, evinced in every act of study prescribed to his scholar, doubtless impelled the teacher to utter that remarkable affirmation.  A discernment of high genius in young Jones, with but little of the great quality we have named, would have led Dr. Thackeray to modify his remark.  It would have been couched in some such form as this: "If that boy had as much perseverance as genius, he would find the road to fame and riches, even if he were left naked and friendless on Salisbury Plain."  But, had the instructor regarded his pupil as one endowed with the most brilliant powers of mind, yet entirely destitute of perseverance, he would have pronounced a judgment very widely different from the first.  "Alas, for this boy!" he might have said, "how will these shining qualities, fitfully bursting forth in his wayward course through life, displaying their lustre in a thousand beginnings which will lead to nothing, leave him to be regarded as an object of derision where he might have won general admiration and esteem, and cast him for subsistence on the bounty or pity of others, when he might have been a noble example of self-dependence!"

    Let the reflection we would awaken by these introductory sentences be of a healthy character.  It is not meant that celebrity or wealth are the most desirable rewards of a well-spent life; but that the most resplendent natural powers, unless combined with application and industry, fail to bring happiness to the heart and mind of the possessor, or to render him useful to his brother men.  It is sought to impress deeply and enduringly on the youthful understanding, the irrefragable truth that, while genius is a gift which none can create for himself, and may be uselessly possessed, perseverance has enabled many, who were born with only ordinary faculties of imagination, judgment, and memory, to attain a first-rate position in literature or science, or in the direction of human affairs, and to leave a perpetual name in the list of the world's benefactors.

    Has the youthful reader formed a purpose for life?  We ask not whether he has conceived a vulgar passion for fame or riches, but earnestly exhort him to self-inquiry, whether he be wasting existence in what is termed amusement, or be daily devoting the moments at his command to a diligent preparation for usefulness?  Whether he has hitherto viewed life as a journey to be trod without aims and ends, or a grand field of enterprise in which it is both his duty and interest to become an industrious and honourable worker?  Has he found, by personal experience, even in the outset of life, that time spent in purposeless inactivity or frivolity produces no results on which the mind can dwell with satisfaction?  And has he learned, from the testimony of others, that years so misspent bring only a feeling of self-accusation, which increases in bitterness as the loiterer becomes older, and the possibility of "redeeming the time" becomes more doubtful?  Did he ever reflect that indolence never yet led to real distinction; that sloth never yet opened the path to independence; that trifling never yet enabled a man, to make useful or solid acquirements?

    If such reflections have already found a place in the reader's mind, and created in him some degree of yearning to make his life not only a monument of independence, but of usefulness, we invite him to a rapid review of the lives of men among whom he will not only find the highest exemplars of perseverance, but some whose peculiar difficulties may resemble his own, and whose triumphs may encourage him to pursue a course of similar excellence.  Purposing to awaken the spirit of exertion by the presentation of striking examples rather than the rehearsal of formal precepts, we proceed to open our condensed chronicle with a notice of the universal scholar just named, and whose world-famed career has entitled him to a first place in the records of the "Triumphs of Perseverance."


 
SIR WILLIAM JONES.
 

Sir William Jones (1746-94)

Happily, had early admonitions of perseverance from his mother, in whose widowed care he was left at three years old; and who, "to his incessant importunities for information, which she watchfully stimulated," says his biographer, Lord Teignmouth, "perpetually answered, 'Read, and you will know.'"  His earnest mind cleaved to the injunction.  He could read any English book rapidly at four years of age; and, though his right eye was injured by an accident at five, and the sight of it ever remained imperfect, his determination to learn triumphed over that impediment.  Again, the commencement of life seemed discouraging: he had been placed at Harrow School, at the age of seven, but had his thigh-bone broken at nine, and was compelled to be from school for twelve months.  Such was his progress, in spite of these untoward circumstances, and although characterised, let it be especially observed, as a boy "remarkable for diligence and application, rather than superiority of talent," that he was removed into the upper school at Harrow in his twelfth year.  At this period he is found writing out the entire play of the "Tempest" from memory, his companions intending to perform it, and not having a copy in their possession.  Virgil's Pastorals and Ovid's Epistles are, at the same age, turned into melodious English verse by him; he has learned the Greek characters for his amusement, and now applies himself to the language in earnest; his mother has taught him drawing during the vacations; and he next composes a drama, on the classic story of "Meleager," which is acted in the school.  During the next two years he "wrote out the exercises of many of the boys in the upper classes, and they were glad to become his pupils;" meanwhile, in the holidays, he learned French and arithmetic.

    But this early and unremitting tension of the mind, did it not leave the heart uncultured?  Were not pride and overweening growing within, and did not sourness of temper display itself, and repel some whom the young scholar's acquirements might otherwise have attached to him?  Ah! youthful reader, thou wilt never find any so proud as the ignorant; and, if then wouldst not have thy heart become a garden of rank and pestilential weeds, leave not the key thereof in the soft hand of Indolence, but intrust it to the sinewed grasp of Industry.  What testimony give his early companions to the temper and bearing of young Jones?  The celebrated Dr. Parr—in his own person also a high exemplar of the virtue we are inculcating—was his playmate in boyhood, remained his ardent friend in manhood, and never spoke of their early attachment without deep feeling.  Dr. Bennet, afterwards Bishop of Cloyne, thus speaks of Sir William Jones: "I knew him from the early age of eight or nine, and he was always an uncommon boy.  I loved him and revered him: and, though one or two years older than he was, was always instructed by him." . . . "  In a word, I can only say of this amiable and wonderful man, that he had more virtues and less faults than I ever yet saw in any human being; and that the goodness of his head, admirable as it was, was exceeded by that of his heart."

    With the boys, generally, he was a favourite.  Dr. Sumner, who succeeded Dr. Thackeray, used to say Jones knew more Greek than himself.  He soon learned the Arabic characters, and was already able to read Hebrew.  A mere stripling, yet he would devote whole nights to study, taking coffee or tea as an antidote to drowsiness.  Strangers were accustomed to inquire for him at the school under the title of "the great scholar."  But Dr. Sumner, during the last months spent at Harrow, was obliged to interdict the juvenile "great scholar's" application, in consequence of a returning weakness in his injured eye: yet he continued to compose, and dictated to younger students; alternately practising the games of Philidor and acquiring a knowledge of chess.  He had added a knowledge of botany and fossils to the acquirements already mentioned, and had learned Italian during his last vacation.

    Let us mark, again, whether all this ardent intellectual activity cramps the right growth of the affections, and warps the heart's sense of filial duty.  "His mother," says his excellent biographer, "allowed him unlimited credit on her purse; but of this indulgence, as he knew her finances were restricted, he availed himself no further than to purchase such books as were essential to his improvement."  And when he is removed, at the age of seventeen, to University College, Oxford, he is not anxious to enter the world without restraint; his mother goes to reside at Oxford, "at her son's request."  And how he toiled, and wished for college honours; not for vain distinction, not for love of gain, but from the healthy growth of that filial affection, which had strengthened with his judgment and power of reflection!  He "anxiously wished for a fellowship," says Lord Teignmouth, "to enable him to draw less frequently upon his mother, knowing the contracted nature of her income."  His heart was soon to be gratified.

    He commenced Arabic zealously, soon after reaching the University; he perused, with assiduity, all the Greek poets and historians of note; he read the entire works of Plato and Lucian, with commentaries constantly ready, with a pen in his hand, to make any remark that he judged worth preserving.  What a contrast to the "reader for amusement," who will leave the priceless treasure of a book ungathered, because it is hid in what he calls a "lumbering folio," and it wearies his hands, or it is inconvenient to read it while lying along at ease on the sofa!  Yet this "great scholar" was no mere musty book-worm; he did not claim kindred with Dryasdust.  While passing his vacations in London, he daily attended the noted schools of Angelo, and acquired a skill in horsemanship and fencing, as elegant accomplishments; his evenings, at these seasons, being devoted to the perusal of the best Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese writers.  At the University, how was the stripling urging his way into the regions of oriental learning that grand high-road of his fame that was to be!  He had found Mirza, a Syrian, who possessed a knowledge of the vernacular Arabic, and spent some portion of every morning in writing out a translation of Galland's French version of the Arabian Tales into Arabic, from the mouth of the Syrian; and he then corrected the grammatical inaccuracies by the help of lexicons.  From the Arabic he urged his way into the Persian, becoming soon enraptured with that most elegant of all eastern languages.  Such was this true disciple of "Perseverance" at the age of nineteen.

    And now some measure of the rewards of industry, honour, and virtue begin to alight upon him.  He is appointed tutor to Lord Althorpe, son of the literary Earl Spencer; finds his pupil possessed of a mind and disposition that will render his office delightful; has the range of one of the most splendid private libraries in the kingdom, together with the refined and agreeable society of Wimbledon Park; and is presented, soon after, with a fellowship by his college.  Mark well, from two incidents which occur about this time, what high conscientiousness, deep modesty, and sterling independence characterise the true scholar.  The Duke of Grafton, then premier, offered him the situation of government interpreter for eastern languages.  He declined it, recommending the Syrian, Mirza, as one better qualified to fill it than himself.  His recommendation was neglected; and his biographer remarks that "a better knowledge of the world would have led him to accept the office, and to convey the emoluments to his friend Mirza.  He was too ingenuous to do so.  He saw the excellent lady who afterwards became his wife and devoted companion in study; but 'his fixed idea of an honourable independence, and a determined resolution never to owe his fortune to a wife, or her kindred, excluded all ideas of a matrimonial connection,'" at that period, although the affection he had conceived was ardent.

    In the year of his majority, we find him commencing his famous "Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry;" copying the keys of the Chinese language; learning German, by conversation, grammar, and dictionary, during three weeks passed at Spa with his noble pupil; acquiring a knowledge of the broad-sword exercise from an old pensioner at Chelsea; continuing to attend the two schools of Signor Angelo; and secretly taking lessons in dancing from Gallini, the dancing-master of Earl Spencer's family, until he surprises the elegant inhabitants of Wimbledon by joining with grace in the amusements of their evening parties.

    Such was the truly magnificent advancement made by this illustrious disciple of "Perseverance," up to the age of twenty-one.  Think, reader, how much may be done in the opening of life!  How elevated the course of Sir William Jones!  What cheering self-approval must he have experienced, in looking back on the youthful years thus industriously spent; but what humbling reflection, what severe self-laceration would he have felt, had he allowed indolence to master him, ease to enervate him, listlessness and dissipation to render him a nameless and worthless nothing in the world!

    At the close of his twenty-first year he peruses the little treatise of our ancient lawyer, Fortescue, in praise of the laws of England.  His large learning enabled him to compare the laws of other countries with his own; and though he had, hitherto, enthusiastically preferred the laws of republican Greece, reflection, on the perusal of this treatise, led him to prefer the laws of England to all others.  His noble biographer adds a remark which indicates the solidity and perspicacity of Sir William Jones's judgment:—"He was not, however, regardless of the deviations in practice from the theoretical perfection of the constitution, in a contested election, of which he was an unwilling spectator."  Yet the perfect theory of our constitution so far attracted him, as to lead him, from this time, to the resolve of uniting the study of the law to his great philological acquirements; his purpose was neither rashly formed, nor soon relinquished, like the miscalled "purposes" of weak men and idlers; it resulted in his elevation to high and honourable usefulness, in the lapse of a few years.

    In his twenty-second year the "great scholar" undertakes a task which no other quality than perseverance could have enabled him to accomplish.  The King of Denmark, then on a visit to this country, brought over with him an eastern manuscript, containing a life of Nadir Shah, and expressed his wish to the officers of government to have it translated into French, by an English scholar.  The under secretary of state applied to Sir William Jones, who recommended Major Dow, the able translator of a Persian history, to perform the work.  Major Dow refused: and, though hints of greater patronage did not influence the inclination of Sir William Jones, his reflection that the reputation of English learning would be dishonoured by the Danish king taking back the manuscript, with a report that no scholar in our country had courage to undertake the difficult labour, impelled him to enter on it.  The fact that he had a French style to acquire, in order to discharge his task, and had, even then, to get a native Frenchman to go over the translation, to render it a scholar-like production, made the undertaking extremely arduous.  It was, however, accomplished magnificently; and the adventurous translator added a treatise on oriental poetry, "such as no other person in England could then have written."  He was immediately afterwards made a member of the Royal Society of Copenhagen, and was recommended by the King of Denmark to the particular patronage of his own sovereign.

    At twenty-six he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of England, and took his degree of Master of Arts the year after.  Meanwhile he was composing his celebrated Persian Grammar; had found the means of entering effectively on the study of Chinese, a language at that time surrounded with unspeakable difficulties; had written part of a Turkish history; and was assiduously copying Arabic manuscripts in the Bodleian.  The "Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry" were published in his twenty-eighth year, being five years after they were finished; his modesty, that invariable attendant of true merit, and his love of correctness, having induced him to lay the manuscript before Dr. Parr, and other profound judges, ere he ventured to give his composition to the world.  Amidst so many absorbing engagements his biographer still notes the correct state of his heart.  He was a regular correspondent with his excellent mother, and ever paid the most affectionate attention to her and his sister.

    In his twenty-eighth year he devotes himself more exclusively to his legal studies, goes the Oxford circuit after being called to the bar, and afterwards attends regularly at Westminster Hall.  Except the publication of a translation of the speeches of Isæus, he performs no remarkable literary labour for the next few years; his professional practice having become very considerable, and his thoughts being strongly directed towards a vacant judgeship, at Calcutta, as the situation in which he felt assured, by the union of his legal knowledge with his skill in oriental languages, he could best serve the interests of learning and of mankind.

    Before this object of his laudable ambition was attained, however, Sir William Jones gave proof, as our great Englishman, Milton, had given before him, that the mightiest erudition does not narrow, but serves truly to enlarge the mind, and to nourish its sympathies with the great brotherhood of humanity.  The war with the United States of America had commenced, and he declared himself against it; he wrote a splendid Latin ode, entitled "Liberty," in which his patriotic and philanthropic sentiments are most nobly embodied; and became a candidate, on what are now called "liberal principles," for the representation of Oxford.  He withdrew, after further reflection, from the candidateship, still purposing to devote his life to the East, but not before he had testified his disapproval of harsh ministerial measures, by publishing an "Enquiry into the Legal Mode of suppressing Riots, with a Constitutional Plan for their Suppression."  Finally, to the record of this part of his life, Lord Teignmouth adds the relation, that Sir William Jones had found time to attend the lectures of the celebrated John Hunter, and to acquire some knowledge of anatomy; while he had advanced sufficiently far into the mathematics to be able to read and understand the "Principia" of Sir Isaac Newton.

    The last eleven years of the illustrious scholar's life form the most brilliant part of his career, and only leave us to lament that his days were not more extended.  In the month of March, 1783, being then in his thirty-seventh year, he was appointed a judge of the supreme court of judicature, Fortwilliam, Calcutta, and on that occasion received the honour of knighthood.  In the following month he married the eldest daughter of Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, and thus happy in a union with the lady to whom he had been long devoted, almost immediately embarked for India.

    As a concluding lesson from the life of Sir William Jones, let us note how unsubduable is the intellect trained by long and early habits of perseverance, under the corrupting and enfeebling influences of honours and prosperity.  On the voyage, the "great scholar" drew up a list of "Objects of Enquiry."  If he could have fulfilled the gigantic schemes which were thus unfolding themselves to his ardent mind, the world must have been stricken with amazement.  The list is too long to be detailed here; suffice it to say, that it enumerates the "Laws of the Hindus and Mahommedans," "The History of the Ancient World;" all the sciences, all the arts and inventions of all the Asiatic nations, and the various kinds of government in India.  Following the list of "Objects of Enquiry," is a sketch of works he purposes to write and publish; including "Elements of the Laws of England," "History of the American War," an epic poem, to be entitled "Britain Discovered," "Speeches, Political and Forensic," "Dialogues, Philosophical and Historical," and a volume of letters, with translations of some portions of the Scriptures into Arabic and Persian.

    Intense and indefatigable labour enabled him to complete his masterly "Digest of Mahommedan and Hindu Law," but to accomplish this work, so invaluable to the European conquerors of Hindoostan, he had first, critically, to master the Sanscrit, at once the most perfect and most difficult of known languages.  If it be remembered that Sir William Jones was also most active in the discharge of his judicial duties, our admiration will be increased.  His translation of the "Ordinances of Menu," a Sanscrit work, displaying the Hindoo system of religious and civil duties—and of the Indian drama of "Sacontala" written a century before the Christian era—and his production of a "Dissertation on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and Rome," were among the last of his complete works.  He also edited the first volume of the "Asiatic Researches," and gave an impetus to eastern inquiry among Europeans, by instituting the Asiatic Society, of which he was the first president.  His annual discourses before that assembly have been published, and are well known and highly valued.

    The death of this great and good man, though sudden, being occasioned by the rapid liver complaint of Bengal, was as peaceful as his life had been noble and virtuous.  A friend, who saw him die, says that he expired "without a groan, and with a serene and complacent look."  His death took place on the 27th April, 1794, when he was only in his forty-eighth year; yet he had acquired a "critical knowledge" of eight languages—English, Latin, French, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Persian, Sanscrit; he knew eight others less perfectly, but was able to read them with the occasional use of a dictionary—Spanish, Portuguese, German, Runic, Hebrew, Bengalee, Hindostanee, Turkish; and he knew so much of twelve other tongues, that they were perfectly attainable by him, had life and leisure permitted his continued application to them—Tibetian, Pâli, Phalavi, Deri, Russian, Syriac, Ethiopic, Coptic, Welsh, Swedish; Dutch, Chinese.  Twenty-eight languages in all; such is his own account.  When you sum up the other diversified accomplishments and attainments of the scarce forty-eight years of Sir William Jones, reflect deeply, youthful reader, on what may be achieved by "perseverance," and when you have reflected—resolve.

    To that emphatic early lesson of "read and you will learn," and to his ready opportunities and means of culture, we must undoubtedly attribute much of the "great scholar's" success.  In the life of one still living, and enjoying the honours and rewards of virtuous perseverance, it will be seen that even devoid of help, unstimulated by any affectionate voice in the outset, and surrounded with discouragements, almost at every step, the cultivation of this grand quality infallibly leads on to signal triumph.


 
DR. SAMUEL LEE.


Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge, was the son of a poor widow, who was left to struggle for the support of two younger children, was apprenticed to a carpenter, at twelve years of age, after receiving a merely elementary instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic in the charity-school of the village of Longmore, in Shropshire.  His love of books became fervent, and the Latin quotations he found in such as were within his reach kindled a desire to penetrate the mystery of their meaning.  The sounds of the language, too, which he heard in a Catholic chapel, where his master had undertaken some repairs, increased this desire.  At seventeen he purchased "Ruddiman's Latin Rudiments," and soon committed the whole to memory.  With the help of "Corderius' Colloquies," "Entices Dictionary," and "Beza's Testament," he began to make his way into the vestibule of Roman learning; but of the magnificent inner-glory he had, as yet, scarcely caught a glimpse.  The obstacles seemed so great for an unassisted adventurer, that he one day besought a priest of the chapel, where he was still at work, to afford him some help.  "Charity begins at home!" was the repelling reply to his application; but, whether meant to indicate the priest's own need of instruction, or sordid unwillingness to afford his help without pecuniary remuneration, does not appear.  Unchilled by this repulse, the young and unfriended disciple of "perseverance" girt up "the loins of his mind" for his solitary but onward travel.  Yet how uncheering the landscape around him!  Think of it, and blush, young reader, if thou art surrounded with ease and comfort, but hast yielded to indolence; ponder on it, and take courage, if thou art the companion of hardship, but resolvest to he a man, one day, amongst men.  Young Lee's wages were but six shillings weekly at seventeen years old; and from this small sum he had not only to find food, but to pay for his washing and lodging.  The next year his weekly income was increased one shilling, and the year following another.  Privation, even of the necessaries of life, he had to suffer, not seldom, in order to enable himself to possess what he desired, now more intensely than ever.  He successively purchased a Latin Bible, Caesar, Justin, Sallust, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Ovid; having frequently to sell his volume as soon as he had mastered it in order to buy another.  But what of that?  The true disciple of perseverance looks onward with hope—hope which is not fantastic but founded in the firmest reason—to the day when his meritorious and ennobling toil shall have its happy fruition, and he shall know no scarcity of books.

    Conquest of one language has inspired him with zeal for further victory; it is the genuine nature of enterprise.  Freed from his apprenticeship he purchases a Greek grammar, testament, lexicon, and exercises; and soon, the self-taught carpenter, the scholar of toil and privation, holds converse, in their own superlative tongue, with the simple elegance of Xenophon, the eloquence and wisdom of Plato, and the wit of Lucian; he becomes familiar with the glorious "Iliad," with the pathos and refinement, the force and splendour, of the "Antigone" of Sophocles.

    "Unaided by any instructor, uncheered by any literary companion," says one who narrates the circumstances of his early career, "he still persevered."  What wonder, when he had discovered so much to cheer him in the delectable mental realm he was thus subduing for himself!  And he was now endued with the full energy of conquest.  He purchased "Bythner's Hebrew Grammar," and "Lyra Praphetica," with a Hebrew Psalter, and was soon able to read the Psalms in the original.  Buxtorf's grammar and lexicon with a Hebrew Bible followed; an accident threw in his way the "Targum" of Onkelos, and with the Chaldee grammar in Bythner, and Schindler's lexicon, he was soon able to read it.  Another effort, and he was able to read the Syriac Testament and the Samaritan Pentateuch, thus gaining acquaintance with four branches of the ancient Aramœan or Shemitic family of languages, in addition to his knowledge of the two grand Pelasgic dialects.

    He was now five-and-twenty, and had mastered six languages, without the slighest help from any living instructor; some of the last-named books were heavily expensive; yet, true to the nobility of life that had distinguished his early youth, he had not relaxed the reins of economy, but had purchased a chest of tools, which had cost him twenty-five pounds.

    Suddenly an event befell him which seemed to wither not only his prospects of further mental advancement, but plunged him into the deepest distress.  A fire which broke out in a house he was repairing, consumed his chest of tools; and, as he had no money to purchase more, and had now to feel solicitude for the welfare of an affectionate wife, as well as for himself, his affliction was heavy.  In this distracting difficulty he turned his thoughts towards commencing a village school, but even for this he lacked the means of procuring the necessary, though scanty, furniture.  Uprightness and meritorious industry, however, seldom fail to attract benevolent help to a man in need.  Archdeacon Corbett, the resident philanthropic clergyman of Longmore, heard of Samuel Lee's distress, sent for him, and on hearing the relation of his laudable struggles, used his interest to place him in the mastership of Shrewsbury Charity School, giving him what was of still higher value, an introduction to the great oriental scholar, Dr. Jonathan Scott.

    New triumphs succeeded his misfortunes, and a cheering and honourable future was preparing.  Dr. Scott put into the hands of his new and humble friend elementary books on Arabic, Persian, and Hindostanee; and, in a few months, the disciple of perseverance was not only able to read and translate, but even essayed to compose in his newly-acquired languages.  So effectually had he mastered these eastern tongues, that the good doctor used his influence in introducing him as private tutor to sons of gentlemen going out to India; and, after another brief probation, procured him admission into Queen's College, Cambridge.

    Our sketch of this remarkable scholar may here be cut short.  He made himself master of twenty languages, distinguished himself alike by the virtue of his private life, his practical eloquence in the pulpit and zeal for the church, of which he was an honoured member; and, in addition to the service he rendered to oriental literature, by his new Hebrew grammar and lexicon, his revision of Sir William Jones's Persian grammar, and a number of philological tracts, won respect and gratitude, by diligent and laborious supervision of numerous translations of the Scriptures into eastern tongues, prepared by the direction and at the cost of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

    If the young scholar be bent on the acquirement of languages, he will find, in the lives of Alexander Murray, Leyden, Heyne, Carey, Marshman, Morrison, Magliabechi, and a hundred others, striking proofs of the ease with which the mind overcomes all difficulties when it is armed with determination, and never becomes a recreant from the banner of perseverance.


 
CHAPTER II.

AUTHORS.
_______

JOHNSON.—GIFFORD.—GIBBON.


ALMOST every literary man, unless specially favoured by social position or private means, could tell a remarkable history of his struggles for success.  Many have failed at the outset; others passed an unhappy life, owing frequently to their own failings; but others have persevered, and conquered, and obtained success and fame.


 
JOHNSON.
 

Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1709-84)
by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Afterwards so famous as the great arbiter of literary criticism, is found leaving college without a degree, and, from sheer poverty, at the age of twenty-two.  The sale of his deceased father's effects, a few months after, affords him but twenty pounds, and he is constrained to become an usher in a grammar school in Leicestershire.  In the next year he performs a translation of "Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia," for a Birmingham bookseller, returns to Lichfield, his birth-place, and publishes proposals for printing, by subscription, the Latin poems of Politian, the life of that author, and a history of Latin poetry from the era of Petrarch to the time of Politian.  His project failed to attract patrons, and he next offered his services to Cave, the original projector of the "Gentleman's Magazine."  Cave accepted his offer, but on conditions which compelled Johnson to make application elsewhere for earning the means of living.  He again offered to become assistant to the master of a grammar school; but, in spite of the great learning he had even then acquired, he was rejected, from the fear that his peculiar nervous and involuntary gestures would render him an object of ridicule with his pupils.  Such was one of the disabilities of constitution under which this humbly-born and strong-minded man laboured through life.

    Won, not by his ungainly person, but by the high qualities of his mind, a widow, with a little fortune of eight hundred pounds, yielded him her hand, in this season of his poverty; and he immediately opened a classical school in his native town.  The celebrated Garrick, then about eighteen years old, became his pupil.  His scheme, however, did not succeed; his newly-acquired property was exhausted; and he and Garrick, then eight years his junior, set out together for London, with the resolve to seek their fortunes in the larger world.  Garrick in a short time was acknowledged as the first genius on the stage, and made his way to wealth almost without difficulty.  A longer and more toilful period of trial fell to the lot of the scholar and author.  He first offered to the booksellers a manuscript tragedy, supposed to be his "Irene," but could find no one willing to accept it.  Cave gave him an engagement to translate the "History of the Council of Trent."  He received forty-nine pounds for part of the translation, but it was never completed for lack of sale.  His pecuniary condition was so low soon after this, that he and Savage, having walked conversing round Grosvenor Square till four in the morning, and beginning to feel the want of refreshment, could not muster between them more than fourpence halfpenny!  He received ten guineas for his celebrated poem of "London;" but though Pope said, "The author, whoever he was, could not be long concealed," no further advantage was derived by Johnson from its publication.  Hearing of a vacancy in the mastership of another grammar school in Leicestershire, he once more proceeds thither as a candidate.  The consequences of the poverty which had prevented him from remaining at the university till he could take a degree were now grievously felt.  The statutes of the place required that the person chosen should be a Master of Arts.  Some interest was made to obtain him that degree from the Dublin University, but it failed, and he was again thrown back on London.

    In spite of his melancholic constitution, these repeated disappointments, so far from filling him with despair, seem only to have quickened his invention, and strengthened his resolution to continue the struggle for fame.  He formed numerous projects on his return to the metropolis, but none succeeded except his contributions to the "Gentleman's Magazine;" these were, chiefly, the "Parliamentary Debates," which the world read with the belief that they were thus becoming acquainted with the eloquence of Chatham, Walpole, and their compeers, and little dreaming that those speeches were "written in a garret in Exeter Street" by a poverty-stricken author.  The talent displayed in this anonymous labour did not serve, as yet, to free him from difficulties.  He next undertook to collect and arrange the tracts forming the miscellany entitled "Harleian."  Osborne, the bookseller, was his employer in this work; and, having purchased Lord Oxford's library, the bookseller also employed Johnson to form a catalogue.  To relieve his drudgery, Johnson occasionally paused to peruse the book that came to hand; Osborne complained of this; a dispute arose; and the bookseller, with great roughness, gave the author the lie.  The incident so characteristic of Johnson, and so often related, now took place—Johnson seized a folio, and knocked the bookseller down.  The act was far from justifiable; but his indignation under the offence must have been great, as his rigid adherence to speaking the truth was so observable, that one of his most intimate friends declared "he always talked as if he were speaking on oath."

    He escaped, at length, from some degree of the humiliation which attaches to poverty.  He projected his great work—the English Dictionary; several of the wealthiest booksellers entered into the scheme, and Johnson now left lodging in the courts and alleys about the Strand, and took a house in Gough Square, Fleet Street.  This did not occur till he was eight-and-thirty; so great a portion of life had he passed in almost perpetual contest with pecuniary difficulties; nor was he entirely freed from them for some years to come.  During the years spent in the exhausting labour of his Dictionary, the fifteen hundred guineas he received for the copyright were consumed on amanuenses, and the provision necessary for himself and his wife.  The "Rambler" was written during these years in which his Dictionary was in course of publication, and the circumstances of its composition are most noteworthy among the "Triumphs of Perseverance."  With the exception of five numbers, every essay was written by Johnson himself; and it was regularly issued every Tuesday and Friday for two years.  The perseverance which enabled him so punctually to execute a stated task, even while continuously labouring in the greater work in which he was engaged, is remarkable; but the young reader's thought ought to be more deeply fixed on the consideration that a life of unremitting devotion to study—unconquered by difficulty and straitness of circumstances—had rendered him able easily to pour forth the treasures of a full mind.  Although apparently the product of great care, and stored with the richest moral reflections, these essays were usually written in haste, frequently while the printer's boy was waiting, and not even read over before given to him.  This was not recklessness in Johnson, though it would have been folly in one whose mind was not most opulently stored with mature thought, and who had not attained such a habit of modulating sentences as to render it almost mechanical.  Such attainments can only be reached by the most determined disciple of Perseverance.  "A man may write at any time if he will set himself doggedly to it," was Johnson's own saying; but he could not have verified it, unless his mind, by assiduous application, had been filled with the materials of writing.  He was likewise held in high celebrity as the best converser of his age, but he acknowledged that he had attained his extraordinary accuracy and flow of language by having early laid it down as a fixed rule to arrange his thoughts before expressing them, and never to suffer a careless or unmeaning expression to escape from him.

    The profits of a second periodical, "The Idler," and the subscriptions for his edition of Shakspeare, were the means by which he supported himself for the four or five years immediately preceding the age of fifty.  His wife had already died, and his aged mother, being near her dissolution, in order to reach Lichfield, and pay her the last offices of filial piety, he devoted one fortnight to the composition of his beautiful and immortal tale of "Rasselas," for which he received one hundred pounds.  He did not arrive in time to close her eyes, but saw her decently interred, and then hastened back to London, to go, once more, into lodgings and retrench expenses.  The next three years of his life appear to have been passed in even more than his early poverty; but the end of his difficulties was approaching.

    The last twenty-two years of his existence—from the age of fifty-three to seventy-five—were spent in the receipt of a royal pension of three hundred pounds per annum; in the society of persons of fortune, who considered themselves honoured by the company of the once poverty-stricken and unknown scholar; in the companionship of Edmund Burke, and Oliver Goldsmith, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Joseph Warton, and others whose names are durably written on the roll of genius, and in the receipt of the highest honours of learning—for the Universities, both of Dublin and Oxford, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, and the Oxford University had previously sent him the degree of Master of Arts.  Regarded as the great umpire of literary taste, receiving deference and respect wherever he went, and no longer driven to his pen by necessity, this honoured exemplar of perseverance did not pass through his remaining course in unproductive indolence.  In addition to less important works, his "Lives of the Poets" was produced in this closing period of his life, and is well known as the most valuable and useful of his labours, with the exception of his great Dictionary.


 
WILLIAM GIFFORD.
 

William Gifford (1756-1826)

In the early circumstances of his life, is a still more striking exemplar of the virtue of perseverance.  He was left an orphan at thirteen years of age, was sent to sea for a twelvemonth, and was then taken home by his godfather, who had seized upon whatever his mother had left, as a means of repaying himself for money lent to her, and was now constrained to pay some attention to the boy, by the keen remonstrances of his neighbours.  He was sent to school, and made such rapid progress in arithmetic that, in a few months, he was at the head of the school, and frequently assisted his master.  The receipt of a trifle for these services raised in him the thought of one day becoming a schoolmaster, in the room of a teacher in the town of Ashburton, who was growing old and infirm.  He mentioned his scheme to his godfather, who treated it with contempt, and forthwith apprenticed him to a shoemaker.  His new master subjected him to the greatest degradation, made him the common drudge of his household, and took from him the means of pursuing his favourite study of arithmetic.

    "I could not guess the motives for this at first," he says—for his narrative is too remarkable at this period of his struggles, to be told in any other than his own language—"but at length discovered that my master destined his youngest son for the situation to which I aspired.  I possessed, at this time, but one book in the world, it was a treatise on algebra, given to me by a young woman, who had found it in a lodging-house.  I considered it as a treasure, but it was a treasure locked up, for it supposed the reader to be well acquainted with simple equations, and I knew nothing of the matter.  My master's son had purchased 'Fenning's Introduction;' this was precisely what I wanted; but he carefully concealed it from me, and I was indebted to chance alone for stumbling upon his hiding-place.  I sat up for the greatest part of several nights, successively; and, before he suspected that his treatise was discovered, had completely mastered it.  I could now enter upon my own, and that carried me pretty far into the science.  This was not done without difficulty.  I had not a farthing on earth, nor a friend to give me one; pen, ink, and paper, therefore, were, for the most part, as completely out of my reach as a crown and sceptre.  There was, indeed, a resource, but the utmost caution and secrecy were necessary in applying to it.  I beat out pieces of leather as smooth as possible, and wrought my problems on them with a blunted awl; for the rest, my memory was tenacious, and I could multiply and divide by it to a great extent."

    He essayed the composition of rhyme, and the rehearsal of his verses secured him a few pence from his acquaintances.  He now furnished himself with pens, ink, and paper, and even bought some books of geometry and of the higher branches of algebra; but was obliged to conceal them, and to pursue his studies by continued caution.  Some of his verses, however, were shown to his master, and were understood to contain satirical reflections upon his oppressor.  His books and papers were seized upon, by way of punishment; and he was reduced to the deepest despair.  "I looked back," he says, in his own admirable narrative, "on that part of my life which immediately followed this event with little satisfaction: it was a period of gloom, and savage unsociability: by degrees I sunk into a kind of corporeal torpor; or, if roused into activity by the spirit of youth, wasted the exertion in splenetic and vexatious tricks, which alienated the few acquaintances compassion had left me."

    The heart revolts at the brutal injustice which drove Gifford's young nature thus to harden itself into gloomy endurance of his lot, by "savage unsociability;" but a mind like his could not take that stamp for life.  His disposition grew again buoyant, and his aspirations began to rekindle, as the term of his bondage grew shorter.  Had he found no deliverance till it had legally expired, it may be safely affirmed that he would then have forced his way into eminence by self-assisted efforts; but an accidental circumstance emancipated him a year before the legal expiry of his apprenticeship.  Mr. Cookesley, a philanthropic surgeon, having learnt from Gifford himself the facts of his hard history, through mere curiosity awakened by hearing some of his rhymes repeated, started "A subscription for purchasing the remainder of the time of William Gifford, and for enabling him to improve himself in writing and English grammar."  Enough was collected to satisfy his master's demand; he was placed at school with a clergyman, made his way into the classics, displayed such diligence that more money was raised to continue him in his promising course; and in two years and two months from the day of his liberation, he was considered by his instructor to be fit for the University, and was sent to Exeter College, Oxford.

    Perseverance! what can it not effect?  It enabled Gifford to surmount difficulties arising from the most vulgar and brutifying influences, and to make his way triumphantly into an intellectual region of delectable enjoyment.  From a boy neglected and degraded—from a youth baffled and thwarted in his aims at a higher state of existence than that of merely living to labour in order to eat, drink, and be clothed—from one fastening his desire upon knowledge, only to be scorned and mocked, and treated as a criminal where he was meriting applause—from a poor pitiable struggler longing for mental breathing-room, amid the coarse conversation he would undoubtedly hear from his master, and those who were his associates, and sinking for some period into sullen despair with his hardship, that like an untoward sky seemed to promise no break of relieving light—he becomes a glad and easier student; is enabled not merely "to improve himself in writing and English grammar," but, in six-and-twenty months, becomes a converser, in their own noble language, with the great spirits of Rome and Greece; and enters the most venerable arena of learning in Britain, to become a rival in elegant scholarship with the young heirs to coronets and titles, and to England's widest wealth and influence.  What a change did those ancient halls of architectural grandeur, with all their associations of great intellectual names, present for the young and ardent toiler who, but six-and-twenty months before, had bent over the last from morning to night, shut out from all that could cheer or elevate the mind, and surrounded with nought but that which tended to disgust and degrade it!

    Nor did the career of the young disciple of perseverance, when arrived at his new and loftier stage of struggle, discredit the foresight of those who had assisted him.  His first benefactor died before Gifford took his degree, but he was enabled by the generosity of Lord Grosvenor to pursue his studies at the University to a successful issue.  After some absence, on the Continent, as travelling tutor to the nobleman just mentioned, he entered on his course as an author, and gained some distinction; but won his chief celebrity, as well as most substantial rewards, while editor of the "Quarterly Review"—an office he held from the commencement of that periodical, 1809, till his death, on the last day of 1826, when he had reached the age of seventy-one.  In the performance of this critical service he had a salary of one thousand a year; and it is a noble conclusion to the history of this successful scholar of Perseverance, that true-hearted gratitude led him to bequeath the bulk of his fortune to Mr. Cookesley, the son of his early benefactor.

    The superiority of genius to difficulties, and the certainty with which it achieves high triumphs through longer or shorter paths of vicissitude, might be shown from the memoirs of Erasmus, and Mendelssohn, and Goldsmith, and Holcroft, and Kirke White, and others, almost a countless host.  Early poverty may be said, however, to stimulate the children of Genius to exertion; and its influence may be judged to weaken the merit of their perseverance, since their triumphs may be dated from deep desire to escape from its disadvantages.  That such a feeling has been participated by many, or all, of the illustrious climbers after literary distinction, it may not be denied; though the world usually attributes more to its workings in the minds of men of genius than the interior truth, if known, would warrant: the strong necessity to create—the restless power to embody their thinkings—these deep-seated springs of exertion in intellectual men, if understood, would afford a truer solution of their motives for beginning, and the determination to excel for continuing their course, than any mere sordid impulses with which they are often charged.  Let us turn to a celebrated name, around which no irksome influences of poverty gathered, either at the outset of his life, or in his progress to literary distinction.  His systematic direction of the knowledge acquired by inquiries as profound as they were diversified, and his application of the experience of life, alike to the same great end, afford an admirable spectacle of the noblest perseverance, and of memorable victory over the seductions of ease and competence.


 
GIBBON.
 

Edward Gibbon (1737-94)

The author of the unrivalled "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," was born to considerable fortune.  He left the University at eighteen, after great loss of time, as he tells us in his instructive autobiography, and with what was worse, habits of expense and dissipation.  His father being under distressing anxiety on account of his son's irregularities, and, afterwards, from what he deemed of greater moment, young Gibbon's sudden avowal of conversion to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, placed him abroad, under the strict care of a Protestant minister.  Gibbon began to awake to reflection; and, without prescription from his new guardian, voluntarily entered on severe study.  He diligently translated the best Roman writers, turned them into French, and then again into Latin, comparing Cicero and Livy, and Seneca and Horace, with the best orators and historians, philosophers and poets, of the moderns.  He next advanced to the Greek, and pursued a similar course with the treasures of that noble literature.  He afterwards commenced an inquiry into the Law of Nations, and sedulously perused the treatises of Grotius, Puffendorf, Locke, Bayle, and Montesquieu, the acknowledged authorities on that great subject.  He mentions three books, which absorbed more than the usual interest he felt in whatever he read: "Pascal's Provincial Letters," the "Abbé dc la Bléterie's Life of the Emperor Julian," and "Giannone's Civil History of Naples:" the character of these works shadows forth the grand design which was gradually forming in his mind.

    Yet without method, without taking care to store up this various knowledge in such a mode that it might not be mere lumber in the memory, he speedily discerned that even years spent in industrious reading would be, comparatively, of little worth.  He therefore began to digest his various reading in a commonplace book, according to the method recommended by Locke.  The eager and enthusiastic student—for such he had now become—by this systematic arrangement of his knowledge under heads, perceived his wants more distinctly, and entered into correspondence, for the solution of historic difficulties, with some of the most illustrious scholars of his time, among whom were Professors Crevier of Paris, Breittinger of Zurich, and Matth. Gesner of Göttingen.  From each of these learned men he received such flattering notice of the acuteness of his inquiries, as proved how well he had employed the time and means at his command.  His first work, written in French, the "Essay on the Study of Literature," was produced at three-and-twenty, after his laborious reading of the best English and French, as well as Latin and Greek authors.

    A transition was now made by him, from retired leisure to active life.  His father was made major of the Hampshire Militia, himself captain of grenadiers, and the regiment was called out on duty.  He had to devote two years and a half to this employ, and expresses considerable discontent with his "wandering life of military servitude;" but thus judiciously tempers his observations: "In every state there exists, however, a balance of good and evil.  The habits of a sedentary life were usefully broken by the duties of an active profession." . . . . "After my foreign education, with my reserved temper, I should long have continued a stranger to my native country, had I not been shaken in this various scene of new faces and new friends; had not experience forced me to feel the characters of our leading men, the state of parties, the forms of office, and the operation of our civil and military system.  In this peaceful service I imbibed the rudiments and the language and science of tactics, which opened a new field of study and observation. . . . . The discipline and evolutions of a modern battalion gave me a clearer notion of the phalanx and the legion; and the captain of the Hampshire grenadiers has not been useless to the historian of the Roman empire."

    Let the young reader observe how, even when a purpose is not as yet distinctly formed, the leading events of life, as well as study, may be made by the regal mind to bend and contribute to the realizing of one.  Our great paramount duty is to husband time well, to let not an hour glide uselessly, to go on extending our range of knowledge, and resolving to act our part well, even while we are in uncertainty as to what our part may be.  The seed well sown, the germs well watered, and a useful harvest must result, though neither we, nor any who look on, for a while, may be able to prophesy of the quality or abundance of the grain, seeing it is but yet in its growth.  "From my early youth I aspired to the character of an historian," says Gibbon; "while I served in the militia, before and after the publication of my 'Essay,' this idea ripened in my mind."

    Yet, he was for a time undecided as to a subject: the Expedition of Charles the Eighth of France into Italy; the Crusade of Cœur de Lion; the Barons' Wars against John and Henry the Third; the History of Edward the Black Prince; Lives and Comparisons of Henry the Fifth and the Emperor Titus; the Life of Sir Philip Sidney, of the Marquis of Montrose, of Raleigh—and other subjects of high interest, but each and all inferior to the one he at length undertook, and for which his studies had all along peculiarly fitted him, successively attracted his attention.  Amidst the colossal ruins of the amphitheatre of Titus, the idea at length was formed in his mind! of tracing the vicissitudes of Rome; and this idea swelled until his conception extended to such a history as should depicture the thousand years of change which fill up the period between the reign of the Antonines and the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks.  Years of laborious study and research were necessary to accomplish this gigantic labour; but it was perfected, and remains the grandest historic monument ever raised by an Englishman.  The recent investigations of Guizot have more fully confirmed the fact of the minute and careful inquiries of Gibbon, in bringing together the vast and multifarious materials necessary for the accurate completion of his design.  His great work is, emphatically, for strictness of statement, combined with such comprehensiveness of subjects, for depth and clearness of disquisition, and for splendour of style, one of the most magnificent ''Triumphs of Perseverance."

    And is the roll of these triumphs complete?  Have the labours of the past pretermitted the possibility of equal victories in the future?  Never, while the human mind exists, can the catalogue of its successes be deemed to have found a limit or an end.  Immense fields of history remain yet untrodden and uncultivated; innumerable facts throughout the ages which are gone remain to be collected by industry, and arranged by judgment; the ever-varying phases of human affairs offer perpetual material for new chronicle: let none who meditates to devote his youth to historical inquiry, with the meritorious resolve to distinguish his manhood by some useful monument of solid thought, imagine that his ground has been narrowed, but rather understand that it has been cleared and enlarged by the noble workmen who have gone before.

    Neither let the young and gifted, in whom the kindlings of creative genius are felt, listen to the dull voices who say, "The last epic has been written—no more great dramas shall be produced—the lyrics of the past will never be equalled!"  If such vaticinations were true, it would show that the human mind was dwarfed.  Shakspere did not believe that, or he would not have excelled Sophocles.  None but intellectual cravens will affright themselves with the belief that they cannot equal the doings of those who have gone before.  True courage says, "The laurel is never sere: its leaves are evergreen.  The laurels have not all been won: they flourish, still, in abundance.  The bright examples of the past shall not deter but cheer me.  I will go on to equal them.  My life, like the lives of the earth's truly great, shall be devoted to thought, to research—to deep converse with the mighty spirits who still live in their works, though their clay is dissolved; I will prepare to build, and build carefully and wisely, as they built; I also will rear my lasting memorial among 'The Triumphs of Perseverance!'"


 
CHAPTER III.

ARTISTS.
_______

CANOVA.—CHANTRY.—SALVATOR ROSA.—BENJAMIN WEST.


IF a rude image of the South Sea islanders be compared with one of Chantrey's Sculptures, or a Chinese picture with some perfect performance of Raffaelle or Claude, what a world of reflection unfolds itself on the countless steps taken by the mind, from its first attempt at imitating the human form, or depicturing a landscape, to the periods of its most successful effort in statuary or painting!  The first childish essay of a great artist, compared with one of the masterpieces of his maturity, calls up kindred thoughts.  How often must the eye re-measure an object; how often retrace the direction or inclination of the lines by which a figure is bounded; what an infinite number of comparisons must perception store up in the memory, as to the resemblance of one form to another; what repeated scrutiny must the judgment exercise over what most delights the idea faculty, till the source of delight—the harmony arising from combination of forms—be discovered and understood; and how unweariedly must the intellect return, again and again, to these its probationary labours, before the capability for realizing great triumphs in Art be attained!

    Doubtless, the mind of a young artist, like the mind under any other process of training, exercises many of these acts with little self-consciousness; but observation and comparison have, inevitably, to be practised, and their results to be stored up in the mind, before the hand can be directed and employed in accurate delineation and embodiment of forms.  Without diligence in this training, the chisel of Chantrey would have failed to bring more life-like shapes from a block of marble than the knife of a Sandwich islander carves out of the trunk of a tree; and the canvas of Claude would have failed as utterly to realize proportion, and sunlight, and distance, as a piece of porcelain figured and coloured by a native of China.  As it is in the elaboration of Literature's most perfect products so it is in Art: into the mind his images must be taken; there they must be wrought up into new combinations and shapes of beauty or of power; and from this grand repository the statuary or painter, like the poet, must summon his forms anew, evermore returning, dutifully, to compare them with Nature and actual life, and sparing no effort to clothe them with the attribute of verisimilitude.

    Need it be argued, then, that without perseverance the world would have behold none of the wonders of high Art?  If the mind, by her own mysterious power, have, first, to pencil the forms of the outward upon her tablets within; if she have, then, a greater work of combination and creation to perform, ere a statue or a picture of the ideal can be realized; if the hand, in a word, can only successfully carve, limn, and colour, from the pattern laid up in the wealth of the trained and experienced mind, how absolute the necessity for perseverance to enrich and perfect that mind which is to direct the hand!  That neglect of this evident truth has marked the lives of unsuccessful artists may, too often, be seen in the records of them; while the deepest conviction of a duty to obey its dictates has distinguished the world's most glorious names in painting and sculpture.  Let us glance at the steps taken by a few of these, in their way to triumphs; not unheedful, meanwhile, how their exhibition of the great moral quality of perseverance enabled them to trample on the difficulties of actual life, as well as to overcome obstacles in their progress to perfect art.


 
ANTONIO CANOVA.
 

Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix
Antonio Canova (1757-1822)


The greatest of modern sculptors, was born in a mud-walled cabin of an Alpine valley within the Venetian territories; and remained in the care of Pasino, his grandfather, who was a stone-cutter, till his twelfth year.  Pasino, evermore employing enticement and tenderness rather than compulsion, began to instruct the child in drawing, as soon as his little hand could hold a pencil; and even taught him to model in clay at an early age.  At nine years old, however, he was set to work at stone-cutting; and, thenceforward, his essays in art were but pursued as relaxations.  Yet his boyish performances were sufficiently remarkable to attract notice from the chief of the patrician family of Falieri, for whom Pasino worked.  This nobleman took young Canova under his patronage, and placed him with Toretto, a sculptor.  His new preceptor was not very liberal in his instructions; but the young genius secretly pursued his high bent, and one day surprised Toretto by producing the figures of two angels of singular beauty.  His yearnings after excellence, at this period, grew vast; but were indefinite.  He often became disgusted with what he had done, and to fitful dreams of beauty in Art succeeded moods of despair; but he invariably returned to his models, imperfect as he perceived them to be, and resolved to labour on from the point of his present knowledge up to the mastery he coveted.

    On the death of Toretto, in Canova's fifteenth year, Falieri removed the aspiring boy to Venice.  He was lodged in his patron's palace; but was too truly a man, in spite of his youth, to brook entire dependence on another, and formed an engagement to work during the afternoons for a sculptor in the city.  "I laboured for a mere pittance, but it was sufficient," is the language of one of his letters.  "It was the fruit of my own resolution; and, as I then flattered myself, the foretaste of more honourable rewards—for I never thought of wealth."  Under successive masters, Canova acquired a knowledge of what were then held to be the established rules of sculpture, but made no important essay, except his Eurydice, which was of the size of nature, and had "great merit " in the estimation of his patron, although Canova himself thought not so highly of it.  Indeed, his genius was preparing to break away from the mannerism of his instructors almost as soon as it was learnt.  The works of Bernini, Algardi, and other comparatively inferior artists, were then taken for models rather than the Apollo, the Laocoon, the Venus, or the Gladiator—the transcendent remains of ancient statuary.  "The unaffected majesty of the antique," observes Mr. Mernes, Canova's English biographer, "was then regarded as destitute of force and impression."  And as for Nature, "her simplicity was then considered as poverty, devoid of elegance or grace."  Nature, therefore, was not imitated by this school of sculptors; but, in the critical language of one of their own countrymen, she was but "translated according to conventional modes."  Canova spurned subjection to the trammels of corrupt taste; and, after deep thought, his resolve was taken, and he entered on a new and arduous path.  He thenceforth "took Nature as the text, and formed the commentary from his own elevated taste, fancy, and judgment."

    The exhibition of his Orpheus, the companion-statue to his Eurydice, in his twentieth year, gave commencement to Canova's success and reputation, and proved the devotion with which he had applied himself to the study of the anatomy of life, to whatever he observed to be striking in the attitudes of living men, in the expression of their countenances, in "the sculpture of the heart,"  (Il scolpir del cuore), as he so beautifully termed it.  His style was foreign to prevailing false taste; but it was so true to Nature that its excellence won him general admiration.

    Rome, the great capital of Art, naturally became the theatre of his ambition at this period; and, soon after his twenty-third birthday, he enters on his career in the Eternal City, under the patronage of the Venetian ambassador, obtained through Falieri's friendship.  With rapture he beheld a mass of marble, which had cost what would equal sixty-three pounds sterling, arrive at the ambassador's palace, as an assurance that he would have the material for accomplishing a great work he had devised.  Yet, with an overawed sense of the perfection he now saw in the remains of ancient sculpture, and believing himself deficient in the conception of ideal beauty, he studied deeply and worked in secret, shutting himself up in a room of the ambassador's palace, after each daily visit to the grand galleries.  His Theseus and Minotaur was, at length, shown; and he was considered to have placed himself at the head of living sculptors.

    Ten successive years of his life, after this triumph, were devoted to funeral monuments of the Popes Clement the Fourteenth (Ganganelli), and Clement the Twelfth (Rezzonico).  "They were," says his biographer, "years of unceasing toil and solicitude, both as the affairs of the artist did not permit of having recourse to the assistance of inferior workmen, and as he meditated technical improvements and modes of execution unknown to contemporaries.  Much valuable time was thus lost to all the nobler purposes of study, while the conducting from their rude and shapeless state to their final and exquisite forms such colossal masses was no less exhausting to the mind than to the body.  The method, however, which was now first adopted, and subsequently perfected, not only allowed, in future, exclusive attention to the higher provinces of art, but enabled this master to produce a greater number of original works than any other of modern times can boast."  These observations show Canova to have been one of the noblest disciples of perseverance; slighting the readier triumphs he might have won, by exerting his skill with the customary appliances, he aimed to invent methods whereby gigantic works in art might be more readily achieved, both by himself and his successors: he prescribed for himself the work of a discoverer, and he magnanimously toiled till he succeeded.

    Canova's most perfect works were, of course, accomplished in his full manhood.  These were his Cupid and Psyche, Venus, Perseus, Napoleon, Boxers, and Hercules and Lichas: creations which have made so truthfully applicable to his glorious genius the immortal line of Byron:—


"Europe, the world, has but one Canova."


Titles of honour were showered on him during his latter years; among the rest that of "Marquis of Ischia;" but he esteemed all of them as inferior to the triumph of his advocacy for the restoration of the precious works of ancient art to Italy.  He was commissioned by the Pope for this undertaking, and his great name will be imperishably united with the memory of its success.

    To all who are commencing the struggle of life the moral course of Canova demands equally close imitation, with his persevering zeal in the attainment of artistic excellence.  He ever refused pecuniary dependence; subjected himself to great disadvantages in carrying out his designs, rather than submit to such dependence; and when a pension of three thousand crowns was conferred upon him, towards the close of his career, he refused to apply any portion of it to his own gratification of a personal kind, and systematically devoted it, yearly, to premiums for young competitors in art, instruction of scholars in painting and sculpture, and pensions for poor and decayed artists.  Young reader, let the words of Canova, on his death-bed, sink deeply into your mind, that they may actuate your whole life as fully and nobly as they actuated his own:—"First of all we ought to do our own duty; but—first of all!"



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