« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
JOHN WILLIAMSON'S SPEECH.
are we sure that it is not one of those gracious gifts which God has bestowed on the world, not to add to the sensual pleasures of man, but to facilitate his improvement as a social and moral Being? The Fine Arts are the offspring and emblems of PEACE. The Christian Religion itself is the doctrine of goodwill to
Can those things which only prosper in peace, be contrary to the Christian Religion ? But it is said, that the Fine Arts soften and emasculate the mind. In what way? Is it by withdrawing those who study them, from the robust exercises which enable nations and people to make war with success ? Is it by lessening the disposition of mankind to destroy one another, and by taming the audacity of their animal fierceness? Is it for such a reason as this, that we, who profess to live in unison and friendship, not only among ourselves, but with all the world, that we should object to the cultivation of the Fine Arts, of those arts which disarm the natural ferocity of man? We may
as well be told that the doctrine of Peace and Life ought to be proscribed in the world, because it is pernicious to the practice of war and slaughter, as that the arts which call on man to exercise his intellectual powers more than his physical strength, can be contrary to Christianity, and adverse to the benevolence of the Deity. I speak not, however, of the Fine Arts as the means of amusement, nor the study of them as pastime, fill up the vacant hours of business, though even, as such, the taste for them deserves to be regarded as a manifestation of Divine
JOHN WILLIAMSON'S SPEECH.
favour, inasmuch as they dispose the heart to kind and gentle inclinations : for I think them ordained by God for some great and holy purpose. Do we not know, that the professors of the Fine Arts are commonly men greatly distinguished by special gifts of a creative and discerning spirit ? If there be any thing in the usnal course of human affairs, which exhibits the immediate interposition of the Deity, it is in the progress of the Fine Arts, in which it would appear he often raises up those great characters, the spirit of whose imaginations has an interminable influence on posterity, and who are themselves separated and elevated
among the generality of mankind by the name of men of genius. Can we believe, that all this is not for some useful purpose? What that purpose is ought we to pretend to investigate? Let us rather reflect, that Almighty God has been pleased among us, and in this remote wilderness, to endow with the rich gifts of a peculiar spirit, that youth, who has now our common consent to cultivate his talents for an art, which, according to our humble and human judgment, was previously thought an unnecessary ministration to the sensual propensities of our nature. May it be demonstrated by the life and works of the artist, that the gift of God has not been bestowed upon him in vain, nor the motives of the beneficent inspiration which induces us to suspend our particular tenets, prove
arren of religious or moral effect. On the contrary, let us confidently hope that this occurrence has been for good, and that the consequences
LITTLE STRAWBERRY HILL.
which may arise in the society of this New World, from the example which BENJAMIN West will be enabled to give, will be such a love of the Arts of Peace as shall tend to draw the ties of affection closer, and diffuse over a wider extent of community the interests and blessing of FRATERNAL Love!'
“. At the conclusion of this ADDRESS, the women rose, and kissed the young Artist; and the men, one by one, laid their hands on his head, and prayed that the Lord might verify in his life the value of the gift which had induced them, in despite of their religious tenets, to allow him to cultivate the faculties of his GENIUS!”.
Such is the general eulogium on Painting by this honest Quaker, in setting apart Benjamin West to the profession—as well as the laudatory enumeration of the Beauties of Painting in Lord Orford's SERMON, a very original composition. STRAWBERRY HILL is a spot consecrated to the Arts; and I shall, therefore, in connexion with that classic edifice, offer no apology for having dwelt at so much length on the subject.
Close to Strawberry Hill, and nearer the Thames, is a small, neat mansion, known by the appellation of Little Strawberry Hill. It was originally built by the late Lord Orford, for his friend Mrs. Katherine Clive, of comic memory, Born in 1711, she made her first appearance in boy's clothes, in the character of Ismenes, the page of Ziphores, in the play of Mithridates, at Drury-lane Theatre. In 1732 she married a gentleman of the law, brother of Baron Clive; an
MRS. Clive's TABLET.
union soon dissolved, being unproductive of happiness to either party. During the year 1769 she quitted the stage, though to the last she was admirable and unrivalled. Retiring to this spot, she lived in ease and independence; dying, after a short illness, in 1785, beloved by her friends, and respected by the world. No individual ever took a more extensive walk in comedy ;-the chambermaid, in every varied shape which art or nature could lend her-characters of whim and affectation, from the high-bred Lady Fanciful to the vulgar Mrs. Heidelberg-country girls, romps, hoydens, dowdies, superannuated beauties, viragoes and humourists-engaged her versatile talents with an inimitable felicity. It was a saying, That no man could be grave when Clive was inclined to be merry! At the same time, her character, throughout life, was deemed truly exemplary. And hence a marble slab, attached to the outside of the church at Twickenham, has these lines to her memory :
Clive's blameless life this Tablet shall proclaim,
EXCURSION ON THE THAMES.
And, nobly bounteous, from her slender store,
Little Strawberry Hill is now occupied, as a rural retreat, by the present worthy and patriotic Lord Mayor of London, MATTHEW Wood, Esq. M. P. Hither, have the citizens of London made delightful aquatic excursions during the summer season of the year. Indeed, it is usual for the Members of the Corporation to indulge in these excursions under every Mayoralty. These sons of pleasure generally travel by land to Kew, where they embark, and proceed to Hampton, the accustomed spot of destination. . Some, indeed, have gone up as far aš Oxford; and a few have had courage to penetrate the fountain-head, near Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire! The Members of the Corporation are accompanied by their wives, and allowed to take a friend. These excursions, in THE CITY BARGE, are not unfrequent; and, when the heavens smile, impart no inconsiderable gratification. The entertainment provided is liberal, the company disposed to please and to be pleased; whilst a band of music, whose tones are reverberated from the opposite banks, soothe the senses, delight the imagination, and exhilarate the heart.
In traversing the banks of the Thames, it is impossible to overlook those beautiful Swans, which, by their white, delicate plumage, their erect and stately