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be better to press forward along the pass, or recover by retreat his former station i he would consider likewise where his camp could most commodiously be formed; how much ground he should inclose within his trenches : where he should have the convenience of water, and where he might find plenty of wood and forage ; and when he should break
camp on the following day, through what road he could most safely pass,
and in what form he should dispose his troops. With such thoughts and disquisitions he had from his early years so exercised his mind, that on these occasions nothing could happen which he had not been already accustomed to consider.”
I cannot help imagining that I see a promising young painter, equally vigilant, whether at home, or abroad, in the streets, or in the fields. Every object that presents itself, is to him a lesson. He regards all Nature with a view to his profession; and combines her beauties, or corrects her defects.
He examines the countenance of men under the influence of passion ; and often catches the most pleasing hints from subjects of turbulence or deformity. Even bad pictures themselves supply him with useful documents ; and, as Lionardo da Vinci has observed, he improves upon the fanciful images that are sometimes seen in the fire, or are accidentally sketched upon a discoloured wall.
The Artist who has his mind thus filled with ideas, and his hand made expert by practice, works with ease and readiness ; whilst he who would have
believe that he is waiting for the inspirations of Genius, is in reality at a loss how to begin ; and is at last delivered of his monsters, with difficulty and pain.
The well-grounded painter, on the contrary, has only maturely to consider his subject, and all the mechanical parts of his art follow without his exertion. Conscious of the difficulty of obtaining what he possesses, he makes no pretensions to secrets, except those of closer application. Without conceiving the smallest jealousy against others, he is contented that all shall be as great as himself, who have undergone the same fatigue ; and as his pre-eminence depends not upon a trick, he is free from the painful suspicions of a juggler, who lives in perpetual fear lest his trick should be discovered.