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Self Help by Samuel Smiles

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set his mind to work. In three days he had composed the first
canto of 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel,' which he shortly after
finished,--his first great original work.

The attention of Dr. Priestley, the discoverer of so many gases,
was accidentally drawn to the subject of chemistry through his
living in the neighbourhood of a brewery. When visiting the place
one day, he noted the peculiar appearances attending the extinction
of lighted chips in the gas floating over the fermented liquor. He
was forty years old at the time, and knew nothing of chemistry. He
consulted books to ascertain the cause, but they told him little,
for as yet nothing was known on the subject. Then he began to
experiment, with some rude apparatus of his own contrivance. The
curious results of his first experiments led to others, which in
his hands shortly became the science of pneumatic chemistry. About
the same time, Scheele was obscurely working in the same direction
in a remote Swedish village; and he discovered several new gases,
with no more effective apparatus at his command than a few
apothecaries' phials and pigs' bladders.

Sir Humphry Davy, when an apothecary's apprentice, performed his
first experiments with instruments of the rudest description. He
extemporised the greater part of them himself, out of the motley
materials which chance threw in his way,--the pots and pans of the
kitchen, and the phials and vessels of his master's surgery. It
happened that a French ship was wrecked off the Land's End, and the
surgeon escaped, bearing with him his case of instruments, amongst
which was an old-fashioned glyster apparatus; this article he
presented to Davy, with whom he had become acquainted. The
apothecary's apprentice received it with great exultation, and
forthwith employed it as a part of a pneumatic apparatus which he
contrived, afterwards using it to perform the duties of an air-pump
in one of his experiments on the nature and sources of heat.

In like manner Professor Faraday, Sir Humphry Davy's scientific
successor, made his first experiments in electricity by means of an
old bottle, white he was still a working bookbinder. And it is a
curious fact that Faraday was first attracted to the study of
chemistry by hearing one of Sir Humphry Davy's lectures on the
subject at the Royal Institution. A gentleman, who was a member,
calling one day at the shop where Faraday was employed in binding
books, found him poring over the article "Electricity" in an
Encyclopaedia placed in his hands to bind. The gentleman, having
made inquiries, found that the young bookbinder was curious about
such subjects, and gave him an order of admission to the Royal
Institution, where he attended a course of four lectures delivered
by Sir Humphry. He took notes of them, which he showed to the
lecturer, who acknowledged their scientific accuracy, and was
surprised when informed of the humble position of the reporter.
Faraday then expressed his desire to devote himself to the
prosecution of chemical studies, from which Sir Humphry at first
endeavoured to dissuade him: but the young man persisting, he was
at length taken into the Royal Institution as an assistant; and
eventually the mantle of the brilliant apothecary's boy fell upon
the worthy shoulders of the equally brilliant bookbinder's

The words which Davy entered in his note-book, when about twenty
years of age, working in Dr. Beddoes' laboratory at Bristol, were
eminently characteristic of him: "I have neither riches, nor
power, nor birth to recommend me; yet if I live, I trust I shall
not be of less service to mankind and my friends, than if I had
been born with all these advantages." Davy possessed the
capability, as Faraday does, of devoting the whole power of his
mind to the practical and experimental investigation of a subject
in all its bearings; and such a mind will rarely fail, by dint of
mere industry and patient thinking, in producing results of the
highest order. Coleridge said of Davy, "There is an energy and
elasticity in his mind, which enables him to seize on and analyze
all questions, pushing them to their legitimate consequences.
Every subject in Davy's mind has the principle of vitality. Living
thoughts spring up like turf under his feet." Davy, on his part,
said of Coleridge, whose abilities he greatly admired, "With the
most exalted genius, enlarged views, sensitive heart, and
enlightened mind, he will be the victim of a want of order,
precision, and regularity."

The great Cuvier was a singularly accurate, careful, and
industrious observer. When a boy, he was attracted to the subject
of natural history by the sight of a volume of Buffon which
accidentally fell in his way. He at once proceeded to copy the
drawings, and to colour them after the descriptions given in the
text. While still at school, one of his teachers made him a
present of 'Linnaeus's System of Nature;' and for more than ten
years this constituted his library of natural history. At eighteen
he was offered the situation of tutor in a family residing near
Fecamp, in Normandy. Living close to the sea-shore, he was brought
face to face with the wonders of marine life. Strolling along the
sands one day, he observed a stranded cuttlefish. He was attracted
by the curious object, took it home to dissect, and thus began the
study of the molluscae, in the pursuit of which he achieved so
distinguished a reputation. He had no books to refer to, excepting
only the great book of Nature which lay open before him. The study
of the novel and interesting objects which it daily presented to
his eyes made a much deeper impression on his mind than any written
or engraved descriptions could possibly have done. Three years
thus passed, during which he compared the living species of marine
animals with the fossil remains found in the neighbourhood,
dissected the specimens of marine life that came under his notice,
and, by careful observation, prepared the way for a complete reform
in the classification of the animal kingdom. About this time
Cuvier became known to the learned Abbe Teissier, who wrote to
Jussieu and other friends in Paris on the subject of the young
naturalist's inquiries, in terms of such high commendation, that
Cuvier was requested to send some of his papers to the Society of
Natural History; and he was shortly after appointed assistant-
superintendent at the Jardin des Plantes. In the letter written by
Teissier to Jussieu, introducing the young naturalist to his
notice, he said, "You remember that it was I who gave Delambre to
the Academy in another branch of science: this also will be a
Delambre." We need scarcely add that the prediction of Teissier
was more than fulfilled.

It is not accident, then, that helps a man in the world so much as
purpose and persistent industry. To the feeble, the sluggish and
purposeless, the happiest accidents avail nothing,--they pass them
by, seeing no meaning in them. But it is astonishing how much can
be accomplished if we are prompt to seize and improve the
opportunities for action and effort which are constantly presenting
themselves. Watt taught himself chemistry and mechanics while
working at his trade of a mathematical-instrument maker, at the
same time that he was learning German from a Swiss dyer.
Stephenson taught himself arithmetic and mensuration while working
as an engineman during the night shifts; and when he could snatch a
few moments in the intervals allowed for meals during the day, he
worked his sums with a bit of chalk upon the sides of the colliery
waggons. Dalton's industry was the habit of his life. He began
from his boyhood, for he taught a little village-school when he was
only about twelve years old,--keeping the school in winter, and
working upon his father's farm in summer. He would sometimes urge
himself and companions to study by the stimulus of a bet, though
bred a Quaker; and on one occasion, by his satisfactory solution of
a problem, he won as much as enabled him to buy a winter's store of
candles. He continued his meteorological observations until a day
or two before he died,--having made and recorded upwards of 200,000
in the course of his life.

With perseverance, the very odds and ends of time may be worked up
into results of the greatest value. An hour in every day withdrawn
from frivolous pursuits would, if profitably employed, enable a
person of ordinary capacity to go far towards mastering a science.
It would make an ignorant man a well-informed one in less than ten
years. Time should not be allowed to pass without yielding fruits,
in the form of something learnt worthy of being known, some good
principle cultivated, or some good habit strengthened. Dr. Mason
Good translated Lucretius while riding in his carriage in the
streets of London, going the round of his patients. Dr. Darwin
composed nearly all his works in the same way while driving about
in his "sulky" from house to house in the country,--writing down
his thoughts on little scraps of paper, which he carried about with
him for the purpose. Hale wrote his 'Contemplations' while
travelling on circuit. Dr. Burney learnt French and Italian while
travelling on horseback from one musical pupil to another in the
course of his profession. Kirke White learnt Greek while walking
to and from a lawyer's office; and we personally know a man of
eminent position who learnt Latin and French while going messages
as an errand-boy in the streets of Manchester.

Daguesseau, one of the great Chancellors of France, by carefully
working up his odd bits of time, wrote a bulky and able volume in
the successive intervals of waiting for dinner, and Madame de
Genlis composed several of her charming volumes while waiting for
the princess to whom she gave her daily lessons. Elihu Burritt
attributed his first success in self-improvement, not to genius,
which he disclaimed, but simply to the careful employment of those
invaluable fragments of time, called "odd moments." While working
and earning his living as a blacksmith, he mastered some eighteen
ancient and modern languages, and twenty-two European dialects.

What a solemn and striking admonition to youth is that inscribed on
the dial at All Souls, Oxford--"Pereunt et imputantur"--the hours
perish, and are laid to our charge. Time is the only little
fragment of Eternity that belongs to man; and, like life, it can
never be recalled. "In the dissipation of worldly treasure," says
Jackson of Exeter, "the frugality of the future may balance the
extravagance of the past; but who can say, 'I will take from
minutes to-morrow to compensate for those I have lost to-day'?"
Melancthon noted down the time lost by him, that he might thereby
reanimate his industry, and not lose an hour. An Italian scholar
put over his door an inscription intimating that whosoever remained
there should join in his labours. "We are afraid," said some
visitors to Baxter, "that we break in upon your time." "To be sure
you do," replied the disturbed and blunt divine. Time was the
estate out of which these great workers, and all other workers,
formed that rich treasury of thoughts and deeds which they have
left to their successors.

The mere drudgery undergone by some men in carrying on their
undertakings has been something extraordinary, but the drudgery
they regarded as the price of success. Addison amassed as much as
three folios of manuscript materials before he began his
'Spectator.' Newton wrote his 'Chronology' fifteen times over
before he was satisfied with it; and Gibbon wrote out his 'Memoir'
nine times. Hale studied for many years at the rate of sixteen
hours a day, and when wearied with the study of the law, he would
recreate himself with philosophy and the study of the mathematics.
Hume wrote thirteen hours a day while preparing his 'History of
England.' Montesquieu, speaking of one part of his writings, said
to a friend, "You will read it in a few hours; but I assure you it
has cost me so much labour that it has whitened my hair."

The practice of writing down thoughts and facts for the purpose of
holding them fast and preventing their escape into the dim region
of forgetfulness, has been much resorted to by thoughtful and
studious men. Lord Bacon left behind him many manuscripts entitled
"Sudden thoughts set down for use." Erskine made great extracts
from Burke; and Eldon copied Coke upon Littleton twice over with
his own hand, so that the book became, as it were, part of his own
mind. The late Dr. Pye Smith, when apprenticed to his father as a
bookbinder, was accustomed to make copious memoranda of all the
books he read, with extracts and criticisms. This indomitable
industry in collecting materials distinguished him through life,
his biographer describing him as "always at work, always in
advance, always accumulating." These note-books afterwards proved,
like Richter's "quarries," the great storehouse from which he drew
his illustrations.

The same practice characterized the eminent John Hunter, who
adopted it for the purpose of supplying the defects of memory; and
he was accustomed thus to illustrate the advantages which one
derives from putting one's thoughts in writing: "It resembles," he
said, "a tradesman taking stock, without which he never knows
either what he possesses or in what he is deficient." John Hunter-
-whose observation was so keen that Abernethy was accustomed to
speak of him as "the Argus-eyed"--furnished an illustrious example
of the power of patient industry. He received little or no
education till he was about twenty years of age, and it was with
difficulty that he acquired the arts of reading and writing. He
worked for some years as a common carpenter at Glasgow, after which
he joined his brother William, who had settled in London as a
lecturer and anatomical demonstrator. John entered his dissecting-
room as an assistant, but soon shot ahead of his brother, partly by
virtue of his great natural ability, but mainly by reason of his
patient application and indefatigable industry. He was one of the
first in this country to devote himself assiduously to the study of
comparative anatomy, and the objects he dissected and collected
took the eminent Professor Owen no less than ten years to arrange.
The collection contains some twenty thousand specimens, and is the
most precious treasure of the kind that has ever been accumulated
by the industry of one man. Hunter used to spend every morning
from sunrise until eight o'clock in his museum; and throughout the
day he carried on his extensive private practice, performed his
laborious duties as surgeon to St. George's Hospital and deputy
surgeon-general to the army; delivered lectures to students, and
superintended a school of practical anatomy at his own house;
finding leisure, amidst all, for elaborate experiments on the
animal economy, and the composition of various works of great
scientific importance. To find time for this gigantic amount of
work, he allowed himself only four hours of sleep at night, and an
hour after dinner. When once asked what method he had adopted to
insure success in his undertakings, he replied, "My rule is,
deliberately to consider, before I commence, whether the thing be
practicable. If it be not practicable, I do not attempt it. If it
be practicable, I can accomplish it if I give sufficient pains to
it; and having begun, I never stop till the thing is done. To this
rule I owe all my success."

Hunter occupied a great deal of his time in collecting definite
facts respecting matters which, before his day, were regarded as
exceedingly trivial. Thus it was supposed by many of his
contemporaries that he was only wasting his time and thought in
studying so carefully as he did the growth of a deer's horn. But
Hunter was impressed with the conviction that no accurate knowledge
of scientific facts is without its value. By the study referred
to, he learnt how arteries accommodate themselves to circumstances,
and enlarge as occasion requires; and the knowledge thus acquired
emboldened him, in a case of aneurism in a branch artery, to tie
the main trunk where no surgeon before him had dared to tie it, and
the life of his patient was saved. Like many original men, he
worked for a long time as it were underground, digging and laying
foundations. He was a solitary and self-reliant genius, holding on
his course without the solace of sympathy or approbation,--for but
few of his contemporaries perceived the ultimate object of his
pursuits. But like all true workers, he did not fail in securing
his best reward--that which depends less upon others than upon
one's self--the approval of conscience, which in a right-minded man
invariably follows the honest and energetic performance of duty.

Ambrose Pare, the great French surgeon, was another illustrious
instance of close observation, patient application, and
indefatigable perseverance. He was the son of a barber at Laval,
in Maine, where he was born in 1509. His parents were too poor to
send him to school, but they placed him as foot-boy with the cure
of the village, hoping that under that learned man he might pick up
an education for himself. But the cure kept him so busily employed
in grooming his mule and in other menial offices that the boy found
no time for learning. While in his service, it happened that the
celebrated lithotomist, Cotot, came to Laval to operate on one of
the cure's ecclesiastical brethren. Pare was present at the
operation, and was so much interested by it that he is said to have
from that time formed the determination of devoting himself to the
art of surgery.

Leaving the cure's household service, Pare apprenticed himself to a
barber-surgeon named Vialot, under whom he learnt to let blood,
draw teeth, and perform the minor operations. After four years'
experience of this kind, he went to Paris to study at the school of
anatomy and surgery, meanwhile maintaining himself by his trade of
a barber. He afterwards succeeded in obtaining an appointment as
assistant at the Hotel Dieu, where his conduct was so exemplary,
and his progress so marked, that the chief surgeon, Goupil,
entrusted him with the charge of the patients whom he could not
himself attend to. After the usual course of instruction, Pare was
admitted a master barber-surgeon, and shortly after was appointed
to a charge with the French army under Montmorenci in Piedmont.
Pare was not a man to follow in the ordinary ruts of his
profession, but brought the resources of an ardent and original
mind to bear upon his daily work, diligently thinking out for
himself the rationale of diseases and their befitting remedies.
Before his time the wounded suffered much more at the hands of
their surgeons than they did at those of their enemies. To stop
bleeding from gunshot wounds, the barbarous expedient was resorted
to of dressing them with boiling oil. Haemorrhage was also stopped
by searing the wounds with a red-hot iron; and when amputation was
necessary, it was performed with a red-hot knife. At first Pare
treated wounds according to the approved methods; but, fortunately,
on one occasion, running short of boiling oil, he substituted a
mild and emollient application. He was in great fear all night
lest he should have done wrong in adopting this treatment; but was
greatly relieved next morning on finding his patients comparatively
comfortable, while those whose wounds had been treated in the usual
way were writhing in torment. Such was the casual origin of one of
Pare's greatest improvements in the treatment of gun-shot wounds;
and he proceeded to adopt the emollient treatment in all future
cases. Another still more important improvement was his employment
of the ligature in tying arteries to stop haemorrhage, instead of
the actual cautery. Pare, however, met with the usual fate of
innovators and reformers. His practice was denounced by his
surgical brethren as dangerous, unprofessional, and empirical; and
the older surgeons banded themselves together to resist its
adoption. They reproached him for his want of education, more
especially for his ignorance of Latin and Greek; and they assailed
him with quotations from ancient writers, which he was unable
either to verify or refute. But the best answer to his assailants
was the success of his practice. The wounded soldiers called out
everywhere for Pare, and he was always at their service: he tended
them carefully and affectionately; and he usually took leave of
them with the words, "I have dressed you; may God cure you."

After three years' active service as army-surgeon, Pare returned to
Paris with such a reputation that he was at once appointed surgeon
in ordinary to the King. When Metz was besieged by the Spanish
army, under Charles V., the garrison suffered heavy loss, and the
number of wounded was very great. The surgeons were few and
incompetent, and probably slew more by their bad treatment than the
Spaniards did by the sword. The Duke of Guise, who commanded the
garrison, wrote to the King imploring him to send Pare to his help.
The courageous surgeon at once set out, and, after braving many
dangers (to use his own words, "d'estre pendu, estrangle ou mis en
pieces"), he succeeded in passing the enemy's lines, and entered
Metz in safety. The Duke, the generals, and the captains gave him
an affectionate welcome; while the soldiers, when they heard of his
arrival, cried, "We no longer fear dying of our wounds; our friend
is among us." In the following year Pare was in like manner with
the besieged in the town of Hesdin, which shortly fell before the
Duke of Savoy, and he was taken prisoner. But having succeeded in
curing one of the enemy's chief officers of a serious wound, he was
discharged without ransom, and returned in safety to Paris.

The rest of his life was occupied in study, in self-improvement, in
piety, and in good deeds. Urged by some of the most learned among
his contemporaries, he placed on record the results of his surgical
experience, in twenty-eight books, which were published by him at
different times. His writings are valuable and remarkable chiefly
on account of the great number of facts and cases contained in
them, and the care with which he avoids giving any directions
resting merely upon theory unsupported by observation. Pare
continued, though a Protestant, to hold the office of surgeon in
ordinary to the King; and during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew he
owed his life to the personal friendship of Charles IX., whom he
had on one occasion saved from the dangerous effects of a wound
inflicted by a clumsy surgeon in performing the operation of
venesection. Brantome, in his 'Memoires,' thus speaks of the
King's rescue of Pare on the night of Saint Bartholomew--"He sent
to fetch him, and to remain during the night in his chamber and
wardrobe-room, commanding him not to stir, and saying that it was
not reasonable that a man who had preserved the lives of so many
people should himself be massacred." Thus Pare escaped the horrors
of that fearful night, which he survived for many years, and was
permitted to die in peace, full of age and honours.

Harvey was as indefatigable a labourer as any we have named. He
spent not less than eight long years of investigation and research
before he published his views of the circulation of the blood. He
repeated and verified his experiments again and again, probably
anticipating the opposition he would have to encounter from the
profession on making known his discovery. The tract in which he at
length announced his views, was a most modest one,--but simple,
perspicuous, and conclusive. It was nevertheless received with
ridicule, as the utterance of a crack-brained impostor. For some
time, he did not make a single convert, and gained nothing but
contumely and abuse. He had called in question the revered
authority of the ancients; and it was even averred that his views
were calculated to subvert the authority of the Scriptures and
undermine the very foundations of morality and religion. His
little practice fell away, and he was left almost without a friend.
This lasted for some years, until the great truth, held fast by
Harvey amidst all his adversity, and which had dropped into many
thoughtful minds, gradually ripened by further observation, and
after a period of about twenty-five years, it became generally
recognised as an established scientific truth.

The difficulties encountered by Dr. Jenner in promulgating and
establishing his discovery of vaccination as a preventive of small-
pox, were even greater than those of Harvey. Many, before him, had
witnessed the cow-pox, and had heard of the report current among
the milkmaids in Gloucestershire, that whoever had taken that
disease was secure against small-pox. It was a trifling, vulgar
rumour, supposed to have no significance whatever; and no one had
thought it worthy of investigation, until it was accidentally
brought under the notice of Jenner. He was a youth, pursuing his
studies at Sodbury, when his attention was arrested by the casual
observation made by a country girl who came to his master's shop
for advice. The small-pox was mentioned, when the girl said, "I
can't take that disease, for I have had cow-pox." The observation
immediately riveted Jenner's attention, and he forthwith set about
inquiring and making observations on the subject. His professional
friends, to whom he mentioned his views as to the prophylactic
virtues of cow-pox, laughed at him, and even threatened to expel
him from their society, if he persisted in harassing them with the
subject. In London he was so fortunate as to study under John
Hunter, to whom he communicated his views. The advice of the great
anatomist was thoroughly characteristic: "Don't think, but TRY; be
patient, be accurate." Jenner's courage was supported by the
advice, which conveyed to him the true art of philosophical
investigation. He went back to the country to practise his
profession and make observations and experiments, which he
continued to pursue for a period of twenty years. His faith in his
discovery was so implicit that he vaccinated his own son on three
several occasions. At length he published his views in a quarto of
about seventy pages, in which he gave the details of twenty-three
cases of successful vaccination of individuals, to whom it was
found afterwards impossible to communicate the small-pox either by
contagion or inoculation. It was in 1798 that this treatise was
published; though he had been working out his ideas since the year
1775, when they had begun to assume a definite form.

How was the discovery received? First with indifference, then with
active hostility. Jenner proceeded to London to exhibit to the
profession the process of vaccination and its results; but not a
single medical man could be induced to make trial of it, and after
fruitlessly waiting for nearly three months, he returned to his
native village. He was even caricatured and abused for his attempt
to "bestialize" his species by the introduction into their systems
of diseased matter from the cow's udder. Vaccination was denounced
from the pulpit as "diabolical." It was averred that vaccinated
children became "ox-faced," that abscesses broke out to "indicate
sprouting horns," and that the countenance was gradually
"transmuted into the visage of a cow, the voice into the bellowing
of bulls." Vaccination, however, was a truth, and notwithstanding
the violence of the opposition, belief in it spread slowly. In one
village, where a gentleman tried to introduce the practice, the
first persons who permitted themselves to be vaccinated were
absolutely pelted and driven into their houses if they appeared out
of doors. Two ladies of title--Lady Ducie and the Countess of
Berkeley--to their honour be it remembered--had the courage to
vaccinate their children; and the prejudices of the day were at
once broken through. The medical profession gradually came round,
and there were several who even sought to rob Dr. Jenner of the
merit of the discovery, when its importance came to be recognised.
Jenner's cause at last triumphed, and he was publicly honoured and
rewarded. In his prosperity he was as modest as he had been in his
obscurity. He was invited to settle in London, and told that he
might command a practice of 10,000l. a year. But his answer was,
"No! In the morning of my days I have sought the sequestered and
lowly paths of life--the valley, and not the mountain,--and now, in
the evening of my days, it is not meet for me to hold myself up as
an object for fortune and for fame." During Jenner's own life-time
the practice of vaccination became adopted all over the civilized
world; and when he died, his title as a Benefactor of his kind was
recognised far and wide. Cuvier has said, "If vaccine were the
only discovery of the epoch, it would serve to render it
illustrious for ever; yet it knocked twenty times in vain at the
doors of the Academies."

Not less patient, resolute, and persevering was Sir Charles Bell in
the prosecution of his discoveries relating to the nervous system.
Previous to his time, the most confused notions prevailed as to the
functions of the nerves, and this branch of study was little more
advanced than it had been in the times of Democritus and Anaxagoras
three thousand years before. Sir Charles Bell, in the valuable
series of papers the publication of which was commenced in 1821,
took an entirely original view of the subject, based upon a long
series of careful, accurate, and oft-repeated experiments.
Elaborately tracing the development of the nervous system up from
the lowest order of animated being, to man--the lord of the animal
kingdom,--he displayed it, to use his own words, "as plainly as if
it were written in our mother-tongue." His discovery consisted in
the fact, that the spinal nerves are double in their function, and
arise by double roots from the spinal marrow,--volition being
conveyed by that part of the nerves springing from the one root,
and sensation by the other. The subject occupied the mind of Sir
Charles Bell for a period of forty years, when, in 1840, he laid
his last paper before the Royal Society. As in the cases of Harvey
and Jenner, when he had lived down the ridicule and opposition with
which his views were first received, and their truth came to be
recognised, numerous claims for priority in making the discovery
were set up at home and abroad. Like them, too, he lost practice
by the publication of his papers; and he left it on record that,
after every step in his discovery, he was obliged to work harder
than ever to preserve his reputation as a practitioner. The great
merits of Sir Charles Bell were, however, at length fully
recognised; and Cuvier himself, when on his death-bed, finding his
face distorted and drawn to one side, pointed out the symptom to
his attendants as a proof of the correctness of Sir Charles Bell's

An equally devoted pursuer of the same branch of science was the
late Dr. Marshall Hall, whose name posterity will rank with those
of Harvey, Hunter, Jenner, and Bell. During the whole course of
his long and useful life he was a most careful and minute observer;
and no fact, however apparently insignificant, escaped his
attention. His important discovery of the diastaltic nervous
system, by which his name will long be known amongst scientific
men, originated in an exceedingly simple circumstance. When
investigating the pneumonic circulation in the Triton, the
decapitated object lay upon the table; and on separating the tail
and accidentally pricking the external integument, he observed that
it moved with energy, and became contorted into various forms. He
had not touched a muscle or a muscular nerve; what then was the
nature of these movements? The same phenomena had probably been
often observed before, but Dr. Hall was the first to apply himself
perseveringly to the investigation of their causes; and he
exclaimed on the occasion, "I will never rest satisfied until I
have found all this out, and made it clear." His attention to the
subject was almost incessant; and it is estimated that in the
course of his life he devoted not less than 25,000 hours to its
experimental and chemical investigation. He was at the same time
carrying on an extensive private practice, and officiating as
lecturer at St. Thomas's Hospital and other Medical Schools. It
will scarcely be credited that the paper in which he embodied his
discovery was rejected by the Royal Society, and was only accepted
after the lapse of seventeen years, when the truth of his views had
become acknowledged by scientific men both at home and abroad.

The life of Sir William Herschel affords another remarkable
illustration of the force of perseverance in another branch of
science. His father was a poor German musician, who brought up his
four sons to the same calling. William came over to England to
seek his fortune, and he joined the band of the Durham Militia, in
which he played the oboe. The regiment was lying at Doncaster,
where Dr. Miller first became acquainted with Herschel, having
heard him perform a solo on the violin in a surprising manner. The
Doctor entered into conversation with the youth, and was so pleased
with him, that he urged him to leave the militia and take up his
residence at his house for a time. Herschel did so, and while at
Doncaster was principally occupied in violin-playing at concerts,
availing himself of the advantages of Dr. Miller's library to study
at his leisure hours. A new organ having been built for the parish
church of Halifax, an organist was advertised for, on which
Herschel applied for the office, and was selected. Leading the
wandering life of an artist, he was next attracted to Bath, where
he played in the Pump-room band, and also officiated as organist in
the Octagon chapel. Some recent discoveries in astronomy having
arrested his mind, and awakened in him a powerful spirit of
curiosity, he sought and obtained from a friend the loan of a two-
foot Gregorian telescope. So fascinated was the poor musician by
the science, that he even thought of purchasing a telescope, but
the price asked by the London optician was so alarming, that he
determined to make one. Those who know what a reflecting telescope
is, and the skill which is required to prepare the concave metallic
speculum which forms the most important part of the apparatus, will
be able to form some idea of the difficulty of this undertaking.
Nevertheless, Herschel succeeded, after long and painful labour, in
completing a five-foot reflector, with which he had the
gratification of observing the ring and satellites of Saturn. Not
satisfied with his triumph, he proceeded to make other instruments
in succession, of seven, ten, and even twenty feet. In
constructing the seven-foot reflector, he finished no fewer than
two hundred specula before he produced one that would bear any
power that was applied to it,--a striking instance of the
persevering laboriousness of the man. While gauging the heavens
with his instruments, he continued patiently to earn his bread by
piping to the fashionable frequenters of the Pump-room. So eager
was he in his astronomical observations, that he would steal away
from the room during an interval of the performance, give a little
turn at his telescope, and contentedly return to his oboe. Thus
working away, Herschel discovered the Georgium Sidus, the orbit and
rate of motion of which he carefully calculated, and sent the
result to the Royal Society; when the humble oboe player found
himself at once elevated from obscurity to fame. He was shortly
after appointed Astronomer Royal, and by the kindness of George
III. was placed in a position of honourable competency for life.
He bore his honours with the same meekness and humility which had
distinguished him in the days of his obscurity. So gentle and
patient, and withal so distinguished and successful a follower of
science under difficulties, perhaps cannot be found in the entire
history of biography.

The career of William Smith, the father of English geology, though
perhaps less known, is not less interesting and instructive as an
example of patient and laborious effort, and the diligent
cultivation of opportunities. He was born in 1769, the son of a
yeoman farmer at Churchill, in Oxfordshire. His father dying when
he was but a child, he received a very sparing education at the
village school, and even that was to a considerable extent
interfered with by his wandering and somewhat idle habits as a boy.
His mother having married a second time, he was taken in charge by
an uncle, also a farmer, by whom he was brought up. Though the
uncle was by no means pleased with the boy's love of wandering
about, collecting "poundstones," "pundips," and other stony
curiosities which lay scattered about the adjoining land, he yet
enabled him to purchase a few of the necessary books wherewith to
instruct himself in the rudiments of geometry and surveying; for
the boy was already destined for the business of a land-surveyor.
One of his marked characteristics, even as a youth, was the
accuracy and keenness of his observation; and what he once clearly
saw he never forgot. He began to draw, attempted to colour, and
practised the arts of mensuration and surveying, all without
regular instruction; and by his efforts in self-culture, he shortly
became so proficient, that he was taken on as assistant to a local
surveyor of ability in the neighbourhood. In carrying on his
business he was constantly under the necessity of traversing
Oxfordshire and the adjoining counties. One of the first things he
seriously pondered over, was the position of the various soils and
strata that came under his notice on the lands which he surveyed or
travelled over; more especially the position of the red earth in
regard to the lias and superincumbent rocks. The surveys of
numerous collieries which he was called upon to make, gave him
further experience; and already, when only twenty-three years of
age, he contemplated making a model of the strata of the earth.

While engaged in levelling for a proposed canal in Gloucestershire,
the idea of a general law occurred to him relating to the strata of
that district. He conceived that the strata lying above the coal
were not laid horizontally, but inclined, and in one direction,
towards the east; resembling, on a large scale, "the ordinary
appearance of superposed slices of bread and butter." The
correctness of this theory he shortly after confirmed by
observations of the strata in two parallel valleys, the "red
ground," "lias," and "freestone" or "oolite," being found to come
down in an eastern direction, and to sink below the level, yielding
place to the next in succession. He was shortly enabled to verify
the truth of his views on a larger scale, having been appointed to
examine personally into the management of canals in England and
Wales. During his journeys, which extended from Bath to Newcastle-
on-Tyne, returning by Shropshire and Wales, his keen eyes were
never idle for a moment. He rapidly noted the aspect and structure
of the country through which he passed with his companions,
treasuring up his observations for future use. His geologic vision
was so acute, that though the road along which he passed from York
to Newcastle in the post chaise was from five to fifteen miles
distant from the hills of chalk and oolite on the east, he was
satisfied as to their nature, by their contours and relative
position, and their ranges on the surface in relation to the lias
and "red ground" occasionally seen on the road.

The general results of his observation seem to have been these. He
noted that the rocky masses of country in the western parts of
England generally inclined to the east and south-east; that the red
sandstones and marls above the coal measures passed beneath the
lias, clay, and limestone, that these again passed beneath the
sands, yellow limestones and clays, forming the table-land of the
Cotswold Hills, while these in turn passed beneath the great chalk
deposits occupying the eastern parts of England. He further
observed, that each layer of clay, sand, and limestone held its own
peculiar classes of fossils; and pondering much on these things, he
at length came to the then unheard-of conclusion, that each
distinct deposit of marine animals, in these several strata,
indicated a distinct sea-bottom, and that each layer of clay, sand,
chalk, and stone, marked a distinct epoch of time in the history of
the earth.

This idea took firm possession of his mind, and he could talk and
think of nothing else. At canal boards, at sheep-shearings, at
county meetings, and at agricultural associations, 'Strata Smith,'
as he came to be called, was always running over with the subject
that possessed him. He had indeed made a great discovery, though
he was as yet a man utterly unknown in the scientific world. He
proceeded to project a map of the stratification of England; but
was for some time deterred from proceeding with it, being fully
occupied in carrying out the works of the Somersetshire coal canal,
which engaged him for a period of about six years. He continued,
nevertheless, to be unremitting in his observation of facts; and he
became so expert in apprehending the internal structure of a
district and detecting the lie of the strata from its external
configuration, that he was often consulted respecting the drainage
of extensive tracts of land, in which, guided by his geological
knowledge, he proved remarkably successful, and acquired an
extensive reputation.

One day, when looking over the cabinet collection of fossils
belonging to the Rev. Samuel Richardson, at Bath, Smith astonished
his friend by suddenly disarranging his classification, and re-
arranging the fossils in their stratigraphical order, saying--
"These came from the blue lias, these from the over-lying sand and
freestone, these from the fuller's earth, and these from the Bath
building stone." A new light flashed upon Mr. Richardson's mind,
and he shortly became a convert to and believer in William Smith's
doctrine. The geologists of the day were not, however, so easily
convinced; and it was scarcely to be tolerated that an unknown
land-surveyor should pretend to teach them the science of geology.
But William Smith had an eye and mind to penetrate deep beneath the
skin of the earth; he saw its very fibre and skeleton, and, as it
were, divined its organization. His knowledge of the strata in the
neighbourhood of Bath was so accurate, that one evening, when
dining at the house of the Rev. Joseph Townsend, he dictated to Mr.
Richardson the different strata according to their order of
succession in descending order, twenty-three in number, commencing
with the chalk and descending in continuous series down to the
coal, below which the strata were not then sufficiently determined.
To this was added a list of the more remarkable fossils which had
been gathered in the several layers of rock. This was printed and
extensively circulated in 1801.

He next determined to trace out the strata through districts as
remote from Bath as his means would enable him to reach. For years
he journeyed to and fro, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback,
riding on the tops of stage coaches, often making up by night-
travelling the time he had lost by day, so as not to fail in his
ordinary business engagements. When he was professionally called
away to any distance from home--as, for instance, when travelling
from Bath to Holkham, in Norfolk, to direct the irrigation and
drainage of Mr. Coke's land in that county--he rode on horseback,
making frequent detours from the road to note the geological
features of the country which he traversed.

For several years he was thus engaged in his journeys to distant
quarters in England and Ireland, to the extent of upwards of ten
thousand miles yearly; and it was amidst this incessant and
laborious travelling, that he contrived to commit to paper his
fast-growing generalizations on what he rightly regarded as a new
science. No observation, howsoever trivial it might appear, was
neglected, and no opportunity of collecting fresh facts was
overlooked. Whenever he could, he possessed himself of records of
borings, natural and artificial sections, drew them to a constant
scale of eight yards to the inch, and coloured them up. Of his
keenness of observation take the following illustration. When
making one of his geological excursions about the country near
Woburn, as he was drawing near to the foot of the Dunstable chalk
hills, he observed to his companion, "If there be any broken ground
about the foot of these hills, we may find SHARK'S TEETH;" and they
had not proceeded far, before they picked up six from the white
bank of a new fence-ditch. As he afterwards said of himself, "The
habit of observation crept on me, gained a settlement in my mind,
became a constant associate of my life, and started up in activity
at the first thought of a journey; so that I generally went off
well prepared with maps, and sometimes with contemplations on its
objects, or on those on the road, reduced to writing before it
commenced. My mind was, therefore, like the canvas of a painter,
well prepared for the first and best impressions."

Notwithstanding his courageous and indefatigable industry, many
circumstances contributed to prevent the promised publication of
William Smith's 'Map of the Strata of England and Wales,' and it
was not until 1814 that he was enabled, by the assistance of some
friends, to give to the world the fruits of his twenty years'
incessant labour. To prosecute his inquiries, and collect the
extensive series of facts and observations requisite for his
purpose, he had to expend the whole of the profits of his
professional labours during that period; and he even sold off his
small property to provide the means of visiting remoter parts of
the island. Meanwhile he had entered on a quarrying speculation
near Bath, which proved unsuccessful, and he was under the
necessity of selling his geological collection (which was purchased
by the British Museum), his furniture and library, reserving only
his papers, maps, and sections, which were useless save to himself.
He bore his losses and misfortunes with exemplary fortitude; and
amidst all, he went on working with cheerful courage and untiring
patience. He died at Northampton, in August, 1839, while on his
way to attend the meeting of the British Association at Birmingham.

It is difficult to speak in terms of too high praise of the first
geological map of England, which we owe to the industry of this
courageous man of science. An accomplished writer says of it, "It
was a work so masterly in conception and so correct in general
outline, that in principle it served as a basis not only for the
production of later maps of the British Islands, but for geological
maps of all other parts of the world, wherever they have been
undertaken. In the apartments of the Geological Society Smith's
map may yet be seen--a great historical document, old and worn,
calling for renewal of its faded tints. Let any one conversant
with the subject compare it with later works on a similar scale,
and he will find that in all essential features it will not suffer
by the comparison--the intricate anatomy of the Silurian rocks of
Wales and the north of England by Murchison and Sedgwick being the
chief additions made to his great generalizations." {20} The
genius of the Oxfordshire surveyor did not fail to be duly
recognised and honoured by men of science during his lifetime. In
1831 the Geological Society of London awarded to him the Wollaston
medal, "in consideration of his being a great original discoverer
in English geology, and especially for his being the first in this
country to discover and to teach the identification of strata, and
to determine their succession by means of their imbedded fossils."
William Smith, in his simple, earnest way, gained for himself a
name as lasting as the science he loved so well. To use the words
of the writer above quoted, "Till the manner as well as the fact of
the first appearance of successive forms of life shall be solved,
it is not easy to surmise how any discovery can be made in geology
equal in value to that which we owe to the genius of William

Hugh Miller was a man of like observant faculties, who studied
literature as well as science with zeal and success. The book in
which he has told the story of his life, ('My Schools and
Schoolmasters'), is extremely interesting, and calculated to be
eminently useful. It is the history of the formation of a truly
noble character in the humblest condition of life; and inculcates
most powerfully the lessons of self-help, self-respect, and self-
dependence. While Hugh was but a child, his father, who was a
sailor, was drowned at sea, and he was brought up by his widowed
mother. He had a school training after a sort, but his best
teachers were the boys with whom he played, the men amongst whom he
worked, the friends and relatives with whom he lived. He read much
and miscellaneously, and picked up odd sorts of knowledge from many
quarters,--from workmen, carpenters, fishermen and sailors, and
above all, from the old boulders strewed along the shores of the
Cromarty Frith. With a big hammer which had belonged to his great-
grandfather, an old buccaneer, the boy went about chipping the
stones, and accumulating specimens of mica, porphyry, garnet, and
such like. Sometimes he had a day in the woods, and there, too,
the boy's attention was excited by the peculiar geological
curiosities which came in his way. While searching among the rocks
on the beach, he was sometimes asked, in irony, by the farm
servants who came to load their carts with sea-weed, whether he
"was gettin' siller in the stanes," but was so unlucky as never to
be able to answer in the affirmative. When of a suitable age he
was apprenticed to the trade of his choice--that of a working
stonemason; and he began his labouring career in a quarry looking
out upon the Cromarty Frith. This quarry proved one of his best
schools. The remarkable geological formations which it displayed
awakened his curiosity. The bar of deep-red stone beneath, and the
bar of pale-red clay above, were noted by the young quarryman, who
even in such unpromising subjects found matter for observation and
reflection. Where other men saw nothing, he detected analogies,
differences, and peculiarities, which set him a-thinking. He
simply kept his eyes and his mind open; was sober, diligent, and
persevering; and this was the secret of his intellectual growth.

His curiosity was excited and kept alive by the curious organic
remains, principally of old and extinct species of fishes, ferns,
and ammonites, which were revealed along the coast by the washings
of the waves, or were exposed by the stroke of his mason's hammer.
He never lost sight of the subject; but went on accumulating
observations and comparing formations, until at length, many years
afterwards, when no longer a working mason, he gave to the world
his highly interesting work on the Old Red Sandstone, which at once
established his reputation as a scientific geologist. But this
work was the fruit of long years of patient observation and
research. As he modestly states in his autobiography, "the only
merit to which I lay claim in the case is that of patient research-
-a merit in which whoever wills may rival or surpass me; and this
humble faculty of patience, when rightly developed, may lead to
more extraordinary developments of idea than even genius itself."

The late John Brown, the eminent English geologist, was, like
Miller, a stonemason in his early life, serving an apprenticeship
to the trade at Colchester, and afterwards working as a journeyman
mason at Norwich. He began business as a builder on his own
account at Colchester, where by frugality and industry he secured a
competency. It was while working at his trade that his attention
was first drawn to the study of fossils and shells; and he
proceeded to make a collection of them, which afterwards grew into
one of the finest in England. His researches along the coasts of
Essex, Kent, and Sussex brought to light some magnificent remains
of the elephant and rhinoceros, the most valuable of which were
presented by him to the British Museum. During the last few years
of his life he devoted considerable attention to the study of the
Foraminifera in chalk, respecting which he made several interesting
discoveries. His life was useful, happy, and honoured; and he died
at Stanway, in Essex, in November 1859, at the ripe age of eighty

Not long ago, Sir Roderick Murchison discovered at Thurso, in the
far north of Scotland, a profound geologist, in the person of a
baker there, named Robert Dick. When Sir Roderick called upon him
at the bakehouse in which he baked and earned his bread, Robert
Dick delineated to him, by means of flour upon the board, the
geographical features and geological phenomena of his native
county, pointing out the imperfections in the existing maps, which
he had ascertained by travelling over the country in his leisure
hours. On further inquiry, Sir Roderick ascertained that the
humble individual before him was not only a capital baker and
geologist, but a first-rate botanist. "I found," said the
President of the Geographical Society, "to my great humiliation
that the baker knew infinitely more of botanical science, ay, ten
times more, than I did; and that there were only some twenty or
thirty specimens of flowers which he had not collected. Some he
had obtained as presents, some he had purchased, but the greater
portion had been accumulated by his industry, in his native county
of Caithness; and the specimens were all arranged in the most
beautiful order, with their scientific names affixed."

Sir Roderick Murchison himself is an illustrious follower of these
and kindred branches of science. A writer in the 'Quarterly
Review' cites him as a "singular instance of a man who, having
passed the early part of his life as a soldier, never having had
the advantage, or disadvantage as the case might have been, of a
scientific training, instead of remaining a fox-hunting country
gentleman, has succeeded by his own native vigour and sagacity,
untiring industry and zeal, in making for himself a scientific
reputation that is as wide as it is likely to be lasting. He took
first of all an unexplored and difficult district at home, and, by
the labour of many years, examined its rock-formations, classed
them in natural groups, assigned to each its characteristic
assemblage of fossils, and was the first to decipher two great
chapters in the world's geological history, which must always
henceforth carry his name on their title-page. Not only so, but he
applied the knowledge thus acquired to the dissection of large
districts, both at home and abroad, so as to become the geological
discoverer of great countries which had formerly been 'terrae
incognitae.'" But Sir Roderick Murchison is not merely a
geologist. His indefatigable labours in many branches of knowledge
have contributed to render him among the most accomplished and
complete of scientific men.


"If what shone afar so grand,
Turn to nothing in thy hand,
On again; the virtue lies
In struggle, not the prize."--R. M. Milnes.

"Excelle, et tu vivras."--Joubert.

Excellence in art, as in everything else, can only be achieved by
dint of painstaking labour.

There is nothing less accidental than the painting of a fine
picture or the chiselling of a noble statue. Every skilled touch
of the artist's brush or chisel, though guided by genius, is the
product of unremitting study.

Sir Joshua Reynolds was such a believer in the force of industry,
that he held that artistic excellence, "however expressed by
genius, taste, or the gift of heaven, may be acquired." Writing to
Barry he said, "Whoever is resolved to excel in painting, or indeed
any other art, must bring all his mind to bear upon that one object
from the moment that he rises till he goes to bed." And on another
occasion he said, "Those who are resolved to excel must go to their
work, willing or unwilling, morning, noon, and night: they will
find it no play, but very hard labour." But although diligent
application is no doubt absolutely necessary for the achievement of
the highest distinction in art, it is equally true that without the
inborn genius, no amount of mere industry, however well applied,
will make an artist. The gift comes by nature, but is perfected by
self-culture, which is of more avail than all the imparted
education of the schools.

Some of the greatest artists have had to force their way upward in
the face of poverty and manifold obstructions. Illustrious
instances will at once flash upon the reader's mind. Claude
Lorraine, the pastrycook; Tintoretto, the dyer; the two
Caravaggios, the one a colour-grinder, the other a mortar-carrier
at the Vatican; Salvator Rosa, the associate of bandits; Giotto,
the peasant boy; Zingaro, the gipsy; Cavedone, turned out of doors
to beg by his father; Canova, the stone-cutter; these, and many
other well-known artists, succeeded in achieving distinction by
severe study and labour, under circumstances the most adverse.

Nor have the most distinguished artists of our own country been
born in a position of life more than ordinarily favourable to the
culture of artistic genius. Gainsborough and Bacon were the sons
of cloth-workers; Barry was an Irish sailor boy, and Maclise a
banker's apprentice at Cork; Opie and Romney, like Inigo Jones,
were carpenters; West was the son of a small Quaker farmer in
Pennsylvania; Northcote was a watchmaker, Jackson a tailor, and
Etty a printer; Reynolds, Wilson, and Wilkie, were the sons of
clergymen; Lawrence was the son of a publican, and Turner of a
barber. Several of our painters, it is true, originally had some
connection with art, though in a very humble way,--such as Flaxman,
whose father sold plaster casts; Bird, who ornamented tea-trays;
Martin, who was a coach-painter; Wright and Gilpin, who were ship-
painters; Chantrey, who was a carver and gilder; and David Cox,
Stanfield, and Roberts, who were scene-painters.

It was not by luck or accident that these men achieved distinction,
but by sheer industry and hard work. Though some achieved wealth,
yet this was rarely, if ever, the ruling motive. Indeed, no mere
love of money could sustain the efforts of the artist in his early
career of self-denial and application. The pleasure of the pursuit
has always been its best reward; the wealth which followed but an
accident. Many noble-minded artists have preferred following the
bent of their genius, to chaffering with the public for terms.
Spagnoletto verified in his life the beautiful fiction of Xenophon,
and after he had acquired the means of luxury, preferred
withdrawing himself from their influence, and voluntarily returned
to poverty and labour. When Michael Angelo was asked his opinion
respecting a work which a painter had taken great pains to exhibit
for profit, he said, "I think that he will be a poor fellow so long
as he shows such an extreme eagerness to become rich."

Like Sir Joshua Reynolds, Michael Angelo was a great believer in
the force of labour; and he held that there was nothing which the
imagination conceived, that could not be embodied in marble, if the
hand were made vigorously to obey the mind. He was himself one of
the most indefatigable of workers; and he attributed his power of
studying for a greater number of hours than most of his
contemporaries, to his spare habits of living. A little bread and
wine was all he required for the chief part of the day when
employed at his work; and very frequently he rose in the middle of
the night to resume his labours. On these occasions, it was his
practice to fix the candle, by the light of which he chiselled, on
the summit of a paste-board cap which he wore. Sometimes he was
too wearied to undress, and he slept in his clothes, ready to
spring to his work so soon as refreshed by sleep. He had a
favourite device of an old man in a go-cart, with an hour-glass
upon it bearing the inscription, Ancora imparo! Still I am

Titian, also, was an indefatigable worker. His celebrated "Pietro
Martire" was eight years in hand, and his "Last Supper" seven. In
his letter to Charles V. he said, "I send your Majesty the 'Last
Supper' after working at it almost daily for seven years--dopo
sette anni lavorandovi quasi continuamente." Few think of the
patient labour and long training involved in the greatest works of
the artist. They seem easy and quickly accomplished, yet with how
great difficulty has this ease been acquired. "You charge me fifty
sequins," said the Venetian nobleman to the sculptor, "for a bust
that cost you only ten days' labour." "You forget," said the
artist, "that I have been thirty years learning to make that bust
in ten days." Once when Domenichino was blamed for his slowness in
finishing a picture which was bespoken, he made answer, "I am
continually painting it within myself." It was eminently
characteristic of the industry of the late Sir Augustus Callcott,
that he made not fewer than forty separate sketches in the
composition of his famous picture of "Rochester." This constant
repetition is one of the main conditions of success in art, as in
life itself.

No matter how generous nature has been in bestowing the gift of
genius, the pursuit of art is nevertheless a long and continuous
labour. Many artists have been precocious, but without diligence
their precocity would have come to nothing. The anecdote related
of West is well known. When only seven years old, struck with the
beauty of the sleeping infant of his eldest sister whilst watching
by its cradle, he ran to seek some paper and forthwith drew its
portrait in red and black ink. The little incident revealed the
artist in him, and it was found impossible to draw him from his
bent. West might have been a greater painter, had he not been
injured by too early success: his fame, though great, was not
purchased by study, trials, and difficulties, and it has not been

Richard Wilson, when a mere child, indulged himself with tracing
figures of men and animals on the walls of his father's house, with
a burnt stick. He first directed his attention to portrait
painting; but when in Italy, calling one day at the house of
Zucarelli, and growing weary with waiting, he began painting the
scene on which his friend's chamber window looked. When Zucarelli
arrived, he was so charmed with the picture, that he asked if
Wilson had not studied landscape, to which he replied that he had
not. "Then, I advise you," said the other, "to try; for you are
sure of great success." Wilson adopted the advice, studied and
worked hard, and became our first great English landscape painter.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, when a boy, forgot his lessons, and took
pleasure only in drawing, for which his father was accustomed to
rebuke him. The boy was destined for the profession of physic, but
his strong instinct for art could not be repressed, and he became a
painter. Gainsborough went sketching, when a schoolboy, in the
woods of Sudbury; and at twelve he was a confirmed artist: he was
a keen observer and a hard worker,--no picturesque feature of any
scene he had once looked upon, escaping his diligent pencil.
William Blake, a hosier's son, employed himself in drawing designs
on the backs of his father's shop-bills, and making sketches on the
counter. Edward Bird, when a child only three or four years old,
would mount a chair and draw figures on the walls, which he called
French and English soldiers. A box of colours was purchased for
him, and his father, desirous of turning his love of art to
account, put him apprentice to a maker of tea-trays! Out of this
trade he gradually raised himself, by study and labour, to the rank
of a Royal Academician.

Hogarth, though a very dull boy at his lessons, took pleasure in
making drawings of the letters of the alphabet, and his school
exercises were more remarkable for the ornaments with which he
embellished them, than for the matter of the exercises themselves.
In the latter respect he was beaten by all the blockheads of the
school, but in his adornments he stood alone. His father put him
apprentice to a silversmith, where he learnt to draw, and also to
engrave spoons and forks with crests and ciphers. From silver-
chasing, he went on to teach himself engraving on copper,
principally griffins and monsters of heraldry, in the course of
which practice he became ambitious to delineate the varieties of
human character. The singular excellence which he reached in this
art, was mainly the result of careful observation and study. He
had the gift, which he sedulously cultivated, of committing to
memory the precise features of any remarkable face, and afterwards
reproducing them on paper; but if any singularly fantastic form or
outre face came in his way, he would make a sketch of it on the
spot, upon his thumb-nail, and carry it home to expand at his
leisure. Everything fantastical and original had a powerful
attraction for him, and he wandered into many out-of-the-way places
for the purpose of meeting with character. By this careful storing
of his mind, he was afterwards enabled to crowd an immense amount
of thought and treasured observation into his works. Hence it is
that Hogarth's pictures are so truthful a memorial of the
character, the manners, and even the very thoughts of the times in
which he lived. True painting, he himself observed, can only be
learnt in one school, and that is kept by Nature. But he was not a
highly cultivated man, except in his own walk. His school
education had been of the slenderest kind, scarcely even perfecting
him in the art of spelling; his self-culture did the rest. For a
long time he was in very straitened circumstances, but nevertheless
worked on with a cheerful heart. Poor though he was, he contrived
to live within his small means, and he boasted, with becoming
pride, that he was "a punctual paymaster." When he had conquered
all his difficulties and become a famous and thriving man, he loved
to dwell upon his early labours and privations, and to fight over
again the battle which ended so honourably to him as a man and so
gloriously as an artist. "I remember the time," said he on one
occasion, "when I have gone moping into the city with scarce a
shilling, but as soon as I have received ten guineas there for a
plate, I have returned home, put on my sword, and sallied out with
all the confidence of a man who had thousands in his pockets."

"Industry and perseverance" was the motto of the sculptor Banks,
which he acted on himself, and strongly recommended to others. His
well-known kindness induced many aspiring youths to call upon him
and ask for his advice and assistance; and it is related that one
day a boy called at his door to see him with this object, but the
servant, angry at the loud knock he had given, scolded him, and was
about sending him away, when Banks overhearing her, himself went
out. The little boy stood at the door with some drawings in his
hand. "What do you want with me?" asked the sculptor. "I want,
sir, if you please, to be admitted to draw at the Academy." Banks
explained that he himself could not procure his admission, but he
asked to look at the boy's drawings. Examining them, he said,
"Time enough for the Academy, my little man! go home--mind your
schooling--try to make a better drawing of the Apollo--and in a
month come again and let me see it." The boy went home--sketched
and worked with redoubled diligence--and, at the end of the month,
called again on the sculptor. The drawing was better; but again
Banks sent him back, with good advice, to work and study. In a
week the boy was again at his door, his drawing much improved; and
Banks bid him be of good cheer, for if spared he would distinguish
himself. The boy was Mulready; and the sculptor's augury was amply

The fame of Claude Lorraine is partly explained by his
indefatigable industry. Born at Champagne, in Lorraine, of poor
parents, he was first apprenticed to a pastrycook. His brother,
who was a wood-carver, afterwards took him into his shop to learn
that trade. Having there shown indications of artistic skill, a
travelling dealer persuaded the brother to allow Claude to
accompany him to Italy. He assented, and the young man reached
Rome, where he was shortly after engaged by Agostino Tassi, the
landscape painter, as his house-servant. In that capacity Claude
first learnt landscape painting, and in course of time he began to
produce pictures. We next find him making the tour of Italy,
France, and Germany, occasionally resting by the way to paint
landscapes, and thereby replenish his purse. On returning to Rome
he found an increasing demand for his works, and his reputation at
length became European. He was unwearied in the study of nature in
her various aspects. It was his practice to spend a great part of
his time in closely copying buildings, bits of ground, trees,
leaves, and such like, which he finished in detail, keeping the
drawings by him in store for the purpose of introducing them in his
studied landscapes. He also gave close attention to the sky,
watching it for whole days from morning till night, and noting the
various changes occasioned by the passing clouds and the increasing
and waning light. By this constant practice he acquired, although
it is said very slowly, such a mastery of hand and eye as
eventually secured for him the first rank among landscape painters.

Turner, who has been styled "the English Claude," pursued a career
of like laborious industry. He was destined by his father for his
own trade of a barber, which he carried on in London, until one day
the sketch which the boy had made of a coat of arms on a silver
salver having attracted the notice of a customer whom his father
was shaving, the latter was urged to allow his son to follow his
bias, and he was eventually permitted to follow art as a
profession. Like all young artists, Turner had many difficulties
to encounter, and they were all the greater that his circumstances
were so straitened. But he was always willing to work, and to take
pains with his work, no matter how humble it might be. He was glad
to hire himself out at half-a-crown a night to wash in skies in
Indian ink upon other people's drawings, getting his supper into
the bargain. Thus he earned money and acquired expertness. Then
he took to illustrating guide-books, almanacs, and any sort of
books that wanted cheap frontispieces. "What could I have done
better?" said he afterwards; "it was first-rate practice." He did
everything carefully and conscientiously, never slurring over his
work because he was ill-remunerated for it. He aimed at learning
as well as living; always doing his best, and never leaving a
drawing without having made a step in advance upon his previous
work. A man who thus laboured was sure to do much; and his growth
in power and grasp of thought was, to use Ruskin's words, "as
steady as the increasing light of sunrise." But Turner's genius
needs no panegyric; his best monument is the noble gallery of
pictures bequeathed by him to the nation, which will ever be the
most lasting memorial of his fame.

To reach Rome, the capital of the fine arts, is usually the highest
ambition of the art student. But the journey to Rome is costly,
and the student is often poor. With a will resolute to overcome
difficulties, Rome may however at last be reached. Thus Francois
Perrier, an early French painter, in his eager desire to visit the
Eternal City, consented to act as guide to a blind vagrant. After
long wanderings he reached the Vatican, studied and became famous.
Not less enthusiasm was displayed by Jacques Callot in his
determination to visit Rome. Though opposed by his father in his
wish to be an artist, the boy would not be baulked, but fled from
home to make his way to Italy. Having set out without means, he
was soon reduced to great straits; but falling in with a band of
gipsies, he joined their company, and wandered about with them from
one fair to another, sharing in their numerous adventures. During
this remarkable journey Callot picked up much of that extraordinary
knowledge of figure, feature, and character which he afterwards
reproduced, sometimes in such exaggerated forms, in his wonderful

When Callot at length reached Florence, a gentleman, pleased with
his ingenious ardour, placed him with an artist to study; but he
was not satisfied to stop short of Rome, and we find him shortly on
his way thither. At Rome he made the acquaintance of Porigi and
Thomassin, who, on seeing his crayon sketches, predicted for him a
brilliant career as an artist. But a friend of Callot's family
having accidentally encountered him, took steps to compel the
fugitive to return home. By this time he had acquired such a love
of wandering that he could not rest; so he ran away a second time,
and a second time he was brought back by his elder brother, who
caught him at Turin. At last the father, seeing resistance was in
vain, gave his reluctant consent to Callot's prosecuting his
studies at Rome. Thither he went accordingly; and this time he
remained, diligently studying design and engraving for several
years, under competent masters. On his way back to France, he was
encouraged by Cosmo II. to remain at Florence, where he studied and
worked for several years more. On the death of his patron he
returned to his family at Nancy, where, by the use of his burin and
needle, he shortly acquired both wealth and fame. When Nancy was
taken by siege during the civil wars, Callot was requested by
Richelieu to make a design and engraving of the event, but the
artist would not commemorate the disaster which had befallen his
native place, and he refused point-blank. Richelieu could not
shake his resolution, and threw him into prison. There Callot met
with some of his old friends the gipsies, who had relieved his
wants on his first journey to Rome. When Louis XIII. heard of his
imprisonment, he not only released him, but offered to grant him
any favour he might ask. Callot immediately requested that his old
companions, the gipsies, might be set free and permitted to beg in
Paris without molestation. This odd request was granted on
condition that Callot should engrave their portraits, and hence his
curious book of engravings entitled "The Beggars." Louis is said
to have offered Callot a pension of 3000 livres provided he would
not leave Paris; but the artist was now too much of a Bohemian, and
prized his liberty too highly to permit him to accept it; and he
returned to Nancy, where he worked till his death. His industry
may be inferred from the number of his engravings and etchings, of
which he left not fewer than 1600. He was especially fond of
grotesque subjects, which he treated with great skill; his free
etchings, touched with the graver, being executed with especial
delicacy and wonderful minuteness.

Still more romantic and adventurous was the career of Benvenuto
Cellini, the marvellous gold worker, painter, sculptor, engraver,
engineer, and author. His life, as told by himself, is one of the
most extraordinary autobiographies ever written. Giovanni Cellini,
his father, was one of the Court musicians to Lorenzo de Medici at
Florence; and his highest ambition concerning his son Benvenuto was
that he should become an expert player on the flute. But Giovanni
having lost his appointment, found it necessary to send his son to
learn some trade, and he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. The boy
had already displayed a love of drawing and of art; and, applying
himself to his business, he soon became a dexterous workman.
Having got mixed up in a quarrel with some of the townspeople, he
was banished for six months, during which period he worked with a
goldsmith at Sienna, gaining further experience in jewellery and

His father still insisting on his becoming a flute-player,
Benvenuto continued to practise on the instrument, though he
detested it. His chief pleasure was in art, which he pursued with
enthusiasm. Returning to Florence, he carefully studied the
designs of Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo; and, still further
to improve himself in gold-working, he went on foot to Rome, where
he met with a variety of adventures. He returned to Florence with
the reputation of being a most expert worker in the precious
metals, and his skill was soon in great request. But being of an
irascible temper, he was constantly getting into scrapes, and was
frequently under the necessity of flying for his life. Thus he
fled from Florence in the disguise of a friar, again taking refuge
at Sienna, and afterwards at Rome.

During his second residence in Rome, Cellini met with extensive
patronage, and he was taken into the Pope's service in the double
capacity of goldsmith and musician. He was constantly studying and
improving himself by acquaintance with the works of the best
masters. He mounted jewels, finished enamels, engraved seals, and
designed and executed works in gold, silver, and bronze, in such a
style as to excel all other artists. Whenever he heard of a
goldsmith who was famous in any particular branch, he immediately
determined to surpass him. Thus it was that he rivalled the medals
of one, the enamels of another, and the jewellery of a third; in
fact, there was not a branch of his business that he did not feel
impelled to excel in.

Working in this spirit, it is not so wonderful that Cellini should
have been able to accomplish so much. He was a man of
indefatigable activity, and was constantly on the move. At one
time we find him at Florence, at another at Rome; then he is at
Mantua, at Rome, at Naples, and back to Florence again; then at
Venice, and in Paris, making all his long journeys on horseback.
He could not carry much luggage with him; so, wherever he went, he
usually began by making his own tools. He not only designed his
works, but executed them himself,--hammered and carved, and cast
and shaped them with his own hands. Indeed, his works have the
impress of genius so clearly stamped upon them, that they could
never have been designed by one person, and executed by another.
The humblest article--a buckle for a lady's girdle, a seal, a
locket, a brooch, a ring, or a button--became in his hands a
beautiful work of art.

Cellini was remarkable for his readiness and dexterity in
handicraft. One day a surgeon entered the shop of Raffaello del
Moro, the goldsmith, to perform an operation on his daughter's
hand. On looking at the surgeon's instruments, Cellini, who was
present, found them rude and clumsy, as they usually were in those
days, and he asked the surgeon to proceed no further with the
operation for a quarter of an hour. He then ran to his shop, and
taking a piece of the finest steel, wrought out of it a beautifully
finished knife, with which the operation was successfully

Among the statues executed by Cellini, the most important are the
silver figure of Jupiter, executed at Paris for Francis I., and the
Perseus, executed in bronze for the Grand Duke Cosmo of Florence.
He also executed statues in marble of Apollo, Hyacinthus,
Narcissus, and Neptune. The extraordinary incidents connected with
the casting of the Perseus were peculiarly illustrative of the
remarkable character of the man.

The Grand Duke having expressed a decided opinion that the model,
when shown to him in wax, could not possibly be cast in bronze,
Cellini was immediately stimulated by the predicted impossibility,
not only to attempt, but to do it. He first made the clay model,
baked it, and covered it with wax, which he shaped into the perfect
form of a statue. Then coating the wax with a sort of earth, he
baked the second covering, during which the wax dissolved and
escaped, leaving the space between the two layers for the reception
of the metal. To avoid disturbance, the latter process was
conducted in a pit dug immediately under the furnace, from which
the liquid metal was to be introduced by pipes and apertures into
the mould prepared for it.

Cellini had purchased and laid in several loads of pine-wood, in
anticipation of the process of casting, which now began. The
furnace was filled with pieces of brass and bronze, and the fire
was lit. The resinous pine-wood was soon in such a furious blaze,
that the shop took fire, and part of the roof was burnt; while at
the same time the wind blowing and the rain filling on the furnace,
kept down the heat, and prevented the metals from melting. For
hours Cellini struggled to keep up the heat, continually throwing
in more wood, until at length he became so exhausted and ill, that
he feared he should die before the statue could be cast. He was
forced to leave to his assistants the pouring in of the metal when
melted, and betook himself to his bed. While those about him were
condoling with him in his distress, a workman suddenly entered the
room, lamenting that "Poor Benvenuto's work was irretrievably
spoiled!" On hearing this, Cellini immediately sprang from his bed
and rushed to the workshop, where he found the fire so much gone
down that the metal had again become hard.

Sending across to a neighbour for a load of young oak which had
been more than a year in drying, he soon had the fire blazing again
and the metal melting and glittering. The wind was, however, still
blowing with fury, and the rain falling heavily; so, to protect
himself, Cellini had some tables with pieces of tapestry and old
clothes brought to him, behind which he went on hurling the wood
into the furnace. A mass of pewter was thrown in upon the other
metal, and by stirring, sometimes with iron and sometimes with long
poles, the whole soon became completely melted. At this juncture,
when the trying moment was close at hand, a terrible noise as of a
thunderbolt was heard, and a glittering of fire flashed before
Cellini's eyes. The cover of the furnace had burst, and the metal
began to flow! Finding that it did not run with the proper
velocity, Cellini rushed into the kitchen, bore away every piece of
copper and pewter that it contained--some two hundred porringers,
dishes, and kettles of different kinds--and threw them into the
furnace. Then at length the metal flowed freely, and thus the
splendid statue of Perseus was cast.

The divine fury of genius in which Cellini rushed to his kitchen
and stripped it of its utensils for the purposes of his furnace,
will remind the reader of the like act of Pallissy in breaking up
his furniture for the purpose of baking his earthenware.
Excepting, however, in their enthusiasm, no two men could be less
alike in character. Cellini was an Ishmael against whom, according
to his own account, every man's hand was turned. But about his
extraordinary skill as a workman, and his genius as an artist,
there cannot be two opinions.

Much less turbulent was the career of Nicolas Poussin, a man as
pure and elevated in his ideas of art as he was in his daily life,
and distinguished alike for his vigour of intellect, his rectitude
of character, and his noble simplicity. He was born in a very
humble station, at Andeleys, near Rouen, where his father kept a
small school. The boy had the benefit of his parent's instruction,
such as it was, but of that he is said to have been somewhat
negligent, preferring to spend his time in covering his lesson-
books and his slate with drawings. A country painter, much pleased
with his sketches, besought his parents not to thwart him in his
tastes. The painter agreed to give Poussin lessons, and he soon
made such progress that his master had nothing more to teach him.
Becoming restless, and desirous of further improving himself,
Poussin, at the age of 18, set out for Paris, painting signboards
on his way for a maintenance.

At Paris a new world of art opened before him, exciting his wonder
and stimulating his emulation. He worked diligently in many
studios, drawing, copying, and painting pictures. After a time, he
resolved, if possible, to visit Rome, and set out on his journey;
but he only succeeded in getting as far as Florence, and again
returned to Paris. A second attempt which he made to reach Rome
was even less successful; for this time he only got as far as
Lyons. He was, nevertheless, careful to take advantage of all
opportunities for improvement which came in his way, and continued
as sedulous as before in studying and working.

Thus twelve years passed, years of obscurity and toil, of failures
and disappointments, and probably of privations. At length Poussin
succeeded in reaching Rome. There he diligently studied the old
masters, and especially the ancient statues, with whose perfection
he was greatly impressed. For some time he lived with the sculptor
Duquesnoi, as poor as himself, and assisted him in modelling
figures after the antique. With him he carefully measured some of
the most celebrated statues in Rome, more particularly the
'Antinous:' and it is supposed that this practice exercised
considerable influence on the formation of his future style. At
the same time he studied anatomy, practised drawing from the life,
and made a great store of sketches of postures and attitudes of
people whom he met, carefully reading at his leisure such standard
books on art as he could borrow from his friends.

During all this time he remained very poor, satisfied to be
continually improving himself. He was glad to sell his pictures
for whatever they would bring. One, of a prophet, he sold for
eight livres; and another, the 'Plague of the Philistines,' he sold
for 60 crowns--a picture afterwards bought by Cardinal de Richelieu
for a thousand. To add to his troubles, he was stricken by a cruel
malady, during the helplessness occasioned by which the Chevalier
del Posso assisted him with money. For this gentleman Poussin
afterwards painted the 'Rest in the Desert,' a fine picture, which
far more than repaid the advances made during his illness.

The brave man went on toiling and learning through suffering.
Still aiming at higher things, he went to Florence and Venice,
enlarging the range of his studies. The fruits of his
conscientious labour at length appeared in the series of great
pictures which he now began to produce,--his 'Death of Germanicus,'
followed by 'Extreme Unction,' the 'Testament of Eudamidas,' the
'Manna,' and the 'Abduction of the Sabines.'

The reputation of Poussin, however, grew but slowly. He was of a
retiring disposition and shunned society. People gave him credit
for being a thinker much more than a painter. When not actually
employed in painting, he took long solitary walks in the country,
meditating the designs of future pictures. One of his few friends
while at Rome was Claude Lorraine, with whom he spent many hours at
a time on the terrace of La Trinite-du-Mont, conversing about art
and antiquarianism. The monotony and the quiet of Rome were suited
to his taste, and, provided he could earn a moderate living by his
brush, he had no wish to leave it.

But his fame now extended beyond Rome, and repeated invitations
were sent him to return to Paris. He was offered the appointment
of principal painter to the King. At first he hesitated; quoted
the Italian proverb, Chi sta bene non si muove; said he had lived
fifteen years in Rome, married a wife there, and looked forward to
dying and being buried there. Urged again, he consented, and
returned to Paris. But his appearance there awakened much
professional jealousy, and he soon wished himself back in Rome
again. While in Paris he painted some of his greatest works--his
'Saint Xavier,' the 'Baptism,' and the 'Last Supper.' He was kept
constantly at work. At first he did whatever he was asked to do,
such as designing frontispieces for the royal books, more
particularly a Bible and a Virgil, cartoons for the Louvre, and
designs for tapestry; but at length he expostulated:- "It is
impossible for me," he said to M. de Chanteloup, "to work at the
same time at frontispieces for books, at a Virgin, at a picture of
the Congregation of St. Louis, at the various designs for the
gallery, and, finally, at designs for the royal tapestry. I have
only one pair of hands and a feeble head, and can neither be helped
nor can my labours be lightened by another."

Annoyed by the enemies his success had provoked and whom he was
unable to conciliate, he determined, at the end of less than two
years' labour in Paris, to return to Rome. Again settled there in
his humble dwelling on Mont Pincio, he employed himself diligently
in the practice of his art during the remaining years of his life,
living in great simplicity and privacy. Though suffering much from
the disease which afflicted him, he solaced himself by study,
always striving after excellence. "In growing old," he said, "I
feel myself becoming more and more inflamed with the desire of
surpassing myself and reaching the highest degree of perfection."
Thus toiling, struggling, and suffering, Poussin spent his later
years. He had no children; his wife died before him; all his
friends were gone: so that in his old age he was left absolutely
alone in Rome, so full of tombs, and died there in 1665,
bequeathing to his relatives at Andeleys the savings of his life,
amounting to about 1000 crowns; and leaving behind him, as a legacy
to his race, the great works of his genius.

The career of Ary Scheffer furnishes one of the best examples in
modern times of a like high-minded devotion to art. Born at
Dordrecht, the son of a German artist, he early manifested an
aptitude for drawing and painting, which his parents encouraged.
His father dying while he was still young, his mother resolved,
though her means were but small, to remove the family to Paris, in
order that her son might obtain the best opportunities for
instruction. There young Scheffer was placed with Guerin the
painter. But his mother's means were too limited to permit him to
devote himself exclusively to study. She had sold the few jewels
she possessed, and refused herself every indulgence, in order to
forward the instruction of her other children. Under such
circumstances, it was natural that Ary should wish to help her; and
by the time he was eighteen years of age he began to paint small
pictures of simple subjects, which met with a ready sale at
moderate prices. He also practised portrait painting, at the same
time gathering experience and earning honest money. He gradually
improved in drawing, colouring, and composition. The 'Baptism'
marked a new epoch in his career, and from that point he went on
advancing, until his fame culminated in his pictures illustrative
of 'Faust,' his 'Francisca de Rimini,' 'Christ the Consoler,' the
'Holy Women,' 'St. Monica and St. Augustin,' and many other noble

"The amount of labour, thought, and attention," says Mrs. Grote,
"which Scheffer brought to the production of the 'Francisca,' must
have been enormous. In truth, his technical education having been
so imperfect, he was forced to climb the steep of art by drawing
upon his own resources, and thus, whilst his hand was at work, his
mind was engaged in meditation. He had to try various processes of
handling, and experiments in colouring; to paint and repaint, with
tedious and unremitting assiduity. But Nature had endowed him with
that which proved in some sort an equivalent for shortcomings of a
professional kind. His own elevation of character, and his
profound sensibility, aided him in acting upon the feelings of
others through the medium of the pencil." {21}

One of the artists whom Scheffer most admired was Flaxman; and he
once said to a friend, "If I have unconsciously borrowed from any
one in the design of the 'Francisca,' it must have been from
something I had seen among Flaxman's drawings." John Flaxman was
the son of a humble seller of plaster casts in New Street, Covent
Garden. When a child, he was such an invalid that it was his
custom to sit behind his father's shop counter propped by pillows,
amusing himself with drawing and reading. A benevolent clergyman,
the Rev. Mr. Matthews, calling at the shop one day, saw the boy
trying to read a book, and on inquiring what it was, found it to be
a Cornelius Nepos, which his father had picked up for a few pence
at a bookstall. The gentleman, after some conversation with the
boy, said that was not the proper book for him to read, but that he
would bring him one. The next day he called with translations of
Homer and 'Don Quixote,' which the boy proceeded to read with great
avidity. His mind was soon filled with the heroism which breathed
through the pages of the former, and, with the stucco Ajaxes and
Achilleses about him, ranged along the shop shelves, the ambition
took possession of him, that he too would design and embody in
poetic forms those majestic heroes.

Like all youthful efforts, his first designs were crude. The proud
father one day showed some of them to Roubilliac the sculptor, who
turned from them with a contemptuous "pshaw!" But the boy had the
right stuff in him; he had industry and patience; and he continued
to labour incessantly at his books and drawings. He then tried his
young powers in modelling figures in plaster of Paris, wax, and
clay. Some of these early works are still preserved, not because
of their merit, but because they are curious as the first healthy
efforts of patient genius. It was long before the boy could walk,
and he only learnt to do so by hobbling along upon crutches. At
length he became strong enough to walk without them.

The kind Mr. Matthews invited him to his house, where his wife
explained Homer and Milton to him. They helped him also in his
self-culture--giving him lessons in Greek and Latin, the study of
which he prosecuted at home. By dint of patience and perseverance,
his drawing improved so much that he obtained a commission from a
lady, to execute six original drawings in black chalk of subjects
in Homer. His first commission! What an event in the artist's
life! A surgeon's first fee, a lawyer's first retainer, a
legislator's first speech, a singer's first appearance behind the
foot-lights, an author's first book, are not any of them more full
of interest to the aspirant for fame than the artist's first
commission. The boy at once proceeded to execute the order, and he
was both well praised and well paid for his work.

At fifteen Flaxman entered a pupil at the Royal Academy.
Notwithstanding his retiring disposition, he soon became known
among the students, and great things were expected of him. Nor
were their expectations disappointed: in his fifteenth year he
gained the silver prize, and next year he became a candidate for
the gold one. Everybody prophesied that he would carry off the
medal, for there was none who surpassed him in ability and
industry. Yet he lost it, and the gold medal was adjudged to a
pupil who was not afterwards heard of. This failure on the part of
the youth was really of service to him; for defeats do not long
cast down the resolute-hearted, but only serve to call forth their
real powers. "Give me time," said he to his father, "and I will
yet produce works that the Academy will be proud to recognise." He
redoubled his efforts, spared no pains, designed and modelled
incessantly, and made steady if not rapid progress. But meanwhile
poverty threatened his father's household; the plaster-cast trade
yielded a very bare living; and young Flaxman, with resolute self-
denial, curtailed his hours of study, and devoted himself to
helping his father in the humble details of his business. He laid
aside his Homer to take up the plaster-trowel. He was willing to
work in the humblest department of the trade so that his father's
family might be supported, and the wolf kept from the door. To
this drudgery of his art he served a long apprenticeship; but it
did him good. It familiarised him with steady work, and cultivated
in him the spirit of patience. The discipline may have been hard,
but it was wholesome.

Happily, young Flaxman's skill in design had reached the knowledge
of Josiah Wedgwood, who sought him out for the purpose of employing
him to design improved patterns of china and earthenware. It may
seem a humble department of art for such a genius as Flaxman to
work in; but it really was not so. An artist may be labouring
truly in his vocation while designing a common teapot or water-jug.
Articles in daily use amongst the people, which are before their
eyes at every meal, may be made the vehicles of education to all,
and minister to their highest culture. The most ambitious artist
way thus confer a greater practical benefit on his countrymen than
by executing an elaborate work which he may sell for thousands of
pounds to be placed in some wealthy man's gallery where it is
hidden away from public sight. Before Wedgwood's time the designs
which figured upon our china and stoneware were hideous both in
drawing and execution, and he determined to improve both. Flaxman
did his best to carry out the manufacturer's views. He supplied
him from time to time with models and designs of various pieces of
earthenware, the subjects of which were principally from ancient
verse and history. Many of them are still in existence, and some
are equal in beauty and simplicity to his after designs for marble.
The celebrated Etruscan vases, specimens of which were to be found
in public museums and in the cabinets of the curious, furnished him
with the best examples of form, and these he embellished with his
own elegant devices. Stuart's 'Athens,' then recently published,
furnished him with specimens of the purest-shaped Greek utensils;
of these he adopted the best, and worked them into new shapes of
elegance and beauty. Flaxman then saw that he was labouring in a
great work--no less than the promotion of popular education; and he
was proud, in after life, to allude to his early labours in this
walk, by which he was enabled at the same time to cultivate his
love of the beautiful, to diffuse a taste for art among the people,
and to replenish his own purse, while he promoted the prosperity of
his friend and benefactor.

At length, in the year 1782, when twenty-seven years of age, he
quitted his father's roof and rented a small house and studio in
Wardour Street, Soho; and what was more, he married--Ann Denman was
the name of his wife--and a cheerful, bright-souled, noble woman
she was. He believed that in marrying her he should be able to
work with an intenser spirit; for, like him, she had a taste for
poetry and art; and besides was an enthusiastic admirer of her
husband's genius. Yet when Sir Joshua Reynolds--himself a
bachelor--met Flaxman shortly after his marriage, he said to him,
"So, Flaxman, I am told you are married; if so, sir, I tell you you
are ruined for an artist." Flaxman went straight home, sat down
beside his wife, took her hand in his, and said, "Ann, I am ruined
for an artist." "How so, John? How has it happened? and who has
done it?" "It happened," he replied, "in the church, and Ann
Denman has done it." He then told her of Sir Joshua's remark--
whose opinion was well known, and had often been expressed, that if
students would excel they must bring the whole powers of their mind
to bear upon their art, from the moment they rose until they went
to bed; and also, that no man could be a GREAT artist unless he
studied the grand works of Raffaelle, Michael Angelo, and others,
at Rome and Florence. "And I," said Flaxman, drawing up his little
figure to its full height, "_I_ would be a great artist." "And a
great artist you shall be," said his wife, "and visit Rome too, if
that be really necessary to make you great." "But how?" asked
Flaxman. "WORK AND ECONOMISE," rejoined the brave wife; "I will
never have it said that Ann Denman ruined John Flaxman for an
artist." And so it was determined by the pair that the journey to
Rome was to be made when their means would admit. "I will go to
Rome," said Flaxman, "and show the President that wedlock is for a
man's good rather than his harm; and you, Ann, shall accompany me."

Patiently and happily the affectionate couple plodded on during
five years in their humble little home in Wardour Street, always
with the long journey to Rome before them. It was never lost sight
of for a moment, and not a penny was uselessly spent that could be
saved towards the necessary expenses. They said no word to any one
about their project; solicited no aid from the Academy; but trusted
only to their own patient labour and love to pursue and achieve
their object. During this time Flaxman exhibited very few works.
He could not afford marble to experiment in original designs; but
he obtained frequent commissions for monuments, by the profits of
which he maintained himself. He still worked for Wedgwood, who was
a prompt paymaster; and, on the whole, he was thriving, happy, and
hopeful. His local respectability was even such as to bring local
honours and local work upon him; for he was elected by the
ratepayers to collect the watch-rate for the Parish of St. Anne,
when he might be seen going about with an ink-bottle suspended from
his button-hole, collecting the money.

At length Flaxman and his wife having accumulated a sufficient
store of savings, set out for Rome. Arrived there, he applied
himself diligently to study, maintaining himself, like other poor
artists, by making copies from the antique. English visitors
sought his studio, and gave him commissions; and it was then that
he composed his beautiful designs illustrative of Homer, AEschylus,
and Dante. The price paid for them was moderate--only fifteen
shillings a-piece; but Flaxman worked for art as well as money; and
the beauty of the designs brought him other friends and patrons.
He executed Cupid and Aurora for the munificent Thomas Hope, and
the Fury of Athamas for the Earl of Bristol. He then prepared to
return to England, his taste improved and cultivated by careful
study; but before he left Italy, the Academies of Florence and
Carrara recognised his merit by electing him a member.

His fame had preceded him to London, where he soon found abundant
employment. While at Rome he had been commissioned to execute his
famous monument in memory of Lord Mansfield, and it was erected in
the north transept of Westminster Abbey shortly after his return.
It stands there in majestic grandeur, a monument to the genius of
Flaxman himself--calm, simple, and severe. No wonder that Banks,
the sculptor, then in the heyday of his fame, exclaimed when he saw
it, "This little man cuts us all out!"

When the members of the Royal Academy heard of Flaxman's return,
and especially when they had an opportunity of seeing and admiring
his portrait-statue of Mansfield, they were eager to have him
enrolled among their number. He allowed his name to be proposed in
the candidates' list of associates, and was immediately elected.
Shortly after, he appeared in an entirely new character. The
little boy who had begun his studies behind the plaster-cast-
seller's shop-counter in New Street, Covent Garden, was now a man
of high intellect and recognised supremacy in art, to instruct
students, in the character of Professor of Sculpture to the Royal
Academy! And no man better deserved to fill that distinguished
office; for none is so able to instruct others as he who, for
himself and by his own efforts, has learnt to grapple with and
overcome difficulties.

After a long, peaceful, and happy life, Flaxman found himself
growing old. The loss which he sustained by the death of his
affectionate wife Ann, was a severe shock to him; but he survived
her several years, during which he executed his celebrated "Shield
of Achilles," and his noble "Archangel Michael vanquishing Satan,"-
-perhaps his two greatest works.

Chantrey was a more robust man;--somewhat rough, but hearty in his
demeanour; proud of his successful struggle with the difficulties
which beset him in early life; and, above all, proud of his
independence. He was born a poor man's child, at Norton, near
Sheffield. His father dying when he was a mere boy, his mother
married again. Young Chantrey used to drive an ass laden with
milk-cans across its back into the neighbouring town of Sheffield,
and there serve his mother's customers with milk. Such was the
humble beginning of his industrial career; and it was by his own
strength that he rose from that position, and achieved the highest
eminence as an artist. Not taking kindly to his step-father, the
boy was sent to trade, and was first placed with a grocer in
Sheffield. The business was very distasteful to him; but, passing
a carver's shop window one day, his eye was attracted by the
glittering articles it contained, and, charmed with the idea of
being a carver, he begged to be released from the grocery business
with that object. His friends consented, and he was bound
apprentice to the carver and gilder for seven years. His new
master, besides being a carver in wood, was also a dealer in prints
and plaster models; and Chantrey at once set about imitating both,
studying with great industry and energy. All his spare hours were
devoted to drawing, modelling, and self-improvement, and he often
carried his labours far into the night. Before his apprenticeship
was out--at the ace of twenty-one--he paid over to his master the
whole wealth which he was able to muster--a sum of 50l.--to cancel
his indentures, determined to devote himself to the career of an
artist. He then made the best of his way to London, and with
characteristic good sense, sought employment as an assistant
carver, studying painting and modelling at his bye-hours. Among
the jobs on which he was first employed as a journeyman carver, was
the decoration of the dining-room of Mr. Rogers, the poet--a room
in which he was in after years a welcome visitor; and he usually
took pleasure in pointing out his early handywork to the guests
whom he met at his friend's table.

Returning to Sheffield on a professional visit, he advertised
himself in the local papers as a painter of portraits in crayons
and miniatures, and also in oil. For his first crayon portrait he
was paid a guinea by a cutler; and for a portrait in oil, a
confectioner paid him as much as 5l. and a pair of top boots!
Chantrey was soon in London again to study at the Royal Academy;
and next time he returned to Sheffield he advertised himself as
ready to model plaster busts of his townsmen, as well as paint
portraits of them. He was even selected to design a monument to a
deceased vicar of the town, and executed it to the general
satisfaction. When in London he used a room over a stable as a
studio, and there he modelled his first original work for
exhibition. It was a gigantic head of Satan. Towards the close of
Chantrey's life, a friend passing through his studio was struck by
this model lying in a corner. "That head," said the sculptor, "was
the first thing that I did after I came to London. I worked at it
in a garret with a paper cap on my head; and as I could then afford
only one candle, I stuck that one in my cap that it might move
along with me, and give me light whichever way I turned." Flaxman
saw and admired this head at the Academy Exhibition, and
recommended Chantrey for the execution of the busts of four
admirals, required for the Naval Asylum at Greenwich. This
commission led to others, and painting was given up. But for eight
years before, he had not earned 5l. by his modelling. His famous
head of Horne Tooke was such a success that, according to his own
account, it brought him commissions amounting to 12,000l.

Chantrey had now succeeded, but he had worked hard, and fairly
earned his good fortune. He was selected from amongst sixteen
competitors to execute the statue of George III. for the city of
London. A few years later, he produced the exquisite monument of
the Sleeping Children, now in Lichfield Cathedral,--a work of great
tenderness and beauty; and thenceforward his career was one of
increasing honour, fame, and prosperity. His patience, industry,
and steady perseverance were the means by which he achieved his
greatness. Nature endowed him with genius, and his sound sense
enabled him to employ the precious gift as a blessing. He was
prudent and shrewd, like the men amongst whom he was born; the
pocket-book which accompanied him on his Italian tour containing
mingled notes on art, records of daily expenses, and the current
prices of marble. His tastes were simple, and he made his finest
subjects great by the mere force of simplicity. His statue of
Watt, in Handsworth church, seems to us the very consummation of
art; yet it is perfectly artless and simple. His generosity to
brother artists in need was splendid, but quiet and unostentatious.
He left the principal part of his fortune to the Royal Academy for
the promotion of British art.

The same honest and persistent industry was throughout distinctive
of the career of David Wilkie. The son of a Scotch minister, he
gave early indications of an artistic turn; and though he was a
negligent and inapt scholar, he was a sedulous drawer of faces and
figures. A silent boy, he already displayed that quiet
concentrated energy of character which distinguished him through
life. He was always on the look-out for an opportunity to draw,--
and the walls of the manse, or the smooth sand by the river side,
were alike convenient for his purpose. Any sort of tool would
serve him; like Giotto, he found a pencil in a burnt stick, a
prepared canvas in any smooth stone, and the subject for a picture
in every ragged mendicant he met. When he visited a house, he
generally left his mark on the walls as an indication of his
presence, sometimes to the disgust of cleanly housewives. In
short, notwithstanding the aversion of his father, the minister, to
the "sinful" profession of painting, Wilkie's strong propensity was
not to be thwarted, and he became an artist, working his way
manfully up the steep of difficulty. Though rejected on his first
application as a candidate for admission to the Scottish Academy,
at Edinburgh, on account of the rudeness and inaccuracy of his
introductory specimens, he persevered in producing better, until he
was admitted. But his progress was slow. He applied himself
diligently to the drawing of the human figure, and held on with the
determination to succeed, as if with a resolute confidence in the
result. He displayed none of the eccentric humour and fitful
application of many youths who conceive themselves geniuses, but
kept up the routine of steady application to such an extent that he
himself was afterwards accustomed to attribute his success to his
dogged perseverance rather than to any higher innate power. "The
single element," he said, "in all the progressive movements of my
pencil was persevering industry." At Edinburgh he gained a few
premiums, thought of turning his attention to portrait painting,
with a view to its higher and more certain remuneration, but
eventually went boldly into the line in which he earned his fame,--
and painted his Pitlessie Fair. What was bolder still, he
determined to proceed to London, on account of its presenting so
much wider a field for study and work; and the poor Scotch lad
arrived in town, and painted his Village Politicians while living
in a humble lodging on eighteen shillings a week.

Notwithstanding the success of this picture, and the commissions
which followed it, Wilkie long continued poor. The prices which
his works realized were not great, for he bestowed upon them so
much time and labour, that his earnings continued comparatively
small for many years. Every picture was carefully studied and
elaborated beforehand; nothing was struck off at a heat; many
occupied him for years--touching, retouching, and improving them
until they finally passed out of his hands. As with Reynolds, his
motto was "Work! work! work!" and, like him, he expressed great
dislike for talking artists. Talkers may sow, but the silent reap.
"Let us be DOING something," was his oblique mode of rebuking the
loquacious and admonishing the idle. He once related to his friend
Constable that when he studied at the Scottish Academy, Graham, the
master of it, was accustomed to say to the students, in the words
of Reynolds, "If you have genius, industry will improve it; if you
have none, industry will supply its place." "So," said Wilkie, "I
was determined to be very industrious, for I knew I had no genius."
He also told Constable that when Linnell and Burnett, his fellow-
students in London, were talking about art, he always contrived to
get as close to them as he could to hear all they said, "for," said
he, "they know a great deal, and I know very little." This was
said with perfect sincerity, for Wilkie was habitually modest. One
of the first things that he did with the sum of thirty pounds which
he obtained from Lord Mansfield for his Village Politicians, was to
buy a present--of bonnets, shawls, and dresses--for his mother and
sister at home, though but little able to afford it at the time.
Wilkie's early poverty had trained him in habits of strict economy,
which were, however, consistent with a noble liberality, as appears
from sundry passages in the Autobiography of Abraham Raimbach the

William Etty was another notable instance of unflagging industry
and indomitable perseverance in art. His father was a ginger-bread
and spicemaker at York, and his mother--a woman of considerable
force and originality of character--was the daughter of a
ropemaker. The boy early displayed a love of drawing, covering
walls, floors, and tables with specimens of his skill; his first
crayon being a farthing's worth of chalk, and this giving place to
a piece of coal or a bit of charred stick. His mother, knowing
nothing of art, put the boy apprentice to a trade--that of a
printer. But in his leisure hours he went on with the practice of
drawing; and when his time was out he determined to follow his
bent--he would be a painter and nothing else. Fortunately his
uncle and elder brother were able and willing to help him on in his
new career, and they provided him with the means of entering as
pupil at the Royal Academy. We observe, from Leslie's
Autobiography, that Etty was looked upon by his fellow students as
a worthy but dull, plodding person, who would never distinguish
himself. But he had in him the divine faculty of work, and
diligently plodded his way upward to eminence in the highest walks
of art.

Many artists have had to encounter privations which have tried
their courage and endurance to the utmost before they succeeded.
What number may have sunk under them we can never know. Martin
encountered difficulties in the course of his career such as
perhaps fall to the lot of few. More than once he found himself on
the verge of starvation while engaged on his first great picture.
It is related of him that on one occasion he found himself reduced
to his last shilling--a BRIGHT shilling--which he had kept because
of its very brightness, but at length he found it necessary to
exchange it for bread. He went to a baker's shop, bought a loaf,
and was taking it away, when the baker snatched it from him, and
tossed back the shilling to the starving painter. The bright
shilling had failed him in his hour of need--it was a bad one!
Returning to his lodgings, he rummaged his trunk for some remaining
crust to satisfy his hunger. Upheld throughout by the victorious
power of enthusiasm, he pursued his design with unsubdued energy.
He had the courage to work on and to wait; and when, a few days
after, he found an opportunity to exhibit his picture, he was from
that time famous. Like many other great artists, his life proves
that, in despite of outward circumstances, genius, aided by
industry, will be its own protector, and that fame, though she
comes late, will never ultimately refuse her favours to real merit

The most careful discipline and training after academic methods
will fail in making an artist, unless he himself take an active
part in the work. Like every highly cultivated man, he must be
mainly self-educated. When Pugin, who was brought up in his
father's office, had learnt all that he could learn of architecture
according to the usual formulas, he still found that he had learned
but little; and that he must begin at the beginning, and pass
through the discipline of labour. Young Pugin accordingly hired
himself out as a common carpenter at Covent Garden Theatre--first
working under the stage, then behind the flys, then upon the stage
itself. He thus acquired a familiarity with work, and cultivated
an architectural taste, to which the diversity of the mechanical
employment about a large operatic establishment is peculiarly
favourable. When the theatre closed for the season, he worked a
sailing-ship between London and some of the French ports, carrying
on at the same time a profitable trade. At every opportunity he
would land and make drawings of any old building, and especially of
any ecclesiastical structure which fell in his way. Afterwards he
would make special journeys to the Continent for the same purpose,
and returned home laden with drawings. Thus he plodded and
laboured on, making sure of the excellence and distinction which he
eventually achieved.

A similar illustration of plodding industry in the same walk is
presented in the career of George Kemp, the architect of the
beautiful Scott Monument at Edinburgh. He was the son of a poor
shepherd, who pursued his calling on the southern slope of the
Pentland Hills. Amidst that pastoral solitude the boy had no
opportunity of enjoying the contemplation of works of art. It
happened, however, that in his tenth year he was sent on a message
to Roslin, by the farmer for whom his father herded sheep, and the
sight of the beautiful castle and chapel there seems to have made a
vivid and enduring impression on his mind. Probably to enable him
to indulge his love of architectural construction, the boy besought
his father to let him be a joiner; and he was accordingly put
apprentice to a neighbouring village carpenter. Having served his
time, he went to Galashiels to seek work. As he was plodding along
the valley of the Tweed with his tools upon his back, a carriage
overtook him near Elibank Tower; and the coachman, doubtless at the
suggestion of his master, who was seated inside, having asked the
youth how far he had to walk, and learning that he was on his way
to Galashiels, invited him to mount the box beside him, and thus to
ride thither. It turned out that the kindly gentleman inside was
no other than Sir Walter Scott, then travelling on his official
duty as Sheriff of Selkirkshire. Whilst working at Galashiels,
Kemp had frequent opportunities of visiting Melrose, Dryburgh, and
Jedburgh Abbeys, which he studied carefully. Inspired by his love
of architecture, he worked his way as a carpenter over the greater
part of the north of England, never omitting an opportunity of
inspecting and making sketches of any fine Gothic building. On one
occasion, when working in Lancashire, he walked fifty miles to
York, spent a week in carefully examining the Minster, and returned
in like manner on foot. We next find him in Glasgow, where he
remained four years, studying the fine cathedral there during his
spare time. He returned to England again, this time working his
way further south; studying Canterbury, Winchester, Tintern, and
other well-known structures. In 1824 he formed the design of
travelling over Europe with the same object, supporting himself by
his trade. Reaching Boulogne, he proceeded by Abbeville and
Beauvais to Paris, spending a few weeks making drawings and studies
at each place. His skill as a mechanic, and especially his
knowledge of mill-work, readily secured him employment wherever he
went; and he usually chose the site of his employment in the

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