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by the extreme simplicity of his early habits, by the advantages of education, by the improvement of fo. reign travel, and by the experience of the business and politics of his own country. To quickness of perception and ardor of feeling, he joined the mildest and most forbearing temper: cautious to decide--fearing to do wrong—and always leaning to kindness—he was bold, rigid, and immoveable in the performance of what he knew to be his duty. But to discover all the fund of knowledge and worth which his modesty concealed, and which he held, not for show, but for use, the relaxation of intimate friendship, or the call of his fellow citizens for his services, was necessary.
If this recollection of one of our most estimable ci. tizens be out of place, I shall be forgiven; for to the acceptance among you, which his friendship first gave to me, I owe the honour that I may here speak of him. But where the fine arts are named, the name of Samuel Fox cannot be out of place. Had this city been Athens, he would have been a Pericles, in whose character, no Aristophanes could have found aught to censure or to ridicule.
But if the arts have lost his influence, we have this consolation, that in our institutions there is a wide field for the growth and influence of similar talents and virtues. If they exist they will not remain hidden or powerless. Of this, the supply of this city with water, the bridge of Schuylkill, and many other public works which have risen around us, and are even now springing up in every direction, are the best proofs.
I have already detained you far beyond the right which
of instruction or entertainment give me. An attempt to remove the prejudices which oppose the establishment of the fine arts among us, appeared to me the most pressing duty of the orator of the Society of Artists. I have fulfilled but a small part of that duty. If it were necessary to do more, I could call up the spirit of commerce to aid me. I could en
. list in the cause of the fine arts-that embellish domestic happiness, that charm leisure, that grace generosity, and honour patriotism-I could enlist in their cause, the demons of cupidity, and of avarice. I could show that though they are instructive, faithful, and amusing friends, they may also be made profitable slaves. I could mention the names of Wedgewood, whose pots and pitchers, and cups and saucers, and plates, shaped and decorated by the fine arts, have thus received a passport into the remotest corners of the globe-of Boydell, whose engraved prints are spread
over and ornament the whole surface of the earth-of Bolton, and Watt, and of the smiths and founders of Birmingham, who, true sons of Vulcan, have rendered the fables of Homer, and the visits of the arts and the graces in the forges and furnaces of that sooty god, to assist in the design of the armour of the immortals, not only probable, but true. But I need not proceed further. The presence of this assembly shows that it is unnecessary, and its patronage will be more efficient than the most laboured oration.
To the artists and amateurs who compose this society it must be matter of infinite encouragement to
view the effect of their collected talents and industry in the exhibition now opened. The novelty of an exertion to bring together and to arrange the productions of art which cover the walls of the academy, must, necessarily, produce some imperfection, both in the collection and in the arrangement.
But without asking for any such allowance, have we not reason to be proud of our infant strength:--that it is considerable:--that among the numerous pictures and drawings, there are many which would not dishonour the walls of the London and Parisian galleries, is certain:--And in this is our superiority; that our strength is our own. It is not hotbedded by imperial and royal patronage, nor even by the nobility of wealth: it is the concentrated force of individual genius and industry, and of the encouragement of private and unproclaimed protection. That this effort of the fine arts may be countenanced by your visits and your approbation, I need not solicit. It is in
your power to make your own amusements the foundation of all the eminence to which the most sanguine of us expect to attain; and, as the fair part of this assembly once did in adopting the Grecian dress, to stamp with the sanction of fashion, that which good taste recommends. The success of the exhibition of this year will ensure to you an infinitely superior collection in the next, and not only stimulate the zeal of our artists, but inform them on the best method of accomplishing their object.
In beholding the harmony in which the productions of so many talents are arranged; in considering the general and united effect of all the pictures which cover the walls of the exhibition room, varying as they do in the merit, the manner, the colouring, and the subject of each; I could not help reverting to that moral and social harmony by which the artists of our country might so much improve each other. There is, indeed, in superior genius a gregarious principle, which naturally brings men of similar talents together. Those who are most susceptible of the beauties of truth and of nature, are also the most susceptible of affection. The enthusiast in art, cannot be cold in friendship, nor can any thing contribute more to mutual improvement and excellence, than that mutual esteem and confidence which embellishes the private associations of artists. Each honest advice, each friendly criticism, each communication of knowledge from one artist to another is a step, hand in hand, in the ascent to perfection. As our political independence was achieved by adherence to this motto, let our independence in the arts grow out of the conviction that, united we stand, divided we fall. I thank
you, fellow citizens, for the attention with which you have honoured me. Descended from the earliest European settlers in this state and this city; although the course of my business has for some years separated me from you for the greatest part of every year, I feel that my home is here: and if in my endea
I vours to exercise that branch of the arts which I
profess, I have been ever successful in your service, my pride and my reward is that of a patriot, who has devoted himself to his country.