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happinees, as that of society at large. He described the husbandman enjoying in the bosom of his family a peaceful independence, undisturbed by apprehensions of midnight surprize, plunder and assassination; and he finished by a solemn appeal to heaven that his sole motive for coming among them, was the love of the Creator and of his creatures.
As the good missionary closed his appeal, Red Jacket, a Seneca chief of great authority, and the most eloquent of all his nation, rose and enforced the exhortations of the venerable preach
He repeated his leading arguments, and with an eloquence truly astonishing in one like him, pleaded the cause of Religion and Humanity. The ancient council then deliberated for near the space of two hours; after which the oldest man arose, and solemnly pronounced the result of their conference, “ That the Christian God, was more wise, just, beneficent and powerful, than the Great Spirit, and that the missionary who delivered his precepts, ought to be cherished as their best benefactor-their guide to future happiness.”
When this decision was pronounced by the venerable old man, and acquiesced in by the people, the rage of the Prophet of Alleghany became terrible. He started from the ground, seized his tomahawk, and denouncing the speedy vengeance of the Great Spirit on their whole recreant race, darted from the circle, with wild impetuosity, and disappeared in the shadows of the forest.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF MR. JOSEPH WOOD.
THERE is perhaps no example, more useful than that of a man who has by the strength and vigour of his mind, surmounted every obstacle that opposed his success in honourable pursuits, and risen to distinction as it were in spite of fate. It serves to animate such as are labouring to overcome similar difficul
ties by showing them that, nothing is impossible to talents when guided by perseverance and animated by ardour, and that however forlorn may be the hope that cheers their rugged path, still there is a divinity in true genius, which sooner or later will inevitably lead to success. For want of this conviction many obscure and friendless men who might have gained distinction in the pursuits of science and literature, have after a few desperate struggles to overcome the disadvantages of their situation, sunk back into their original state, and died disappointed and unknown. The following little sketch will serve perhaps to encourage “ some bashful genius in his rural cell,” to come forth and try the strength of his arm in the lists of honourable fame.
Mr. Joseph Wood was born at Clarkstown, Orange county, in the state of Newyork, about the year 1778. His father was a respectable though not a wealthy farmer, and like most fathers of that most truly useful class, wished his son to follow the same avocation. At that period of comparative simplicity, it was not the fashion for the honest yeomanry of the counțry, to reserve one at least, of their hopeful sons, perhaps the dullest of them all, for a liberal profession, as it is called; and thus rob the state of a sturdy ploughman, or expert mower, to make a paltry pettifogging lawyer, or a miserable country practitioner in physic. That honest, downright, and clear sighted common sense which is the most valuable of all human qualities, taught thein to perceive, that the life of a farmer generally led to content and independence, and that while the country contained such vast quantities of unappropriated lands, it was a more useful occupation to sow turnips, than to sow dissentions, and that a man benefitted his country more by planting potatoes well, than by practising physic ill.
Under this view of things it is to be supposed that the son of a farmer generally followed the path of his father before him, and was for the most part content to live and die on the spot where he was born. Wood however, who had very early in life imbibed a love for that art, in one branch of which he has since attained such excellence, was determined to pursue the bent of his inclination at an all hazards. To those who are accustom
ed to inquire into the first causes which give a decided character to the mind and a permanent direction to its pursuits, it will not appear singular that in such a remote situation, where never painter was seen or scarcely heard of, Wood should have fallen in love with painting, when it is known that the country in which he passed his early days, is romantic and picturesque in an uncommon degree. It abounds in beautiful landscapes, and is remarkable for a happy combination of natural objects, rarely to be met with. While pursuing the usual employment of a farmer's boy his attention was often attracted by the windings of some solitary brook, the charms of some rich and varied landscape, or the bold and swelling outline of the distant highlands. His first attempts were to sketch rude initations with his pencil, for though circumstances afterwards led him to another branch of the art, his natural bias was towards landscape painting, sometimes he would steal away from his work to practise that vocation to which nature had so strongly directed him, and on these occasions his father used to cherish the most melancholy presages respecting his future fate. He would shake his head with much sagacity, and prophecy with a melancholy foreboding " that the boy would be ruined.” At such times too, with the very best intentions in the world, he would tear up his drawings, put his pencil under sequestration, and by virtue of his office as sheriff of the county, confine him for several hours in the steeple of the court house in which he resided. It will readily be perceived by those who have lived in the country, and observed the habits, reflections and opinions of our excellent yeomanry of those times, that this conduct of the honest old gentleman was perfectly natural. Among this class of the community, more virtuous and patriotic by far, yet not so much enlightened by an intercourse with the busy world, as the inhabitants of cities, industry is considered a cardinal virtue and manual labour the first of human employments. Exertion of mind therefore as it for the most part tends to inaction of body is highly unpopular, and there is little difference in their minds between the vacant ideot who sits in the sun all day in listless inanity, and he who employ's Himself in the labour of intense contemplation:
Wood however did not much mind being shut up in his steeple, because it commanded more extensive views of the surrounding country; but as he could not live forever upon landscape, and as the sheriff resolutely persisted in dispensing him nothing but duke Humphrey's fare, it became necessary at these times, to open a negociation in which it was always stipulated that he should give up his black lead pencil, mind his work, and forever abandon the wicked custom of lounging on the banks of the lake which lay at some little distance among the mountains. These truces did not last in general longer than those of the English and Scotish borderers, and very shortly after the ratification of the last agreement of this kind,
young offender was detected in the very act of sketching the outlines of one of those fine mountains, that threw its dark shadows into the middle of the forbidden lake. Such an open breach of the peace produced further hostilities, and Wood finally at the age of fifteen put himself under the care of the destinies, and trugged away to New-York, with his lead pencil, and six dollars in his pocket, to seek his fortune. His object was to find some situation in which he might improve himself in drawing.
Those who have had the happiness of being set adrift in the world in early life, to stem the tide of fortune, or yield to its force, as fate ordains, will be able to conceive the difficulties that lay in the way of our raw adventurer. Wherever he directed his applications, they met with disappointment, and often with insult. One recommended him to go home and improve himself in the noble art of sowing turnips, another to bind himself apprentice to some distinguished sign painter, while a third advised him by all means to go and hang himself. In short, every where his hopes were disappointed, his feelings insulted, and his perseverance was exercised in vain; for at the end of two years, during which time he supported himself by working in summer, and playing the violin in winter, he still remained without a friend to take him by the hand, or a hope to beckon him on to continue his pursuit. Walking one day along Broadway, indulging in some of those precious contemplations that spring from oft baffled expectations, and perseverance long exercised in vain, Wood was attracted by some miniature pictures in the
window of a silver-smith's shop. He went in and after some negociation, the master, who had some little knowledge of him, received him as an apprentice, and graciously allowed him to look at the pictures in the window when he had nothing else to do. While here, he accidentally hurt his left hand, and being incapable for a time of assisting in the business of the shop, was permitted to attempt a copy of one of the miniatures, which however were none of the best. This was the dawning of better days, for he succeeded, in this attempt so as not only to encourage his own hopes, but to excite well grounded expectations in others.
In this situation he continued some time longer occasionally stealing a few hours to devote to painting; when he had the good fortune to attract the notice of the late Mr. Malbone, an artist who not only excelled others in his art, but also in those excellent qualities that give a man a lasting place in the recollections of his friends. This gentleman was at that time considered as unquestionably the best miniature painter in this country; and as it is when a man feels himself above the danger of rivalry, that he is most apt to encourage merit in his own profession, he generously gave his assistance to a friendless adventurer, who possessed a claim to his regard in a congeniality of taste and genius. While he lived he was Wood's best friend, and when he died he left him an example in his life and a pattern in his works. By thus disciplining his genius in the school of so fine a master, and by unwearied assiduity in his profession, Wood became what he now is, the rightful successor of his excellent friend, and the first artist in his line, in the United States.
It is with great pleasure we add, that after having by the vi. gour and perseverance of his mind, overcame every obstacle that opposed his pursuit, Wood had the pleasure of seeing his aged father live to witness his success and to hear him retract his rash prophecy, “that the boy would be ruined.” He is now exercising his talents in Newyork without a rival, and with a clear prospect of that reputation and independence which ought ever to be the reward of genuis and industry, and which in the opinion of those who know him best, he merits by excellence in his art as well as by his unassuming manners and genuine worth.