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demy—an honour which Florence and Bologna had conferred before—and presented them with a copy of the St. Jerome of Correggio, of such excellenee that the reigning Prince desired to see the artist. He went to court, and, to the utter confusion of the attendants, appeared with his hat on. The prince was no stranger to the character of the Quakers, nor to the condescension of the British law in their favour. He was, moreover, a lover of William Penn. He received the young artist with complacency, and dismissed him with many expressions of regard. On reaching one of the French frontier towns, he was insulted by the populace, who considered their manufactures as ruined by the English. Again something like prophecy mingles with the explanation of the magistrate who protected him. "The ignorant people," said he, "blame England, when they should blame our own government. But the court of France is become a band of profligates —the truly great and good are banished from the palace; this cannot last long. Frenchmen will one day take a terrible revenge for the insults which they are doomed to suffer from those who pander to the prodigality of the court." These words were uttered twenty-four years before the revolution. West cannot be born, nor choose his profession, not enjoy himself in a coffee-house, nor travel through France, without the influence or the accompaniment of prediction. Of French art he conceived a mean opinion. It was, said he, deficient in simplicity; an air of studied affectation was breathed over it; and the absence of the nobler spirit of painting was sought to be concealed by the petty graces and brilliancy of fine finishing.
On the 20th of June, 1763, West arrived in London: Allen, Hamilton, and Smith, his early and steadfast friends, happened to be there; they welcomed him with open arms, and introduced him to many officers of rote who had heard of him in Penn
sylvania. At this time he had no intention of ie> maining in England, nor of practising his profession for the time that he stayed. He visited the collections of Hampton Court, Windsor, and Blenheim; resided some time at Reading with Thomas West, the half-brother of his father, and looked at the vanities of Bath in the middle of its season. By degrees he began to love the land and the people. He was introduced to Reynolds; and a letter from Mengs made him acquainted with Wilson. Intercourse with artists, and an examination of their works, awakened his ambition: he consulted no one, but took chambers in Bedford-street, Covent Garden, and set up his easel. When his determination was known, his brethren in art came round him in a body, welcomed him with much cordiality, and encouraged him to continue his career as an historical painter. Reynolds was devoted to portraits; Hogarth on the brink of the grave; Barry engaged in controversies in Rome; Wilson neglected; Gainsborough's excellence lay in landscape; and the prudent American saw that he had a fair field and no opponents.
As soon, therefore, as he had finished his Angelica and Medora, he sent it, by the advice of Reynolds, to the exhibition, together with the Cimon and Iphigenia, and a portrait of General Monckton, second in command to Wolfe in the battle of Quebec. While he was employed in finishing those works, he had the good fortune to be introduced to Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke. Johnson he admired much, and found civil and even kind. Burke also was indulgent; but our artist conceived there was an air of mystery about his demeanour. West at once recognised him as the brother of the chief of the Be' ncdictine monks at Parma.
The works which West exhibited were well reeved; the conception was good, and the colouring •■ear; and his love of serious and solemn subjects ittracted the special notice of some of the dignitaries of the church. He painted for Dr. Newton the parting of Hector and Andromache,—and for the bishop of Worcester, the Return of the Prodigal Son. His reputation rose so much with these productions, that Lord Rockingham tempted him with the offer of a permanent engagement, and a salary of seven hundred pounds a year, to embellish with historical paintings his mansion in Yorkshire. West consulted his friends concerning this alluring offer— they were sensible men—they advised him to confide in the public: and he followed, for a time, their salutary counsel.
This successful beginning, and the promise of full employment, induced him to resolve on remaining in the Old Country. But he was attached to a young lady in his native land—absence had augmented his regard, and he wished to return to Philadelphia, marry her, and bring her to England. He disclosed the state of his affections to his friends, Smith and Allen; those gentlemen took a less romantic view of the matter, advised the artist to stick to his easel, and arranged the whole so prudently, that the lady came to London accompanied by a relation whose time was not so valuable as West's—and they were married on the ad of September, 1765, in the church of St. Martin's in the Fields. As he was a man without violent passions, and something cold and considerate, he made perhaps but an indifferent figure as a lover; his wife, however, was kind and obedient, and their fireside had repose and peace.
Dr. Drummond, the Archbishop of York, a dignified and liberal prelate, and an admirer of painting, invited West to his table, conversed with him on the influence of art, and on the honour which the patronage of genius reflected on the rich, and opening Tacitus, pointed out that fine passage where Agrippina lands with the ashes of Germanicus. He caused his son to read it again and again, commented upon it with taste and feeling, and requested West to make him a painting of that subject. The artist went home, it was then late, but before closing his ayes he formed a sketch, and carried it early next morning to his patron, who, glad to see that his own notions were likely to be imbodied in lasting colours, requested that the full size work might be proceeded with. Nor was this all—that munificent prelate proposed to raise three thousand pounds by subscription, to enable West to relinquish likenesses and give his whole time and talents to historical painting. Fifteen hundred pounds were accordingly subscribed by himself and his friends; but the public refused to co-operate, and the scheme was abandoned.
The Archbishop regarded the failure of this plan as a stigma on the country; his self-love too was offended. He disregarded alike the coldness of the duke of Portland and the evasions of Lord Rockingham, to whom he communicated his scheme—sought and obtained an audience of his Majesty, then young and unacquainted with cares—informed him that a devout American and Quaker had painted, at his request, such a noble picture that he was desirous to secure his talents for the throne and the country. The King was much interested with the story, and said, "Let me see this young painter of yours with his Agrippina as soon as you please." The prelate retired to communicate his success to West.
Now all this happened to be overheard by one of those officious ladies who love to untie the knots of mysteries, and anticipate the natural disclosure of all secrets. Away flew her ladyship to the house of the artist—refused to disclose either her name or condition, acquainted him with the application of Drummond and the kindness of the King, and retired. She was not well away till a gentleman came from the palace to request West's attendance with the picture of Agrippina "His Majesty," said the messender "is a young^nan of great simplicity and candour; sedate in his affections, scrupulous in forming private friendships, good from principle, and pure from a sense of the beauty of virtue." Forty years' intercourse, we might almost say friendship, confirmed to the painter the accuracy of these words.
The King received West with easy frankness, assisted him to place the Agrippina in a favourable light, removed the attendants, and brought in the Queen, to whom he presented our Quaker. He related to her Majesty the history of the picture, and bade her notice the simplicity of the design and the beauty of the colouring. "There is another noble Roman subject," observed his Majesty, " the departure of Regulus from Rome—would it not make a fine picture?" "It is a magnificent subject," said the painter. "Then," said the King, "you shall paint it for me." He turned with a smile to the Queen, and said, " The Archbishop made one of his sons read Tacitus to Mr. West, but I will read Livy to him myself—that part where he describes the departure of Regulus." So saying, he read the passage very gracefully, and then repeated his command that the picture should be painted.
West was too prudent not to wish to retain the Sovereign's good opinion—and his modesty and his merit deserved it. The palace doors now seemed to open of their own accord, and the domestics attended with an obedient start to the wishes of him whom the King delighted to honour. There are minor matters which sometimes help a man on to fame; and in these too he had his share; West was a skilful skater, and in America had formed an acquaintance on the ice with Colonel, afterward too well known in the colonial war as General, Howe; this friendship had dissolved with the thaw, and was forgotten, till one day the painter, having tied on his skates at the Serpentine, was astonishing the timid