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PORTRAIT OF CAPTAIN JAMES LAWRENCE, 03 THE UNITLD
The annexed portrait was already in the hands of our engraver when we discovered that it was practicable to obtain a more recent and faithful resemblance of this gallant officer. Unwilling, however, to withhold any memorial of a character which has so much of our own and the public esteem, we insert this likeness, reserving for a future number a more particular portrait, accompanied by a copious biography.
BIOGRAPHY-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
A BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR OF THE LATE GEORGE BEEX, ESQ.
It has been frequently observed that the rewards of men who deyote their lives to science and literature are seldom commensurate to their worth. Whether it be that the exquisite sensibility which is the concomitant of genius, prevented their seeking the emoluments which were conferred on inferior ta
lents, or that they relied too confidently on their own merits, the names of many illustrious men might be adduced, who have received from posterity that justice which was denied them by their contemporaries. The remark may be applied to every department of science, but it attaches with peculiar force to the graphic art; for the works of the greatest masters have rarely been appreciated, until the hand that executed them was mouldering in the grave, and the genius that inspired them had filed to the divine source whence it emanated.
GEORGE Beck was born at Ellford, an inconsiderable village of Staffordshire, in England, in the year 1750. His father was a respectable farmer, who had four children, of whom George was the youngest.
The early years of eminent men are always interesting; but their biographers too frequently notice incidents better suited to the ear of friendship than the eye of public criticism. To avoid a similar error, we forego the pleasure of reciting the prematúre development of those talents which distinguished the life of Mr. Beck. At the age of nine years he quitted the village school, having progressed as far as his master was qualified to teach him. He appears to have spent several years on his paternal farm; we cannot, however, suppose they were passed in idleness, nor wholly occupied in rustic pursuits; for at the age of nineteen he removed to Tamworth, where he for some time taught a respectable academy. In the year 1770 he determined to qualify himself for entering into orders, and pursued his studies with an assiduity that greatly impaired his health. But the versatility of his genius afforded him a happy resource, which, while it relieved his mind from abstruse studies, called forth a latent power, and gave birth to an artist whose works unquestionably rank him among the first landscape painters of
In the year 1776 the mathematical acquirements of Mr. Beck introduced him to the notice of the late marquis Townshend, who was at that time master-general of the ordnance. That nobleman was less distinguished by his elevated rank than by the 'munificent patronage he gave to men of genius and letters. Through his interest Mr. Beck was appointed to the mathemati
cal professorship in the royal academy at Woolwich: but at the time of the nomination Mr. Beck was absent on a visit to Emerson the mathematician, and being detained much longer than he expected, the appointment was transferred to another person. He was, however, placed in the corps of engineers, and promised another office as soon as a vacancy should occur. But change of ministry ensued, and the marquis Townshend was succeeded by the duke of Richmond, whose character is known to have been very opposite from that of his predecessor. Mr. Beck was now ordered from Plymouth, where he ranked as captain, to the drawing-room in the tower of London, where his powers were confined to the irksome employment of drawing plans and maps. To a mind so ardent and enthusiastic this drudgery would have been insupportable, had he not been solaced by the society of many distinguished artists and men of genius. At this period Mr. Beck became acquainted with a young lady, in whose accomplished mind he inspired a reciprocity of taste and sentiment, to whom he was, united in the year 1786.
In the year 1789 his declining health obliged him to resign his situation in the drawing-room of the tower. He then offered his services to the marchioness Townshend, to instruct her ladyship's daughters in drawing, which were accepted, and he continued in that occupation until the year 1791, when, on the death of Grose the antiquarian, who left unfinised his “ Antiquities of Ireland," he was requested by Mr. Hooper, the publisher, to continue the work. He gladly accepted the proposal, and resigning every other pursuit made his arrangements for that purpose, when Mr. Hooper was suddenly taken ill, and died.
In the following year Mr. Beck made a tour through the western counties of England and Wales. The picturesque and romantic scenery of that country presented a school worthy of his genius. It was there, perhaps, he imbibed the energy and grandeur that distinguish his peculiar style. His bosom glowed with enthusiasm while he contemplated the sublimity of Snow. don, of Plinlimmon, and of Cader Idris. He was a votary of Nature; and with a master-hand he transferred her mildest graces to his canyass. The spirited productions which were the result
of this tour, gained him many admirers, who suggested that in America he would find a theatre for the exercise of powers that might afterwards enrich his native country. Yielding to their solicitations be embarked for the United States, and landed af Norfolk in the year 1795. After a short residence in that city he visited Baltimore, where he received such flattering marks of approbation as induced him to send for his lady, and relinquish the design of an immediate return to England. He had not been long in this city when he received a visit from Mr. Hamilton of the Woodlands, a gentleman whose name is most honourably associated with the history of the fine arts in Ameri,
He was so much pleased with the works of Mr. Beck that he engaged him to paint views of his elegant villa, and when there, invited him to settle in Philadelphia. He accordingly repaired thither, accompanied by his lady, who soon after their arrival established a seminary for the education of young ladies, over which she presided with an assiduity that found its reward in seeing many of her pupils among the fairest ornaments of
During a residence of seven years in Philadelphia, Mr. Beck enjoyed the esteem of its most respectable inhabitants, and was happy in the acquaintance of Mr. Hamilton, from whom he received many proofs of friendship and respect: but having made a tour through the western states in the spring of 1804, he spent some time in Kentucky, where he was prevailed upon once more to change his residence, and soon after removed to Lexington. The remaining years of his life were varied by few incidents; for after his settlement is Kentucky, he seldom left his closet. He devoted a part of his time to mathematical pursuits. (for which he had always felt a predilection) and amused his leisure with music and chemical experiments: but he consecrated the greatest portion to poetry. He translated the Odes of Anacreon, several books of the Iliad, the Georgics, and a part of the Æneid of Virgil, with some of the Odes of Horace; besides composing many original and miscellaneous poems. Thus occupied in literary pursuits, he passed several years of tranquil retirement: but Fortune seems to have persecuted him from his infancy, or if she smiled it was only a transient gleam,