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GEORGE FREDERICK WATTS                   173
up Ion, a very long blank-verse part, for three or four years, I once rehearsed it from beginning to end with hardly a slip, not having reread it during all that period.
About this time I began sittings to Mr. G. F. Watts, who had expressed a wish to paint my portrait. He is an admirable talker, and though it interrupted the work, I could never refrain from starting him on some congenial subject This naturally delayed the progress of the picture, which he worked at off and on for five years. Mr. Gladstone had warned me that it might be so; "for," said he, "Watts is one of the most captivating conversationalists as well as one of the most
charming characters I know." I soon found this praise was well deserved. The rare qualities of his mind, the breadth of his views on all subjects, the natural loftiness of his thoughts were as striking as his great simplicity, large-heartedness, and freedom from all prejudice and uncharitableness. I once spoke to him very critically of a painter then arousing considerable attention in London, whose conceptions were often horrible and his treatment of them morbid. Though he visited exhibitions very rarely, Mr. Watts made an expedition to the one in question. At our next meet-