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London : 

SpoTTiswooDES and Shaw, 






The principal additions made to this Edition are a 
paper (Appendix I.) on the indications of long-standing 
disease of brain afforded by post mortem examination of 
Haydon's head, — an additional letter of Wordsworth, 
at the end of the Third Volume, — some remarks by 
Mr. Watts on the question of the public employment 
of artists, — and a letter (also printed in Appendix I.) 
from Mr. Bewicke, Haydon's pupil and model for 
Lazarus, giving an interesting account of the painting 
of that picture. 

Besides these additions, many trifling errors have 
been corrected ; and some inaccuracies in Haydon's re- 
cording, referred to by the Quarterly Reviewer, arc 
noticed in foot-notes. An Index and Table of Con- 
tents have been also added. 

It would be superfluous here to express my satis- 
faction at the interest with which these Memoirs have 

A 2 

iv editor's preface to 

been received. This Is clearly due to the painful, 
but powerful, exhibition they contain of a brave, though 
vain, passionate and often erring man, struggling with 
the consequences, partly of evil times, mainly of per- 
sonal mistakes, misdoings and miscalculations, — and all 
these converging to a tragic end. 

I believe that good has resulted to the memory of the 
painter from giving to the world this Autobiography 
— for such it is. Some of the reviewers think other- 
wise, and attribute the publication to other and lower 
motives than a wish in Haydon's family to exhibit the 
beloved husband and father as he was, with all his 
strength, weakness, heroisms, vanities, triumphs, follies, 
disappointments, humiliations, joys and agonies. 

I think, for my part, that they consented to this 
publication in a loyal spirit of regard and reverence for 
the dead, believing that the study of his whole life, so 
shown, would leave behind a result of sympathy and 
regard far overbalancing the more transient Impressions 
of disapproval and disgust, while the lessons of the tale 
are unmlstakeable and of wide application. 

If I have contributed in any way to the favourable 
reception of the book by my manner of discharging my 
editorial duty, I confess it is a source of pleasure to me, 
the only one I have any right to look for. 

The balance of expressed opinion seems to be in favour 
of the way In which I have done my part of the work. 
Of course there are great differences of opinion as to the 


good or bad taste of my omissions and retentions in a 
work which does not profess to be an imprint of the 
MSS. out of which it has been made up. 

I do not intend to discuss any of the questions arising 
out of these differences of opinion, satisfied that the dis- 
cussion would be useless. After all, it is precisely in 
such points that an editor must exercise his own judg- 
ment; and, if he honestly satisfy that, his best course 
seems to me to " jowk and let the jaw gae by " before 
his critics in or out of print. 

Chiswick Lodge, 

Nov. 12. 1853. 

A S 




That part of my editorial remarks which may by 
many be thought the proper matter of a preface will 
be found at the end of these volumes instead of the 

Here I only wish to put my readers in the right 
point of view for judging the book. Before my work 
comes to judgment I am bound to tell my judges what 
it is that I have done, or rather aimed at doing. 

This is not the biography of Hay don, but his auto- 
hiography, — not a life of him by me, but his life by 

It may be the biographer's part to paint his subject 
with as heroic Ihieaments as he can manage to give 
him, without falling into glaring disproportion or taking 
too great liberties with truth. I do not say this is my 
conception of even a biographer's duty : but readers 
appear to expect this of those who write lives. 

But the editor of an auto-biography is relieved from 

A 4 

viii editor's preface to 

all difficulty on this point. He has only to clean, 
varnish and set in the best light the portrait of himself 
which the auto-biographer has left behind him. He 
may wipe away chills or mildew ; he may stop a hole, 
or repair a crack ; he may remove impurities, or bring 
obscure parts into sight : but he has no right to repaint, 
or restore or improve. 

Haydon Is presented to the readers of these volumes 
— I will not say " In his habit as he lived " — but as he 
thought, or, at any rate, wished the world to believe, 
he lived. Whether the portrait be a true likeness it is 
for those who knew him to say. On this point there 
will probably be as many opinions as critics. At any 
rate It is better than any other man can draw. The 
vainest human being knows himself better than the 
most clear-sighted observer knows him, and his own 
description of himself will always be the best we can 
obtain (if he have the needful power and habit of 
record), for even his mis-statements, exaggerations and 
perversions are characteristic, and like no other man's. 

No man who has left an auto -biography has ever 
succeeded in making himself out a hero In the world's 
opinion, however strenously he may have been bent on 
so doing. It Is apparent throughout the twenty-seven 
folios from which these volumes have been compressed 
that Haydon believed himself a hero, and thought the 
world would believe it when these records of him came 
to light. 


My task has been that of presenting the self-por- 
traiture which Hay don has left behind him within rea- 
sonable dimensions of canvas, and, as I said before, in 
such a light as may show the work intelligibly. 

My labour has been one mainly of condensation and 
arrangement. I have tried to preserve everything 
which belonged to the portrait ; and, for the sake of 
this I have left on one side much interesting matter, 
especially in the shape of correspondence. I would 
rather the book had been shorter. But this seemed 
impossible consistently with fair-dealing towards its 
subject. Such as it is, I commend it to my readers 
alike as a curious piece of psychological revelation and 
a not uninteresting though mournful picture of artist 

Chiswick Lodge, 
June, 1853. 




Introduction ... - - Page 1 



Birtb and Parentage. — My Family. — Early Recollections. — Early 
Struggles. — I determine to be a Painter. — My Father's Part- 
ner - - - - - - -3 


I go to London. — New in London. — Introduction to Northcote 
and Opie. — Introduction to Fuseli. — I make Acquaintance with 
Jackson. — Fellow Students. — Fuseli's Influence. — Return 
Home.— Wilkie - - - - - - 21 


My Fellow Students. — I dissect. — Nelson's Death. — Wilkie's 
Practice. — Charles Bell's Lectures. — Wilkie's Village Politi- 
cians. — Wilkie's Triumph. — Wilkie. — Letter from Wilkie. — 
My first Picture - - - - - 38 


Visit from Sir G. Beaumont. — My first Dinner in High Life. — 
Working at my first Picture. — I exhibit my first Picture. — 
Letter from Sir George Beaumont. — First Visit to Lord Mul- 
grave. — Presentation of a Cup to Fuseli. — Death of Opie. — 
"The Concern" in Rathbone Place - - - 57 



I practise Portrait-painting. — A strange Meeting. — My Mother's 
Death. — My Mother's Funeral - . - Page 79 



My Difficulties with Dentatus. — My first Sight of the Elgin 
Marbles. — Fuseli's Admiration of the Marbles. — Working from 
the Elgin Marbles. — From my Journals of 1808. — Journal- 
keeping - - - - - -88 

CHAP. vn. 

Dinners at the Admiralty. — From my Journals of 1808. — My 
Advance in Society. — My Dentatus finished. — My Dentatus 
exhibited. — Caprices of Fashion. — Unfair Treatment of Den- 
tatus - - . - . - 108 


Trip to Devon with Wilkie. — Our Voyage to Plymouth. — Our 
Visit to Coleorton . - - - - - 128 


Commission from Sir G. Beaumont. — Dispute with Sir G. Beau- 
mont. — I dissect a Lioness. — Moulding from a Man. — My Work 
at Macbeth. — My Difficulties. — Wilkie's Kival : his Illness. — 
Sebastiano del Piombo's Lazarus. — The Beginning of my Con- 
flicts. — From my Journals of 1811. — My first literary Contro- 
versy. — Macbeth is finished. — I attack the Academy. — The 
Effects of my Attack.— Wilkie's Advice - - -136 


Prince Hoare's Opinion of my Conduct. — From my Journals of 
1812. — Letter from Charles Bell - - - 183 


My pecuniary Difficulties. — My Landlord's Kindness. — Mental 
Struggles. — I return from the Country. — From my Journals of 


1812. — On public Encouragement of Art. — The Year closes. — 
From my Journals of 1813 - - - Page 192 


My Intimates in 1813. — Christening Party atHazlitt's. — My Gipsy 
Model. — From my Journals of 1814. — I break down. — Exhi- 
bition of Solomon. — Solomon is bought. — My Triumph - 224 


My Triumph : Hazlitt. — My Visit to France with Wilkie. — Dieppe. 
— Rouen. — Journey to Paris. — The Entrance into Paris. — Ill- 
ness of Wilkie. — The Allied Troops in Paris. — The Rue St. 
Honore in 1814. — French Soldiers. — Illustrations of French 
Character. — Versailles : Rambouillet. — Napoleon's Soldiers. — 
Vincennes : Belleville. — Paris : Sunday Observance. — A Visit to 
Gerard's. — Titian's Pietro Martire. — Wilkie's Departure. — 
Fontainebleau. — Fontainebleau : the Guard. — The Ride back 
to Paris. — Denon : The Egyptian Race - - - 241 


The Freedom of Plymouth voted me. — The Close of the Year. — 
From my Journals of 1815. — Old Masters at the British Institu- 
tion. —History of the Elgin Marbles. — The Elgin Marbles 284 


From my Journals of 1815. — Waterloo: aMonument proposed. — 
Sir George Beaumont's Advice. — A Waterloo Man's Letter. — 
Waterloo Anecdotes. — Stories of Waterloo. — An Eccentric. — 
Moulding the Elgin Marbles. — A Visit from Canova. — Ca- 
nova 297 


Letter from Wordsworth. — Extracts from Journal. — The Phyga- 
Ician Marbles. — Committee on the Elgin ISIarbles. — On the 
Judgment of Connoisseurs. — Lord Elgin out of Pocket - 324 



I fall in love. — Money-lenders. — The Misery of borrowing. — I 
propose a Plan for Premiums. — Commission for the Chelsea 
Pensioners. — Pictures returned from Paris. — My Pupils: the 
Annals of Art. — Contributions to the Annnls of Art. — My Ac- 
quaintance with Keats. — Keats. —Discussion on Christianity. — 
Two Cartoons sent to the Institution. — Close of the Year. — 
The Grand-Duke visits the Marbles. — Treachery of Sauerweid. 
— Kindness of Mr. Harman. — The Catalogue raisonnee. — 
Portrait-painting. — Vituperations of Blackwood. — In Diffi- 
culties. — Assisted by Mr. Coutts. — A Party : Wordsworth : 
Lamb : Keats .... Pace 343 


A Commission from Russia. — Letter to Canning. — Letter from 
Keats. — Offer of a Trip to Italy. — Christ's Entry into Jeru- 
salem. — A private Day. — Meeting with Scott. — West's 
Funeral. — I send Jerusalem to Scotland. — My Visit to Edin- 
burgh ....... 389 





When a man writes a life of himself or others the prin- 
ciple of truth should be the basis of his work. 

Where all is invention, if consistency be kept high 
colouring is a merit; but a biography derives its sole 
interest or utility from its Exact Truth. 

Every man who has suffered for a principle and 
would lose his life for its success, — who in his early- 
days has been oppressed without ever giving the sliglit- 
est grounds for oppression, and persecuted to ruin be- 
cause his oppression was unmerited, — who has incurred 
the hatred of his enemies exactly in proportion as they 
became convinced they were wrong, — every man who, 
like me, has eaten the bitter crust of poverty, and en- 
dured the penalties of vice and wickedness where he 
merited the rewards of virtue and industry, — should 
write his own life. 

If the oppressed and the oppressor died together, both 
(if remembered at all) might be left to the impartiality 
of future investigation ; but when the oppressed is sure 
to die, and tlie oppressor, being a body, is sure to sur- 
vive, I cannot be blamed for wishing to put my coun- 

VOL. I. B 


trymen in possession of my own case when they will 
most undoubtedly at all times be able to ascertain the 
case of my enemies. I have known and associated with 
many remarkable men. My life has been connected 
with my glorious Country's Art. The people and no- 
bility of England, the grandest people and nobility of 
the world, have ever sympathised with my fate and 
often deferred my ruin. 

jNIy mistakes I hope will be a beacon to the inex- 
perienced ; my occasional victories, a stimulus to the 
persevering; and the manner in which I have been 
elevated from the depths of want and disgrace to the 
heights of fortune and hope, an encouragement to those 
who believe, as I believe, that bending before the cor- 
rections of the Almighty is the only way to save the 
brain from insanity and the heart from sin. 





A. D. 1786. Many yesu's ago, my sister sent me a 
journal of my father's, which he had kept for a number 
of years. I destroyed most of it, and no doubt the 
Royal Academicians will think that I ought to have de- 
stroyed the following extracts too. 

On the 23rd of January, 1786, my father thus 
writes : — 

" I went with Miss Squire to hear IMr. Watson, who 
made an excellent sermon; went home with her and 
spent a very agreeable hour with her and her mother." 

" Hay supped with me and left me at twelve." 
" Dear Sally poorly^^ 

My mother was called " Sarah," and every husband, 
from this gentle hint of my father's, will anticipate the 
approaching catastrophe. 

The next day, 

" Very dirty weather ; wind AY. S. W.," says my 

" Sally taken bad, — hope it will end well with her." 

" Called on Squire." 

And the next, 

" Sally taken in labour, and at nine at night was de- 
livered of a fine hoy. Is as well as can be expected." 

And so my father's journal launches mc fairly on the 

B 2 


The most important as well as the most trivial notes 
in my father's journal generally concluded with the 
state of the wind. 

" Poor Mrs. Burgess died in childbed," says he in one 
part, — "poor Tom Burgess much afflicted : wind 
"\V. N. W." I do not know how it is, but that state- 
ment of the wind always alleviated any pain I felt at the 
afflictions he related. There was a consolation in find- 
ing that the course of nature went on. One contrasted 
the cool perseverance of the Avind doing its duty with 
the griefs of my father's friends. ^ 

Poor Tom Burgess had lost his wife, but yet he 
ou^ht to be comforted, for the wind was not a South- 
wester. My dear flxther had such a habit of recoi'ding 
the state of the wind on everything, that I will not 
positively affirm he did not sometimes head a Christmas 
account with 

" Bloioing hard ; tvind S. TV." 

My father was the lineal descendant of one of the 
oldest families in Devon, the Haydons of Cadhay. The 
family was ruined by a chancery suit, and the children 
were bound out to various trades. Amono- them was 
my grandfather, who was bound out to Mr. Savery, of 
Slade, near Plymouth. He conducted himself well, and 
gained the esteem of his master, who in time made him 
his steward. In a few years he saved money, and on 
tlie death of Mr. Savery set up a bookseller's shop in 
Plymouth, where he died in 1773 from disease of the 

My grandfather (who was very fond of painting) 
married Mary Baskerville, a descendant of the great 
printer. She was a woman of great energy and violent 
prejudices. She hated the French and she hated the 
Americans ; and once, when an American j)risoner, who 
had escaped, crejjt into her house and appealed to her 
for protection until pursuit was over, though alone in 

1786.] MY FAMILY. 

the house, she told him " she hated all Americans," and 
turned the poor fellow out into the street. 

At my grandfather's death, my father succeeded to 
the business, and married a Miss Cobley, the daughter 
of a clergyman who had the living of Ide near Exeter. 
He was killed early in life by the fall of the sounding- 
board on his head while preaching. lie left a widow and 
eight children. An opulent merchant at Leghorn, a INIr. 
Partridge, who had married the eldest sister, immediately 
took two boys and one girl off their mother's hands. 
The Russian fleet was cruizing in the Mediterranean at 
the time and frequently put in to Leghorn. The Ad- 
miral and officers were often entertained at Partridge's 
table : and one of them, a Captain Mordwinoff", fell in 
love with the girl. His prospects being very good, con- 
sent was given, and Mordwinoff and his young wife 
started for Kussia, taking with them one of her brothers 
who had expressed a great desire to enter the Russian 
army. Mordwinoff got him a commission, and Thomas 
Cobley joined his regiment during the Turkish war. 
He was at the storming of Otschacoff" and Ismailoff", and 
gained a good name during the siege of the latter place 
by the following act of daring. 

Close vmdcr the fortifications of the town was a very 
fine vine loaded with grapes. One day the officers of 
Cobley's mess in a joke said they should like some grapes 
for dessert. My uncle offered to go if a guard could be 
got to cover hiin. This was granted by the Colonel, 
and away went my vuicle with a ladder and basket. He 
soon reached the vine, ])lanted the ladder against the 
wall and commenced picking the grapes. Some of the 
Turks, observing him, opened a rattling fire, but he 
filled his basket in spite of them and returned to his 
own lines without a scratch. INIordwinofF had been 
educated by order of Catherine and was tlie playmate 
of the Emperor l\ui1. He rose to bean Admiral in the 


Eussian navy and was at one time at the head of the 
Admiralty and President of the CounciL The Em- 
peror Paul, during the latter and eccentric part of his 
reign, thought proper to rcAvard his playmate by exiling 
him to Siberia. On his way, IMordwinofF was recalled 
by the news of His Majesty's sudden demise. This re- 
call of Mordwinoff was a most unfortunate thing for 
me. I should have been sure to have heard often from 
my worthy relative in Siberia, but I scarcely heard from 
him at all in St. Petersburo;h. 

Both by my father's and mother's side, I am well de- 
scended and connected ; the families always residing on 
their own landed property. The only estate, however, 
at present remaining to us, is a small one near Ide, 
Exeter. Such are the consequences of folly, extrava- 
gance and law-suits. Surely there is no occasion in 
England for a Judcan Commonwealth, to restore pro- 
perty every fifty years, when it hardly ever remains in 
one family half that time as it is. 

My ancestors were loyal public-spirited men and my 
father inherited their spirit. He loved his Church and 
King, believed England to be the only great country 
in the world, swore JSTapoleon won all his battles by 
bribery, did not believe that there was poet, painter, 
musician, soldier, sailor, general, or statesman out of 
England, and at any time would have knocked down 
any man who dai'ed to disbelieve him, or been burnt in 
Smithfield for the glory of his principles. 

I remember nothing of my early days of nursing and 
long petticoats, nor indeed much of any time before I 
was five years old. I was, I believe, an excessively 
self-willed, passionate child. As I was one day in a 
fury of rage which nothing could pacify, my mother 
enterino; the room with a book of enn;ravino;s in her 
hand, as a last resource showed, me the " pretty pic- 
tures," at which, as she used to declare, I became very 


silent and interested, and would not part with the book 
for the rest of the day. 

Among my father's apprentices was one (George, 
I called him) who made love to my nurse, and under 
pretence of showing me prints and teaching me to 
draw from them, visited the nursery very frequently. 
In fact George became so very fond of teaching " little 
master Benjamin, — the little dear " to draw, that my 
nurse was obliged to be sent away. 

About this time a sevei'e fever laid me up for six 
Aveeks, and my life was repeatedly despaired of. For 
my recovery we went to Plympton St. Mary, and here 
I remember sitting, propped up with pillows, on a little 
pony, watching some gentlemen throwing the fly on the 
bridge opposite the church in the valley. The delight 
of this day, with its beautiful landscape and village 
church, I have never forgotten. I w^as now six years 
old, and of course old enough to go to school, and well 
remember my dear mother standing at the door, watch- 
ing me as I trotted down the street to school, and then 
I remember for the first time writing my name " Ben- 
jamin Robert Haijdon, 1792," in a parchment copy- 

In 1793, the King of France was beheaded, and I 
well recollect the furious discussions which used to arise 
at breakfast and dinner about the French Revolution. 
I recollect my mother crying on the sofa, and on my 
asking her the reason, replying, " They have cut off the 
Queen of France's head, my dear." I used to wonder 
what for, and ask, but nobody ever gave me a satis' 
factory reason. 

For a boy, this was a most stirring period. Xothinn- 
was talked of but the Duke of York, the siege of Valcn° 
cicnnes, Robespierre and Marat. French prisoners 
crowded riymouth. Guillotines made by them of 
their meat bones were sold at the prisons; and the 


:whole amusement of children consisted in cuttino- off 
Louis XVI. 's head forty times a day, with the phiy- 
things their fathers had bought to amuse their young 
minds. My clilef delight was in drawing the guillotine, 
with " Louis taking leave of the People " in his shirt 
sleeves, which I copied from a print of the day. 

About this time, I remember, while I was caricatur- 
ing a schoolfellow, my father came behind me and said, 
'' What are you about, sir? you are putting the eyes in 
the forehead ! " As I went to school, I observed people's 
eyes Avere not in the middle of their foreheads, as I had 
drawn them. To this day and hour I hardly ever paint 
a head without thinking of my father's remark. 

My father now sent me to the grammar-school under 
the Rev. Dr. Bidlake, a man of some taste. He painted 
and played on the organ, patronised talent, was fond 
of country-excursions, wrote poems which nobody ever 
read, one on " the Sea," another on " the Year." 

I remember him with his rhyming dictionary, com- 
posing his verses and scanning with his fingers. He 
was not a deep classic, but rather encouraged a sort of 
idle country-excursion habit in the school ; perhaps, 
however, he thus fostered a love of nature. 

All I know of hydraulics, pneumatics, astronomy, 
geograi)hy, and mechanics I learnt of him ; but it is so 
very little^ that I suspect he put us off with amusement 
for instruction. 

Finding that I had a taste for art, he always took 
me Avith another boy from our studies to attend his 
caprices in painting. Here his odd and peculiar figure, 
for his back was bent from fever, induced us to play 
him tricks. As he Avas obliged to turn round and walk 
away to study the effect of his touches, we used to rub 
out what he had done before he returned, Avhen his per- 
plexity and simplicity were delightful to mischievous 
boys. Once he sent my companion to cut off the skirt 


of an old coat to clean his palette with, and the boy cut 
off the sku't of his best Sunday coat. Poor dear Dr. 
Bidlake went to Stonehouse Chapel in his great coat 
the next Sunday, and when he took it off to put on the 
surplice, the clerk exclaimed in horror, " Good Gotl, sir, 
somebody has cut off the skirt of your coat ! " 

He was a kind eccentric man of considerable talent. 
He brought forward several youths (especially Howard, 
a charity boy, who has translated Dante), and pub- 
lished many useful scliool books. 

My father was much plagued with apprentices who 
thought they were geniuses because they were idle. 
One, I remember, did nothing but draw and paint. He 
was the first I ever saw paint in oil. The head man in 
the binding-office was a Neapolitan called Fenzi, a fine 
muscular lazzaroni-like fellow. Fenzi used to talk to 
me of the wonders of Italy, and bare his fine muscular 
arm, and say, " Don't draw de landscape ; draw de fee- 
goore, master Benjamin." He first told me of Kaphaele 
and the Vatican. 

I used to run up to Fenzi, and ask him hundreds 
of questions, and spent most of my half-holidays in his 

I now tried to draw " de feegoore,^^ began to read 
anatomical books by the advice of Northcote's brother 
(a townsman), to fancy myself a genius and a historical 
l)ainter, to talk to myself in the fields, to look into the 
glass and conclude I had an intellectual head ; and 
then I forgot all about it and went and played cricket ; 
never touched a brush for months ; rode a black pony 
about the neighbourhoood; pinned ladies' gowns together 
on market-days and waited to see them split ; knocked 
at doors by night and ran away ; swam and bathed, 
heated myself, worried my parents and at last was 
laid on my back by the measles. Here again came my 
divine art. I looked at my drav/ing-book, at the date 


of my last drawing with sorrowful regret and set to 
work, resolving never to leave it, and I kept my reso- 
lution. I remember my dear father, to keep me in 
spirits, one day putting his head in at the curtain and 
saying, " My dear, Jervis has beaten the Spanish fleet 
and taken four sail of the line. This will cure ye I " In 
the summer I was sent to Ridgway, and here I drew 
from nature for the first time, — a view of the old farm- 
house, built during the civil wars, and the new Cider 
Ground on the right of it. The Plym river ran by it a 
little further on, a hill on the left ascended to Kldgway, 
and a passage in front across beautiful meadows led to 
the Church of St. Mary ; on the right you could only 
get to the road by one of those simple wooden bridges so 
frequent in Devonshire, and carriages, carts, and horses 
plunged right into the stream. 

My father used to show my drawings to his cus- 
tomers. One of them was a very great man in the town, 

merchant, and, I believe, consul. John H was a 

very wortliy but pompous man, exceedingly vain, very 
fond of talking French before people that could not 
speak a word of it, and quoting Italian sayings of which 
he knew little ; liked everything but steady attention to 
his business, was a good father, good husband, and to 
play soldiers for a week at any time would have laid his 
head upon the block. During the dread of invasion, 
volunteer corps became the rage. The very infants in 

the nursery played soldiers too. Mr. John H 

either raised or joined a corps of volunteers, and warier 
men made him Colonel, that the expense might not fall 
on their heads. Colonel he was, and devoted himself to 
the occupation with so much sincerity that his men in 
discipline and order would certainly not have disgraced 
a marching militia regiment. After review days, no- 
thing gave the Colonel so much delight as marching 
right through the town from the Hoe, to the horror and 


consternation of the apple- worn en. The moment the 
drums and trumpets were heard soundhig at the bottom 
of Market Street, the^ scramble to get out of the way 
amongst the poor old women is not to be imagined. 
Market Street in Plymouth is a sort of hill, and how 
often as a boy have I left my draAving, darted down and 
out to the top of the hill to see the Colonel in all his 
glory ! 

First came in view his feather and cap, then his large, 
red, pride-swollen, big-featured face, with a smile on it, 
in which grim war, dignity, benevolent condescension, 
stolidity and self-satisfaction were mixed in equal pro- 
portions; then came his charger, curvetting with grace- 
ful fire, now hind-quarters this side, now fore-quarters 
that side, with the Colonel, — sword drawn and glit- 
tering in the sun, — recognising the wives and children 
of the ironmongers, drapers, and grocers, who crowded 
the windows to see him pass. Then came the band, long 
drum and trumpets ; then the grenadier company, with 
regular tramp ; then the Colonel's eldest son John, out 
of the counting-house, who was Captain; then his 
Lieutenant, an attorney's clerk; then the Colonel and 
band turned to the right, down Broad Street — the 
music became fainter and fainter, the rear lagged after. 
The Colonel drew up his regiment before his own par- 
lour windows, and solaced by white handkerchiefs and 
fair looks, dismissed his men, and retired to the privacy 
of domestic life, until a new field day recalled him again 
to the glory of the Hoe, and the perils of apple-stalls 
and slippery streets. Far be it from nic, however, to 
ridicule such generous, and even useful, vanities in a 

wortliy man. II was one of that class who stuck 

by their Church and King, when to believe either worth 
defending was considered a proof of narrow mind and 
antiquated spirit. 

" Colonel II , my dear," said my father, "likes 

12 AUTOBIOfilLAniY OF B. K. IIAYDON. [1798—9. 

Benjamin's drawings." " What does he know of draw- 
ings? "said my dear mother, with that corn-age and love 
of tearinfi; off diso;uises wliich belono-s to all women. 
" What does he know ? You know, my dear, he must 
know," said my father, with an emphasis which showed 
he no more believed it than my mother: but the Co- 
lonel being a good customer, my father wished before 
his children to have the air of thinking he must know 

Thus time rolled on till I Avas thirteen years old. 
My leisure hours were passed in drawing, my master 
Bidlake sometimes taking us to Bickley Vale (a beau- 
tiful spot to the right of Roborough Down) to sketch and 
drink tea. 

In classical knowledge I was not disciplined : Bid- 
lake's mind was too dissipated for concentration. He 
■was kindheartcd but a smatterer, and I do not think 
any man left his school without lamenting the time lost 
in getting a little of everything, without knowing cor- 
rectly the principles of anything. 

My habits now began to be lazy and lax — my father 
very properly saw that I wanted the discipline of a 
boarding-school, and accoixlingly I was sent to the Rev. 
W. Haynes, head master of the Plympton Grammar 
School, where Sir Joshua was brought up. Haynes 
put me back into Pha^drus, though I read Virgil and 
murdered Homer at Bidlake's, and going regularly on 
as I ought to have done at first I got into Virgil and 
Homer again, and for the last six months I was the 
head boy of the school. The "small Latin and less 
Greek" that I know, are owing to the care of this 
worthy man, and though, perhaps, the acquirement of 
my smattering of knowledge with Dr. Bidlake was use- 
ful, yet I have always had to struggle with the classics. 
My father had hinted to Haynes my predilection for 
art, and it was understood that I was not to learn 

1800—1.] EARLY STRUGGLES. 13 

clrawino; because he had views for me in the countiiiG;- 
house. However^ I spent my allowance in caricatures 
which I copied. One half-holidaj, as there was a dead 
silence in the play-ground, Haynes apprehending mis- 
cliief bolted into the school and found the boys drawing 
under my direction with the greatest quiet, I marching 
about and correcting as I went. 

At another time we saw a hunt on the hills, and when 
I came home, tlie boys furnisliing me with burnt sticks, 
I drew the hunt all round the hall so well that Ilaynes 
kept it some weeks. At Calcutta is now (1842) settled 
a merchant, who remembers my trying to etch and to 
squeeze off an impression with school ink in the table 
cloth press. 

With my schooling at Plympton concluded my classi- 
cal education. I returned home and was sent to Exeter 
to be perfected in merchants' accounts. Here I did 
little. The master's son taught crayon-drawing and I 
drew under him for a short time, but was more cele- 
brated for electrifying the cat, killing flies by sparks, 
and doing everything and anything but my duty. At 
the end of six months I came back for life — unhappy 
in mind, disgusted with everything but drawing, yet 
prepai*ed to do what my father thought right and re- 
solved to make the best of it. 

I was bound to him for seven years, and now began 
that species of misery I have never been without since — • 
ceaseless opposition. Drawing for amusement was one 
thing but studying the art for a living was another. 
My father's business realized a handsome income ; I had 
nothing to do but pursue his course and independence 
was certain. 

Now that I was bound by law repugnance to my 
work grew daily. I rose early and wandered by the 
sea; sat up late and pondered on my ambition. 

I knew enough of form to point out with ridicule 


the mis-shapen arms, legs, feet and bodies of various 
prints of eminent men in my father's windows, and was 
censured for my presumption. 

I hated day books, ledgers, bill books and cash books ; 
I hated standing behind the counter, and insulted the 
customers ; I hated the town and people in it. I saw 
my father had more talent than the asses he was obliged 
to bend to; I knew his honourable descent and I despised 
the vain fools that patronised him. Once after a man 
had oifered me less than the legitimate price for a Latin 
Dictionary I dashed the book on its shelf and walked 
out of the shop. My father restored his customer to 
good humour by explaining to him the impropriety of 
expecting a respectable tradesman to take less than the 
market price. The man, convinced, paid the full sum 
and took the book. 

I never entered the shop again. Now what was to be 
done ? Into the shop I would not go, and my father 
saw the absurdity of wishing it. He was a good, dear, 
fond father. We discussed my future prospects, and he 
asked me if it was not a pity to let such a fine property 
go to ruin, as I had no younger brother ? I could not 
help it. Why? Because my whole frame convulsed 
when I thought of being a great painter. 

" Who has put this stuff in your head ? " " Nobody : 
I always have had it." "You will live to repent." 
" Never, my dear father ; I would rather die in the 

After that we were silent, at dinner, at tea, at bed- 
time. Friends were called in ; aunts consulted, uncles 
spoken to ; my language was the same ; ray detestation 
of business unaltered ; my resolution no tortures of the 
rack would have altered. 

Luckily, I had an illness which in a few weeks ended 
in chronic inflammation of the eyes. For six weeks I 
was blind and my family were in misery. At last. 


fancying I could see something glittering I put out my 
hand and struck it against a silver spoon. That was a day 
of happiness for us all. My mind, always religious, was 
deeply affected. I recovered my sight, but never per- 
fectly, had another attack, slowly recovered from that, 
but found that my natural sight was gone, and this too^ 
with my earnest and deep passion for art. " What 
folly I How can you think of being a painter ? Why, 
you can't see," was said. " I can see enough," was my 
reply; "and, see or not see, a painter I'll be, and if I 
am a great one without seeing, I sliall be the first. ' 
Upon the whole, my family was not displeased that I 
could only see sufficiently for business. I could still 
keep accounts and post the cash books. It would have 
been quite natural for an ordinary mind to think blind- 
ness a sufficient obstacle to the practice of an art, the 
essence of which seems to consist in perfect sight, but 
"when the divinity doth stir within us," the most 
ordinary mind is ordinary no longer. 

It is curious to me now, forty years after, to reflect 
that my dim sight never occurred to me as an obstacle ; 
not a bit of it : I found that I could not shoot as I used 
to do, but it never struck me that I should not be able 
to paint. 

The moment my health recovered, I went to see an 
apprentice of my father's, who had set up for himself 
and who had brought down from town some plaster 
casts of the Discobolos and Apollo, — the first I had 
ever seen, I looked at them so long that I made my 
eyes ill, and bought them out of a two-guinea piece 
given to me by my godfather. I doated over them; 
I dreamt of them, and when well, having made up my 
mind how to proceed, I wandered about the town, in 
listless agony, in scai'ch of books on art. 

My father's apprentice (Johns)^ a man of considerable 
talent and ingenuity, possessed a library, in which I 


used to read. Accldentallv tumbHns; his collection over 
I hit upon Reynolds's Discourses. I read one. It 
placed so much reliance on honest industry, it expressed 
so strong a conviction that all men were equal and that 
application made the difference, that I fired up at once. 
T took them all home and read them through before 
breakfast the next morning. The thing was done. I 
felt my destiny fixed. The spark which had for years 
lain struofrlino; to blaze, now burst out for ever. 

I came down to breakfiist with Reynolds under my 
arm and 02:)ened my fixed intentions in a style of such 
energy that I demolished all arguments. My mother 
regarding my looks, which probably were more like 
those of a maniac than of a rational being, burst into 
tears. My father was in a passion and the whole house 
w^as in an uproar. Every body that called during the 
day was had up to bait me, but I attacked them so 
fiercely that they were glad to leave me to my own re- 
flections. In the evening I told my mother my re- 
solution calmly, and left her. My friend Reynolds (a 
•watch-maker) backed me. I hunted the shop for ana- 
tomical works, and seeing Albinus among the books in 
the catalogue of Dr. Farr's sale at Plymouth hospital, 
but knowing it was no use asking my father to buy it 
for me, I determined to bid for it and then appeal to his 
mercy. I went to the sale and the book was knocked 
down to me at 2Z. 10^. I returned home, laid the case 
before my dear mother, v/ho cried much at this proof of 
resolution, but promised to get my fiither to consent. 
When the book came home my father paid with black 
looks. Oh, the delight of hurrying it away to my bed- 
room, turning over the plates, copying them out, learn- 
inn; the orifrin and insertion of the muscles and then 
getting my sister to hear me ! She and I used to walk 
about the house, with our arms round each other's neck, 
— she saying, " How many heads to the deltoid?" 


" Where docs it rise?" " Where is it inserted ?" and 
I answering. By these means, in the course of a fort- 
night, I got by heart all the muscles of the body. 

JNIy energy was incessant. My head whirled at the 
idea of going to London and beginning life for myself. 
My father had routed me from the shop, because I was 
in the way with my drawings ; I had been driven from 
the sitting-room, because the cloth had to be laid ; 
scolded from the landing-place, because the stairs must 
be swept; driven to my attic, which now became too 
small, and at last I took refuge in my bed-room. 

One morning as I lay awake very early, musing on 
my future prospects, the door slowly opened, and in crept 
my dear mother with a look of sleepless anxiety. She 
sat down on my bed-side, took my liand, and said that 
my flither blamed her very much for promising that I 
should go up to London, that he had been talking all 
night to her, and had said that I should have everything 
I wished, if I would only give up my scheme. She 
added, '' My dear Benjamin, you are our only support, 
and in the delicate state of your poor father's health 
God only knows how soon 1 may be left alone and 
unaided. It will break my heart, if, after all my care 
and anxiety for your infancy, you leave me just as you 
are becoming able to comfort and console me." 

I was deeply affected, but checking my tears I told 
hei', in a voice struggling to be calm, that it was of no 
use to attempt to dissuade me. I felt impelled by some- 
thing I could not resist. "Do not," said I, "my dear 
mother, think mc cruel ; I can never forget your love 
and affection; but yet I cannot help it — I must be a 
painter." Kissing mc with wet cheeks and trembling 
lips she said in a broken voice, " She did not blame me : 
she applauded my resolution, but she could not bear to 
part with me." 

I then begged her to tell my father that it was useless 
VOL. I. C 


to harass me with further opposition. She rose sobbing 
as if to break her heart and slowly left my room, borne 
down with affliction. The instant she was gone, I fell 
upon my knees and prayed God to forgive me if I was 
cruel, but to grant me firmness, purity, and piety to go 
on in the right way for success. 

My father's opposition arose from the peculiarity of 
his situation. In early life he had been most basely 
treated by a man whom he had assisted in every possible 
way, and who returned this lavish generosity by a blow 
from which my father never recovered. 

Disgusted with the world he plunged into dissipation 
to forget himself. The society of the educated and vir- 
tuous was not stimulating enough, and from one class to 
another he gradually sunk till nothing pleased or grati- 
fied him but the company of playei's. 

This nejxlect of his duties soon led him to embarrass- 
ment, embarrassment to law costs, and law costs, as a 
matter of course, to ruin and bankruptcy. However, he 
recommenced business, and then took into partnership a 
brother of my mother's, a j\Ir. Cobley, who was the friend 
of Prince Hoare and Kelly. He was fond of reading, 
accustomed to the best society, had passed his early life 
in Italy and acquired a taste for art, but v»^ith all these 
accompliishments and advantages was so habitually in- 
dolent, that when he came to see my mother on a six 
Aveeks' visit, he never had energy to remove, got imbed- 
ded in the family, stayed thirty years and died. Prince 
Hoare told me that he was the "pleasantest idle man 
he had ever known." 

His mother left him an estate in Devonshire, which he 
sold to Sir Lawrence Palk, but he was so hideously indif- 
ferent to the future, that instead of investing what would 
have been an independence for his life, he kept the money 
in his portmanteau for many years, taking it out, guinea 
by guinea, until it was all gone. 

1803—4.] MY father's PARTNER. 19 

In this condition he came to us on a visit, and finding 
every comfort remained until he became a jiartner and 
died in possession of the business. Cobley had lived to see 
the folly of passing a youth at whist and watering places, 
associating; w^ith actors and actresses, sellino; a maternal 
estate, and living on the money till it was spent. As he 
had suffered by his extreme folly in doing nothing but 
enjoy himself when he was young, he thought the sound- 
est morality to preach was the danger of young people 
enjoying themselves at all. lie was always talking of 
economy and expense, whilst economy and expense did 
not interfere with his enjoyments ; and after expatiating 
on the prudence of eating cold meat the second day, would 
pretend an enijajTement and dine at an inn, foro-ettino' 
that his dinner and the cold meat both came from the 
profits of the business. 

As a boy I soon saw through this, and gave him hints 
to that effect, which of course he did not relish. 

My father had rapidly regained his lost credit, and was 
getting on well, when my determination to be a painter 
threw the whole family into confusion and anxiety : 
Cobley saw a continuance of expenditure on me, when 
it was hoped I should have been a help. My sister's 
education w'as not over, and I was still to be supplied. 
Remonstrances, quarrels, scoldings, took place without 
end ; till at last, seeing all was useless and cursing my 
firmness they agreed to let me go and give me twenty 
pounds to start upon. 

Profound indeed were the predictions that I would be 
be glad to return to papa and mamma before a month 
was over. 

My i)Oor father worn down with long sickness, the sad 
effect of trying to drown remembrance in wine, tottered 
about me. I collected my books and colours — packed 
my things — and on the 13th of May, 1804, took my 
place in the mail for the next day. The evening was 


passed in silent musing. Affection for liome was 
smothered not extinguished in me : I thought only of 
London — Sir Joshua — Drawing — Dissection — and 
High Art. 

The next day I ate little, spoke less, and kissed my 
mother many times. When all my things were corded 
and packed ready for the mail, I hung about my mother 
Avith a fluttering at my heart, in which duty, affection 
and ambition were struggling for the mastery. 

As evening approached I missed my mother. At last 
tl'.e guard's horn announced the coming mail ; I rushed 
up stairs, called her dear name, and was answered only 
by violent sobbings from my own bed-room. She could 
not speak — she could not see me, — "God bless you, 
my dear child," I could just make out in her sobbings. 
The guard became impatient ; I returned slowly down 
stairs with my heart too full to speak, shook my ftither 
by the hand, got in, the trunks were soon on the top, 
the whip cracked, the horses pranced and started off — 
my career for life had begun ! 

1804.] I GO TO LOXDOX. 21 

CHAP. 11. 

By degrees my feelings softened down, and when we 
got to Ridgway I actually studied at the inn door the 
effect of sunset upon a man standing in its golden hue, 
and maturely thought how to paint it. 

In the mail was a Plymouth man, Avho persuaded me 
to go right on without sleeping at Exeter, and riglit on 
I went. We took up a lady at Exeter, who soon became 
interested in my eager inquiries and promised that when 
day broke she would give me the first intimation when 
we could see the dome of St. Paul's. Long before day- 
light I was popping out my head to inquire of the guard 
if it could be seen : he only laughed and grumbled out 
something behind his thick wrapper. At last, some- 
Yv'here between Maidenhead and the next stage, the lady 
said, " There it is ! " I stretched my head and neck and 
eyes, saying, " Is it really ! " though I never saw any- 
thing but some spots in the cool grey light of the breaking 

Day broke — the sun rose — the lark sung — the 
morninsi: star sank fainter and fainter. Now came the 
delight of the last stage, — the last stage to London! 

My Plymouth friend was a man who knew the best 
inns, the best oyster shops, where was to be found the 
best porter and the best port. He began with an air of 
vast superiority to hold forth on the importance of such 
knowledge to a young man, and, above all things, he 
cautioned me to be careful, and then he wiidvcd, and 
glanced sideways at the dozing lady. I looked profound, 
— he intensely prophetic: "Upon the whole," he said, 
they get up their fish delightfully in town." lie did not 
know if he did not relish a turbot better than at a sea- 

c 3 


port — Avlijj lie could not say — " but so it is," lie addecl, 
"and so you'll find it." 

By this time we had rattled through Kensington, 
passed the toll-gate then standing at Hyde Park Corner, 
and in London I was pronounced to be. We drove up 
to the White Horse Cellar ; but as lodgings had been 
taken for me at 342 Strand, I was advised to go on to 
Clement's Coffee House. There I got out, and in 
passing the new church in the Strand, I asked the 
guard what building that was. Mistaking me, he said 
"Somerset House." "Ah!" thought I, "there's the 
Exhibition, where I'll be soon !" 

Our churches in Devonshire are all Gothic, and the 
flimsy style of this building, with its gaudy exterior, 
made me naturally ask what it was. I soon found, my 
lodgings, and when I had washed, dressed and break- 
fasted, I started off for the Exhibition, creeping along 
the Strand and feeling much shorter from the height of 
the houses. I found out the new church. Seeing a 
man in a cocked hat and laced cloak, I darted up the 
steps and offered him money to see the Exhibition ! The 
beadle laughed, and pityingly told me where to go. Away 
I went once more for Somerset House, squeezed in, 
mounted the stairs to the great room, and looked about 
for historical pictures. Opie's Gil Bias was one centre, 
and a shipwrecked sailor boy (Westall) was the won- 
der of the crowd. These two are all that I remem- 
ber. I marched away, saying, " I don't fear you," in- 
quired for a plaster shop, found one out in Drury Lane, 
bought the Laocoon's head, with some arms, hands and 
feet, darkened my Avindow, unpacked my Albinus, and 
before nine the next morning was hard at work, drawing 
from the round, studying Albinus and breathing aspira- 
tions for "High Art" and defiance to all opposition. 

Eor three months I saw nothing but my books, my 
casts and my drawings. My enthusiasm was immense, 

1804.] NEW IN LONDON. 23 

my devotion to study that of a martyr. I rose when I 
woke, at three, four, or five, drew at anatomy until eight, 
in chalk from my casts from nine to one and from half- 
past one until five — then walked, dined and to anatomy 
a<2^ain from seven to ten and eleven. I was once so lono; 
without speaking to a human creature that my gums 
became painfully sore from tlie clenched tightness of my 
teeth. I was resolved to be a great painter, to honour 
my country, to rescue the art from that stigma of inca- 
pacity which was impressed upon it. However visionary 
such aspirings may seem in a youth of eighteen, I never 
doubted my capacity to realise them. I had made up 
my mind what to do. I wanted no guide. To apply 
night and day, to seclude myself from society, to keep 
the Greeks and the "Teat Italians in view and to cndea- 
vour to unite form, colour, light, shadow, and expression, 
was my constant determination. 

At Cawthorne's in the Strand I met w^Ith John Bell's 
work on the bones, joints and muscles. Its admirable 
perspicuity cleared my understanding at once. I saw its 
beauty and admired its sense in reducing all muscular 
action to flexion and extension. I took the book home, 
hugging it, and it has ever since been the text book of 
my school. 

The Sunday after my arrival, I went to the new 
church and in humbleness begged for the protection of 
the Great Spirit, to guide, assist and bless my endea- 
vours, to open my mind and enlighten my luiderstanding. 
I prayed for health of body and mind and on rising from 
my knees felt a breathing assurance of spiritual aid which 
nothing can describe. I was calm, cool, illuminated as 
if crystal circulated through my veins. I retui'ncd home 
and spent the day in mute seclusion. 

After months of intense study I began to think of 

Prince Iloare and my uncle's letter to him. I delivered 

it. He had been absent at Bath and received me most 

c 4 


affectionately. He was a delicate, feeble-looking man, 
with a timid expression of face, and when he laiiglied 
heartily he almost seemed to be crying. His fother was 
a bad painter at Bath, who having a high notion of 
Prince's genius sent him with a valet to Italy, to get 
what nature had denied him in the Capella Sistina. He 
went through the whole routine of labouring for natural 
talents, by copying Micliel Angelo, copying Raffaele, 
copying Titian, — came home to be the rival of Reynolds, 
found his own talents for Art were of the feeblest order, 
and beino; ^veil educated took refuo;e in writincc farces 
and adaptations of Spanish and French pieces, which his 
friends Storace and Kelly fitted with music. He was 
an amiable but disappointed man, the companion of the 
democrats Godwin and Holcroft, though an intimate 
friend of Sir Vicary Gibbs. 

Prince Hoare called on me — I explained to him my 
principles and showed him my drawings. He was much 
interested in my ardour ; told me I was right, and urged 
me not to be dissuaded from my plan. I flushed at the 
thought of dissuasion. 

He gave me letters to Northcote and to Opie ; North- 
cote being a Plymouth man, I felt a strong desire to see 
him first. 

I went. He lived at 39 Argyle Street. I was shown 
first into a dirty gallery, then upstairs into a dirtier 
painting-room, and there, under a high window with the 
light shining full on his bald grey head, stood a diminu- 
tive wizened figure in an old blue striped dressing-gown, 
his spectacles pushed up on his forehead. Looking 
keenly at me with his little shining eyes, he opened the 
letter, read it, and with the broadest Devon dialect said, 
" Zo, you mayne tu bee a peinter doo-ee ? what zort of 
pointer ?" "Historical painter, sir." " Heestoricaul 
peinter ! why yee'll starve with a bundle of straw under 
ycer head ! " 


He then put his spectacles down and read the note 
again; put them up, looked maliciously at me, and said, 
" I remember yeer vather, and yeer grand-vather tu ; 
he used tu peint." " So I have heard, sir." " Ees; he 
peinted an Elephant once for a Tiger, and he asked my 
vather what colour the indzide ofs ears was, and my 
vather told-un I'eddish, and your grand-vather went 
home and pointed un a vine vermilion." He then 
chuckled inwardly, enjoying my confusion at this in- 
comprehensible anecdote. 

" I zee," he added, " Mr. Hoare zays you're studying 
anatomy; that's no use — Sir Joshua didn't know it; 
why should you want to know what he didn't ?" " But 
Micliel Angelo did, sir." 

" Michel Angelo ! What's he tu du here ? you must 
peint portraits here ! " This roused me, and I said, 
clinching my mouth, "But I won't." "Won't?" 
screamed the little man, " hut you must f your vather 
isn't a monied man, is he?" "No, sir; but he has a 
good income, and will maintain me for three years." 
" Will he ? hee'd better make'ee mentein yeezclf ; " A 
beautiful specimen of a brother artist, thought I. " Shall 
I bring you my drawings, sir ? " " Ees, you may," said 
he, and I took my leave, 

I was not disconcerted. He looked too much at my 
head, I thought, to be indifferent, " I'll let him see if 
he shall stop me," and off I walked to Opie, who lived 
in Berncrs Street. I was shown into a clean gallery of 
masculine and broadly painted pictures. After a minute 
down came a coarse-looking intellectual man. He read 
my letter, eyed me quietly, and said, — " You are study- 
ing anatomy — master it — were I your age, I would do 
the same." My heart bounded at this : I said, " I have 
just come from Mr. Northcote, and he says I am 
wrong, sir." " Never mind what he says," said Opie; 
" he doesn't know it hlnK^clf, and would be very 


glad to keep you as Ignorant." I could have hugged 

" My father, su', wishes me to ask you if you think I 
ought to be a pupil to any particular man." I saw a 
different thought cross his mind directly, as, with an 
eagerness I did not like, he replied, " Certainly ; it will 
shorten your road. It is the only way." After this I 
took my leave and mused the whole day on what North- 
cote said of anatomy, and Opie of being a pupil, and 
decided in my mind that on these points both were 
wrong. The next day I took my drawings to North- 
cote, who as he looked at them lauglied like an imp, and 
as soon as he recovered said, " Yee'll make a good 
en2;raver indeed." 

I saw through his motive, and as I closed my hook 
said, " Do you think, sir, that I ought to be a pupil to 
any body ? " " No," said Northcote, " who is to teach'ee 
here? It'll be throwing your vather's money away." 
" Mr. Opie, sir, says I ought to be." " Hee zays zo, 
does he ? ha, ha, ha, he wants your vather's money ! " 

I came to the conclusion that what Opie said of 
Northcote's anatomy and Northcote of Opie's avarice 
was ecp;ally just and true : so took my leave, making up 
my mind to go on as I had begun, in spite of Northcote, 
and not to be a pupil, in spite of Opie ; and so I wrote 

I liked Northcote, and used to call frequently ; he 
was very entertaining, and one day in a good humour 
at my asking to see some of his studies in the Vatican, 
he gave me a letter to Smirke, Sir Robert Smirke's 
father. Smirke received me most tenderly, — he felt 
interested at my enthusiasm, applauded my plans, lent 
me drawings, and was really a father to me in the 

When I recounted my plans to him, lie used to laugh 
at my evident sincerity. He was a fine, handsome. 


portly man, and gave me much good advice, but it was 
curious the power I had of sifting all advice, and dis- 
carding every thing which interfered with my own 
decisions. Many miserable moments did Northcote 
inflict upon me, which Smirke used to laugh at so ex- 
cessively that my mind was always relieved. I always 
went in better spirits from Smirke — better informed 
from Opie — and exasperated from little Aqua-Fortis. 

At this period a very beautiful woman was acci- 
dentally introduced to me, and away went all my am- 
bition. Her grace and beauty nearly drove me insane, 
till my idleness appeared to me in such vivid colours, 
that I felt disgusted with my want of firmness, set to 
work again, drew from four in the morning till night, 
with only an interval for a hasty meal, and again until 
two the next morning. After this, I felt exhausted 
beyond measure, my eyes gave in, and I was laid up for 
several weeks. 

Smirke had been elected Keeper of the Academy, 
but George III., beins^ told that he was a democrat, 
refused to sanction or sign his appointment. Fuseli was 
then chosen. Prince Ploare told me that he had seen 
Fuseli, who wished me to call on him with my drawings. 

Fuseli had a great reputation for the terrible. His 
sublime conception of Uriel and Satan had impressed me 
when a boy. I had a mysterious awe of him. Prince 
Hoare's apprehensions lest he might injure my taste or 
hurt my morals, excited in my mind a notion that he 
was a sort of gifted wild beast. 

]\Iy father had the same feeling, and a letter I re- 
ceived from him just before my calling concluded Avitli 
these words : — " God speed you with the terrible 

This sort of preparation made every thing worse, and 
I was quite nervous when the day arrived. I walked 
away with my drawings up Wardour Street. I re- 


membered that Berners Street had a golden lion on the 
right corner house and blundered on, till without know- 
ing how or remembering why I found myself at 
Fuseli's door ! I deliberated a minute or two, and at 
last making up my mind to see the enchanter, I jerked 
up the knocker so nervously that it stuck in the air. 
I looked at it, as much as to say " Is this fair ? " and 
then drove it down with such a devil of a blow that the 
door rang again. The maid came rushing up in astonish- 
ment. I followed her into a gallery or show room, 
enough to frighten anybody at twilight. Galvanized 
devils — malicious witches brewino; their incantations — 
Satan bridging Chaos, and springing upwards like a 
pyramid of fire — Lady Macbeth — Paolo and Francesca 
— Falstaffand Mrs. Quickly — humour, pathos, terror, 
blood, and murder, met one at every look ! I expected 
the floor to give way — I fancied Fuseli himself to be 
a giant. I heard his footsteps and saw a little bony 
hand slide round the edge of the door, followed by a 
little white-headed lion- faced man in an old flannel 
dressing-gown tied round his waist with a piece of rope 
and upon his head the bottom of Mrs. Fuseli's work 

" Well, well," thought I, " I am a match for you at 
any rate, if bewitching is tried ; " but all apprehension 
vanished on his saying in the mildest and kindest way, 
" Well, Mr. Haydon, I have heard a great deal of you 
from Mr. Hoare. Where are your drawings ? " In a 
fright I gave him the wrong book, with a sketch of 
some men pushing a cask into a grocer's shop — Fuseli 
smiled and said, " By Gode, de fellow does his business 
at least with eneargy." I was gratified at his being- 
pleased in spite of my mistake. 

" You are studying anatomy, — you are right. Show 
me some drawings. I am Keeper of de Academy, and 
hope to see you dere de first nights." I went away, 


feeling happy that my bones were whole and my breath- 
ing uninterrupted. 

Fuseli took his place as Keeper in 1805, after the 
Christmas vacation, and I well remember on my first 
night of attendance he came up to me, to the astonish- 
ment of the students, and pointing his finger at me, 
said in a voice of thundei', " I know enough of you." 
The students took it oddly, and said, " Why wliat does 
he know of you ? " Half in a fright, I began to ask 
myself if I had unconsciously been guilty of murder. 
On tliis eventful night I found out to my misery that 
at a distance I could not see. It was all very well in a 
small room, but at fifteen feet I could not distinguish 
a feature. This defect I afterwards remedied by spec- 

Fuseli made us a speech before he went away, and 
thus began my academical career. 

The next day at eleven, I went to the Academy, and 
saw a little good-natured looking man in black Avith 
his hair powdered, whom I took for a clergyman. In 
the course of the morning we talked. He made a shrewd 
remark or two, and when we left we w^alked home to- 
gether, as he lodged in the Strand not far from me. I 
showed him what I was trying : he said to me, " Sir 
George Beaumont says you should always paint your 
studies." " Do you know Sir George, Sir Joshua's 
friend?" " To be sure I do." I was delighted. " What 
is your name ? " " Jackson." " And where do you 
come from?" " Yorkshire." "And how do you know such 
a man ? " " Know him," Jackson answered, bursting 
into a laugh. " Why Lord Mulgravc is my patron, 
and Sir George is his friend." 

Jackson was a most amiable, sincere, unafiected crea- 
ture, and had a fine eye for colour. I soon perceived 
that he drew with a want of firmness, but with a great 
feeling for effect, and we became exceedingly intimate. 


Jackson was tlie son of a respectable tradesman at 
Whitby, ^Yhere he was apprenticed to a tailor. Lord 
JNIulirravc and Sir Georo-e Beaumont were once at the 
castle, when Atkinson the architect, who was visiting 
there, showed them two or three pencil sketches of 
Jackson's. Lord Mulgrave said to Atkinson, " Let us 
have him up," and Jackson was ordered to the room, 
where by his simplicity of manner and easy explanation 
of his sketches, he delighted them all. Sir George (as 
he told me), asked him if he had ever painted, and on 
his saying he had not, advised him to copy a George 
Colman by Sir Joshua, at the castle. They had no 
colour but white lead, and no brushes but house painters'; 
however, with Sir George's advice and assistance, he 
set to work. A Vandyke brown he obtained from the 
woods ; a fine Indian red from the alum works by burn- 
ing ; yellow ochre In the grounds, and a blue black, 
cither from burnt vine stalks, or soot, I forget which ; 
and with these materials he set to work and made a 
really wonderful copy. 

The besetting sin of poor Jackson was indolence, and 
this soon became apparent. Lord Mulgrave once told 
us, that when Jackson had finished a picture of Lady 
Mulgrave and her sister, he was begged to have it 
packed up immediately and sent off to the Exhibition, 
as the least delay would render it too late. The next 
day Lord Mulgrave finding that the picture had not 
been sent went into Jackson's room and scolded him 
well, insisting on his immediately seeing the picture 
packed up and sent off. Jackson left the room, apolo- 
gising and pi'omising immediate attention to his Lord- 
ship's desires. As soon as Lord Mulgrave had reached 
his own room, he bethought himself, "By Gad, I had 
better perhaps look after that fellow," and out Avent 
my Lord to see. On going down stairs, the first thing 
his Lordship did see, was Master Jackson out in the 


courtyard playing battle-door and slmttle-cook with bis 
Loixlship's Aide-de-camp. 

Lord Mulgrave used to tell the story with exquisite 
humour, giving Jackson's attitude and expression, when, 
as he was just hitting the shuttle-cock, his Lordship's 
face first broke upon him. Lord jMulgrave went out to 
give the Aide-de-camp a good rowing for taking Jackson 
away from his duty. " My Lord, I am not to blame," 
said the Aide-de-camp, '-for he came and asked me to 
play." Lord Mulgrave said that he really could not 
resist this, and burst out into a hearty laugh. This 
anecdote is an epitome of Jackson's whole life. 

We told each other our plans of study, and drew al- 
ways together in the evenings after the Academy was 
over. One niMit as I saw that a coalhcaver, who was 
brinsino; some coals into the house, had a fine muscular 
arm, we got him to sit to us and so made our first draw- 
in2;s from life. 

Another student at the same time -was L * * *, the 
historical painter, a pompous little fellow who was al- 
ways saying " God bless my soul." He was patronised 

by Lord D e, looked down on me for not drawing 

Avith spirit — thought lightly of Jackson because he 
studied effect — and meant himself to be a grand painter, 
because — he had a noble patron ! He had an awful feel- 
ing for the grand style — Oh the grand style ! — and 
marched about us like a tutor. L * * * had a good 
worthy heart, and all the affectations of talent without 
any of the reality. He never drew what he saw, and 
nearly persuaded me that he was right, but Jackson 
saved me. As I replied one day to some objection of his 
with '.- L * * * does not do so and so ; " " L * * * ! " said 
Jackson, " you draw fifty times better than he does." 
" No, no." "■ But you do! " and this shook my belief in 
L * * *'s invincibility. Jackson, in his truthfulness and 
relish for nature, felt and knew this — I was uncertain. 


This is the sort of instruction students give to each 
other, and there is no mode of instruction so effectual. 
Jackson was of the greatest use to me in pointing out 
vice in style, and I was of the same use to him in 
anatomy. Fuseli soon distinguished Jackson, L * * *, 
and myself. I do not remember to have seen during 
this quarter of 1805 either Mulready, Collins or Hilton 
— Etty I never saw, and Wilkie had not yet oome up. 

"Beware of Fuseli" was in every body's mouth; 
but havino: hic;her authorities in the m-eat Greeks and 
Italians I was fearless. I adored Fuseli's inventive 
imagination and saw his mannered style. In conveying 
his conception he had all the etiiereal part of a genius, 
but not enough of the earthly to express his ideas in a 
natural way. We are made up of body and mind, and 
one of the greatest proofs of a complete genius is the 
evidence it gives of this union. A man has no more 
rio-ht to dislocate an arm and call it the " Grand 
Style," than he has to put in six toes and call it 
" Nature as she ouo;ht to be." We have no business to 
make nature as she never was : all we have to do is to 
restore her to what she is according to the definite 
principles of her first creation ; further we have no right 
to go, and if this be not done with truth, mankind will 
turn away, let the conceptions conveyed be ever so sub- 
lime or beautiful. 

My incessant application was soon perceived by Fuseli, 
who coming in one day, when I Avas at work and all the 
other students were away, walked up to me and said in 
the mildest voice, " Why when de devil do you dine?" 
and invited me to go back with him to dinner. Here 
I saw his sketches, the sublimity of which I deny. Evil 
was in him — he knew full well that he was wrong as to 
truth of imitation, and he kept palliating it under the 
excuse of " the Grand Style." He said a subject should 
interest, astonish, or move ; if it did none of these it w^as 


worth " noding by Gode." He had a strong Swiss 
accent and a 2;uttural enero-etic diction. This was not 
affectation in him. He swore roundly, a habit which he 
told me he had contracted from Dr. Armstrono;. He 
was about five feet five inches high, had a compact little 
form, stood firmly at his easel, painted with his left 
hand, never held his palette upon his thumb but kept it 
upon his stone, and being very near-sighted, and too vain 
to wear glasses, used to dab his beastly brush into the 
oil, and sweeping round the palette in the dark take up 
a great lump of white, red, or blue, as it might be, and 
plaster it over a shoulder or face. Sometimes in his 
blindness he would put a hideous smear of Prussian blue 
in his flesh, and then, perhaps, discovering his mistake, 
take a bit of red to deaden it, and then prying close in, 
turn round to me and say, " By Gode, dat's a fine purple! 
it's vary like Corregio, by Gode ! " and then, all of a 
sudden, he would burst out with a quotation from Homer, 
Tasso, Dante, Ovid, Virgil, or perhaps the Niebelungen, 
and thunder round to me with " Paint dat ! " I found 
him the most grotesque mixture of literature, art, scepti- 
cism, indelicacy, profanity, and kindness. He put me 
in mind of Archimago in Spencer. Weak minds he 
destroyed. They mistook his wit for reason, his in- 
delicacy for breeding, his swearing for manliness, and 
his infidelity for strength of mind ; but he was accom- 
plished in elegant literature, and had the art of inspirinf^ 
young minds with high and grand views. I told him, 
that I would never paint portrait, — but devote myself 
to High Art. " Keep to dat ! " said Fuseli, looking 
fiercely at me : " I will, sir." AVe were more intimate 
from that hour. He should have checked me, and 
pointed out that portrait was useful as practice, if ke[)t 
subordinate, but that I w^as not to allow myself to be 
seduced by the money that it brought in from making 
VOL. I. D 


High Art my predominant object. This would have 
been more sensible. 

The drawinsi; for our tickets was from the figure of the 
Discobolos — Jackson, I and L * * * were admitted 
at the same time. I remember West praising my draw- 
ing very much and telling Fusell that it had the exact 
leap and action of the figure. I proceeded with this 
figure as with a picture. I drew the extremities large 
first, sketched parts in shadow in a small book by hold- 
ing a candle to enlighten them ; and so when drawing 
the figure, helped by my sketches, I made out the parts, 
and yet preserved a good general effect by constantly 
keeping the actual figure before me. 

Jackson (I think) had at this time painted a picture 
of Lady Mulgrave and Mrs. Phipps for the Exhibition, 
as well as the head of an old beggar who used to stand 
at the corner of the alley which leads to St. Martin's 
Lane. Poor old fellow, he was taken up afterwards for 
being, as he told Jackson, an " expositor." We all got 
our tickets, and with March, 1805, "ended the first term. 
Jackson and I planned hard work for the summer, and 
I, being in earnest, put my theory in practice imme- 
diately ; but I soon found my worthy friend doing every 
thing but hard work, — going to sales to see fine pic- 
tures, — walking into the country to study clouds and 
landscape, so very useful for backgrounds, — and so 
forth ; in fact, his amiability was such that he never 
resisted an inclination of his own or of any other person; 
and I perceived that it required unusual vigour to with- 
stand his seducing ways. 

However, I never lost a day, but worked out my 
twelve or fourteen hours as I felt inclined, when, just as 
I was in the midst of it, came a letter from home saying 
that my father was dying. I packed up on the spot, 
called on Fuseli on my way to the coach and talked to 
him so energetically that he said, " By Gode you talk 

1805.] RETURN HOME. 35 

well; wryltc me." In two days I reached Plymouth 
and found mv lather recovered but much exhausted. 
My poor mother pressed me to her heart and cried hys- 
terically. She looked at my spectacles and shook her 
head. " Don't leave us again, — don't leave us again," 
she kept sobbing out — and first laughing, then crying, 
then putting me at arm's length, then clasping me close, 
she would still mutter to herself, " Don't leave me, don't 
leave me." It was dreadfully affecting, but I had de- 
termined to command myself, and I succeeded. 

The next day I got bones and muscles from the 
surgeon of the hospital, and was liard at work that very 
night. Then began the most miserable part of my life. 
It was a torture. Aunts and cousins, friends and uncles, 
all in succession scolding, advising, reproaching or appeal- 
ing, the whole day through. In this state of mind, and 
with these interruptions, I got through that book of 
anatomical studies which all in my school have coi)ied, 
from Charles Eastlake to Lance. But still my life was 
wretched. My mother watched me day and night, and 
often creeping into my room at midnight would find me 
undressed but finishing a drawing before getting into 
bed. Though I had been a year studying, I had nothing 
attractive to flatter the vanity of my parents — no patron 
— no my Lord or Sir George had yet come forward ; — 
all I had to show were correct drawings of dry bones 
and drier muscles. " What is Benjamin about ? " said 
my father to an uncle who had come down from London: 
" Oh, he is mad,'' replied my uncle ; " I called and found 
lilm with Albinus on the floor, stretched out on his 
belly, studying; he's mad certainly." 

One day I rose with the sun and crossed over to 
Mount Edgcumbe, and as I roamed througli its beautiful 
fields in the fresh morning air, I brought my struggles 
to a conclusitn and made up my mind. ^\'hen I re- 
turned, I told my father that if he wic^hcd it I would 



stay, but only on a principle of duty ; as I should cer- 
tainly leave him in the end. He was very much af- 
fected, and replied that he had also made up his mind — 
to gratify ray invincible passion ; that I should be tor- 
mented no longer ; that he could not well afford to 
support me, but that he would do so until I could sup- 
port myself. I was deeply touched. I wrote to Jackson, 
and Fuseli, and I doubt not that I spun out my letters 
with all sorts of fine sentiments. 

About a fortnight after came Fuseli's reply, short, 
characteristic, strong, and with a gentle reproof at the 
end for boring him with a fine long youthful epistle. 

No date (it was June, 1805). 
" My dear Sir, 

"I might plead the privilege of a sick man for not 
answering your first letter, but in the state of reconva- 
lescence in which I am at present, I should be inexcusable 
were I not to answer the second, which is a pure etFusion of 
humanity. The lucky escape I have had from an accident *, 
which threatened death, or worse, is more endeared to me, 
by the prospect of being suffered a little longer to be useful 
to such characters as yours : of which I hope to convince 
you at your return to London, where I sliall be in a few 
days, ready to receive you and to attend your progress in 
and out of the Academy. 

" To be long and at the same time entertaining is given to 
few ; permit me therefore to subscribe myself at present, 
" Your warm and sincere friend, 

" Henry Fuseli." 

" To be long, and at the same time entertaining," — 
of course I took the hint, and never bored him a2:ain 
with four sides of sentiment and profundity, such as 
young men write to each other, or when they are in 
love. Jackson Avrote to me on his return to the Aca- 
demy, and I well remember his saying, " There is a raw, 

* He had been run over. 

1805.] WILKIE. 37 

tall, pale, queer Scotchman come, an odd fellow, but 
there is something in him ; he is called Wilkie." 

" Hang the fellow," I thought : " I hope with his 
* something ' he is not going to be a historical painter," — 
and arranging with my dear family for good, my father 
having quite recovered, though still weak, I started this 
time with the blessings and prayers of all for my pro- 
sperity and success. 

Hurrah for dear old London — hurrah J 

n 3 



I REACHED town Safely and found Jackson and L * * * 
glad to see me. They both said that I might rely upon 
it this Wilkie was a clever fellow. Jackson said he 
drew too square to please him, but yet he had great 
truth. L * * * gfvid that his style was vulgar. " But 
what does Fuseli say ? " said I. " Oh," said Jackson, 
"he thinks dere's someting in de fellow!" I was 
made uneasy all night, for Jackson finished by telling 
me that Wilkie had painted a j:»icture at Edinburgh, 
from Macbeth, which we all agreed must have been a 
historical one. 

The next day I went to draw, but Wilkie was not 
there. An hour after in he came. He was tall, pale, 
quiet, with a fine eye, short nose, vulgar humorous 
mouth, but great energy of expression. 

After drawing a little he rose up, looked over me, 
and sat down. I rose up, looked over him, and sat 
down. Nothing farther passed this day, our first to- 
gether. Wilkie was very talkative to those near him, 
but in a whisper. TJie next day I brought the book of 
anatomical studies, which I had done in Devonshire. 
The students crowded round me, but Wilkie was not 
there. The next day, however, he came, asked me a 
question which I answered, and then we l^egan to talk, 
to argue, to disagree, and went away and dined together. 
We used to dine at an ordinary in Poland Street, in a 
house on the right. You passed through the i:)assage 
and came to the dining-room with a skylight in it. 
Many French came there ; and here it was that Wilkie 
got that old fellow in the Village Politicians reading the 


paper with his glasses on. Sometimes we used to dine 
at a chop house at the back of Slaughter's Coffee House 
in St. Martin's Court; and very often at John O'Groat's 
in Kupert Street. 

I now remember poor Hilton, so pale and cadaverous, 
that we used to call him " The Anatomical Figure." 
Mulready and Collins were also up this term. Jackson, 
I and AVilkie became excessively intimate. L * * * 

thought himself a cut above us, because Lord de D 

maintained him. ]Mv great increase of knowledge 
during the vacation made many of the students wonder. 
They had been dancing about ; I had been hard at work, 
and had got, by my application, a start that I main- 
tained. Northcote said that my anatomical studies 
would make me a good surgeon, but that they were no 
use for a painter. Opie said they were capital. Fuseli 
swore that he learnt by looking at them. Smirke was 
delighted with my rapid progress, and so was Prince 
Ploare. I now moved more to the West end, as better 
for health, and took lodgings, at 3, Broad Street, Car- 
naby Market. "VVilkie lived at 8, Norton Street, in a 
front parlour, and Jackson still kept to the Strand. 

Such was Jackson's perfect freedom from all feeling 
of envy, that he talked to Lord Mulgrave of both 
Wilkie and myself. His Lordship asked what my 
intentions were. Jackson explained them fully, and 
he answered, that if such were my objects, he would 
give me a commission to set me going, as soon as I 
begun to paint. 

On my return to town I had set vigorously to work, 
and the autumn beginning, I got nearly a whole subject 
to myself at a surgeon's in Hatton Garden. The sight 
of a real body laid open exposed the secrets of all the 
markings so wonderfully that my mind got a new and 
confirmed spring. The distinction between muscle, 
tendon, and bone, was so palpable now that there could 

V 4 


be no mistake again for ever. The utility of this pro- 
cess was wonderful. No principles without this previous 
information could have availed. I came to the conclu- 
sion (which a subsequent research has confirmed) that 
the Greeks must have pursued the same course, however 

I had now nearly done preparation. No student but 
Jackson came here ; and he came only twice a week, 
and drew so indolently that it hardly deserved the name 
of drawinc;. 

The news of the battle of Trafalgar and the death of 
Nelson arrived, I remember, in October, and caused a 
deep sensation. Napoleon had said just before at Ulm, 
that it was ships, colonies, and commerce he wanted, 
and this defeat was ably turned against him. 

I remember, that after the battle of the Nile, when 
quite a child, I was walking with a schoolfellow, near 
Stonehouse, when a little diminutive man, with a green 
shade over his eye, a shabby well-worn cocked hat, and 
buttoned-up undress coat, approached us. He was lean- 
ing on the arm of a taller man in a black coat and round 
hat (I should think this must have been poor Scott); 
as he came up, my companion said "There's Nelson!" 
" Let us take off our hats," said I. We did so, and 
held them out so far that he could not avoid seeinof us, 
and as he passed he touched his own hat, and smiled. 
We boasted of this for months. 

Just before he embarked the last time, I saw him 
again with the same man passing by Northumberland 
House. He had been to Dollond's to buy a night glass, 
for as I casually called there, I saw his address, written 
by his own hand, and his glass on the counter. 

I have a much higher idea of Nelson's reach of mind 
than most men are inclined to have. His correspon- 
dence in Clarke's life is masterly. His perfect self- 
gacrifice, his pure unadulterated patriotism, his intense 


estimate of the character oF the French, and his never 
being imposed on by their beggarly and bloody plii- 
losophy, his invariably seeing through their shuffling 
pretences and never believing that their word was 
worth more than their morals, his inspired conviction, 
that England in peace or in war was and would 
always be the object of their innate hatred, showed a 
vigour and perspicuity proof against all imposition, and 
the French in their dread and hatred of him tacitly 
admitted the truth of his instincts. 

Hail to his great, his glorious and noble soul ! may 
his example never be lost in the British navy or among 
the British people. 

His death affected me for days. But all fears of inva- 
sion were now over, and we looked forward to our pur- 
suits with a degree of confidence which those only can 
estimate who passed their early days among the excite- 
ment of perpetual war. 

I saw his funeral, which, as a clever foreigner well said, 
showed the nation's generosity and its utter want of taste. 
Instead of employing the first artist of the day, I believe 
Ackerman in the Strand designed the whole thino-. 

At the conclusion of tlie funeral service in the Cathe- 
dral, the old flag of the Victory was torn into a thousand 
shreds, each of which was carefully preserved by its for- 
tunate owner as a relic of the hei'o. Lascelles Hoppner 
brought me home a fragment, which I religiously kept 
until it was irretrievably lost in the confusion of my 

When the Academy closed in August, Wilklc fol- 
lowed me to the door and invited me to breakfast, saying 
in a broad Scotch accent, " Wliare dy'e stay ?" I went 
to his room rather earlier tlian the hour named, and to 
my utter astonishment found Wilkic sitting stark naked 
on the side of his bed, drawing himself by help of the 
looking-glass ! " My God, Wilkie," said I, " where are 


we to breakfast ? " "Witliout any apology or attention to 
my important question, he replied, "It's jest copltal 
practice ! " 

I left him, and strolled for an hour over the fields 
where Is now the Regent's Park. When I returned I 
rallied him on his "copltal practice," and I shall cer- 
tainly never forget his red hair, his long lanky figure 
reflected in the glass, and Wilkle, with port-crayon and 
paper, making a beautiful study. He showed me his 
Avonderful picture of the Fair, painted at nineteen, 
before he had ever seen a Teniers. The colour was bad, 
but the grouping beautiful and the figures full of expres- 
sion. But at that time I was too bis; with " Pllgh Art" 
to feel Its perfections, and perhaps had a feeling akin to 
contempt for a young man with any talent who stooped 
to such things. 

It was about this time that, glad of any employment, 
Wilkie entered into an en2;a2;ement with an engraver to 
copy Barry's pictures at the Adelphl. In connection with 
poor Barry I remember an absurd anecdote. Wilkie 
had got tickets to see him lie in state, and had asked me 
to g:o with him. Now, a black coat at a funeral ceremo- 
nial Is a sine qua non, and Wilkie, not having one in his 
possession, begged me, if I could, to accommodate him, 
which of course I readily did, especially as I had two. 
Neither of us, however, had reflected on our different 
figures, he long and bony, I short and slight. I got first 
to the Academy whence we were all to go to the Adelphi, 
and after waiting some time, at the eleventh hour Wilkie 
made his appearance In my coat, the sleeves half-way up 
his arms, his long bony wrists painfully protruding, his 
broad shoulders stretching the seams until they cracked 
again, while the waist buttons a}>peared anywhere but 
where their maker originally intended them to be. He 
caught my eye, and significantly held up his finger as 
if to entreat me to be quiet, but with an expression so 


ridiculously conscious of his unhappy situation that I 
thought I should have died with laughing on the spot. 

We soon set off for the Adelphi, and there we saw 
poor Barry as he lay amidst his great works, — a pall 
worthy of the corpse ! 

Many and many a time have Wilkie and I laughed 
over the short sleeves and still shorter waist, and it was 
only the other day (May, 1840), after the lapse of 
five-and'thirty years, that we remembered it again, and 
laughed our laugh as of old, though I fear Si?- David did 
not relish the recollection so much as formerlj^ 

Though Wilkie di*ew at the Academy with spirit, it 
was in a style of smartness, so full of what are called 
spirited touches that it could not be recommended for 
imitation to students. Tliis style belonged to him and 
originated with him. It was like the painting of Teniers. 
Wilkie had brouglit to town a letter to Mr. Greville 
(who lived in Paddington), a relative of Lord Mansfield, 
and Lord Mansfield in consequence of Greville's in- 
troduction gave Wilkie a commission for the Village 

After Christmas we crowded away again to the Aca- 
demy where the report of Wilkie's commission soon got 
Avind. At this time a Scotchman, Charles Bell, came 
to town, and Wilkie taking considerable intei'cst in his 
success asked me if I would attend a class, were one to 
be got up, for a course of lectures on anatomy. I was 
delighted ; we beat up sixteen pupils at two guineas 
each, and here I concluded my anatomical studies. 

Bell had great delight in the subject and was as eager 
as ourselves. Poor and anxious for reputation, he was 
industrious and did his best. lie had studied and fully 
understood the api)lication of anatomy to the purposes we 
wanted. His lectures were, in fiict, his subsequent 
book, the Anatomy of Expression, for which ^^'ilkie 
made several of tlie drawings. A miniature painter, 


Saunders, drew the laughing head. Wilklc's best was, 
I think, Terror with the hands up. 

In the Academy I do not tliink I had much repute. 
Perhajis I was not ambitious of a "medal" reputation. 
I was occasionally pelted with clay for poring over my 
Gladiator ; but every figure I drew I mastered, and 
traced causes and effects until I could tell the reason 
of tlie markings, and could distinguish the difference of 
style between the Gladiator and Torso, and explain the 
why and wherefore. 

I was perhaps too solitary and peculiar ; I passed days 
and nights in the deepest study and reflection. Wilkie 
and Jackson were my only associates, and even they 
perhaps were not sufficiently with me. Jackson's eye 
for colour was exquisite* Pie took me once to see the 
Venus and Adonis of Titian, belonging to West, which 
I have heard Angerstein gave him, after he bought the 
one now in the National Gallery, At that time I had 
never seen a Titian, and my rapture was unbounded. 
Here 1 found, what I had actually before this discovered 
for myself. Glazing. Few will believe that I had done 
so ; but it is true. In copying a head, which I could 
never successfully imitate in colour, it appeared to me 
on close examination that it was painted lighter at first 
than at the finish. I tried it, hit it, and told Jackson, as 
a great secret, how I thought Titian worked in this pic- 
ture. He burst out into a roar of laughter, and said, 
"Why every one knows how to glaze!" but, neverthe- 
less, I was a discoverer. Jackson made interest with 
some of the principal attendants at Lord Carlisle's and 
Lord Stafford's and took me to see their galleries. To 
this dear old friend I owe my first sound princijiles in 
colour. I never could bear a modern work afterwards, 
and made up my mind that in future, for colour, execu- 
tion and tone, I would look back upon the departed 

1806.] WILKIE'S village POLITICIANS. 45 

It was impossible not to like Jackson. His very indo- 
lent and lazy habits engaged one. His eternal desire to 
gossip was wonderful. Sooner than not gossip, he would 
sit down and talk to servants and valets, drink brandy 
and water with them, and perhaps sing a song. He would 
stand for hours together with one hand in his trowsers' 
pocket, chatting about Sir Joshua and Vandyke, then 
tell a story in his Yorkshire way, full of nature and tact, 
racy and beautiful, and then start off anywhere, to Vaux- 
hall or Covent Garden, " to study expression and effect." 
After some time. Lord Mulgrave thought he had disco- 
vered that Jackson was beginning to be idle, which his 
Lordship helped to make him by sending him constantly 
to sales. At last his carelessness became so apparent 
that Lord Mulgrave, in a passion, cut off his income and 
threw him on his own resources. This brought Jackson 
to his senses. He exerted himself; and he told me that 
it had saved him. I certainly date his independence of 
character from that moment. Nor was he so weak but 
that when he found himself deserted he dared all sorts 
of things for an honest subsistence, and found himself 
happier as his own master. I thank God I never had a 
patron, as he had, and I would have showed the door to 
any man who had offered such patronage. 

By the end of March or so, Wilkie had finished Lord 
Mansfield's conunission, and Jackson told me it was 
quite equal to Tenicrs in handling, and superior in the 
telling of the story. I was surprised, and owned that 
I could not feel its worth, my object was so different. 
By degrees, as I watched its progress, I began to per- 
ceive the excellence of its expression, but I disliked its 
insignificant size and perhaps altogether I did not think 
highly of it. It was not like Titian ; had no impasto, 
and was so thinly painted; yet every body seemed so 
struck with Wilkic's genius that I imagined I must be 


Jackson told Lord Mulgrave and Sir George of this 
production of the young student, and they sent him away 
to bring It down to Harley Street. Wllkle was out, 
and so Lord JNIulgrave and Sir George called the next 
day, saw the picture, and were so electrified with It that 
they each gave him a commission, one for the Blind 
Fiddler, the other for the Rent Day. WUkle was now 
up In high life, and If a young man wanted to be puffed 
at dinners until Academicians became black In the face 
Lord Mulgrave and Sir George were the men. 

All this delighted and stimulated both Jackson and 
me. Wilkle had got the start of us, but he had been 
studying for five years at Edinburgh. My ambition 
was so excited that I determined to begin painting at 

The Exhibition time of 1806 approached, and Wilkle 
began to make a great noise. Sir George described him 
as " a young man who came to London, saw a picture 
of Teniers, went home and at once painted the Village 
Politicians." That was the wonder ! " at once " ! 

" At once ! my dear Lady Mulgrave, at once ! " and 
off all crowded to the little parlour of No. 8, Norton 
Street, to see the picture painted by the young Scotch- 
man, who never painted a picture or saw one until the 
morning when he saw the Teniers, and then rushed 
home and produced the Politicians ! 

Personal appearance Is everything In high life. A 
good air and confident modesty make a great Impression. 
Wilkle was a pale, retiring, awkward, hard-working 
and not over-fed student. The women did not report 
well to each other of the artist, but his picture was 
wonderful ! 

The last day for sending In the pictures arrived, and 
Jackson told me that he remained late at night endea- 
vouring to persuade Wilkle to send his picture In ; but 
such was his timidity and modesty that he really did not 

1806.] WILKIE'S village POLITICIANS. 47 

seem to believe in its merit, nor had lie fully consented 
when Jackson took his leave. However, to the Aca- 
demy it went, and there I will leave it for the present. 

During the progress of the picture his employer 
called, and said, towards its conclusion, "What am I 
to pay you for this picture, Mr. Wilkie ? " Wilkie, 
timid and trembling, said, " I hope your Lordship will 
not think fifteen fjuineas too much," " Fifteen guineas!" 
replied his Lordship, " why, that is rather too much ; 
you had better consult your friends, Mr. Wilkie." 

*' Fifteen guineas!" I said when I heard it, "a 
hundred and fifty guineas is not too much. Don't you 
let him have it, my dear Wilkie." Everybody was of 
the same opinion. In the mean time his Lordship had 
beard the picture talked about. Suddenly in he popped 
upon Wilkie, looked, admired, and said, " I believe Mr. 
Wilkie that I owe you fifteen guineas: I will give you 
a cheque." *' No," replied Wilkie, " yovir Lordship 
told me to consult my friends, as you thought it too 
much ; I have done so, and they agree that is too little." 
" Oh, but I considered it a bargain," said Lord Mans- 
field rising, and leaving the room. On the hanging day 
the Academicians were so delighted that they hung it 
on the chimney, the best place for a fine picture. On 
the private day there was a crowd about it, and at the 
dinner Angerstein took the Prince up to see it. 

On the Sunday (the next day) I read in the News, 
"A young man hy the name of Wilkie, a Scotchman, has a 
very extraordinary xvorhy I was in the clouds, hurried 
over my breakfast, rushed away, met Jackson who 
joined mc, and we both bolted into Wilkie's room. I 
roared out, " A\'ilkie, my l)oy, your name's in the paper! " 
" Is it rea-al-ly," said David. I read the puff — we 
huzzaed, and taking hands all three danced round the 
table until we were tired! 

I3y those who remember the tone of Wilkie's "rea-al-ly" 


this will be relished. Eastlake told me that Calcott 
said once to Wilkie, " Do you not know that every one 
complains of your continual ' rea-al-ly ' ? " Wilkie mused 
a moment, looked at Calcott, and drawled out, " Do 
they rea-al-ly ? " " You must leave it off." " I will 
rea-al-ly." " For Heaven's sake don't keep repeating 
it," said Calcott; "it annoys me." Wilkie looked, 
smiled, and in the most unconscious manner said, 
" Rea-al-ly ! " 

Jackson, he, and I made an appointment to go to- 
gether to the Exhibition the next day : Wilkie wasto 
call on me at 49, Carey Street. 

Ah ! these unalloyed moments never come twice ; our 
joy was the joy of three friends, pure from all base 
passions ; one of whom had proved a great genius, and 
we felt as if it reflected honour on our choice of each 

Wilkie called accordingly, looking bewildered with 
his success. Seguier and Jackson met us at Somerset 
House, and paying our money we mounted the steps, 
Wilkie and I arm in arm, Seguier and Jackson follow- 
ing us. I walked straight to the picture, but there was 
no getting in sideways or edgeways. Wilkie, pale as 
death, kept saying, " Dear, dear, it's jest wonderful I " 

After enjoying the triumph, which was complete, we 
left the Academy and went to dine — Seguier saying 
to me, " I suppose you'll astonish us next ! " 

We dined at John O'Groat's, Rupert Street, and 
jxoino; home with Wilkie found his table covered with 
cards of people of fashion, people of no fashion, and 
people of every fashion. 

The rush was tremendous — Wilkie became drunk 
Avith success and very idle. Several friends interfered 
with Lord Mansfield, and Wilkie was advised to call. 
He did. His Lordship said, " he considered it a bar- 
gain." " Did you on your honour, my Lord ? " asked 

1806.] wilkie's triumph. 49 

Wilkie. "I did upon my honour," replied Lord 
Mansfield. " Then," said Wilkie, " the picture is your 
Lordship's for fifteen guineas." "Now," said Lord 
Mansfield, " I hope you will accept a cheque for thirty 
guineas." This 1 had from Wilkie's own mouth and 
his veracity is unquestionable. 

Thus, then, one of the trio — Wilkie, Jackson and 
Haydon — was fairly launched on the world. Wilkie 
soon became a constant guest at Lord Mulgrave's, and 
as I was frequently talked about I was not long behind 
my sincere friends. 

Wilkie's reputation disturbed my peace. I could not 
sleep an hour at a time without restlessness and dream- 
ing. I got Jackson's old " expositor," and immediately 
set to work from him and painted a head and hands. 
As we used generally to breakfast together on Sunday 
mornings at one another's rooms or at Seguier's (who 
had come into our circle), the head and hands the next 
Sunday were brought to the ordeal. They were con- 
sidered pi'omising: the hands they said were capital, 
and I was greatly encoui'aged. 

A\ ith the weakness of our poor nature Wilkie became 
visibily aifected by his fame, — talked very grandly, — 
bought new coats, — dressed like a dandy but in vain 
tried to look one. While wc were at Bell's liis pale 
anxious look, his evident poverty and struggle, his broad 
Scotch accent, had all excited the humour of those 
students who were better off, and to quiz Wilkie was 
the joke. I remember he came one day with some very 
fine yellow drawing paper, and we all said, "Why, 
Wilkie ! were the deuce did you get this ? bring us a 
quire to-morrow I " He promised he would. The next 
day, and the day after, no drawing paper! At last we 
became enraged, and begged him, as he seemed so un- 
willing to bring us any, to give us the man's address. 
" W'cel, wccl," said Wilkie, "jest give mc the money 

VOL. I. E 


first and ye '11 be sure to have the paper !" There was 
such an evident want of youthful heart and trust in this, 
that we all roared at Inm. 

" Ah ! Davie, Davie," said one, " ye come frae Fife," 
— "And that's just the Scotch part of Scotland," said 
another, — and so on for the rest of the day. His pe- 
culiar genius showed itself one day when I was eagerly 
drawing the skeleton. The oddity of the skeleton with 
its eyeless holes and bare bones, and ray earnest expres- 
sion, formed such a contrast, that Wilkie, instead of 
making his study at the same time, struck with the hu- 
mour of my position and look, sketched it into his ana- 
tomical book, and laughed long and loudly over his 
successful caricature. 

We had a second course with Bell, and when Wilkie 
came among the students again his Scotch friends com- 
menced their old jokes, but, alas ! Wilkie had proved 
his great genius before the world and their jokes fell 

Some looked at him with mysterious curiosity, others 
were silent, and Wilkie drew on quiet and self-pos- 
sessed, without appearing to notice their failure. He 
had, and he deserved to have, a complete triumph. We 
were all chap-fallen, and deserved to be so. Let stu- 
dents be cautious how they quiz external peculiarities 
until they are certain what they conceal. 

Now that he was richer than he had been for some 
time his first thoughts were turned towards his mother 
and sister. Something of vast importance was brewing, 
we could not imagine what ; — I feared a large picture, 
before I was ready ; — but at last I, as his particular 
friend, received an invitation to tea, and after one of 
our usual discussions on art, he took me into another 
room, and there — spread out in glittering triumph — 
were two new bonnets, two new shawls, ribbons and 
satins, and Heaven knows what, to astonish the natives 

1806.] AYILKIE. 51 

of Cults, and to enable Wilkie's venerable father, like 
the Vicar of Wakefield, to preach a sermon on the 
vanity of woman, Avhilst his wife and daugliter were 
shining in the splendour of fashion from the dress- 
makers at the west end of London ! 

I never saw such amiable simplicity of rustic triumph 
as glittered in Wilkie's expressive face. I felt my at- 
tachment increased. I saw through his selfish exterior, 
that there was a heart, certainly, underneath — but I 
am not quite certain after thirty-six years ! Then came 
the packing; then the dangers by sea, and the dangers 
by land ; then the landlady and her daughter, and all 
her friends, were in consultation deep, and profound 
were the discussions how to secure " those sweet bonnets 
from beino; crushed " and " those charmlno- ribbons from 
sea-water." " There was nothing like it," as Burke 
said to Boswell on Johnson's dining with Wilkes, *' in 
the whole circle of diplomacy." All the time Wilkie 
stood by, eager and interested beyond belief, till his 
conscience began to prick him and he said to me, " I 
have jest been very idle," and so for a couple of days he 
set to, heart and soul, at the Blind Fiddler for Sir 

The progress of this perfect production I watched 
with delight ; I conceived the world must be right, and 
if I could not sec his superiority that I must be wrong. 
I therefore studied his proceeding as he went on and 
gained from him great and useful knowledge. 

" What is tliis, and that, and that for ? " brought out 
answers Avhich I stored up. Ills knowledge in com- 
position was exquisite. The remarks he made to me 
relative to his own works I looked into RafFaele for 
and found them applied there, and then it was evident 
to me that AV'ilkie's peasant-pictures concealed deep 
principles of the " ponerc totum " which I did not know. 


It was throiTgli ignorance and not superior knowledge 
that at first I could not perceive his excellence. 

This was a great and useful discovery : I found this 
thin, tall, bony fellow, as Jackson called him, a great 
master at twenty ! 

But his eye for colour was really horrid. He put a 
beastly yellow in his flesh ; he had no feeling for pearly 
tints or imiyasto. His flesh was meagre, thin, dirty 
mud. We used to argue about glazing and pure pre- 
paration of tint without yellow. I painted an old game- 
keeper (the model of the ol 1 grandfather by the fire in 
the Blind Fiddler), and then glazed it. Wilkie was so 
delighted he borrowed my study and tried the fiddler's 
right hand without yellow, toned it, and really it was 
the only bit of pure colour in the work. Pie was 
candid enough to say that I had greatly assisted him in 
that point ; and told a friend that my study of the head 
had been of great service, which I believe, for I have 
always had an eye for colour (first taught by Jackson), 
which Wilkie never had. 

The season had now ended, and among the other 
fashionable departures, Wilkie and Jackson went to 
Mulgrave Castle to meet Sir George and a party, to 
paint and spend their time delightfully. 

I went to and got furiously in love ; forgot blind 

fiddlers for blind Cupids ; never drew, nor painted ; 
to ride about the delicious neighbourhood, to read 
Milton and Tasso and Shakespeare In grassy nooks by 
the rippling sea, to unbind her hair, and watch her 
fastening it back with her ivory arms bent back over 
her head, to hear her thrilling laugh at my passionate 
oaths of fidelity, — all these were my studies for the va- 
cation, — studies perhaps not so entirely useless. 

In the heat of this delirium came a letter from Wilkie. 
My position, so dangerous but so little considered, now 
looked me sternly in the face : I started, like the in- 


fatuated knight in the Bower of Bliss, and retiring to 
my room read in his letter 

(dated Malgrave Castle, Sept. 9. 1806.) 

" It will perhaps give you some pleasure to hear, that you 
are not unfrequently the subject of convei'sation. It seems 
Mr. Jackson has spoken very highly of you, several times, to 
Lord Mulgrave, and I have told them of the picture you are 
at present engaged on, which has raised their curiosity and 
expectations : at the same time, Sir George has expressed a 
desire to call upon you, when he returns to London, and 
Lord Mulgrave has desired me to transcribe a few lines from 
a subject which he seems to wish to have painted, as he ad- 
mires it for its grandeur. He wishes also to know, if you 
think it would suit your ideas, although he would not wish 
to put any restraint upon your inclinations. The subject 
has seldom or never been painted, which his Lordship tiiinks 
an advantage to it- 

"I have enclosed the lines in this letter*, so that you 
may take your own time to think of it ; but I will see you 
myself before it will be necessary for you to give any opinion. 

" Sir George Beaumont is to allow me 50 guineas for my 
picture f, if I am satisfied with it. 

•■' He says he never intended to fix it at 25 guineas, but 
only mentioned that, at the time, to Mr. Jackson, as being 
the lowest that lie would give. I think that this offer is 
very liberal, and I think you will be of the same opinion. 

" We are all astonished that Mr. Jackson has not yet 
arrived, as we hear that he was to leave London more tlian 
a week ago, but he is not one of those who arc scrupulously 
punctual to their word, else wc might be very uneasy about 
him. I find that Lord Mulgrave is as well acquainted with 
his feelings as we arc. He laughs at his unsteadiness, is 
amused at his simplicity, admires his talents, but grieves at 
his want of industry, and moreover observes, that Jackson 
is a person he never could be angry with." 

* This was an extract fnim Hook's tionian History, relating to 
Dentatus, tlie sul)ject I ai'lerwards painted. 
t The Blind Fiddler. 

E 3 


This roused my spirits. I had got my first com- 
mission for a grand historical picture, " to set me going," 
as Lord Mulgrave had promised. It was a triumph for 
me, a reward for what I had suffered, and I imagined 
now that ail trouble was at an end. I wrote home. 
Coblcy was silenced and began to cry ; Plymouth was 
quite pleased ; I was really a public character, and all 
my aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, came and 
congratulated my dear parents, declared they always 
said it would be so, and only thought a little wholesome 
opposition a very necessary thing. Cobley always 
talked of me ; my father swore Lord Mulgrave was of 
the right sort, as he was an upright and downright out- 
and-out Tory, for no Democrats or Whigs ever would 
have thought of such a thing, and then he drank his 
health in a bumper. Dr. Bidlake prided himself on 
having taught me ; my school-mates foresaw it ; in fact, 
opposition was over, and they swore that my fortune 
was made. 

How often has my fortune been made in the opinion of 
friends ! 

I had now to part from my ladye-love, and I shall 
say nothing on the subject beyond confessing that on 
the road to London I cried for the first twenty miles as 
if my heart was quite broken. However, about the thir- 
tieth mile, I caught myself laughing at a charming Jittle 
creature at an inn where we changed horses. I dozed 
and dreamed of her pretty dimpled face until I scented 
the London smoke, when all these rustic whims and 
fancies gave way to deep reflection on High Art and a 
fearless confidence in my own ambition. 

So far from the smoke of London being offensive to 
me, it has always been to my imagination the sublime 
canopy that shrouds the City of the World. Drifted by 
the wind or hanging in gloomy grandeur over the vast- 
ness of our Babylon, the sight of it always filled my 

1806.] MY FIRST PICTURE. 55 

niincl with feelings of energy such as no other spectacle 
could inspire. 

" Be Gode," said Fuseli, to me one day, " it's like de 
smoke of de Israelites making bricks." " It is grander," 
said I, " for it is the smoke of a people who would have 
made the Egyptians make bi'icks for them." " Well 
done, John Bull," replied Fuseli. 

Often have I studied its peculiarities from the hills 
near London, whence in the midst of its drifted clouds 
you catch a glimpse of the great dome of St. Paul's, 
announcing at once civilisation and power. 

I got home before Wilkie, ordered the canvass for my 
first picture (six feet by four) of " Joseph and Mary 
resting on the road to Egypt ; " and on October 1st, 
1806, setting my palette and taking brush in hand, 
I knelt down and prayed God to bless my career, to 
grant me energy to create a new era in art, and to 
rouse the people and patrons to a just estimate of the 
moral value of historical painting. I poured forth my 
gratitude for Ilis kind protection during my preparatory 
studies and for early directing me in the right way, and 
implored Him in His mercy to continue that protection 
which had hitherto been granted me. I arose with that 
peculiar calm which in me always accompanies such 
expressions of deep gratitude, and looking fearlessly at 
my unblemished canvass, in a species of spasmodic fury 
I dashed down the first touch. I stopped; and said, 
" Now I have begun ; never can that last moment be 
recalled." Another touch — and another — and before 
noon I had rubbed in the whole pictvu-e, when in came 
Wilkie. " That's jest too dark for rubbing in." 
*' Why ? " " Because what can ye do darker ? Ye must 
jest never lose your ground at first." I scraped away 
until he was satisfied that I had restored the ground 
sufficiently and got all in like a wash in water colour. 

He was delighted tliat I had fairly commenced, and 

K 4 


when he left me I thought " Now here is a lesson." 
This is the blessing of beginning ; every day is a lesson 
and every day an advance. 

This period in my life was a very happy one. I look 
back upon it, indeed, as perhaps the happiest of all my 
student career. 

The basis of my character was earnestness of feeling. 
I took up everything as if my life depended upon it, and 
not feeling sufficient gratification in simply doing all 
that I could, my imagination was never satisfied if I did 
not call on the aid and blessincj of God to correct and 
fortify my resolves. I never rose without prayer, and 
never retired without it ; and occasionally in the day, in 
the fervour of conception, I inwardly asked a blessing 
on my designs. I was fervently alive to the beauty of 
woman ; and though never vicious was always falling in 
love. No doubt an Etonian, a Winchester or Rugby 
boy, or a London dandy, will laugh incredulously at 
this : but with me, it was a fact. At twenty I had a 
high and noble object, which sustained me far above 
the contaminations of a " town life," and carried me at 
once into virtuous society, without passing through that 
ordeal of vice which young men think so necessary to 
clear away schoolboy shyness and fit them for the world. 
Wilkie, I have every reason to believe, was equally vir- 
tuous. We both considered our calling a high duty, and 
we both were anxious to do our best. 

180G.] VISIT FROM SIU G. i3EAU3[ONT. 5^ 


The difficulties of a first attempt were enormous. I 
wanted to make Joseph's head looking down so as to 
leave the eyes out of sight, and I did it so badly that 
people said " Why he's asleep ! " So out came that head 
several times, but at last I hit the look from the model 
after a lono-, lonjx morning's trial of some ei"ht hours. 
Oh the ecstacy with which I then rushed to dinner, and 
the appetite with which I ate ! 

By this time people began to come to town, and about 
November, I think. Sir G. Beaumont returned and inti- 
mated through AVilkie a desire to call. Wilkie informed 
me in due time and a day was fixed for the awful visi- 
tation. A thundering knock and trampling horses, a 
rattling down of steps and flinging open of doors, an- 
nounced consequence and fashion. The picture was set 
in a good light, tlie room neat, the chairs old, the carpet 
worn. In came David Wilkie Introducing Lady and 
Sir George Beaumont, the friends of Garrick and Sir 

Lady Beaumont was a graceful woman, looking young 
for her age ; Sir George a tall, well-bred, handsome man 
with a highly intellectual air. They both eyed me well 
and were delighted with the picture. " AVcll," said Sir 
George, " very poetical, and quite large enough for 
anything." I bowed, but diftered ; explained that 
my object was Grand Art, and that this was my first 
attempt. After the usual questions and replies Sir 
George asked mo to dine in a few days and they then 
took their leave. 


This first visit from a man of rank and repute elevated 
me a good deal ; Wilkle and I dined together the same 
evening, and he told me that Lady Beaumont said " I 
like him very much ; for he has an antique head." This 
was a great compliment ! 

I immediately filled four sides (as I was not writing 
to Fuseli) to my dear parents, with every incident of 
the visit, — how Lady Beaumont looked — what she had 
on — how tall Sir George was — how he looked — what 
he had on — what Lady Beaumont said — what Sir George 
said — what David Wilkie did 7iot say, and what he 
ought to have said. Again my fortune was made, again 
my Plymotheans were in raptures. I myself was in 
raptures too — thought Sir George and Lady Beaumont 
models of all the virtues upon earth, and praised them 
to Wilkie accordingly. Wilkie always looked as if he 
saw farther into time, but he thou2;ht it rioht not to 
disturb my enthusiasm. 

The awful day came, when a youth from the country 
who had never in his life dined at any table higher than 
a country parson's was to make his debut at a party in 
high life. " God only knows how I shall go into the 
room," thought I : "I will keep behind Wilkie ; at any 
rate I am a match for him, and I will 7iot drink Lady 
Beaumont's health in porter." 

Wilkie called — I had been shaving until my chin was 
half skinned — washing until I Avas quite in a heat — and 
dressing and re-dressing until my back ached again — 
brushino; mv hair — lookincj behind me in the o-lass — 
putting the glass on the floor and then opening the door 
— bowing and talking to myself and wishing that my 
mother could see me ! I was ready and away we drove, 
I in a cold perspiration. We reached the house, the 
door opened, and we marched through a line of servants 
who bawled out our names from the entrance. In went 
Wilkie and in went I, and in five minutes was much 


niore at ease than I ever had been in my life, sitting on 
an ottoman talking to Lady Beaumont. Mr. Davy was 
announced, and a little slender youth came in, his hair 
combed over his forehead, speaking very dandily and 
drawlingly. Dance the architect and several others fol- 
lowed, and after some little chatting in the gallery dinner 
was served. Davy took Lady Beaumont, the rest fol- 
lowed as they pleased, and I was placed within one of 
her Ladyship. The dinner went off well with me, for I 
felt quite at ease ; every one seemed so kind. At dessert 
Lady Beaumont, leaning forward, said, " When do you 
begin Lord Mulgrave's picture, Mr. Haydon ? " Im- 
mediately all eyes were fixed upon Mr. Haydon who 
was going to paint a picture for Lord Mulgrave. I was 
the new man of the night ! '' Who is he ? " was asked. 
Kobody knew, and that was more delightful still. Davy 
was very entertaining, and I well remember a remark 
he made which turned out a singularly successful pro- 
phecy : he said, " Napoleon will certainly come in con- 
tact with Ivussia by pressing forward in Poland, and 
there probably will begin his destruction." This I heard 
myself five years before it happened. We soon rose for 
coffee. I found her Ladyship anxious to discuss the 
subject of Lord Mulgrave's picture, and as I imagined 
that it would be peculiarly interesting to detail how I 
meant to paint it, and found that I was really listened 
to, I became quite entertaining, whilst AVilkic, full of 
modesty, hung back and seemed frigiitencd to tread 
within the circle. However, carriages were soon an- 
nounced, and Wilkie and I took our leaves and walked 
home. This visit was not satisfactory ; I was paid at- 
tention to over-eagerly for a novelty, before I had done 
anything to deserve it. I distrusted the sincerity of 
those who could give me so much importance on such 
slight grounds. 

In a sliort tin;e I was cautioned to be warv of Sir 


George ; I wa? told that he regularly had at his table a 
succession of geniuses who were puffed as great men, 
whose hopes he constantly excited and as constantly 
depressed without any reason at all ; in fact that I must 
take care not to lose my time, but at once be cautious 
of either offending or relying upon him. 

I believed this to be calumny, but it had an effect. 
In a day or two he called, sat whilst I painted, and 
then took me away in his carriage to show me Lord 
Ashburnham's pictures at Ashburnham House, and set 
me down at my own door. He told me Sir Joshua 
used white of egg, and advised me to do the same, with 
half a dozen other things, to all of which I paid no 

I complained to AVilkie that my colours dried too 
quickly. " What dy'e paint in ?" " Drying oil and var- 
nish." " Use raw oil ! " " What is raw oil ? " said I. 
" Why, oil not boiled." I did not know this, and de- 
lighted with the information ground up with raw oil 
and have done so ever since. Such was at that time 
my ignorance of vehicle. 

The subject I had chosen was a pretty one if poeti- 
cally treated, and I had so treated it. In the centre 
was Joseph holding the child asleep ; the ass on the 
other side ; above were two angels regarding the group, 
and in the extreme distance the Pyramids at the break 
of day. The whole was silently tender. The scenery 
divided interest with the actors. The colour was toned 
and harmonious, — the drawing correct. I had tried to 
unite nature and the antique. I never painted without 
nature and never settled my forms without the antique. 
I proceeded with the utmost circumspection and I be- 
lieve that it was rather an extraordinary work for ^ first 
picture. It was an attempt to unite all parts of the art 
as means of conveying thought, in due subordination. 
It had colour, light and shadow, impasto, handling. 


drawing, form and expression. It took me six months 
to paint and when I saw it twenty-five years after I 
was astonished. It was bouglit by Mr. Thomas Hope 
the year after and is now at Deepdene. 

By perpetual studying at Lord Stafford's gallery, to 
which by Sir George's kindness Wilkie, Jackson and I 
Avere admitted, I had made np my mind as to my 2)rac- 
tice. I used to mix up tints and carry them down on a 
bit of pasteboard to the Titians and compare them every 
Wednesday. By these means it will be seen that I had 
not neglected the study of the brush, and thus, when 
I commenced painting I was not ignorant of the theory 
of practice. 

Wilkie's success gave me unalloyed pleasure. I was 
very much attached to him and he seemed to be so to 
me ; but as this picture drew to its conclusion, he did 
not give me that encouragement which under similar 
circumstances, in the warmth of my heart, I should have 
offered to him. He feared this, and he feared that, and 
wdien Sir George Beaumont (although admitting it Avas 
a wonderful first picture) advised me by no means to 
exhibit it, Wilkie instead of backing me up turned 
right round from his former opinion and thought that I 
ought not as it was my first picture ! Now began the 
anxieties of the art. What was I to do ? To fly in 
the face of Sir George would offend him ; to obey him 
would keep me from the world another year. But why 
I ought not to show it because it was my first, wlien 
they botli admitted it was by no means like the work of 
youth, I really could not understand. 

i\Ianv evenings was all this discussed. Jackson said 
I ought to exhibit ; Wilkie said I ought not, and our 
mutual friend Scgaier said, if he was in my place, he 
would. This decided me. " Wilkie," said Seguier, 
" does not wish to differ from Sir George." 

There was something so cold in "W'ilkie's thus with- 


drawing his support from a devoted friend, that I really 
date my loss of confidencG from the hour he thus re- 
fused me his countenance and denied his first opinions 
because the man of rank thought otherwise. As the 
Exhibition time approached, I felt all those cursed tor- 
turino; anxieties that are the bane of this mode of 
making your name known to your countrymen — a 
mode the most absurd, unjust, despotic, and ridiculous, 
that was ever invented by the most malignant in art. 
I dreamed that the Exhibition was open, and that 1 
hurried into the rooms and could not find my picture ; 
that I ran about raving for the porter, and at last found 
myself in the Academy kitchen, and there, under the 
table and covered over with the servants' table-cloth, 
found my picture dirty and torn. I became furious, 
awoke, and found myself sitting bolt upright in my 
bed ; but for some time I could not rid myself of 
the delusion. 

For days I wandered about in hopeless misery ; I 
could not eat or drink ; I lost my relish for everything ; 
I could not sleep ; I could not paint ; called on one 
friend after another affecting gaiety ; bored Fuseli, who, 
being Keeper, saw what was daily doing by the Com- 
mittee ; luitil, at last, one morning, when after a timid 
knock I opened the door at the usual " Come in," 
Fuseli turned suddenly round with his lion head, the 
white hair glistening as the light quivered down upon 
it from the top of his high window, and roared out, 
"Wale, is it you? for your comfort den, you are hung 

be Gode, and d d well too, though not in chains 

yet." " Where, sir, for God's sake ? " " Ah ! dat is a 
sacrate, but you are in the great room. Dey were all 
pleased. Northcote tried to hurt you, but dey would 
not listene ; he said, * Fye, zure I see Wilkie's hand 
dere.' ' Come, come»' said Westall, ' dat's too bad even 
for you ! '" " Wilkie's hand," replied I, '' good heavens. 


Avhat malice ! I would as soon let Wilkie feed me with 
a pap spoon as touch a picture of mine. But what 
petty malignity ! " " ^Yil\c, wale," said Fuseli, " I told 
him (Northcote), ' you are his townsman, hang him 
wale.' When I came back whayre de deyvil do you 
tink he was hanging you ? Be Gode, above de whole 
lengts and small figures about eight inches. ' Why,' 
said I, 'you are sending him to heaven before his 
time. Take him down, take him down ; dat is shame- 

And so down I was taken and hunfr on the rio-ht of 
the entrance door in the old Great Boom at Somerset 
House, which for a first picture by a young student was 
a very good situation and obtained me great honour. 
The Blind Fiddler was of course the great source of 
attraction, and well it might be. Wilkie rose higher 
than ever. On the day the Exhibition opened we all 
dined with Hoppner, who hated Northcote, who in his 
turn hated Hoppner, Hoppner was a man of fine 
mind, great nobleness of heart, and an exquisite taste 
for music, but he had not strength for orio-inalitv. He 
imitated Gainsborough for landscape and Reynolds for 
portrait. We talked of art, and after dinner Hoppner 
said, "lean fancy a man fond of his art who painted 
like Bcynolds ; but how a man can be fond of art who 
paints like that fellow Northcote, heaven only knows." 
*' As to that poor man-niillincr of a painter, Hoppner," 
Northcote used to say to me, " I hate him, sir, I 
ha-a-a-te him ! " 

Hoi)pner was bilious from hard work at portraits and 
harass of high life. He was portrait painter to the 

* In Nortlicoto's "Conversations" he attempts to clear himself 
of this, by saying that he was not hanger the year (1S07) my 
picture came in. Now, on the Otlicial List of Councils of the 
Academy, Northcote for that year is entered as " /(wng-er," being 
on the Council. Peace to him! — B. 11. II. 


Prince ; and one day M°Mahon having ordered the 
porter at Carlton House to get the rails repainted, and 
to send for the Prince's painter, the man in his igno- 
rance went over to Hoppner. 

When the Prince visited Hoppner one day, he popped 
suddenly into his gallery where was his fine portrait of 
Pitt. " Ah ! all !' said the Prince, " there he is with 

his d d obstinate face." I had this from Lascelles 

Hoppner who heard him from an inside room. 

I must go back a little in order to recall a very inter- 
esting letter which I received from Sir George Beau- 
mont while painting my picture, and in the midst of all 
the difficulties I experienced in bringing it to a close. 
This letter showed his real heart when in the country, 
free from the agitation and excitement of London life. 
He had a family-house at Dunmow, Essex, Avhere his 
venerable mother lived in seclusion, and where Sir 
George generally visited her between Christmas and 
spring. Lord Mulgrave used to quiz him about never 
allowing any of his friends to come to Dunmow, de- 
clai'ing that Sir George had something snug there which 
he did not wish to be seen or known. 

Pie wrote me, 

(Dunmow, Feb. 28. 1807.) 

" I am not surprised, and indeed very little sorry, to hear of 
your difficulties, for you must remember the more elevated 
your goal, the greater must be the exertion of every nerve 
and sinew to reach it ; had you been easily satisfied, I should 
have formed no interesting hopes of your progress. I myself 
have merely played with the art, yet I have had experience 
enough to convince me that the man who fancies attainment 
easy, has a circumscribed mind, ill calculated to reach any 
point approaching to excellence. He may perhaps acquire 
some dexterity of hand, and make a tolerable figure on a 
tea-board, but he will never obtain that something, which 
cannot be described, though it reaches the recesses of the 
heart, without any of the parade of execution. * * * 


" It, at first thought, seems rather hard, that such a Bix'- 
mingham gentleman* should, in the multitude of his converts, 
proceed without difficulty and with great exaltation, whilst 
you meet with struggles and with disappointments ; yet when 
you recollect the object of his vanity — that it has little to do 
with the mind, — that it will never be approved of by an 
opinion worthy the consideration of a man of sense, — and 
that it is scarcely more valuable than the applause a rope- 
dancer receives for his monkey tricks — he certainly ceases 
to be an object of envy, Avhilst you have the satisfaction of 
reflecting upon the value of the object you have in view, and 
that although the present pains and troubles are distressing, 
yet, when once achieved, not only will your reward be the ap- 
probation of every man of real taste, but a proper appli- 
cation of the power acquired will impart useful pleasure, 
and ultimately pi'omote the causes of religion and virtue. 

" I should add that at tlie time I am undervaluing mere 
flippancy of pencil, where pencilling, exclusive of expression, 
is the object of the artist (which by the way is no bad re- 
ceipt to make a French painter), yet I by no means approve 
of that blundering, ignorant, clumsy execution, which some 
have indulged themselves in. Tlie touch, to my feeling, 
should be firm, intelligent, and decisive, and evince a full 
knowledge of the object. This will never be attained but 
by profound knowledge of drawing, which, I am sorry to say, 
has been much neglected. Superadded to the great pleasure 
I expect from the works of yourself and "Wilkie, I hope your 
steady application to drawing will be an example of incal- 
culable advantage to the students of the present day. 

"I contemplate the friendship which subsists between 
yourself and Wilkie with peculiar pleasure. Long may it 
last, uninterrupted by misunderstanding of any sort ! I am 
confident it will not only render your studies pleasing, but 
your honest criticisms of each other cannot fail of producing 
mutual advantage. You cannot impress your mind with too 
exalted an idea of your high calling ! " 

I now recommenced my Greek to which I had never 
* I am convinced Sir George alluded to Lawrence. — 13. Iv. II. 

VOL. I. r 


paid much attention since I left school, and found that 
I could scarcely read it with any ease. But I soon 
discovered that the accui'ate study of a language em- 
ploys more time than can he spared from any other 
leading pursuit. I wrote to Sir George about it, and 
in a few days heard again from Dunmow. Among 
other things, he wrote, — 

(March 23. 1807.) 

" If you determine to master the languages, it will cost 
you much time and much labour, and for the life of me 
I cannot conceive how it will advance your great object. If 
you saved your eyes or strengthened your constitution by air 
and exercise in the process, I should certainly recommend 
the undertaking, but on the contrary, it will consume the 
little time you have to spare for the care of your health — 
which, whatever a youthful desire of triumph may at present 
suggest, is as necessary as any other qualification for an 
artist, and will, without due attention, before you are aware 
of it, stand a chance of being irretrievably lost. If you 
think it necessary to paint from Homer, the subject and 
costume may certainly be as well knoAvn from translations 
and English comments as from the original. 

" But for my own part, I have always doubted the pru- 
dence of painting from poets ; for if they are excellent, you 
have always the disadvantage of having an admirable pic- 
ture to contend with already formed in the minds of the 
circle — nay different pictures in different minds of your 
spectators — and there is a chance, if yours docs not happen 
to coincide (which is impossible in all cases) that justice 
will not be done you. 

" This remark is particularly applicable in painting from 
Shakespeare, when you not only have the powerful jDro- 
ductions of his mind's pencil to contend with, but also the 
perverted representations of the theatres, which have made 
such impressions on most people in early life, that T, for my 
part, feel it more difficult to form a picture in my mind from 
any scene of his that I have seen frequently represented, 
tlian from the works of any other poet. 


"Now if you choose judiciously a subject from history 
you avoid these disadvantages, and the business will be to 
make the poetry yourself, and he who cannot perform this 
will in vain attempt to echo the poetry of another. You 
have asked my opinion and I have freely given it, but many 
will undoubtedly differ from me. I only speak my genuine 

o ■ 

These letters during February and March prepared 
the way for my first picture, and Wilkie's immortal one, 
the Blind Fiddler. No one can read of Sir Georsfe's 
regard for us (hardly twenty-one any of tlie three) 
without acknowledging the kindness of his disposition. 

The season soon began. Lord JNIulgrave came to 
town and Jackson brought me an invitation to dine. 
On introduction Lord Mulgrave said, " I hope I shall 
know more of you." Lady Mulgrave, the Hon. Au- 
gustus Phipps, Lord Normanby, then a boy, the rest of 
the family, Jackson, Wilkie and I formed the party at 
Lord jMulgrave's house in Ilarley Street. 

At table, during dessert, we got on poetry. Lord 
Mulgrave said, he did not admire Milton ; that Pitt 
had often tried to convince him of Milton's genius, 
but that he could not see it. I defended him — Lord 
Mulgrave drew up and looked solemn ; Wilkie pale ; 
Jackson as usual utterly good-natured ; Sir George and 
Lady Beaumont quiet and surprised. Lord Mulgrave 
said he agreed with the Scotchman, who, after reading 
Milton through, said "he thought there was just faults 
on both sides." This produced a hearty laugh, in which 
I joined ; but it was evident that my ardour for Milton 
was a little out of place at my Lord's table, the first 
time of dining. Lord Mulgrave was a fine character, 
and as he now produced the laugh and not I, he closed 
the argument in apparent triumph. 

I dined there again very soon, and at last Wilkie and 
I dined there so often and became so much in fashion 

F 2 


that we started chapeaux bras. To please Lord Mul- 
grave, Jackson used to powder liis head, and once Lord 
Mulgrave induced Wilkie to do the same, but Whitbread 
quizzed poor David so unmercifully that he never re- 
peated it. Lord JMuI grave was a high Tory and a com- 
plete John Bull. He gloried in Nelson and (I thought) 
seemed to have an immortal hatred of Napoleon. The 
name of Napoleon seemed to exasperate his nature be- 
yond everything. About this time the Whigs were 
turned out, and the Duke of Portland forming an Ad- 
ministration gave Lord Mulgrave tlie Admiralty. To 
the Admiraltv then we used to go : there we dined 
often and often, and always with pleasure. There 
we started our chapeaux hras, did the dandy and the 
buck, saw our names in the Morning Post as guests of 
the First Lord, met ministers and ladies, generals and 
lord chamberlains, men of genius and men of no genius, 
and rose rapidly and daily in hope and promise. Lord 
Mulgi'ave (Tory as he was), wheu dinner was announced, 
as soon as all of superior rank had gone off used to say 
Avith an air, '' Historical Painters first — Haydon take 
so and so." 

Once or twice I dined with him alone. He talked 
on matters of history and politics, and from my general 
reading and education, he found I relished this conver- 
sation more than any upon art. He would even talk of 
Napoleon and of his campaigns, and finding me in- 
telligent and eager to listen he seemed to take pleasure 
in informing me in a general way. It is so dehghtful 
to hear men who have acted talk — they give you no 
trash but positive information. 

The Exhibition of 1807 brought me before the world: 
ray picture was considered a wonderful work for a 
student, and Sir George and my Lady saw that it was 
fortunate I had not taken their advice. I sent the Ca- 
talogue to my dear mother; she read my name in it 


printed for the first time. She read the criticisms ; she 
kept them all. 

Before the Academy closed a little matter occurred 
quite characteristic of English students. Two or three 
of the body who Avished to ingratiate themselves with 
the Keeper (Fuseli) proposed to present him with a vase. 
A subscription was opened, and a committee without 
either plan or principle formed itself, of which Wilkie 
and I were members. We were all perfectly ignorant 
of such matters and after a great deal of discussion we 
laid a plan before the students after hours. It was re- 
ceived with shouts of laughter and derision ! Up jumped 
a little fellow and made a speech, a capital one, in which 
he tore our proposition to pieces and called the whole 
thing an absurdity. Everything was going against us ; 
none would speak in our favour, when at last I screwed 
myself up, rose, and made my ddhut by bogging them not 
to attribute our proceedings to disrespect but to simpli- 
city and inexperience in business ; entreating them to be 
unanimous one way or the other; enlarging greatly 
upon the estimable qualities of our Keeper, and finally 
proposing that the self-elected committee should at once 
be dissolved, and the whole thing re-founded according: 
to the popular principles of the British Constitution. 
Disapprobation and groans gradually sank into silence, 
which specdil}'' turned into various " hear, hears," and 
"when at last I said, " Gentlemen, the eyes of England, 
and not only of England, but I may say of the whole 
British Empire, are upon you," the " hear, hears," gave 
way to rapturous applause and my proposition was car- 
ried nem. con. Wilkie immediately seconded me, pro- 
posed a room should be hired and the conuuittec chosen 
at once out of the body of students. This was loudly 
cheered. AVilkie, I and Dcnman, a pupil of Flaxman, 
were chosen, and we immediately secured a room at the 
" Garrick's Head" (opposite Covent Garden Theatre), 

F 3 


for the future meetings. Wilkie was voted to the chair; 
a committee formed in the regular way ; a Scotchman, 
a friend of his, made secretary, I treasurer, and after 
proposals, cheers and votes of thanks, we broke up all in 
capital humour with each other. 

We raised 50 guineas at lOs. 6d. each. I had never 
hr.d so much money in all my life, and I well recollect 
every night first putting the money under my pillow 
and then drawing a long French cavalry sabre (which 
had come out of an old prize at Plymouth) and laying it 
down within easy reach before going to sleep. 

At last I thought of a bank, and remembering that 
Coutt's were Fuseli's bankers, I called and asked the late 
Sir Edward Antrobus if he would allow me to pay the 
money in on account of the committee, explaining the 
object we had in view. He replied in the driest way, 
" Why, sir, we don't usually open an account with so 
small a sum!" "Small," thought I, "why there's no 
end to it!" However, he promised to take care of it for 
me and did so. Wilkie, Flaxman and I were now de- 
puted to arrange with a silversmith, and Rundell and 
Bridges agreed to execute a vase for 50 guineas which 
should be worthy Fuseli's acceptance. 

The committee was composed of a great many students, 
and while regulating the business we met at each other's 
rooms, had oysters for supper, sang songs, laughed and 
joked, and found the thing so very pleasant that we all 
agreed in hoping that it would not be a rapid perform- 
ance on the part of Rundell and Bi'idges. Wilkie at 
that time Avas a capital fellow : he had a little kit on 
which he played Scotch airs with a gusto that a Scotch- 
man only is capable of. 

We got so fond of these committees that Fuseli grew 
fidgetty and at last roared out, "Be Gode ye are like de 
Spaniards ; all ceremony and noting done ! " I reported 
the Keeper was getting sore, so we agreed to settle at 


the next committee what the inscription should be. At 
the next conmiitee the oysters predominated a little, so 
we deferred the ultimate consideration to another meet- 
ing. It happened that among the students we had a 
Scotch ornamental painter, called Callender, very like 
Wilkie in face and figure. Who he was nobody knew, 
but being an Edinburgh man — where they never snuff 
the candles at a meetino; without addressins; the chair 
and appointing a sub-committee to take the propriety of 
the act into consideration — he was thoroughly versed 
in all the duties of chairman, deputy, secretary and vice, 
and really Avas a treasure from his knowledge. The 
students swore that he was Wilkie's brother he was so 
like him. He made his first appearance during this 
business, disappeared as soon as it was over and never 
was seen or heard of afterwards. 

We soon settled the inscription ; the vase came home, 
and the day approached upon which it was to be pre- 
sented. Wilkie, however, was obliged to go to Scotland 
and I was elected to present it in his place. Here, then, 
to our infinite sorrow, ended the labours of the com- 
mittee; but wliether we regretted the oysters or the 
duties only gentlemen in the habit of belonging to com- 
mittees can decide. 

The day came ; the night before I rehearsed to myself 
the speecli — action, and expression. I imagined I was 
in Fuseli's presence. I took up a Latin dictionary for 
the cup and concluded my speech exactly as I placed 
the supposed cup upon the table before Fuseli. I fan- 
cied tlie speech was good but the question was how did 
I look — how ought I to look? The glass only could 
decide, and eo taking the half-rubbed, broken-down 
looking-glass of a lodging-house second floor bed-room, 
with only one pivot pin left, and that excessively loose, 
I planted it so as to see myself, with a candle over my 
licad ; repeated my speech ; acted ; finished ; glimpsed at 

F 4 


my features, and felt satisfied that there was no grimace. 
When I do anything I never consult friends, and never 
did from a boy. My speech was concise and to the 
point, and so all the advice about " Don't make it too 
long," and " let us see," and '' what are you going to 
say?" was lost upon me. " If I fail," said I, with vast 
importance, and conscious of the awful responsibility I 
had undertaken, " the disgrace is mine. If I succeed, 
yours will be the credit, for the sagacity of your 

The committee met in Fuseli's middle chamber and 
then repaired to his gallery with me at their head. 
Fuseli came out, bowed and looked agitated. The vase 
was on the table in front : I advanced to the table and 
said, "Mr. Fuseli, — sir," in such a tremendously loud 
and decided tone that they all started, but I quickly 
modulated my voice, and as I concluded I placed the 
vase before him. Fuseli made a very neat reply, and 
Flaxman a long speech which bored every one. We 
then all retired to a cold collation, drank Fuseli's health 
with three times three, and separated, the committee 
privately inquiring of each other whether all the busi- 
ness was concluded, or rather, if no possible affair could 
be invented for another committee supper. Flaxman 
said, as we came down to lunch, " The students hit upon 
the right man in young Haydon," and afterwards com- 
jiliraented me on my able speech. Keally I have often 
thought that this little affair, of which I was the head 
and front, first sowed the seeds of enmity against me in 
the minds of many of the Academicians. 

Hoppner was in a fury, and on the first opportunity, 
gave Wiikle a tremendous rowing, called the students a 
set of impudent puppies, and declared that had he been 
in the Council he would have turned us all into the 
streets ! When we were discussing the thing in its 
early stages, the Council used to listen at the door and 

1807.] DEATH OF OPIE. 73 

say, " Now they are talking about it, shall we do any- 
thino;?" Northcote was on the Council and confessed 
this to me. 

Within a very short time, so jealous were the Council 
and the greneral meetino; of this deserved honour to Fuseli 
that they actually passed a law forbidding the students 
ever again to exercise their judgment in such matters, as 
it belonsced to the Academicians, and to the Academi- 
cians alone, to decide on the merits of their officers. As 
if, in such a case, the students, the people really bene- 
fited by the Keeper, were not the best judges whether 
they were benefited or not ! The malignant feeling that 
this simple mark of respect roused among Fuseli's bro- 
ther R. A.'s excited every one's contempt. They never 
forgave me and I never respected them afterwards. Just 
before Wilkie went to Scotland poor Opie died, and we 
both went to his funeral. 

Opie died a disappointed man. He had been brought 
up to London as the wonderful Cornish boy — the gifted 
genius — and Ire was almost obliged, as he expressively 
said to Northcote, to plant cannon at his door to keep 
the nobility away. 

He had not foundation enough in his art to fall back 
upon when the novelty was over ; his employment fell 
off and he sank in repute and excellence. 

At one time, Iloppner informed me, there was an 
amazing force and power in his execution ; but he 
carried the surface of Reynolds to such excess, that (as 
Wilkie told me) he used tallow, (in his David Rizzio,) 
to increase the effect of body in his colour — an insane 
practice which must end in the ruin of the picture. 
Opie was a man of strong natural understanding, honest, 
manly and straightforward. His last marriage (with 
INIiss Aldcrson of Norwich) softened his asperities of 
manner and greatly ameliorated the coarseness of his 
female portraits, but still there was always a heavy look 


in his works which Is apparent when they are placed by 
the side of Reynolds or Titian. 

His lectures ai'e admirable. Of the three, Fusell, 
Ople, and Reynolds, Opie came nearest to the Greek 
principles of form, led by his natural sagacity and 
shrewdness. He was a loss, though not an Irreparable 
one, and left a gnp In the art. 

His celebrated wife was a delightful creature. When 
at Norwich in 1824 I breakfasted with her. In talking 
of Byron, she said, " His voice was such a voice as the 
devil temj)ted Eve with ; you feared its fascination the 
moment you heard it." The last time she saw him was 
at a soiree where a man took out a glass flute to play 
on : Byron looked at her and said, " That fellow is go- 
ino; to let us see his notes as well as hear them." 

Before leaving this part of my recollections I may as 
well introduce some little anecdotes, domestic in their 
kind, about Wili^Ie's picture of the Blind Fiddler, which 
I remember with pleasure. The mother was painted 
from a singular girl who lodged In Bathbone Place 
above some friends of ours. She was a young woman 
of masculine understanding, not regularly beautiful, 
but approaching it, full of heart and hatred of worldly 
feeling, capable of any sacrifices for the man she should 
love, and with a high standard of manly character and 
form. The first time I ever saw her Avas with Wllkie, 
when he called to ask her to sit to him, and on my in- 
quiring who she was he said he did not know beyond 
finding her making tea generally for his Scotch friends 
— he supposed that she was "part of the concern." 

These friends of Wilkle's were young men who had 
come from Scotland to work their way to fame and 
fortune in our great city — one of them, Du Fresne, of 
French famll}', was a most delightful fellow and he and 
I soon became very intimate. 

An attractive girl on the second floor of a house full 


of young men is in ratlier a dangerous position, and what 
with Dli Frcsne's fascinating conversation. Will Allan's 
anecdote. Dr. Millingen's furious admiration of Charles 
Fox, George Callender's sound sense and quiet humour, 
Wilkie's genius, and B. li. Haydon's high views and 
energy of argument, poor Lizzy was so fascinated that 
she positively forswore her sex and became as much a 
young man in mind as if she too were going to be a stu- 
dent in art, divinity, or medicine. 

She attached herself to the party, made tea for them, 
marketed for them, carved for them, went to the play 
with them, read Shakespeare with them, and on one 
occasion I found her studying, with an expression of 
profound bewilderment, " Held on the Human Mind." 
To men of fashion there will be no doubt as to what her 
position must have been with these young men ; but they 
are wrong in this case. Suspicion followed suspicion, 
but she cared not. She had more pleasure in listening 
to a dispute on art between Wilkie and me, or a political 
battle between ^PCIaiZCfan and Callender, or an account 
of the beheading of Marie Antoinette from Du Fresne, 
(who used to declare that he saw it and flung his red 
cap In the air,) than in making love or having love made 
to her. Her position was anomalous but I fully believe 
it Avas innocent. She was a girl with a man's mind, 
one of those women we sometimes meet who destroy 
their fair fame by placing themselves in masculine 
society with what is perfect innocence in them but 
could not be innocence in any woman brought up to 
nurse those delicacies of feeling which arc among the 
most delightful attributes of the sex. 

Liz was as interesting a girl as you would wish 
to sec and very likely to make a strong impression on 
any one that knew her : however I kept clear and she 
ultimately married the Frenchman. 

He was violent in temper and she had great spirit : 


they quarrelled as they went to churcli and quarrelled 
when tliey returned. The marriage was a wretched 
one. They separated. She went to Paris and he 
became a surgeon on a slave estate in the West Indies 
and died from yellow fever. What has become of her I 
never heard but have always felt a deep interest in her 
fate. To her I read my first attack on the Academy 
and she gloried in my defiance. She sat in my first 
picture and watched the daily j^rogress of Dentatus, 
saying, wlien I finished it, " Now who would have 
thouglit of little Ilaydon painting such a work ! " 

Perhaps some of the pleasantest evenings Wilkie and 
I ever spent together were those when she and Du 
Fresne and the whole " concern " of Kathbone Place 
drank tea with us at the rooms of one or the other. 
We used to talk over our pictures and their progress ; 
there have I heard the Village Politicians, the Blind 
Fiddler, Solomon, Dentatus, Joseph and Mary, and 
many others discussed, j)raised and objected to as we sat 
by a winter fire, with our pictures glimmering behind us 
in dimness and distance, each defect and each beauty 
analyzed and investigated. 

Happy period ! — painting and living in one room, — 
as independent as the wind — no servants — no respon- 
sibilities — reputation in the bud — hopes endless — 
ambition beginning — friends untried, believed to be as 
ardent, and as sincere, as ourselves — dwelling on the 
empty chairs after breaking up, as if the strings of one's 
affections were torn out, and such meetings would be no 

There never was a group of young men so various 
and characteristic, with Lizzy the only woman among 
us giving a zest and intensity to our thoughts and our 

First, was David Wilkie — Scotch, argumentative, 
uuclassical, prudent, poor and simple, but kindled by a 



steady flame of genius. Then, Du Fresne, — tbouo-jit- 
less, gay, highly educated, speaking French and Itahan 
Avith the most perfect accent, reading Virgil and Horace, 
quoting Shakespeare or Milton, believing in high art, 
glorying in the antique, hating modern academies, and 
relishing music like a Mozart. In perfect contrast, 
came George Callendcr — timid, quiet, unobtrusive, but 
withal well read. Then Di-. Millinn-cn — a Whis: de- 
votee, mad at a Westminster election, raving out a 
speech of Fox's, adoring Sheridan and hating Pitt. 
Last of all, though not least in our dear love, came B. 11. 
Haydon, — energetic, fiercely ambitious, full of grand 
ideas and romantic hopes, believing the world too little 
for his art, trusting all, fearing none, and pouring forth 
his thoughts in vigorous language, while Liz, — making 
tea at the table, — completed the grouji. 

My tea was so good and my cups so large that they 
always used to say, " We'll have tea at Hay don's in the 
grand style." 

The secret, I believe, of my own and Wilkie's enjoy- 
ing this circle was that its members always looked up to 
us as authorities in art. When Wiikie was disposed to 
talk we all listened, laughed or admired. His conver- 
sation was so full of good sense, reason and caution, that 
he was an admirable check and damper to the fury, flash 
and i*eckless energy of my aspirations. Callcnder, with 
tame rationality, backed him, — Liz and Du Fresno 
backed me, and sometimes differences almost risino; to 
irritation arose, but wc were always brought round by 
some witty remark or sparkling quotation from Du 

Certainly I never enjoyed any man's company so 
much as Du Fresno's. He died regretted sincerely, 
though his latter conduct had estranged one or two 
friends whom he might have used better. lie Avas a 
man of nice susceptibility to the genius of others with- 


out any originality. How many of this species do we 
not meet in the \voi*ld, pluming themselves ixpon their 
taste and feeling, on the whole having an idea of what 
is perfect, yet looking with contempt on all human effort 
in any art, because it does not come up to their un- 
practical and impossible notions of beauty, foi-getting 
that if men despaired because imagination is superior to 
reality, the world would be full of idle dreamers without 
busy actors, and would remain stationary in art and 

science ! 

Peace to all these friends! M°Claggan is settled in 
Edinburgh — Allan is the celebrated painter — Du 
Fresne and Callender dead — and interesting little Liz 
has disappeared. Heaven knows where ! If this Life 
should ever reach her, she will remember that I used to 
say of hei*, as Mahomet said of Fatlma, " She believed 
in me, when none else would." 

The success of Wilkie roused their jealousy, and when 
our dinlno; at Lord ]Mul";rave's was announced in the 
paper they could hardly conceal it. Kememberlng us 
poor and struggling, they found us patronised and popu- 
lar, yet retaining our friendships as before. One of the 
most difficult things in this world is the management of 
the temper of friends when you first burst into public 
repute and leave them in the rear. 



My first picture being considered very promising, I had 
now begun Lord Mulgrave's Dentatus, but, as I have 
said before, I found the difficulties so enormous that by 
Wilkie's advice I resolved to go into Devonshire and 
practise portraits. 

Just as I was thinking over my plans came a letter 
from home saying that my father was again seriously ill 
and begging me to return at once. This decided me, 
and I determined, at the risk of privateers and Verdun, 
to go by sea. I started for Portsmouth, cleared the 
Needles, had a tremendous gale for three days, and lay 
to off Portland Head for several hours, but at last Start 
Point came in sight and then the Sound. Up we sailed 
right through Haraoaze and landed at North Corner 
dock, where I had often been as a boy to watch Jack 
with his pig-tail and dashing girl, lounging along with 
a long pipe, and in the hoarse manly voice of a fore- 
top-man cracking his jokes on everything that came in 
his way — man, woman or French prisoner. As it was 
early in the morning I got a porter to carry my trunks 
and started for the house : of course the servants would 
not hear my knocks, but my dear mother opened her win- 
dow and seeing me rushed down stairs and clasped me 
to her heart. I found my father very ill, but the crisis 
was over, and we all hoped for his recovery which gra- 
dually took place witli care and change of scene and life. 
Here 1 resolved, as soon as settled, to paint my friends 
at fifteen guineas a head, a good price, at which I soou 
got full employment. Execrable as my portraits were. 


(I sincerely trust that not many survive,) I rapidly ac- 
cumulated money, not, probably, because my efforts were 
thought successful, even by my sitters, but more be- 
cause my friends wished to give me a lift and thought 
that so much enthusiasm deserved encouragement. 

How few beyond one's kind friends think thus ! 

During my stay I called on the late Lord Morley, 
then Lord Boringdon, (at Saltram,) and was received 
very kindly. I was amazingly struck with Lady Bo- 
ringdon (afterwards Lady Arthur Paget). She was a 
very beautiful woman with the largest dark blue eye I 
had ever seen. Both my Lord and Lady seemed dis- 
posed to patronise me, but, as usual, I did not succeed 
in portraits of every-day people, and Lord Boringdon, 
calling one day when I was out, Avas naturally enough 
not over well pleased with some of the worst of my bad 
efforts, which happened unfortunately for my reputation 
to be on the easel, and I never heard of him more. 

However, my general success was great, and I Im- 
proved so much by my short practice that people began 
to come in fi'om the country to sit, but as I had my 
commission in London and had obtained a fair facility 
in painting heads I resolved to bring my provincial 
labours to a close. 

But, alas ! my dear mother now began to droop. 

Incessant anxiety and trouble, and her only son's 
bursting away from her at a time when she had hoped 
for his consolations in her old age, gradually generated 
that dreadful disease angina pectoris. The least ex- 
citement brought on an aironizino; struo;2;le of blood 
through the great vessel of the heart, and nothing could 
procrastinate her fate but entire rest of mind and body. 
Her doom was sealed, and death held her as his own 
whenever it should please him to claim her. 

Her fine heroic face began to wither and grow pale; 
loss of exercise brought on weakness and derangement. 


She imagined that the advice of an eminent surgeon in 
London might save her, and though I and everybody 
else knew that nothing could be done we acceded to 
her wish immediately. 

I painted her portrait, and as she sat I saw a tear 
now and then fill her eye and slowly trickle down her 
cheek, and then she would look almost indiirnant at her 
own weakness. 

" I should have wished," she said at last, " to have 
seen your sister settled before I died, if it had pleased 
God," and there she stopped. I tried to cheer her 
against my own conviction; but there was such an 
evident want of sincerity in my expressions of comfort 
and hope that they only convinced her I thought as she 

In solitude I started at the thouo;ht of losino- a 
mother ! There is no feeling so acute as the first dawn 
of this thought on a young mind. 

One evening, as we sat I'ound the fire, she wept at 
the idea of never coming back again. We were all 
much affected ; my poor fatiier cried like an infant and 
tried to cheer her against such gloomy anticipations, 
but the impression in her mind was ungovernable and 
awful. It is my decided conviction that there exists in 
persons about to die an instinct of their fixte. The 
brain, I believe, is affected by the tendency of the vital 
parts to death and generates presentiments and fears. 

My dear mother felt her approaching end so clearly 
that she made every arrangement with reference to her 

I went to Exeter to get her apartments ready at the 
hotel, the day before she left home. She had passed a 
great part of her life Avith a brother (a prebend of Wells), 
who took care of a Mr. Cross, a dumb miniature painter. 
Cross (who in early life had made a fortune by his 
miniatures) loved my mother and proposed to her, but 



she being at that time engaged to my father refused 
hiui and they had never seen each other since. He 
retired from society deeply affected at his disappoint- 
ment. The day after leaving Exeter we stopped at 
"Wells as my mother wished to see my uncle once more. 

The meeting was very touching. As I left the room 
and crossed the hall I met a tall handsome old man ; his 
eyes seemed to look me through ; muttering hasty un- 
intelligible sounds he opened the door, saw my mother, 
and rushed over to her as if inspired of a sudden with 
youthful vigour. Then pressing her to his heart he 
wept, uttering sounds of joy not human ! This was 
Cross. They had not met for thirty years. We came 
so suddenly to my uncle's, they had never thought of 
getting him out of the way. It seemed as if the great 
sympathising Spirit once again brought them together 
before their souls took flight. 

He was in an agony of joy and pain, smoothing her 
hair and pointing first to her cheek and then to his own, 
as if to say " How altered ! " The moment he darted his 
eyes upon my sister and me, he looked as if he felt we 
were her children, but did not much notice us beyond 

My sister, hanging over my poor mother, wept pain- 
fully. She, Cross, my uncle and aunt, were all sobbing 
and much touched ; for my part my chest hove up and 
down, as I struggled with emotions at this singular and 
afHictino- meetino;. What a combination of human feel- 
ino;s and sufferino-s ! 

Disappointment in love, where the character is amiable, 
gives a pathetic interest to woman or man. But how 
much more than ordinary sympathies must he excite, 
who, dumb by nature, can only express his feelings by 
the lightnings of his eye ; who, wondering at the con- 
vulsions of his own heart when the beloved approaches 
him, can but mutter unintelligible sounds in the struggle 


to convey his unaccountable emotions ? In proportion 
to the inability he feels to express all the deep refine- 
ments of thouglit for which words only can avail, must 
suppression add to the intensity of passion ; and Avhen at 
last his beloved disappears to marry another no kind or 
delicate explanation can be given to one to whom speech 
is unintelligible. Thus had this man been left for thirty 
years brooding over affections wounded as for the mere 
pleasure of torture. For many months after my mother 
married he was frantic and ungovernable at her con- 
tinued absence and then sank into sullen sorrow. His 
relations and friends endeavoured to explain to him the 
cause of her going away, but he was never satisfied and 
never believed them. Now, when the recollection of her, 
young and beautiful, might occasionally have sootlied his 
iraao-ination like a melancholy dream, she suddenly bursts 
on him with two children, the offspring of her marriage 
with his rival — and that so altered, bowed, and weak- 
ened, as to root out the association of her youthful beauty 
with the days of his happy thoughts. 

There are great moments of suffering or joy when all 
thought of human frailties is swept away in the gush of 

Such a moment was this. His anger, his frantic in- 
dignation, and his sullen silence at her long absence, all 
passed away before her worn and sickly face. He saw 
her before him, broken and dying ; he felt all his affec- 
tion return, and flinging himself forward on tlie table 
he burst into a paroxysm of tears as if his very heart- 
strings would crack. By degrees we calmed him, for 
nature had been relieved by this agonising grief, and 
they parted in a few moments for the last time. 

During the Avhole of the next day my poor mother 
was silent, Now and then she would repeat, half to 
herself — "I have seen them once again — I have seen 
them once again." The agitation of this meeting brought 


on several attacks in the heart and she appeared de- 
pressed and melancholy. Daring the jonrney four mag- 
pies rose, chattered and flew away. The singular super- 
stitions about this bird were remembered by us alL I 
repeated to myself the old saw " one for sorrow, two for 
mirth, three for a wedding, and four for death." I tried 
to deceive my dear mother by declaring that two were 
for death and four for mirth, but slie persisted that four 
announced death in Devonshire, and, absurd as we felt 
it to be, we could not shake off the superstition. 

The influence of early Devonshire stories and the 
idle rhymes of nurses and nursery maids held fast in 
my mind, and I felt such an unaccountable belief that 
death was near that I almost feared to look my mother 
in the face. 

Finding that the fatigue of sleeping on the road and 
the bustle of every departure harassed the invalid, we 
pushed on towards London as fast as possible and stopped 
for the night at Salt Hill. 

The veiy mention of that place convulses my heart 
again after thirty-four years ! 

I yet see my dear, dear mother, leaning on us, as she 
mounted to her room step by step, trying to jest and 
relieve our anxiety, Avhile her pale face and wan cheek 
showed the hollowness of her gaiety. 

The servants went before with candles ; a clock upon 
the landinsc seemed to tick with a solemn loudness that 
made my heart sink ! 

Seeing my dear mother easy in her chair, I went to 
my own room, and had begun undressing when my sister 
came to my door to say that my mother wished me to 
sit in her room for the night, and that as soon as day 
broke we would push on for town. I immediately went 
in, bringing my fire to theirs, hoping that it would last 
until the day. We all fell asleep in our chairs after a 
short time. About half-past two I awoke from mere 

1808.] MY mother's DEATH. 85 

anxiety and found that the fire had sunk and was only- 
kept alive by two or three masses which rested against 
the back and front of the o;rate. The heated and silent 
sparkle of the coals had something about it peculiarly 
startling. Without moving, I looked up at my dear 
mother. She was awake and lookino- into tlie fire in- 
tently as if she read her destiny in its singular shapes. 
Her fine features were lighted by the dim reflection 
from the glimmering embeis. Her nose was sharp — 
her cheek fallen, — she looked as if she saw the grave 
and pondered on its wonders ! 

And this was the last time I was ever to see her alive ! 
My sister moved in her chair and my dear mother start- 
ing up covered her witli a shawl. This exertion of ma- 
ternal care brought on the most dreadful attack I had 
ever seen. Her lips became livid, cold drops stood upon 
her forehead, and conscious of her pangs she groaned 
out, "My dear children, I am dying; thank God! you 
are with me." 

My sister began to cry : I immediately put hot water 
to my mother's feet. " Lay me on the bed," she said. I 
took her in my arms and propping her with pillows 
gently placed her in a reclining position. I then rang 
the bell and alarmed the house, sending off an express 
for a surgeon. After great agony she became quiet, 
but said, " My dear children, I have lost my sight ; wiiere 
are you ? " Thinking the surgeon was a long time, I 
ran down into the stable and taking a horse with only a 
halter on gallopped off, by the direction of the ostler, 
to the surgeon's house. When I reached It, I found 
him — although a human creature was on the })()Int of 
death — using lighted paper to warm his boots with! 

Hurrying him off I followed him, ran up to my mother's 
room, found my sister in tiie hands of strange people, and 
her — for whom my heart yearned — dead. 

She had asked for mc, my sister said, and when told 

« 3 


that I had gone for a surgeon, moaned out, " It 's no 
use," and died. 

I made the surgeon open a vehi, but without effect. 
I put my sister into another room, sent them all away, 
and locked myself in. Like Lear, I placed a glass before 
her lips, but there was no stain ; and then first I gave 
way to my violent and unutterable emotions. 

The day, as it broke, seemed steeped in lurid horror. 
I did not, could not believe she was dead — I listened if 
she breathed — I kissed her pale cheeks again and again 
— I rubbed her hands, and arms, and looked into her 
sightless eyes. I felt hope useless — I knelt and prayed. 

In the morning I despatched a messenger to my uncle, 
who came up immediately and comforted us with his 
simple and heart-touching piety. 

He had all the virtues of a country clergyman and 
all the simplicity ; he called the waiters " Sir," and 
walked about in the mornino- without his coat with his 


grey hairs streaming back from his forehead. He came 
out into the world as one bewildered at evervthins;. 

He tried to calm the agony of my poor sister, but 
that "fii'stdark day of nothingness" is dreadful — with 
its consciousness of havinn;: lost the dear beinr^, whose 
voice in sickness or sorrow, like a guardian angel's, 
has been heard with gladness, from birth to manliood — 
dead — gone — past away, and whither ? Oh, the 
acuteness of that first pang of separation from a Mother ! 
It is as if a string of one's nature had been drawn out 
and cracked in the drawino; leavino; the one half of it 
shrunk back to torture you with the consciousness of 
having lost the rest. That which as children we 
hardly conceived possible had happened, — a parent 
dead ! 

AY hat disgust did I not feel at eating! — and yet I was 
hungry — and yet I was ashamed to eat. All the uses 
of this world how wearing I Then came the coffin and 

1808.] MY mother's FUNEEAL. 87 

the struggling steps carrying it upstairs — and the 
undertaker, with his cahn settled features — and the 
brutal hard-faced nurse Avho claimed the clothes for her 
perquisite. In a fury I sent the wretch from my pre- 
sence. I saw my dear mother laid in her coffin, and 
taking a last long look left the room, — her features 
stamped upon my mind for ever. The next morning I 
was up and saw the coffin placed in the hearse, listened 
as the wheels rolled oiF along the sandy road and 
imaoined that I still heard them for hours after. 

Wishing to avoid the funeral we breakfasted late ; 
while yet at breakfast a rattling noise made us all look 
up and the hearse passed us on its return at a quick 
trot. My sister burst into tears, for this gave us a 
fresh shock. 

My dear mother had expressed a wish to be bui'ied 
by her father's side and my success at Plymouth en- 
abled me to fulfil her wishes. I had her conveyed to 
Ide where my grandfather possessed property. There 
following the funeral at a distance I saw her carried 
to her vault by four old villagers, one of whom re- 
membered Miss Cobley a healthy rosy child of ten 
years old. 

Durinfj; the dinner I stole from the mourners and 
bribing the sexton descended into the vault and stretch- 
ing myself upon the coffin for the last time lay long and 
late, musing on every action of her hard devoted life : 
on my knees, by her side, I prayed God for his blessing 
on all my actions and rose prepared for the battle of 
life ! With a last lingering look I left the vault and 
returned to our broken home. The next night I left 
for London to begin my picture, pursued by the in- 
fluence of my mother whose memory I have cherished 
and shall cherish for ever. 

«i 4 


PART 11. 


I RETURNED to Loncloii, dear old London, and was 
welcomed with great affection by Lord Mulgrave and 
Sir George, Wilkie and all ray other friends. Strolling 
out one evening with Fuseli, and explaining to him my 
commissions and prospects, he said, " I think you may 
vainture now upon a first floor :" so to look after a first 
floor I went, and found one with every accommodation 
at 41, Great Marlborough Street. Here I removed and 
began to make preparations for Dentatus. My paint- 
ing large heads in Devonshire had greatly advanced me, 
and I set to work without fearing a head as I did at 

This practice I would always advise a young histo- 
rical painter to pursue, — after having gone through his 
preparatory studies let him paint portraits diligently : he 
will find it of the very first importance. This was 
"VVilkie's advice to me, and I followed it to my advan- 

I now recommenced Dentatus in good earnest. I 
reflected deeply upon the nature of the subject. I felt 
that the figure of Dentatus must be heroic and the finest 
specimen of the species I could invent. But hoiv could 
I produce a figure that should be the finest of its 
species ? 

From Fuseli I got nothing but generalisation without 


basis to generalise on. He could not explain to me a 
single principle. I had nature of course, but if I copied 
her my work was mean and if 1 left her it was mannered. 
What was I to do ? How was I to build a heroic form, 
like life, yet above life ? How I puzzled, painted, rubbed 
out and began again ! Wilkie knew nothing of the 
heroic. In the antique I found something of what I 
wished, but I desired more of nature than I could find 
in any of the antique figures. I became wretched. At 
last, after I had painted Dentatus looking fiercely, and 
a fi-ightened man opposite to him holding up his hand, 
a painter who called said, " Where did you copy that ? " 
"Copy!" replied I, "I imagined it with nature before 
me." This startled him, and I felt certain that I had 
not missed ray aim, when another was so moved. But 
my incapacity to make a figure in the true heroic mould 
still tormented me. 

In my model I saw the back vary according to the 
action of the arms. In the antique these variations 
were not so apparent. Was nature or the antique 
wrong? Why did not the difference of shape from 
difference of action ajipear so palpably in the antique as 
in nature? This puzzled me to death. If I copied what 
I saw in life Fuseli said, " This is too much like life." 
If I copied the marble Wilkie said, " That looks as if 
you had painted from stone." In my first picture I had 
used the antique based on nature, but the marked parts 
were few : now, when I had a back, limbs, and arms to 
deal witli, the knowledge required was greater and the 
style the highest. 

Just in this critical agony of anxiety how to do what I 
fek I wanted, and when I had been rubbing out and 
painting in again all the morning, Wilkie called. INIy 
hero was done, though anything but well done, and 
AVilkie proposed that we should go and see the Elgin 
Marbles as he had an order. I agreed, dresscJ, and 


away we went to Park Lane. I had no more notion of 
what I was to see than of anything I had never heard of, 
and walked in with the utmost nonchalance. 

Tliis period of our lives was one of great happiness. 
Painting all day; then dining at the Old Slaughter Chop 
House ; then going to the Academy until eight to fill up 
the evening; then going home to tea, — that blessing of a 
studious man, — talking over our respective exploits, 
what he had been doing, and what I had done, and then, 
frequently, to relieve our minds fatigued by their eight 
and twelve hours' work, giving vent to the most extra- 
ordinary absurdities. Often have we made rhymes on 
odd names, and shouted with laughter at each new line 
that was added. Sometimes, lazily inclined after a good 
dinner, we have lounged about near Drury Lane or 
Covent Garden, hesitating whether to go in, and often 
have I (knowing first that there was nothing I wished 
to see) assumed a virtue I did not possess, and pretending 
moral superiority preached to Wilkie on the weakness of 
not resisting such temptations for the sake of our art 
and our duty, and marched him off to his studies when 
he was lonoing to see Mother Cxoose. 

One night when /was dying to go in, he dragged me 
away to the Academy and insisted on my working, to 
which I agreed on the promise of a stroll afterwards. 
As soon as we had finished, out we went, and ni passing 
a penny show in the piazza, we fired up and determined 
to go in. We entered and slunk away in a corner ; 
while waiting for the commencement of the show, in came 
all our student friends, one after the other. We shouted 
out at each one as he arrived, and then popped our heads 
down in our corner again, much to the indignation of 
the chimney sweeps and vegetable boys who composed 
the audience, but at last we were discovered, and then 
we all joined in applauding the entertainment of "Pull 
Devil, Pull Bakei'," and at the end raised such a storm 


of applause, clapping our hands, stamping our feet, and 
shouting with all the power of a dozen pair of lungs, that 
to save our heads from the fury of the sweeps we had to 
run down stairs as if the devil indeed was trying to catch 
us. After this boisterous amusement, we retired to my 
rooms and drank tea, talking away on art, starting prin- 
ciples, arguing long and fiercely, and at midnight 
separating, to rest, rise and work again until the hour 
of dinner brought us once more together, again to draw, 
argue or laugh. 

Young, strong and enthusiastic, with no sickness, no 
debilities, fall of liope, believing all the world as honour- 
able as ourselves, wishing harm to no one and incredulous 
of any wishing harm to us, we streamed on in a perpetual 
round of innocent enjoyment, and I look back on these 
hours, as the most uninterrupted by envy, the least ha- 
rassed by anxiety, and the fullest of unalloyed pleasure, 
of all that have crossed the path of my life. 

Such being the condition of our minds, no opportunity 
for improvement was ever granted to the one which he 
did not directly share with the other ; and naturally when 
Wilkie got this order for the marbles his first thought 
was that I would like to go. 

To Park Lane then we went, and after passing through 
the hall and thence into an open yard, entered a damp 
dirty pent-house where lay the marbles ranged within 
sight and reach. The first thing T fixed my eyes on was 
the wrist of a figure in one of the female groups, in which 
were visible, though in a feminine form, the radius and 
ulna. I was astonished, for I had never seen them hinted 
at in any female wrist in the antique. I darted my eye 
to the elbow, and saw the outer condyle visibly allecting 
the shape as in nature. I saw that the arm Avas in repose 
and the soft parts in relaxation. That combination of 
nature and idea Avliich I had felt was so much wanting 
for high art was here displayed to mid-day conviction. 


My heart beat ! If I had seen nothing else I had beheld 
sufficient to keep me to nature for the rest of my life. 
But when I turned to the Theseus and saw that every 
form was altered by action or repose, — when I saw that 
the two sides of his back varied, one side stretched from 
the shoulder blade being pulled forward, and theother side 
compressed from the shoulder blade being pushed close 
to the spine as he rested on his elbow, with the belly 
flat because the bowels fell into the pelvis as he sat, — ■ 
and when, turning to the Ilyssus, I saw the belly pro- 
truded, from the figure lying on its side, — and again, 
when in the figure of the fighting metope I saw the 
muscle shown under the one arm-pit in that instantaneous 
action of darting out, and left out in the other arm-pits 
because not wanted, — when I saw, in fact, the most 
heroic style of art combined with all the essential detail 
of actual life the thing was done at once and for ever. 

Here were principles which the common sense of the 
English people would understand ; here were principles 
which I had struggled for in my first picture with timi- 
dity and apprehension ; here were the principles which 
the great Greeks in their finest time established, and 
here was I, the most prominent historical student, per- 
fectly qualified to appreciate all this by my own deter- 
mined mode of study under the influence of my old 
friend the watchmaker*, — perfectly comprehending the 
hint at the skin by knowing well what was under- 
neath it ! 

Oh, how I inwardly thanked God that I was pre- 
pared to understand all this ! Now I was rewarded for 
all the petty harassings I had suffered. Now was I 
mad for buying Albinus without a penny to pay for it ? 
Now was I mad for lying on the floor hours together, 
copying its figures ? I felt the future, I foretold that 

* Kejnulds, of Plymouth. 


they would prove themselves the finest things on earth, 
that they would overturn the false beau-ideal, where 
nature was nothing, and would establish the true beau- 
ideal, of which nature alone is the basis. 

I shall never foro-et the horses' heads — the feet in 
the metopes ! I felt as if a divine truth had blazed 
inwardly upon my mind and I knew that they would 
at last rouse the art of Europe from its slumber in the 

I do not say this ?ioiv, when all the world acknow- 
ledges it, but I said it then, ivhen no one mould believe 
me. I went home in perfect excitement, Wilkie trying 
to moderate my enthusiasm with his national caution. 

Utterly disgusted at my wretched attempt at the 
heroic in the form and action of my Dentatus, I dashed 
out the abominable mass and bi-eathed as if relieved of 
a nuisance. I passed the evening in a mixture of tor- 
ture and hope ; all night I dozed and dreamed of the 
marbles. I rose at five in a fever of excitement, tried 
to sketch the Theseus from memory, did so and saw 
that I comprehended it. I worked that day and another 
and another, fearin^j that I was deluded. At last I got 
an order for myself; I rushed away to Park Lane; the 
impression was more vivid than before. I drove off to 
Fuseli, and fired him to such a degree that he ran up 
stairs, put on his coat and away we sallied. I remember 
tliat first a coal-cart with eight hoi'scs stopped us as it 
struggled up one of the lanes of the Strand ; then a flock 
of sheep blocked us up ; Fuseli, in a fuiy of haste and 
rage, burst into the middle of them, and they got be- 
tween his little legs and jostled him so much that I 
screamed with laughter in spite of my excitement. He 
swore all along the Strand like a little fury. At last 
we came to Park Lane. Never shall I forijet his un- 
compromising enthusiasm. He strode about saying, 
" De Greeks were godes ! de Greeks were godes 1 " "Wc 


went back to his house, where I dlnecl with him, and 
we passed the evening in looking over Quintilian and 
Pliny. Immortal period of my sanguine life ! To look 
back on those hours has been my solace in the bitterest 
afflictions. Had Fuseli always acted about the marbles 
as honestly as he did then it would have been well for 
his reputation ; but when he was left to his own re- 
flections he remembered what he had always said of 
things on very different principles, and when I called 
again he began to back out, so I left him after recallinGC 
what he had felt before he had time to be cautious. He 
did not behave with the same grandeur of soul that 
West did. He, too, was in the decline of life ; he, too, 
used to talk of art above nature, and of the beau-ideal ; 
but he nobly acknowledged that he knew nothing until 
he sa^v the marbles, and bowed his venerable head before 
them as if in reverence of their majesty. 

Peace and honour to his memory ! There was more 
true feeling in his submission to their principles than in 
all Fuseli's boastful sneers. 

It is curious that the god-like length of limb in the 
Greek productions put me in luind of Fuseli's general 
notions of the heroic, and there is justice in the idea. 
But as he had not nature for his guide his indefinite 
impressions ended in manner and bombast. The finest 
ideas of form in imitative art must be based on a know- 
ledge of the component parts of that form, or an artist 
is, as Petrarch says, " In alto mar senza governo." 

I expressed myself warmly to Lord Mulgrave and 
asked him if he thought he could get me leave to draw 
from the marbles. He spoke to Lord Elgin and on the 
condition that my drawings were not to be engraved 
permission was granted to me. Conscious I had the 
power, like a puppy I did not go for some days, and 
when I went was told that Lord Elo;in had changed his 
mind. The pain I felt at the loss of such an oppor- 


tunity taught me a lesson for life ; for never again did 
I lose one moment in seeking the attainment of an 
object when an opportunity offered. However, I ap- 
plied again to Lord Mulgrave and he in time induced 
Lord Elfin to admit me. For three months I drew 
until I had mastered the forms of these divine works 
and brought my hand and mind into subjection. 

I saw that the essential v>'as selected in them and the 
superfluous rejected; — that first, all the causes of action 
were known and then all of those causes wanted for any 
particular action were selected; — that then skin covered 
the whole and the effect of the action, relaxation, pur- 
pose or gravitation was shown on the skin. This ap- 
peared, as far as I could see tJien, to be the principle. 
For Dentatus I selected all the muscles requisite for 
human action, no more nor less, and then the members 
wanted for his action, and no more nor less. 

I put a figure in the corner of a lower character, that 
is, more complicated in its forms, having parts not es- 
sential, and this showed the difference between the form 
of a hero and common man. The wiseacres of the time 
quizzed me, of course, for placing a naked soldier in a 
Roman army, a thing never done by any artist. Raf- 
faele did so in Constantine's battle, but thev had nothinfj 
to do with Raffaele and perhaps never heard of Raffaele's 

I drew at the marbles ten, fourteen, and fifteen hours 
at a time ; staying often till twelve at night, holding a 
candle and my board in one hand and drawing with the 
other; and so I should have staid till morning had not 
the sleepy porter come yawning in to tell me it was 
twelve o'clock, and then often have 1 gone home, cold, 
benumbed and damp, my clothes steaming up as I dried 
them ; and so, spreading my drawings on the floor and 
putting a candle on the ground, I have drank my tea at 
one in the morning with ccstacy as its warmth trickled 


through my frame, and looked at my picture and dwelt 
on my drawings, and pondered on the change of em- 
pires and thought that I had been contemplating what 
Socrates looked at and Plato saw, — and then, lifted up 
■with my own high urgings of soul, I have prayed God 
to enlighten my mind to discover the principles of those 
divine things, — and then I have had inward assurances 
of future glory, and almost fancying divine influence in 
my room have lingered to my mattrass bed and soon 
dozed into a rich, balmy slumber. Oh, those were days 
of luxury and rapture and uncontaminated purity of 
mind ! No sickness, no debility, no fatal, fatal weak- 
ness of sight. I arose with the sun and opened my eyes 
to its light only to be conscious of my high pursuit ; I 
sprang from my bed, dressed as if possessed, and passed 
the day, the noon, and the night in the same dream of 
abstracted enthusiasm ; secluded from the world, re- 
gardless of its feelings, unimpregnable to disease, in- 
sensible to contempt, a being of elevated passions, a 
spirit tliat 

" Fretted the pigmy body to decay, 
And o'erinformed its tenement of clay." 

While I was drawino; there, West came in and seeing 
me said with surprise, " Hah, hah, Mr. llaydon, you 
are admitted, are you ? I hope you and I can keep a 
secret." The very day after he came down with large 
canvasses, and without at all entering Into the principles 
of these divine things hastily made compositions from 
Greek history, putting in the Theseus, the Ilyssus, and 
others of the figures, and restoring defective pai-ts; — 
that is, he did that which he could do easily and which 
he did not require to learn how to do, and avoided doing 
that which he could only do with difficulty and which 
he was In great need of learning how to do. 

It may, perhaps, be interesting to the student to 


follow the progress of my studies from my Journal of 
this date. 

Wednesday, 1th Scptemher, 1808. — Rose at ~ past 
6, made sketches from a scull of a horse, tlie anatomy 
of which I leai'nt. Drew at Lord Elgin's from 10 to 
2, and 3 to 6. Walked, came home, had tea and read 
Boswell's Johnson. This is lazy of me; I must study 
my art even of a night. 

Sth. — Drew at Lord Elgin's from 10 till | past 2, 
and from 3 to 5,45 ; walked about and studied these 
matchless pi'oductions. I consider truly that it is the 
greatest blessing that ever happened to this country, 
their being brought here. The principles they are 
executed on I am truly ignorant of yet. I beo-in to 
relish them with a right feeling. God grant I may be 
able to do something before I die, that may stand in 
competition with them and do honour to my dear 

Qtli. — Awoke at 6, with my night-cap off; put it 
on, resolving to get up, but alas ! during that moment, 
fell asleep and never woke until 8. Drew at Lord 
Elgin's from 10 till 2, and 3 till ^^ past 6, and finished 
the best drawing I have done yet. Marble fell down 
and cut my leg ; went to bed at 12. Am much im- 
proved this week in the knowledge of horses. IIow 
the Greeks attended to every variety in the body pro- 
duced by the slightest movement ! The more I study 
them the more I feel my own insignificance. 

May I improve in virtue, purity and industry ; let 
me admit no deo;rees of excellence, notliinn; but indis- 
})utable greatness on solid scientific principles,- — the 
house built upon the rock. 

Read Boswell's Johnson. There is really no resist- 
incf this book. 

10///. — Awoke at 7, did not begin drawing until | 

VOL. I. H 


past 10, drew on with some interniptlon to 5. Dined, 
came home and read Boswell. What has affected 
rae to-day I do not know, but I have drawn with 
evident weakness, and on looking at my yesterday's 
drawing I was truly astonished to see such vigour 
and spirit ; I cannot tell what has ailed me. I have 
been disturbed in my thouglits, and, I suppose, not 

able to apply myself so acutely. 


I find that if I lie awake in the morning, I feel 
weak and relaxed, shattered for the day. The true 
way to preserve my health is to lie on a hard mattrass, 
sleep six or seven hours, jump out at first Avaking, wash 
instantly in a cold bath, study for eight hours, drink 
nothing but weak tea and water, eat tlie most simple 
food, no suppers, no hashes, or fricassees. When I do 
this I feel braced for the day and ready for any exer- 
tion, mental or corporeal. If, however, I transgress in 
the slightest degree I am sui-e to suffer, am incapable of 
energy, and the day is resigned without a struggle. To 
bed at 10. Subtracting every time that I have got up, 
fidgetted about and idled (for I have contracted a habit 
of instinctively reproaching myself whenever I do it), 
I have worked to-day only 5^ hours. 

llth. — Arose at ^ past 7; breakfasted out; came 
home and passed the whole day in calmness, prayer and 

I2th. — Passed the day reading and writing; not able 
to walk, my leg being very painful. 

13th. — My leg still painful; read Boswell; was ex- 
cessively affected at the account of Johnson's death. 
When Boswell says " In the morning he asked the 
hour ? and they told him six ; he answered, that all 
went on regularly, and he felt that he had but a few 
hours to live," everything rushed into my mind, — 
all the accompaniments, the expiring rushlight, day 
just beginning to break, the attendants gently stepping 

1808.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1808. 99 

towards the window, whispering to each other, and 
holding back the curtain to see how day was breaking, 
the stars twinkling in the clear blue sky before the blaze 
of sunlight drowned their splendour, and now and then 
Johnson's awful voice asking pardon of his Creator. It 
brought many, many things crowding on my mind. 

\4:th. — Read Homer in English to stir up my fancy, 
that I might conceive and execute my hero's head with 
vigour and energy. 

\5th, — Read eight hours. 

\Qt]i. — Read nine hours. 

llth. — Read Virgil; can make it out very well, but 
his idea of the bird, &c., not so beautiful and true as 
Homer's, who makes the feathers fly out and quiver in 
the air. Quite in the feeling of Latin and Greek. 
Thirteen hours' reading, right eye rather strained. 

\Sth. — Read Homer; any fine passage I go to the 
Greek for and make it out, but with great bungling. 

20th. — Began my picture again. Wilkie breakfasted 
with me, on his return from Lord Lansdowne's, a por- 
trait of whosj lady he has brought home which is truly 
exquisite ; I had no idea of his being capable of so much : 
it gives me real pleasure. God bless our exertions and 
let death only end our improvement. We dined at 
Lord JNIulgrave's in private; no restraint; his young 
fixmily all i)laying about us. He talked about the late 
treaty at Lisbon. 

On Monday following, I spent the evening with 
Fuscli, who in the course of his conversation said that 
a subject should always astonish or surprise ; if it did 
neither, it was foulty. A long argument on Chris- 
tianity : both ngrccd that its beautiful morality proved 
its divinitv. 

All industrious days, until the Saturday week fol- 
lowing. Wilkie breakfasted with me, and away we went 
to Sir W. Beechcy, to endeavour to get his vote for 

n 2 


Charles Bell as Professor of Anatomy. Sir William 
made Wilkie sit for his head : while this was performing, 
I went to call on Smirke, and left Wilkie to break the 
matter to Sir William ; came back and found it as hope- 
less with him as with Smirke. In the evening I felt 
idly inclined, and communicating my wish to go to the 
play, Wilkie, (who felt equally lazy, only was cunning 
enough to wait for my proposal), immediately agreed, 
and away we went. 

Oct. 8th. — Let me reflect how sillily I have passed 
this precious day; no reading the Bible, no Latin or 
Greek, until the evening, and then I fell asleep until I. 

9th. — In the evening I wanted to go and see Mac- 
beth; Wilkie, Avho has no taste for anything tragic, 
said I wanted firmness ; but I know that if it had been 
Mother Goose or any absurd comicality he would have 
had as little firmness. I went, but whether it was that 
their performing at the Opera House gave the figures 
less effect, I fancied that Mrs. Siddons acted with very 
little spirit in the scene where she comes out (when 
Macbeth is in Duncan's chamber), and says, " That 
which lias made them drunk, has made me bold." She 
ought to have been in a blaze. 

I, who had been accustomed to read Macbeth at the 
dead of night, when everything was so silent that my 
hair stood on end, could not, at this moment when I 
almost fancied Duncan groaning, put up with such a 
laceration of feeling as the slamming loudly of a box 
door and the rustling of women taking their seats. I 
jumped up in a fury and left the house. 

I will not go again to see any of Shakespeare's plays : 
you always associate the actors with the characters. No 
Academy. A negative day. 

10^/i. — Determined to obliterate my principal figure, 
as by doing the parts separately they do not hang well 
together; what time one loses from inexperience! I 

1808.] FROM MY JOUKNALS OF 1808. 10] 

made up my mind aud did it, aud now am happy that 
it's over. 

llth. — Had Sam*; he sat and I sketched in the 
whole of my figm'e much better. I hope in God I 
shall do it at last. At the Academy Wilkie and I had 
some words ; he said I spoke hastily to him^ that I was 
insensible, and so on. Soon made it up. Greek an 

^, \2tli. — Breakfasted with Wilkie to please him, against 
my own inclination, for I hate to go out of a morning; 
it disturbs me. Improved my figure; too large I fear. 
At the Academy. Greek for an hour. 

13^//. — Put in the head of my hero, — not at all satis- 
fied ; not half so well as the sketch. There is always 
something in a sketch that you can never after get when 
your feelings are quiescent. I look forward, to that 
time, the result of many years' incessant stud}^, when I 
shall be able to paint a picture warm from my brain 
with fire, cert;iinty and correctness, I must acquire 
thorough scientific principles first, for facility without 
science is only a knack. At the Academy. Greek 
for an hour. 

1 -^itli. — Wilkie breakfasted with me ; neither was he 
pleased with my head ; after he had gone I went to 
Lord Elgin's to stimulate my conception and saw some 
casts from moulds wliich he had brought with him ; what 
productions ! I made drawings of several limbs and dra- 
peries and came home witli my eye more correct and 
determined to obliterate everything in my picture that 
would not bear comparison. I found enough and dashed 
out my head without a moment's hesitation. 

I am again clear, and hope God will be pleased to bless 
my exertions for excellence in my next attempt. At the 
Academy. Greek an hour. 

* One of the Academy porters. 
11 3 


15th. — Wilkle and I breakfasted with Wilson ; our 
church is under repair, and of course we could not go to 
another ; dined early and went to drink tea Avith one of 
the porters, a model, formerly in the Life Guards ; he 
is a very industrious, honest, prudent man ; he is the 
Academy model, and has sat to me without pay for 
many days because I had nothing to pay him with. 
This tea I shall never forget. All his little family 
were dressed out in their best, and a fire in the par- 
lour, but Sam and his wife had not returned from 
church. We were shown in by the eldest girl, all 
smiles and curtesies, evidently the result of instruc- 
tions should we arrive before the parents returned. At 
last a rap was heard and away squeezed all the children 
to let in fatlier ; Sam shook hands with us and welcomed 
us to his castle, which was a perfect model of neatness 
and order ; his wife seemed a bustling woman, and soon 
had tea ready, and Sam amused us all the evening with 
capital stories about the old days of the Academy.* 

I don't know when I have spent a more innocent amus- 
ing evening than this : everybody seemed to anticipate our 
wishes, and of course we could not go without tastino" 
their home-brewed beer. 

As far as I have gone in this world, I have certainly 
observed that in most cases, prudence and piety are re- 
wai'ded by tranquillity and independence, and vice and 
dissoluteness by misery and want, — of course I mean in 
a certain class ; and there cannot be a stronger instance 
in my favour than the cases of the two porters at the 
Academy. They have both the same wages and advan- 
tages, and on the one hand one sees how much 50/. a 
year can do when managed with care, and on the other 
how little it can do when wasted in debauchery. The 
one porter has a comfortable little house, an active af- 

* Poor Sam never forgot this immortal visit : lie boasted of it to 
his death, and indeed it was no small hcmour on David Wilkie's part 
after he had painted the Blind Fiddler. — B. R. H. 

1808.] FROM Mr JOURNALS OF 1808. 103 

fectlonate wife, and a fixmlly of dear virtuous children, 
all of whom he keeps respectably and happily by his 
diligence and sobriety. The other squanders his money 
in an ale-house, leaving his wife and family in want and 
misery, without a rag to their backs, without a house, 
and sometimes without abed to lie upon. Will not vice 
bring its own punishment ? This man, in all probability, 
will soon lose his place and die in a jail or upon a dung- 
hill, without a being to lament or a wife to attend him. 
Surely sometimes the punishment of vice is as certain 
as the reward of virtue, and who can tell that he is not 
to be the example ? Came home, read my Bible, and 
studied Greek. 

lf)^A. — Painted the chest of my dying figure, not at 
all well. Heard from my father. 

\1tli. — Drew at Lord Elgin's; made a good study 
from one of the figures grappling the Centaurs. At 
the Academy gained much on my own picture, which 
looked very, very inferior when I came home. 

18#/i. — The chest of my dying figure looked so miser- 
able that I rubbed it out. 

\%th. — Drew at Lord Elgin's all day. At the 

The same for the rest of the week. 

IZrd. — At Lord Elgin's from ^ past 9 until 5, with- 
out intermission; lost 10 or 15 minutes by getting up; 
dined. At the Academy as usual from 6 to 8 ; 9^^ hours' 
absolute drawing. Not at nil fatigued and not at all 

sore, but rather damp and cold. 


What discrimination and judgment the ancient sculp- 
tors had! I sketched to-day the back of a Centaur, 
which has all that heavy vulgar portcr-llkc form which 
you see in men used to carry burdens, and which agrees 
with the character of the Centaurs who certainly were 

not very intellectual. 

n 4 


November 1st. — I have begvm this new month by 
rising early, praying sincerely and studying indus- 
triously : let this be the character of the remainder 
of this year and the rest of my life. Drew at Lord 
Elo-in's from | past 9 until 4, and at the Academy from 
6 to 8. 

In the early part of the morning my mind was dis- 
tracted by so many exquisite things before my eyes ; I 
had made sketches, but when I saw the originals I felt 
a pain at the comparison, mine being so very inferior. 

I first of all thought of beginning new ones, and then 
I thought I should be losing time, for I had got tlie com- 
position and that was the essential point, and so I deter- 
mined to relieve my mind from this painful apprehen- 
sion, and began carefully a fine trunk and limbs which 
soon quieted me and I went on correctly for the rest of 
the day. 

It has been the fault of the artists to put the markings 
of the antique into their figures, without considering their 
own attitudes, and making the same marking serve for 
all ; for instance, I have seen that marking in tlie doubled 
side of the Torso put into iq^right figures exactly as it is 
in the back side of the Torso, without reflecting that the 
moment the fio-nre arose that markinf>; would imfold 
itself and scarcely become perceptible ; I should have 
marked it so, had I not seen these exquisite things at 
Lord Elgin's, where it is shown in every attitude with 
all the variety of nature.* 

'Srd. — Drew at Lord Elgin's fi'om 11 to 5 : then 
AVilkie and I went to see Henry VIIL, which I do not 
regret, for I gained many ideas. What absurd ambition 
that is, aiming at a greatness which the frown of a capri- 
cious prince can destroy. 

* When I explained tbis in my lectures, 32 years after observing 
it, I was loudly cheered. Why ? Because it at once touches 
common sense ! — B. R. II. 

1808. J FROM MY JOURNALS OP 1808. 105 

4M. — Drew at Lord Elgin's 7^ hours. Went then 
to see the " Mourning Bi-ide : " what wretched decki- 
mation and rant after Shakespeare ! 

5t1i. — Drew at Lord Elgin's for 7 hours ; my taste 
improved wonderfully. 

Ith and Sth. — Put in the head of my old hero. God 
grant I may make it a fine one ! Dined in the evening 
at Loi-d Mulgrave's, it being Mr. Augustus Phipps's 
birtliday, and a very delightful evening I passed. Missed 
the Academy. AVilkie also. 

9th. — Painted the arm, shoulder, and also the head ; 
you cannot be too long about a picture, provided you 
are applying your faculties to the diflSculties of the art 
during the whole time ; if you suspend your exertions, 
merely because you are not quite certain about the cos- 
tume, — perhaps because you are not quite certain whe- 
ther the people you are representing wore a sandal with 
a heel or a sandal without one, — then, I say, you are 
idle under the mask of industry. 

If you are slow because you arc unequal to execute 
your conceptions, if you are staggered at the difficulties 
of arrangement and checked by unexpected obstacles, 
and desist until you are better qualified by deeper me- 
ditation, depend on it, how slow soever you may be, 
every step you make will be a firm one, and you will 
ultimately execute with facility, the result of science, 
instead of haste. 

A great painter should make everything bend to his 
art. If by deviating from rule or from costume he can 
imj)rove his work or produce finer feelings in those who 
see it, let him do it and bid defiance to all adversaries or 
connoisseurs. He docs not paint for them, but to affect 
the human heart throuLjh human feelinci;. 

17ih. — Passed this day industriously as well as 
Friday and Saturday. I cannot perha[)s say that of the 
last two months I have passed, iu all, more than four 


or five weeks properly, that is, in devotion without in- 
termission to study ; among them perhaps, on consi- 
deration, I may indude this last, for though I have not 
studied equally, I have regularly, and have fagged hard 
and made great progress.* My hero's head is finished, 
but yet I see that it is not what I had determined on, and 
so out it comes to-morrow : I have made up my mind 
that it shall be such as the greatest painter that ever lived 
would have made it. 

21^^. — Painted about three hours this day; expected 
a model who never came, keeping me in a disturbed 
state ; however, I began the drapery again and improved 
it. Got a West Indian I had picked up in the streets, 
a fine head. Took out my hero. Let my life be but an 
era in the art of my dear country, or let me but add a 
mite to the cause of human improvement, and I shall 
indeed die a happy man ! 

2^th. — Arose at 7, prayed, walked, set my palette and 
breakfasted. As I had promised a very modest unas- 
suming young artist at the Acndemy to call yesterday 
and give my opinion (as far as I am capable) of a picture, 
and did not go, I went to-day for fear he might be hurt, 
to Finsbury Square where he lived, and saw a picture 
which I fear gives but little hope of future excellence, 
weak in the extreme, dry, lame, hard and gaudy. 

I'll go no more to any young man, as I always come 
back with a higher opinion of myself. 

Drew at the Academy for an hour and a half, and 
idled the day in other respects. Wilkie changed his 

* In the original Journal Is inserted here this characteristic 
prayer. — "O God Ahnighty ! grant me strength of mind next 
week, not to presume on the industry of this last week, to be idle, 
but calmly to consider where I have failed in my duty, and to pray 
to thee for additional caution and vigour to avoid those defects, so 
that at the end of this week I may have less to repent of in thy 
si"ht, through the merits of my Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen." 


lodgings, and Jackson and I went to tea with him, it 
being always customary for us to do this with each other 
on such an occasion. I dare say the dog will grow in- 
solent in his new rooms ; let me but catch the scamp at 
such a thing, and I'll pull him down, on the slightest 
variation to us. 

29th. — Sat to-day to Jackson for a portrait for Lord 

30^A. — Here ends the month : I have not been whollv 
idle, my picture is advanced, and my mind improved and 
experienced. I dare not pray to God for any blessings, 
but I humbly hope for everything virtuous, pure and 
energetic. Amen ! 

And thus I will conclude my extracts from my 
Journal for the present. 

I acquired In early life a great love of the journals of 
others, and Johnson's recommendation to keep them 
honestly I always bore in mind. 

I have kept one now for thirty-four years. It is the 
history, in fact, of my mind, and In all my lectures I had 
only to refer to my journals for such and such opinions, 
to look when such and such thoughts had occurred, and 
I found them an absolute capital to draw upon. I hope 
that my journals, if ever they arc thought worthy of pub- 
lication, may give as much pleasure to others as other 
journals have given delight to me. The state of a young 
mind progressing in the art, the sanguine nature of its 
temperament, the hopes, the fears, the anxieties, the agi- 
tations which beset a youth on entering life, especially 
in a refined art, by a path pronounced by all to lead to 
certain ruin, cannot but be Interesting, at least to others 
making the same steps with equal ardour and more 
talent, but not more sincei-ity, than I possessed then, 
for there I will defy any man, let him be HafFaele him- 
self, to beat mc. 



My object In thus detailing tlie secret lilstory of my 
mind in the progress of the Dentatus, is to be useful to 
students in every way, to show them that before they 
can obtain the power of sketching instantaneously, which 
people applaud in me even now at fifty-five, and which 
all young men are so ambitious of gaining, they must 
again and again begin, obliterate and recommence ; they 
must go to nature, and study the antique, making se- 
parate studies of each part ; they must fail, not be dis • 
couraoed, but at it as^ain. 

The subsequent story of this picture — which built as 
it was on everlasting principles, and meriting as it did 
the greatest praise and encouragement, was reviled and 
ridiculed, notwithstanding all the anxiety and labour 
recorded here, and notwithstanding that it could be de- 
fended heroically and successfully — of its progress, its 
conclusion, its original fate, and its ultimate trlumj)h, 
contains a moral lesson of infinite value to the enthusi- 
astic and unadulterated heart, and, therefore, I will jiro- 
ceed to the final history of a work which the French 
said established my fame, although many others (nearer 
home) delared that it had no merit at all. The extracts 
from my journal concluded with November. The head 
of my hero was at last done, but the figure only just got 
in — I could not accomplish it. Again and again I at- 
tacked the back, but I could not hit it. The model soon 
got so livid he was of little use. I could not attain that 
breadth of form and style so essential to the heroic ; so 
passing the back by for the present, I worked at the 
flying drapery, upon which I had failed as often as on 


any other part. One day Fuseli called and finding my 
flying drapery just finislied said that it wanted a prop 
and dehberately taking a bit of olialk drew a prop such 
as they put against a tumbling house, for fear it should 
break Dentatus's le"; in its fall. The moment he was 
gone I dashed the whole of it out, groanino; within my- 
self at the inextricable bewilderment I was in. But I 
never desponded ; I persevered and flew at a difficulty 
until I surmounted it and saw my way beyond. 

This was the state of the picture at the l)eginning of 
the winter of 1808, when Sir George calling, (before 
going to Dunmow to see his mother,) was very much 
pleased, and so was Lord Mulgrave. I dined frequently 
at the Admiralty and spent many very pleasant evenings, 
but yet this took me away from my studies, which I 
felt. The convei'sation was interestino; thou2:h some- 
times weak. Still it pleased my noble employer after 
the fatigues of oflSce. In fact, he had no greater delight 
than to talk over a winter fire of pictures and policy ; 
and Sir George, Jackson, Wilkie and myself were 
always invited together in order to keep up the 

Lord IMulgrave fi'cquently made lucky hits at sales 
and of an evening over his wine he would revel in his 
acquisitions with a gusto and glee that showed he really 
relished art. 

George Colman, the younger, (whose fiithcr Lord 
Mulgrave particularly liked), sometimes made one of the 
circle, and one night, just before joining the ladies, we 
were loitering about the picture of Lord jNIulgrave's 
brother blocked up in the ice, in the Arctic exj)cdition 
in which Nelson sailed as a middy. Lord Mulgrave, 
holding the lamp, said, " What is that my brother has 
got hold of? Is it a boat-hook?" "No, my lord!" said 
Colman, in his half-throttled, witty voice, "It's the 
North Pole ! " 


Lord iSIulgrave was a fine character, manly, perfectly- 
bred, and as noble an example of his order as I ever 
knew. He had high notions of art, a great respect for 
talent, and believed Englishmen as capable of becoming 
great artists as any people that had ever existed. His 
treatment of me was nobly generous. As soon as he 
heard that I was a student with high views he said to 
Jackson, " I Avill set him going." 

While Dentatus was in progress he continually said 
to me, " I hope it will obtain a good place, but I much 
fear those Academicians will put it in a dark hole if 
they can — don't depend upon them." I did not depend 
upon them and worked away ; Sir George left town, 
and I will now return to my Journal. 

December \st. — A student who draws outlines only 
by parts from an idea of being correct deprives his 
mind of its only chance ; get the whole together and 
then be as correct as you please. 

27id and 3rd. — Painted and advanced my picture. 
I improved the head and arm of my hero but took it 
out again. God grant I may do it right at last. Miss 
Phipps, Lord Mulgrave's eldest daughter, very ill — 
called to hear how she was — in a dangerous state. 
Got the whole of my picture more together ; walked at 
night, and called at eleven on Wilkie. Up till two, 
writing and reading Homer. 

4:t?i. — Breakfasted with "Wilkie; went to church; 
Sydney Smith preached : he took his stand for Chris- 
tianity on the conversion of St. Paul. If his vision 
and conversion Avere the effect of a heated brain or 
fanaticism, it was the first time (he said) that madness 
gave a new direction to a man's feelings. Fanaticism 
he described as a want of perception of the different 
feelings and habits of mankind. 

I never heard a more eloquent man. 


Spent the evening in writing my ideas on art for 
Mr. Hoare who is contributing to the Encycloptedia. 

5th. — Sat to Jackson from ten to one ; called at 
Lord Mulgrave's ; Miss Phipps still very ill ; obliged 
to go into the city, because the armour that I bor- 
rowed from the Tovver is getting rusty, and I wanted to 
see the armourer. As I walked along Fleet Street, I 
felt very hungry and went into Peele's Coffee House 
for some soup ; it was such an idle thing to do in the 
middle of the day, that I shrank back blushing, for fear 
of meeting Michel Angelo's spectre, crying, " Haydon ! 
Haydon ! you idle rascal ! is this the way to eminence?"' 
In spite of this, though, I went in. Appointed to go 
with Wilkie to a friend of his against my will ; but he 
had bothered him and so I consented. I was to call for 
him at the Academy, but he had gone wdien I arrived 
there, and, glad of any excuse, I returned home, quite 
delighted at having escaped the distraction of mind I 
should have experienced among a parcel of argumentative 

Qth. — Finished my flying drapery, thank God! at 
last, and I think it is not badly arranged. Enlarged 
the shield which gives a more irresistible weiaht to 
the figure — a more thundering air : got in the head. 
I wish to express a lofty contempt among his other 
characteristics : how happy shall I be if I can but 
finish the head this week as it ought to be. Went off 
to the Academy ; came away early, my mind was so 
uneasy about my picture ; after a long strugo-le as to 
whether this was idleness, I concluded that it was not ; 
came home direct, took out my j)icturc, put my candle 
upon the floor, and began to think. Truth must not 
always be regarded, for the object in painting is to 
abstract the mind from sensual appetites ; therefore, 
the means of abstraction must be considered. On this 
principle I have acted in not making the assassins so 


assasslu-like as perhaps they were. I have endeavoured 
to give thein as much personal beauty as is not quite 
inconsistent with their work. If they had all possessed 
the expression of murderers it might have been more 
true, but who could have dwelt u})on it with pleasure? 
It would have been avoided with disgust. 

I observed yesterday at the Tower in a species of deer 
brought from the Cape the characteristics of extreme 
swiftness ; the working of the leg was clear ; the points 
of bone, the origin and insertions of the muscles, could 
easily be traced ; evei'y thing clear and braced. It is a 
good plan thus to survey nature and mingle the charac- 
teristics of one animal with another to express any par- 
ticular excellence in a strons-er de2;ree. 

Wednesday, *lth. — * People say to me, You can't be 
expected in your second picture to paint like Titian and 
draw like Michel Angelo ; but I will try ; and if I take 
liberties with nature and make her bend to my purposes, 
what then ? " Oh yes, but vou ousfht not to do what 
Michel Angelo alone might try." Yes, but I will ven- 
ture, — I will dare anything to accomplish my purpose. 
If it is only impudent presumption without abihty I 
shall soon find my level in the opinion of tlie world ; but 
if it be the just confidence of genius I shall soon find 
my reward. I have heard that Nelson used to say, 
" Never mind the justice or tlic impudence, only let 

* In the original Journal tlie entry for this day commences 
thus : — "I knelt down before my picture last night, and prayed 
God to give me strength of mind and vigour of body to go through 
the work with a firm spirit, not to be daunted by any difficulties 
however great, not to suffer my youth to be an excuse for in- 
adequacy, not to think of that for a moment, but to consider how 
soon I may die, and if unexpectedly that I may be taken doing 
all a human being can do to advance the art and raise the reputa- 
tion of my dear country ; but that if It pleased Ilini to prolong my 
life, that it would also please Ilim to bless with success all my 
efforts, through Jesus Clu-ist my Saviour. Amen." 

1808.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1808. 113 

me succeed." This is what no man, of the common 
timid feelings of mankind, would have dared to say or 
"eel, and what is the world's opinion of Nelson ? 

The danger is, if you put these feelings off until you 
are older or more callable, that you will put them off 
until death interrupts the possibility of accomplishment. 
It is very easy to say, " Stop till I am thirty ; " but 
thirty so gradually approaches, that your excuses will 
become habitual, and every year, every hour, you will 
be the more incapable of a beginning. Therefore, 
whatever you feel, do; don't attend to the advice of 
those indolent people who live only to amuse them- 
selves, little above animals whose chief occupation of 
time is to eat and live. 

If I had the power I would spit fire at such insignifi- 
cant wretches ! I have not language to express my 
indignation at them. "What Homer dared, I'll dare; if 
I have not ability and energy sufficient to ensure a sound 
foundation for my daring, I shall soon sink to my proper 
level ; if I have, I can only prove it by the trial. Genius 
is sent into the world not to obey laws but to give them ! 
Nature to the artist is the field that he must work in. 
God grant that this be not presumption ! but the firm 
conviction of experience. 

Would to heaven I could exist without sleej) ! I 
would get my figure right this night ; but as this is one 
of the conditions of my existence, I must be content. 
If I did not fear my eyes being injured I would work 
at it until I had settled it; but I will be up at the 
break of day. 

^tJi. — After a x\vA\t of continual restlessness and 
reflections literally excruciating, — for my mind Is quite 
on the rack about my hero, — I rose in a fever of 
anxiety and set to work. I hope I have It all right to 
go upon, but cannot tell until to-morrow. 

God grant I may be In the right path. Sat up till 
VOL. I. I 


one writing for Mr. Hoare. It is not my business to 
write on Art : old men should write and give the world 
the result of their experience. 

9^/i. — Met a capital model ; put in my head once 
again . 

lOth. — Went on with my head and improved it; 
'tis not what it ought to be yet, though. There must 
be no delicacy of feeling or refined sentiment in the 
head of a man brought up in a camp with the stern 
heroic feelings of a Roman. 
Arranged the rocks rightly. 

On the helmet of one of my figures I have put some 
light airy ostrich feathers which give a more ponderous 
look to my hero. 

11 M. — Missed my church on purpose to meet a gen- 
tleman whom I had promised to take to see Wilkie's 
Cut Finger. He did not come at the time ; and as 
I never wait for anybody I made calls and idled 
the day. No church. No religious meditation. Very 

I2th. — Went to Mr. Henry Hope's to meet Seguier, 
Avho was to take me to Lord Grosvenor's; he never 
came, so I called on Fuseli and stopped there for three 
hours, talking on Art, Italy, Michel Angelo, Homer, 
Horace, Virgil — enough to make a man distracted. 
When Fuseli dies, Avhere shall we meet his like again ? 
I know no one for whom I feel a greater reverence. 
From my first entrance into the Academy he noticed 
me in a marked manner and behaved to me like a father. 
Went to Lord Grosvenor's ; saw his pictures ; idled and 
chatted the whole day; tied up some specimens of lake 
for Du Fresno, Avho goes to India, and has promised 
to brino; nie some home when he returns. 

14M. — Began my head again from my new model 
and improved it much. Got in the neck and shoulders. 
I5th. — Seguier called and liked it very much; he 

1808.] FEOM MY JOURNALS OF 1808. 115 

thinks It will do and so do I, in some measure, with a 
few alterations. 

I Improved the position of the dying figure. 

What are those painters doing, who neglecting Nature 
degenerate into manner and then say that " Nature puts 
them out," still imitating her to the best of their recollec- 
tions ? Why does she put them out ? Because they 
find that she is a perpetual check to Indolence, by re- 
quiring skill and energy to select her beauties and reject 
her defects. A man of real genius will not suffer Nature 
to put him out. He will make Natui'e bend to him ; 
he wall make his own use of Nature ; he will force her 
into his service. Consult Nature for everything, for 
though she may not at all times equal your desires, she 
will often surpass them ; and while there is this chance 
she Is certainly worth the trial. Young students on their 
first acquaintance with her, not fxuding her yield assist- 
ance in their present particular Avant reject her, not 
considering that she can never be a substitute but an 
assistant and therefore Is not to be discarded but 

\&th. — Went down among the ruins of Athens to 
consult about legs and feet ; came home ; It was so 
cold that I became benumbed, In spite of my abstrac- 
tion. I could stay eight or ten hours in damp weather 
without inconvenience, but cold works upon you in- 
sensibly. Drew In the leg and foot of Dentatus, took 
it out again. I observed in the feet of the Elgin INIarbles 
the most exquisite system ; the ends of the toes are the 
parts which are pressed down, the upper joints not so, 
consequently the flesh must rise up all about the nail 
and the top and the upper joint still keep its form. 

This is a system of reason ; this is a system of sense ; 
this gives motion, probability and truth. Can this be 
done in all the varieties that the human body is capable 
of in each part without a continual, unremitting study 


of Nature? Can this be done by system witliout 
Nature ? Can this be done by recollection ? Will 
Nature ever put a man out who is on the watch for 
such niceties as these ? It makes one melancholy to 
see that men are satisfied with this excuse for their in- 
dolence, yet believe or are willing to believe that they 
alone are in the sure road to eminence and every one 
else in the world wrong. 

Made studies from the feet of a little Hercules in 
Fuseli's room. In a fine figure there is always a slip of 
the pectoral coming down upon the ribs. It depends 
upon the action to show it ; I first observed it in the 
lying figure (the Ilyssus) at Lord Elgin's; for this 
alone I am eternally indebted to Lord Mulgrave. 

Poor dear little Miss Phipps is dead, the sweetest, 
most acute little thing I ever met with ; she always 
used to ask me how I got on with my battle picture, 
dear little soul. I have not been so much aflTected for 
many months. 

God be thanked for having so long protected, guided, 
and befriended me : I fear to dwell upon my happiness. 
May I deserve a continuance of it by my virtue and 
piety, my industry and energy. 

\1th. — Did little. I am everlastingly grateful to 
Lord Elgin and Lord Mulgrave ; I feel daily what 
immense knowledge I have gained from these glorious 
ruins of Athens. 

\Sth. — At church, Wilkie and I breakfasting first 
with Seguier. Walked in the park. Read Homer. 

IQth. — Glazed the drapery; made a sketch of an 
idea that struck me while at Dover of a colossal statue 
of Britannia and her Lion on Shakespeare's Cliff right 
opposite the coast of France. 

20th. — Altered the les; and thicfh of Dentatus. 
After every victory of Buonaparte the people of this 
country console themselves with finding fresh diflS- 
culties for him that must be insurmountable. What 

1808.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1808. 117 

man of such genius thinks of difficulties ? To the in- 
dolent they may be difficulties but to Buonaparte they 
are only stimulants. Nothing is difficult. It is we 
who are indolent. 

When you find people inclined to treat you Avith re- 
spect never check it from modesty, but rather increase 
it by a quiet unassuming air of conscious worth. 

2lsi. — A man does not perceive his own improvement 
or the difficulties that he has conquered until some 
young beginner brings his first effi)rts, asking for ad 
vice. You find then that you must carry your con- 
versation back ten years to bring it to the level of his 

22nd. — Began again my shield ; put it into all 
positions, but the first was the best. 

2?)rd. — Always appear thankful for just praise, 
for though it is no more than you may deserve is there 
no merit due to those who acknowledge your desert ? 
How many get their deserts ? 

Thus end my extracts from my Journal for 1808, a 
remarkable year in my life, a year in which I first saw 
those works of art which the Greeks always estimated as 
their best and greatest productions. ]\Iy early attempt 
to unite nature with the ideal form of the antique was 
now proved correct by the perfection of that union in 
these faultless productions. The advantage to me was 
immense. No other artist drew there at all for some 
months, and then only West came, but he did not 
draw the marbles and study their hidden beauties. He 
merely made a set of rattling compositions, taking the 
attitudes as models for his own inventions. This was 
not doing what I had done, investigating their principles 
deeply and studiously. AVcst derived little benefit from 

* In allusion to Eastlake's brinsrinjf me his first hand. — B. It. II. 



this method, while in every figure I drew the principle 
Avas imbibed and inhaled for ever. 

I owed this enormous advantage to my connection 
■with Lord Mulgrave. He saw my efforts to give him a 
fine work, and he urged and encouraged me in the 
struggle. He felt the propriety of painting everything 
from nature ; he got me permission to draw from the 
marbles, and by his influence sent me armour from the 
Tower ; he invited me with the familiarity of a friend to 
his tablcj introduced me to high connections. Lord 
Darnley, Lord Ashburnham, Lord Farnborough, Lord 
Dartmouth, Canning and others, — in fact brought me 
fairly into the most distinguished society, and gave me 
an influence and an introduction, the effect of which I 
have never lost, under any circumstances, up to this 
present hour. 

Let every student thus see the consequences of a 
fixed resolution, where conviction of right is rooted. 
Had I timidly yielded on the first persecutions of my 
family, no such advance in life could have happened to 
me. It was only by incessant industry, by a masculine 
command over myself in avoiding all the seductions 
and allurements of pleasure, by observing prudent and 
economical habits, never spending much except on my 
professional wants and necessities, by virtuous conduct, 
a never- failing trust in God, and a constant morning 
and evening appeal to Him, that I first attracted the 
interest of my fellow students, then the attention of my 
superiors in art, and lastly the kind consideration of 
great patrons, who from one quarter and the other 
heard of the repute of a young determined student, who 
had high objects in view for the honour of his country's 
Art, and who certainly had some talent for the trial : and 
before I had begun to paint, when I hardly knew one 
colour from another, or the meaning of the word "vehicle," 
I received a commission for a historical subject. 

True, perhaps, that I had the advantage of the 


friendship of tlie greatest genius in his path — Wilkie — 
and also of another man of great talent — Jackson ; but 
let the student consider that when my first commission 
arrived in 1807, I had only left my father's house for 
three short years, and now I was lifted, as it were, into 
the first society of England. 

I was astonished. It was victory, — it was success at 
the least, and principally to Jackson's kind and affec- 
tionate regard for me in reporting my indefatigable 
efforts was I indebted for this extraordinary advance. 
It is not to be wondered at, then, that the manners of 
liifjh life began to fascinate me, and the women of rank 
with their sweetness, grace and beauty to incline my 
head to be a little montee. Thoug;h I was never turned 
aside from my plans by this, yet there was soon a visible 
alteration in my manners. 

I dare say I talked rather more grandly to the artists ; 
I suspect I looked down upon poverty ; I did not relish 
the society of the middle classes ; I thought their man- 
ners gross and their breeding hideous ; I dressed better 
than usual ; after a splendid party of Stars and Garters 
at the Admiralty I thought an attempt in my own class 
a very dull affair. I dined with Lord INIulgrave, fre- 
quently three times a-week, and it was delightful to be, 
as I have been, alone with his Lordship, and to listen to 
him talking on past policy. He was full of anecdote, 
and I remember once in talking about the Copenhagen 
expedition he said that he, Wclleslcy Pole (now Lord 
Maryborough) and a clerk in the Admiralty managed 
all the details, and that the clerk was threatened with 
nothing less than death if anything was divulged. 
Many years after this, I was relating it to an old friend 
Kiley, of the Admiralty, and Iviley immediately said 
that clerk was himself; he and Lord Mulgrave and 
"VVellesley Pole copied out all the orders, sitting up for 
two or three nights alone. 

I 4 


Lord Mulf^rave first raised my enthusiasm for the 
Duke of Wellington, by saying one day at table, " If 
you live to see it, he will be a second Marlborough." I 
never forgot this, for I believed Lord Mulgrave to be a 
sound judge. 

I was often invited when Wilkie and Jackson were 
not, and it is not vain in me to say that I think it was 
because, as I have said before. Lord Mulgrave found me 
better informed on general topics and perhaps with more 
interest in politics and the war. 

My room now began to fill with people of rank and 
fashion, and very often I was unable to paint and did 
nothing but talk and explain. They all, however, left 
town at Christmas, and 1 worked away very hard and 
got on Avell, so that when they returned I w^as still the 
object of wonder, and they continually came to see 
" that extraordinary picture by a young man who had 
never had the advantages of foreign travel." Wilkie 
was for the time forgotten : at table I was looked at, 
talked to, selected for opinions and alluded to con- 
stantly. " We look to 7/ou, Mr. Haydon," said a lady 
of the highest rank once, " to revive the Art." I bowed 
my humble acknowledgments ; then a discussion would 
take place upon the merit and fiery fury of Dentatus ; 
then all agreed " it was so fine a subject ;" then Lord 
Mulgrave would claim the praise for the selection ; then 
people would whisper, " He himself has an antique 
head ; " then they would look, and some would differ ; 
then the noise the picture would make when it came out; 
then Sir George would say, that he had always said " A 
great Historical Painter would at last arise, and Iwas he." 

Believing all this to be gospel truth and never doubt- 
ing the sincerity wnth which it was said I anticipated 
all sorts of glory, greatness and fame. I believed that 
he Academy would hail with open arms so extraordi- 
nary a student, brought up in their own schools, nursed 


by their own Keeper, quite a cliild of their own in fact, 
and one who had never intentionally oifended a soul. I 
believed that they could not, would not, envy the repu- 
tation and advance of the very sort of talent they all 
agreed was wanted in the English SchooL 

Alas! alas ! how little did I know of human nature ! 
1 redoubled my efforts and after another three months 
of incessant labour finished my second work. It had 
taken me from April, 1807, to March, 1809, with the 
interruption of six months' portrait painting at Ply- 
mouth and three months at the Eloin Marbles, so that 
it had actually occupied about fifteen months. 

The moment I had selected for my hero was when he 
was just rushing out to cut his way through his host of 
assailants. Kight in front was a terrified soldier, who 
had lost his arms and was helplessly putting out his 
hand to defend himself from the terrible blow of the 
furious Dcntatus, — a natural instinct inducino; all men 
to shelter their head, even though convinced that their 
arm must suffer: behind him was a hoary-headed villain 
watching his time for assassination ; in the background 
rushing up a pass were the rest of the guard collected 
by the blast of the trumpeter, while riglit over the head 
of Dentatus was a soldier just lifting up a piece of rock 
of great size to dash it down upon his bald front. 

The princi})lcs of my first picture were here carried 
much farther, because it was a second picture, and I of 
course had painted it under greater advantages — with 
increased experience and the Elgin ^Marbles. The pro- 
duction of this picture must and will be considered as 
an epoch in English Art. The drawing in it was cor- 
rect and elevated, and the perfect forms and system of 
the antique were carried into painting, united with the 
fleshy look of every-day life. The colour, light and 
shadow, the composition and telling of the story were 
complete. It has, however, appeared to me since that the 


expression of contempt In Dentatus is overdone and 
borders on caricature^ though his action is good. 

The Academicians said I had attempted too much. 
But had I not succeeded? Leigh Hunt said, that it 
was a bit of old embodied lio;htninn;. He was with me 
when I took it down to the Academy, and, full of 
his fun, kept torturing me the whole way, saying, 
" Wouldn't it be a delicious thing now, for a lamplighter 
to come round the corner, and put the two ends of his 
ladder right into Dentatus's eye ? or suppose we meet 
a couple of drayhorses playing tricks with a barrel of 
beer, knocking your men down and trampling your poor 
Dentatus to a mummy ! " 

He made me so nervous with this villanous torture 
that in my anxiety to see all clear I tripped up a corner 
man and as near as possible sent Dentatus into the 

However, it reached the Academy safely, and in a few 
days I heard from Fuseli that it had been hung where 
my first picture was and looked strong, but that while 
he was away from town for a day or two it had been 
taken down and put into the ante- room ! 

West met Lady Beaumont, and told her " We have 
hung it in the best place in the Academy." 

Sir George gave a dinner that day and Lord Mulgrave 
was there. " Well," said he, " have you heard anything 
of Dentatus?" "Yes," replied Lady Beaumont, "they 
have hung it in the best place, West told me, in the 
whole Academy." " And where may that be ?" inquired 
Lord Mulgrave. " In the centre, I think, of the ante- 
room. West said," replied Lady Beaumont. Lord Mul- 
grave looked blank and said, " Did West ever hang any 
of his own works there ?" There was a dead silence, and 
then Lord Mulgrave explained where the ante-room was, 
that it had no window or decent light for any great work, 
and declared that it was a gross injustice. 

1809.] MY DENTATUS EXniBITED. 123 

Within a few clays, his Lordship wrote me to ask 
what he should pay me ? I replied, " that he must not 
at all consider the length of time it had occupied, be- 
cause it was only a second pictui'e, and ought not to be 
taken as the work of an established painter, who is sup- 
posed to have knowledge to do all that he is capable of 
in the time that his picture occupies : that this, on the 
contrary, was the picture of a young man, whose inex- 
perience produced frequent loss of time, and that his 
Lordship must not think of remunerating me in any 
way for such a loss." 

Lord Mulgrave immediately sent me 160 guineas, say- 
ing, that notwithstanding the injustice the picture had 
met with, his opinion was unaltered. He subsequently 
sent me 50 guineas more. And yet dear Lord Mulgrave, 
in spite of his belief that his sincere opinion was unal- 
tered, began at last to fancy that Dentatus would not 
have been placed where it was, had it really deserved a 
better place. He did not possess knowledge sufficient 
to defend his opinions, and when he heard the picture 
abused by the Academicians in society he felt his faith 
in its merits waver. 

Wilkie and I continued frequently to dine at his Lord- 
ship's table, but there was certainly a distant coolness to 
me as if he had been imposed upon. Wilkie's picture 
made as much noise as ever and now he was the great 
object of attraction where before I had been the lion. 
The old story in high life ! Before Dentatus made his 
debut at the Acadcmv, I used to be listened to as if I was 
an oracle and poor AVilkie scarcely noticed. Now it was 
his turn and I was almost forgotten. Now he was fre- 
quently invited without me; Jackson was not there at 
all, because Lord Mulgrave had parted from him in a 
pet. These are the caprices and anxieties inseparable 
from introduction to the company of a class who are 
ambitious of the cclat of discovering genius but whose 

124 AUTOBIOGIlAPnY OF B. K. HATDON". [1809. 

hearts are seldom truly engaged for It. They^ esteem it 
no longer, when public caprice or private malignity and 
professional envy can excite a suspicion that my Lord 
has been hasty and made a mistake. 

Being of a sanguine temperament I felt all this 
neglect severch\ I had believed everybody as sincere 
as myself: I had been honoured by Lord Mulgrave with 
more than usual intimacy, and therefore when I saw him 
so easily affected by the injustice of men whom I had 
first learnt to despise from his repeated expressions of 
contempt, I felt it beyond measure, because of course I 
fully trusted that he, at least, would stand by the youth 
he had so pushed forward. 

I believe, from my heart, that he wished It, but his 
vanity was mortified at so little respect being shown to 
his rank, in the abuse and neglect of his especial jiroUgd. 

The extracts from my Journal will show, in a slight 
degree, how sincerely I had gone to work : how I had re- 
garded no expenditure of time, provided that there was 
a chance, by any obliteration of what had taken weeks 
to complete, of Improving the picture and rendering it 
more w^orthy of my noble employer ; how I had left it in 
1807, to get practice in heads and expression ; how I had 
entirely rubbed the whole figure out two or three times? 
especially after seeing the Elgin Marbles — in short' 
how I had willingly sacrificed tune, money, health and 
relaxation, that nothing might turn my mind from its 
great and overwhelming duty. 

With all this industry, I felt that I deserved the 
praises of the great, and I gave them credit for meaning 
what they said. 

I was so elevated at their praise, and at the visit of 
crowds of beauties putting up their pretty glasses and 
lisping admiration of my efforts, that I rose into the 
heaven of heavens, and believed my fortune made. I 
walked about my room, looked Into the glass, antici- 


patecl wliat tlie foreign ranbassadors would say, studied 
my French for a good accent, believed that all the sove- 
reigns of Europe would hail an English youth with 
delight who could paint a heroic picture. 

Exactly in proportion as I knew the soundness of the 
principles developed in Dentatus, I believed the praises 
I heard were evidence of the sagacity of the praisers, 
forgetting that the same terms would have been applied 
to the portrait of a race-horse or of a favourite pug, and 
that my flatterers knew no more of the principles I had 
discovered than I did before I began. How should 
they ? They had cost me days and nights of meditation 
and deep thought, and how should volatile beauties of 
fashion and dandies of rank see by intuition that which 
is never seen except the mind be informed ? 

Sir George Beaumont behaved nobly. He re- 
doubled his kind attentions, told me not to be discou- 
raged, and said out boldly that not one of them in the 
Academy could produce such a work. But Wilkie, 
Wilkie whom I loved so dearly, the friend and com- 
l)anion of all my early days and thoughts, he shrank 
from my defence ! How my heart ached at his cold- 
ness ! — but it was the timid man. 

The Academicians felt ashamed, and Sir Francis 
Bourgeois meeting me at Lord Mulgrave's expressed 
the regret of the Academy that they could not place my 
picture where it deserved to be. This was cant and I 
received it in sullen silence. 

The more I went into tlic affair the more detestable 
it proved. The Academicians were evidently annoyed 
at the eternal praises they had heard of my picture in 
society. They knew what the enthusiasms of high life 
were worth, and they determined to check me the 
moment I got into their power. 

Great anxiety had been betrayed liy Lord INIulgravc 
and Sir George for a good place for me, and they had 


called on Phillips who was a hanger for this year. It 
is natural to suspect that exactly in proportion as 
anxiety was betrayed about me was ill feeling against 
me excited. It seemed as if I was being pushed into 
their faces and brought forward as a rival to their fame- 

They played their game well. One, as soon as I 
was up, complained that I had not been done justice to. 
*' Not done justice to," said the Council, " then do him 
justice by all means." The picture was immediately 
taken down by this man and put into the ante-room. 
This Fuseli told me on his oath. To a temperament 
like mine it was as-onisins; ! I feared that I had mis- 
taken my talent. People of fashion were ashamed to 
acknowledge that they had ever seen either the picture 
or the painter. My painting-room was deserted. I 
felt like a marked man. How completely the Acade- 
micians knew that class whose professions of regard and 
interest I had credited like a child ! 

Here was a work the principles of which I could do 
nothing but develope for the remainder of my life — in 
which a visible and resolute attempt had been made to 
unite colour, expression, handling, light, shadow and 
heroic form, and to correct the habitual slovenliness of 
the English in drawing, — based iipon an anatomical 
knowledo-e of the fio-ure wantino; till now in Ensjlish 
Art, for West and Barry had but superficial knowledge, 
■ — the first picture which had appeared uniting the idea 
and the life, under the influence and guidance of the 
divine productions of Phidias seen for the first time in 
Europe and painted by the first artist ever permitted to 
draw from those remains, — and this picture was ruined 
in reputation througli the pernicious power of profes- 
sional men, embodied by royalty for the advancement 
of works of this very description. I, the sincere, de- 
voted artist was treated like a culprit, deserted like a 
leper, abused like a felon and ridiculed as if my preten- 


sions were the delusions of a mficlman. Yet these de- 
lusions were founded on common sense, on incessant 
industry, on anatomical investigation and on a constant 
study of the finest works of the great masters of the 
Avorld! This is and has been the curse of European 
Art for two hundred and fifty years, ever since the es- 
tablishment of those associations of vanity, monopoly, 
intrigue and envy called Academies, and until they 
are reformed, and rendered powerless except as schools 
of study, they Avill be felt as an obstruction to the 
advancement of Art. 

128 AUTOBIOGRArUY OF B. R. nAYDON. [l809. 


I BEGAN to think I was under a curse and doomed to 
be so. My brain was affected ; the splendour and re- 
finements of high life disgusted me. I felt its hollow 
glitter and became sullen, retired and musingly thought- 
ful. Lord Mulo-rave seemed to feel for me and thought 
that a visit to the country would do me good. So he 
offered me a letter to Sir Roger Curtis, the Port Ad- 
miral at Portsmouth, asking him as a favour to give me 
the benefit of a sea trip in a man-of-war bound to Ply- 
moutl). Wilkie agreed to go with me and we prepared 
to start. My spirits began to revive at the prospect of 
seeing my friends again, but I felt the injustice of my 
treatment and the abuse of the ignorant press too keenly 
to relish anything very much. We left town for 
Portsmouth 22nd June, 1809, and were received very 
cordially by Sir Roger. He showed us over the dock- 
yard and asked us to dinner, but explained to us that 
unfortunately the grand expedition * drew everything to 
Portsmouth, instead of sending anything to Plymouth, 
and that he should be obliged to put us on board a 
cutter, the only vessel that was going to Plymouth. 

The next morning while we were at breakfast we 
heard a tremendous explosion ; the alarm-bell rang, 
and we then saw people running in crowds to the 
beach ; we put on our hats and sallied forth. The 
first thing I saw was a body lying across the roof of a 
cottage, as black as a cinder ; the glass in all the little 
houses near the beach was shivered to atoms. Plere 

* To Walchcren.— 'Ed. 


lay some poor fellows blown to pieces : liere an arnij 
there a mutilated trunk ; here lay one man cut in two : 
there another dreadfully lacerated, with his jaw fixed, 
rolling on his back in excruciating agony. The crowd 
thunderstruck at the horrors before them were all in- 
quiring, none replying. At last we found that it was 
occasioned by a woman striking her pipe against some 
of the soldiers' baggage, among which some powder had 
been carelessly spilt ; the loose powder caught, ran along 
the beach and round the baggage, blew up the broken 
barrel, which in its turn blew up all the barrels on the 
beach (about a dozen), as well as the sergeant and his 
guard placed there to prevent any accident. 

In the afternoon wo went out to see the Caledonia, 120 
guns, at Spithead. What a sublime and terrible simpli- 
city there is in our navy ! Nothing is admitted but what 
is absolutely useful. The cannon, the decks, the sailors, 
all wore the appearance of stern vigour, as if constituted 
only to resist the elements. No beautiful forms in the 
gun-carriages, no taste or elegance in the cannon ; the 
ports square and hard ; the guns iron ; the sailors mus- 
cular. Everything inspired one with awe. 

What grandeur in the sight of three hiuidred and fifty 
sail of men-of-war and transports destined for a great 
enterprise ! Wc rowed and sailed among them for the 
rest of the day and did not return until the evening to 

After waiting three days wc became hopeless and 
called upon Sir Roger to take our leave as wc had 
secured our places in the packet-boat. Just as we were 
upon the point of starting in puffed old Sir lloger and 
said that he could manage to give us something, as he 
would recall a cutter that was under weinli and send her 
round to Plymouth with us. Up went tiie signals from 
the house and back came the cutter. We were intro- 

VOL. r. K 


ducecl to the Commander by Sir Roger and in a short 
time were on board and under weigh at last. 

The transports we convoyed shortly followed and 
we soon floated by the beautiful shores of the Isle of 

As we passed though the Russian fleet the sailors 
stared at us — so unlike English sailors, their lips co- 
vered with dirty red mustachios, some in hairy caps, some 
in green jackets, and some in none. When they laughed 
they looked like animals. Their ships appeared to be 
strongly built. 

The sun set in golden glory spreading his fan-like 
shades and varied tints into an eternity of space. Even- 
ing approached, and the transparent moon unveiled 
her li^ht which o-Httered on the sails of distant vessels. 
The sky was clear and beautifully blue, while now 
and then a light and fleecy vapour drifted slowly over 
the glistening stars. All seemed hushed except the 
rippling and bubbling of the waters as we cut through 
them darting the silvery spray on either side. 

I could not help repeating — 

" Insplrant auraj nocti, ncc Candida cursus 
Luna negat ; splendet tremulo sub lumine pontus." 

In passing through the Needles every one came on 
deck, and as they faded from us I could perceive the 
star-like glimmer of the distant lighthouse. I now went 
below and stretching myself on a locker wrapped in 
signal flags soon slumbered imperceptibly. Wilkie 
crept into one of their standing bed-places. Every four 
hours I heard the whistle for a fresh watch and the mea- 
sured step of the officer in charge as he walked the 
deck over my head. Sometimes he would stop and 
mutter something to the men which the wind carried 
from me ; and then again pace on in his occupation. 

Notwithstanding the creaking of the ladders and 


beams and the gurgling of the water, as the vessel with 
a heavy thud jerked herself down, first at one end and 
then at the other, I managed to get some sleep. When 
I awoke I went on deck and shivermg joined the master 
who in his turn was pacing away. The day was just 
breaking, the moon fading distantly into a heavy body 
of mist, while the morning star shone with lucid, liquid, 
trembling agitation. There was a dewy breeze, and as 
I looked towards the coast and saw the white cliffs of 
Portland standing as it were alone, a rampart against 
the foam-crested waves, everything that Homer, Shake- 
speare, ISIilton and Virgil had said of morning rushed 
into my mind. 

In the extreme distance I perceived our companion 
vessel, bright streaks of light illuminating her white 
sails like a vision. During the day Wilkie became 
very ill and remained in bed. I felt some qualms but 
remaining on deck in the air soon recovered. I found 
the master an intelligent fellow and the commander a 
regular sailor. They had seen a ship in every position 
it Avas possible a ship could be in and knew how to 
provide for every difficulty. What an advantage over 
the unexperienced French ! 

I relished their salt beef and biscuit but poor Wilkie 
continued almost insensible. lie lay in bed with his 
nose close to the deck and the scrubbing, scraping and 
cleaning *in the morning was enough to split the brain 
of even a healthy head. I felt for him. In the middle 
of the day, when we were regaling at lunch, who should 
heave up his awful figure, with head enveloped in red 
night-cap, but Wilkie, pale, hollow-checked, his quiver- 
ing lips blue and parched, and his chin unshaven. We 
received him with a hearty shout, but the sight of the 
meat and porter and our jolly uproarious air so shook 
his nerves that he dropped down again in despair. At 
daybreak next morning we passed the Mew Stone, and 


by 3 P. M. were safe at anchor in the Sound. Wilkie 
quickly recovered his spirits and the next day we were 
invited to dine with a large party. 

Under any other circumstances my return would 
have been a victory, for five years before I had left 
my native town unknown, now I returned in fair popu- 
larity, though perhaps injured in reputation by the 
treatment I had met with. 

We visited Underwood, and Sir Joshua's birth-place, 
Plympton, and saw in his bed-room an early attempt at 
a portrait drawn with his finger dipped in ink. It had 
the air of his later works. We saw his portrait in the 
Town Hall. One day we dined with Sir William Elford 
at Beckliam, and he told us a pleasant anecdote of himself 
and Sir Joshua. 

When Sir Joshua had finished his picture for Plymp- 
ton, he wrote Sir William requesting him to get it hung 
in a good situation, which Sir William attended to by 
hanging it between two old pictures, and in his reply to 
Sir Joshua he said the bad pictures on each side acted 
as a foil, and set it off to great advantage. Sir Joshua 
was highly diverted, as these very pictures were two 
early ones of his own painting. 

The people of Devonshire treated us very handsomely 
and we had plenty of amusement. We bathed often, and 
I taught Wilkie to swim. How the people of London 
Avould have laughed to see the celebrated David Wilkie 
stretched on our drawing-room table learning to strike 
out in time against the next morning's trial. We used 
to bathe at Two-Coves, a bathing-place of my youth. 

We left Plymouth after a stay of five weeks, and 
came to Exeter by the most delightfid road in England. 
Wilkie was in ecstacies of observant study. After visit- 
ing Mrs. Hunn (Mr. Canning's mother) at Bath, we 
returned to London, and in a few days left town again 
for Coleorton, Sir George Beaumont's seat. 


There had been a great deal of fun at Lord Mnl- 
grave's about tliis visit. Sir George, like all men of 
fashion, had a way of saying pleasant things without the 
least meaning. He was always full of invitations to Coie- 
orton, and when he disapproved of my rocks in Dentatus, 
he said, " There are some capital rocks at Coleorton, 
which you and Wilkie must come down and study. I 
will write to you as soon as I get down." When on his 
return to town he again found fault with the rocks, Lord 
Mulgrave slily said, " Haydon, what a })ity it was you 
did not see those unfortunate rocks at Coleorton," and 
when the picture was up and Sir George attempted to 
say anything in my defence. Lord Mulgrave would say, 
" Ah, Sir George, it is all owing to those cursed rocks." 

Sir George at last, quite ashamed of his wilful forget- 
fulness, wrote us both a most kind invitation while we 
v>^ere in Devonshire ; and so, the moment we returned to 
town, off we set for Coleorton. We got to Ashby-de-la- 
Zouch at night, slept there, and the next day posted on to 

The house was a small seat, recently built by Dance 
in the Gothic style, very near a former house where 
Beaumont and rietcher used to spend their summers. 
Sir George, I think, told us he was descended from tlie 
same family as the dramatist. 

Both he and Lady Pjcaumont received us very kindl}-, 
but I could not help thinking that it was more to avoid 
Lord Mulgrave's future quizzing than from any real 
pleasure in our company. As I was walking with him 
next day about the grounds, he said, " Now I hope you 
and Wilkie will stay a fortnight." " Oh! " said I, per- 
ceiving the motive, " a month, if you wit;li it, Sir 
George," and there was a dead silence between us for 
some moments. However, we passed a fortniglit as de- 
lightfully as painters could. Sir George painted, and 
Lady Beaumont drew, and Wilkie and I made our rc- 

K 3 


spective studies for our own purposes. At lunch we 
assembled and chatted over what we had been doing, 
and at dinner we all brought down our respective 
sketches and cut up each other in great good humour. 

We dined with the Claude and Rembrandt before 
us, breakfasted with the Kubens landscape*, and did 
nothing, morning, noon or night, but think of painting, 
talk of painting, dream of painting and wake to paint 

"VVe lingered on the stairs in going up to bed and 
studied the effect of candle-light upon each other, won- 
dering how the shadows could be best got as clear as 
they looked. Sometimes Sir George made Wilkie 
stand with the light in a proper direction and he and I 
studied the colour ; sometimes he held the candle him- 
self and made Wilkie join me ; at another time he 
Avould say, " Stop where you are. Come here, Wilkie. 
Asphaltum thinly glazed over on a cool preparation I 
think would do it." And David and I would su2:o;est 
something else. We then unwillingly separated for the 
night, and rose with the lark to go at it again, all of us 
feeling as jealous as if we were artists struggling for 
fame. Wilkie and Sir George had the best of it, be- 
cause after all rocks are inanimate ; and seeing that I 
should be done up if I did not bring out something to 
sustain my dignity, I resolved on a study of a horse's 
head, and without saying a word by dinner next day I 
painted, full of life and fire, the head of a favourite 
horse of Su" George's, and bringing it in when the party 
assembled for dinner, I had the satisfaction of demolish- 
ing their little bits of study, for the size of life effec- 
tually done is sure to carry off the prize. 

The next morning at breakfast I perceived that some- 
thing was brewing in David's head, and I clearly saw 

* All now in the National Gallery. 


that my championship would not be a sinecure. Away 
went David to his studies, I to my roclvs, Sir George to 
his painting-room, and Lady Beaumont to her boudoir- 
Dinner was announced, and in stalked David Wilkie 
with an exquisite study of an old woman of the village, 
in his best style, so that the laurel was divided ; but 
they all allowed that nothing could exceed the eye of 
my horse. 

One evening I made Lady Beaumont's maid stand on 
the staircase with a light behind her, so as to cast a good 
shadow on the wall, and from her I painted an excellent 
study for Lady Macbeth. Our fortnight was now fast 
drawing to a close, and Sir George began to lament 
that when we had left him he should be compelled to 
attend to his coal mines. 

In the gardens he had a bust of Wordsworth, and I 
think a memento of Wilson. Coleorton is a retired 
spot: I visited it in 1837, when at Leicester, and Avas 
touched to see it again after so many years. A group 
of sculpture had been added near the hall ; my INIacbeth 
(of which presently) was on the staircase. Jackson, 
Lord Mulgrave, Sir George and Lady Beaumont were 
all dead, and I walked tln-ough the house in a melancholy 
stupor, angry to see the rooms, where once hung the elite 
of our now national pictures, filled with modern works, 
and the two superb heads (l)y Sir Joshua) of Sir George 
and Lady Beaumont pushed high up to make way for 
some commonplace trash. 

Sir George said to us one day at dinner, " Words- 
wortii may perhaps walk in; if he do, I caution you both 
ajrainst his terrific democratic notions." This was in 
1809, and considering the violence of his subsequent 
Conservatism it is a curious fact to recall. 

K 4 

136 AUTOBIOGRArnY OF B. R. HAYDON. [l809. 


As the whole history of my commission from Sir George 
is now to be told, I must state that, in 1807, Sir George 
had called and said, " he must have a sketch by me." A 
short time after he gave me a commission, to be com- 
menced as soon as I had finished Dentatus. One day 
he came, I remember, and tried to persuade me to begin 
his picture before finishing Lord Mulgrave's. This ap- 
peared to me so odd a request that I declined to comply 
with it, and so completed Dentatus and then made his 
sketch of which the subject — Macbeth — was agreed 
upon. One day, while I was riding with him at Coleor- 
ton, he said to me, " What size do you intend to paint 
Macbeth?" I replied, "Any size you please, Sir 
George." He said, "Would a whole length be large 
enough?" "Certainly," I replied; "it is larger than I 
had contemplated, and I should be highly gratified at 
being allowed to paint the picture such a size." 

I returned to town, ordered a whole length, rubbed in 
and prepared, and after many letters from Sir George, lie 
at last arrived in town. He called ; I had considerably 
advanced in the picture, but there was something in his 
manner which betokened constraint. The next day he 
called again with General Phipps, and said, " This is the 
full size^of life ? " " No, Sir George," replied I ; " it is a 
little less." They then both found fliult. After so 
many months' labour this was poor encouragement, but 
he had done the same to Wilkie on The Blind Fiddler. 
In my anxiety to get rid of these unfavourable impres- 
sions, I went to Northcote for advice. Northcote's eyes 


sparkled with delight as he said, " He'll never have your 
picture at all, and he's now beginning to get off." 

I went home in misery and could scarcely sleep. I 
was beginning now to encumber my father, and my 
situation was not pleasant ; for on so important a work 
as this I had expected an advance to help me through 
the expenses of my models. While I was sitting in this 
state the next mornin<T in walked Sir Georo;e and be2;an 
to abuse the picture, even to ridicule. Among other 
thinfTs, he said, " ria"m"es less than life look dwarfish." 
His first impression had been that the figures were life- 
size if not larger. 

He would listen to no argument and concluded by 
insisting upon having a smaller pictui'e. 

I ran away to Northcote for advice. He chuckled 
like an imp. " I told 'ee so," said he ; " he hopes to 
disgust 'ee, and so you will give up the picture alto- 
gether." This was certainly Job's comfort. 

Wilkie, Jackson, Scguier and I had a consultation 
on what was to be done. Wilkie advised submission 
and to begin the small picture. Jackson said, " You 
will be equally Avorretted, small or large." Seguier said, 
" It is no use to oppose him." The next day we all met 
at Lord Mulgrave's, and Lord Mulgrave in the kindest 
manner after dinner said, " Haydon, if you consent to 
oblige Sir George, you will please us all." I looked at 
Sir George across the table but his face expressed rigid 
indifference. Lady Beaumont chattered away to Lady 
Mulgrave. Wilkie and Jackson cast down their eyes 
and said nothing. Seguier looked arch as if he smoked 
us alh Had Sir George expressed the slightest wish, 
after such a pointed desire from Lord INIulgrave, had he 
looked towards me, I had been vanquished ; but no, not 
a word, and not a word from me. Lord JNIulgravc, 
apparently astonished at the whole affair, changed tlio 
conversation. At leaving. Lord Mulgrave shook mc 


kindly by the hand and whispered, " Yield ; " looking 
more than he whispered. Away we all went together 
down Harley Street, talking of nothing else till we got 
to my door, 41, Great Marlborough Street, and here 
they all wished me good night and begged me to con- 

Up I went to my solitary painting-room, and putting 
the candle on the ground dwelt on my picture in 
its advanced state. I mused on the grooms heavy in 
slumber ; the king sleeping in innocence ; Macbeth 
striding in terror ; the vast shadow of the listening Lady 
Macbeth (for at that time I had the shadow alone) ; 
till getting inspired as midnight approached, I marched 
about the room in a2;itation and swore I would not 
yield. Full of the glory of resistance to injustice I went 
to bed and fell asleep. In the night I awoke and found 
myself standing in my cast room, where I must have 
been a long time, half dead with cold, bewildered and 
starino; at the head of Niobe. The orlitter of the moon 
awoke me. The clock struck three and I became con- 
scious I had been walking in my sleep. 

I shivered back to bed and lay in perfect anxiety till 
day broke ; then I got up, prayed in distrust and set 
my palette. I could not paint ; I felt sick ; my model 
came ; I kept him standing without speaking till he 
remarked my abstraction and asked me if he should go. 
I said, " Yes," and he left me with an expression of 
surprise, as if he thought me mad or getting so. All 
day I stood staring at the picture, longing to proceed, 
but utterly nerveless, when Wilkie called. He advised 
me to oblige Sir George by doing a smaller work. 
After he went I walked away to Grosvenor Square, 
and found Sir George dressing for dinner, but I was 
admitted instantly. I said, " Sir George, I will paint 
the smaller picture, as you seem to wish it." He looked 
blank, as if he was rather disappointed than pleased. 


and replied, Ah — yes, indeed — yes, indeed, — yes, yes 
— I am happy — yes. I am going out instantly." So 
I withdrew. When I came into the street, I said to 
myself, " ^Vhat the d — 1 does he mean ? I '11 go to 
Northcote." Northcote chuckled. " To be sure he 
looked blank ; he disn't want'ee to paint large or small. 
You'll see no more of 'em." 

Another evening — another night passed — another 
day of musing till my brain ached. I sat listening for 
every knock ; but no Sir George, — no Sir George the 
whole week. When Wilkie came, he said, " Has he 
called ? " '' No." « He has left town for Dunmow." 
" j\Iy God, W^ilkie, what does he mean ? " "I don't 
know," said he ; " I was as anxious as you, for he be- 
haved just as oddly when I was finishing the Blind 

My indignation was roused, and I said, " I do not care 
what lie means; I know what I mean, and so shall he^ 
" Don't be violent," said Wilkie. " I don't care," said I. 
" Are you sure," said he, "you did not order a larger 
canvas than he mentioned ?" " Quite sure. He said a 
whole length, and a whole length I ordered." Wilkie 
went, after begging me to be moderate. When he was 
gone I sat down, relieved at having made up my mind, 
and wrote to Sir George asking him to withhold his 
decision until my picture should be completely finished, 
and then, if his objections should still exist, I would after 
I had executed i\Ir. Hope's picture paint him any other 
subject on any scale he pleased. 1 then rose up, breath- 
ing like a young lion that had just burst the net which 
fettered him. I had regained my own esteem ; defiance 
doubled my powers ; I felt I would complete my work, 
come what might. Two days afterwards I received his 
reply, in which after some preliminary comment he 
agreed to withhold his decision as I requested. 

It woidd now have been my best course, as he had 


agreed to my proposition, to liave gone to work without 
another word ; but I had always a tendency to fight it 
out, a tendency most prejudicial to an artist, because it 
calls off his mind from the main point of his being — 
perfection in his art. Why did I not yield ? Because 
my mind wanted the discipline of early training. I trace 
all the misfortunes in my life to this early and irremediable 
want. My will had not been curbed, or my will was too 
stubborn to submit to curbing; Heaven knows. Perhaps 
mine is a character in which all parts would have 
harmonised, if my will had been broken early. The same 
power might have been put forth with more discretion 
and I should have been less harassed by the world. 

I answered his letter, defending the size I had selected 
by the practice of the old masters, and concluded by say- 
ing, " Thus, Sir George, I have stated my reasons for 
what I do, and I hope in doing it, I have not exceeded 
the bounds of tliat respect to which your experience 
and rank entitle you. Such fame as Ananias gained for 
Raffaele, and the Capella Sistina for Michel Angelo, is, 
and ever shall be, my object ; whether it be my fate or 
not to gain this, to this shall all my efforts be directed, 
and I hope God will bless my exertions." 

Sir George answered me in a letter of counter-argu- 
ments. To this I rejoined by offering a picture, the size 
of life, of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth after the murder ; 
he listening in horror on the top of the stairs; the grooms 
asleep by the door ; Duncan's chamber seen, and part of 
his bed ; the door open as if Macbeth had just left it, all 
buried in silence. On this offer he declined to decide, 
reiterating his objections to the large scale on which I 
insisted on working. 

This for the present concluded the correspondence, 
and I went to work heartily, straining every nerve to do 
more than my best. 

My ignorance was great. All the budding knowledge 


acquired in painting Dentatus was here to be brought 
into play, and as much again was wanted. I advanced 
and fell back and advanced again ; Macbeth's head I 
painted and repainted, and it was at this period I con- 
firmed l^y perpetual deductions the principles of a 
standard figure. Eastlake, my first pupil, had bent his 
mind to the same purpose, and as I daily detailed my 
discoveries or conclusions, he suggested, approved or 
confirmed the principles laid down. My want of money 
was now great. My expenses were dreadful. I moulded 
torsos for the chest of Macbeth. I moulded knees for 
the sleeping grooms. I made studies without end ; hands 
over and over again — from nature, from the antique. 
Models sat till night. My lamp often burnt till deep 
into it. In fact, my love of art, my enthusiasm, my 
devotion were those of an inspired being, self-sacrificed 
for a great princi})le. 

I resolved, if Sir George had a spark of feeling, to 
vanquish him. At all this, Northcotc sneered: "He'll 
never come near 'ee again ; and you may work your 
vitals into your shoes." 

My father's help had now continued near six years, 
and I was anxious to relieve him but could not, though 
I might have done so by painting paltry things ; but I 
was iron-minded and I bent not. I still pressed him 
and he still helped me through 1810, though often irre- 

About the middle of April Sir George came to town, 
and though I knew of his beino; in London for six 
weeks I let him alone. At last wearied out by his 
apparent want of interest I talked with great indig- 
nation, and talking having no cficct, as he still kept 
from me, I resolved against all breeding and delicacy to 
show the correspondence. This soon got, as I intended, 
to the ears of Academicians, and then of Sir Gcoro-e, 
and to my utter astonishment, one day when I returned 


from a walk, I found Sir George had called and had 
been alone in my painting-room a long time. The next 
day came a card for a dinner. " Now," said I to 
Wilkie, " he has heard I have been showing his letters." 
" Dear, dear," said Wilkie, " he knows nothing about it." 
" "VVe shall see," said I, " before dinner is over." We 
went to dinner ; there was a brilliant party ; nothing 
could exceed the attentions paid to me, Avhilst Wilkie 
was neglected. Pie sat pale and smiling at every word 
Sir George uttered. Sir George in fact had begun to 
hint about novelty going off: that the Blind Fiddler 
was slaty: that it was a pity that Wilkie had not the 
surface of E^embrandt, but he feared the feeling did not 
exist in him ; not that he. Sir George, meant to say that 

he was not a most extraordinary young man, but 

In fact, Sir George was tired and wanted another extra- 
ordinary young man, for AVilkle was an old story and I 
was a nuisance. 

Sir George was evidently uneasy. At last he asked 
me to take wine. As he pushed the bottle to me, and 
the company for a moment were silent, he seemed to 
think it a good opportunity. He talked of Sheridan, 
and Pope, and said he thought Pope's letters were very 
delightful ; " but on the whole they were affected ; ha, 
ha, yes, they were affected." I felt at once something 
was coming and tried to catch Wilkie's eye who sat 
right opposite, but in vain, for he dropped them both on 
the tablecloth. " It is very strange," said Sir George, 
*' but I have a great aversion to people showing letters; 
nothing, you know, is so indelicate." " Certainly," I 
replied ; " but there are cases, you know. Sir George, 
which oblige a man to show letters in his own defence." 
*' Certainly," said the company, Avithout knowing one 
iota of the dispute. Wilkie grew paler than ever, paler 
than death. I chuckled and passed the claret, but could 
not catch his eye. Lady Beaumont began to stammer. 


a way she had when she wished to be peculiarly in- 
teresting, and the buzz of the party took another turn. 
We got again on Sheridan. " It is very strange," said 
Sir George, " what a knack he had of taking people in.'' 
*' Yes, Sir George," said I, as the wine came to me again, 
" that 's a knack many people have." There was a dead 
silence ; nobody understood it. There was something 
peculiar in our manner to each other. The ladies 
shortly left us, and we all soon followed. In the draw- 
ing-room Lady Beaumont Avas enchanting. Patting 
my arm, with the engaging pressure Avhich sets a man 
on the qui vive, she rallied me on the propriety of 
docility in early life. '* Yes," I replied ; " but is there 
not a docility amounting to servility ? " 

As I was looking towards David to catch his eye for 
going, he seized the offer of a friend to set him down 
and hurried away before me, Avell knowing what a 
worrying I would have given him in the street if I 
had been his only companion. 

I was fearless, young, proud of a quarrel with a man 
of rank which would help to bring me into notice. This 
was foolish in the extreme, but it was natural. Full of 
high and virtuous principles, knowing I had all along 
meant to do what was right, I felt disgusted at Injustice, 
and seized the first opportunity of showing that the 
artist was the man to be listened to and not the connois- 
seur, forgetting that the connoisseur was generally the 
man of rank and wealth, and the artist with no fortune 

" but his good spirits 
To feed and clotlie him," 

and that though the world would enjoy the exposure of 
a man of rank In secret, it would take good care to shake 
its head in jjubllc at the presumption of the artist. In 
fact, victory is defeat in such cases and the artist will 
always find it so. 


The next clay after dinner I was at work, when there 
came a thundering rap and up marched Sir George and 
my Lady. As I shut the door I thought "You don't 
leave this room without a settlement." 

He looked towards Macbeth and said, " What, you 
have enlarged the canvas ? " " Yes, sir," I replied, "you 
never came near me for six weeks, and I concluded you 
had given up the commission, and I added to the can- 
vas to please myself. Am I to paint this picture for 
you, Sir George, or not?" Lady Beaumont said, "I 
can answer that. We have no room," " Yes, indeed," 
added he; "but I'll make a proposal. You shall go on 
with the picture for me — yes, indeed — for me, but if 
when it is done I do not like it, I shall not be obliged to 
take it, and then I shall be considered engaged for a 
smaller picture, the price to be settled by arbitration." 
" I agree, Sir George," said I, " provided you agree to 
my proposition." « What is it? What is it?" "Why," 
I replied with great coolness, " that neither you nor Lady 
Beaumont shall see it till done." This seemed to hurt 
him very much, which I did not mean it to do, but they 
both assented that the enlarged picture as it then was 
should be the one and that they would not see it till I 
invited them. 

Just as I was going to work a letter came explaining 
that Sir George wished the arrangement not to be men- 
tioned. This nettled me and I wrote to tell him that 
if there was anything at all unpleasant to his feelings in 
being bound down by a bond I would with great plea- 
sure release him from all engagements. He answered 
by a request that I would proceed without further dis- 
cussion as he was resolved not to write another word on 
the subject. In my reply to this I wrote : — " Every- 
thing is now settled to my satisfaction. I have no wish 
but to proceed with my picture. It was a deference to 
your feelings that urged me to write you the last letter 


I had the honour to write. If you had let me proceed, 
my dear Sir George, quietly six months ago, nothing 
could have been said or written on the subject. It was 
certainly at your option, Sir George, whether you an- 
swered the last letter, or any other letter I have the 
honour to write you. I shall now proceed with my 

What should I have done ? I reply — have finished 
his commission on the scale specified by himself, caring- 
nothing as I proceeded for my patron's whims and 

Nothing wastes precious time so much as writing 
letters of dispute. Let the student abominate this ten- 
dency. His vanity may be flattered by the applause of 
foolish friends at a well-turned sentence and at his sivinjr 
a proper rap to a man of fashion, but on whom docs the 
rap strike hardest ? On the young student struggling 
for fame and existence or the man who has the power 
of promoting both ? Go to work — keep pen and ink out 
of your painting-room — finish your picture and let that 
speak for itself The longer I live, and the more I see, 
the more strongly and sincerely I can recommend this 
conduct to the artist, not only at the beginning of his 
career, but all throuo;h life. 

I mean my Life, if possible, to be a guide book to 
youth, and I will never spare myself if I can instruct 
or serve ray reader. 

I now set to work with ardour. To vanquish Sir 
George was something if he had any justice in him, and 
no labour, expenditure or time was spared to render 
Macbeth a fine work. 

It was my third picture and the moment I had chosen 
was an awful one. It was the very instant that Lady 
Macbeth, rustling on the stairs, had disturbed Macbeth 
as he was stepjjing in between the grooms and the bed 
to nuu'der the king. 

VOL. I. L 


Just at this time the directors of the British Gallery 
had olfered one luindred guineas as a prize for the best 
historical picture. I thought if I got that it might re- 
place me in ray position. I asked Lord Mulgrave. He 
had too much regard for me not to let me try with 
Dentatus, and out of sheer pity to me consent was 
granted. I sent the picture to the British Institution, 
and the Academy seeing I had thus the opportunity of 
making another appeal, abused mc more than ever. 
Why was I not content with the decision of the Aca- 
demy ? Because it was unjust. I went to Wilkie. He 
agreed with the Academy, and said, " If you want to get 
on flying in their faces is not the way." I heard that 
Holwell Carr spoke very highly of tlie picture. It was 
placed at the head of the great room, with Howard's 
picture on one side. He was contending for the prize 
too. He had been one of the hangers at the Academy 
in the spring. Thus my judge and I were brought 
together on equal terms before the world. 

At last when worn by harass and dispute, and the 
illness consequent on both, I was feeling the want of 
money grievously, the directors of the gallery met to 
award the prize. 

In spite of every attempt, — and the most violent 
Avere made, — every director except Thomas Hope voted 
in my favour. On the I7th of May, 1810, it was an- 
nounced that I was the victor. 

Nothing could be more opportune. The reader may 
conceive the labour and anxiety so young a man had 
undei'gone in producing the Avork. He has read of the 
cruelty and tyranny with which it was treated by one 
institution, and surely he will feel pleasure at learning 
that I got my fair reward at last by the proper feeling 
of another. 

Lord Mulgrave, knowing my eager temperament, 
feared the effect of this complete victory and wrote me 

1810.] I DISSECT A LIONESS. 147 

a warning letter. I told him in reply that I considered 
my present success as one step only of the fifty I had 
yet to make before I could approach the great object of 
my being. 

My dear father wrote me a letter full of heart. He 
had done his duty and never complained, and he had 
lived to see my talents honoured and rewarded. 

While I was furiously at work on Macbeth, Charles 
Bell sent up to me to say that he had a lioness for 
dissection. I darted at it at once and this relieved my 
mind. I dissected her and made myself completely 
master of this magnificent quadruped. It was whilst 
meditating on her beautiful construction, and its rela- 
tion in bony structure to that of man, that those prin- 
ciples of form since established by me arose in my 

I was struck with the relative difference and similarity 
in the forms of the lion and the man. I put, as a mere 
experiment, the lion resting on the heel and ball of the 
toe like the human being, and in one instant of inspired 
perception saw the whole system. I found the lioness's 
feet flat — her chest narrow — her brain small — her fore- 
arm long — her body long. I found that she was totally 
incapable of standing erect on her feet when resting on 
the same bones as the human being. I compared the 
two in muscle and construction : the points where they 
differed, I put down as marks of brutality on the lion's 
I)art, as indications of humanity on that of man, and 
concluded that in building a superior form the human 
peculiarities are to be dwelt on, while for an inferior 
form those which belong to the brute are to be ap- 

Eastlake was deeply interested in these details and 
assented to the soundness of the principles. By refer- 
ence to the works of Phidias every conclusion was 
confirmed, so that I am convinced it was the system he 

I. -2 


acted on and that it was acted on generally in Greek 

The drawings I made from this dissection impressed 
Wilkie very much ; I lent them to him and he copied 
them. The principle in the construction of the lion 
seemed to be to pack the greatest possible strength in 
the smallest possible space, and I found that to increase 
the power of the brute many muscles acted from both 
origin and insertion, thus moving two ways when con- 
venient for the animal. 

About the latter end of this year the artists met with 
a black, a native of Boston, a perfect antique figure 
alive. On my getting a sight of him, I engaged him for 
a month, and proceeded to draw and cast him without a 
moment's loss of tim.e in all the attitudes wanted for my 
])icture. The most extraordinary thing was, that I 
found in this negro all the positive marks characteristic 
of brutality. Beautiful as his form was, his calf was 
high and feeble, his feet flat, and heel projecting, his 
fore-arm as long as his arm-bone, his deltoid short, his 
jaw protrusive, and his forehead receding. What was 
excellent was the great flexibility and vigour of his 
movements in spite of his inherent defects. The moment 
he moved his intentions were evident. The great prin- 
ciple that the form of a part depends on its action was 
here confirmed. His joints were exquisitely clean. His 
body bent at the loins like whalebone. He sat upon his 
heel and put his foot behind his neck. The bony flat- 
ness of his articulations and fleshy fulness of his muscles 
produced that undulating variety of line so seldom seen 
in the living figure. Pushed to enthusiasm by the beauty 
of this man's form, I cast him, drew him and painted 
him till I had mastered every part. I had all his joints 
moulded in every stage, from their greatest possible 
flexion to their greatest possible extension. The man 
himself and the moulders took fire at my eagerness, and 

1810.] MOULDIIS'G FKOM A MAN. 149 

after having two whole figures moulded, he said he 
thought he could bear another to be done if I wished it; 
of course I wished it, so we set to again. In moulding 
from nature great care is required, because the various 
little movements of the skin produce perpetual cracks, 
and if the man's back is moulded first, by the time you 
come to his chest he labours to breathe greatly, so that 
you must then have the plaster rubbed up and down 
with great rapidity till it sets. We had been repeatedly 
bafiled in our attemj)t at this stage, and I therefore 
thought of a plan to prevent the difiiculty, by building 
a wall round hiui, so that plaster might be poured in and 
set all around him equally and at once. This was 
agreed upon. The man was put into a position, ex- 
tremely happy at the promise of success, as he was very 
px'oud of his figure. Seven bushels of plaster were 
mixed at once and poured in till it floated him up to the 
neck. The moment it set it pressed so equally upon 
him that his ribs had no room to expand for his lungs to 
play and he gasped out, "I — I — I die." Terrified at 
his appearance, for he had actually dropped his head, I 
seized with the workmen the front part of the mould 
and by one supernatural effort split it in three large 
pieces and pulled the man out, who, almost gone, lay on 
the ground senseless and streaming with perspiration. 
By degrees we recovered him, and then looking at the 
hinder part of the mould which had not been injured I 
saw the most beautiful sight on earth. It had taken the 
impression of his figure with all the purity of a shell, 
and when it was joined to the three front pieces there 
appeared the most beautiful cast ever taken from nature, 
one which I will defy any one in the world to equal 
unless he will risk as I unthinkingly did the killing of 
the man he is moulding. 1 was so alarmed when I re- 
flected on what I had nearly done that I moulded no 
more whole figures. The fellow irunself was (luite as 

1. 3 


eager as ever though very weak for a day or two. The 
surfyeons said he would have died in a second or two 
longer. I rewarded the man well for his sufferings, and 
before three days he came, after having been up all night 
drinking, quite tipsy, and begged to know wnth his eyes 
fixed if I should want to kill him any more, for he Avas 
quite ready, as he had found it "a d ^d good con- 
cern," However I had done with hiai, and would not 
venture, as I had mastered his form, to run any more 
such risks. 

I now returned to Macbeth with my principles of 
form quite settled. I finished the king, whom every- 
body liked, and was soon buried in application. I used 
to go down in the evenings with a little portfolio and 
bribe the porter at Burlington House, to which the Elgin 
Marbles w"ere now removed, to lend me a lantern, and 
then locking myself in, take the candle out and make 
different sketches, till the cold damp would almost put 
the candle out. As the lisrht streamed across the room 
and died away into obscurity, there was something 
solemn and awful in the grand forms and heads and 
trunks and fragments of mighty temples and columns 
that lay scattered about in sublime insensibility, — the re- 
mains, the only actual remains, of a mighty people. The 
grand back of the Theseus would come towering close 
to my eye and his broad shadow spread over the place 
a depth of mystery and awe. Why were such beautiful 
productions ever suffered to be destroyed ? Why did not 
the Great Spirit of the world protect the work of minds 
that honour his creation ? Why in a succession of ages 
has the world again to begin ? Why is knowledge ever 
suffered to ebb ? and why not allowed to proceed from 
where it left off to an endless perfection? All these 
beautiful forms were executed before Christianity had 
opened the eyes of mankind to moral principles. Why 
must we admire the works of those whose idolatry 

1810.] MY WORK AT MACBETn. 151 

and vice degraded them ? Genius had displayed as much 
vigour before Christ as after. These questionings would 
occur to me in the intervals of drawing and pei'plex my 
mind to an endless musing, and yet take Wilkie there at 
any time and he would care little about them. I re- 
member a most remarkable example of the nature of 
his genius. I think it was the second time we were 
ever there, when I and everybody else had been ex- 
cessively excited by these ruins of Athens. Wilkie, 
when we came out into Piccadilly, said in great glee to 
me, " I have been thinking of a capital subject." " Well 
done," said I : " while there ? " *' Yes, to be sure," 
said he ; "it is some boys playing with a garden engine ; 
some throwing the water over others; some inside a 
greenhouse laughing heartily at their poor unfortunate 
companions outside, and some squeezing their noses and 
mouths flat against panes of glass, and laughing through. 
This would be a capital bit of fun, and I shall uiake a 
sketch when I get home." In the midst of the ruins of 
beautiful Athens, where every stone and fragment and 
pillar set the soul musing for hours, in the midst of the 
most beautiful productions the world ever saw, such was 
the peculiarity of Wilkie's faculty that there it operated 
in spite of gods and goddesses totally uninterrupted by 
the association of the o:rand thinn;s round about it. 

The study of this finely formed negro directly after 
the dissection of the lion was of infinite advantao-c to 
my knowledge of the figure. I found the negro in his 
form approach the radical deficiencies of the lion's con- 
struction, and in building up my heroic standard of form, 
I made the basis of it to be the reverse of all the defi- 
ciencies of the lion and approaches to deficiency in the 
negro. On these eternal principles I reared the figure 
of Macbeth. 

I worked on, animated by the most determined re- 
solution to produce a picture that Sir George could not 

J. 4 


refuse, when in the midst of niv earnest resolutions 
came a letter from my dear fatlier saying he could not 
maintain me anv lono;er. This was a dreadful shock 
and made me tremble for the consequences I foresaw if 
after all my Macbeth should be refused. I spent a day 
in the ojien country, turning every difficulty over in my 
mind, and concluded that if it were a fine picture, surely 
it could not be refused, and if Dentatus won the prize 
of one hundred guineas, I did not see why I had not a 
very good chance with Macbeth for the three hundred 
guinea prize now offered by the directors of the same 

Thus reasoning I borrowed, and, praying to God to 
bless my exertions, went on more vigorously than ever. 
And here began debt and obligation, out of xohich I never 
have been, and never shall be, extricated, as long as Hive. 

Yet what was I to do ? Was I to relinquish all the 
advantages of so many years of study and thought 
merely because now came one of those trials of which 
life is so full? It was natural a father's patience 
should wear out at last. It was right my sister should 
not be forgotten. But it was not quite just to deprive 
me of necessaries when my father and his partner were 
indulgino: in the luxuries of life. I was a virtuous and 
diligent youth. I had no expensive habits of self- 
indulgence. I never touched wine, dined at reasonable 
chop-houses, lived principally, indeed always, in my 
study, worked, thought, painted, drew and cleaned my 
own brushes, like the humblest student. 

After praying to God for his help and support I re- 
turned to my duties. I wrote to my father, thanked 
him for doing what he had done and regretted that I 
had encural)ered him so long. 

I pursued my ardent course day after day and hour 
by hour. There was a friend who came forward nobly 
to the extent of his power. He is a humble man. 

1810.] MY DIFFICULTIES. 153 

though connected with one who has made noise enough 
— John Hunt, the brother of Leigli, as noble a spe- 
cimen of a human being as ever I met in my life ; — of 
him I borrowed 30/. This had carried me on with my 
mouldings and castings of the negro. Peter Cleghorn, 
a friend of Wilkie's and mine, lent me 30Z. more, I 
called my landlord, explained to him my situation, and 
asked him to wait till Macbeth was done. He said, 
" You paid me when your father supported you, and I 
see no reason not to believe you will do so when you 
can support yourself." 

The year 1810 was now drawing to a close. I 
always reviewed the year as it ended, and, on reviewing 
this, I had much, as usual, to repent of, and much to be 
grateful for. I had added greatly to my knowledge and 
greatly to my power of hand. I had got a habit of 
thought from perpetual solitude and reflection. ISIy 
principles of art were more fixed than before. I had 
begun to feel more independent from the very position 
my father had placed me in, and I felt, though it would 
be a victory to conquer Sir George, yet if I wished to 
advance High Art, I must look beyond fashion and its 
coteries to the people of Britain. I must qualify myself 
to instruct them and make them react on the upper 

The power of thinking which my Journal for this 
year displays is really singular. There arc conclusions 
then adopted and j)ut down that I used often and use 
now. My perception of what Art really was in its es- 
sence is sound and conclusive, and I must say, con- 
sidering that at 17 years old I could hardly put two 
thoughts together in decent language, it is extraordinary 
how my intellect opened at once. I attribute it to my 
not being over-educated, but left to wander half wild 
about the valleys of Devon, with such a master as 
Bidlake, a poetical, tca-diinking, organ-playing, oil- 


painting, cottage-sketcliing idler, who had more delight 
in taking boys to Bickleigh Vale and teaching them to 
see the beauties of a sunset, than in making them per- 
fect in " As in prjesenti," or " Propria qute raaribns," 
neither of which, thank God ! I ever learnt, though I 
made my boys learn them both. 

Modest as Wilkie was and inoffensive as he had 
always been it was not to be expected that his sudden 
and vast repute should not excite envy. Thus far he 
had reigned without a rival but now hints were put 
forth of a rival having appeared. 

A modest man, of talent not amounting to genius, 
with a very feeble power of invention, — Bird, from 
Bristol, — had sent up a work which, though not to be 
compared with Wilkie's, was hailed at once by the 
veteran intriguers of the Academy with a fury of de- 
light perfectly insincere and malignant. I foresaw 
Bird would be run against Wilkie, and as he had 
nothing ready but a small picture of the man with a girl's 
cap I advised him not to exhibit that this year. Con- 
trary to my advice he sent the picture and in a day or 
two the intrigue began. Under pretence of regard for 
Wilkie West called on Sir George and recommended 
Wilkie to withdraw his picture for fear Bird should hurt 
him ! Sir George wrote to Wilkie who went to him 
and afterwards came to me. I saw through the scheme 
and foretold the injury which must accrue if he did not 
fight it out. He had not follow;ed my advice in sending 
the work but I entreated him to do so in keeping it 
there. In a wretched state of indecision he went down 
to the Academy. Shee took him into the old Life 
Room and persuaded him to take his picture away. 
Like a weak man he did so and there was immediately 
a hue and cry that Wilkie had so completely felt his 
incapacity to contend with Bird that he had taken his 
picture away ! 


The Prince was persuaded to buy Bird's work and 
then to send to Wilkie to paint him a picture as a 
companion to it. 

Wilkie felt the indignity and it so affected his mind 
that he became careless of his health, and ate and drank 
80 imprudently that he brought on an internal attack 
from which he never thoroughly recovered. At the 
private day he and I went straight to Bird's picture. I 
said, " Now what do you think ? " " Ah," said Wilkie, 
" if I had seen it, I would not have taken mine away." 
I never saw any man suffer so much. From sheer 
mortification he sunk down to the brink of the srave. 
Dr. Baillie attended him with great affection. Peoi^le 
of fashion crowded to inquire and offer assistance ; but 
he declined any aid lest it might encumber him ; and I 
was so dreadfully embarrassed by the desertion of my 
father and my struggles to get through " JMacbeth" that 
I could not pay Wilkie the small sum I owed him much 
less assist him from my own resources. 

His situation was distressing. He was too feeble to 
move. One evening when I called and was admitted 
with a caution as to his danger I found him lying on 
the sofa in the attitude of the completest despair I ever 
witnessed. His head was leanino- on one hand. He 
had a prayer-book near him and his whole air was that 
of a man who in his agony had taken a new and terrible 
view of human nature. 

It was weeks before he was quite out of danger, and 
as he got better Mrs. Coj)pard his landlady to whose 
motherly care he owed his life as much as to any body 
got lodgings for him at Hampstcad, till he could go to 
the house which the Misses Baillie had kindly offered 

At last Sir George invited him to Dunmow. Here 
both Sir George and Lady Beaumont treated him really 
like u son. Every body at that time nuit^t have been 


attached to Iiim ; for, before he was spoilt by court at- 
tention a more simple-hearted, straightforward, highly- 
gifted young man was never met. 

Prince Ploare about this time (November, 18 JO) sent 
me an admirable letter on my picture. 

"The subject you have chosen," he wrote, "is one in 
which the excitement of terror in certain points becomes a 
positive ob'ect of your pursuit. For this reason, I am dis- 
posed to believe that the pursuit also of a proportionate 
quantity of beauty, sucli as may counterbalance and give due 
etfect to the points of terror, is of the utmost importance to 
you. We must never forget that beauty is and must be in- 
variably the essential objects of the fine arts (or, as the 
Italians more properly call them, belle arti, because their 
object is hellezza). Painting and poetry are alike in this. 
You will find no instance either of poem or picture in the 
highest class, which has not this distinct aim, even in sub- 
jects of the greatest terror — I do not mean from system 
always, or precept, but certainly from feeling in the artist's 
mind. It is the necessity of this point which forms the dis- 
tinction of class between subjects of terror and subjects of 
horror, because terror may be connected with beauty, but 
horror is only connected with deformity or disgust. Sub- 
jects of terror, therefore, often hold the highest rank, those 
of horror never. Milton's Satan inspires the former, never 
the latter. 

" Beauty of form and appearance he describes him to 
possess, not less than an archangel ruined ; and the example 
of our fiwourite Raifaele convinces me every day of the 
truth of the same principle. 

" I breakfast every morning in front of the engravings of 
his Attila and Heliodorus. Both are subjects of terror ; the 
figures he employs to inspire it are eminently successful in 
both, but observe not only how clear he steers of everything 
that can disgust, but how laborious he has been to raise the 
balance in each picture in favour of beauty — of beautiful 
objects, and delightful sensations. 

" It is in the midst of the contrasted beauties of ecclesi- 
astical pomp and military parade, in the splendour of robes. 


mitres, crosses, helmets, crests, horses and standards, all 
arranged with the most attractive grace, that the menace of 
the heavenly missionaries startles the Goth. It is in the 
midst of the retired and pious meditation of the high priest, 
the calm majesty of the Pope, the deliciously beautiful groups 
of palpitating females, that the terrific vision of the minis- 
ters of vengeance strikes the robber to the ground. 

" The subjects are terrific ; the forms, whether collective 
or individual, are beautiful, and tlie terror of the scene be- 
comes impressive in the degree in which it breaks in upon 
our feeling of its general beauty." 

I put my name down this year for admission to the 
Academy. Arnold was elected. I had not a single vote. 

I went on with Macbeth, working np my imagination 
by Shakespeare and the poets, avoiding the theatre, 
studying form, having the finest models and resolving 
to make it the most wonderful work which ever issued 
from human hands. 

Nothing could exceed my enthusiasm, my devotion, 
my fury of work — solitary, high-minded, trusting in 
God, glorying in my country's honour — the finest collec- 
tions open to my inspection. Day and night, and night 
and day, I streamed on in a flow of thoughts and con- 
clusions which would not disgrace my understanding or 
my heart now at fifty-seven. 

I find (June 20, 1810) a very sound criticism in my 
Journal on the Lazarus of Sebastian© del Piombo (now 
in the National Gallery, and then at Angerstein's), of 
which I have now no occasion to alter one word. 

I went yesterday to see Angerstein's collection, 
and examined particularly Scbastiano del Piombo's 
Lazarus. It is certainly finely i)ut together as to the 
lines of composition ; the characters of the heads arc 
various, too, and line ; but there is great want of effect 
and our Saviour Is a mean figure. He seems too In- 
different. He has no appearance of inspiration, and 1 


have heard this defended on the ground that the painter 
wished to make it appear an easy matter to him to raise 
the dead. This may be very true. It might require 
no other effort than stretchinci: forth his hand : but, as 
the painter's object is to excite the greatest possible in- 
terest, everything that will contribute to this he should 
avail himself of. If you make the principal figure in 
your picture uninterested, the spectator will be equally 
uninterested while lookino- at it. 

I examined the Lazarus well, as Fiiseli says he is 
convinced Michel Ano-elo has crone over it. I could 
perceive a visible difference in the manner of drawing 
and painting in the feet of Lazarus ; and the thumb 
that presses the back of the man who is taking off the 
linen is evidently painted by a more powerful hand than 
his who painted the other parts of the picture. If 
Christ raised Lazarus to life, he would of course be 
instantly restored to his full powers, and therefore as 
shown by the painter should have his form in perfect 
vigour. The Christ is mea2;re : the shoulder really 
badly drawn, and the feet have that peculiar squ.arenes3 
in the toes that characterises many of the antique statues 
found during that period. The leg which he is drawing 
out of the liuen has certainly been repaired ; for the foot 
of that leg is quite of a different texture from the leg 
itself, and the leg poorly understood and not at all de- 
fined. The head of Lazarus has a fine expression, like 
a man just from the grave, as if he were astonished, and 
had not recovered his perceptions. 

When I was looking at the picture I could not but 
compare its style with the style of Greece. It has an 
affected academical look and manner and a useless dis- 
play of anatomy ; and the effort at abstracted form in 
the foot is not at all carried through the figure. The foot 
has all the fleshiness and vigour of life ; the shoulder, all 
the bony meagreness of death. 


I was determined to examine this figaire with care, 
as it was done under ivlichel Angelo's direction and in 
competition with Kaffaele's Transfiguration ; and, as I 
was aware that I came with a correct eye from the ex- 
quisite productions of Greece, I am confident of the 
truth of what I have asserted and can prove it. 

Two years ago I would not have ventured to say a 
word whatever I mis-ht liave thoua;ht ; but now I ven- 
ture to think myself adequate, and have a right to say, 
in comparing one great man with others, where difference 
or superiority is perceptible, as well for my own im- 
provement as for the guidance of those who know less. 

The character of St. John, behind our Saviour, is 
very fine. The women have no pretensions to beauty 
— their hands are affectedly made out, with little lumps 
at all the joints as if they were padlockedo The foot of 
our Saviour is very poor, meagrely drawn, and the whole 
flat, with no evidence of that exquisite system of reason- 
ing that you find in every Grecian foot, the fleshy parts 
pressing up round the bones, &c. It looks as if there 
were no weight above it — no pressure. About the 
drapery of Christ there is a Venetian look, from its 
beino; glazed. 

The proportions between the arms and legs are very 
bad — the arm of the man who is taking oft' the linen is 
as big us the leg of Lazarus, and the arm of Lazarus is 
too large for his leg. There is evidently no system of 
form, except accidentally in a foot. 

There is a tone about the picture which is very 
solemn ; but to suppose that light and shadow, handling 
and keeping would take off from the grand style, is like 
supposing that to add a nose to a man's face, born without 
one, would take off fi'om the beauty of the face. 

The arm and the whole figure of the man in the 
corner are very fine ; there is a grandeur and originality 
in the style of it evidently built on nature, not far 


enough from it to be classed in tlie highest, and yet not 
too near to be ranked with the lowest. 

I think Rembrandt's moment the finer of the two. 
There is grandeur too in Christ directing the vacant 
stare of Lazarus to heaven, to show his gratitude there. 
But still it is not the dreadful moment of suspense. 
In composition and arrangement it will bear comparison 
with anything, but in form it sinks beneath Grecian 
largeness, truth and simplicity. 

Whoever is author of Lazarus could not clear the 
essential from the superfluous. Many parts of it are per- 
plexed with useless anatomy, which takes off from the 
simplicity of its contour, the great requisite of fine form. 

The Grecian figures seem to say, as it were, breast, 
shoulders, arm, fore-arm, wrists, hands, ribs, lips, belly, 
thighs, knees, legs, ancles, feet, Avhere IMicliel Angelo 
seems to say clavicle, a little slip of the pectoral muscle, 
which arises from the clavicle, another little slip, inser- 
tion of the pectoral, &c. ; and so you are perplexed and 
distracted from the great motions and intentions of the 

Still it is a grand picture ; a great acquisition to 
the country, and an honour to Mr. Angerstein's spirit 
and taste in purchasing it ; yet if God cut not my life 
prematui'cly short, I hope I shall leave one behind me 
that will do more honour to my country than this has 
done to Rome. In short, if I live, I will — I feel I 
shall, (God pardon me if this is presumption). (June 
21st, 1810.) 

The Theodosius of Vandyke is an exquisite picture. 
The grey tone of the sky and building eminently con- 
tributes to the brilliancy of the flesh. The clearness of 
this picture is really delightful. It is in wonderful pre- 

I could not help observing the other day in looking 


at a head of Giotto, saved from the Carmelites' church 
at Florence, the exact resemblance it bore to the heads 
of the Panathenaic procession ; as if he had been in- 
structed by the poor Grecian artists who had fled to 
Italy during the invasion of their country and carried 
with them what they had seen at Athens. 

The head bore all the characters of the heads of the 
youths on horseback in the Elgin Marbles. 

The following extracts are also from my Journal of 
this year : — 

How little RafFaele assists you in the complicated 
varieties and beauties of form. 

To nature and to Greece only if you want assist- 
ance, can you recur with any prospect of information. 

Kubens' lion hunts appear and certainly are built 
on Leonardo da Vinci's Struggle for the Standard. It 
is the origin of all of them. The same system is appa- 
rent ; it seems to have excited many of Rubens' finest 

At this time I devoted a great deal of time to Homer, 
Virgil, Dante and ^schylus, to tune my mind to make 
a fine picture of Macbeth. 

I recollect telling Wilkie I was doing so, and he re- 
plied, " Dear, dear, I have no patience in reading Pope's 
Homer." " Why ? " said I. " Why," said he, " there's 
such an evident prejudice in favour of the Greeks," — 
with a strong Scotch twang. 

Meanwhile by thought and reading I worked up my 
imagination for my picture. I spared no pains to make 
it perfect in poetry, expression, form, colour, light and 
shadow and impasto. 

This year (1810) might be considered as the beginning 
of those ])ainful contests which have tormented my life 
for so many years. 

VOL. I. M 


I was not independent, and had my fortune to get 
like Wilkie, who was at one time, I think, almost as 
fierce as myself; but the first blow Wilkie got his 
sagacity showed him the power of his rivals and he sank 
down in submission, whilst my blood rose like a foun- 
tain. I returned with all my might blow for blow and 
heated a furnace for my foe so hot that I singed myself, 
reckless of consequences. 

All my youthful readers will say " You were right." 
No, my young friends, I was not right ; because I 
brought useless obstructions in my path, which though 
they did not entirely prevent the development of my 
genius, brought it out in such agonising distresses, as 
will make you wonder, as you proceed, that I did not 
go raving mad, though from the state of ignorance ex- 
isting as to the value of High Art, I question whether 
if I had been as quiet as a kitten or more abject than 
Wilkie the result would not have been just the same ; 
whereas by the eternal uproar I made I indisputably 
kept alive the public attention. 

At the conclusion of 1810, I reviewed my vices and 
follies and idlenesses in my Journal as usual, prayed 
God for forgiveness and promised reform. I concluded 
in prayer and began 1811 in prayer for God's merciful 
blessing on my virtuous labours. 

January 1th, 1811. — Painted faintly — raised my 
figure — a day on which I can reflect with little pleasure. 

8#A. — Painted attentively about three hours, but not 
conclusively — dined out. Did nothing from 5 till bed- 
time — a bad day. 

Qth. — Arose in a fever of anxiety about Macbeth — 
altered and advanced — not yet completed the hanging 
together of my figure. 

1 Otli. — A thick fog obscured all light. I had my 
foot and knee cast in the morning in the action of Mac- 

1811.] FROM MY JOURNALS OP 1811. 163 

beth. The great principles of nature are always visible 
in the actual form, and will always assist. Did nothing 
the whole day. A third of the mouth is gone. 

lltli. — Painted attentively — advanced my picture — 
made studies from 6 to 8 for the hand and arm of 

12th. — Painted attentively — advanced my picture — 
went to the Academy in the evening, and saw the Lao- 
coon placed out as it was four years ago. It excited 
immediately a train of thought of the many events that 
had taken place. Here it was still with all its ex- 
cellencies, whilst the thousand effusions of indolence 
that disgraced the world and procured momentary 
api)lause are sunk into insignificance. 

I3th. — At the Abbey in the afternoon, and lost in 
delight at the music of the organ. 

14M. — Painted five hours with real vigour and deter- 
mination at the head of Macbeth. I think it better 
now than ever it has been. Attended in the evening at 
a lecture at the Academy. Made studies of the ear. I 
wish to give it a motion as if starting forward to catch 
the sound, like a horse's. 

I think this day has not been thrown away. 

I5t/i. — God grant I may express in Macbeth's coun- 
tenance terror with a mixture of enthusiastic elevation 
at the idea of possessing the crown. In Lady Macbeth 
a malicious fury, while a triumphant flash of fire 
liglitcns her eyes and encrimsons her countenance. 

Vigorously at work for six hours. Weak and ex- 
hausted from sitting up late last night. 

lC)th. — Painted vigorously not more than three hours. 
Advanced Macbeth. Studied till late. Wish the day 
were of 48 hours instead of 24. 

17 th. — Painted vigorously. My picture advanced. 
I feel the effects of confinement. Four years ago my 
digestion was not so delicate as at present. 

M 2 


I8th. — Painted not more than three hours. Idled all 
the rest. 

19^A.— Nothing. 

2()th. — Painted faintly. 

February 4th. — Painted vigorously six hours. Got 
in Lady Macbeth. 

5th. — Painted faintly. 

6th. — At Lord Elgin's the greater part of the day. 

7th. — Drew at Lord Elgin's for seven hours till I felt 
benumbed with cold. Made a correct drawinjx of the two 
magnificent sitting women and sketches of them from 
different views. I will make Lady Macbeth a fine crea- 
ture — a bold, full, vigorously lovely form, flushed with 
wine, heated with fancy, with naked shoulders half con- 
cealed by her jet black hair, which shall tumble in wild 
disordered luxuriance over her bosom heaving with 
anxiety for murder and a crown. 

8th. — Drew at Lord Elgin's for six hours and a half. 
One great cause of flow of line is not to suffer the muscles 
to end suddenly on each otlier, unless in violent action. 

It appeal's probable that the artists of Greece were 
excited to study animals and mingle their characteristics 
with those of man by the perpetual allusions of Homer. 
Plomer is truly the painter's poet. 

9th. — Drew at Lord Elgin's from 6 in the evening 
till 11 at night. The more I examine these exquisite 
works, the more I am convinced they are produced on 
the principle of selecting what is peculiarly human, and 
then only what is essential. 

As the candle gleamed across and struck against 
backs, legs, and columns, I was particularly impressed 
with the feeling of being among the ruins of two mighty 
people — Egyptians and Greeks. 

May 6th. — Last evening Rigo, a French artist, member 
of the Egyptian expedition, who accompanied Denon to 
the Cataracts of the Nile, remained in Egypt after his 

1811.] FROM MY JOURNALS OP 1811. 165 

departure, and ascended again with thesavans, spent the 
evening with me. 

I was curious to get out every anecdote about Buona- 
parte from one who had seen him repeatedly, indeed had 
always been with him during the Egyptian expedition. 

Rio-o said the nioht before the battle of Aboukir, he 
lay on the ground in the same tent with Buonaparte. 
About midnight Buonaparte told Berthier and the rest of 
his generals who were with him to go to sleep in their 
cloaks till day-break. Rigo's brother was Napoleon's in- 
tei'preter with the Turks, and they were all in the same 
tent. Rigo said he was never near Buonaparte but he 
was attracted by his physiognomy : there was something 
in his face so acute, so thoughtful, so terrible, that it 
always impressed him, and that this night when all the 
rest were buried in sleep he could not avoid watching 
him. In a little time he observed Napoleon take the 
compasses and a chart of Aboukir and the Mediterranean 
and measure and then take a ruler and draw lines. He 
then arose, went to the door of his tent and looked towards 
the horizon ; then returned to his tent, and looked at his 
watch ; after a moment he took a knife, and cut the table 
in all ways like a boy. He then rested his head on his 
hand, looked again at his watch for some time, went again 
to the door of his tent, and again returned to his seat. 
There was something peculiarly awful in the circum- 
stances, — the time of night — his generals soundly sleep- 
ing — Buonaparte's strong features lighted up by a 
lamp, — the feeling that the Turks were encamped near 
them, and that before lonGf a dreadful battle would be 
fought. RifTO said that his feclincfs were so alive that he 
could not have slept. Buonaparte then loolced all round 
to see if all slept. Rigo shut his eyes a moment like 
the rest. In a short time Napoleon called them all up, 
ordered his horse and asked how long before day-break. 

They told hira an hour. The army were under arms. 

M 3 


He rode round, spoke to the colonels and soldiers, told 
them in his energetic manner that at a mile from them 
there existed a Turkish army which he expected by ten 
o'clock should exist no longer. 

Before ten they were annihilated. Kleber who com- 
manded the reserve did not join till after the battle. 
Napoleon was surrounded by trophies, standards, cannon, 
trappings of the Turkish camp and horses, when Kleber 
appeared suddenly at the door of the tent : Kleber was 
six feet two inches high and the handsomest man of his 
time. When Buonaparte saw him he said, " Eh Men, 
Kleber, qu'avez vous vu ? " " Gmiral^^ said Kleber, 
" c^est la phis grande hataille du monde^ He uttered 
this with furious enthusiasm. " Eh hien,^^ said Napoleon, 
*' ilfaut dejeuner avec nous^ 

Kleber had traversed the field of battle in formino; his 
junction with the main body and had witnessed the dread- 
ful effects of the action. 

Rigo said after he returned from Egypt, on the sur- 
render of Menou, when Buonaparte was Consul, he dined 
with him. He was never more than ten minutes at 
dinner. His two valets, the moment he had eaten of 
one dish, put down another. He ate that, drank a few 
glasses of wine and retired to his cabinet. The com- 
pany all arose when he got up and then stayed two or 
three hours. 

Since he has become Emperor Napoleon is not so 
easily seen : but about six months ago Marshal Bessieres 
called on Rigo, by the Emperor's order, and carried him 
down to Malmaison, when he took with him the sketch 
of this very scene. The Emperor was in the garden at 
Malmaison. The moment he saw him he smiled and 
said, " Vous engraissez^ He showed the sketch. 

Rigo said Napoleon on the field was as cool and col- 
lected as in his cabinet. 

May. — Painted four hours and a half and then went 

1811.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1811. 167 

and studied the Titian at Lord Stafford's. Nothing can 
equal the exquisitely lucid colour but the fleshy softness 
of the forms. I felt weak and relaxed; overslept myself ; 
spent the evening in delightful enthusiasm among the 
ruins of Athens. 

Every day and every hour they grow more exquisite to 
me. I thank God for being in existence on their arrival. 
May they take deep root in my nature I May their 
spirit be interwoven in my soul I May their essence be 
mingled in my blood and circulate through my being ! 
INIay I never think of form, select from nature, draw a 
line or paint a touch without instinctive reference to 
these exquisite productions ! 

O God ! if there be a part of my life more than another 
I feel grateful for it is the part I have spent amongst 
these inspired productions. 

June \st. — Arose at half past 6. Walked out and 
breakfasted with Wilkie at Chelsea : home by a quarter 
after ten: began to paint at eleven: painted seven hours 
with vigour and attention. Was out in the evening from 
8 till 11. 

2(f. — Read. Sunday. 

2>d. — Up late at night ; painted faintly ; altered and 

4^/t. — Up late again at night; painted faintly not 
more than two hours ; out from 4 to 9 ; five hours lost. 
At Lord Elgin's two hours. 

bth. — Arose late, at 8 ; painted two hours vigorously, 
not more ; called on two friends in an indolent raking 
humour, and really laughed and idled the rest. 

^th. — Arose at half past 7. I saw two pictures by 
Vandyke, who had the pOAver of keeping up that fine 
solid impasto throughout more than any other man. 
Acquired great knowledge, though I put it not in prac- 
tice to-day. Walked to Primrose Hill with Hunt, 
licad Alfieri's ^Memoirs. Idle, idle ! 

M 4 


The first six months of the year 1811 are now on the 
eve of closing. If T review them witli rigour what will 
they exhibit but one scene, with few exceptions, of vice 
and idleness ? Not absolute idleness though? I have 
been at times energetically employed, but I have not so 
conquered my habits as to have that invincible perti- 
nacity of soul, to be so independent of circumstances, 
whatever they may be, as to make them bend to me — 
to proceed, though misfortune oppress me, vice tempt 
me, or sickness overwhelm me. 

June I9th. — Arose at half past 5 in the morning ; in 
my painting-room by 6. At work till 8 ; began again 
at 10. Seguier called, on whose judgment Wilkie and 
I so much rely. If Seguier coincides with us we are 
satisfied, and often we are convinced we are wrong if 
Seguier disagrees. 

He thought my Macbeth figure better than it has ever 
been. In short he congratulated me on its being right. 
Let me be in want — let me be in misery, hungry and 
faint, and with no money, as I have been — dispirited 
from sickness, and despondent from neglect — if, at the 
end of the day, my exertions have been successful, if 
my picture be advanced, if my fancy have been ex- 
jDressed, if difficulties have been conquered, — I can bear 
all; I can look with complacency on my miseries; I 
could regard the destruction of the world with firmness, 
and suffer destruction with it without a struggle. 

My friends tell, as a wonderful instance of my perse- 
verance, that after havino- finished Macbeth I took him 
out again to raise him higher in my picture as it would 
contribute to the effect. The wonder in ancient Athens 
would have been if I could have suflTered him to remain. 
Such is the state of Art in this country ! 

27th. — In a torrent of feeling about Homer all the 


28tk. — Breakfasted with Leigh Hunt, My spirits 
light from pure digestion. I am now convinced that 

1811.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1811. 169 

depression of spirits is owing to repletion.* I have cur- 
tailed my allowance of animal food and find myself able 
to work after dinner without interruption. My principle 
is to get as much health as possible^ to stretch it to the 
highest effort, and yet without injury. 

Hunt and I dined with Wilkief and spent a very 
pleasant evening. His picture is nearly finished and a 
very fine thing he has made of it. 

We began our pictures after our return from Devon- 
shire. What a history would the events during their 
progress furnish to the inexperienced student ! How 
gaily we began them, how soon were we checked ! 

I applied to-day, have been completely successful 
and am going to bed swelling with gratitude to God, 
overpowered by His goodness. His benevolence, the 
abundance of His mercy. 

'60th. — In consequence of the arm being pressed down 
close to the side the skin is rolled up under the armpit. 
When the arm is raised this skin is stretched tightly 
over the body. I had observed this in nature. But, 
before I ventured to put it in Macbeth I went down to 
see if I should be authorised by the Greeks. To my 
delight the first thing I saw in the fragment of the Ju- 
piter's breast was this very skin. Thus in the grandest 
and most abstract character did the Greeks attend to 
these little exquisite truths of nature. 

September 28th. — It makes me mad to see Sir Joshua 
in his lectures maintain that the ancients had an easier 
task than the moderns because of their dress. Suppose 
they had, it will be more to our honour if we equal them. 
Instead of giving this handle to indolence he ought to 
have held it up as a stimulus and said, " If the ancients 
had less diflSculties to contend with, if we equal or out- 
strip them, we shall be greater men," and not cant and 

* Thirty-two years' experience confirms this impression, 
t ]\Ianor Terrace, Chelsea. 


whine about modern artists beino; oblig-ed to remove a 
vest before they can see the state of things. Home goes 
every student fi*om his lectures and quiets his conscience 
by quoting Sir Joshua. 

Mr. West about this time asserted in three letters to 
Lord Elgin that he was the first artist to study the Elgin 
Marbles and transfer their principles to canvas, though 
he knew I had been drawino; them lono; before he came 
and though my Dentatus was out two years before his 
Christ healing the Sick, 

It is of little consequence who was the first. It is 
rather Avho made the best use of them. Mr. West 
thought to bear down the truth by his reputation and 

It was about this time (1811), I accidentally got into 
my first public controversy, which branched out into the 
important one of the intellectuality or non-intellectuality 
of negroes. In consequence of dissecting a lion and 
comparing its form with that of a man I had founded a 
theory for a standard figure which I found (and so did 
Eastlake) borne out in every principle by the standard 
works of the Greeks. As I went on meditating I used 
to sketch and explain what I thought to Leigh Hunt, 
then in the height of his Examiner reputation, when one 
Sunday, in that jaunty style for which he had such 
talent he assailed in public the theory I had explained 
in private. Indignant at his assumption, I resolved, 
inexperienced as I was, to measure weapons with my 
light literary huzzar, in fact, to trot him out and see 
what he was made of, being quite sure of my steed as 
well as my ground, and being also sure that he had cut 
a caper Avithout having much knowledge of either. 
Though this is not the first time Leigh Hunt is men- 
tioned it is the first opportunity I have had of bringing 
him fairly on the canvas ; and the account of our ac- 


qualntance and who brought It about need no longer be 

AVilkie and I in early life used to read some remark- 
ably clever theatrical critiques in the " News." We 
were both so pleased that we resolved whichever of the 
two got acquainted with the critic first should intro- 
duce him to the other. Wilkie, I beheve, was called on 
by one of the brothers first. This brought about an in- 
troduction to Leiijh Hunt. Wilkie invited him to tea 
to meet me. I was taken ill and could not go, which 
put Wilkie in a great passion. I afterwards met Ilunt 
and reminded him of Wilkie's intention, and Hunt, 
with a frankness I liked much, became quite at home, 
and as I was just as easily acquainted in five minutes as 
himself, we began to talk, and he to hold forth, and I 
thought him, with his black bushy hair, black eyes, pale 
face and " nose of taste," as fine a specimen of a London 
editor as could be imagined ; assuming yet moderate, 
sarcastic yet genial, with a smattering of everything and 
mastery of nothing ; affecting the dictator, the poet, the 
politician, the critic and the sceptic, whichever would at 
the moment give him the air to inferior minds of being 
a very superior man. I listened with something of cu- 
riosity to his republican independence, though hating 
his effeminacy and cockney peculiarities. The fearless 
honesty of his opinions, the unscrupulous sacrifice of his 
own interests, the unselfish perseverance of his attacks 
on all abuses, whether royal or religious, noble or demo- 
cratic, ancient or modern, so gratified my mind, that I 
suffered this singular young man to gain an ascendancy 
in my heart which justified the perpetual caution of 
Wilkie against my great tendency to become acquainted 
too soon with strangers, and like Canning's German, to 
swear eternal friendship with any spirited talented fellow 
after a couple of hours of witty talk or able repartee. 
Hunt and I liked each other so much we soon became 


intimate. His mind was poetical in a high degree. He 
relished and felt Art without knowing anything of its 
technicalities. I was painting Dentatus, and when he 
saw it he entered into it at once. 

In belles lettres, though not equal to Fuseli, he had 
a more delightful way of conveying what he knew. 
He had been educated at Christ's Hospital, and was 
not deficient in classical knowledge, but yet not a scholar. 
Then we were nearly of an age ; he being only three 
years older than myself, and he had an open affectionate 
manner which was most engaging, and a literary, loung- 
ing laziness of poetical gossip which to an artist's mind 
was very improving. At the time of our acquaintance, 
he really was, whether in private conversation or sur- 
rounded by his friends, in honesty of principle and un- 
failing love of truth, in wit and fun, quotation and 
impromptu, one of the most delightful beings I ever 

He was fond of being the idol of a circle. Content 
if the members of it adored he shut his eyes on his 
faults himself and believed them unseen by others. 
Finding, when I visited this circle after his first attack 
on my principles, that there was a sort of chuckling air 
as if Hunt had demolished my artistical theories, I 
thought I had no resource but to go into the field. 

After writing, rewriting, puzzling and thinking, 
blotting and erasing, reading to Eastlake and taking 
his advice, I managed to get through my first letter. 

I went with it to the Examiner office, dropped it into 
the letter-box myself with a sort of spasm, as if I was 
done for in even daring to attack such a renowned 
critic as Leigh Hunt. Never shall I forget that Sun- 
day morning. In came the pa^^er, wet and uncut ; up 
went the breakfast knife, — cut, cut, cut. Affecting 
not to be interested I turned the pages open to dry, 
and, to my certain immortality, saw, with delight not 


to be expressed, the first sentence of my letter. I put 
clown the pa})er, walked about the room, looked at 
Macbeth, made the tea, buttered the toast, put in the 
sugar, with that inexpressible suppressed chuckle of 
delight that always attends a condescending relinquish- 
ment of an anticipated rapture till one is perfectly 
ready. Who has not felt this? who has not done this ? 

I was twenty-five, rosy and youthful, thin and ac- 
tive, and looked up to him as my literary superior. 
Nothing so astonished his infinite superiority as to find 
one whom he imagined a flushed youth, thoughtless 
and comparatively unaccustomed to literary warfare, 
entering the lists with an acknowledged controvei'siallst 
like himself. 

My letter was considered perfectly immature and. 
unintelligible, and I was pitied and begged not to go 
on, but I knew that my only error was want of practice 
in expressing myself, and that if I was once warmed I 
should get over that. So as my first essay excited a 
reply, I plunged into the fight sword in hand ; caught 
my adversaries on their weak points and demolished 
them one after the other, till artists, amateurs and even 
abolitionists agreed I certainly had the best of the fight. 
Unfortunately I provoked all this clamour by asserting 
my belief, founded on physical construction, that the 
negro was the link between animal and man. In the 
position of the slavery question at that time nothing 
more was necessary. 

During this contest I called on Hunt as usual. 
Hunt, who had been so used to hold forth as sovereign 
of editors, felt a little rubbed and pursed up his mouth 
with a sort of stiffness, but his sense of fun got the 
better and we were soon at it again on [)oetry, paint- 
ing, religion, women and war. 

I wrote to him while the battle raged to strike out a 
passage for me. He finished his reply, " By the bye, 


I advise you to get a decent, well-tanned buckler, a 
clypeum septemplicem, by next Sunday ; I am not sure 
I shall not slice you into wafers." 

To which I rejoined : — 

" I am perfectly aware of whom I have got for ray 
antagonist and will get a shield like that of Achilles. 
And all I can say is, if you attempt to slice me into 
wafers, I will do my best, the Sunday after, to crumble 
you into pounce." 

This controversy consolidated my power of verbal 
literary expression and did me great good. I was 
animated by a desire to write in early life, because 
Reynolds, having deferred composition till late in life, 
was accused of not writing his own lectures. I resolved 
.to show I could use the pen against the very man who 
might be supposed to be my literary instructor. 

When Northcote was asked how he liked the letters, 
he shook his head and said it was a dangerous power. 
Thouofh this was said with his usual malice it contained 
a great deal of truth. It was a dangerous power, and 
having felt the delight of being considered victorious, I 
soon longed to give another proof of my skill with the 


December 2>\st. — The last night of 1811. 

When I review the past year, I can certainly dwell 
upon it with more pleasure than on any year since I 
commenced study. My habits of application have been 
energetic for at least eight months of the twelve — I 
ought to be able to say all the twelve. But God grant 
me this power at the end of the next year. I certainly 
have, I hope, got better habits. However vicious I 
am, I never soothe my mind with plausible pretences. 
My Macbeth is concluded, by God's blessing, with a 
body still uninjured by application and a mind invi- 
gorated and refreshed for greater imdertakings, more 


experienced in all points, and a degree, I hope, nearer 
to that idea of perfection which I have formed for 

God in heaven, on my knees I pray it may be my 
lot to realise my idea of Art before I die, and I will 
yield my soul into Thy hands with rapture. Amen, 
with all my soul. 

INIacbeth beino; thus concluded after a lono- struffslc, 
without assistance from my father and wholly by dint 
of borrowing from my friends, I scrutinised my debts 
before beginning a new work and found they were 
6161. 105., of which 200/. was due to my landlord for 
rent ; and this with no extravagant habits, but solely 
incurred by the wants of life and the expenses of the 
work, for the expenses of a work of High Art in Eng- 
land are dreadful. 

My picture being now done I thought it my duty to 
write to Sir George Beaumont (January, 1812), and 
ask his leave to send it to the British Gallery. By 
return I received his reply, informing me he could not 
have any objection to my sending the Macbeth to the 
British Gallery, as, according to my own proposal, he 
had no concern with it until he had seen and aj)proved 
the picture. To which I immediately answered, re- 
minding him that it was certainly my proposal that he 
should not sec the picture till it was finished, but not 
that he should have no concern with it till that time. 

This affair thus approached a conclusion, and Lord 
ISIulgrave, knowing the many bitter anxieties under 
which the picture had been finished (though I never 
saw him once during that time, and had been utterly 
deserted by pcoj)le of fashion in consequence of the 
treatment of the Academy), was so nmch pleased by the 
picture keeping its place, as he told mc, alongside of the 
Paul Veronese (now at the National Gallery), that he 
wrote to Sir George to come up and decide. lie left 


Dumiiow, came to town and saw the picture the next 
day. He called on Wilkie and made the proposal to 
him which he afterwards made to me. Wilkie told him 
1 would refuse it; of that he was convinced. On 
January 28th he wrote to me, saying he had seen the 
Macbeth and must decline the possession of it though 
admitting its merits to be very considerable, and making 
this proposal : — "I will either give you for the trouble 
you have had in the commencement of the picture 100/., 
the picture to be your own property, and this shall put 
an end to all further negociation ; or you shall paint 
another picture for me, the size of Mr. West's Pylades 
and Orestes, with figures upon the same scale, and the 
price shall be settled afterwards by arbitration." 

Foreseeing that any further connexion would bring 
me nearer to ruin than I was already, (for I had in- 
curred debts of 600/., and when he first ordered the 
picture I did not owe one shilling — and yet I asked 
only 500 guineas, no more than I owed,) and taking 
everything into consideration, I resolved to decline both 
offers, and did so briefly. 

Thus this unhappy affair terminated for the present, 
but there was a fatality about it which made it a torment 
to Sir George Beaumont and a disturbance to me for 
years after. Indeed at this moment — thirty-one years 
after — I am still suffering from its fatal effects. 

Northcote was delighted. He said, " I told'ee so. I 
told'ee he'd never have the picture. Your conduct was 
honest and grand ; his conduct was mean." 

Thus after three years' hard work the picture was 
thrown on my hands. I had no return, no money. My 
situation was really and truly deplorable. Now I felt 
the full power of that admirable work, " Forster's Essay 
on Decision of Character." To that I reverted to rouse 
my spirit and keep up my firmness. I read it and re-read 
it, prayed with all my heart, and resolved, come what 


would, to proceed with a greater work, to avoid the errors 
or extravagances of this and try to produce a faultless 

Exasperated by the neglect of my family, tormented 
by the consciousness of debt, cut to the heart by the 
cruelty of Sir George, fearful of the severity of my land- 
lord and enraged at the insults from the Academy, I be- 
came furious. An attack on the Academy and its abomi- 
nations darted into my head. I began by refuting an 
article by Payne Knight on Barry in the Edinburgh 
Review, which came out in the previous year. Sittino- 
down one evening, I wrote on all night, and by morning 
I had completed my exposure for the Examiner and 
walked about the room as if revenged and better. 

To expose the ignorance of a powerful patron (thus 
offending the patrons), and to attack the Academy 
(thus ensuring an alliance of the Academicians with the 
patrons), would have been at any time the very worst 
and most impolitic thing on earth. I should have 
worked away and been quiet. My picture rose very 
liigh and was praised. The conduct of Sir George was 
severely handled. People of fashion were beginning to 
feel sympathy. In ftict, had I been quiet, my picture 
would have sold, the prize of three hundred guineas 
would have been won, and in a short time I might in 
some degree have recovered the shock his caprice had 

But no. I was unmanaoreablc. The idea of beino- a 
Luther or John Knox in Art got the better of my 
reason. Leigh Hunt encouraged my feelings, and 
without reflection and in spite of Wilkie's entreaties, I 
resolved to assault. " Hunt," said Wilkie, " gets his 
living by such things : you will lose all cliance of it. 
It is all very fine to be a reformer ; but be one with 
your pencil and not with your pen." 

VOL. I. N 


About this time Soane had been called to order for 
making some remarks on a building of Smirke's. He 
was so enraged he wrote, a pamphlet, invited me to 
dine, laid his wrongs before me and said, " Shall I pre- 
cede or follow ? " I replied, " Whichever you please, 
only I make my debut on Sunday next." 

As the pamphlet was ready and Mr. Soane was 
violent it was agreed over a bottle of port that I should 
begin next Sunday, and that he should follow or pre- 
cede as he thought best. At any rate an Academician 
following or preceding me was considered by all three 
of us to be a very important aid. Thus was this con- 
spiracy concocted, only I gave them to understand I 
came forth alone. 

On the Sunday following ray attack came out first 
on Payne Knight whom I demolished. All the patrons 
were in a fury. Who could it be ? Who was this 
English student ? 

The Sunday following the attack on the Academy 
followed, and never since the art was established were 
its professors In such a hubbub of fury and rage. John 
Hunt went to the Gallery, and was assailed for the 
author's name. He told it, and when I saw him he 
said, " You have fired your arrow and it has struck in 
the bull's eye." 

From this moment the destiny of my life may be said 
to have changed. My picture was caricatured, my 
name detested, my peace harassed ; so great was the 
indignation at my impertinence that all merit was denied 
to Macbeth. 

West went down and did his best as President to 
damn the picture before a crowded room. Sir George 
was at once praised for his resistance to my insolent 
attempt to force on him a picture he, in fact, never 
ordered (it was said), and no excuse or palliation for me, 
either in the case of Sir George or the Academy, was 


listened to for a moment. I was looked at like a mon- 
ster, abused like a plague, and avoided like a maniac. 

I had imagined truth would have been felt by all and 
that all would bless him who showed her to them. I 
knew not that the world always struggles before it stoops 
to be taught and endeavours by every means to destroy 
its teacher before it submits to be benefited by his 
doctrines. But every stipulation with his destiny for 
safety must be dismissed by him who is ambitious of 
being a great reformer. I therefore glory in having 
done it when I did. I would rather have perished at 
that age in doing it than have waited till I was safer. 
I gained experience, and could afterwards have pro- 
ceeded with more caution witliout any imputation on 
my courage, having proved it first. 

I was twenty-six years of age when I attacked the 
Academy. I exposed their petty intrigues, I laid open 
their ungrateful, cruel and heartless treatment of 
Wilkie. I annihilated Payne Knight's absurd theories 
against great works. I proved his ignorance of Pliny, 
and having thus swept the path, I laid down rules to 
guide the student which time must confirm, — rules, the 
result of my own failures, collected and digested within 
six years, — rules which posterity will refer to and 
confirm, early acquired without a master or instructor, 
settled in spite of folly, and put forth in spite of igno- 
rance or rank. 

" By Gode," said Fuseli, " the fellow is mad or 
punisliable." Lawrence did me justice, like a man of 
spirit and honour, saying that there were grounds for 
my severity ; that I would be the victim and that the 
Academy in the end would be benefited. Weakened 
and harassed as Lawrence was by the habits of society, 
there were always gleams of power about him which 
made me lament tliat Nature did not quite finish his 
capacity. But Wilkie, — Wilkie, to uphold whose 

N 2 


genius in the sincerity of my glowing heart I would 
have stood before a battery of blazing cannon, and have 
been blown to splinters rather than have degraded his 
power, — Wilkie shrank back terrified and in order to 
exculpate himself joined in the abuse of me. Did he 
gain the esteem of the Academicians ? Not he. They 
had sense enough to perceive the meanness of the motive 
and honesty enough to do justice to me. Smirke said 
in company that all my faults were the result of my 
good qualities, whilst those of Wilkie were the conse- 
quences of his heartless ones. 

Yet he must be excused. He begged me not to do 
what I did. He entreated I would not defend him. It 
might be cowardly to decline walking with me in the 
streets, as he did, but he ought not to be blamed for 
endeavouring to screen himself from the consequences 
of violence which he was not to blame for and foresaw. 

His nature was gentle and timid — mine undaunted, 

fierce and impetuous, " sempre inclinato allc cose dif- 

Jiciler Wilkie was content to do what was wanted to 

be done in Art — I gloried in trying to force people to 

what they ought. 

The thing was done and there was an end. I did not 
anticipate the consequences but I defied them now they 
were come. Wilkie was really wretched as he was sin- 
cerely attached to me. 

" I have seen your two papers in the Examiner," he wrote 
to me, " hut although I have occasion to admire what you 
have formerly written in that paper, and am as forward as 
any one to give you the highest praise (which you certainly 
deserve for the picture you have lately finished), I must 
really, as a friend, say I cannot congratulate you upon what 
you have offered to the public in this paper. You have laid 
yourself open, not merely to the charge of spleen and dis- 
appointment and to the resentment of the Academy, which 
you have no doubt laid your account with, but to a charge 

1812.] WILKIE'S advice. 181 

which is much worse, and which I dare say you had no 
notion of when you wrote the papers, that is, of railing 
at the Academy in order to ingratiate yourself with the 

"This, your panegyric on the general conduct of the 
Institution, your indignation at the aspersion which was 
attempted to be thrown on the purchase of Mr. West's 
picture, and your approbation of the plan of giving 
premiums, will all, I assure you, conspire very much to 
strengthen ; and although those who know you may be 
ready to acquit you of any such views, there will not be 
wanting many who will be glad of so convenient a handle 
against you. 

"I do not mention this, I assure you, for the sake of 
finding fault, but rather to put you on your guard, for it 
appears to me that whoever may think proper to attack what 
you have written, this is what you will be most loudly called 
upon to answer for.. In all this, however, you are yourself 
concerned. But I am sorry to find by the way you have 
mentioned my name, and the manner in which you have 
made me an exception to all that you complain of in the 
Academy, that I must also become a sharer in the recrimi- 
nation you have been calling forth, and I can also see that 
in order to do justice to the person you have opposed me to, 
which you have certainly not done, it will be necessary for 
those who take his part to do still greater injustice to me to 
restore things to their proper level. I think that the consi- 
deration of his being a competitor for the same premium that 
you are contending for should have restrained you. 

"You have certainly got plenty of work on your shoulders, 
and I should advise you to get out of it in the best way you 
can. But is this the way an artist should be engaged? 
Why not follow up the reputation your painting might 
gain you, and let that carry you through ? It will lessen 
the respect people would have for your talents as a painter, 
when they find them employed disputing in a newspaper. 

" I shall 1)0 misorable till I hear you are going on with 
your picture — I shall then be assured (hat you have re- 
gained your peace of mind." 

N .3 


This was a calm and affectionate counsel and shows the 
real man — mild — temperate — tender — and cautious. 
Of course, for my own happiness, it would have been 
better to have gone on in my art, painting and peaceable, 
but then I saw the country wanted knowledge of the 
state of things. I thought that concise and powerful 
papers by an artist would enlighten them. I saw the 
artists were the victims of a system which must be 
shaken to be reformed, and though I brought misery on 
myself, no man can deny I gave a shock and excited an 
interest in the country which has never died, and which 
not one of my predecessors ever did or ever had courage 
to do to the same degree. 

Wilkie and I were different beings, yet sincerely at- 
tached to each other in proportion to the opposition of 
our natures, though neither approved the excesses in 
the character of each. 

In moments of depression I often wished I had followed 
Wilkie's advice, but then I should never have acquired 
that grand and isolated reputation, solitary and un- 
supported, which, while it encumbers the individual 
with a heavy burthen, inspires him with vigour pro- 
portioned to the load. 

1 gloried in proportion as the world left me — Wilkie 
only flourished as society nourished him ; I defied the 
present time for the sake of the future — Wilkie looked 
to the future through the affections of the time being. 

But the treachery is yet to be told. Soane the mo- 
ment my attack appeared lost courage, shrank back, 
suppressed his pamphlet and left me, young and un- 
supported, to bear the brunt of the battle. 

Thus then for the rest of my anxious life my destiny 
was altered. I had brought forty men and all their 
high connexions on my back at twenty-six years old, 
and there was nothing left but " Victory or Westmin- 
ster Abbey." I made up my mind for the conflict and 
ordered at once a larger canvas for another work. 

1812.] P. HOARE's opinion OF M.Y CONDUCT. 183 


As I was one day walking clown the Haymarket in the 
greatest anxiety about a debt I could not pay, I met 
my early and dear friend Prince Hoare ; he admitted 
the truth of all I had written,. but said, " They will deny 
your talents and deprive you of employment." " But," 
said I, " if I produce a work of such merit as cannot 
be denied, the public will carry me through." " They 
know nothing of Art," said he. " That I deny," said I; 
*' the merest shoeblack will understand Ananias." He 
shook his head. "What are you going to paint?" 
" Solomon's judgment." " llubens and Raffaele have 
both tried it." « So much the better," I said; "I'll 
tell the story better." He smiled, and putting his hand 
on my shoulder this kind friend said, " How are you to 
live ? " " Leave that to me." " Who is to pay your 
rent ? " " Leave that to me," I said again. " Well," 
said Mr. Hoare, "I see you are ready with a reply. 
You will never sell it." " I trust in God," said L He 
shook hands as if I was teie montee, and saying, ^' If you 
are arrested send for me," walked away. 

In a short time I began to turn again to my glorious 
art ; but the thoughts of my position often distracted 
me and rendered me incapable of painting. Often 
during this insanity, when I have sat still and have 
not spoken for hours, artists have said, " Look at him, 
poor fellow, he is thinking of the Academy." These 
abstractions grew less and less ; in a few weeks I began 
my work and soon was lost to all remembrances that 
had no connexion with ray pursuit. 

N 4 


Mj Journal thus records my progress, — 

April 3rd. — My canvas came home for Solomon, 
12 feet 10 Inches, by 10 feet 10 inches — a grand size. 
God in heaven grant me strength of body and vigour 
of mind to cover it with excellence. Amen — on my 

4fh. — Began my picture — perspectived the greater 
part of the day — felt a sort of check in imagination at 
the difficulties I saw coming, but, thank God ! instantly 
a blaze of ent'.-usiastic perseverance burst into my brain, 
gave me a thorough contempt for my timidity and set 
me at rest. 

6th. — Drew in my figures. Ascertained the per- 
spective proportions of all the heads ; squared in my 
pavement ; oiled in my ground. Thus I have advanced 
my picture, by God's blessing, more methodically than 
any I have yet done. Searched in the evening Kings ii. 
for hints for architecture. My hand is more certain 
than it was from the schooling it has had in wading 
through the drudgery of Macl^eth and Dentatus. 

Let this not diminish but increase my exertions. Let 
them, O God! end only with my existence. 

I must endeavour to distinguish the effect of Solomon's 
order on different temperaments, some doubting if it be 
in earnest, others really alarmed and wondering. 

7th. — Advanced my picture. 

8th. — Went to the London Institution to search for 
manners of Israelites. 

I wish to express in Solomon a fine youthful king of 
Israel, with delicate hands, clothed in gold, with a sceptre 
and a crimson robe, his face youthful — dignity com- 
minsrled with wisdom. 

The mother should be as if she had burst out of her 
usual modesty ; the moment she recollected herself she 
would blush. 

9th. — Breakfasted with Wilkic. AValkcd about the 

1812.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1812. 185 

Regent's Park. Dined with Soane. So has jjassed the 
present day, without profit, and with bitter remorse of 

lOth. — Worked hard, advanced my picture, got in 
the architecture and part of the back ground, as well as 
Solomon. I paint with more certainty than I did. Got 
all in light and thin. 

1 1 ^A, — Worked vigorously ; advanced my picture. 
Got in the two mothers. At the Opera in the evening. 
The most delightful ballet I ever saw. 
I '2th. — At chui'ch ; an idle day. 
13^A. — Idle. 

14^A. — Got in some heads ; advanced my picture. 
15th. — Idle. Went to the Institution; looked at 
West's picture, Christ blessing the Sick. Hard, red, 
mean, well-composed : nothing can be more despicable 
than the forms. How the people have been duped ! Yet, 
on the whole, it is one of his best pictures. Looked at 
Macbeth afterwards. I must say there is an elevation 
I don't find In his, though there Is a strawy crispness of 
manner which is not the right thing. The light spotty, 
the forms hard, the colouring fleshy, but too light ; she 
is too near and not big enough ; he too big. The mind 
cannot make allowance for the difference of size at 
once and without effort. The attitude certainly right, 
but the struggle to keep himself on his bent knee ex- 
cites a painful feeling. Still In spite of its numerous 
errors (whicli God in heaven grant the artist power and 
sense to avoid in the next), it is a grand picture. It 
excites awful feelings. There is an elevation of soul 
which makes one's breast expand. 
17th. — Advanced my picture. 
ISth. — At Wllkie's private exhibition. 
Idfh. — Neglected my cluuxh. 
20fh. — At Wilkie's private exhil/ition. 
2\st. — ■ Industrious; got in the head of my landlord's 


22nd. — Made an accurate drawing for Solomon, from 
Sammons (Corporal, 2nd Regiment Life Guards, after- 
wards my servant). 

2Srd. — Breakfasted with Wilkie, who is in great glee, 
of course, about his exhibition, He heartily deserves all 
his success. 

24:th. — Two hours' drawing from Samm ons. Wilkie 
called and we had a grand consultation about the compo- 
sition of my picture. 

25th. — Five hours' drawino; from Sammons. Finished 
my study for Solomon. 

26th. — Sunday : idle. 

27th. — Rode to Hampton Court on Wilkie' s horse. 
Spent a delicious four hours with the Cartoons. What 
an exquisite heavenly mind RafFaele had. Nothing can 
exceed the beaming warmth, the eager look of pure de- 
votion, in St. John's head in Christ giving the Keys. 
His delightful face seems to start forward from his hair 
with gratitude and rapture. His full mouth unable to 
utter from that sort of choking one feels when the heart 
is full, his bare, youthful cheek, his long hair, his closed 
hands, bespeak the ecstatic sensations of rapturous piety, 
overflowing with gratitude and delight. Again, in the 
cartoon of Peter healing the lame Man ; while the poor 
beggar is agitated with hope and attempting to make an 
effort to rise, while St. Peter, with uplifted hand, is 
telling him in the name of Jesus Christ to rise, St. John 
looks down on him with an air of blushing, compas- 
sionate devotion, as if his heart glowed with feeling. 

St. John seems to have been a character Raffaele 
delighted in. It was in fact his own. Whenever he 
a])pears he has the same look of purity, benevolence, 
meekness and voluptuous rapture, with a glowing cheek 
enveloped in long heavenly hair. 

What a beautiful creature is that too in the corner 
who with a fairy's lightness is gracefully supporting an 

1812.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1812. 187 

elesfnnt wicker basket of fruit and flowers and doves and 
holding a beautiful boy, who carries doves also which are 
undulating their little innocent heads to suit his motion. 
She, as she glides on, turns her exquisite features, her 
large blue eyes, beautiful full nose and little delicate 
breathing mouth, whose upper lip seems to tremble with 
feeling, and to conceal, for a moment, a little of the 

Never was there a more exquisite creature painted. 
It is impossible to look at her without being in love with 
her. liaffaele's flame was so steady and pure. 

Several bystanders seem to regard the beggar as if 
with an ejaculation of " Poor man ! " One appears lost 
in abstraction as if reflecting on his helpless situation. 

The whole cartoon excites the tenderest sensations, 
and the most delightful. 

Think of Fuseli's savage ferocity and abandoned 
women — the daughters of the bawds of hell, engendered 
by demons — and then bring to your fancy this exqui- 
site, graceful, innocent creature dropped from heaven 
on a May morning ! Think of Fuseli's men — the sons 
of banditti — and contrast them with the rapturous 
innocence of St. John ! 

It can't be borne. The more I see of nature, the 
more I see of Raffaele, the more I abhor Fuseli's mind, 
his subjects and his manner ; let me root his pictures 
from my fancy for ever. (Eleven at night.) 

Thank God, I am capable of enjoying the sensations 
Raffaele intended to excite. May they every hour inter- 
weave themselves with my being, and by mixing with 
the essence of the Elgin Marbles produce such Art as 
the world has not yet seen. Grant this, O Thou Great 
Being, and grant that I may realise this conception 
before I die. Amen with all my soul. 

Raffacle's faces are full of the light within, and truly 
it is a divine light ; his eyes glisten, his checks glow, his 


mouths quiver ; the soul seems bursting for utterance. 
The heads of every other painter are without this qua- 
lity of RafFaele's. His children are the germs of his 
men and women. 

In comparing his peculiar beauties with the beauties 
of the Elgin ISIarbles, the way I would distinguish them 
would be this ; tlie beauties of the Elgin Marbles are 
those of form ; the beauties of Raffaele are those of 
form too, but of form as the external agent of the soul. 

A body can only express action or repose. It can 
entreat or it can refuse ; but when it must show the 
refinement of passion how little can it do without the 
features ; while a look can terrify, can delight, can op- 
press you with awe, or melt you with love, without a 
single corresponding or assenting motion of the body. 

As the end of painting is to express the feelings of 
men, and as the features alone can express more than 
the body alone, and as the body is subservient to the 
intentions of the soul and the features to the expression 
of them, and as the office of the body is more material 
and that of the features more spiritual, he that excites 
emotion by the expression of the features is greater than 
he who can only express the intentions of the soul or 
spirit by the form. 

April is ended ; irregularly passed. The last week 
made drawing's of heads. 

May ] 2tli. — I cannot tell how I have passed it. At 
the Exhibition ; some good portraits ; wretchedly oiF in 
the higher walks ; every year it will become worse and 
worse ; more like a shop to get business. 

Looked over a vast quantity of Stothard's designs. 

11 til. — Nothing but horror and idleness to reflect on 
for the last three weeks. 

June \iit. — I began, as last summer, to sleep at 
Wilkie's and walk in the morning. It did me great 

1812.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1812. 189 

We talked of the Cartoons last night, which I had 
been to see again on Saturday. He said Raffaele's 
great object was mind only, therefore he never showed 
any parts but heads and hands, because the face is never 
so much attended to when the figure is visible. But I 
said, as* the great organs of intellectual expression are 
the features, they will always keep their predominance, 
and as the body expresses the intention of the mind, 
though in an inferior degree to the features, yet when 
they are both united the expression of mind will be more 

In the wicked mother I will have a grand, tremen- 
dous creature, regarding the young one with a flushed 
sneer of malignant fury. 

The highest style is essence only. If you know not 
what is accident and what is essence, how can you dis- 
tinguish accident from essence ? How can you depend 
on your judgment for clearing accident from essence 
in external appearances covered with skin which vary 
in every individual? Whereas, if you know exactly 
what is underneath you perceive the essential. 

The time was now fast drawing near when the pre- 
miums at the Gallery would be awarded. Various 
were the rumours afloat. The Academicians at every 
dinner party denounced my conduct and my picture 
with such violence that the directors were actually 
afraid to do their duty. Just at this moment a large 
feebly painted picture of Christ healing the Blind made 
its appearance at a private exhibition, and Sir George 
Beaumont (wishing to cry up some novelty now Wilkic 
and I were old aflairs), rushed at it with an ai)pctitc 
whetted by the disdain with which I had treated his 
offer of 100/., and in a week Richter's work was hailed 
as equal to the Cartoons and declared in every coterie 
for the remainder of the season the only historical 
picture ever painted in England. 


To buy it at once was more than the directors' funds 
could afford. After many consultations they resolved to 
make up the price, five hundred guineas, by taking away 
the three hundred guineas premium and the two hundred 
guineas prize from the exhibitors at the Gallery, who, 
relying on their honour as noblemen, had sent works to 
contend for the reward they had themselves offered. 
They did so, and bought this new miserably painted 
picture with the money thus literally stolen from us, 
voting the one hundred guineas left to a bad picture of 
a poor painter and offering me thirty guineas ! — that I 
might not be out of pocket for my frame which cost me 

Thus concluded the history of Macbeth for the season 
of 1812. I tore up their note in disgust. I really was 
for a few minutes staggered but soon recovered my 
wonted spirit. 

Though the Academicians detested me, yet this op- 
portunity of giving a blow to the Gallery which they 
hated more was too good to let pass. They turned 
right round, abused the directors, and took me under 
their patronage with a heartiness perfectly laughable. 

Lawrence really was furious. He said he never in 
his life heard or read of such abominable conduct in a 
body. Here were men oF high station who had pledged 
their honour to give in 1812 three hundred guineas, 
two hundred guineas and one hundred guineas to the 
first, second and third in merit of the historical pictures 
sent that year, and who gave five hundred guineas of 
the money to a picture that was never sent at all. 

Charles Bell, who was very sincerely attached to me, 
was very unhappy indeed. He knew my distresses : he 
had before this paid me five guineas for a sketch to help 
me, and wrote me next day this letter. 

" Dear Haydon, — I fear you will take this disappoint- 
ment too deeply. I assure you my disappointment is next 


to your own. Whether Macbeth be a good or agreeable 
picture may admit of a doubt, but in that picture there is 
proof of long study, of capability of drawing superior to any 
painter of the day. 

" For the pith and energy of that figure, you ought to 
have had marked encouragement. 

" But do not entertain ill thoughts of your judges, nor yet 
despise their judgments, but rather study to obtain all 
men's judgment, and then only are you entitled to assert your 

" I do not know who your judges have been, but I am 
not sure that I would very strongly have opposed them. 
For see hoAv the case stands. You have so placed yourself, 
that they could not compliment you without giving undue 
strength to all you have said against other painters, with- 
out becoming parties to the angry sentiments you have 
expressed: therefore in giving no reward but for infex-ior 
pictures, they have in fact given an honorary one to you. 

" You have already shown a worthy perseverance ; you 
have fulfilled a duty too in presenting a laboured picture 
after gaining a high premium. Now show that your perse- 
verance and love of Art have a higher object than any re- 
ward any society can hold out to you. 

" I entreat you not to be cast down, but to persevere. 
There is a duty in this which will carry its own reward 
with it. Send me one of your sketches for the money you 
owe, and then you know we shall be free for something 
more ; or finish the sketch I send you with this, and I shall 
be amply repaid. 

" I am, ever most sincerely, dear Haydon, 

"Charles Bell." 



Cast down ! It must have been something more than 
this to cast me down, though tlie reader will see in a 
page or two I had quite enough. 

This decision did me good. It was so glaringly un- 
just that it turned the scale in my favour. Leigh Hunt 
behaved nobly. He offered me always a plate at his 
table till Solomon was done. J<^hn Hunt assured me 
that as far as his means went I might be easy. 

Having lost 500 guineas, my price for Macbeth, and 
now the prize of 300 guineas for which I might fairly 
have hoped, and being already at the completion of 
Macbeth 600/. in debt, this additional calamity did not 
improve my prospect of clearing myself. Besides I was 
iroiuGr on with another work, and I had not had a shillinor 
for weeks but what I had borrowed or got from selling 
book after book, my clothes, everything. I deliberated 
— not that I ever hesitated, but because I was deter- 
mined to take a clear view of my position. Naturally, 
my heart and mind turned to Wilkie, and I thought it 
stranire that I had never heard a word or received a call 
from him, nor in fact heard from any friend his feelings 
on the subject of my position. 

Perhaps, I thought, he is too much agitated and too 
pained to call. I had attacked the Academy principally 
from my deep affection for him, — against his advice, it is 
true ; but still some sympathy for the feeling which 
prompted the attack (admitting the act to be rash) was 
due to so old and devoted a friend as I was. I resolved 
thei'efore to call on him and hear what he would say ; 


for as his advice was always cautious, I imagined it was 
the best thing I could do. 

First, however, I went to a friend, and said, *' What 
is to be done ?" " That I can't tell you," said he, with 
a cold, withdrawing air. I left him in pain and walked 
quietly to Wilkie. I told him I wanted the common 
necessaries of life. He looked at me with horror. I 
said, "Will you advance me lOZ. in addition to the 24/. 
I owe you?" He shook, got nervous, was oppressed by 
my presence, looked cold, heartless, distant and fearful 
I would stay long. He stammered out he could not 
spare more. I urged on him that he risked all by not 
helping me now. He persisted he could not. He kept 
saying, " I told you so, I told you so." He was fright- 
ened out of his life. This was such a palpable blow at 
me as a mark of disapprobation for my daring to attack 
the Academy and refute Payne Knight, that he feared 
almost to acknowledge he had ever known me at all. 

I walked out without saying a word. Wilkie seemed 
delighted at being relieved of my presence. He consi- 
dered me a ruined man and thought the sooner he dis- 
engaged himself the better. 

Ah, Wilkie, the pang I suffered at that moment was 
more on your account than on my own ! 

Never shall I forget my melancholy walk through 
Kensington Gardens back to London. 

What should I do? I owed my landlord 200/, How 
was I to go on? Would he allow it? How was I to 
dine, — to live in fact? A large picture just rubbed 
in — in Avant that day of a dinner. Shall I give up 
my Solomon, relinquisli my scliemcs, sell all, retire to 
obscure lodgings, and do anything for a living ? It 
would be praiseworthy — it would be more. But if I 
did, I never could realise enough to pay my debts. 
Surely it would be wiser to make another cast — to dis- 
miss despair. I was in health: I had no family. I 

VOL. I. O 


knew myself capable of subaiittlng to anything, but 
when once a situation is relinquished it is not possible 
to regain it. Besides, the ajiparent cowardice, after 
preaching such heroic doctrines to the students. The 
apparent cowardice was nothing if I could approach 
nearer my grand object by it, but I thought I could not 
by submission do so — and then the meanness ! How 
could I submit who had told the students that failure 
should stimulate and not depress ? Contemptible ! How 
bear my own reflections — how the reflections of others, 
knowing I deserved them ? Something instantly circu- 
lated through me like an essence of fire, and striding 
with wider steps I determined to bear all — not to yield 
one particle of m.y designs — to go at once for my model 
— to begin to-morrow and to make the most of my actual 
situation. " Well done," said the god within, and in- 
stantly I was invincible. I went to the house where I had 
always dined, intending to dine without paying for that 
day. I thought the servants did not offer me the same 
attention. I thought I perceived the company examine 
me — I thought the meat was worse. My heart sank as 
I said falteringly, " I will pay you to-morrow." The 
girl smiled and seemed interested. As I was escaping 
with a sort of lurking horror, she said, " INIr. Haydon, 
Mr. Haydon, my master wishes to see you." " My 
God," thought I, "it is to tell me he can't trust." In 
I walked like a culprit. " Sir, I beg your pardon, but 
I see by the papers you have been ill-used ; I hope 
you won't be angry — I mean no offence ; but — you 
won't be offended — I just wish to say, as you have 
dined here many years and always paid, if it would be 
a convenience during your present work, to dine here 
till it is done — you know — so that you may not be 
obliged to spend your money here, when you may want 
it, — I was going to say you need be under no appre- 
hension — hem ! for a dinner." 


My heart really filled. I told him I would take his 
offer. The good man's forehead was perspiring, and he 
seemed quite relieved. From that hour the servants 
(who were pretty girls,) eyed me with a lustrous regret 
and redoubled their attentions. The honest wife said if 
I was ever ill she would send me broth or any such little 
luxury, and the children used to cling round my knees 
and ask me to draw a face. " Now," said I, as I walked 
home with an elastic step, " now for my landlord." I 
called up Perkins and laid my desperate case before him. 
He was quite affected. I said, " Perkins, I'll leave you 
if you wish it, but it will be a pity, will it not, not to 
finish such a beginning?" Perkins looked at the rubbing 
in and muttered, "It's a grand thing; — how long will 
it be before it is done, sir?" "Two years." "What, 
two years more, and no rent?" "Not a shilling." He 
rubbed his chin and muttered, " I should not like ye to 
go — it's hard for both of us; but what I say is this, 
you always paid me when you could, and why should 
you not again when you are able?" " Tliat's what I 
say." " Well, sir, here is my hand," (and a great fat one 
it was,) "I'll give you two years more, and if this does 
not sell," (affecting to look very severe), " why then, sir, 
we'll consider what is to be done; so don't fret, but 

Having thus relieved my mind of its two heavy loads, 
I knelt down and prayed with all my soul and rose up 
refreshed and buoyant. 

These are the men that honour human nature and 
these form the bulk of the middle classes. Glorious Old 
En2;landl A\'hilc such hearts exist never shall foreign 
hoof trample down the flowers of our native land I 

I wept to myself when I thought of the treatment of 
him who had been embosomed in my family, who had 
shared my heart with a love which had grown with my 
youth — the friend, the companion of my studies, for 

o 2 

196 AUTOBIOGRArilY OF B. R. HAYDON. [(812, 

whose reputation I had sacrificed everything. I pitied 
his ignorance of my character. I mused all the evening 
on life, and its unaccountable varieties, on death and its 
endless prospects. I thought of my dearest mother 
and started as if I felt her influence in my room. 

I passed the night in solitary gratitude, and rising 
with the sun relieved and happy, before setting my 
palette prayed to the Great God who deserts not the 
oppressed, saying, 

" O God Almighty, who so mercifully assisted me 
during my last picture; who enabled me to combat and 
conquer so many difficulties and gave me strength of 
mind superior to all, desert me not now, O Lord, desert 
me not now. 

" O Lord, Thy mercy is infinite ; to Thee will I 
again cry. 

^'Assist me, O God! My difficulties are again accu- 
mulating and will yet accumulate ; grant me strength 
of mind and body again to meet, again to conquer them. 
Soften the hearts of those at whose mei'cy I am ; let 
them not harass me , let them not interrupt me. Grant 
that I may be able to proceed unchecked by sickness 
with my present great picture and conclude it as it 
ought to be concluded. Let not the progress of this 
picture be disgraced by the vice which disgraced the 
last. Let me be pure, holy and virtuous — industrious, 
indefutlo;able and firm. 

" Enable me to conceive all the characters with the 
utmost possible acuteness and dignity and execute them 
with the utmost possible greatness and power. 

" O God, in every point, let my intellectual power 
rise to the degree wanted for excellence and my vigour 
of body be proportioned to the fatigue. 

" O God, in pecuniary emergencies Thou hast never 
deserted me ; still in such moments stretch forth Thy 
protecting hand. Amen. Amen. 


" O God, spare the life of my dear father, till I am 
independent and able to take my sister, and much longer 
if Thou pleasest to delight me, but till then, I entreat 
Thee, till then. Thou Great Being and merciful God. 

" O God, let me not die in debt. Grant I may have 
the power to pay all with honour before Thou callest me 
hence. Grant this for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen." 

Artists, who take up the art as an amusement or a 
trade, will laugh heartily at this effusion of trust in God 
and this fear of being unworthy, but I took up the art 
by His inspiration. My object has ever been to refine 
the taste, to enlighten the understanding of the English 
people and make Art in its higher range a delightful 
mode of moral elevation. I have ever held converse 
with my Creator. When sinking, He has cheered me, 
— when insolent, He has corrected me, — when afflicted. 
He has elevated me with triumph. He has always 
whispered to me that I shall carry the great point, to 
carry which He caused me to leave my home and my 
family. Am I to be judged by the selfish, the money- 
getting, the envious and the malignant? If I had 
Avritten what they understand I miist, as Johnson says, 
" beg pardon of the rest of my readers." 

I write this Life for the student. I wish to show him 
how to bear affliction and disappointment by exhibiting 
the fatal consequences in myself who did not bear tliem. 
I wish to give him spirits by showing how rashness is to 
be remedied, vice resisted and a great wish persevered 
in, when the last I'csourcc is a prayer to the Almighty. 
Is tliere a reader, in or out of the art, who will presume 
to ridicule such a resource, — tlie resource since the 
world began of all the greatest minds in their greatest 
sorrows ? 

I passed the night after this with more calmness, and 
rising early went to work. INIy female model came as I 
intended and ordered, and though heated in my feelings 

o 3 


and agitated in my intellect I began the fiend of a 
mother, and getting as usual perfectly abstracted and 
seeing her expression glittering to my imagination, on 
leaving off at four I felt and saw that the head was a 
terrific hit. Green, the sj)lendid model, looked at it 
with terror. " Surely, sir, I never looked so dreadfully?" 
" No, your head and form have only been the objects to 
paint from and put the expression in. God forbid that 
under any circumstances you should look or feel like 

Having thus brought my mind to act, I went on day 
after day, and made my correct drawings as usual till 
the beginning of August, when my health began to be 
shaken by the variety of my anxieties. So by the 
assistance of my kind friend, John Hunt, I raised money 
suflficient for a change of air. I went into Somerset- 
shire — to Cheddar — where my uncle, a prebend of 
Wells, had a living. 

While at Bristol (August 16th), the mail arrived 
dressed with laurels, bringing intelligence that Lord 
Clinton had passed through Bath last night at ten o'clock 
with dispatches from Lord Wellington announcing a 
victory. Two eagles and flags were hanging out of the 
carriage window. 

The people were all rejoicing — all in a bustle — long- 
ing for the Gazette — cursing the French — praising 
Wellington. On the road the coachman pointed out 
General Whitelocke, who lived near. I as well as all the 
passengers looked through him as he passed. He 
evidently expected insult. 

My sister had arrived at Cheddar before me. 

How I gloried in the ocean beating on a wild shore 
with angry surf. There is nothing like it. There is 
110 expansion of feeling equal to that produced by a 
sudden opening on the sea after being for months shut 
up in a street in London. 


My health soon recovered by riding and idling, though 
I studied Italian hard. 

My sister had come up to meet me and our parting 
was painful. My prospects were gloomy : hers at home 
unhappy. Yet I, at present, could offer her no asylum, 
and we bade each other farewell with suppressed feel- 
ings, affectionate and melancholy. On turning to look 
if she was gone, I saw her standing on the hedge bank, 
^vfltching ray progress, till a turn of the road hid us from 
each other. I entered the inn for the night and order- 
ino; a bed soon retired. The house was low and mean. 
I dozed away in a complication of feelings unutterable 
and bitter. I awoke, and getting up through the blow- 
ing wind and dashing rain took my place in the coach 
in a sulky chilliness. 

What a prospect was mine ! I was leaving the healthy 
cheerfulness of the country, for smoky, painful, strug- 
gling London — to proceed with a great work without a 
shilling, amidst the sneers and sarcasms of malignity 
and ignorance. The weather operated to increase my 
depression ; but as I approached London, with its 
energy, its activity, its ambition, my heart breathed in 
expanding vigour, and my tenderest affections and bit- 
terest sorrows were suppressed in the swelling of anti- 
cipated fame. 

Oh the glories of a great scheme ! What are all the 
troubles, the pangs, the broken affections, the oppressions, 
the wants, the diseases of life, when set against the 
endless rapture of perpetual effort to realise a grand 
conception ? 

I sprang like a giant refreshed to my canvas the next 
day, mounted a chair on an old table, singing as inde- 
pendently as a lark, and was soon lost in all the elevated 
sensations of an ambitious and glorious soul. 

The Hunts, always generous, helped me as far as 
they coidd. Leigh, poor fellow, could not spare his 

o 4 

200 AUTOBIOGRAniY OF B. K. HAYDON. [l812. 

money long enough to be of service, but he did his best. 
What did Lord Mulgrave ? Nothino;. What Thomas 
Hope? Nothing. The whole of 1812 I never saw one 
single person of fashion. I was as forgotten as if I had 
never been. But I had a light within, which "made 
the path before me ever bright." Lord Mulgrave was 
in such a passion with Dentatus, first for not answering 
his expectations, and then for exceeding them, that he 
nailed it up and left it in a stable for two years, and 
when I wanted to see the effect of time on the colours, 
I found the picture so covered with dust I could not 
see a face. 

About this time I was seized with a fury for Italian: 
I rapidly broke down the difficulties. I soon found out 
the sense, and beginning on the sonnets of Petrarch I 
went to work, as I did in Art, by dissection. 

My Journal records the progress of my picture. 

October 2nd. All painters have, I think, erred in 
giving too much an appearance of earnest to Solomon's 
judgment. The child is dashed up ; the executioner is 
ranting as if he were going to fell an ox. 

The delicacy, I think, is to give the incident the air 
of a truth, without making it laughable : so that the 
spectator may see the execution was not meant, and 
yet feel interested for the lovely mother who thought 
it was. 

Zrd. Made an accurate drawing for the executioner 
from my old and faithful model, Sammons, (who goes 
on Wednesday to Spain). I gave him, and two more 
who had been my models, (one of them Shaw^the 
pugilist,) a bottle of wine to drink my health and their 
own success. 

They are all attached to my service and are fine 
fellows. I had Sammons' wrists cast. He sat for 
Macbeth and Dentatus, and has the cleanest wrists I 
ever saw. 

1812.] FR03I MY JOURNALS OF 1812. 201 

Humble as these men are I feel attached to them. 

In the midst of study I heard from M' Ilkle to let me 
know he was at Mulgrave, where he had become, of all 
things in the world, a sportsman ! " 1 have had a notion," 
he wrote me, " for the first time I ever thought of such 
a thing, of trying my hand at partridge shooting, and 
have been already two days out with the gamekeeper. 
The same is but scarce, and the first day I had to con- 
tent myself with but shooting a crow that was flying 
over our heads. The second day, however, the game- 
keeper and I brought in three brace, one of the par- 
tridges comprising which Avas of my shooting. This is 
considered by our sportsmen here as great success for a 
beginning, and has given me a great relish for the 
amusement. The fatigue attending it prevents me going 
out more than twice a-week, but we have contrived to 
lessen that by riding on ponies to the ground where the 
game is lodged. I have been trying to learn chess, and 
also intend to have a touch at billiards. By the time I 
get back to town, I shall be quite an accomplished 

But he really did kill partridges at last, incredible as 
it may appear, and asked me with some complacency to 
eat game of his killing on his return to town, in October. 
** I shall be glad," he writes, " if you can get out here 
on Tuesday at 3 o'clock, and if you are disposed to 
laugh at my not being able to kill anything better than 
a crow at my first shot, you will have reason to envy 
rae the success that so trifling an exploit has led to, 
when you sec and taste what I have to give you for 
dinner of my own shooting. I shall be very much dis- 
appointed if you don't come." 


It may be laid down as an axiom, that if wrists arc 
clear so arc ancles, if elbows so arc knees. Thus, if the 


tendons that go from the radius and ulna to the hand 
are distinct and intelligible, that is, clean without being 
skinny, and full and fleshy without being fat (for this 
is the great characteristic of healthy activity and the 
Elgin Marbles), the tendons which go from the tibia 
and fibula to the foot are clean also. 

Perhaps the secret of character in form, — in contour, 
— is repetition of curve as of colour. Thus begin by del- 
toid, and repeat the form it makes without violating 
truth. Thus you may repeat everything, till you have 
put your figure together like a map. 

Sammons, my model, has that extraordinary character 
perceived in the reclining figure (the Theseus) of the 
Elgin Marbles — the same exact mixture of bone, ten- 
don and muscle, which conveys a look of nature without 
poverty and elevation without manner — the same exact 
composition of round, straight and elliptic lines — joints 
tendonous, limbs fleshy, bones angular. This is the 
beauty of form, — this is the just blending of truth and 
refinement, that you look for in vain in the hai-d, marbly, 
puflfed figure of the Apollo, the muzzy Antinous or the 
myriad fragments of the antique wdiich have inundated 
Europe for the last three hundred years. For this we 
are indebted (as the world will one day see) to the in- 
spired Elgin Marbles. 

October 5th. Kept down the principal figure : ad- 
vanced my picture. Ilard Avork for the higher Art in 
this country, when painters, patrons and people set 
their faces against great productions. 

7th. " The hand of the diligent shall bear rule, but 
the slothful shall be under tribute." 

The idleness, the wasteful idleness, of this last year 
I shall repent to the day of my death. I have gained 
experience, but at a dear rate. Had I exerted myself 
as I ought my picture would have been well advanced. 
After attacking the Academy I should instantly have 

1812.] . FROM MY JOUKXALS OF 1812. 203 

applied myself, but I loitered, got entangled with an 
infernal woman, which shattered my peace of mind be- 
fore I could extricate myself, and though I came off, 
thank God ! without actual falling, yet it was with my 
habits so broken and my mind so agitated that till now 
I have not had command of myself as usual. What 
a warning have I had ! How has my presumptuous 
security been lowered ! When I think of what a hell I 
have escaped my head whirls. 

W^ith the exception of my attacking the Academy, 
which I shall glory in to my last gasp, my conduct has 
been abandoned, negligent, irresolute, contemptible ! I 
nauseate myself. I have never had such a contempt 
for any human being. 

After the delights of keen, eager, active employment, 
none can know what are the horrors of ennui but those 
who have felt both ; and ejinui is to none so horrible as 
to those who have been previously always on the stretch. 

Whoever you are who read this when I am dead, 
beware of beginnings. Fly from vice. Think not it 
can be argued against in the presence of the exciting 
cause. Nothino; but actual flight. Beware of idleness, 
which leaves you at the mercy of appetite. Employ- 
ment, employment, and you must be safe. 

I can never now look at the bust of JNlichcl Angelo 
without a detestation of myself. Such was not my feel- 
ing two years ago. 

8?/t, ^tli, and \Oth. Vigorously at work. Painted 
the head of Solomon. I doubt whether I should ex- 
press any more in him than a general air of royalty, as 
though absorbed in his greatness. 

A man who has a fixed purpose to which he devotes 
his powers is invulnerable. Like the rock in the sea it 
splits the troubles of life and they eddy around him in 
idle foam. 

Young beginners are apt to intrude all they know. 


not considering that the first requisite is to please the 
eye through the eye ; a multipHclty of parts distracts, 
disgusts, wearies : hence the necessity of one thing being 
kept subordinate to another, so that the mind may 
dwell on as much at a time as it can at once com- 

I can to this day recollect a poor creature who saw 
her son dashed to pieces by a horse, near Temple Bar. 
Nothing could exceed her dreadful sufFerino;. Her nose 
and cheeks became a settled purple, a burning tear hung 
fixed, without dropping, in her eyelid, her livid lips shook 
with agony, while she screamed and groaned with agi- 
tated hoarseness on her dear boy. I was passing an 
hour afterwards : I heard her dreadful screams, which 
had now become incessant, till they died away from ex- 
haustion into convulsive sighs. My heart beats at the 
recollection. I put her expression into the mother in 

November 18th. — My colours in a delightful state. 
Every thing floated on so exquisitely, I would not have 
exchanged my situation for Buonaparte's at Moscow 
without a handsome remuneration, nor yet then. 

As I was sitting quietly by myself last night near 
a silent and simmering fire, my picture on one side of 
me infinitely improved by my day's application, books, 
colours and casts on the other, I began to feel a sort of 
congratulation and self-complacency I had not felt for 
long, when suddenly the thought of death darted into 
my head, and I shuddered at the fancy of appearing in- 
stantly before my Creator. I never before reflected so 
strongly on death, or perceived its inexorable approach 
with such perspicuity. I saw in my mind's eye that 
die I must. I asked myself if I were called hence what 
did I leave behind me to keep me an hour from oblivion? 
All my vices and follies rushed into my brain. What had 
I done to merit approbation hereafter ? Alas ! — I sunk 

1812.] FEOM MY JOURNALS OF 1812. 205 

away Into a melancholy dreary feeling and sat for an 
hour as if I had heard the hollow roar of the last trump, 
as if I saw millions start from their graves and stare with 
wild vacancy as they uncovered their pale faces. 

25t]i. — Three years ago, studying the form of Dentatus 
I found the calf of the Gladiator less than that of the 
Hercules and other high characters, while the solasus 
showed all the Avay from its origin, which gives a mean 

Ignorant of the reason I avoided this, but I had not 
mastered the principle of form enough to select what 
was requisite for the great actions. Now I have esta- 
blished the great principle of Greek form, first to select 
what is peculiai'ly human. The gastrocnemius (calf 
muscle) is peculiarly himian, and contributes to the 
great human distinction of standing upright on the feet; 
the more powerful it is, the more powerfully docs it 
perform its functions, and when powerful it swells over 
the solteus ; diminish it, the solasus bursts out and gives 
a weak, animal look, because the calf is lessened as in 
animals, and the calf being lessened, a muscle peculiarly 
human is lessened, and a limb which has a muscle pecu- 
liarly human lessened approaches the limb of an animal 
Avhicli has scarcely any such muscle at all. 

21th. — There are certainly great traces in Plomer of 
the simplicity and beauty of the Scriptures. 

In the Bible whenever a king or any man orders a 
servant to carry a message the servant delivers it in the 
A'ery words in which it was delivered to him : it is 
always so in Homer, and, of course, in Virgil and other 

30M. — Lord ISIulgrave feeling in some degree for my 
long absence and bad treatment, sent me a ticket to go 
to see the Prince open Parliament as Regent for the 
first time. 

Went to the House of Lords. It was a very grand 


affiiir; — the beautiful women — educated, refined and 
graceful, with their bending plumes and sparkling eyes ; 

— the Chcincellor — 

" The sceptre and the ball, 
The sword, the mace, the crown imj^erial, 
The tissued robe of gold and pearl," 

gave a grand sensation, and I could not help reflecting 
how long it was before society had arrived at that state 
of peace and quietness, that order and regulation, I Avit- 
nessed ; — what tumult, what blood, what contention, 
Avhat suffering, what error, before experience had ascer- 
tained what was to be selected, and what rejected. 

The Prince read admirably, with the greatest per- 
spicuity, and without the slightest provincialism — pure 
English. He appeared affected at the conclusion. I 
went down in the evenins; a^-ain to hear the debates. 
Lord Wellesley made a fine energetic speech, enough 
to create a soul under the ribs of death. It showed 
him to be a man of grand and comprehensive intellect. 
He affirmed in a strain of energy almost amounting to 
fury that Lord Wellington's means were inadequate ; — 
that before the battle of Salamanca, so far from his re- 
tiring to draw the enemy on, he was in full retreat the 
18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and part of 22nd, and that it was 
entirely owing to an error of Marmont that the battle 
was gained. " But, my Lords, is this a ground to cal- 
culate upon ? My Lords, if your hopes of success are 
grounded on the errors of French generals I fear they 
have a very shallow foundation." 

He said the great general had not the means of trans- 
port for his artillery. I went away about the middle 
of Lord Liverpool's futile reply. 

I observed Lord Wellesley in the heat of debate put 
himself repeatedly in the attitude of St. Paul preaching 
at Athens, which proves the truth of Raffaele's feeling. 

It was this very night, while listening to Lord 

1812. J FKOM MY JOURNALS OF 1812. 207 

Wellesley and surveying the miserable tapestry which 
surrounded him, I conceived a grand series of designs 
to adorn the ample sides of the house. I became glo- 
riously abstracted, and settled that an illustration of the 
best government to regulate without cramping the 
energy of man would do ; — first to show the horrors 
of anarchy; — then the injustice of democracy; — then 
the cruelty of despotism; — the infamies of revolution; — 
then the beauty of justice ; — and to conclude with 
limited monarchy and its blessings. 

This conception I explained to Wilkie, who was de- 
lighted and said, " If you ever live to see that wished ! " 
I have lived to see it wished and hoped for and pro- 
posed. I have lived to lay my plan successively before 
every minister down to Lord Melbourne and Sir Robert 
Peel, secretly to influence the government and publicly 
the people, and I shall yet live to witness its execution 
under the blessing of that God who has blessed me so 
often and through so many calamities. 

This conception matured daily in my mind. I made 
many sketches; — asked the advice of many eminent 
friends, especially William Hamilton, then of the 
Foi'cign Office, who suggested the subject of Nero's 
burning Rome to illustrate despotism, till at last I 
brought them to maturity, subject of course to exten- 
sion, and proposed them, as I have said, to each suc- 
cessive minister. 

On public encouragement I find the following remarks 
in my Journal of this month. {December, 1812.) 

Do you really expect to raise Art by cncouraglno" 
pictures two feet long and three feet wide? Do you 
also agree with the Edinburgh reviewers that Raflaele 
would have deserved more praise had he painted pictures 
of more moderate dimensions ? lie has done so and 
what ai'e they? Fat, oily and leaden. He has painted 


easel pictures of a moderate size : let us cut off his great 
works; — liow high would he rank? 

But people can't afford, — people have not room, — I 
know it; — Ave do not want private peoj)le to afford such 
assistance ; — we want and expect you, who are assembled 
as representatives of the people of England, you who 
are Peers of taste, we want you Avho stand high in 
station to act as becomes your station. One of your 
own class has asserted that a historical picture of ac- 
knowledged merit, Avith a price proportioned to its skill, 
would be the longest unsold on the Avails of the British 
Gallery, and Avould not he, as one of the patrons, be to 
blame ? Certainly. He forgets he implicates himself. 
If the churches are not to be open, (and Avhy St. Paul's 
should not be open as Avell as St. Peter's — why pictures 
should not be admitted as Avell as statues — no reason on 
earth can be given) — let the public halls be adorned 
Avlth subjects characteristic of their relations ; — let the 
artists be desired to send sketches, and let the best be 
chosen. At the same time, for the support and en- 
couragement of the rising students, let premiums still 
be given of one hundred guineas and fifty guineas, 
which Avill enable the best to advance on sure ground. 
Open a prospect to students in the first instance, and 
enable them, after being thus lifted, to look forward 
to steady assistance if they display equal improvement 
and equal industry in the second stage. Without such 
regvilar and systematic encouragement, nothing will — 
nothing can — be done in England. Men of ardour 
and enthusiasm may risk their lives and ruin their 
health by priA'ations and may produce excellence, but if 
they are suffered to pass unheeded and neglected Avhat 
must be the end ? 

Individual effort, Avithout support, can go to a certain 
extent, and its efforts may be great wlien enmity and 
prejudice have ceased. But the artist must be sacrificed 


before the effect can be produced. No man of genius 
would refuse such a fate if necessary. He has not the 
proper fire if he shrinks from becoming the Decius of art; 
but surely he would prefer succeeding whilst alive and 
confirming his early successes by subsequent exei'tions. 

You lavish thousands upon thousands on sculpture 
without effect. You refuse all assistance, all public 
support, all public opportunities to painting. You load 
'your churches, your halls, and your public buildings 
with masses of unwieldy stone, and allow not one side 
or one inch of your room for pictures. Is this fair ? is it 
just ? is it liberal ? You then complain grsat pictures 
will never do in this country, and conclude that there- 
fore great pictures should not be painted. This really 
looks like infatuation. 

In no country has sculpture been so favoured, fed 
and pnmpered as in this country. In no country under 
heaven has such patronage been met by such shameful, 
disgraceful indolence as in this. IMasses of marble 
scarcely shaped into intelligibility ; boots, spurs, epau- 
lettes, sashes, hats and belts huddled on to cover 
ignorance, and to hide defects ! 

Surely you are bound to divide your favours and 
affections. If you shower thousands on Sculpture and 
fatten her to idleness with one hand, scatter hundreds 
into the lap of Painting also with tlie other, that her 
preternatural efforts made witliout friends and without 
patronage may be fostered and saved from being wholly 
without effect. No ; year after year, and day after 
day, monuments and money arc voted in ceaseless 
round, without discrimination and without thought. 

However the portrait painters may affect to say, " We 
may pursue history if wc prefer starvation," whenever 
I call they always feel little and lament they arc doing 

" such d d things." They slirink before a student 

on the brink of starvation. 

VOL. I. p 


Turenne used to say he never spent his time In re- 
gretting any mistake he had made but set himself 
instantly and vigorously to repair it. 

December lith. — Made a last application to my 
father for money. He frankly tells me it is impossible : 
that what I have had is rather beyond his means. I 
am in the middle of a great picture without a penny for 
the necessaries of life or for models. However, I never 
felt more enthusiasm, more vigour, more resolution. 
This was my situation wdiile engaged on Macbeth. 
Being new, it cut me deeply but never checked or de- 
pressed me. But now, broken in to misfortune, I can 
look at her without shrinking, pursue my intentions 
Avithout fear, disguise my state by active buoyant 
spirits, which I never want, and by God's help, and 
virtue and industry increasing, I have no doubt of sub- 
duing my picture with honour, and coming out of the 
battle invigorated and ready for fresh combats. In God 
I trust who has been always my protector and friend. 

December 2 1 St. — Always, recollect, the joints clear, 
bony, and tendonous ; the limbs full, fleshy and vi- 
gorous ; the chest wide ; the pelvis not narrow ; the 
feet arched ; the knees and ancles not small ; the skull 
capacious ; the face not large. 

December 29th. — No man so fills without crowding, 
and has such breadth without emptiness, as RafFaele. 
The face is his great object : to this he sacrifices every- 
thing — drapery — hair — form — figure — nothing in 
fact near it is suffered to come into competition. 

How strange is the blind infatuation of the country ! 
Nobody refuses portraits of themselves or their friends 
on canvases 8, 10, 12 feet long, but every one shuts 
his door against the illustrious deeds of our own and of 
other countries unless on the pettiest canvases. 

At the very time Sir George was harassing me about 

1812.] THE YEAR CLOSES. 211 

size, Owen Avas painting his mother the same size — a 
large whole length. 

December 31st. — The danger of solitude is that a 
man centres everything too much in himself. He 
fancies the world is watching and Heaven protectino- 
him ; that he only is employed ; that he only is ambi- 
tious. When he goes into society he will find others 
occupied with works and efforts like his own ; others 
who have been ambitious and are now humbled ; others 
who have grandly failed in grandly struggling. This 
will subdue his own notions of his own importance and 
send him back to his study prepared for the misfor- 
tunes and fitted for the miseries of life which would 
otherwise have come unexpectedly. 

The above remarks are copied from my Journal of the 
year. Sketches of all descriptions accompany the re- 
marks, and they are all deductions made by my solitary 
fireside at midnight, or after it, when I have mused on 
my position, felt pain at my desertion, and often while 
I was in want of the commonest necessaries of study 
and life. But week after week the picture advanced 
and I ended the year in high aspirations. My landlord's 
kindness continued. He had received no rent for three 
years now. Where I dined on credit I was treated as 
if I was their best customer. Of people of fashion I 
saw not one, nor did I condescend to appeal to them for 
aid. They had first brought me into high life when 
I had done nothing to deserve the elevation, and then 
deserted me when I had done something to merit notice. 
I worked away, always happy, trusting in God, believ- 
ing myself expressly inspired by Him for a great purpose 
which I never lost sight of. Wilkic called now and 
then, when he thought he might with safety, and when 
he believed I must have friends somehow or somewhere. 

r 2 


From my Journal : — 

Now comes the last day of 1812. Alas! instead of 
having worked out my schemes of improvement in 
morals and in mind, what have I to do at the end of every 
year but to recapitulate vices, repent, hope amendment 
and before the new year has ushered in the spring be as 
contemptible as ever? I am weary. Perfection in 
virtue and resolution in temptation, I begin to suspect, 
are never to be attained here ; I can only wonder 
humbly why one, like myself, with the most awful feel- 
ings of virtue, should be so silly as to fly into folly 
where all restraint is forgotten. 

My feelings about the close of this year are dulled. 
Things happen but once in this world; as you enter 
life everything is fresh, beautiful and impressive, but 
each recurrence is less noticed than the preceding, and 
perhaps when one leaves life a change is requisite from 
disgust and weariness. 

O God ! in Thee I sincerely trust ; desert me not, 
surrounded as I am with difficulties and danofers. Ex- 
tricate me ; let me not die, till I have paid all my 
debts with honour, till I have re-established my fame on 
an iron foundation, till I am worthy to be called to a 
purer existence. O God, listen to my prayer for Jesus 
Christ's sake. Amen. Amen. Amen. 

Thus then ended the year 1812 — a year in which I 
laid the foundation of all my future trials. Yet, as 
David Wilkie suffered neaidy as much, though guilty of 
no violence, of no retaliation, of no daring to expose a 
public body, or flying in the face of a patron in high 
life, it is a question if the meekest submission, — if a 
temper like Newton's and a subserviency like Wilkie's, 
— would have had any other result than my violence and 
resistance had. 

1813.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1813. 213 

What I did I did on a public principle, with a strong 
feeling of individual wrong ; as belonging to a class, — 
that of historical painters, — who had neither the rank, 
the power nor the patronage of portrait painters. All 
which it was my belief they would have had if the 
Academy had not been founded and if the portrait 
painters had not thus been embodied under the exclusive 
protection of royalty and rank. 

I was but the humble cliannel of a feeling which is 
rapidly growing over Europe, and which I have no 
doubt whatever will become so strong that in the end 
these hotbeds of mediocrity will sink into the insignifi- 
cance they so thoroughly deserve. 


January \st, 1813. You say "After all beauty is 
the thing." No, it is not; intellect, the feelings of the 
heart, are the chief things. The more beautiful the 
garb expression is dressed in the better, but you may 
dress expression so beautifully as to overwhelm it. 

Beauty of form is but the vehicle of conveying ideas, 
but truth of conveyance is the chief object. If the 
vehicle attract on its own score, what it intends to con- 
vey is lost, and the mind will be drawn to a secondary 
object. So with colour, light and shadow, and all the 
means of the art, for beauty is but a means. 

This is the reason that many painters great in de- 
lineation of beauty take an inferior station. Perfect 
beauty can only belong to beings not agitated by passion, 
such as angels. But while human beings can be de- 
pressed or agitated, roused by terror or melted by love, 
perfect or regular beauty is incompatible with the ex- 
pression of such feelings, and the sudrages of mankind 
will always be in favour of him who conveys feelings at 
once to their hearts, without weakening them by the 
insipidity of regular beauty. 

V 3 


No dovibt these feelings should agitate beauty, but 
then its calmness and regularity are destroyed. The ex- 
pression may be that of a beautiful countenance, yet the 
expression should predominate. 

People of no practice sit still and refine themselves to 
impossible beings. They forget we are made up of 
body and mind. Such is our nature. As Art pro- 
fessedly lays its foundation in that nature it must remind 
us of it or it will fail in its effect. 

In the highest style the moment the artist departs 
from nature, either in action, expression or form, that 
moment does he cease to interest human beings. 

All Homer's, all Shakespeare's, characters have the 
elevations and the failings of men. Do not Homer and 
Shakespeare interest human beings more than any other 
poets ? 

No doubt the characters of Milton are high, but I am 
talking of the dramatic human variety of this world, 
not the epic superiority of the other. 

" It is no matter to me how expression is conveyed," 
say some ; " I care not for the vehicle." This is the 
other excess. They forget that the Great Creator of 
the Universe has clothed the profoundest system in the 
most delightful garb. 

The grace and colour of a tiger for a moment make 
you forget the ferocities of his nature. 

dtli. — I began and read Nelson's Life in the intervals 
of painting and hard work, and never was I more de- 
lighted ; I have always had in me something of Nelson, 
and loved my country's glory as highly as he. 

" Had I attended," says Nelson, " less than I have to 
the service of my country, I should have made some 
money too. However, I trust my name will stand on 
record when the money-getters are forgot." 

\Otli. — Drew at Lord Elgin's all day and evening 
till late. How deliglitful is the exhausted, faint feel 

1813.] FKOM MY JOURNALS OF 1813. 215 

after a hard day's labour, with an approving God within, 
in comparison with the listless horror of an idle day and 
the stings of a reproachfid conscience. Well do I know 
them, and sincerely do I thank God I have completely 
recovered my tranquillity. 

I have finished Nelson's Life, every syllable, with 
interest and delight. 

I had no idea of his powers of mind or of his know- 
ledge of men and things till I saw his correspondence. 
He was certainly a most extraordinary man, persevering 
in pursuing an object, restless and miserable under a 
chance of missing it, prompt and clear in his conceptions, 
yet cool and wary ; having conceived a purpose, rapid, 
energetic, unconquerable, keeping a steady eye, bending 
his whole soul, his whole body, his whole powers, to 
carry it. With all the simplicity and enthusiasm of 
fiery youth, he had all the wisdom and experience of 
suspicious age. He had the power which all great men 
have of making others in his society forget their own 
inferiority. All who came in contact with him, mid- 
shipman, mate, lieutenant or captain, ambassador or 
admiral, native or foreigner, all loved him, for none in 
his presence lost his self-respect. 

He had the keen eao;er feelin<2;s of genius. To make 
cai)tive did not satisfy his soul. Anniliilation was his 
object, and if there were in our being a deeper state of 
destruction than annihilation, annihilation would have 
been insipid and absurd, " We have done very well, 
we must be content," said Hotham. "Content!" 
answered Nelson, " Content, and well done ! If we 
liad taken ten sail, and let the eleventh escape, I should 
not have been content, or have called it well done." 

This is the man who will not wait fur op[)ortunit3', 
but makes the most of what he has. Tiiis is the hero 
who if he commanded a cock-boat would do something 

the captain of a cock-boat never did before. 

1' 4 


Nelson Is an illustrious example to show what a 
persevering, unclivided attention to one art will do; 
— how far a restless habit of enterprise, the never 
resting or taking indolent enjoyment after exertion, will 
carry a man. He began the war the unknown com- 
mander of a 60-gun ship, and concluded it the greatest 
naval captain of his country and famous throughout the 

I have spoken of him before, but of such a hero much 
can be said, so I hope I shall be pardoned for these 

He had all the right feelings of the old school, and 
detested the liberie and egalite set, with philosophy 
in their mouths and rapine, murder and ravishment in 
their hearts. 

I love him for this, and sign my name to all he wrote 
and said against this detestable, damnable school, — 
French or English. Posterity will properly estimate 
the pure and honourable heroism of our English 
admirals, in contrast with the ferocious and unprin- 
cipled French. All Nelson's observations, all his views, 
were fresh, vigorous and original, for they issued from 
an innate and powerful faculty impregnated by experi- 
ence. Conscious of something, he knew not what, he did 
everything with a sort of authority from his infancy, 
and yet, with the true feelings of a great mind, was 
humble and willing to learn when ignorant. 

The same eagerness, the same enthusiasm, the same 
powers, the same restlessness, the same determination 
to go on while in existence, in any art, will carry a man 
the same length, because such conduct begets confidence 
in others as Avell as in a man's self: opportunities are 
then given, for dependence can be placed by those who 
have the power to bestow opportunities. 

Nelson's life was a continued scene of glory and 
vigour. He is an example to all. May those who 

1813.] TROM MY JOURNALS OF 1813. 217 

have similar views pursue them by similar methods ! 
Amen with all my soul. Amen. 

(At midnight ^th January, 1813.) 

He died at the very moment he ought, for if sym- 
pathy can be added to admiration what stronger hold 
can you have on human nature ? 

When his voice was almost inarticulate, when his 
sight was dim, when his pain was excruciating, as life 
was quivering on the borders of another world, and his 
gallant soul was almost in the presence of the Almighty, 
he muttered, " I have done my duty, 1 thank God for 
it." What a glorious spirit ! At such moments if 
human beings are melted, and forgive injuries and 
errors, will not a Being of perfect mercy, of perfect 
benevolence, and of perfect purity, receive and forgive 
too ? It must be so. 

Nelson's life was so compressed that one was con- 
tinually forgetting his earlier glory in the splendour of 
his latest. He exerted himself in the greatest possible 
Avay in the shortest possible space. 

\'2th. — Hard at work — seized in every part of my 
body with pain. I take it I caught cold at Lord Elgin's 
last night, after painting in a warm room all day. I 
was literally frozen when I got home. Succeeded in 
my back. 

l^tli. — The greater and more numerous the diffi- 
culties a man is surrounded with, the more he should 
be determined to conquer, and exert his talents to the 
utmost, because, after all, if his picture be so fine that 
no one can contradict it, it must have its effect. No 
man docs his utmost. 

l^tli. — Very ill, and consequently very miserable — 
tried to work, but so weak, uneasy and uncomfortable, 
could not go on. How much serenity and energy of 
mind depend on health and vigour of body . 

\ltk. — This week is ended. Tiiree days did I apply 


myself most indefatlgably, night and day — two days 
indifferently — and one day, being ill, weakly and 

This perhaps is an epitome of life. How miserable 
that a darling object cannot be pursued without in- 
termission, without sleep, food or relaxation ! But did 
we make use of the time that is left us, even with all 
these barriers and weights, how much more might be 

Dark day — hard at work: the light could hardly 
make its way through the blanket of a sky. 

About this time Wilkie, who was always pursuing 
some ignis fatuiis, began to get into his head that he 
painted too slowly, and that the old masters never used 
models. This is actually a fact, and he came to me to 
preach this absurd doctrine when he was painting Blind 
Man's Buff. I wrote him, in admonition, a letter from 
which this is an extract : — 

" you talk of being ruined if you do not paint quicker. 
No. You will be ruined if you do not paint well ; if you 
neglect nature, and paint like all mannerists from recollec- 
tion ; you will be ruined if you neglect to survey both 
nature and Art, as you used to do; and by observing what 
others have done, and what others have not done, be either 
stimulated to outdo or equal their efforts for excellence. 
Could it be you who unwillingly refused to look at Ostade ? 
Why? — because you knew it would send you to your own 
canvas with a stinging and a bitter conscience. Was it you 
who uttered the sentiment i\\?it feeling looked unlike compo- 
sition ? What specious, what absurd, what contemptible so- 
phistry ! Do you not know the difference between sim- 
plicity and ignorance ? 

" Every ignorant imbecile blockhead can push in a figui'e 
without skill or method and call it simpHcity. but it is only 
those of high capacity who can arrange their materials with 
the deepest art and yet conceal that art by apparent ne- 
glect. You are completely altered in your views of Art. 

1813.] FEOM MY JOUKNALS OF 1813. 219 

You told me the Rent Day was painted in three months. 
It was; — and I'll tell you why; — because you had nature 
for everything, and painted with certainty and assurance, 
depending upon your conception for character and on your 
model for imitation. No wonder you proceeded rapidly 
and without restraint. Mark the difference of a different 
system, — uncertain — muzzy — confused — mannered. 

" You are either the weakest or the most simple of men 
to be so impressed and twisted by the opinions of every 
blockhead that chooses to hazard a notion. I tell you, totally 
alter your whole system, and again apply yourself to your 
art with your former eagerness and appetite. If you think 
your academical honours are to be pushed forward to cloak 
inattention and manner, you will find yourself awfully mis- 
taken, and the opinion of the world about yourself, both in 
regard to your character as a man and an artist, will be 
entirely changed." 

This was exactly Wilkie — any plausible fool could 
persuade him he did not paint in the right way, and I 
recollect I had the greatest difficulty to get him out of 
this temporary insanity. Seguier backed me, and w'C 
succeeded in inducing him to paint from models again. 
Stothard had been held up to him as more perfect than 
Teniers, and " Stothard used no models," he said. 

Meanwhile my picture of Solomon advanced steadily. 
My Journal of the time shows I never thought more 
conclusively, and the daily contests with Ilazlitt (whom 
I had met the year before at Northcote's), with Leigh 
Hunt and with AVilkle, tended certainly to do my mind 
a great deal of good, for wc all thought conclusively 
and differently on all subjects. 


January 20th. — To draw well w'liat one sees is what 
every man can do who studies and has a correct eye 
— but it is the having a poetical conception of charac- 


ter In form, and being able to realise It, wlilcli distin- 
guishes the painter of genius from the common draughts- 

2lst. — For God's sake, for the sake of the art, for the 
sake of your character as patrons, bestow on great 
works that significant, that important encouragement 
which will give consequence to the higher walk. Ren- 
der as a public body* that protection to history that 
portrait has from Individuals. 

Let us be great in every walk, and In every rami- 
fication of every walk. Let us go as far, or farther 
than nature has hitherto allowed man. Let us astonish 
the world and posterity with a mass of power that shall 
sweep off all obstructions, and leave future ages In 
hopeless gaze. 

I do not say you throw away your time on dogs and 
fish. Dogs and fish well imitated are worthy encourage- 
ment ; every part of this delightful art is entitled to 
protection : but I say, give that assistance to those who 
attempt to realise a poetical conception which you give 
to those who imitate what they see. 

27th. — What a dellGfhtful habit Is the habit of work. 
How wretched, how miserable am I to-night from 
having been out for hours gabbling, idling, dining, when 
I had feet to prepare for to-morrow ! But before I sleep 
it shall be done. 

29t/i. — Spent the evening with Leigh Hunt, at West- 
end ; walked out and in furiously after dinner, which 
did me great good. Leigh Hunt's society is always de- 
lightful : I do not know a purer, a more virtuous cha- 
racter, or a more witty, funny or enlivening man. 

We talked of his approaching imprisonment. He said 
it would be a great pleasure to him if he were certain 
to be sent to Newgate, because he should be In the 

* The directors of tlie British Institution are addressed. 

1813.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1813. 221 

midst of his friends. We botli laughed heartily at the 
idea of his being in the midst of his friends at Newgate, 
and his being reduced to say it would be a great pleasure 
to be sent there. 

February \st. — The senses have mechanical organi- 
sations, which act when influenced and not else. AYe 
know this from habit and experience. The conse- 
quence is we associate the cause Avhen we sec the re- 
sult ; and it is on this principle we affect human feel- 
ings in painting. 

All the greatest poets have had the various excel- 
lences of liaffaele and Michel Angelo united. It is 
astonishing to me they should be considered incon- 
gruous. What can be more opposite than the feeling 
conveved in these two lines, 

"Apt'i ct 'C^ovi]v, aTtpvov It Yioaiicaojvi' 


TvpoQ KoXnov tv^Mi'oio ri6ijvr]s ? 

The one has the stern energy of ^lichel Angelo, the 
other the delicate voluptuousness of Raffaele. The one 
gives you the full bosom of a nurse, delicately divided 
by a zone from her shelving waist and sweeping into the 
flow of the hip ; then mark the contrast " about the 
girth like ISIars, about the head like Neptune." Fancy 
Neptune rearing his awful breast on a summer noon, 
above the blue, breezy ocean, like a tower dividing the 
sprayey foam ; then he would dip down, and the dash- 
ing surge would ripple over his shoulders ; then he 
would rear up and expose his whole breast ; every now 
then Nereids and Tritons would splasli up and dis- 

5th. — Form, colour, light and shadow are but the 
means of exciting associations, 

I have been studying attentively these two last days 
the Bacchus and Ariadne of Titian, and the Choice of 


Paris by Rubens. The Bacclius is, after all, acldressecl 
to your acquired feelings, the result of education. 

I could not help observing in both Titian and Rubens 
the total want of fundamental principles of form in 
making the opposite lines of a limit or body the same, 
which is never seen in nature and physically cannot be : 
it always gives a snapped look. 

There is a gentility in Titian which borders on in- 
sipidity. Give me the rich, teeming, racy, careless 
energy of Rubens, an energy that seems striving after 
something beyond this dim spot. Though it may carry 
him over the bounds of propriety, who is there that 
would not be so carried ? 

Titian is careful, Titian is modest, Titian is gentle ; 
Rubens, on the contrary, is energetic, bold, careless : 
Titian fears that he may overstep the bounds of nature; 
Rubens seems weary of limits, and bursts out depending 
on his own powers and heedless of fiiilure. 

It is a delight to me to know that I can see and prove 
fundamental errors in such men as these. The Elgin 
Marbles have so refined my eye that an error strikes it 
on the moment. Yet nothing can exceed their harmony 
of colour. 

Some masters attract by picturesque arrangement; 
some by colour ; some by form ; but few consider that 
all these are but different modes of conveying thought. 
Raffaele never for a moment let either predominate at 
the expense of the essential point, — natural feeling and 

The learning of Poussin is not the learning of nature. 
It is not the learning of the refined beauties of form and 
expression, but the learning of the habits, customs and 
notions of the ancients. 

Phidias, Homer and Shakespeare were the most 
learned of all men in nature. All other learning ought 
to be a means to adorn and improve the learning of 

1813.] FROM Mr JOURNALS OF 1813. 223 

nature. Every fault will be excused if that learning be 
true, whilst no acquirement will interest if that be 

March 3d. — Those Avho neglect nature are to be 
pitied, poor fellows ! What beauties, what delights do 
they miss ! To-day, whilst I was painting the child, 
every time he rested, every time he put himself in an 
attitude, it was beyond all description. Dear little 
innocent laughing cherub, oXljklov acnipt Kokm. 

Except by Clarissa Harlowe I was never so moved 
by a work of genius as by Othello. I read seventeen 
houi-s a day at Clarissa, and held the book so long up 
leaning on my elbows in an arm-chair, that I stopped 
the circulation and could not move. When Lovelace 
writes, " Dear Belton, it is all over, and Clarissa lives," 
I got up in a fury and wept like an infant, and cursed 

and d d Lovelace till exhausted. This is the 

triumph of genius over the imagination and heart of its 

\5th. — A day never passes but I feel the blessing of 
having thoroughly investigated every difficulty in Joseph 
and Mary, Dentatus, and Macbeth. I could not have 
more difficult subjects or subjects requiring greater 
effort. When it is considered that when I attacked 
such svibjects I was little better than a raw youth from 
my father's shop the difficulties I experienced were 
surely nothing but natural. 

The age of miracles has ceased. All that is to be ac- 
quired cannot be acquired Avithout labour. Ignorance 
must be conquered by research. The only gift from 
nature is the capability of conquering it ; the only way 
to conquer it is by putting the capability in action ; 
the proof that it is conquered is the result. 

Nature gives no man knowledge. I cannot sketch a 
foot, a limb, a head, or anything without instinctive re- 
ference to those pictures. 



I HAVE hitherto gone on extracting from my Journal to 
show that a historical painter, as he proceeds, is not 
always occupied with macgylps and colours. To the 
young student the extracts will be of use, because they 
will instruct his mind how it ought to reflect and qualify 
itself for thinking. The great poets should be used as 
assistants, never as substitutes. Call thera in as helps, 
but as seldom as possible paint their descriptions, be- 
cause, as in painting a picture of Christ, you have a 
previous picture in everybody's mind to equal, and that 
will be impossible. 

My time was diligently occupied all 1813. I never 
left town, and brought my picture well on. I suffered 
severely, was reduced to great extremity, had often no 
money, but always my food and my lodging. JNIy land- 
lord and landlady wished occasionally to send me up tit- 
bits and delicacies, but I never would allow it. John and 
Leigh Hunt were both in prison for their attack on the 
Prince of Wales. John continually helped me. I used 
to visit him and breakfast with him often, and have spent 
many evenings very happily in his prison, and have 
gone away through the clanking of chains and the 
crashing of bolts to the splendid evenings at the British 
Gallery, and thought of my poor noble-hearted friend 
locked up for an imprudent ebullition of his brother's on 
a debauched Prince who at that time amply deserved it. 

Leigh was considered a marfyr by the Radicals and 
Whigs. Bentham and Brougham equally visited him ; 
for the party was glad to vent its spite on the Prince by 

1813.] MY INTIMATES IN 1813. 225 

paying every possible attention to the man who had 
libelled him. 

The usual companions of my relaxation at this time 
were Hazlitt, the Hunts, Barnes (of the Times), Wilkic, 
Jackson, C. Lamb, with my early friends Du Fresne, 
Maclnggan, Callendar and Lizzy. C. Eastlake, (who 
came to town in 1808, and whom my enthusiasm had fired 
to be a painter), was my pupil. But for me he often told 
me he should never have thought of it, and the very 
first chalk hand he ever drew he drew under me from a 
hand that I lent him. He had taken the lodgings, (No. 
3, Broad Street, Carnaby Market), wliere I had lived 
on the second floor and where I painted my first picture 
in 1806. Under me he dissected, drew and acquired 
the elements, and I soon found his mind capable not 
only of understanding what I taught, but of adding 
suggestions of his own which gave value to my own 
thoughts. At first I had scarcely any hopes : his first 
picture was a failure, tame beyond hope. Eastlake's 
father, George Eastlake of Plymouth, was a man of 
distinguished talent, fine taste, powerful conversation 
and poetical mind, but indolent to a vice. When all my 
family were persecuting me, he stood by me, encouraged 
me, recommended Forster's Essay on Decision of Cha- 
racter, and did my mind great good. To his high as- 
pirations and noble feeling I have ever felt deeply in- 
debtetl, though with himself it generally ended, as 
with Coleridge, in talk. When I met Coleridge first 
his eloquence and lazy luxury of poetical outpouring 
greatly reminded me of my old, attached and noble- 
minded friend George Eastlake. 

Hazlitt came in at Northcote's one day (1812), and 
as he walked away with me he praised Macbeth. I 
asked him to walk up. Thence began a friendship for 
that interesting man, that singular mixture of friend 
and fiend, radical and critic, metaphysician, poet and 

VOL. I. Q 


painter, on whose word no one could rely, on whose 
heart no one could calculate, and some of whose deduc- 
tions he himself would try to explain in vain. 

With no decision, no application, no intensity of 
self-will, he had a hankering to be a painter, guided by 
a feeble love of what he saw, but the moment he 
attempted to colour or paint, his timid hand refused to 
obey from want of practice. Having no moral courage 
he shrank from the struggle, sat down in hopeless de- 
spair, and began to moralise on the impossibility of Art 
being revived in England — not because the people had 
no talent, not because they had no subject matter, not 
because there was no patronage, but because he, William 
Hazlitt, did not take the trouble which Titian took, and 
because he was too lazy to try. 

Mortified at his own failure, he resolved as he had 
not succeeded, no one else should, and he spent the 
■whole of his after life in damping the ardour, chilling 
the hopes and dimming the prospects of patrons and 
painters, so that after I once admitted him I had no- 
thing but forebodings of failure to bear up under, 
croakinsis about the clim.ate and sneerino; at the taste 
of the public. After most of my heads in Solomon 
were done, and after many hard days' work, Hazlitt 
would console me by saying, in his miserable hesitating 
way, " Why did you begin it so large ? a smaller canvas 
might have concealed your faults. You '11 never sell it." 
" No/' said Northcote ; " I'll bet my very life you never 
do." " AVhy — why — why not ?" stuttered Lamb. 

Tn our meetings Hazlitt's croaking, Leigh Hunt's 
wit and Lamb's quaint incomprehensibilities made up 
rare scenes. Lamb stuttered his qualntness in snatches, 
like the fool in Lear, and with equal beauty ; and 
Wilkie would chime in Avith his " Dear, dear." 

In addition to the men I have enumerated was John 
Scott, the editor of the Cham'^ion. who had more sound 


sagacity than most of them. Delighting in their con- 
versation, and constantly with them, it was nothing but 
natural that when tlie Mohawks of literature in Black- 
wood assailed the set I should unfortunately come in as 
one who was as much of a radical and sceptic as those 
with whom I associated, and I could not complain. 

In the midst of Hazlitt's weaknesses his parental 
affections were beautiful. He had one boy. He loved 
him, doated on him. He told me one night this boy 
was to be christened. " Will ye come on Friday ? " 
*' Certainly," said I. His eye glistened. Friday came, 
but as I knew all parties I lunched heartily first and 
was there punctually at four. Hazlitt then lived in 
Milton's House, Westminster, next door to Bentham. 

At four I came, but he was out. I walked up and 
found his wife ill by the fire in a bed gown — nothino- 
ready for guests and everything wearing the appearance 
of neglect and indifference. I said, "Where is Haz- 
litt ? " " Oh dear, William has gone to look for a par- 
son." " A parson ; why, has he not thought of that 
before ? " " No, he didn't." " I'll go and look for him," 
said I, and out I went into the park through Queen's 
Square and met Hazlitt in a rage coming home. " Have 
ye got a parson? " " No, sir; " said he, "these fellows 
are all out." " What will you do ? " " Nothing." So 
in we walked, Hazlitt growling at all the parsons and 
the church. When we came in we sat down — nobody 
was come; — no table laid; — no appearance of dinner. 

On my life there is nothing so heartless as going 
out to dinner and finding no dinner ready. 

I sat down; the comi)any began to dro}) in — Charles 
Lamb and his poor sister — all sorts of odd clever j)co- 
l)le. Still no dinner. At last came in a maid who laid 
a cloth and put down knives and forks in a heap. Then 
followed a dish of potatoes, cold, waxy and yellow. 
Then came a great bit of beef with a bone like a 

<i 2 


battering-ram, toppling on all its corners. Neither Haz- 
iitt nor Lamb seemed at all disturbed, but set to work 
helping each other ; while the boy, half-clean and ob- 
stinate, kept squalling to put his fingers into the gravy. 
Even Lamb's wit and Ilazlitt's disquisitions, in a 
large room, wainscottcd and ancient, where Milton had 
meditated, could not reconcile me to such violation of 
all the decencies of life. I returned weary, and placing 
a candle on the floor of my room soon recovered under 
the imposing look of my picture and retired to bed 
filled with thought. 

As Solomon advanced Wilkie's admiration increased, 
and during the arranging time he called on me on his 
way home. He had made a struggle to get a historical 
l)icture of Northcote's placed in a good position, and 
said, " There is certainly a prejudice against the higher 
Avalk in the Academy." "I always told you so," said 
L He replied, " I begin to see it." " Yes," I said ; 
" you will begin to see a great many things distinctly 
in the course of time." " It is true," said Wilkie : 
" when I said ' You had better send it back to North- 
cote than hang it badly,' they all fired up, and said 
' By all means send it bnck,' though the moment it was 
hung it improved the whole side of the room." 

My necessities were now growing so great that I 
began to part with my clothes : my watch, a keepsake 
from an uncle, had long gone; book after book followed, 
and at last collecting my prints after Sir Joshua I 
wrote to Colnaghi ; he came and seeing my picture re- 
fused to buy, but offered the loan of 10/. if that would 
help me. It was a relief and a blessing. 

One evening when I was walking with Scott and his 
sweet little wife near town, as we passed a gipsy fire, 
up looked a pair of the loveliest black eyes that ever 
shone in a human face. I engaged her to come to me 
with her husband, the next day. Her name was Patience 

IS 13.] MY GIPSY MODEL. 229 

Smith, a gipsy, about sixteen, with jet hair and bru- 
nette face, — a perfect Raffaele. She sat for the youno- 
mother running off with her two children. She was 
innocent of all gipsy ways, but her husband was just 
the mixture of raff dandy and pickpocket you meet at 
Epsom and Ascot. I was much amused at their sin- 
gularity and poetry of mind. They were very fond of 
painting themselves with vermillion. Patience had not 
begun to tell fortunes, and it was a curious speculation 
to watch, as I did, the gradual debasement of her mind. 
One morning she was late : she said she had begun 
fortunes, and her heart sank at the stuff she had been 
telling to poor servant girls. The next time she began 
to think there was something in it, till at last she be- 
lieved it as sincerely as the girls themselves. She was 
a beautiful creature in figure as well as face. I painted 
her as Jairus's daughter in Jerusalem afterwards, and 
Canova admired her extremely. 

I worked away day after day, till at length from 
severe application and irregularity in hours of eating my 
stomach gave in and then my eyes. After a fortnight 
I rallied, but still painting so large a work in so small 
a room, where I was unable to lift it up or down, and 
covdd move it only sideways, and then being obliged to 
live in the foul air eighteen hours out of the twenty- 
four, naturally brought on complaints. I had no dra- 
peries, no comforts, nothing but a wooden lay-figure on 
which my breakfast cloth, my blankets, my sheets, all 
took their turn ; yet nothing could equal my happiness 
in painting. Oh, I have suffered much, there can be 
no doubt, but I have enjoyed more, and if I had suf- 
fered twice as much as I have enjoyed, my enjoyments 
are so intense tliat they amply compensate me. Not- 
withstanding all dlfficullics and drawbacks, as the year 
drew to a close the picture of Solomon was nearly 

Q 3 


On the 24tli of December I recorded in my Jonrnal : 

I have succeeded in my own conception of the head of 
Solomon. I thank God humbly for it ; I painted till 3 
in the mornino- from 10 the mornino; before. I was 
determined not to go to bed till it was done and happily 
did I retire to rest. My model left me after six hours, 

25th. — It struck me this morning in the same way. 
Once more I thank God from my heart and soul. Were 
I to die now I should leave this world more contentedly. 

This was the longest time I ever painted at once. 

All the heads were now done. The mother's head I 
painted four or five times before I succeeded. The 
picture began to have an imposing look. But my ne- 
cessities were dreadful. I had been now nearly four 
years without a commission and three without any aid 
from home, but the Hunts nobly assisted me at cost of 
great personal deprivation. It was something to be 
grateful for, and grateful I was to my Great Protector. 
On the last day of 1813 I concluded with my usual 
casting up of vices and virtues. 

The clock has struck 12, and the year has gone 
for ever. Alas ! how many idlenesses might I have 
avoided, how many moments might I have seized. 
The good only remains, but how much more might I 
have had to show ! 

I am retiring to bed pensive and grateful. 

January 1th, 1814. — I had not met Fuseli for a 
year and a half till the other day, and being left to 
converse entirely with Kaffiiele and other delightful 
beings in the interim, without the shattering horror of 
his conceptions, I was more enabled to estimate them. 
He really shocked me. All his feelings and subjects 
Avere violent, horrid and disgusting. I returned home 
with an inward gratitude to God that I escaped in 

1314.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1814. 231 

time ; that I had purified my soul from the influence of 
his dark and dreary fancy. 

9th. — I bought the other day two prints after Michel 
Angelo. The first impression was certainly tremen- 
dous, but in a day or two it has died away and I have 
returned to dear RafFaele with renewed pleasure. 

After all grandeur of foi'm is not interesting. Su- 
perhuman beings can only interest by action and ex- 
pression ; and what action or expression can they have 
that is not human ? 

The feelings of the head expressed by a look are 
more delio-htful than all the grand forms extravagance 

o o o 

ever doated on. 

Delicious, delightful nature ! The blush of a lovely 
girl, "celestial rosy red, love's proper hue," touches 
more than all the legs, arms, backs, breasts and bellies 
in ancient or modern Art. 

My mind has taken a new and truer turn ; I thank 
God for it with all my heart. 

I am convinced from what I see that Michel Angelo 
had no permanent principle of form. He could not 
extricate the superfluous from the accidental ; he bur- 
thened his figures with ostentatious anatomy, with use- 
less and subordinate parts. 

Michel Angelo's forms have no refinement; they 
are heavy, not grand ; they arc the forms of porters and 
mechanics. The Theseus of the Elcjin ]\Iarbles is 
really grand, and you can see that the gladiator's form 
in not the product of labour but the harmonious com- 
bination of subtle nature. He is a refined gentleman ; 
a prince ; handsome and educated. Michel Angelo 
■would have made him fierce, turbulent, vulgar; more 
bulky but not so sublime. 

To dress figures as if they were beggars is also in the 
grand style. Apostles, kings and women ought not to 
be dressed alike ; the subject should regulate all. Haf- 



faele's Attila is a model. Here are the brutal soldier, 
the saintly apostle, the savage king, the peaceful pope, 
all in character. Make them in the grand style and 
you must clothe them like beggars in blankets. 

Eighteen hundred and thirteen Avas to me a painful 
year. In it I lost my dear father. I was painting the 
head of the man climbing up in Solomon when I re- 
ceived the letter announcing his death, but my mind 
was so intensely occupied that it made no impression 
upon me for the time. I went on painting, finished, 
and then opened my eyes upon the world and my loss. 
I was much affected, for with all his faults he was a 
father to be loved. 

During January I worked fiercely at the remaining 
parts of Solomon, — the architecture, back and fore 
grounds. Hilton, my fellow student, had been success- 
ful in selling his Mary anointing the Feet of Christ to 
the British Gallery for five hundred guineas, which 
saved him from ruin. I told him he was a lucky fellow, 
for I was just on the brink of ruin. " How ? " said he. 
I explained my circumstances and he immediately offered 
me a laro;;e sum to assist me. This was indeed ire- 
nerous. I accepted only thirty-four pounds, but his 
noble offer endeared him to me for the rest of his life. 
A more amiable creature never lived, nor a kinder 
heart ; but there was an intellectual and physical feeble- 
ness in everything he did. Wilkie did him great good. 
After Wilkie became a member of the Academy he so 
bore down upon Hilton about tone that I attribute his 
improvement entirely to Wilkie's influence. In colour 
his picture at the National Gallery is his best, and his 
greatest w^ork the one at Chelsea. But his Lazarus 
was a miserable failure, nor do I estimate highly his 
powers of invention. 

After the most dreadful application, influenced by an 

1814.] I BREAK DOWX. 233 

enthusiasm stimulated by despair almost to delirium, 
living for a fortnight upon potatoes because I would 
not cloud my mind with the fumes of indigestion, I 
broke down, nor have I to this day (1843, 25th May) 
ever entirely recovered. 

I had finished my picture except toning, but my eyes 
were so affected that I could see no longer. Adams 
the oculist visited me, and came just as I was laying 
my head down, by the advice of a little apothe- 
cary, to have my temporal artery opened. Adams iu 
his blunt way said, "If that's done he will be blind. 
He wants stimulants, not depletion ; " and he saved my 

I used at this time to dictate my Journal to friends 
who successively called, so that nothing wms lost ; and 
now the picture was done the anxiety was about a 
frame. I sent for Carpenter and persuaded him it was 
his duty to assist a young man as my landlord had done. 
Feeling for my deplorable situation, blind and wretched, 
but never despairing, the worthy old man said " You 
have always paid me; — I will." 

This anxiety surmounted, I set my heart to get well. 
Adams advised generous diet and wine wdiich I could 
not buy. I sent for a wine merchant, showed him So- 
lomon, said I was in bad health, and appealed to him 
whether I ought after such an effort to be without the 
glass of wine which my medical man had recommended. 
" Certainly not," said he, "I'll send you two dozen; 
pay me as soon as you can, and recollect to drink 
success to Solomon the first glass you taste." 

While I was in this state the picture began to make 
a noise. West called and was affected to tears at the 
motiier. He said there were points in the picture 
e(|ual to anything in the art. "But," said this good old 
man, " get into better air ; you will never recover with 
this eternal anxiety before you. Have you any re- 


sources ? " " They are exhausted." " Dy'e want mo- 
ney? " « Indeed I do." " So do I," said he : " they 
have stopped my income from the King, but Fauntle- 
roy is now arranging an advance, and if I succeed, my 
young friend, you shall hear. Don't be cast down — 
such a work must not be allowed to be forgotten." 
This was noble of West. 

Such is the lot of His-h Art in Ensfland. West, — 
whose Wolfe had immortalised his name and his coun- 
try, President of the Academy, cut off suddenly from 
his means of existence to help to make up 10,000/. 
a year for the Duke of York — without a guinea ; I 
w^ithout a shilling, — Hilton helping me on the one hand, 
and the venerable old President promising to do so on 
the other, if his banker helped him ! 

In the course of that day down came from West 15Z., 
with the following characteristic letter. 

" NeuTnan St., February 17th, 1814. 
" Dear Sir, 

" The business was not adjusted in time for me to draw 
out money from my bankers before five o'clock this day, or 
I would have sent it to you ; but I hope the enclosed draft 
of to-morrow's date will be adiquate to keep the wolfe from 
your door, and leave your mind in freedom in exercising 
your talents of acquiring excellence in your profession in 
painting, of which you have a stock to work upon. 

" Dear Sir, 
" Yours with friendship and sincerity, 

" Benj. West. 

"P.S. — The gout in my right hand has made it deficult 
for me to write this note inteligeble. 
"Mb. Haydon." 

I hope this will be read some day throughout Eu- 
rope. I hope it will show the great nations, France, 
Germany, Russia, Spain and Italy, how England cn- 
cournges High Art, in what a condition it leaves its 


professors — young and old. Whilst I write this I have 
been eight years without a commission from the nobility, 
and of the thirty-nine years I have been a historical 
painter, thirty-two have been without an order of any 
kind, Hilton could have told a tale as sad: West, but 
for the King, perhaps worse. At eighty years of age, 
this celebrated old man, who had been taught to rely 
on his income from the King as long as he lived, had 
had it taken from him by the hatred of Queen Char- 
lotte. The secret reason was he had visited and been 
honoured by Napoleon in 1802. Such is royal venge- 
ance! Royalty, I allow, sometimes rewards fidelity, 
but it always punishes offence. 

I recovered slowly, very slowly, and now came the 
anxiety where to send the picture. 

Some advised an exhibition alone. W^ilkie said it 
ought to go to the Academy. I said it should perish 
first. After mature reflection I resolved to send it to 
the Water-Colour Society, (who then admitted pictures,) 
and thus to try the public, independently of both the 
institutions which had used me so ill. 

The resolution was characteristic of my mind. Wilkic 
blamed me. Fuseli called, and said, " By Gode, you 
will never paint finer things; it Avas in ye, I always 
said, and now, by Gode, it's out. You have a marrowy 

touch, quite Venetian ; but you look d n theen. 

Take care of eyes ; that is your curse : it will get hold 
of ye at last ; hard work and oder thcengs won' t do, 
master Ilaydon, by Gode." 

The day approached. The picture was rolled and 
stretched and got down safely ; it was re-stretched and 
put up, and they gave it a grand centre place on the 
left with nothing near it. This was in Spring-gardens. 
With a tlun and hectic frame, quivering eyes and trem- 
bling hand I [)reparcd to glaze it on tiic days allowed. 

And then I fell on my knees before the Great Spirit 


who had guided me through such trials and prayed his 
blessing. I took a survey of my liabilities and found 
myself eleven hundred pounds in debt — four hundred 
pounds to my landlord — forty-nine pounds to John 
O' Groat's, Ivupert Street, and so on. As I tottered 
down the Haymarket I leaned on a post and said, " What 
shall I do if it do not sell?" '• Order another canvas," 
said the voice within, " and begin a greater work." 
*' So I will," I inwardly replied and thenceforth lost all 

I o'lazed and toned and listened to the advice of 
Havell and Glover, able men and perfectly up to aerial 
beauty of distance. They did me great good, and I got 
through it. While I was at work Lawrence was ad- 
mitted : with exquisite eagerness of smiling interest for 
the beauty of my work he advised me to paint the 
yellow drapery of the wicked mother, red, and the red 
drapery of the real mother, yelloic. I perfectly agreed 
with him, and approved the kindness of true Academic 
sympathy, which dictated so important an alteration ! 
After painting and arranging these draperies so carefully 
from nature, and after they had been painted a year, 
and glazed, to alter them now, — \vith two days left to 
do it in ! 

1 attended him to the entrance with a smiling sincerity 
as great as his own. The moment he was gone Havell 
said, " Did he suppose you so green ? " 

When he was once advising Northcote what an im- 
provement such and such an alteration would be, "Dear 
me," said Northcote, " so it would; why did I not think 
of it?" "Oh," said Lawrence, "it is easily done." 
"So it is," said Northcote, " dear me ; but," (his ferret 
eyes glistening with spite,) " I waant do a bit of it." 

At last the Exhibition opened for the private view. 

First there came Caroline Princess of Wales with 
Payne Knight. Knight, smarting under his mistake on 

1814.] SOLOMON IS BOUGHT. 237 

Pliny which I had exposed, put his eye close to the pic- 
ture and turning to the Princess of Wales said, " Dis- 
torted stuff!" Macbeth had been called so, and he felt 
sure he was on safe ground in making such a remark on 
Solomon where that defect had been entirely got rid of. 
The Princess of "Wales agreed with him and told Glover 
she was " sorry to see such a picture there." 

The poor president and officials were sadly cast down, 
but I said, " My dear friends, wait for John Bull." 
They shook their heads. Then came the nobility, who 
seemed interested, though one said it was very large. 
At last on the INIonday the Exhibition opened to Honest 
John, M'ho swore it was the finest work England had 
produced. Before half an hour a gentleman opened his 
pocket book and showed me a 500/. note. " Will you 
take it?" My heart beat — my agonies of want pi'essed, 
but it was too little. I trembled out, " I cannot." 
Immediately all the artists said I was wrong. This 
gentleman invited me to dine : I went, but Avhen, as we 
were sitting over our wine, he agreed to give me my 
price, (six hundred guineas,) his lady said, " But, my 
dear, where am I to put my piano?" The bargain was 
at an end ! 

I returned to town in spirits. This was the first day : 
— before the end of the next the town was in excite- 
ment. I met Mr. Lock of Norbury Park who said 
"The execution was never exceeded." The third day 
Sir George Beaumont and Mr. Holwell Carr were de- 
puted to buy it for the Gallery, and as they were dis- 
cussing its beauties over went the man in the room and 
very deliberately put up " Sold." " Yes, indeed !" said 
Sir George; "Oh! but we came to buy it." "Ah but, 
sir, you did not say so." " Oh no, but we were going to." 
" Ah but, sir, a gentleman came up and bought it whilst 
you were talking." " God bless me ! " said Sir George, 
" it is very provoking ; " and tlicn he went all round the 


room, "The Gallery meant to have bought," — at which 
people smiled. 

Just at the moment in I walked : perfectly innocent 
of all this and seeing " Sold " I really thought I should 
have fainted. My first impulse was gratitude to God. 
Whilst I was inwardly muttering up came Sir George 
Beaumont and holding out his hand said "Hay don, I am 
astonished." We shook hands before a crowded room. 
Sir George saying, " You must paint me a picture after 
all. Yes, indeed, you must: — Lady Beaumont and I 
will call, — yes indeed." At that moment in walked 
Lord Mulgrave and General Phipps: — they crowded 
round me, swore it was as fine as RafFaele. " Haydon, 
you dine with us to-day, of course!" I bowed. When 
I came home my table was covered with cards of fashion, 
— noble lords, dukes, ladies, baronets, literary men. 
Wilkie, drawn along by the infection, was delighted. 
Calcott assured me no people had a higher respect for 
my talents than the Academicians, and that I was quite 
mistaken if I imagined they had not ! " Who has 
bought it?" was now the buzz. I inquired, and found 
Sir William Elford (an old friend of Sir Joshua's) and 
Mr. Tingecombe, bankers, of Plymouth. " Oh yes, a 
couple of Devonshire ft'iends," was said with a sneer. 
" That may be," said I ; " but, as Adrian said, is a 
Devonshire guinea of less value than a Middlesex one — 
does it smell ? " 

These elevations to the heights of glory from the 
lowest depths of misery are dreadful cuts into the con- 
stitution. I slept with horrid dreams and startling 
restlessness. My landlord's honest joy was exquisite to 
me. I paid him 200/., and he drew on me for the 
balance. John O'Groat held out his big hand and 
almost cried. I paid him 42/. 10^. My baker spread 
my honesty and fame in Mark Lane, which I heard of. 
I paid him every shilling. My tailor, my coal-merchant. 

1814.] MY TElUMPn. 239 

my private friends, were all paid.* In short, 500/. went 
easily the first week, leaving me 130/. It did not pay 
half my debts, but it established my credit. Many 
private friends forcbore to press, the Hunts the fore- 

Now crowded in people of every description; some 
knew my father ; some had nursed me when a baby ; 
servants came out of the city who had lived with my 
mother; fathers brought me their sons that I might 
look at their drawings ; authors sent me their works ; 
my sister came to town to share ray fame, and I pressed 
her to my heart, overwhelmed by the dreadful and pain- 
ful burst of reputation after such long, struggling ob- 
scurity. I seized Wilkie's offer to let my sister stay at 
his house whilst we went to Paris. I felt positive relief. 

Paris was now the most interesting place on earth. 
Napoleon was overthrown and going to Elba. All the 
nations on earth were there. The Louvre was in its 
glory. Such Avonders can be only conceived. No 
human being hereafter can ever enter into the feeiinas 
of Europe, when we heard Napoleon was in retreat ; it 
cannot be comprehended. Napoleon had been watched 
by me from 1796. At Toulon I do not remember him, 
nor at the overthrow of the sections. Till he went to 
Italy I never heard by any accident of his immortal 
name. After the battle of llivoli I recollect all ; and 
when I read to a circle of friends that Napoleon, alias 
Nicholas Buonaparte, had ceased to reign, we all stared, 
breathless, at each other. 

Passports were soon got, and on the 20th of May, 
1814, Wilkie and I started for Brighton. Before we 
started, however, another canvas was on my easel and 
Christ's Entry into Jerusalem rubbed in. 

The success of Solomon was so great and my triumph 

* This is inconsistent witb what follows, but the discrepancy is 
characteristic. — Ed. 


SO complete, that liad I died then my name must have 
stood on record as a youth who had made a stand 
against the prejudices of a country, the oppressions of 
rank and the cruelty and injustice of two public bodies. 
It was a victory in every sense of the word. In my 
pursuit I had proved the power of inherent talent, and 
I had done good to this great cause as far as I could do 
it. I did not command bayonets and cannons •, would 
to God I had ! But what I did command I wielded 
with firmness and constancy. I had shown one cha- 
racteristic of my dear country — bottom. I had been 
tried and not found wanting. I held out when feeble, 
and faint, and blind, and now I reaped the reward. 

1814.] MY TRIUMPH: HAZLITT. 241 



Well might Mulready say, "What a victory!" It 
was, indeed, and well did Raimbach say it was the 
bitterest dose the Academy had swallowed for some 

One day, when the room was crowded, Leigh Hunt's 
brother was there holding forth with all the enthusiasm 
of his good heart. Owen, who was behind him, unable 
to bear it any longer turned round and said, '■' If any 
man maintains that that picture is fine in colour, he is 
ignorant of what colour is." 

Flaxman was there early on the private day ; he was 
passing by sheer accident. Then came another — by 
accident — of course. Smirke dropped in by the merest 
chance ; and Turner, casually passing, no doubt, just 
looked in, and so on. But Turner behaved well and 
did me justice. The greatest triumph was over Ilazlitt. 
My friend Edward Smith, a quakcr, had met him in 
the room, and Ilazlitt abused the picture in his spitish 
humour; but in coming round he met me and holding 
out his two cold fingers with, "By God, sir, it is a 
victory," went away and wrote a capital criticism in the 
Morning Chronicle. 

What a singular compound this man was of malice, 
candour, cowardice, genius, purity, vice, democi'acy and 

One day I called on him and found him arranging 

VOL. I. R 


his hair before a glass, trying different effects, and ask- 
ing my advice whether he should show his forehead 
more or less. In that large Avainscotted room Milton 
had conceived, and perhaps written, many of his finest 
thoughts, and there sat one of his critics admiring his 
own features, Bentham lived next door. We used to 
see him bustling away, in his sort of half running walk, 
in the garden. Both Hazlitt and I often looked with a 
longing eye from the windows of the room at the white- 
haired philosopher in his leafy shelter, his head the finest 
and most venerable ever placed on human shoulders. 

The awe which his admirers had of Bentham was 
carried so far as to make them think everything he said 
or thought a miracle. Once, I remember, he came to 
see Hunt in Surrey Gaol, and played battledore and 
shuttlecock with him. Hunt told me after of the pro- 
digious power of Bentham's mind. " Pie proposed," 
said Hunt, " a reform in the handle of battledores ! " 
" Did he ? " said I with awful respect. " He did," said 
Hunt, *' taking in everything, you see, like the ele- 
])hant's trunk, which lifts alike a pin or twelve hundred 
weight. Extraordinary mind ! " " Extraordinary," I 
echoed: and then Hunt would regard me, the artist, the 
mere artist, with the laurelled superiority becoming the 
poet — the Vates, as Byron called him. 

I was now sick of London and the season, and pined 
for new scenes, fresh air and sea-breezes. So ray sister 
being placed safe and sound under the care of Wilkie's 
mother, with his sister Helen for a friend, he and I left 
London for France, meaning to go by the Dieppe route, 
as the least frequented. 

Wilkie's principal object was to ojoen a connexion 
for the sale of his prints, and mine to see France and 
the Louvre. Raimbach gave me a letter to Bervic, the 
celebrated line engraver. Wilkie had taken some lessons 
in French of an emigrant of good connexions, who gave 


US another to Monsieur de Launay, wlio lived in the 
Place Vendome. I got passports, and Wilkie fortified 
himself with a French pocket dictionary. 

We left town at the most remarkable period of the 
history of modern Europe. Paris was at the mercy of 
the Allies, Napoleon dethroned, the Bourbons restored 
and France bristling with bayonets. 

On the beach at 13risrhton while waitinsr to go on 
board we fell into conversation with a gentleman on the 
same errand as ourselves. His address Avas frank, and 
we were soon so pleased with each other that we agreed 
to go on together. He was of a Lincolnshire foniily, a 
good fellow, and a thorough John Bull, after my own 

The cabin was full of French officers returning home, 
all gaiety, songs, toasts and sentiments. Wilkie had 
got a berth, and had tried to barricade himself in, when 
all of a sudden in the middle of the nio-ht the board 
which secured him tumbled into the cabin, and behold 
David Wilkie with a red nightcap, exposed to the gaze 
and roar of a set of noisy Frenchmen, who paid him 
all sorts of compliments, which he was too ill to be 
angry at. 

After eighteen hours we hove in sight of France. I 
had seen her cliffs from Dover in 1808, but now wc 
neared that remarkable country. How many associa- 
tions crowded on the ima<2;ination ! I had watched in 
thought all her dreadful scenes from 1792 to that very 
hour. I was going to visit that bloody and ferocious 
capital, in which refinement and filth, murder and revo- 
lution, blasphemy and heroism, vice and virtue, alter- 
nately reigned triumphant. 1 was going to penetrate 
its sjolendours and gaieties, its galleries and libraries; to 
see its paintings and its scul[)turcs, such as never since 
the days of Home had been collected in one city. I 
thought of Napoleon, his genius and despotisn), his 

R 2 


glories and his ruin. I stood looking at tlie coast as we 
neared it, pregnant with anticipation. 

My poetry soon fled as realities approached, and the 
first two old witch'like Frenchwomen I caught glimpse 
of with short petticoats and wooden shoes set me laugh- 
ing outright. 

Though there is no end to the books written on 
France and Paris at this remarkable period, I think 
that my impressions, as recorded day by day in my 
Journal, may even at this time be interesting. 

The French looked on us as if we had dropped out 
of the luoon, and we upon them as if we were dropping 
into it. Everything was new and fresh. We had 
thought of France from youth as forbidden ground, as 
the abode of the enemies of our country. It was ex- 
traordinary. Tliey absolutely had houses, churches, 
streets, fields and children ! 

Both with English and French twenty-five years of 
peace and rapid intercommunication have so entirely 
removed this feeling, that it will be hardly possible for 
posterity to estimate the intensity of national feelings 
during the revolutionary war. Boys were born, nursed 
and grew up hating and to hate the name of French- 
men. On half-holidays in Plymouth we used to be 
drilled, and often have 1 led out ten or a dozen boys to 
the corn-fields to cut off Frenchmen's heads, which 
meant slicing every poppy we met, shouting as each 
head fell, " There goes a Frenchman ! huzza ! " 

If I were to take out my boys now and offer them 
such an amusement they would not understand what it 

These feelings in S and myself were inveterate. 

Wilkie was more genial, more philosophic. He wanted 
to sell his prints, though champngne now and then 
threw even him oflf his guard, and then Old England 
reiijfned in his heart. 

1814.] DIEPPE. 245 

We were soon dragged into harbour and landed by a 
set of boatmen, making (as Napoleon said) more noise 
in one half-hour than the crew of an English man-of- 
war in a whole year. 

The contrast between Brighton and Dieppe was 
wonderful. Brighton gay, gambling, dissipated, the 
elegant residence of an accomplished Prince, with its 
beautiful women and light huzzars, its tandems and 
terriers; — Dieppe dark, old, snuffy and picturesque, 
with its brigand-like soldiers, its Sibylline fish-fags, its 
pretty grisettes, and its screaming and chattering boat- 
men. The houses at Brighton present their windows 
to the ocean to let in its freshness and welcome its roar, 
whilst Dieppe turns her back on the sea, as if in sullen 
disgust at the sight of an element on which her country 
has always been beaten. 

Nothing could exceed our astonishment at the first 
sisfht of the French soldiers. The fracfraents of a reo-i- 
ment were drawn up on the parade, looking like a set 
of dirty iralley-slaves, squalid, little and bony ; the 
officers with a handsome, pert activity of expression. I 
shall never forget seeing two great French huzzars ap- 
proach and kiss each other's cheeks. The soldiers in 
this regiment Avere in different dresses ; some with 
cocked hats, some with shakos, some with trousers, 
some with breeches, some in shoes, some in boots ; all 
without the least uniformity. 

The houses and streets in Dieppe looked very like 
Vander Heyden's views in Holland. The women ap- 
peared greatly to outnumber the men, and were per- 
forming many of the most laborious duties in the streets. 
Tlie old women, standing with their arms across, had a 
gossiping witch-like look, quite peculiar. They seemed 
undressed to their under petticoats. Tlicir legs were 
exposed above the calves. They looked as if they had 
never been young, and would never be older, — a dis- 


tinct species — not born of woman, or made for man 
— mature at once, — hook-nosed, snuffy, brown and 
wrinkled, — adapted for no purpose on earth but to 
slander, drag wheelbarrows, pull boats and abuse Na- 
poleon ! 

We hired a carriage the next day to take us to 
Paris — " Uiie guinee chaque roue.^^ On ascending the 
hill below the town we looked back and got a most 
beautiful view of it and the sea sleeping beneath the 
morning sun. It was market day, and the peasantry 
were crowding in dressed in great variety of colour, — 
white sleeves with black bracelets, rich crimson petti- 
coats and high silvery caps. They had an old and 
rather over-worked look, but with something extremely 
sweet in their manners and a fascination in the tone of 
their voices. The country was open for leagues. Rye, 
barley and corn undulated over its surface like an 
ocean. The road was wide and lined with apple trees. 
The soil seemed to require little cultivation. Cotton 
manufactories neatly built gleamed white through the 
trees, and everything on the road to Rouen displayed 
inexhaustible abundance. The entrance to this vener- 
able city was through a solemn avenue of lofty trees, 
after rattling through which we put up at an hotel for 
the night. We were neither of us astonished at the 
works of the Dutch painters any longer. From France 
we could judge of Holland. These men painted what 
they saw. Rembrandt and Teniers had nothing to do 
but imitate almost without choice. 

Wilkie was legitimately in raptures. His simplicity 
and wonderment were parts of the pleasure of the 
journey. He was perpetually exclaiming, " Wliat a 
fool Napoleon was to lose such a country ; dear — dear." 
Our apartment at the hotel was a pei'fect illustration of 
French character. Elegant satin sofas and a greasy 
floor ; beautiful curtains and a dirty bed ; a marble 

1814.] ROUEN. 247 

chimney-piece, with two cupids holding golden cande- 
labras over a rich pendule, and underneath a hearth full 
of wood-ashes, pale and hcatless, never cleaned, and 
never intended to be. The landlady made her appear- 
ance with filthy hands and a lace cap, and down stairs, 
close to the kitchen, was the dung of six horses, — the 
accumulation of many months. 

Wilkie and I beinsr both in delicate health were 
obliged incessantly to make a riot about aired sheets, 
and I remember, as we slept in a double-bedded room, 
the first nio-ht hearino: Wilkie, in the dark, bustlinc; 
about with deep sighs, scolding in broad Scotch, and at 
last after two or three tuo;s flinsfinsr his sheets rioht out 
on the tiled floor, with a " Confound them ! " 

The Jille de cliambre, Rose Armande, was a very in- 
teresting girl with a fine black-eyed French sentimental 
head. We had her In after tea and sketched her ; she 
preferred my sketch infinitely, so that I believed myself 
to be the favourite especial, but on going out on the 
stairs to flirt a little, I found, to my infinite mortifica- 
tion, a huzzar officer, all in a rattle of chains and spui'S, 
l)ending down to kiss Rose who was acquiescing with 
an expansive benevolence peculiarly tormenting. On 
her complimenting me afterwards, I resigned all my 
pretensions to the huzzar. Rose looked down and 
blushed, but declared he came from the village where 
she was born and knew her father when he was living. 
As she spoke there was a mixture of sensibility and 
passion in her black eyes and pouting lips extremely 
bewitching but peculiarly French and insincere. 

Rouen was well worth investigating. On the pe- 
destal of the statue of the Maid of Orleans in the Place 
aux Vaux was still visible " Lihertii, E(jcdM, Frater- 
nitii,'"' but nearly obliterated by dripping rain. In the 
Hull for trials were some more specimens of revolu- 

11 4 


tlonary cant and sentiment, and blue velvet hangings 
lettered with N. N. N. covered the sides of a small com- 
mittee room. *' You ought to take those out," said I, 
" now you have dishonoured him." " Every one does 
as he likes in his own house," said our Cicerone, quite 

They had a public library and a wretched collection 
of French pictures, only saved from absolute contempt 
by a good copy of Raffaele. We went to hear service 
in their massy and eternal cathedral, built by the 
English. Our faculties were overwhelmed by the 
ceremonies of their expressive religion. The tinkling 
of the bell here, where they believe in the actual 
presence, seemed to go to their hearts ; — down they all 
dropped, and remained as if awed till it was over. 

As we walked along we saw many in side-chapels 
totally abstracted in devotion. This absorption, in 
conjunction with their richly coloured dresses, darkly 
illumined by the religious light of the magnificent 
windows, filled our minds with grand sensations. Yet 
after kneeling all the morning at the cathedral, and 
praying and singing hymns, so as to make us, heretics 
as we were, thoughtful for the day, the scene in the 
evening was like Barthelmy Fair. The quay was 
covered with booths and merry-andrews and monkeys ; 
the men all chatting, and the women all coquetting 
with their delicious black eyes and tripping gaiety of 
walk, and so contagious was their fun that even we, 
tinstes Ancflnis, were infected, and rushed away to the 
theatre with the crowd. 

It was a comedy of Beaumarchais ; the acting was 
really admirable, and gave me a very high idea of 
French ability in this walk of art. In no English pro* 
vincial city could actors of equal excellence be found. 

Outside a beautiful cluircli close to the city the men 

1814.] JOURNEY TO TARIS. 249 

Avere playing cricket*, and inside the girls were at con- 
fessional, and sometimes one of the men after catching 
a ball would walk away into the church, take hold of 
the brush dipped in holy water, cross his forehead, and 
then sally forth again, and join in all the fury of the 
play. We made a sketch of the confessional, showing 
it afterwards to the landlord's son who exclaimed, with 
great contempt, " Quelle Mtisel " 

The pure climate and French wine had a visible 
effect on all of us, but especially on Wilkie, who 
became quite uproarious and ungovernable, and when 
we set off for Magny, we made such a noise in the 
streets that the people eame to their doors, and I in the 
triumph of my heart roared out " Let us give 'em ' God 
save the King.' " Wilkie and I joined, and we gave 
it to them in capital style. As we rolled into the road 
a, French gentleman and two elegant women stopped 
to look at us, amused, but with perfect politeness : as 
we passed them and gave them the last time ' God — 
save — the — King,' he shrugged his shoulders, saying 
with a consoling look, " Bah ! ce sont trois milords." 

We pushed on to Magny for the night : here were 
900 Poles, the advanced post of the Allies — fine mar- 
tial fellows. Our hearts beat as we saw one gallop 
down a lane, as if he grew to his saddle. Taking a 
walk in the meadows we heard a violin, and entering a 
garden found a party dancing in the cool of the sum- 
mer evenino; with all the grace inherent in the nation. 
To our astonishment the grasshoppers made as much 
noise as sinfjinir birds in En"land. We were asto- 
nisi)cd, too, at the size of the pears at Magny, one 
being quite enough for sujoper. At Pontoisc, where 
Ave brenkfaHted next morning, at another inn right 

* ^lorc probubly some kind of rough out-of-door tennis, sucli as 
I remember to have seen played at llheims. Cricket is unknown 
out of Ennrland. — Ed, 


opposite to US was a squadron of Eussian cavalry. I 
went over; finer and stronger men I never saw; — their 
cuirasses were of brass. I could not speak Russ, nor 
they French, but on my saying " Ayiglais " it acted 
like magic. Many who were dozing in the straw sat 
bolt ui^right and grinned a welcome — some took down 
their arms and let me examine them : a corporal came 
up and scolded the men for letting in a stranger, but 
''Anglais'' said they, and he turned round as much 
pleased as they were. On my taking leave every one 
held out his hand and I shook them all heartily. 

At length we were evidently approaching a great 
city, by the number of dirty cabs and equipages we met, 
but it was nothing like the approach to London. 
Around London, in all directions, are neat cottages — 
villas — all the various signs of sociality and happiness 
and comfort. As we neared Paris, everything had. a 
deserted, forlorn, insecure appearance. Every now and 
then we saw an old chateau with a broken gate. The 
road never passed through a village, but by the side of 
it, as the railroads do now. The road appeared to us, 
in our anxiety to get on, melancholy and endless. We 
passed St. Denis (the chateau was a ruin) and directly 
after entered on the field of battle. It is an immense 
plain bounded by Montmartre and Chaumont, but to 
inexperienced eyes like ours nothing marked it as a 
battle field but a tree here and there cut by shot. 

After driving through it at our leisure we entered 
Paris by one of the most dreadful entrances this side 
the infernal regions ; we were saluted as we entered by 
one of those ear-ringed, red-capped blackguards, a relic 
perhaps of the bloody times of the revolution, with the 
most accomplished abuse. 

Wilkie, and I, and our friend became quite silent as 
we passed on through a city so celebrated for the last 
quarter of a century, for its revolutions and its battles. 


for its murders in the name of liberty, and its imperial 
despotism. We sat each wrapped up in his own 
thoughts. For my part, I was passionately affected. I 
had read everything from the first sitting of the Na- 
tional Convention to the dethronement of Napoleon, 
and was now phmging into the inextricable confusion 
of the Rue St. Houore, in the middle of the day, shaken 
to my heart's core. 

The first impression of Paris, at that time, on an En- 
glishman used to the regularity of London streets, was 
that of hopeless confusion ; — cabs, carts, horses, women, 
boys, girls, soldiers, carriages, all in endless struggle ; — 
streets narrow ; — houses high ; — no flat pavement. Rus- 
sians, Poles, Germans, Italians, English, Jews, Turks 
and Christians, all hot, hurried and in a fidget. In the 
midst, now and then, you might see a beautiful French 
girl, with her little black apron, and trim black-haired 
head, stopping in the middle of a crossing, affecting to be 
frightened, darting about her eyes for help, tucking her 
petticoats round her slender form, and before you can 
come to her aid, she steps lightly between the carriages, 
and trips along in gaiety and triumph. 

We drove through this Babel uproar to the Rue 
Villedot, and put up at our hotel, — Wilkie exclaiming 
with horror at a pretty French girl showing us through 
a suite of apartments hung round with indelicate prints. 
After dining, brushing, washing and refreshing, we set 
off to see as nuich as we could before dark, and were 
delighted by coming suddenly into the Place dc Ca- 
rousel without expecting it. The arch of Napoleon, the 
bronze Venetian horses, the gilt chariot, the Tuileries, 
the Russian guard and the setting sun casting its glory 
over all, made up a scene which had the strangeness of 
a dream, and which affects me now, thirty-one years 


The next morning I was up early and went clown to 
the Louvre, where I got all the particulars of admission 
from a National Guard. At the hour down we walked. 
I flew up three steps at a time, springing with fury at 
each remembrance of a fine picture. When I got to 
the top there was A7ilkie, with the coolest deliberation, 
trotting up at his usual pace. I rated him for his want 
of feeling. I might just as well have scolded the column. 
I soon left him at some Jan Steen, while I never stopped 
until I stood before the Transfiguration. My fii'st 
feeling was disappointment. Lt looked small, harsh 
and hard. This, of course, is always the way when you 
have fed your imagination for years on a work you know 
only by the prints. Even the Pietro Martire was 
smaller than I thought to find it, yet after the difference 
of reality and anticipation had worn away, these great 
works amply repaid the study of them and grew up to 
the fancy, or rather the fancy grew up to them. 

We soon got tired of an extravagant hotel. S 

went to seek locl2i;in2:;s. and Wilkie and I did the same. 
After a whole day's unsuccessful walking, as we were 
talkincf in the Hue St. Benolt, we were addressed in our 
mother tongue by an Englishwoman at the door of the 
Cafe de Londrcs. We told our tale, our fatigue and 
our failure. She bade us wait ; and stepping across to 
a turner's soon returned, saying she had secured a 
sitting-room and two bed-rooms with respectable people. 
The landlady accompanied her, French every inch ; 
thin, flounced, ugly, marked with the small-pox, 
graceful in her air, with a nose as flat as a negress, and 
lips by no means less thick. We ordered a cab, and as 
we jumped in, never shall I forget the inexpressible 
tone with which she said to the driver, " Ayez soin de 
ces deifx enfans Anglais,^'' for we really looked like 
tired dogs after a day's chase, and were almost as 

1814.] ILLNESS OF WILKIE. 253 

That night we got settled in our appartement c/arni, 
and the next day poor Wilkie gave in. He was never 
strong, partly from constitution, and partly from in- 
sufficient food when growing (he told me he never ate 
butcher's meat till he came to Edinburgh, though he 
certainly made ample amends after), and now the 
fatigue and excitement of Paris, the Incessant flying 
from one thing to another, the hardness of their 
unpaved streets and the change of drink and diet 
were more than he had stamina to bear up against. 
My room was inside his, and as I passed througli he 
sighed out he should not get up, he was so ill. By 
our guardian's advice I called in a distinguished 

He was not at home, but I was directed to a cafe 
Avhere I should be sure to find him. Think of lookino- 
for Sir Astley Cooper at a coffee-house, at 12 o'clock 
in the day ! I went, and here was this Hippocrates 
playing dominoes. I told him my wants ; with the 
utmost politeness he said to his antagonist, " Attendcz 
un moment, mon cher.''^ Then getting up with a bow, 
said "Eh Men, Monsieur, a voire service" I led the 
way, and we found Davie Wilkie sitting up in his 
usual red night- cap, pale and feverish. Here ensued a 
scene worthy of Moliere. I spoke French better thau 
I understood it ; Wilkie did neither the one nor the 
other. At last the doctor, in a perfect fury at not 
understanding him, thundered out to me, " Parlcz-vous 
Latin?'' " Oui, Monsieur.^'' "Ah, ah .'" said he; and 
soon, In spite of our different pronunciations, we came 
to the point. 

A prescription was taken, a fee paid, and away went 
I to a chemist. To my wonder the medicine was put 
into a champagne bottle. I marched home, and open- 
ing the door, held up the bottle to Wilkie, who ex- 
claimed," Dear, dear, nuist I (ake all that ? " " Every 

254 AUTOBIOGKAniY OF B. K. HAYDON. [l814. 

drop," said I, " so begin ; " and pouring out a glass, I 
made him drink it off to the dregs. '' Come, come," 
said Wilkie, "it is not so bad." It was nothing but 
lemonade, I am convinced. Wilkie soon fell asleep ; so 
explaining to Madame what was to be done, I sallied 
forth till night, and on my return found he had taken 
his draught every two hours, was quite refreshed and 
up and had been trying to teach Madame English. 
He was laughing ready to die, and made signs to me. 
Madame said, " 3Ionsieur Haydon, voire ami se moque 
de moi.'" " Cummenty Madame?'' " Via des mots qiCil 
vie dit etre Ancjlais,'"' and she held up a paper with the 
well-known lines which he had been trying to make 
her pronounce : — 

"Peter Piper picked a peck of pepper ofFca pewter plate," &c. 

I looked solemn, and we both endeavoured to make 
her read it without the least success. 

The next day Ave had resolved to spend in the 
Louvre, but such was the excitement in Paris that we 
were drawn aside. 

It will hardly be believed by artists that we often 
forgot the great works in the Louvre in the scenes 
around us, and found Russians and Bashkirs from Tar- 
tary more attractive than the Transfiguration ; but so it 
was, and I do not think we were very wrong either. 
Why stay pouring over pictures, when we were on the 
most remarkable scene in the history of the world ? 
Here, we felt, are now all the nations on earth assem- 
bled. Let us mingle with them, ascertain tlieir habits 
of thought and action, tlieir notions of vice and virtue, 
liberty and government, art and science, and now and 
then go to the Louvre as a study. The great works 
will remain ; the different tribes before us will separate 
in a {q.\^ days, never again to meet in such a way. So 
we went about among Russians, Cossacks, Poles and 


Tartars, visited their bivouacs, saw their horses, their 
mode of riding, feeding, drilling, and were amply- 
repaid. It was quite interesting to see the Russian 
officers and soldiers, how they lingered about the sta- 
tues and pictures, how they hung over the Venus, and 
stared at the Apollo and the Laocoon. 

So far from looking brutal, they seemed the most re- 
fined of all the foreign officers in Paris, Avith fair com- 
plexions, soft hair and expressive features. The Im- 
perial Guard were by far the handsomest men 1 ever 
saw. No officers spoke French like the Russians. I 
became amazingly attached to them, as I found every 
officer I addressed a gentleman, with a love of Art and 
a refinement of manner which was pleasing as it was 
unexpected after Dr. Clarke's abominable libels on the 

It might be said that when we arrived at Paris the 
ashes of Napoleon's last fire were hardly cool : the last 
candle by which he had read was hardly extinguished ; 
the very book ho had last read was to be seen turned 
down where he left it. From boyhood upward we had 
been accustomed to think of this man as a mysterious 
being, — the Apollyon of the Revelation, — the produce 
of a mighty revolution, — the hero, the genius, the 
emperor, who had fought his way from the school at 
Briennc, till he snatched the crown from the hands of 
the Pope and put it on his own head, and now this 
wonderful Napoleon was dethroned, and we could be 
admitted to his palaces, to his bed-room ; we could sec 
the tabic he had leaned upon and inked, the ciiairs 
which he had sat upon and cut, tlic bell ropes he hatl 
pulled, the servants who had served him. 

It was delightful to discover that he who had anni- 
hilated armies, hurled down kings and reigned in the 
capitals of Europe did like most of us when alone; 
that he sometimes fell asleep, sometimes got into a pet 


if a servant did not answer his bell at once, that now 
and then he slept longer than he ought and now and 
then sat up later, that he poked the fire if it was 
going out, that he yawned when he was sleepy, and 
put his extinguisher on his candle when he no longer 
"wanted it. 

At that time (1814) every step in Paris excited 
mighty associations. Every church, every palace, every 
street and every corner was remarkable for some 
slaughter, or struggle, or some wonder connected with 
revolution and blood; yet everywhere a sense of de- 
spotism pressed on your mind. There was in every- 
thing a look of gilded slavery and bloody splendour, a 
tripping grace in the women, a ragged blackguardism 
in the men and a polished fierceness in the soldiers, 
which distinguished Paris as the capital of a people 
who combine more inconsistent vices and virtues than 
any other people on the earth. 

At this moment too there was with all this an air of 
mortified vanity and suppressed exasperation which 
was natural. By the side of the liussian, Austrian, 
Prussian and English officers, the remnant of Napo- 
leon's army had a look of blasted glory, of withered 
pride and lurking revenge, which gave one a shudder of 
the sublime, and it was clear to any one of the com- 
monest sagacity that they must seize the first oppor- 
tunity of trying to regain their lost position. 

In the middle of the day the Pue St. Honore was 
the most Avonderful sight. Don Cossack chiefs loosely 
clothed and moving as their horses moved, with all the 
bendings of their bodies visible at every motion : — the 
half-clothed savage Cossack horseman, his belt stuck 
full of pistols and watches and hatches, crouched up on 
a little ragged-maned, dirty-looking, ill-bred, half-white, 
shaggy pony: — the Russian Imperial guardsmen pinched 
in at the waist like a wasp, striding along like a giant, 

1814.] THE RUE ST. HONORE IN 1814. 257 

with an air of victory that made every Frenchman curse 
witliin his teeth as he passed him ; — the English officer, 
with his boyish face and broad shoulders; — the heavy 
Austrian ; — the natty Prussian ; — and now and then a 
Bashkir Tartar, in the ancient Phrygian cap, with bow 
and arrows and chain armour, gazing about from liis 
horse in the midst of black-eyed grisettes, Jews, Turks 
and Christians from ail countries in Europe and Asia. 
It was a pageant that kept one staring, musing and 
bewildered from raorninsz; till nisfht. 

The ignorance of the French people as to their own 
political position and that of other nations was most ex- 
traordinary to Wilkie and me. A French gentleman 
asked me in whose possession St. Domingo was, and 
when by my expression I showed my astonishment, he 
shrunk back into himself, a degraded, oppressed and 
ignorant human creature. Napoleon should have seen 
his look. It might have gratified his contempt for his 
own species, but a great mind could never have felt 
pleasure in having kept men so brutishly vacant. And 
yet after having these aspirations towards sympathy 
with the oppressed one moment, in an hour after you 
Avould feel inclined to kick the French, and say Napo- 
leon knew how to treat them, — the vain, silly, chattex'- 
ing, thoughtless, unprincipled, active, fiendish people! 

In England two and two make four, but in France 
they would make six, if the glory of the great nation 
required it. The popular dread and hatred of England 
perpetually broke out, in spite of suavity of manner and 
habitual politeness. An old priest, after expressing 
how charmed he was at England and France being again 
friends, hoped, with an insinuating smile, we had not 
been much injured in the contest. A fine young man 
at one of the inns took me up in a corner, and holding 
me by the button anxiously inquired if Napoleon had 
succeeded at Moscow. But the most curious evidence 

VOL. I. s 

258 AUTOBIOGRAniY OF B. R. HAYDON. [l814. 

was given one night at the Theatre Fran^ais, during 
the acting of Ducis' adaptation of Hamlet. When 
they are discussing what to do with Hamlet the King 

" Laissons a I'Angleterre et son deuU et ses pleurs." 


" L'Angleterre en forfaits trop souvent fut feconde." 

The pit rose in a body, and shouted with fury, ''Bravo, 
bravo, bravo; a bas les Anglais! a has les Anglais !^^ 
pointing at us English all round the house. An En- 
glishman opposite us said something which only enraged 
them more; they foamed with fury. What was all 
this childish spite but the mouthing of beaten boys on 
the ground, afraid to get up after the blow which has 
floored them ? 

At every step you found traces of the wars which 
had desolated Europe. There was scarcely a driver of 
a fiacre, a waiter at a cafe, or a man in middle life, who 
had not been in a battle, served a campaign, or been 
wounded by a shot. 

On my way to Rambouillet, I took up a very interest- 
ing boy, slender and delicate, with a tin case. He was 
one of la jenne garde, a conscript from Chartres. He 
had been wounded by the Cossacks, and sent into Paris 
to find his way home, naked and bleeding. He fell 
down in the streets from weakness, and if it had not 
been for Madame la Duchesse de Moskwa(Ney's wife), 
he must have died. She gave him, among others, food 
and shelter, and now he was able to walk, and Ney had 
got him his discharge, which he had in the case, and had 
given him forty francs for his journey. 

He had left Chartres in March one of sixty youths, 
Avho were all killed but himself. 

At an inn where the horse baited, the coachman, 
who had served under Moreau at the battle of Hohen- 

1814.] FKENCH SOLDIERS. 259 

linden, and had lost two fingers of his left hand, said 
Avith great sympathy, " Those are the sort of boys 
Napoleon had at last." And on coming back from 
Rambouillet, I took up a chasseur who had served in 
Spain, was wounded and was going to Paris. 

He was a sensible fellow, and dated all Napoleon's 
ruin from his meddling with Spain. 

The young guardsman said, " Ah Monsieur, after 
Napoleon had lost all his men he would make Avar 
on animals." Everywhere Napoleon was called '^hon 
general, viais mauvais souverain.^^ They would tell 
you stories of his genius, and execrate his government 
in the same breath. His officers cursed him as an 
Emperor and adored him in the field. 

The King's expose had a very great effect and lowered 
the tone of the whole country. Before that they were 
so grossly ignorant that they were talking of conquering 
Europe again. After the expose, they used to conclude 
Avith " au moins la Behjique sera a nous en deux ans^ 
The slavery of the press had been so hideous that they 
stared at our conversation as if awakening out of a 

The Fi'ench had a more martial air than the English. 
There seemed to be a species of military instinct in all 
classes. No young man appeared to have finished his 
education till after a bloody campaign. They si)oke of 
Avar as a thins; of course, of its horrors as " le sort de la 
guerre,^'' as if the miseries of Avar were as much a con- 
stituent part of the existence of continental nations as 
their climate. There was an apathy, a notion of dark 
destiny about the thing, as though the bloody turmoil 
the rising generation had lived in had utterly desti'oycd 
their perceptions of right. They were at this singular 
period, without the least exaggeration, a century behind 
us in notions of legal and moral responsibility. Many 
Avif'hed at the time they had been made to suffer still 

s 2 


more of the misery of war. But It is better tliey have 
been spared, because their vain ingratitude and un- 
principled restlessness will be more apparent. Not a 
hundred years will pass before the great nations of 
Europe will be obliged, for their own security, more 
effectually to crush them.* 

Human life in Paris was matter of farce. In the 
Jardin des Plantes a gentleman dropped a five-franc 
piece into the bear court. An old grenadier early the 
next morning crept down to get it. A bear was awake, 
rushed out, killed him and ate a great part of him. In 
Enoland the bear would have been shot, a deodand 
levied and subscriptions raised for the man's widow. 
In France they caricatured the incident and called the 
bear by the veteran's name. Everybody was asking, 
with a joke, " Which is the bear which ate the 
moustache ?" and servant girls and children were per- 
petually calling out for Martin, clapping their hands 
and flinjrino; him buns for his dexterity. 

Beyond the Pont Neuf, near a building close to the 
Seine, I saw, as I passed, women and girls playing 
battledore and shuttlecock. I went in, and to my 
horror found two dead bodies, half green, lying dead 
behind a glass partition. It was the well-known 
Moro-ue. Every time the shuttlecock dropped the 
women and children entered the place, gratified their 
heartless curiosity and then began their game again. 

And yet everything, however abominable, was done 
by the women with such grace and sweetness, that 
residence among them would soon have rendered me as 
insensible as themselves. The lowest servant took 
your hat and gloves as if you did her a favour. Nothing 
struck us English more in the manners of the French 

* I wrote this in 1814, before Napoleon's escape from Elba, and 
though it required no prophet to predict it, yet one always feels 
proud of having one's foresight justified by the event. 


than the sweetness of address In all classes. A little 
beo-o-ar bored Wilkie for money ; he rather pettishly- 
repulsed him. In London the boy's pride would have 
fired up, and provoked some rough retort ; but the little 
fellow in Paris made a bow, saying, ^^ Pardon, Monsieur; 
vne autre occasion.^^ 

The women In middle life seemed good, active, indus- 
trious wives and tender mothers. The manners of 
those In polished society were exquisite ; still, — beau- 
tiful, playful, self-possessed and musical in tone and air 
as they were, — in dignity and simplicity, In useful 
knowledge, in modesty of demeanour and feeling of 
what is essentially feminine, our dear countrywomen 
were Infinitely superior. 

On looking down the Louvre one day, full of people 
of all nations, I said, " Now, Wilkic, suppose you did 
not know any nation present, what would be your im- 
pression from the look of the English ? " Wilkie looked 
a minute, and contemplating their sedate, respectable, 
monied look by the side of the Russians and French, 
said, "Deai% dear, they just look as if they had a balance 
at their bankers'." 

On ray landing at Dover, an old man cautioned me 
not to lean against one of the machines by which the 
cavalry were landing their horses, or I should get 
" squeezed as flat as a pancake." I remember very per- 
fectly being astounded. In Paris they would have let 
me be squeezed first and punned on me afterwards. Yet, 
after all, such is the Intoxicating gaiety of French man- 
ners, such the liveliness and sweetness of French society, 
such the fascination of French amusement, so easy Is 
admission to all their public places, libraries and collec- 
tions, that, though most men enter Paris with disgust, 
no man ever left it with disappointment. 

After a few days' contcuii)lati()U of the Ijouvrc, I 
induced Wilkic to make excursions in the neighbourhood 

s 3 


of Paris. We went first to Versailles. The chateau 
had a look of ruined splendour, and the town of elegance 
in decay. In the palace were painted ceilings faded, 
crimson tapestry torn, golden friezes brown with age, 
and everything wearing an appearance as if a thousand 
years before had been a grand tournament, and since 
then the palace had sunk and withered under the stroke 
of a mighty enchanter. 

Versailles in its glory must have been a gleaming 
jewel. Invention seems to have been racked to find 
excuses for multiplied habitations. I wonder they did 
not build a room for each of the king's limbs — for his 
hands and feet. The opera house was vast, ruinous, 
dark and melancholy. There were still the two boxes 
with oval windows looking on the stage, where 
Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette sat on their weddin')'' 
night, to receive the congratulations of the company, and 
part of the flooring yet over the pit which was placed 
when the gardes du corps dined there and gave way to 
their enthusiasm for their beautiful and gracious queen. 

During the revolution a wino; of this masfnificent 
palace was made a barrack for soldiers and bore evident 
marks of their ferocity. 

We visited Great and Little Trianon, built by 
Louis XIV. at the end of the Park. Petit Trianon was 
let to a restaurateur durino; the Terror. 

The servants said they felt the blessings of repose 
since Napoleon's fall, for during his reign they never 
had a moment of it. 

Napoleon occasionally inhabited Great Trianon, and 
here we were shown his study, simply but conveniently 
fitted up, with desks at every book-case. At one of 
them, which he used more than the others, were two 
candlesticks and four smaller ones for other purposes. 
The table, on which he had leaned, was rubbed ; the 
chair, on which he had sat, was worn ; the books be- 


hind (mostly military, moral and political) bore marks 
of use ; the fire-place had a look of recent service : the 
tono-s and poker black, and fresh ashes under the grate. 
In the next room was his bath — Koustan always stood 
at the door as he bathed. There was a staircase close 
to the bath-room door. 

The whole palace was luxuriously and elegantly fur- 
nished. The pictures wretched, as most of them are in 
the palaces here; the gai'dens foul and disagreeable. 
How any human eye can look at the sweet English 
garden at Trianon and prefer the stately pedantry of 
Versailles is extraoi-dinary. 

Petit Trianon, once the favourite palace of Marie 
Antoinette, had been delightfully fitted up for Maria 

On a large picture by Paul Veronese, at Versailles, 
we saw in white chalk, 175, marked like the numbers 
at a sale. We were told it was so lotted for sale during 
the revolution, and the mark had never been oblite- 

Wilkie was not a well-informed companion for such 
a tour. He did not know the facts of the revolution. 
Having no associations with places wdiere great events 
had taken place, he used to wonder at my stopping 
when I recognised scenes of heroism or horror, of murder 
or battle. 

I proposed to go to Rambouillet, the hunting-scat of 
the King of France ; he objected ; so, at half past four 
in the morning, I got quietly up, and set off. I found 
a feudal-looking palace of two towers joined by more 
modern architecture. 

In passing through the chambers of Maria Louisa, I 
was affected at hearing how after her flight from Paris 
she came hither, the last league of the road on foot, with 
her boy. The rooms she used were precisely as she left 

s 4 


tliem. Her toilet equipage was tasteful, classical and 
golden. In a solitary corner, by her bed, stood her 
piano which I touched. 

The salon de repos was close to her drawing-room and 
was retired and refined. 

The old servant who showed me the rooms watched 
me with great interest. He said that for the last six days 
she scarcely touched anything, but walked about the 
grounds incessantly, and when her departure was fixed 
she became deeply affected. He told me she was of an 
exceedingly sweet disposition. 

I passed on to the apartment of Napoleon. The man 
opened a little door; — I entered a twilight room of small 
dimensions. This was Napoleon's private closet for re- 
pose and reflection, to which nobody but the Empress 
was ever admitted. Opposite the window was an arch, 
under whicli there was a most delicious sofa with pillows 
of the finest satin. Round the arch were painted in 
gold the names of Austerlitz, Marengo, Friedland and 
other fields of victory. Down the sides were the arms 
of all the states tributary to France, with groups of war 
instruments and arms, and N. N. N. with laurel border- 
ing the head. On this luxurious couch he dreamed of 
conquered kings and great battles, and his imagination 
filled as he lay with future glories. It was impossible 
not to have profound associations with such a room. I 
stood, as it were, in his secret place. I enjoyed the full 
luxury of abstraction, and my conductor never disturbed 
me till I recovered. It was not vanity, or selfish per- 
sonal feeling, which influenced Napoleon to have such a 
room so adorned, but a desire to kindle his imanination 
by every external symbol. Neither was it vanity whicli 
induced him to put N. N. N. round the court of the 
Louvre, or on the altar at Notre Dame, but a deep and 
devilish design to aflect the imagination of the people at 
all times with his influence. The rockinjT-horse and 


1814.] napoleon's soldiers. 2G5 

playthings of the King of Rome were still lying about 
the garden. 

When I got back to Paris, I found Wilkie in the 
street watching for my return, as if I had been his pro- 
tector, and in a great passion at my having gone without 

The next day we went to Malmaison. Josephine had 
just died, but as Madame D'Etat was an Englisliwoman, 
we were admitted to see the gallery, in which was a 
superb Titian, and statues by Canova, very fleshy and 
fine, which gave us a high idea of his powers. The 
servants all spoke of Josephine with afflction and grief. 

Monsieur being ill at St. Cloud, Ave were not ad- 

At Versailles, at the table dlwte was a young officer 
who had served in the last campaign. He adored Na- 
poleon, and in the course of conversation gave us a 
pretty notion of a soldier's view of moral right. 

He cursed the Corps Legislatif, the senators and 
Talleyrand for betraying the Emperor. " Bah," said 
he, " Napoleon knew how to talk to such fellows. 
The last time they opposed him, d'ye know what he 
said?" "No," we replied; "'Corps le<jislatif — je 
vous aholirai ; se'nateurs, — garde a vous.^ That's the 
way," said the officer. 

He was a complete specimen of his class, with a 
white cockade in his hat and Napoleon buttons on his 
coat. " You are still for Napoleon," said I. At which 
he winked assent. He slept inside my room, and often, 
when I was dying for sleep, he used to sit at the bottom 
of my bed, hold his candle close to my eyes, laugh if 1 
complained, and then, putting it on the floor, begin 
about Napoleon and go on till one in the morning. 
" When we were charging up a hill once, and got into 
confusion from the irregularity of the ground, and from 
being too impetuous, the Emperor rode up, and T will tell 


ye what he said (gesticulating like Talma) ' Doucement, 
mes camarades — doucement, mes enfans.^ That was the 
wav to talk to us." 

At Versailles we saw Duels' adaptation of Hamlet 
to the French stao-e. The innocence and weakness of 
Ophelia were lost, and Hamlet was a blubbering boy. 
But when Hamlet was talking to his mother, and 
fancied for a moment he saw his father's ghost. Talma 
was terrific; — it really shook my orthodoxy. The ghost 
was not seen ; — there was really a cause for this stupor; 
— and his talking as if he only saw what we did not, 
frightened us all. 

In the next scene Hamlet brings in an urn with his 
father's ashes; — this was thoroughly French; yet when 
he made his mother swear on the urn that she knew 
nothing of the murder and touch the ashes, there was 
an awful silence throughout the house. Duels has en- 
tirely lost that feeling of "grief which passcth show " — 
his Hamlet's 2;rief is all show. 

The next day Wilkie, as usual, being exceedingly 
tired, I proceeded alone to the Chateau de Vincennes, 
and passed a glorious day. As you approached this 
terrible tower, you saw it rearing itself with defiance. 
With its turrets and battlements, — its drawbridge, its 
cannon, its little grated windows and its massy walls, 

• "mi parean che ferro fosse," — 

it had a look of state tyranny and iron rigour, and 
roused in the mind an impression that the screams of 
the sufFerino; and the moans of the murdered would die 
on the passing wind, before any being without could be 
sensible of their agonies. I hesitated to attempt an en- 
trance, but my longing to see its internal horrors over- 
came every other feeling. I was introduced to the 
governor, who received me very politely ; he was a 
handsome man, and had lost a leir at Wajiram. He 


sent an aide-de-camp round the chateau with me, but I 
could not see the state prisons, as he said they were 
filled with cannon and shot. 

I saw the ditch where D'Enghien was shot, but a 
shrug was the only reply I got to a remark about tiie 
murder. Twenty-six persons were released, according 
to my guide, at Napoleon's fall. 

As I walked about with the captain my horrors wore 
off, and the governor and I got so intimate thnt he 
allowed me to make a sketch in his drawin<T-i-oon:. 
When I had done I went to take my leave and to thank 
him. I heard a great noise. I fovmd in the room the 
governor's two fine boys, with the captain, darkening 
the windows. He ordered me to stand in a position as 
soon as I came in. It seemed a jack-daw had got into 
the chimney and the great feat was to force him down. 
The boys and ourselves joined heartily in the chase, but 
to no purpose, and I took my leave, contrasting the sin- 
gular state of my feelings on entering this place with 
the gaiety of my leaving it. The governor was evi- 
dently a good fellow, and loved fun, and his genuine 
humour came out in spite of the murder of D'Enghien 
or the former sufferings of the state prisoners. 

I drove away to Belleville, musing on the ease with 
which the imagination is affected, and how rapidly it 
shapes itself by the last excitement, however incon- 
sistent that may be with the one before. Vinccnnes 
has never since brought to me an association of terror. 

Belleville had not suffered much, but Pantin had 
been literally torn in pieces by musquctry and cannon. 
"Wherever a projection in any house existed it had been 
made a point of resistance and attack. The doors, the 
Avindow-frames, the wainscots, the balconies, were 
sprinkled by musket shot as if peppered by the hand. 
No one in England can have any idea of a field of battle, 
and may my countrymen be ever as ignorant Many 

268 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF B. 11. IT AY DON. [1814. 

of the scarclcn walls had been beaten down that the men 
might not have the trouble of gouig out by the door. 

I wanted to find the Butte de Chaumont, and going 
Into a cabaret, asked where it was. " I will show you, 
sir," said a little boy of nine or ten. Away we marched, 
my little guide wearing a red nightcap which dropped 
on one side, till we came in siccht of the heio-lit, when 
my grenadier in petto turned round as if already in the 
line, and said, " Voila la Butte de Chaumont,^' and then 
folding his arms, like Napoleon, nodded his head two or 
three times, as if taking the whole campaign into consi- 
deration, repeating to himself with an air of abstraction, 
" Quelle belle position ! — quelle belle position P' It Avas 
indeed a belle position, and the lads of the Ecole Pohj- 
teclinique behaved gloriously. All the cottages I entered 
had been stripped of their furniture for fire-wood in the 
bivouacs. At Pantin I entered a house belons-ino; to a 
M. Le Grand ; here were traces of Avar such as I 
never wish to see again. It was a beautiful house, ele- 
gantly furnished, but reduced to a shell. In the parlour 
Cossack horses had stabled, and their dung was still on 
the marble floor. All the window-shutters and cup- 
boards had been wrenched off to burn. The paper of 
the room had been torn down, and the wainscot beaten 
in in search of money or plate that might be hidden be- 
tween that and the wall. The splendid mirrors were 
shivered to atoms. The fruit trees in the gardens were 
cut to stumps, and the garden itself, laid out in the old 
French taste, with statues of shepherds and shep- 
herdesses, trampled into desolation. 

" Vous etes Anc/lais,'''' said a keen-looking old valet who 
was sweeping aAvay the dung in the parlour. " Je le suis,'' 
I said. " Voici la bonne cause,^' said he, looking archly 
at the dung and desolation. " IJt vous, 3Ionsieur," said 
I, " n'avez vous pas combattu pour la bonne cause aussi, 
en Italie, en Belgique, en Allemagne, en Espacjne, en 


Portugal, en Russie, en Pologne, avec la meme honte '? ''"' 
'' Ah,^^ shrugged out monsieur le valet, with a sparkling 
Voltairish look which every Frenchman has when con- 
victed, as if planning a repartee, " c'est tres vrai^'' and 
then affecting a philosophic comprehension of the ques- 
tion, as if to admit an equality of crime between us, 
" Apres tout, Monsieur, c'est le sort de la guerre." The 
tone of this apres tout cannot be conveyed by description. 

All along the road to the Faubourg St. Martin, the 
houses were ruined ; but the workmen were repairing 
them, singing away, as if everything was a joke. Cart 
after cart I met with articles which had been hurried to 
Paris and were being brought back now the Allies had 
entered. In a very few days I should have found them 
dancing in the shade as if the farce was over. 

There is something extremely philosophic in all this, 
or extremely insensible. 

The country about was much richer in wood and ver- 
dure than on the Montmartre side. 

From this point I copy from ray Journal, from which 
the previous pages are compressed extracts. 

June l2tJi. — To-day was the fete Dieu. The streets 
were hung with tapestry, and altars were erected at the 
different grand points. Everything was gaiety and 
bustle out of doors, and everytliing quiet within. 

This was the first Sunday since the revolution on 
which the shops had been shut. We arrived just in 
time to see one effect of that tremendous convulsion in re- 
lifricus matters. Last Sunday the people were at work, 
the shops were open, the inhabitants dirty and dissi- 
jiatcd. To-day the shops were shut, the people hajjpy, 
chattering and clean. No one can conceive the dill'er- 
cncc who has not, as we did, witnessed the contrast. 

There was a great deal of good sense in the King's 
commencing a religious revival by a grand spectacle. 

270 AUTOBIOGRAriir OF B. 11. IIAYDON. [l814. 

Our landlord and landlady swore tliey would be ruined 
by shutting up shop, and threatened the King with the 
loss of his head ; but Avhen the day arrived, and after 
they had dressed and walked in the gardens, clean and 
neat, with their ''petite,'" it was amusing to hear them 
express their pleasure in the evening. 

At the gate of the Tuileries, I asked the Garde 
Nationale if, as English, we could go up and see the 
King pass to chapel. He said " Yes," and we mounted 
directly into the Salle des Marechaux. 

The King, Avith the Duke and Duchess D'Angouleme, 
came through. Louis looked keen, fat and eagle-eyed. 
We shouted " Vive Ic Hoi ! " and so did the company. 
Moncey, Augereau and Marmont were in attendance ; 
and as Marmont lifted the skirt of the Eng's coat on 
one side and Augereau on the other, I felt scorn to see 
two human beings, who had risen by Napoleon's genius, 
so degrade themselves. As they held up the coat-tails, I 
saw the old King's broad stern and the strings of his 
waistcoat and waistband. In the ceiling of the chapel 
was the Battle of Austerlltz, and N. N. N. all round 
the room — from which we looked into the chapel, — and 
bees on the curtains. Wilkie and I in the evening went 
to the Cirque Olympique and there we saw a sweet 
Englishwoman, natural, and unaffected, and finely 
formed. It really was the first time I had felt my heart 
warmed since I came to Paris. Except a Madame de 
Launay, I had seen no beautiful woman. 

The manners of the French women are exquisite ; 
but they had all more or less beard, which ruined their 
grace and diminished the charm of their eyes. They 
Avere at this time so wrapped in frill, and lace, and 
muslin, and bonnet, that they looked like skeletons in 
petticoats. Never did I see the superiority of an En- 
glishwoman so evident before. 

1814.] A VISIT TO gp:rard's. 271 

Went to Gerard the painter's, and was much affected 
at the portraits I saw there. 

Buonaparte, ten years ago. — A horrid yellow for com- 
plexion ; the tip of his nose tinged with red ; his eyes 
fixed and stern, with a liquorish wateriness ; his lips red 
dirt ; his mouth cool, collected and resolute. All the 
other heads in the room looked like children beside him, 
Wilkic said, and so they did. I never was so horridly 
touched by a human expression. 

When Lord Grey, during his badgering in the Lords, 
whilst the Reform Bill was passing, used to come to me, 
he looked like, what he was, an aged and veteran noble, 
collecting his energies to defy the devil ; but there was 
an air of breeding and aristocracy in him which inter- 
ested me. Napoleon, in this infernal portrait, had not 
the least look of mercy, breeding or highmindedness. 

Josephine and Maria Louisa both had amiable ex- 
pressions, and Lannes and Murat looked like soldiers. 
The picture of Lannes and his wife surrounded by six 
children was extremely beautiful. I knew Lannes' 
power of electrifying grenadiers. I had read of all 
these men, the produce of the revolution. The fall of 
Napoleon was, after all, melancholy. There are mo- 
ments one forgives one's bitterest enemies, and this was 
one of them. 

Maria Louisa had given Gerard a mahogany easel, 
with her initials and cypher. Madame, as she showed 
it to us, sighed out, " Trcs oimahhy As to Gerard's art, 
he made a strong likeness, but there was no feeling for 
character ; and his colour was wretched green and blue 
jnud. I was heartily sick of vulgar ivory and insipid 

It is extraordinary how men of the worst taste get on. 


Mcngs, Battoni, West, Dance, Gerard, Le Brun, all 
were believed divinities in their life-times. And Avere 
are they now ? 

Paris was at this time full of Interest. The remem- 
brance of the most unlettered beggar was pregnant with 
events posterity will tremble at. As I sat down in 
the gardens, a respectable old gentleman said, while he 
wiped his forehead, " This is a Sunday at last, after 
twenty years' turbulence ; It makes one feel quiet and 

In the evening I went to all the gaming houses — 
what expressions of disappointment, acute abstraction, 
perspiring vexations ; what leers of chuckling triumph! 
Young women and mere girls were losing at one table 
and winning at others. Old men and their ribs were 
quarrelling. All, winners and losers, looked fagged and 
worn out. They were slovens In dress, and dirty In air. 
Nothing was heard In this scene of vice and heat but 
the tumbling of money, and the smart crack of the 
stick, as the winner or banker jerked the coin to his 

June I4th. — Wllkle and I went to the Jardin des 
Plantes, a place of Roman magnificence. 

Gerard's horrid head of Napoleon has haunted m.e. 
All who appi'oached him were evidently his victims ; 
that bloody glassy eye looked you through without 
mercy. As I looked at the infinite variety of insects, 
a thought darted Into my mind, can this be method 
or unmethodical chance, or Inevitable material com- 
bination ? 

The skeleton of Kleber's murderer was In the col- 
lection : the bones of his right hand black from burning. 
He was Impaled. 

June 2\sL — Went to the catacombs — regular and 
solemn. Then to where the Temple stood, but not a 
vestige left. 

1814.] Titian's pietro martire. 273 

2otli. — Went to see Talleyrand's pictures — very fine. 
They are hung in the room where the peace was 
signed. In his bed-room was tlie Times newspaper, 
and portraits of all the sovereigns of Europe. Bonne- 
maison took us. 

It Avas curious to observe in the Louvre what qua- 
lities in pictures had most effect. Breadth, brightness, 
size and depth carried all before them. Greyness in 
Teniers or Guido, or brownness in Rembrandt, did little. 
Whilst I was looking at Philippe de Champagne and 
saw good drawing, good colour and good expression, I 
wondered how it was that he had not a great name : 
whereas Rubens with faults endless, without beauty, 
character, fine taste in fomn or grace, and with gross 
vulgai-ity, has obtained and will ever keep a splendid 
reputation. Why ? Because whatever he felt, he felt 
as a whole. It was his gigantic conception of the 
lowest parts of the art which raised him above others, 
who had all his other perfections without his gigantic 
view of nature as a whole. 

Vandyke looked black ; Rembrandt brown ; Teniers 
dirty ; Guido grey ; Raffaele hard and little ; Rubens 
overpowered by his execution and clearness of tint ; 
Titian alone seemed above competition ; Tintoretto and 
Veronese were a little too sprawling in touch. 

June lltli. — Studied Titian's Pietro jNIartire with 
profound attention. Indeed to the Italian school you 
must turn for all the refinements of the art. The ex- 
pression in the executioner's head is wonderful ; he has 
cut down his victim, and seems to have a sensation of 
the crash he has given, with a sort of ah I as if he him- 
self felt the cut. 

The exhausted, languid, yet penetrating look of the 
monk is sublime. He is mortally wounded and yet 
gives a last glare of helpless superiority, as if a crash of 
thunder had burst out with his last gasp. The manage- 

VOL. I. T 


ment is fine but the principal light by no means appa- 
rent. Expression is all and alL Everything sinks 
before expression. 

Paul Veronese looks unsubstantial ; !Rubens, full, 
vifforous and vast. His handlino; is terrible and over- 
powering in its dash. His feeling for mass and compo- 
sition has given him, and Avill ever give him, a reputa- 
tion in spite of his want of the highest requisites of 
perfection. There must be a mighty power in a man 
who can keep a splendid fame in spite of such defects. 
Tintoretto has not the solidity of Rubens and Titian ; 
Titian was full of sensation. 

The present French artists have immense knowledge, 
but their taste is bad. They know not how to avail 
themselves of what they know; — how to marshal, order 
and direct it. Their costumes and accessaries are ex- 
cellent. The things they introduce are the very things 
they ought to be, and nothing more or less. They 
belong to the particular people represented, and to 
them only. 

I hope to avail myself of this principle. I shall go 
back greatly enlarged in everything. I have gone 
regularly down the French, Flemish and Dutch schools, 
and this day have begun the Italian ones. In Baroccio 
there is a look of veined marble. 

2^th. — Saw Gobelin tapestries of many of Raf- 
faele's works, which gave me an exact idea of their 
size, and some of their breadth of colour and character. 
Spent the day at the private library of the Institute, 
copying the dresses of the ancient Egyptians, from the 
great work published by Napoleon ; exceedingly useful. 
The French expedition to Egypt has proved of vast 
service to the learned, by the laying bare of temples 
which no single traveller could reach before. The 
consequence to us painters, in respect of costume, is 

1814.] wilkie's departure. 275 

July Srd. — My dear "Wilkie sets off for England tins 
day ; in spite of his heaviness of perception and total 
want of spirit, his simplicity, his honesty of manner, 
his good sense and natural taste endear one to him. I 
feel low at his departure, though I shall soon see him 

Juli/ 4th. — Saw Raffaele's cartoon for the School of 
Athens; — exceedingly fine; not remarkable for drawing, 
but admirable for breadth and unity of effect. The 
heads of the boys talking to Archimedes beautifuL 
The hands finely sketched, the whole composed in a 
masterly manner, and with true feeling. It was really 
delightful to see something in this way after the inso- 
lent imbecility of the present French school. One 
Spanish picture very fine, a fine Murillo, and a fine 
sketch by Velasquez. 

When a man polishes so highly as to get rid of all idea 
of touch, his work no longer awakens any association 
of thought, which is the result of an impression in the 
mind expressed rapidly by the hand. Rubens' works 
are full of thought, because they are all touch, though 
the thought be not much more than the thought of 

S , a young Frenchman and I attended Wilkie 

to the diligence. We grew outrageously insolent about 
England, and talked of France with the greatest con- 

I felt melancholy after Wilkie's departure. There 
is a simplicity in his manners, a soundness and origin- 
ality in his thinking, which make him an instructive 
companion. His remarks on the French school were 
capital. lie said they were the consequences, and not 
the causes, of encouragement. There was hardly a day 
but wc had a dispute, and yet we were always better 
pleased with each other's society than with the society 
of other.-. One great point of dispute was how much 

T 2 


to give to the postilions. He said I always gave them 
more than they deserved, and I said he always gave 
them less. The postilions always said I was ''Men 
qinercux^'' and that he could not be an Englishman, 
" sans doute.^'' 

NotAvithstanding Paris was filled with all the na- 
tlons of the earth, the greatest oddity in it was unques- 
tionably David Wilkie. His horrible French, his 
strange, tottering, feeble, pale look, his carrying about 
his prints to make bai'gains with printsellers, his reso- 
lute determination never to leave the restaurants till he 
got all his change right to a centime ; his long disputes 
about sons and demisous with the dame du comptoir ; 
Avhilst madame tried to cheat him, and as she pressed 
her pretty ringed fingers on his arm without making 
the least impression, her " Mais, Monsieur^'' and his 
Scotch " Mais, Madame^^ were worthy of Moliere. 

After his departure, to change the scene, when I felt 
the want of Wilkie, I left Paris in the diligence for 
Fontainebleau. Inside were six French women, and 
finding by my tournure I was English, they all six 
assailed me and the domineering pride of my country. 
We had a very pretty little affair. " England was too 
rich for the happiness of France." " Oli oui, Paris 
etait traldcT One lady swore it„ Another knew Mar- 
mont had received 3000 francs ; " Pardon, madam, it 
was 3500," said an older with a look of great impor- 
tance. Napoleon had kept them so afraid of dabbling 
in politics that any one who affected such knowledge 
always did it with great mystery. 

Peace was then discussed, and peace had been the 
salvation of England, and would be ruin to France. 
" Sans doute, sans donte^'' echoed all, twirling their 
ruffles, and darting their little black eyes at me with 
such impudent triumph and coquettish prettiness that 
they had it all their own way. There is a charming 

1814.] FONTAINEBLEAU. 277 

affectation in everything a Frenchwoman does which, 
although you cannot esteem it, you would not they 
should lose for the world. Every little creature has 
her tiny reticule and black apron, and away they 
go tripping and mincing as if they trod on needles. 
" Are your women pretty ? " asked the prettiest amongst 
the six. 

The chateau I found superb beyond any palace near 
Paris. It was furnished with fine taste ; Napoleon's 
bed hung with the richest Lyons green velvet with 
painted roses ; golden fringe a foot deep ; a footstool of 
Avhite satin with golden stars ; the top of the bed gilt, 
with casques and ostrich plumes, and a golden eagle in 
the centre grappling laureL Inside the bed was a mag- 
nificent mirror, and the room and ceiling were one mass 
of golden splendour. The panels of the sides were deco- 
rated in chiaroscuro with the heads of the greatest 

No palace of any Sultan of Bagdad or monarch of 
India ever exceeded the voluptuous magnificence of these 

The valet who showed me round had lived with Na- 
poleon ten years, and talked of him with a mournful 
respect. lie said he was a good master, and paid him 
regularly and well ; that he was always an affectionate 
husband to Maria Louisa ; tliat lie was irritable and 
capricious at times, especially if his bell was not an- 
swered immediately ; that he saw him within ten 
minutes after his abdication ; that he was quite calm, 
and that the only time he ever saw him affected was on 
his return toFontainebleau, when he found Paris taken. 
This man assured me he attended him the moment he 
arrived, and he thought something had happened, for 
the Emperor was pale and shaken : but in about two 
hours it went off, and never afterwards was he other- 
wise than self-possessed. 

T 3 . 


I strolled about the town, wlilcli was small; the 
streets were full of Napoleon's guard. 

In a secluded part near the palace a nun, as I 
thought, was standing on the step of a door. I went 
up and inquired if it was a nunnery. She said " No," 
and asked me to walk up, when I found it a hospital of 
Sisters of INIercy, filled with wounded soldiers, French, 
Austrian, Russian and Prussian. No beds could be of 
more snowy whiteness than those the wounded were 
lying on in feeble helplessness, with their hollow cheeks 
pressed close to the pillow, enjoying the sunny air 
which came in at the windows. Their feverish eyes 
followed us with an eager debility. They all seemed 
pleased at the sight of a stranger. They were too weak 
to speak, but their looks lingered on us till we left 

On going up stairs we found a room full of the dying. 
Some were sitting up supported by pillows ; others, too 
weak to sit up, were feebly repeating the prayers after 
a sister on her knees in the middle of the room, and all 
who had strength followed her with long, broken and 
tremulous sounds, crossing themselves, and so intensely 
occupied that our entering was not perceived, and we 
withdrew with noiseless sympathy. 

These Avere the worst cases, of which there was no 
hope. On leaving this touching place I put my hand 
in my pocket, and feeling embarrassed, the sister, in 
the sweetest manner, put out her hand, and said " Pour 
les pauvres, Monsieur. ''\ 

She showed me the medicines with labels in French, 
and bid me adieu with great grace ; she was rather 
young and interesting. 

In the evening I strolled to the parade : more dread- 
ful-looking fellows than Napoleon's guard I had never 
seen. They had the look of thorough- bred, veteran, 
disciplined banditti. Depravity, indifference and blood- 


tliirstiness were burnt In their faces ; — black moustachios, 
gigantic caps, a slouching carriage and a ferocious ex 
pression were their characteristics. If such fellows had 
governed the world what would have become of it? 
They were large, tall and bony, but narrow-chested, 
and on seeing the English cavalry afterwards, on their 
road to Boulogne from Bayonne, it was easy to predict 
who would have the best in a close grapple. On return- 
ing again to the palace after the parade, where I had 
been eyed with a good deal of curiosity by officers and 
men, some of the guard came into the yard. 

Recognising me, they collected round me, and their 
familiar and frank bearing soon took away all dislike. 
They all swore they cried ivhen Napoleon took leave, and 
that Col. Campbell and the Austrian and the Prussian 
cried ; the Kussian did not seem moved. When the 
eagle was brought up, the ensign turned away his head 
for crying. 

" Napoleon was a great man ; he shot D'Enghien and 
had many faults, but he Avas never beaten." "7/ etait 
trahi, il etait train " all said. " Did he cry?" said I to a 
grenadier. " He cry ! " replied the old moustache ; " // 
etait toujoiirs ferme.^^ "Why does not the King have us 
to guard him," said one, " instead of parade soldiers ? " 

The sister at the hospital told me all their sufferings 
had been from the guards and line, and that the Cossacks 
and llussians had behaved admirably when quartered in 
the town. 

It being a beautiful summer evening, I retired to the 
Jardin Anglais, and stretching myself out close to the 
soothing tinkle of a beautiful fountain, meditated on 
Napoleon and his fall till nigiit had darkened without 
obscuring the scene. 

Napoleon in his feelings had all the romance of a 
youth, and few ever have had such power to carry out, 
in their full intensity, the glorious anticipations of 

T 4 


youthful imagination. In a letter to the Directory, in 
his first campaign, he nlludes to the amphitheatre of 
Verona, and says how superior the ancients were. 

It was easy to see when he had power he would not 
be long before attempting great things. Right opposite 
his library in his English garden was a little column, 
against the setting sun, with a golden eagle grappling 
the world : this was surely to remind him in his solitary 
walks of the great object of his life. 

Though detesting Napoleon's government, I was af- 
fected with something like symjmthy for his private 

The heads of Eaffaele and Michel Angelo, Alexander 
and Ca3sar adorned my bed-room, and often in the night 
I have felt their influence on my mind. 

It was the same feeling in Napoleon which made him 
set up this eagle grappling the earth. I sympathised 
with this romance of his nature, and I paced his favou- 
rite walk, drinking in sensations of ambition and glory, 
as if I was to be the next curse to the world. 

The evening was delicious ; the fountain worthy of 
Armida's garden ; the poetry of my mind unearthly for 
the time, when the crash of the Imperial drums, beating 
with a harsh unity which stamped their voices as those 
of veterans in war, made my heart throb with their 
stormy rattle. Never did I hear such drums before, 
and never shall I again : there were years of battle and 
blood in every sound. 

I returned to Paris en poste, and was much amused 
at this mode of travelling (which I thought mean in a 
post chaise), when hearing the cracking of a whip, I came 
to the yard, and found a fine tall postilion, on a rough 
little horse, holding another for me. 

It was not for milord to appear abashed; so mount- 
ing at once, off galloped my leader and off galloped I, 
he cracking his whip all through the streets. The 


guards were lounging about, and some recognised me as 
the Anglais who had played skittles with them. 

The i)ostilion was a complete character, and when we 
got out of the town I determined to try his mettle ; so 
I pushed on at full gallop : he passed me and I passed 
him again, but I got in, after a complete race, before 
him to the post house. Once on the road, with the air 
of a Talma, he drew up and told me how that chateau 
on the hill was purchased by a parvenu during the re- 
volution, and how, when the Bourbons came back, the 
purchaser said to the Princess, who was the owner, 
" Madame la frincesse ! fai achete ce bien-ci, seulement 
pour voiis et vos enfans — je le cederai — c'est tout a vous.^ 
" N^'st-ce pas Men genereux ?" said he. " Oui,^^ said I. 
" Monsieur, fetais courier de NapoUon de Paris a 
Moscou^'' and before I could reply he was off, and I 
after him, and overtook him, no doubt because out of 
compliment to milord he had, as he assured me, given 
me the best horse. 

He was a fine fellow, handsome and active, with a 
broad-brimmed leathern black shinino; hat. Raving 
from the excitement of horse exercise, I went into the 
post house, calling " Vitel viteV They thought I must 
be from the army ; so horses were always ready in a 
moment. I got to Paris in a heat. After staying and 
sketching two whole days in the Louvre, I set off for 
England by Calais. It was then a miserable road : the 
only thing Avorth seeing was the cathedral at Amiens, 
with the real head of St. John the Baptist. Amiens 
Avas crowded with English travellers. 

At the inn at Calais I accidentally got into conversa- 
tion with a little suffering veteran officer, who said he 
had served in Egypt and Syria with Napoleon. I asked 
in what division ; he replied in Bon's ; remembering 
Sir lloljcrt AVIlson's advice, " Let any one ask of Bon's 
division," I directly asked if it Avas true that Buona- 


parte had shot the garrison at Jaffa after they had sur- 
rendered. He evaded the question in a way that left 
no doubt in ray mind of the truth of what Napo- 
leon talked of afterwards to Lord Ebrington Avith such 

I got on board the packet, and was soon dozing in 
the middle of bubbling waters and groaning passengers. 

About dawn I came on deck. Day had broke with 
a saffron streak ; the morning star glittered ; the sea 
rose like a huge dark wall ; France was gone ; and 
before me in morning beauty lay the cliffs of England ! 

I was glad to see the military at Dover striding about. 
Captain King, who took over Blucher in the Jason, 
told me that as they were getting out of sight of land 
Blucher was standing on the quarter deck, looking at 
the shore. He did not know he was observed, and 
before he turned King heai'd him say, "That's a fine 
country ; " when he turned King saw the tears trickling 
down his cheeks. 

The knowledge I gained by this tour was endless, 
and the advantages of seeing the Louvre in its glory can 
never be properly estimated but by those who did so 
see it. 

You settled principles in an hour by the Instant com- 
parison of schools, which it would have taken months 
to arrive at, when each school had its own works distinct 
in its own town. 

Had the French properly estimated the delicacy of 
the Allies, in suffering the works of Art to remain in 
1814, they would never have been removed in 1815 ; 
but their insolence knew no bounds ; we were insulted 
in the coffee-house by " Vous avez peur, vous avez peur.''^ 
A Frenchman can never believe he is treated with ci- 
vility from any motive but fear. 

In 1815 ample revenge was taken, and I can scarcely 
conceive a more hideous mortification to a Parisian than 

1814.] DENON: the EGYPTIAN EACE. 283 

the seeing the bronze horses of Lysippus let clown by- 
English artillerymen on their backs into a cart, and the 
gilt ram's head of the pole sold, as it was to my friend 
John Scott, for eighteen pence. 

On the morning I left Paris, In taking leave of 
Denon, (from whom I had received the greatest atten- 
tion,) I had a long and interesting conversation with 
him about the original country of the inhabitants of 
Egypt, he maintaining they were negroes, because, 
in all representations of battles in their temples, it was a 
copper-coloured hero trampling on negro necks. I 
maintained this was no evidence at all. Why might 
not the copper-coloured be trampling over the neigh- 
bouring negro nations ? According to himself, he had 
found no negro mummy. He then attacked Lord Elgin, 
and I said Choiseul Gouffier began, and the Venetian 
general one hundred and fifty years before. I said if 
Lord El^in had not interfered, the Turks would have 
destroyed the marbles : " Mon clier^'* said Denon, " the 
Turks destroy nothing." I squeezed his hand, thanked 
him for his politeness and took my leave. I took leave 
also of L'Angles and Nicolopolo of the Institute, from 
both of whom I had received great civilities. Guerin, 
Prudhon, Gerard, Gros and others showed us great 
civilities, but the times were so overwhelming we ac- 
ce[)ted very few of the invitations we received. 



On my return to work I found that the excitement had 
been so great that my health was by no means bene- 
fited, and Bell advised me to take a fortnight's relaxa- 
tion by the sea. I went to Hastings, and whilst there 
had the gratification of receiving notice that my dear 
old friend George Eastlake had been so interested by 
my success that he had proposed and carried my re- 
ceiving the freedom of my native town in honour of my 
Solomon. Moreover, whilst I had been at Paris, the 
British Institution had, on the proposition of Sir George 
Beaumont, seconded by Lord Mulgrave, voted me one 
hundred guineas as a mark of admiration for the same 
picture. So that Solomon was indeed in his glory in 
1814, much more so than in his present habitation and 
dust-hole (1844). 

Having received my cash I set off for Hastings, and 
took lodgings at Bopeep opposite the Martello Towers. 
Here, whilst batbing and shooting gulls for practice, I 
received notice from the Mayor of Plymouth of the 
distinguished compliment paid me by my townsmen, 
"as a testimony of respect" (to use the language of the 
resolution) "for my extraordinary merit as a historical 
painter, and particularly for the production of my recent 
picture, the Judgment of Solomon." 

I had left my father's house ten years when this 
picture came out, and taking everything into consider- 
ation ; — that it was composed at nineteen, begun at 
twenty-five and completed at twenty-eight ; — that I 
was opposed, calumniated and run down by the Aca- 
demy for what they called my impertinence in thinking 


of such a picture without being commissioned; — con- 
sidering, also, that colour, light and shadow, drawing, 
form, handling, surface, expression and composition 
were all there, and all, I must say, excellent; — that I 
had never seen the great works abroad ; — that I had no 
positive insti'uctor, because Fuseli was no example; — 
taking into consideration my youth, my inexperience, 
ray oppressions and distresses (helped as I was only by 
John and Leigh Hunt, to the best of their limited 
means), I must say I do not wonder at the enthusiasm 
of the artists, the public or the nobility. Yet what 
did this do for me ? Nothing ! Not a single com- 
mission, large or small, followed. The exhibition at 
Plymouth was a failure, as were those at Liverpool and 
at Birmingham. No corporation, no public body, no 
church, no patron, ever thought the picture worth in- 
quiring after, and, after scrambling about to be gaped 
at and forgotten, it was sold to a Mr. Prideaux, who 
became a bankrupt, was left with me, was seized by my 
landlord, who offered to give it up to the assignees on 
payment of warehouseroom, which has been refused, 
and there it is at present — 1844 — with the leer of the 
wicked mother, and the agony of the real one, — the 
curiosity of the negro prince, — the interesting terror of 
the youno: matron, leavins: the court with her two 
children in fright, — the sympathy of the executioner, — 
the Jew llabbins, — the keenness and majesty of the 
King, — its colour, its tone and its expression, in a 
warehouse in Dean Street, a man wiping off the dam[) 
every week, lest it should rot.* And this is England, 
with its Royal Academy, its court painters, its knight- 
hoods and empty spaces ! Shame on those who have 

* It is now (18.j3) in the possession of Sir Edwin Landsccr, by 
whom its merits are appreciated, and whose appreciation carries 
that of many alter it. — Ed. 


the power without the taste to avert such a fall ; — who 
let a work which was hailed as a national victory rot 
into decay and dirt and oblivion ! But it will rise 
again; — it will shine forth hereafter, and reanimate the 
energy of a new generation, when the falsehood of 
Germanism shall have ruined the school, and the rising 
youth are gasping for examjiles which may safely be 

While I was at Hastings a Martello Tower at Bo- 
peep was full of wounded soldiers from Spain. Ileturn- 
ing to town outside the coach, I had one of the 95th, a 
desperate rifleman, by my side. He had yards of 
flannel wrapped round him. He was spare, pale, hag- 
gard, keen, and talked all the way. He had been 
wounded at Talavera, when Cuesta ran away, and the 
Duke was obliged to cross the Tagus, and the French 
entered. This fellow, and a corporal of the guards, 
hobbled out of the town, both wounded, bloody and 
lame. A man and two mules passed ; they begged for 
help, but he disregarded them. " I say, rifleman, is 
your rifle loaded ? " said the guardsman. " I have never 
looked since the battle." " Touch up that fellow, if it 
will go off." " Good God ! " said a horror-stricken 
cockney on the other side ; " what did you do ? " " Do ! 
why, clapped up my rifle, to be sure ; she never missed ; 
down came my gentleman ! We were too lame to 
mount, so we led the mules till we came to a ditch, and 
then slipped off the dyke on their backs, and, what's 
more, found three hundred dollars in the saddlebags ! " 
'' My God," said the cockney, " you wretch ! " " That 
may be," said the 95th man ; " but why did not he help 

us, the rascal, wounded for his d d country ? We 

got gloriously safe to Elvas, and many good drinks we 
had of the three hundred dollars." 

This fellow was a complete rascal. He told stories 
that made one's flesh creep, and boasted of villanies as 

1814.] THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR. 287 

evidence of talent In a way that was dreadful. He had 
brought off, he said, fifty-six men, prisoners, safe to 
Lisbon, and then, by the Duke's order, got a dollar a 
man. They had undermined a Avail, and the exploit, I 
remembered, was in the papers at the time. He was a 
keen dog, who evidently advised his officer If he knew 
better, but shrunk from command. He gave us a de- 
scription of the adventures of the advance ; most enter- 
taining. He said one Irish regiment took off all their 
buttons, and passed them for shillings. They had 
changed clothes so often with the dead, enemies and 
English, that, on meeting the Duke once, he did not 
know what regiment they were. 

On my arrival in town, with natural vanity, I called 
on Northcote, who was a native of Plymouth. He 
could not bear my presence. " Ah, the freedom is 
nothing," he said ; " my grandfather was mayor one 
hundred years ago." 

I now set vigorously to work ; but, as usual, my re- 
sources soon failed. AVilkie was hard at work, too, and 
we drove away, meeting now and then, and relishing In 
memory our exploits at Paris. 

I find in my Journal of November 8th of this year, 
that I had painted the head of Ja'irus, which was con- 
sidered an advance by all. 

The year 1814 now came to Its last day. It was a 
year in which I had suffered every extremity of misery 
and every elevation of success, In which I had enlarged 
my mind and confirmed my views by seeing the great 
easel works of the old masters. 

I concluded the year as I began It — In prayer — and 
opened my eyes in 1815 praying also for protection 
and blcssinn;. 



January 4ith. In consequence of being perpetually 

about M F , I saw a great deal of actors and 

actresses, and I cannot say it increased my respect for 
them. When once a woman has tasted jmblic applause 
domestic life becomes lifeless and insipid in the comjia- 
rison. Actresses get the energy and spirit of men. 
They have active duties to perform and feel the sweets 
of exertion ; but public applause is no compensation for 
loss of caste. They know and feel they have stepped 
out of the limits of Avomanly delicacy, and still they are, 
after all, helpless women, without the respect which is 
due to their sex. 

Raffiicle wanted that comprehensiveness in repre- 
sentation that he had in expression ; by the side of 
Corre2;2;io he suffered. 

At the moment of execution you suffer agony at 
your inability to complete the idea which the imagina- 
tion shot forth at the moment of conception. This goes 
so much beyond the efforts of the hand, that not till 
days afterwards, when the imagination has cooled and 
nature is absent, do you begin to relapse into appro- 
bation of your own achievements. 

I was never satisfied with anything till I forgot what 
I wanted to do. 

January 14^/i. — In all daring attempts nothing 
should be left to chance but what cannot be provided 
for by human skill and foresight. 

\^tli. — Certain delightful qualities in women are 
usually attended with certain tendencies to vice. If 
you love the one you must risk the other. 

2>\st. — The art of Miss Edgeworth's stories Is, I 
think, too apparent. The follies and vices of the actors 
bring them too regularly to ruin. They act in circum- 
stances arranged for them, and do not, as in Shakespeare, 

1815.] FROM MY JOURNALS OF 1815. 289 

produce the circumstances In the development of their 

Fehruary 3rd. — Designing my Entry into Jeru- 
salem. In the left-hand corner I will have a penitent 
girl, pale, lovely, shrinking, yet entreating pardon of 
her Saviour, protected by her mother, who is clasping 
her in an agony of apprehension, yet with a gleam of 
hope through her tears, and encouraged by her virtuous 
sister, who gently presses her shoulder to give her 
hopes. Christ shall regard this penitent girl with in- 
tense and tender compassion, pointing to Heaven with 
his hand. 

I thank God for this conception, and pray him to 
grant I may execute it with exquisiteness. 

Sunday. — I am full of aspiration and glowing elasti- 
city of imagination, the result of a week spent vigo- 
rously and successfully, in which I have strained my 
faculties and body to the greatest stretch, without 
injury or weakness. 

O God Almighty ! I bless Thee for this with all my 
heart. Grant me strength of mind and body to realise 
all my views before I die, and take me before ray 
powers are gone. Take me before the imbecility of age 
has numbed my sensations, and deadened my concep- 
tions. But Thy will be done. To Thy merciful and 
Inexhausted goodness I trust with confidence. 

My enthusiasm at this time was Intense. I held in- 
tercourse only with my art and my great Creator. I 
shunned society. I looked on myself as called to pro- 
duce a great reform, and I devoted myself to It with the 
passionate self-seclusion of an ascetic. 

Eastlake about this time went to Paris. He felt my 
success in Solomon as sincerely and deeply as a younger 
brother. I gave him letters to our friends In Paris, and 
often heard from him. 

VOL. I. u 


About this time I had a most sinn;ular dream. I 
dreamt Wilkie and I were both clunbing vip an im- 
mensely high wall, at the top of which were sweet crea- 
tures smihng at and welcoming us. He could scarcely 
keep hold, it was so steep and slippery ; when all of a 
sudden he let go, and I saw hiai wind and curve in the 
air, and felt the horrible conviction that his body would 
be dashed to pieces. After a moment's grief, I persevered 
and reached the top, and there found Mrs. Wilkie and 
his sister, lamenting his death.* 

All this time I went on hard with my picture, till I 
found my resources exhausted as usuah 

February 25th. — The more I reflect on my nature, 
the more I am convinced of my adaptation to great diffi- 
culties. I am once asrain without one farthino;. I have 
paid off the gi'catest part of my debts. The price of 
Solomon was so inadequate, that my models and journey 
have swept off most of the rest. So far from being de- 
pressed, my breast broadens at the contemplation of 
conquering. I look upon all difficulties as stimulants 
to action. 

I have 200Z. to pay the twenty-first of next month. 
As } et I have not a sixpence towards it ; but in God I 
trust, who has always relieved me. Let me but be suc- 
cessful in realisin:J!: my conceptions in my day's labour, 
and what shall subdue me but extinction ? 

In this mood of defiance I finished the Samaritan 
woman in a way which excited a great sensation in the 
art. She held the garment In the foreground, opposite 
the Centurion, for Christ to ride over. 

I had now seen the great Venetian Avorks, and had 

* This is recorded in my Journal for February 15th, 1815, and 
is like a presentiment of his dying first. — B. R. H. 1843. 


settled priuciplcs of execution, \Ylnch I was not certain 
about in Solouion. 

As it illustrates my character, the following note 
must be endured. 

April '29th, — This week has really been a week of 
great delight. Never have I had such irresistible and 
perpetual urgings of future greatness. I have been like 
a man with air-balloons under his arm-pits, and ether 
in his soul. While I was painting, walking, or thinking, 
beaming flashes of energy followed and impressed me. 
O God ! grant they may not be presumptuous feelings. 
Grant they may be the fiery anticipations of a great 
soul born to realise them. They came over me, and 
shot across me, and shook me, till I lifted up my heart, 
and thanked God. 

Maylnd. — Went to the Institution last night to see 
the Vandykes and Kembrandts lighted by lamps. Was 
amazingly impressed with the care, diligence, and com- 
plete finish of the works of these great men. Came 
home, and looked at my own picture. It must be done 
so, and there is an end. The beauty of the women, the 
exquisite fresh, nosegay sweetness of their looks, their 
rich crimson velvet, and white satin, and lace, and 
muslin, and diamonds, with their black eyes and peachy 
complexions, and snowy necks, and delicious forms, and 
graceful motions, and sweet nothingness of conversation, 
bewildered and distracted me. A\'hat the nobility have 
to enjoy in this world! What lias not the prince? Ijut 
they do not seem happy ; they want the stimulus of 
action: their minds preying on themselves seek refuge 
in novelty, and often sacrifice principle to procure it. 

It was about this time that that admirable system of 
exhibiting; the jrrcat works of the old masters was bciiun 
at the British Institution, and nothIi)£2: showed so nuich 

r 2 


the want of noble feeling on the part of the Academy 
as the way in which its members received this resolu- 
tion, Lawrence was looking at the Gevartius when I 
was there, and as he turned round, to my wonder, his 
face was boiling with rage as he grated out between his 
teeth, "• I suppose they think we want teaching." I 
met Stothard in my rounds, who said, '' this will 
destroy us." " No," I replied, " it will certainly rouse 
me." " Why," said he, " perhaps that is the right way 
to take it." On the minds of the people the effect was 
prodigious. All classes were benefited, and so was the 
fame of the old masters themselves, for now their finest 
works were bi'ought forth to the world from old corners 
and rooms where they had never perfectly been seen. 

It was also about this time that whispers and rumours 
began to spread in the art against the Elgin Marbles, 
and very quickly reached my ears. I was up in a 
moment, and ready to fight to the last gasp in their 
defence, for having studied them night and day it was 
natural that I should feel astonished at hearing from 
various quarters that their beauly, truth, and originality 
were questioned by a great authority in matters of art. 
As this difference of opinion eventually led to a great 
battle, I may as well in this place give a slight memoir 
of these divine fra<2;ments. 

Lord Elgin, who was a man of fine taste, on receiving 
his appointment as ambassador to the Porte, in 1800, 
consulted with Harrison of Chester, how he could render 
his influence at Constantinople available for the improve- 
ment of art, with reference to the glorious remains of 

Harrison told me (in 1821) that he immediately ad- 
vised his Lordship to procure, if possible, casts from the 
Ionic columns at the angle of the pediment, to show 
how the Greeks turned the volute round at that point, 
and also suggested that sculpture would be greatly be- 


nefited by casts from any fine works remaining. Lord 
Elgin, thus advised, having first failed in obtaining the 
support of the Govei'nment, (who with all their love for 
the arts did not feel themselves at all justified in advanc- 
ing the public money for such objects,) and being unable 
to meet the enormous demands of English artists and 
moulders, proceeded to obtain on his road the assistance 
of foreign artists, who Avere more moderate in their 
terms. After much trouble he at last established at 
Athens six moulders and artists, to draw, cast, and 
mould everything valuable in art, whether sculpture, 
architecture, or inscription. 

So far Lord Elgin entertained no further notions, but 
when his artists informed him of the daily ravages of 
the Turks, and added that, during their stay, several 
works of sculpture had been injured, fired at, and even 
pounded into lime to build houses with ; — when he 
found that of a whole temple existing in Stuart's day, 
near the Ilissus, not a stone was then to be seen ; — when 
he learnt that all the English travellers who came to 
Athens, with their natural love of little bits, broke 
off arms or noses to bring home as relics; — he naturally 
concluded that in fifty years' time, at such a rate of de- 
vastation, scarce a fragment of architecture or sculpture 
would remain. 

His position was a delicate one. Suspended between 
the desire of saving from ruin and enriching his country 
with works which he felt were unequalled in beauty, 
and his dread of that which he knew would be innne- 
diately imputed to him, viz., having taken advantage of 
his public power and position to further private and pe- 
cuniary objectSj he was tormented, as all men are tor- 
mented who contemplating a service to their fellow- 
creatures feel the sad certainty that, for a time, they will 
stir up their hatred, and provoke persecution instead of 
receiving legitimate gratitude and reward. 

u 3 


With the energy of* a daring will he resolved that the 
bold ste]) was the only rational one, and having made up 
his mind he directly applied to the Porte for leave to 
mould and remove, and for a special licence to dig and 
excavate. Who will censure his resolution and decision? 
No one will now; — but every one did then. A hue and 
cry was raised. It was swelled by Byron. Lord Elgin 
was lampooned, abused, and every motive imputed to 
him but the one by which alone he was impelled. 

But Lord Elgin was a man not easily daunted ; he 
l)ut up his scaffoldings in spite of epigrams, and com- 
menced removing what remained of the sculptures and 
architecture. After nearly five years of constant 
anxieties and disappointment those remains of match- 
less beauty, the glorious Elgin Marbles, were at last 
got down to the Pirteus, — at last they were embarked, 
— at last the ship set sail, and while, with a fair wind 
and shining sun, she Avas scudding away for old 
England, the pilot ran her on a rock, and down went 
marbles and ship in many fathoms water ! Here was a 
misery ; but Hamilton, Lord Elgin's secretary, who 
was with them, did not despair. He hired a set of 
divers from the opposite coast of Asia Minor, and after 
immense perseverance recovered every case. Not a 
fragment was missing; — again they started; — again the 
winds blew, and the sun slione, and after many weeks 
they were at last safely landed and lodged in Richmond 
Grardens, to set the whole art in an uproar. 

Lord Elgin, Avho little knew the political state of 
art, was not prepared for any opposition. Innocent 
noble! he believed that the marbles had only to be seen 
to be appreciated ! He little knew that there was a 
Royal Academy which never risked injury to Its prepon- 
derance for the sake of art. He little knew that there 
were societies of Dilettanti, who frowned at any man 
who presumed to form a collection unless under their 

1815.] THE ELGIN MARBLES. 295 

sanction, so that they should sliare any repute which 
might accrue. He little knew that an eminent scholar, 
who was forming a collection of bronzes, which he 
meant to leave to the nation, and who having, like 
most eminent scholars, an intense admiration of Avhat 
was ancient, believed that nobody but himself knew 
anything of art or nature, who would become jealous 
at this sudden irruption into what he considered his 
exclusive domain. 

However little poor Lord Elgin knew of these 
matters, he soon discovered that we had a Koyal Aca- 
demy, that we had societies of Dilettanti, and that we 
had an eminent scholar collecting bronzes, whose ij^se 
dixit no one dared dispute, be he what he might in rank, 
station or talent : and Lord Eli^in soon discovered also 
that this eminent scholar, with the natural jealousy of 
a collector, meant to take the field against the origin- 
ality, beauty, nature and skill of his Lordship's mar- 
bles. At the first dinner party at Avhich Lord Elgin 
met him, he cried out in a loud voice, " You have lost 
your labour, my Lord Elgin ; your marbles are over- 
rated ; they are not Greek, they are Roman of the time 
of Hadrian." Lord Elgin, totally unprepared for such 
an assault, did not reply, for he did not know what to 

If Payne Knight had no foundation but historical 
evidence for such an o})inion, his evidence was shallow 
indeed, and if it proceeded from his knowledge as a 
connoisseur, the perfection of the Avorks he wished to 
traduce at once proved that his judgment, taste, and 
feeling, were utterly beneath notice. But such was the 
effect of Payne Knight's opinion, that the marbles went 
down in fashionable estimation from that hour. Govern- 
ment cooled, and artists became frightened, because an 
eminent scholar, jealous of their possessor, denied the 
superiority of these glorious I'cmains. Lord Elgin 

u 4 


feeling this, in utter despair removed them to Park 
Lane, built a shed over them and left them, as he 
feared, to an unmerited ftite. IMany melancholy, many 
poetical moments did I enjoy there, musing on these 
mighty fragments piled on each other, covered with 
dirt, dripping with damp, and utterly neglected for 
seasons together. But I gained from these sublime 
relics the leading principles of my practice, and I saw 
that the union of nature and idea was here so perfect, 
that the great artist, in his works, seemed more like an 
agent of the Creator to express vitality by marble than 
a mere human genius. 

Yet notwithstanding the excellence of these divine 
works, — notwithstanding that their faithfulness to natui'e 
was distinctly pi'ovcd by comparison with the forms of 
the finest boxers of the day, — notwithstanding that their 
beauty was proclaimed by the mighty voice of public 
approbation, the learned despot of dinner parties would 
not be beaten, and eight years passed over in apathy on 
the part of the British Government. 

1815.] FROM MY JOUENALS FOR 1815. 297 



April I3th. — I had a cast made yesterday of Words- 
Avorth's face. He bore it like a philosopher. .John 
Scott was to meet him at breakfast, and just as he came 
in the plaster was put on. Wordsworth was sitting in 
the other room in my dressing-gown, with his hands 
folded, sedate, solemn, and still. I stepped into Scott 
and told him as a curiosity to take a peep, that he 
might say the first sight he ever had of so great a poet 
was in this stage towards immortality. 

I opened the door slowly, and there he sat innocent 
and unconscious of our plot, in mysterious stillness and 

When he was relieved he came into breakfast with 
his usual cheerfulness and delighted us by his bursts of 
inspiration. At one time he shook us both in ex- 
plaining the princii)les of his system, his views of man, 
and his object in writing. 

Wordsworth's faculty is in describing those fiir- 
reaching and intense feelings and glinnnerings and 
doubts and fears and hopes of man, as referring to what 
he might be before he was born or what he may be 

He is a great beinn; and Avill hereafter be ranked as 
one who had a portion of the spirit of the mighty 
ones, especially ISIilton, but who did not possess the 
power of using that spirit otherwise than with re- 
ference to himself and so as to excite a reflex action 
only: this is, in ray opinion, his great characteristic. 

We afterwards called on Hunt, and as Hunt had 


previously attacked him and had now reformed his 
opinions the meeting was interesting. 

Hunt paid him the highest compliments, and told 
him that as he grew wiser and got older he found his 
respect for his powers and enthusiasm for his genius 

Hunt was very ill or it would have been his place to 
have called on "Wordsworth. Here, again, he really 
burst forth with burning feelings ; I never heard hira 
so eloquent before. 

I afterwards sauntered along with him to West-end 
Lane and so on to Hampstead, with great delight. 
Never did any man so beguile tlic time as Wordsworth. 
His purity of heart, his kindness, his soundness of 
principle, his information, his knowledge, and tlie intense 
and eager feelings with which he pours forth all he 
knows affect, interest and enchant one. I do not know 
any one I would be so inclined to worship as a purified 

Last niglit T had been at an insipid rout. The 
contrast was vivid. There the beauty of the women 
was the only attraction. 

In speaking of Lucien Buonaparte as we sauntered 
along, I said of his poem, that the materials were ill- 
arrauQ-ed as referrinai; to an end. "I don't care for 
that," said Wordsworth, " if there are good things in a 
poem." Here he was decidedly wrong ; but he did not 
say this with reference to this particular poem, because he 
tliou2;ht little of it. 

May 23rd. — Breakfasted with Wordswortli, and 
spent a delightful two hours. Speaking of Burke, Fox, 
and Pitt, he said, " You always went from Burke with 
your mind filled ; from Fox with your feelings excited ; 
and from Pitt with wonder at his having had the power 
to make the worse appear the better reason." " Pitt," he 
said, " preferred power to principle." 

I say it is not so. Pitt at a crisis of danger sacrificed 

1815.] FKOM MY JOURNALS OP 1815. 299 

his consistency for the sake of his sovereign and country. 
Which is more just ? 

Woi'dsworth has one and perliaps the greatest part 
of the great genius ; but he has not the lucidus ordo, 
and he undervalues it, which is wrong. In phrenolo- 
gical development he is without constructiveness while 
imaiiination is as bi^i: as an csG!. 

24ith. — There is no sect, philosophy, religion, or law, 
that has so much contributed to the public good as 
the Christian relisrion. 

21th. — I have worked this week more intensely, 
and advanced my picture delightfully, my eyes strong, 
my mind in fine tone, practice increasing my power of 
hand and application increasing my power of practice. 
Have I not cause to be grateful to God ? I have ; I 
am : I will be more so. 

In the history of the world never was there such a 
period as this of 1815. Buonaparte had returned from 
Elba and got possession of the throne by the most won- 
derful coup de main on record. Had he not wasted his 
time in trying to get possession of the King of Rome, — 
had he defied the Allied Powers instead of seeking to 
soothe them, — had he given full rein to the enthusiasm 
of the people, and sent them on during the revolutiun to 
the frontiers, it would at least have rendered the 
contest doubtful. But he let all evaporate ; was guilty 
of violations of constitutional law, which he did not un- 
derstand though he had sworn to maintain it ; roused 
the suspicions of Benjamin Constant and the liberal 
party, and the party of the people, so that, before the 
campaign in Flanders began, the whole thing had sunk 
from a national quarrel for the sake of a great principle 
to a party feeling in favour of his own dynasty, which the 
army, and the army alone, were interested to preserve. 
In f ict, morally, Napoleon was beaten before the battle 
of Waterloo. AYhcn he landed at Cannes, " he will 


soon give an account of Master Wellington," said Hunt 
to me. " "Will he ?" I replied, " I'll bet this will all be 
a working up for Wellington's glory." Hunt treated 
the thought with the greatest contempt ; but my 
feelings about the Duke amounted to the supernatural 
since Vimiera. 

I was now working hard at Jerusalem. My journal 
records, — 

June \^th. — Went down to the Gallery to consult 
the fine pictures as I worked. Sir George Beaumont 
called and sat with me as I painted the sleeve of 
the centurion. He had the greatest delight. Jackson 
called and said the Duchess of Wellington came in to 
Lord Mulgrave's last night, and they began talking 
anxiously about the Duke. " AVhat does she say ? " 
said I. " She said," Jackson replied, " that she felt 
perfectly tranquil as she knew he was now in his 

22wc?. — I went to the Institution and studied In- 
tensely. You feel the beauty of great works a great 
deal more when you see them at the time you are 
making similar attempts yourself; you enter into all 
the feelings of the artist ; you recognise the same views 
of nature as you have seen yourself ; and you see their 
attempts at imitating what perhaps you have been 
trying the same day. The sympathy is delightful. 

How did I enter into Rembrandt, how drink in his 
excellence, how profit by his beauties ! How did I re- 
cognise effects of shadow on arms, gradations of colour, 
softness and tones which I have seen in nature often, 
and which lie in my mind like substances ! I shall go 
to work afTjain to-morrow with God's blessins^ stimulated 
to the most extraordinary effort. I will rival and if 
possible exceed them : possible it is, because they are 
but mortals, and great and beautiful as their efforts are 
how feeble are they to the beauty of life ! 

1815. J FROM MY JOURXALS OF 1815. 301 

What a wonderful creation Is the world ; how beau- 
tiful in ornament, how intensely deep in principle, how 
simple in arrangement ! How delightful that the ele- 
ments of our physical being should afford materials for 
the exercise of our intellectual powers ! 

Ivembrandt is not vulgar though his characters are 
mean ; there is such a refinement in his surface and 

23rfZ. — I had spent the evening with John Scott 
who lived in the Edgeware Road. I had stayed rather 
late, and was coming home to Great Marlborough 
Street, when in crossing Portman Square a messenger 
from the Foreign Office came right up to me and said, 
" which is Lord llarrowby's ? The Duke has beat 
Napoleon, taken one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, 
and is marching to Paris." " Is it true?" said I, quite 
bewildered. " True !" said he ; " which is Lord Harrow- 
by's ? " Forgetting in my joy this was not Grosvenor 
Square, I said " There," pointing to the same point ia 
Portman Square as Lord llarrowby's house occupies 
in Grosvenor Square, which happened to be Mrs. 
Boehm's where there was actually a rout. In rushed 
the messenger through servants and all, and I ran back 
again to Scott's. They were gone to bed but I knocked 
them up and said, " The Duke has beat Napoleon, 
taken one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, and is 
marching to Paris." Scott began to ask questions. I 
said, " None of your questions ; it's a fact," and both 
of us said " huzza ! " 

I went home and to bed ; got up and to work : Sam- 
mons my model and corporal of the 2nd Life Guards 
came and we tried to do our duty ; but Sammons was 
in such a fidget about his regiment charging, and I 
myself was in such a heat, I was obliged to let him go. 
Away he went, and I never saw him till late next day, 
and he tlien came drunk with talking. I read the 


Gazette the last thing before going to bed. I dreamt 
of it and was fighting all night ; I got up in a steam of 
feelins; and read the Gazette ao;aln, ordered a Courier 
for a month, called at a confectioner's and read all the 
papers till I was faint. 

How singularly success operates on our minds ! 
When Napoleon was at Moscow one thought of him as 
a tremendous beiniT;. I recollect ar<T;uino; with Wilkie 
he could not stop. " Ah but," said he, " he has got 
there ! " One felt contempt when he abdicated, but 
wdien he left Elba an 1 rushed to Paris, one shrunk as if 
in presence of a comet. Madame de Stael said in 1814, 
^' II n^ est pas un homme, il est un s7/steme" and she ac- 
knowledged herself completely vanquished. 

One could not think of the Duke and the British 
troops without tears. Their constancy and firmness, 
his genius and prudence, tlie manner in which they had 
worked their way to their splendid reputation against 
the prejudice of Europe and the insolence of the French 
was passionately interesting. 

"Now," thought I, "will the Imperial Guard say 
again to me ' NopoUon n^etait jamais hattu ? ' " I believe 
not. Even the French, vain and impudent as they are, 
must acknowledge it; and if the Allies do not think 
us too powerful and negative our influence his destruc- 
not approaches. 

" Have not the efforts of the nation," I asked myself, 
" been gigantic ? To such glories she only wants to 
add the glories of my noble art to make her the grandest 
nation in the world, and these she shall have if God 
spare my life." 

2AtJi. — How this victory pursues one's imagination ! 
I read the Gazette four times without stopping. 

25t]i. — Read the Gazette again, till I now know 
it actually b}^ heart. Dined with Hunt. I give myself 
great credit for not worrying him to death at this news; 

1815.] FR03I MY JOURNALS FOR 1815. 303 

he was quiet for some time, but knowing it must come 
by-and-by and putting on an air of indifference : he 
said, " Terrible battle this, Haydon." '* A glorious one, 
Hunt." " Oh, yes, certainly," and to it we went. 

Yet Hunt took a just and liberal view of the ques- 
tion. As for Hazlitt, it is not to be believed how the 
destruction of Napoleon affected him ; he seemed pros- 
trated in mind and body : he walked about, unwashed, 
unsliaved, hardly sober by day, and always intoxicated 
by night, literally, without exaggeration, for weeks ; 
imtil at length wakening as it were from his stupor, he 
at once left off all stimulating liquors, and never 
touched them after. 

Hazlitt's principle was, that crimes, want of honour, 
want of faith, or want of every virtue on earth, were 
nothing on the part of an individual raised from the 
middle classes to the throne, if they forwarded the 
victory of the popular principle whilst he remained 
there. I used to maintain that the basis of such a 
victoiy should be the very reverse of the vices, and 
cruelties, and weaknesses of decayed dynasties, and 
that in proportion as a man elevated as Napoleon was 
in such a cause deviated from the abstract virtue re- 
quired, in the same proportion he injured the cause it- 
self and excused the very dynasties he wished to 
supplant and surpass. 

Leigh Hunt said there was less excuse for Napoleon 
than for hereditary princes, because they were educated 
in hatred of the very constitutional government they 
affected to wish fur, whilst Napoleon had risen on the 
shoulders of revolution, and that he was deservedly 
punished by his misfortunes. I always maintained that 
tl»e Dnke would be considered by posterity to have 
saved for this age the intellect of the world. Had 
Napoleon triumphed we would have been brought back 

304 AUTOBIOGRArnY OF B. R. HAYDON. [l815. 

to barbarism. Great and glorious Wellington ! how 
quietly did he bear all the ridicule and sneers when he 
went to Portugal. Even the ministry who sent him out 
did not seem aware of the extent of his j)owers: they 
cramped his means and neglected to send him succours ; 
and it was only on his showing how much he could do 
without means that they gave him means to do more. 
I heard Lord Mulgrave say he would be a second Marl- 
borough. But what had Marlborough to do in compa- 
rison with him ? Princes did not then fight for thrones, 
people for their rights, or the world for its existence. 
Napoleon's system was inspired by all the genius and 
energy of a demon. Gradual progress and gradual en- 
liohtenment mio;ht have reformed the rottenness of cor- 
rupt theories. Hazlitt and Hunt, and Byron and 
Shelley, wished their end to be brought about by means 
which would have entailed consequences more dreadful 
to human liberty and intellect than the extreme of cor- 
ruption in old governments. 

Napoleon pressed intellect into his service; the 
brio-liter the mind the more baneful the result. He 
seemed desirous to sap youthful susceptibility and make 
one beinof the enfjine of another's reduction till he was 
the dreaded deity of this lower world. 

Any people might by degrees have been corrupted 
by such a system, but hoAV terrible its operation on a 
nation like the French ! Vain, insolent, thoughtless, 
bloodthirsty, and impetuous by nature, — so susceptible 
to glory as to have their little sense blinded by that 
bubble, — a people who are brilliant without intensity, 
have courage without firmness, are polite without bene- 
volence, tender without heart, — pale, fierce, and elegant 
in their looks, depraved, lecherous, and blasphemous in 
their natures ! Good God ! Napoleon the being and 
the French the people to be the instruments of liberty 
to the world ! Power is to be again placed into their 


hands because they were so moderate before ! Their 
character to be a guarantee for Europe's repose ! Na- 
poleon to be reformed by misfortune ! He certainly 
gave beautiful symptoms of it during the Hundred Days. 

I was pleased to hear the Duke was excessively 
affected at the loss of so many friends, for sympathy is 
the only good quality I feared he was without. 

Charles Bell went directly to Belgium, and I thought 
of darting away ; but when I looked at my picture of 
Jerusalem and reflected on my character I thought it 
better to go on with my studies, which I did earnestly 
and well. 

About this time 500,000/. was voted for a Waterloo 
monument. Painting, sculpture and architecture were 
to have been united. The committee wrote to the Aca- 
demy to ask their advice ; no answer was returned. 
Lord Castlcreagh and the committee were so thoroughly 
dis"-usted that notwithstanding hundreds of models were 
sent in at their call the whole thing was given up. 
Many ai'tists were nearly ruined ; but the fact was 
never known publicly till the committee on the Royal 
Academy, (in 1836,) when the Academicians were, at 
my instigation, asked by Ewart the chairman what was 
the reason of such conduct ? Shee had accidentally 
confessed to me that he had advised no reply, in revenge 
for the Government having returned no answer to theni 
■when they as a body liad at some time drawn up a 
statement how High Art might be advanced. 

It was very wrong of Lord Liverpool or His 
^Majesty to treat a public body with such disrespect, 
and it was still more wrong for that body, at such a 
great opportunity, to resent the sligiit, beca\ise High Art 
which both mit-ht wish advanced was thus sacrificed 
and kept struggling for years after. 

I was so excited by the idea of this monument that I 
Avent to Hampton Court, and after studying the car- 
VOT.. T. X 


toons all day stayed from sunset In the fields a great 
part of the night planning a series of national subjects, 
and It was here I settled my series on the principle that 
to illustrate the best 2;overnment for regulating without 
cramping the liberty of man was the thing ; making 
Napoleon the exception and his ruin the moral. After- 
wards, when the scheme of a Waterloo monument went 
to the ground, I adopted this series for the old House of 
Lords, where it had occurred to me in 1812 when the 
Prince Regent was speaking. 

Wilkie had been out of town, and on my return I 
found a letter from him requesting me to participate 
Avitli him in his satisfaction at the sale of his picture, 
Distraining for Rent, for which the directors of the 
British Institution had unanimously voted six hundred 

Sir George Beaumont and I had now made up our 
dliferences. He called, and said he must have a picture, 
and advanced me fifty guineas. I said I hoped he 
would not wish for anything less than life. He replied 
certainly not, and at a price not to exceed 200 guineas. 
Sir George's heart was always tender, but he was capri- 

July came, and the people began to quit town. I do 
not know if the pleasantest part of a London season be 
not the last fortnight after Parliament Is up. Business 
is over. People lounge long and late after dinner; the 
arts, the opera, the session, the court, the intrigues, the 
courtships, the marriages are all discussed, till one by 
one each drops away by the 1st of September, and then 
takes place that lull, to use a word of Lord Palmerston's 
which exquisitely expresses the thing, and London harass 
is succeeded by country duties, steward's accounts, coal 
mines, Irish estates or a contest for a vacant borough, 
till Christmas comes and then hey for the new year ! 

Before Sir George left town he sent me a letter 


whlcli I recommend to the youthful student, as I do all 
his letters, as models of sound advice both on Art and 

He wrote (July 1st, 1815), — 

"As your sincere well-wisher I earnestly require you to 
abstain from all writing except on bi'oad and general subjects, 
cbiefiy allusive to your art. If any severe or unjust remarks 
are made on you or your works paint them down. You can. 
But if you retort in words, action will produce re-action, and 
your whole remaining life will be one scene of pernicious 
contention. Your mind, whicli should be a mansion for all 
lovely thoughts, will be for ever disturbed by angry and 
sarcastic movements, and you will never be in a state to sit 
down to your easel with that composed dignity which your 
high calling demands." 

I answered this by assuring him that since my attack 
on the Royal Academy, (in which I shall glory to the 
day of my death,) I had never written a line in attack, 
nor would I ever again ; that I had long been tho- 
roughly convinced that to paint my Avay to my great 
object was the only plan. 

I find the following in my Journal : — 

July 2\tli. j\Iade a cast of Wilkie's fiice, with 
Wyburn, our Paris friend : never had such fun, as 
Wilkie lay on the ground looking like a Knight 
Templar on a monument. We quizzed him till we 
roared. We <xave him leave to lau2i;h if he could ; all 
he could do was to clasp his hands to express his parti- 
cipation in the fun. 

2'jth. Spent the evening with AVcst, looking over his 
exquisite collection of drawings by IvalFacle and Michel 
Angelo. I had painted ten hours, and looking at draw- 
ings till eleven at night brought on a weakness of my 
eyes again. 

Au(just 6th. Spent a delightful evening with my old 

X :i 


friends, Maclaggan, John Scott, Du Fresne and Liz. 
When they were gone I felt the solitude of the scattered 
chairs. Why must we separate to relish meeting ? Why 
must we sleep to relish waking ? Because this life is 
a life of duty, not pleasure, a life of effort to deserve 

All this time I worked very hard without leaving 
town, and got in the penitent girl, with the mother, 
sister and brother. 

I was glad to receive Wilkie's letter about the pur- 
chase of the Distraining for Rent, because at the Exhi- 
bition, beautiful as the picture was acknowledged to be, 
the aristocracy evidently thought it an attack on their 
rights. Sir George was very sore on the private day, 
and said Wilkie should have shown why his landlord 
had distrained ; he might be a dissipated tenant. I 
defended Wilkie as well as I could, but there Avas a 
decided set at the picture. 

At five that day Wilkie and I sojourned to John 
O 'Groat's, Rupert Street, he looking pale and mortified. 
In the course of dinner he said to me, " Do not you be 
surprised if I change my whole style." I said, " I hope 
not; — you'll sell it notwithstanding." I never knew 
why it was to be sold and do not know now if it ever 
was begun for anybody. But Wilkie was easily cowed. 
He would have been a pretty fellow to fight the battle 
of High Art ! 

One mornino; whilst I was at work, and as usual in 
want of money, Mr. G. Phillips, of Manchester, intro- 
duced himself, and gave me a commission for 500 
guineas, paying me at once lOOZ. down. It came like 
a flash of lightning. I was deeply touched and could 
almost have cried. He said, " Excuse me, but with 
such works as these you cannot be rich." 

I now went on like a hero, and the 100/. was soon 
visible in the centurion's nape, hand and armour, which 


I think the completest evidence of the reality of my 
style in my practice. 

But why talk of painting in such times as these were ? 
England was all again in an uproar. Buonaparte, after 
givino; evidence in Paris that he was not the man of the 
18th Brumaire, had surrendered to Captain Maitland, 
and was now in Plymouth harbour, cheered by thou- 
sands. I resolved to go. But my picture, — was it 
manly to desert it? I should break in on my 100/., 
and it was meant for my picture. After an acute struggle 
Art was victorious. 

Sammons, my old corporal, whom I had lost sight of, 
now appeared again. "Wilkie, and 1, and Scott had got 
up several of the wounded to my room, and Sammons 
brought a genuine letter from the field and gave it to 


me to read, if I could, for the benefit of the company. 
Here it is.* 

" Bmssels, June 23rtl, 1815. 
" Respected Friend, 

" I take this opportunity of sending these few lines hoping 
they will find in good health, as this : only I received a 
wound on my left arm by a cannon ball which has took off 
part of the flesh, but missed the bone. Dear friend I wit- 
nessed tlie most dreadful slaughter what was ever kuoAvn by 
the oldest soldier in the army. 

" From Friday we advanced, and Saturday we retreated 
by being overpowered ; but the first regiment was engaged, 
and got great applause, but thunder lightning and rain pre- 
vented us from being engaged till Sunday. The French 
kept advancing till ten o'clock, then we opened our fire with 
our cannon and infantry, and hard fighting till three, wlien 
our artillery retreated with infantry, and then we was forced 
to charge them though live to one, and some say (_leveu to 
one, but they turned for bold Life Guards to pursue. The 
slaughter is more than I can describe. They run like a hare 
before the hounds, but our liorses getting faint, and troops 

* The spelling is corrected, but the language mialtercd. — Eu. 

X 3 



of French coming up with cannon, cut our men off very fast, 
and still they fought like lions more than men, determined 
to conquer or die to a man. I saw many of my comrades 
fall, before I got the wound, but we got three eagles, and 
Lord Wellington said that gained the applause of the whole 
of the British. The numbers of killed and wounded is more 
than can at present be told on both sides. Our regiment 
mounted twenty-five to go on with, the rest is wounded and 
missing. Shaw is no more ; Ilornwood, and many that I 
cannot insert; — there will be many widows in our regiment — 
vou will hear when the returns come, — and many wounded. 
Shepherd is billeted with me, and wounded with a ball in his 
arm, and with a lance in his side ; Walker is killed; Dakin is 
severely wounded* ; Burgeon is prisoner, and Sunderland 
killed; Shepherd was took prisoner on the plains of Waterloo, 
and drove to a large town called Shalligarowf, and which is 
twenty-four miles from where we was engaged ; the blood 
was running from his wounds in torrents, and used like a 
dog, but he made his escape from them, and got here on 
Monday aAd came to Brussels ; his horse was shot, then 
mounted a French one, and that was shot : he was forced to 
yield prisoner, being wounded in three places in his side, and 
in his arm. I cannot hear that Dendy is killed, for he was 
with the baggage. We took 154 pieces of cannon, and all the 
waggons for miles, and our army is now passing a hill with- 
out firing a gun ; and they will be soon in Paris; the French 
was only nine miles off, and Boney said he would dine by 
four o'clock. The town was to be plundered, and now he is 
100 miles off and we have his brother safe prisoner. Wil- 
liams is safe and Barker prisonei', and we have no account 
of him. 

" I hope you have got the money from' the colonel. Please 
remember me to Jane, and I shall be glad to see you safe 
again ; give my love to brother and sister, and tell them to 
write to my father. 

" I have no more to say at present. 

" I remain, your obedient friend, 
" William Chapman, 

" 2nd Life Guards." 

* Killed. I Charlerois. 


Sammons was a favourite model; — a living Ilissus ; — 
a good soldier; — had been through the war in Spain, and 
was very angry he had not been at Waterloo. 

Whilst the wounded were describing the battle, Sam- 
mons explained what was military, and thereby kept up 
his command, he being a corporal and they being pri- 
vates. Wilkie was always amused with my corporal, 
and Hazlltt held regular discussions with him about 
Spain and Xapoleon, but Sammons was proof, and 
always maintained the Duke was the better man. 

Sammons was a soldier in every sense of the word. 
He would have brouo-ht a million safe and sound from 
Portsmouth to the King's Mint, but he popped his band 
into King Joseph's coaches at Vittoria and bi'ought 
away a silver pepper-box. He was an old satyr, very 
like Socrates in face, faithful to me, his colonel, and his 
King ; but let a pretty girl come in the way and the 
Lord have mercy on her ! 

The description of the men was simple, characteristic 
and poetical. They said when the Life Guards and 
Cuirassiers met, it was like the ringing of ten thousand 
blacksmiths' anvils. One of them knew my models, 
Shaw and Dakin. He saw Dakin, while fighting on 
foot with two Cuirassiers also on foot, divide both tiieir 
heads with cuts five and six. He said Dakin rode out 
foaming at the mouth and cheered on his troop. In the 
evening he saw Dakin lying dead, cut in ])ieces. Dakin 
sat to me for the sleeping groom on his knees in 

Another saw Shaw fiirlitini? with two Cuirassiers at 
a time. Shaw, he said, always cleared his passage. He 
saw him take an eagle but lose it afterwards, as when 
any man got an eagle all the troops near him on both 
sides left off fighting and set on him who had the eagle. 
He went on himself very well, but riding too far was 
speared by a Lancer and falntc'd away. Recovering he 

X 4 

312 AUTOBIOGRAniY OF B. R. HAYDOX. [1815. 

sat upright, when three or four Lancers saw him, rode 
at him, and speared him till they thought him dead. He 
remembered nothing till revived by the shaking as they 
carried him to the yard of La Ilaye Sainte. There he 
heard some one groaning and turning round saw Shaw, 
who said, " I am dying; my side is torn off by a shell." 
His comrade told us how he had swooned away, and 
being revived by their taking him up to be carried to 
Brussels at daybreak he saw poor Shaw dead with his 
check in his hand. 

Corporal Webster of the 2nd Life Guards saw Shaw 
give his first cut. As he was getting down the rising 
ground into the hollow road a Cuirassier waited and 
gave point at his belly. Shaw parried the thrust and 
before the Frenchman recovered cut him right throuo-h 
his brass helmet to the chin, and " his face fell off him 
like a bit of apple." 

Another, Hodgson, (a model, and the finest of all, 
standing six feet four inches, a perfect Achilles), charged 
up to the French baggage. He saw artillery driver- 
boys of sixteen crying on their horses. In coming back 
a whole French regiment opened and let him pass at 
full galloiD, then closed and gave him a volley, but never 
hit him or horse. 

The first man who stopped him was an Irishman in 
the French service. He dashed at him and said "D — n 
you, I'll stop your crowing." Hodgson said he was 
frightened as he had never fought anybody with swords. 
Watching the Cuirassier, however, he found he could 
not move his horse so quickly as he could ; so letting go 
the reins and guiding his horse with his knees as the 
Cuirassier gave point at his throat Hodgson cut his 
sword-hand off and dashed his sabre through his throat, 
turning it round and round. The first cut he gave him 
Avas on his cuirass which he thought was silver lace. 
The shock nearly broke his own arm. " D me, 


sir," he added, " now I had found out the way I soon 
gave it them." As Hodgson rode back after behig fired 
at an officer encountered him. Hodgson cut his horse 
at the nape, and as it dropped dead the officei-'s hehnet 
rolled off and Hodgson saw a bald head and Avhite hairs. 
The officer begged for mercy, but at that instant a troop 
of Lancers was approaching at the gallop, so Hodgson 
clove his head in two at a blow and escaped. The re- 
collection of the white hairs, he told us, pained him 
often. Before he got back to the British lines, a Lancer 
officer charged him and missing his thrust came right on 
Hodgson and his horse. Hodgson got clear and cut his 
head off at the neck, at one blow, and the head bobbed 
on his havresack where he kept the bloody stain. 

Wilkie, I, and Scott, kept the poor fellows long and 
late, rewarded them well, and sent them home in charge 
of Corporal Sammons, as proud as the Duke, for they 
were under his command for the evening. Sammons 
always seemed astounded that the battle of "Waterloo 
had been gained and he not present. 

Meanwhile Sir George Cockburn had taken Napoleon 
on board and sailed. But before this Eastlake, being 
at Plymouth, went out in a boat and made a small 
whole length. Napoleon seeing him, evidently (as 
Eastlake thought) stayed longer at the gangway. The 
French officers save him this certificate : — " J\ii ini le 
portrait que M. Eastlake a fait tie VEmpereur Napoli^on, 
ctjai trouvd qiiil est tres rassemhlant, et qiiil a en outre 
le rtKivitc de donner une id<ie exacte de Vhahitude de corps 
de S. Mr 

(Here follow their names and Captain Maitland's.) 

In the letter mentioning this circumstance Eastlake 
A-rotc, " I cannot resist telling you a story ch-aracteristic 
of the French, which I had from a naval officer who 
was prisoner at Boulogne. One fine but windy day, an 
Engli.^h ship was obliged to put into the mouth of the 


harbour, under shelter of a, hill, but out of the reach of 
the batteries. The commandant of the pLace, just pre- 
panng to take his morning ride, ordered out some of 
their large praams, which we have heard of, to take her. 
It was represented to him that they would certainly be 
lost, if they ventured without a certain part of the 
harbour. However, the governor would not be swayed 
by this advice, and was obeyed accordingly. As he re- 
turned to dine in the afternoon, he met people carrying 
along some drowned men. " Qu'est-ce que c'est que (^af^ 
" Monsieur, ce sont les corps cle ces malheureux qui ont 
peri en oheissant a vos ordresy "Ah I " (taking a pinch 
of snuff ), " e/i Men, on ne veut pas faire des omelettes sans 
casser les oeiifs,^' and so w^ent to his dinner. 

August was now drawinii^ to a close, and Waterloo 
was getting an old story. 

My eyes from imprudent work had again given way, 
and I determined on a chano-e to the sea. 

I went to Brighton, and invited Wilkie to come 
down, as I had met with a singular character in a friend 
of Prince Hoare's, the Rev. Mr. Douglas, author of 
" N^renia Britannica," an antiquary and an original. 

In a few days down Wilkie came and found me weak 
in eyes and body. Wilkie was delighted with Douglas, 
who put him in mind of the Vicar of Wakefield. Prince 
Hoare, Douglas and we two spent many plensant days, 
and as Douglas greatly excited our curiosity about urn 
burials, we plagued him till he agreed to get leave to 
open the great barrow on the hill close to the church. 
We got leave, and also by permission of the colonel of 
the 10th, some of his men to dig for us, and early in the 
morning we set to work. Douglas, being commander, 
, told us to let the men dig carefully till they found an 
vu'n upside down, and then to dig round it most carefully 
till it was removed. We did so, and about noon came to 
an urn of unbaked clay, graceful in form and ornamented 

1815.] AN" ECCENTRIC. 315 

like a British shield : against Douglas's arrival it was 
ready for him ; up he took it. " There's iron," said I ; 
" I hope not," thundered Douglas. He was so nervous 
to examine he broke the urn and out rolled the burnt 
bones of a human skeleton. 

Douglas's theory was that at that early period brass 
was only in use ; had it been iron I took up there would 
have been an end of his theory. By this time people 
crowded up the hill, and, it being cockney season, the 
cockneys who flocked round began to steal the bones. 
Wilkie was in ecstasies: — Hoare shrunk always at a 
crowd; — I took care of the urn, bought a mufBn basket 
of a boy, and put it ia under Hoare's care. Douglas, 
now his antiquarian theory was safe, jumped into the 
grave and addressed the people on the icichediiess of dis- 
turbing the ashes of the dead. Wilkie was delighted and 
kept saying "Dear, dear, — look at him," The effect of 
his large sack of a body, his small head, white hair and 
reverend look, his spectacles low down on his nose, and 
his grave expression as he eyed the mob over them, was 
indescribable. After a long harangue he persuaded the 
vulgar rich to stand back, and ordered the hussars to 
cover up the bones with respect. I believe in the long 
run there was only a finger or tvv'o missing, for many 
threw back their pilferings at the solemn injunctions of 
the antiquary. 

He was one of the most sino;ular and irregular cha- 
ractcrs I ever met. 

One day he lost a black horse out of his orcliard. I 
said, " AAHiy don't you go to a magistrate ?" " Ali, my 
dear," said Douglas, " perliaps God Almighty thinks 1 
have had him lonf>; cnou";!!." 

He invited us once to breakfast at nine — Hoare and 
I were punctual : luckily I had breakfasted before I 
went. When wc came there was no cloth laid, no 
breakfast rcadv. ""What shall we do?" said Hoare, 


who was a peevish man. ''What you like; — I have 
breakfasted." "VVe sat down in despair, when all of a 
sudden out plumped Douglas from his bed in the room 
over our heads, and after a struggle to put on some- 
thing, we Iieard him thunder out, " Betty, where is my 
other stocking ? " 

Prince Hoare told me an amusing anecdote illustra- 
tive of his passion for urns. He and Douglas had a 
conversation about St. Paul preaching at Athens. " I 
wonder who that Damaris was," said Douglas. " I do 
not know," said Hoare, " Ah," said Douglas with per- 
fect gravity, " I wish we could find her urn." 

Shortly after AVilkie and I returned to work for the 
winter, having been greatly benefited by the trip. 
Hoare took care of the memorable urn and had it put 


While Wilkie and I were at Brighton we got a letter 
from John Scott who had rushed over to Paris after 
Waterloo. At the end of it he wrote, — "I must tell 
you that on Friday last I made a catalogue of the 
works in the Louvre, — a gigantic job : — two hundred 
and seventy form the whole collection. In the Italian 
division sixteen remain. The Transfiguration is not one 
of them. I saw the Venetian horses go. I was most 
lucky in getting to the top of the arch. I sat in the 
car. I stood in the car. I plundered the car. I have 
brought with me a ram's horn from it *, to blow down 
the walls of the first Jericho I have a chance of being 
dispatched to by you when I bother you in busy hours." 

Wilkie was not sorry at the dispersion of the Louvre. 
He said in a letter to me, " The works will be seen by 
fewer who have no relish and will be less liable to 
absurd comment." 

After my return from Brighton I was still weak, 

* He bought it for Is. 6d. of an English artilleryman. 


Irritable and nervous. I had never recovered the bitter 
sufferings I had endured during the painting of Solo- 
mon. As I tottered again into my old painting-room I 
saAV my Elgin drawings. " Ah," I thought, " those 
were 2;lorious times." I coxild then sit twelve hours at 
it ; — no weak eyes then : now I shrunk at every gust 
of wind, and feared the blessed light of heaven. I had 
torn up my strength by my paroxysms of application : I 
was so deranged by fasting and often forgetting to dine 
that my whole frame seemed going to pieces. 
My Journal records this state of depression. 

November 6fh. I look back on my days of early 
devotion with melancholy enthusiasm; — what glorious 
times ! O God that ever I should be obliged to yield 
to anything. 

There I sit with my hand trembling as I look at my 
picture and call to mind it was in the same state three 
months ago. 

With what intensity was I proceeding, rapt, ab- 
stracted, in easy circumstances ! And now comes this 
melancholy debility of sight and stops me half-way. I 
have no philosophy : — I hate it ; I am very wretched and 
I will complain. 

1 had made a positive improvement ; — I had begun to 
have clearer views. O God restore me to vigour I 
humbly entreat thee ! 

7th. Passed a miserable and bitter morning in com- 
paring myself to Raffaele. At ray age he had com- 
pleted a room of the Vatican. 

10^/i to lC)th November, — I got leave to mould some 
of tlie Elgin feet. It took up my attention. It was 
not trying to my eyes so I flew at it with a gusto not 
to be described. I gave a hearty cheer and set to 

Could I have believed seven years ago that I should be 
allowed to take casts ! I got leave to-day for a figure. 

318 AUTOBIOGRArnY OF B. R. HAYDON. [l815. 

1 thanked God, and hope to turn their beauties into mj 

I hurried away for a plaster man. As I was passing 
Prince's Street I passed two inside a shop moulding, — 
Mazzoni and Sartl, his apprentice. 1 darted in and 
said, " Get some sacks of plaster, and a cart, and follow 
me, — I'll put money in your pocket." They obeyed 
me directly. As we got down to Burlington House, I 
said, " Now, my lads, as soon as this gets wind we shall 
be stopped, so work away." They took fire, for with 
Italian quickness they perceived the truth. 

We began on the Ilissus. I left them at dark and 
urmno; the value of time went home to bed. I dreamt 
I was in Kome. I told them all they had not a statue 
to compare with the Ilissus : I thought I saw the Pope, 
and dreamt of RafFaele and Heaven knows what. I 
got up like a fish out of water. 

\lth. Mazzoni by great exertion got the mould 
made in large pieces by four o'clock and off home. 
Hurrah ! Rossi called, for it had soon got abroad that 
Haydon was moulding the Elgin Marbles. I wished I 
had been there. I fully expected a row before it was 
over, for I knew they would say I was injuring Lord 
Elgin's property. 

So far all was safe, though artists came and gaped 
unutterable things. 

I pushed the man so, we got Theseus, Ilissus, Nep- 
tune's breast, and hosts of fragments, three or four 
metopes, and all home, for I dreaded a reverse, and we 
were going on gloriously. 

So we went on up to the 8th of December when 
they alarmed Lord Elgin, and in the midst of our 
victory down came an order to stop moulding for the 

It was too late — the cream of the collection was 

1815.] A VISIT FROM CAXOV^A. 319 

secured. My eyes got better from the excitement and 
I rubbed In a head of Maria Foote. 

Never was such fun. Lord Elgin's steward, called 
Thompson, had advised it, but believing the pieces 
which are joined on to make " safe moulds " to have 
been broken bits, had thrown away the whole, and 
thus entirely ruined the moulds of the Theseian bas- 
reliefs which had cost Lord Elgin so much. 

I was in the cloudfs. My Theseus and Ilissus were 
come home with all my fragments and I walked about 
glorying. iNIy painting-room was full and so was my 
ante-room ; crowds came to see them, and in the midst 
of my glory who should make his appearance but 
Can ova ! 

AVilkie, who saw him first, came to me and said he 
did not think highly of the Elgin Marbles. " Not think 
highly ? " said I. " No," said Wilkle ; " It is your 
d— d French makes you think he said so." Wilkie 
maintained it, but could not recollect what he said. 
I wrote to Hamilton to ask for an introduction, and 
on the Saturday after called at the Foreign Office, from 
which Hamilton and I at once walked to Bennet's 
Hotel where we found Canova. I was deeply inte- 
rested, and said at once, " Ne croijez-vous pas que 
le style qui existe dans les rnarhres cV Elgin est supd- 
rieur a celui de tons les autres marbi^es connus ? " " Sans 
doute,'" was his re})ly, " la verite est telle, les accidents de 
la chair ct les formes sont si vraies et si belles, que ces 
statues produiront un grand changement dans les arts, 
lis renverseront le systeme matlu'matiquc des autrrs." 

I was in rajjtures, and turning to Hamilton, said, 
" N^ai-je pas toujours dit la menie chose depuis six ans ? " 
My victory was now complete. 

The next day Canova called to sec my Jerusalem. 
He expressed great admiration at Jairus' daughter, and 
repeatedly said, " Charmante, cliarmayite.'''' After looking 


some time in silence (his brother the Abbe was with 
him) he turned round and said, "Venez a Rome, M. 
Haydon, vous y verrez la veritable democratle cle fart." 

The vinexpressed inference was obvious. He found 
the only man painting history at work in a room where 
he had not room to turn. 

He then got into conversation ; his observations were 
exquisite ; he was the great artist in fact, — a thing I 
knew not here. It was delightful to find his mind had 
come to conclusions like my own, so far apart. " Vous 
verrez,''^ said he, " des divisions dans h ventre des statues 
de Monte Cavallo qui ne sent pas naturelles : vous ne les 
verrez pas aux Grecs." As I was determined to push 
him home, I said, " Do you think if the Apollo had been 
found without his head his figure would have stood so 
highly?" "Peut-etre non,''^ said Canova. 

This was noble in him, after passing fifty years before 
he saw a su{)erior style and seeing that first as it were 
in his old aije. Hamilton said Canova told him that if 
the action of the Apollo were taken away his figure was 

Canova looked over my studies and said, " Vous etes 
un brave liomme.''^ In one hand I had marked thino-s too 
sharply. He said, " Never make parts equal — sharp- 
ness and softness are the thing." He said of my picture, 
"Xa composition est tres belle.^^ 

He told me all the copies from Praxiteles had the same 
fleshiness as the Elgin works (this, however, I dispute). 
On my again mentioning the Marbles he lighted and up 
said, " they were worth coming from Rome to see." 

Hamilton said, after we came away the night before, 
he had never heard him go so f;ir, as from delicacy in 
consequence of his (H.'s) connexion with the Marbles 
he had never pushed him as I had. 

Canova said the flesh of Rubens was like metal : Ve- 
ronese's and Titian's was true flesh. Canova seemed to 

1815.] CANOVA. 321 

have gi'eat feeling for colour ; he appeared to me tho- 
roughly grounded and to deserve his fame. 

The Academicians at first would pay no attention to 
him and swore he came for work. At last, mere shame 
obli2;cd them to invite him to a dinner. 

" As to coming for work," he said to me, " I have 
always had too much. I should not have given a co- 
lossal statue of Religion to St. Peter's if I had wanted 

One had a feelinar about Canova as if he were a de- 
scendant of the great. 

I felt extreme delight at finding my mind had come 
to the same conclusions as his own, from nature. 

In my sketch of the dead child, now in Kussia, he 
criticised one of the contours. " I had always," I said, 
*'made a practice of copying nature as she was in my 
studies, because I had no basis to build on else, when I 
elevated." He replied, " Vous avez raison.^' 

Prince Hoare had the middle part of the cartoon of 
the Murder of the Innocents (now in the National 
Gallery). Hoare's fixther bought it at a sale in West- 
minster. Fearing the price would be large he got a 
rich friend to back him and share. He bought it for 
26/., and his friend said, " I dou't care for such a thing. 
Paint my wife and children and I give it up ; " which 
he did. I wrote to Brighton to Hoare, to show Canova 
the cartoon, — a request with which he at once com- 

On the 27th I dined at Hamilton's to meet Canova, 
and >pent a delightful evening. West was there, but 
his bad Italian annoyed us all. 

Canova said in the course of the evening Raffixcle's 
heads were neither Greek nor Roman, but " veri 

On the 28th, Hamilton kindly arranged I should 
show him the lions. I showed him the Duke of Devon- 

VOL. I. Y 


shire's, and setting aside all animosities took him to 
Turner's. " Grand gmieV he kept exclaiming. He 
had seen Wat Tyler, by Northcote, on whom we called 
and caught him in beard and dirt. Canova ran over his 
works. " Tell him," said Canova, " Je -prefere son 
ouvrage a la cite." Northcote, conscious of the presence 
in which he stood, shrunk up. I would not have ex- 
changed my penniless condition for all his wealth. 

Next day I met Canova at the Elgin Marbles. He 
was delighted to see me and pointed out all the beauties 
with the dash of unerring practice, saying, " Come e sen- 
tito!" He seemed a facetious man. Rossi, whom he 
knew at Rome, he called " Un hon diahle.'''' " When 
they get a mould of this," said he, pointing to the frag- 
ment of the Neptune, "how will they be astonished at 
Rome."* In talking of Fuseli he said, "Fe ne sono in 
li arte due cose, ilfuoco e lajiamma, Fuseli vl ebbe die 
lajiamma; Raffaele ilfuoco.'''' 

"How do you like West?" said I. "Comme qa," 
"All moins,'''' said I, " il compose Men.'''' "Non, Monsieur,'''' 
said Canova, " il met des modeles en groiipes.^'' 

"If any sculptor," he said, "had made such statues 
before these were seen, ' Sono tropjjo verV would have 
been the cry." 

The time now coming for this great man to leave 
England, I bought a folio edition of Mil ton and sent it 
to him. He accepted it and sent me a kind note in 
reply expressing his hope that we might meet in Italy. 

He wrote Wilkie also a beautiful letter and shortly 
after embarked. 

The only symptom I saw of jealousy was certainly at 
the name of Flaxman. When we talked of his designs 
there was an expression I did not like. 

* How deliglited I am to remember that a cast from my mould 
given to Canova was the first which entered Rome.— B. E. II. 

1815.] CANOVA. 323 

Canova's visit was a victory for me. What became 
now of all the sneers at my senseless insanity about the 
Marbles ? My opponents among the Academicians 
shrunk up, but those of them who agreed with me (and 
there were many who did) were proportionally pleased. 
It was a great thing and checkmated the Government. 
I, unknown, Avith no station or rank, might have talked 
myself dumb ; but Canova, the great artist of Europe, 
to repeat word for word what I had been saying for 
seven years ! His opinion could not be gainsaid. 

Payne Knight was in a fury. Lord Farnborough was 
more sublime than ever, and the only thing to do was 
to undervalue Canova's taste, and that was actually done 
in the clique. 

A committee was promised early in the next session, 
and we all prepared for the last charge — victory or 
death ! 

Y 2 



Canova went Avith my blessings. The excitement 
over, my shocking necessities and want of money came 
upon me again, for Mr. Phillips' 200?. was entirely 
paid away. I took again the state of my exchequer 
into review, and asked myself shall I paint for money, 
or by borrowing as I did when engaged on Solomon 
(having honouraljly discharged what I then borrowed) 
keep my mind in its high key, and go on watching, ex- 
citing, and regulating the public mind ? The battle 
about to be fought (I said to myself) is a great battle. 
I cannot suffer my attention to be turned off. The 
question, however, is, if my attention was not more 
turned off by the harass of want than by the temporary 
devotion of time and thought to a portrait or a small 
picture now and then. 

The first moral duty is honestly to provide oneself 
with bread and cheese ; but is there any dishonesty in 
borrowing of friends you have paid before, that you 
may persevere in a great plan which is for the public 
benefit ? No, certainly not. But the repayment is a 
contingency. But if your friend be willing, why not ? 
But is it more manly to make a livelihood for yourself 
by a judicious exertion of your talents, than to depend 
on the earnings of your friend who may be more 
prudent ? 

Still the excitement of a noble object is so over- 
whelming that to paint smaller works in the intervals 
of great ones is not rest enough. I always felt, when 
I wanted rest, that the only thing to restore me was 


absence of all tliouglit. This is my excuse for re- 
quirino- that aid I asked ; still it is a fallacious principle 
and one I deprecate in all other cases but my own. 

For the present, I let the Elgin Marble question fer- 
ment and advanced by snatches with my great work. 

Shakspere says 

" Our troubles never come in single files, 
But whole battalions." 

He might have added, " and our successes always come 
in squadrons." Canova had hardly gone when a letter 
of which the following is an extract arrived from 
Wordsworth, and up I went into the clouds. 

"Rydal Mount, neai- Ambleside, December 21st, 1815. 
jt * «- * 

" I was much hurt to learn that you still suffer much from 
weakness of sight, and continue to be impeded in your labours 
by the same cause. Why did you not tell me what progress 
you had made in your grand picture, and how you are satis- 
fied with your performance ? I am not surprised to hear 
that Canova expressed himself highly pleased with the Elgin 
Marbles ; a man must be senseless as a clod, or as perverse 
as a fiend, not to be enraptured with them. * * * 

" Now for the poems, which are sonnets ; one composed 
the evening I received your letter ; the otlier the next day, 
and the third the day following ; I shall nut transcribe them 
in the order in which they were written, but inversely. 

" The last you will find was occasioned, I might say in- 
spired, by your last letter, if there be any inspiration in it ; 
the second records a feeling excited in me by the object it 
describes in the month of October last, and the first by a still 
earlier sensation whicli the revolution of the year impressed 
me with last autumn. 


"While not a leaf seems fiided, while the fields, 
"With ripeninjjf harvests prodigally fair, 
Jn highest svinshine bask, this nipping air, 
Sent from some distant clime where winter wields 

y o 


His icy scymitar, a foretaste yields 

Of better change, and bids the flowers beware, 

And whispers to the silent birds prepare 

Against the threatening foe your trustiest shields ; 

For me a lone enthusiast not untrue 

To service long endeared, this rustling dry 

Through the green leaves, and yon crystalline sky 

Announce a season potent to renew 

'Mid frost and snow poetic ecstasy ; 

Joys nobler far than listless summer knew. 


How clear, how keen, how marvellously bright, 

The effluence from yon distant mountain's head, 

AVhich strewn with snow as smooth as heaven can shed, 

Shines like another sun on mortal sight 

Upris'n ! as if to check approaching night, 

And all her twinkling stars. Who now would tread, 

If so he might, yon mountain's glittering head, 

Terrestrial, but a surface by the flight 

Of sad mortality's earth-sullying showers, 

Unswept, unstained ? Nor shall the aerial powers 

Dissolve that beauty, destined to endure, 

White, radiant, spotless, exquisitely pure. 

Through all vicissitudes, till genial spring 

Have filled the laughing vale with welcome flowers. 


Hitrh is our calling, Friend ! Creative Art, 
(Whether the instruments of words she use 
Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues,) 
Demands the service of a mind and heart 
Though sensitive, yet in their weakest part 
Heroically fashion'd to infuse 
Faith in the whispers of the lonely muse, 
While the whole world seems adverse to desert. 
And oh when nature sinks, as well she may. 
From long liv'd pressure of obscure distress. 
Still to be strenuous for the bright reward, 
And in the soul admit of no decay, 
Brook no continuance of weakmindedness, — 
Great is the glory for the strife is hard. 


" I wish the things had been better worthy of your ac- 
ceptance, and of the careful preservation with wliich you 
will be inclined to honour this little effusion of my regard. 
" With high respect, 

" I am, my dear Sir, 

" Most faithfully yours, 

" William Wordswortu." 

Xow, reader, was this not glorious ? And you, 
young student, when you are pressed down by want in 
the midst of a great work remember what followed 
Haydon's perseverance. The freedom of his native 
town, — the visit of Canova, — and the sonnet of Words- 
worth, — and if these do not cheer you up, and make 
you go on, you ai'e past all hope. 

I felt, as it Avere, lifted up in the great eye of the 
world. I then relapsed into a melancholy sensitiveness. 

My heart yearned in gratitude to God as my pro- 
tector, my divine inspirer, the great Spirit who had led 
me through the wilderness, who had fired my soul 
when a boy unconscious of my future fate. 

The end of the year now approached ; it had been 
indeed a wonderful year to me. The Academicians 
were silenced. In high life they dared not speak. All 
classes were so enthusiastic and so delijihted that thouo;h 
I had lost seven months with Aveak eyes, and had only 
accomplished the penitent girl, the mother, the centurion, 
and the Samaritan woman, 3'et they were considered so 
decidedly in advance of all I had yet done, that my 
painting-room was crowded by rank beauty and fashion 
and the picture was literally taken up as a honour to 
the nation. 

I resume the extracts from my journal. 

January^ 1816. — Began to paint again after four 
months' misery from weak eyes. My fingers seemed to 
revel as they touched their old acquaintances ! 

y 4 


The colours stood up In buttery firmness. I seized 
my maul-stlck, put my palette on ray thumb, and 
mounthig my table dashed in a head, Inwardly thanking 
the Great Spirit and praying for success. 

I got the head ready for the model to-morrow, and 
completed a capital sketch with a new arrangement of 
light and shadow. Truly this has been the happiest 
day I have spent for months. I sang, shouted and 
whistled alternately the whole time. 

My physician. Dr. Darling, has hit the causes of my 
weakness of sight. They are. Indigestion and derange- 
ment of liver, from hard thinking, bad feeding, and 
the foul air of a small painting -room. He has advised 
regularity in food and a good walk every day In pure 

February 1th. — During tlie vacation, the Elgin Marble 
question had gone on fermenting in the clique of con- 
noisseurs most pleasantly. Canova's decided opinion, 
and his letter to Lord Elgin, were so direct a blow at 
the opinion of Payne Knight and his supremacy, that 
his friends, with Lord Aberdeen at their head, deter- 
mined to bolster him up or at least to do their best to 
make his ftill as soft as possible. 

23r(/. — The committee appointed by Government to 
take a survey of the Marbles at Burlington House met 
to-day. Hamilton was there on Lord Elgin's behalf, 
and I was there by Lord Elgin's desire. Payne 
Knight's opinion seemed to have made but little im- 
pression on any of the members, and from conversino- 
witli many of them I found on the contrary that they 
were fully alive to their beauty and truth. Seeing this 
I posted off to Gloucester Place and quieted Lord 
Elgin's fears, for he was in a great state of anxiety and 
agitation. I told him that I was certain there was no 
fear about their ultimate fate, and I added " If Payne 
Knight or his clique continue In their abuse, I will 


demolish them." I shall never forget Lord Elgin's 
smile of incredulous amiability. I saw what it meant. 
" Do you, a poor, penniless artist, presume to Imagine 
that you can upset the opinion of Richard Payne 
Knight, Esquire ? My good friend, consider Mr. 
Knight's position, rank, and fortune." 

At this critical moment the Phygaleian Marbles ar- 
rived. I saw them. Though full of gross disproportions 
they were beautifully composed and were evidently the 
designs of a great genius, executed provincially. 

In all societies of taste and literature the strongest 
interest was aroused. 

Knight and his pupils, Lord Aberdeen and Wilkins, 
mortified by Canova's frank admiration of the Elgin 
fragments, seized this opportunity of a blow at these 
grand works ; and in the Morning Chronicle appeared 
this exquisite little bit of their composition which I 
replied to and destroyed in the Champion. 

I have put the articles together as they appeared in 
the Champion. John Scott, editor of that Journal, at the 
same time wrote two capital leading articles for the 
Elgin Marbles, and as his paper was much read by the 
Ministry the effect was very great. 

" The interesting Grecian sculptui-es discovered in the 
Temple of Apollo, in Phygaleia, by Mr. Cockerell and other 
artists, and which have been bought by the Britisli Govern- 
ment, are at length arrived in London and deposited in the 
British Museum, where they are now arranged from the 
drawings of Mr. Cockerell taken on the spot. They contain 
an hundred figures, in alto-relievo, above two feet, forming 
two complete subjects of combat, — viz. between the Centaurs 
and Lapitha3, and between the Amazons and Ilellenians. 
They are believed to be the only examples extant of entire 
subjects of the admirable school of Pliidias, and exhibit the 
sublimity of poetic imagination, united to the boldness and 
power of execution, resulting from extensive practice in the 
greatest school of antiquity. The energy and force displayed 


in the action of the figures are wonderful, and the variety 
and unity in the composition show how far the arts must 
have been carried in the refined age of Pericles, and will be 
a most valuable addition to the studies of British artists." — 
Morning Chronicle. 

" This is written, I suspect, by the same hand who said 
* the Elgin Marbles were the work of journeymen, not 
worthy the name of artists in a less f\istidious age.'* Now 
so far from these Phygaleian Marbles being the only works 
of Phidias, they have not the slightest pretensions to be con- 
sidered by his hand at all. They do not exhibit the sub- 
limity of poetical imagination, but the extravagance of wild 
mannerism ; they do not unite the boldness of execution re- 
sulting from practice influenced by principle, but the rash- 
ness of violence. Their energy and force are not wonderful, 
because they overstep the simplicity of temperance ; — and 
the composition is not universally fine, because it is often 
very bad, and therefore proves, when it is fine, it is from 
accident, and not from foresight. Instead of showing how 
far the arts were carried in the age of Pericles, there are 
sculptors in England who would show how much further 
they could be carried in the age of British power. They 
are evidently the production of some country sculptor, one 
who forgot hands were not longer than fiices ; and heads 
never bigger than a fifth or sixth of the figure. In point of 
fact, I know not whether the temple from which they were 
taken was erected after the Parthenon, or not, but from the 
style of the marbles, I should say it was ; when the Parthe- 
non had made a noise throughout the country, — when every 
town must have been eager to have its temple, and every 
sculptor eager to imitate its example, — and thus, like all 
imitators, they carried the fire and beauty at which they 
aimed, to a vicious excess. As to the taste of those who 
hesitated to acknowledge the beauty of the Elgin Marbles, 
and decided at once without hesitation on the Phygaleian 
ones, nothing need be said. Visconti has settled — by the 
quotation fi'om Aristotle, of " (yo(poQ Xidovpyog," being applied 

* Specimens of Ancient Sculpture, p. xxxix. art. 74. Dilettanti 


to Phidias, — wliether or not he worked in marble; and, 
— setting aside the intense evidence of their being by a great 
mind, first, from the ease of their execution, proving that 
practice had given his hand power, — then from the jirinci- 
ples of life, proving the science of the mind that directed it, 
— and, lastly, from the beauty of the conception, proving 
the genius that governed the whole, — where would it be 
more likely for Phidias to put his hand, than on the finest 
temple in Athens, built by his patron, Pericles, when he 
(Phidias) was director of all public works ? There are one 
or two groups very fine in these Phygaleian Marbles, but 
still approaching to manner ; and, in most instances, they 
are entirely mannered. United with the Elgin collection, 
their errors will do no injury to the student, and both to- 
gether will form the finest museum in Europe." 

As the clay for examination before the committee ap- 
proached, Lord Elgin was allowed to name his friends. 
With three (others he named me, but day after day 
passed and I was never called. Lord Elgin became 
impatient, because his other friends had been called and 
dismissed after a very few words, while all witnesses 
inimical to the marbles were questioned and cross- 
questioned at a length which gave them a full opportu- 
nity of impressing their peculiar oj)lnions on the 
members of the committee. At last Lord Elgin re- 
ceived a promise that I should be called, but the day 
passed and I was never sent for. " This is Knight's 
influence," said I to Hamilton. " I have seen it is," 
said he : " Bankes says that you will not be examined 
out of delicacy to Knight." " Very well," I replied, 
" I'll api)eal to the public. It is unjust and unfair to 
Lord Elgin, and to myself also, and I'll appeal to the 

I told Lord Elgin I Avould make Knight remember 
the Elgin INIarbles as long as he lived ; Lord J'^lgin 
smiled Incredulously, but I knew my power, and retiring 


to iiiy painting-room with my great picture of Jerusalem 
before me I clashed down on the paper thoughts and 
truths which neither nobihty nor patrons ever forgave. 

I sent my article to both the Examiner and Cham- 
pion ; its effect in society was tremendous. Lawrence 
said, " It has saved the Marbles, but it will ruin you." 

I introduce this article here as it affected all my 
future destiny. 

On the Judgment of Connoisseurs leing preferred to that 
of Professional 3Ien. — The Elgin Marbles, 8fc. 

" Ceci s'adresse a vous, esprlts du dernier ordre, 
Qui n'etant bons a rien cherchez sur tout a mordi-e, 

Vous vous tourmentez vainement. 
Croyez-vous que vos dents impriment leurs outrages 

Sur tant de beaux ouvrages ? 
lis sont pour vous d'airain, d'acler, de diamant. 

" That the nobility and higher classes of this country have 
so little dependence on their own judgment in art is princi- 
pally owing to a defect in their education. In neither Uni- 
versity is painting ever remembered. Its relations, its high 
claim, the conviction that taste is necessary to the accom- 
plishment of a refined character, and to complete the glory 
of a great country, neither the public tutors of the nobility, 
or the private tutors of the prince ever feel themselves, or 
ever impress upon their pupils. Thus, the educated, the 
wealthy and the high born, grow up, and issue out to their 
respective public duties in the world, deficient in a feehng, 
the cultivation of which has brightened the glory of the 
greatest men and most accomplished princes. But, soon 
feehng their defects, and soon anxious to supply them, they 
eitlier fly to that species of art which they can comprehend, 
— the mere imitation of the common objects of our com- 
monest perceptions, — or, if they be desirous to protect 
elevated art, being too proud to consult the artist of genius, 
they resign their judgment to the gentleman of pretension. 
He that is learned in antiquity, and versed in its customs, is 


supposed to be equally learned in nature and sensible to its 
beauties. To know one master's touch, and another master's 
peculiarity, to trace the possessors of a picture as we trace 
the genealogy of a family, to be alive to an error, and insen- 
sible to a beauty, are the great proofs of a refined taste and 
a sound judgment ; and are sufficient reasons to induce an 
amiable nobleman, desirous of protecting art, to listen to 
advice, and to bow to authority. In no other profession 
is the opinion of the man who has studied it for his amuse- 
ment preferred to that of him who has devoted his soul to 
excel in it. No man will trust his limb to a connoisseur in 
surgery; — no minister would ask a connoisseur in war how a 
campaign is to be conducted ; — no nobleman would be satis- 
fied with the opinion of a connoisseur in law on disputed 
property ; — and why should a connoisseur of an art, more 
exclusively than any other without the reach of common ac- 
quirement, be preferred to the professional man ? What 
reason can be given, why the painter, the sculptor, and the 
architect, should not be exclusively believed most adequate 
to decide on what they best understand, as well as the 
surgeon, the lawyer, and the general ? 

" I have been roused to these reflections, from fearing that 
the committee of the House of Commons on the El"-in 
Marbles will be influenced by the opinion of Mr, Payne 
Knight, and other connoisseurs, in the estimation of their 
beauty. Surely, they will not select this gentleman to esti- 
mate the beauty of these beautiful productions ! Are they 
aware of the many mortified feelings with which he must 
contemplate them ? Do they know the death-blow his taste 
and judgment have received in consequence of their excel- 
lence being established in public opinion ? Have they been 
informed that at first he denied their originality? Surely, 
they never can be so little acquainted with liuman nature, as 
to expect an impartial estimate from any human being under 
such circumstances. Perhaps they never heard that ]\[r. 
Payne Knight at first denied their originality ; then said 
that they were of tlie time of Adrian ; then that they were 
the works of journeymen, not worthy of the name of artists; 
and now being driven from all his surmises, by the proper 


influence of all artists and men of natural taste, admits at 
last they may be original, but are too much broken to be of 
any value ! 

" Far be it from Mr. Payne Knight to know that the great 
principles of life can be proved to exist in the most broken 
fragment, as well as in the most perfect figure. Is not life 
as palpable in the last joint of your fore-finger, as in the 
centre of your heart ? On the same principle, break off a 
toe from any fragment of the Elgin Marbles, and there I will 
prove the great consequences of vitality, acting externally, 
to be. The reasons are these: — All objects, animate and 
inanimate, in nature, but principally men and animals, are 
the instruments of a painter and sculptor, as influenced by 
intention or passion, acting on feature or form, excited by 
some interesting object or some powerful event. Man being 
the principal agent, and his features and form being the 
principal vehicle of conveying ideas, the first thing to ascer- 
tain is the great charactei'istic distinction of man, in form 
and feature, as a species, and as an intellectual being, dis- 
tinguished from animals. The next thing to be ascertained 
is the great causes of his motion as a machine, directed by 
his will : and the last, what of these causes of motion are 
excited at any particular passion or intention. We know 
not how an intention acts by the will on the frame, anymore 
than we know what vitality is ; we only know it by its con- 
sequences, and the business of the artist is to represent the 
consequences of an idea acting on the form and feature, on 
the parts which it docs influence, and the parts which it does 
not, so truly, as to excite in the mind of the spectator the 
exact associations of the feeling intended to be conveyed. 
The bones are the foundation of the form, and the muscles 
and tendons the means by which he moves them as his pas- 
sions excite him. Each particular intention or passion will 
excite a certain number of these means, and none more or 
less than are requisite ; the rest will remain unexcited. The 
bones, — the things moved, — and the muscles, — the things 
moving, — are all covered by skin ; and the mechanism of the 
art is to express the passion or intention, and its consequences, 
by the muscles that are, and those which are not, influenced. 


and to exhibit the true effect of both, acting beneath, and 
showing above the skin that covers them. "When the mind 
is thoroughly informed of the means beneath the skin, the eye 
instantly comprehends the hint above it ; and when any 
passion or intention is wanted to be expressed, the means and 
their consequences, if the artist be deeply qualified, will be 
as complete in form and as true in effect as nature ; and the 
idea represented will be doubly effectual, by the perfection 
of the means of representation. If the character be a god, 
his feature and form must be built on these unalterable prin- 
ciples ; for how can we represent a god, but by elevating our 
own qualifications ? 

" These are the i)rinciples, then, of the great Greek 
standard of figure ; First, to select what is peculiarly human 
in form, feature and proportion : then to ascertain the great 
causes of motion ; — to remember that the opposite contours 
of a limb can never be the same, from inherent formation, 
nor of a trunk, if the least inclined from the perpendicular ; 
that the form of a part varies with its action or its repose ; 
and that all action is by the predominance of some of the 
causes of motion, over the others, — for if all were equally to 
act, the body would be stationary. The peculiar charac- 
teristics of intellect, and causes of motion, — and none more 
or less, — being selected, as external shape depends on internal 
organisation, acting on the external covering, the forms will 
be essential. This is the standard of man's figure as a 
species, — and the principle by which to estimate the period 
of all the works of antiquity. The various characters of 
humanity must be left to the artist's own choice and selection, 
— and an ideal form must never be executed without the 
curb of perpetual and immediate reference to nature. 

" It is this union of nature with ideal beauty, — the proba- 
bilities and accidents of bone, fiesh, and tendon, from exten- 
sion, flexion, compression, gravitation, action, or repose, that 
rank at once the Elgin Marbles above all other works of art 
in the world. The finest form that man ever imagined, or 
God ever created, must have been formed on these eternal 
principles. Tlie Elgin Marbles will as completely overthrow 
the old antique, as ever one system of philosoi)]iy overthrew 


another more enliglitened. "Wei'e the Elgin Marbles lost, 
there would be as great a gap in art, as there would in phi- 
losophy if Newton had never existed. Let him that doubts 
it, study them as I have done, for eight years daily, and he 
will doubt it no longer. They have thrown into light prin- 
ciples Avhich would only have been discovered by the inspi- 
ration of successive geniuses, — if ever at all, — because we 
had, what the Greeks had not, an antique and a system to 
mislead us, and misplaced veneration, and early habits to 
root out. In painting, on the same principles, they will 
completely annihilate that strange system, that colonic and 
light, and shadow, though a consequence of the nature of 
things, are incompatible with the expression of a I'efined 
passion and beautiful fancy, or a terrible conception by the 
imitation of natural objects ; as if they were not more likely 
to detract from the intellect in either by being execrable, 
than by being consistent with the subject or expression dis- 

" Every truth of shape, the result of the inherent organi- 
sation of man as an intellectual being ; every variation of 
that shape, produced by the slightest variation of motion, in 
consequence of the slightest variation of intention, acting on 
it ; every result of repose on flesh as a soft substance, and 
on bone as a hard, — both being influenced by the common 
principles of life and gravitation; every harmony of line in 
composition, from geometrical principle, — all proving the 
science of the artist ; every beauty of conception proving 
his genius ; and every grace of execution proving that 
practice had given his hand power, — can be shown to exist 
in the Elgin Marbles.* And yet these are the productions, 

* There is a supposition, that because the Greeks made the 
right use of anatomical knowledge, in showing only the conse- 
quences of Internal muscular action on the skin, and not displaying 
it, as it is when the skin is off, that they were unacquainted with 
it. Is it likely that a people so remarkable for acting on principle 
in everything connected with the arts, should in this most important 
point act without it ? I will defy an eye, ten times more refined than 
even a Greek's ever was, to execute the infinite varieties of a human 
body, Influenced by internal and external organisation, mutually 


the beauty, the workmanship, and originality of which Mr, 
Payne Knight denied ! It is of these works that he thus 
writes in The Specimens of Ancient Sculpture by the Dilet- 
tanti Society, p. xxxix. art. 74. : — 

" ' Of Phidias's general style of composition, the friezes and 
metopes of the temple of Minerva at Athens, published by 
Mr. Stuart, and since brought to England, may aiford us 
competent information ; but as they are merely architectural 
sculptures, executed from his designs under his direction, 
probably by workmen scarcely ranked among artists, and 
meant to be seen at the heiglit of forty feet from the eye, — 
they can throw little light on the more important details of 
the art.' 

"Now, I should wish to ask the most unskilful observer 
that ever looked at one of the friezes, or at a horse's leg, or 
a rider's arm, or even a horse's eai*, in it, — what he thinks 
of such a modest assertion ! Does Mr, Knight remember 
that divine form in a metope, grappling a Centaur by the 
throat, and heaving up his chest, and drawing in his breath, 
preparing to annihilate his enemy: — or the one, in all the 
loosened relaxation of death under the Centaur's legs, who 
prances in triumph; — or tlie other, who presses forward, while 
he dashes back his opponent with tendinous vigour, as if light- 
ning flashed through his frame ? Yet Mr. Payne Kniglit is 
listened to by the nobility, and referred to by Ministers. 
These are the productions which Mr. Payne Knight says 
may be original ! May be! There are some men who have 
that hateful propensity of sneering at ull which the world 
holds high, sacred or beautiful ; not with tlie view of dissi- 
pating doubt, or giving the delightful comfort of conviction, 
but to excite mysterious belief of their own sagacity, to cloak 

acting on each olhcr, without being first thoroughly versed in its 
structure — of what use wouM be names to cavities and projections 
on the Kurface of tlie body, wliieh vary in form at every hair's- 
brcadth motion — till the mind is informed liow Httlc does tlic eye 
see ? Mengs said, fifty years ago, that we had not got the works 
wliieli the aiieicnts estimated as their best; — and had Mengs seen 
the Klgin Marbles he would have been convinced of it. 
VOL. I. Z 

338 AUTOBIOrxKAniY of B. p.. IIAYDON. [1816. 

their own envy, to chuckle if they can confuse, and revel if 
they can chill the feelings: — according to them, love is 
nothing but lust ; religion is nothing but delusion ; all high 
views and elevated notions, wild dreams and distempered 
fancies. No man leaves off from what they have written, 
but vrith the dark starts of a nightmare, — a distaste for 
beauty, a doubt of truth, an indifference towards virtue, and 
a confusion about religion : but most of all, a pang, and a 
deep one, to see the mistake nature made, in giving a portion 
of capacity to beings of such heartless propensities. When 
I exposed Mi\ Knight's sophisms on art, and his mistakes 
fi'om Pliny, four years ago, I was told as a reason why I 
should not have done so, that he was a leading man at the 
Institution ! Why this was one of my strongest reasons for 
doing it. It was because he was a leading man, and because 
he possessed influence, that I was determined to show the 
futility of his principles in Art. When a man, possessing in- 
fluence, holds pernicious opinions, he becomes an example to 
thousands whom cowardice and timidity would for ever keep 
in awe without such a sanction. While I live, or have an 
intellect to detect a difference or a hand to write, never will 
I suffer a leading man in Art to put forth pernicious sophisms 
without doing my best to refute them ; or unjustly to censure 
fine works by opinions, without doing my best to expose 
them ; that is, if they are of sufficient consequence to en- 
danger the public taste: — and really, such opinions as those 
quoted on works so beautiful, so intensely exquisite, — works 
which will produce a revolution in both arts, — to which 
Canova was inclined to kneel and worship; — opinions, too, 
uttered in such despotic defiance of all candour and common 
sense, are not to be borne. I should consider myself a traitor 
to my art, and my country's taste, and the dignity of my 
pursuits, if I suffered them to pass unnoticed ; to these divine 
things I owe every principle of Art I may possess ; I never 
enter among them without bowing to tlie Great Spirit that 
reigns within them ; — I thank God daily I was in existence 
on their arrival, and will ever do so to the end of my life. 
Such a blast will Fame blow of their grandeur, that its roar- 
ing will swell out as time advances ; and nations now sunk 


in barbarism, and ages yet unborn, will in succession be 
roused by its thundei", and refined by its harmony ; — pilgrims 
from the remotest corners of the earth will visit their shrine, 
and be purified by their beauty. 

" B. R. HArDON. 

" P. S. There is a supposition that feeling alone enabled 
the great Greek artists to arrive at such perfection : but 
surely the capacity to feel a result is very difierent from the 
power to produce the sensation of it in others, by an imita- 
tive art. After feeling a result, to produce the same feeling 
in others, you must exercise your understanding, and practise 
your hand : you then begin immediately with the why, and 
the wherefore, the how and the what ; — your understanding 
is thus stored with reasons and principles. The first great 
requisite, of course, is a capacity to feel a result ; the next 
an understanding to ascertain the means of producing in 
others what you have felt yourself; and the third is the feel- 
ing again, to tell you when you have done what you wanted 
to do. The understanding being thoroughly stored with 
principles of the means of imitation, and the hand thoroughly 
ready from practice, a result is no sooner felt, than the un- 
derstanding at once supplies the principle on which it is to 
be executed by imitation, and the hand instantly executes it, 
till at last, feeling, understanding and hand go so instan- 
taneously together, as not to be perceived, in their respective 
departments, by the possessor : and all resolve themselves 
into feeling, which at first was the instigator and then 
becomes the director. A result having the appearance of 
being easily produced induces the world to conclude that 
feeling alone is the cause, ignorant what eflfects of the un- 
derstanding and hand were at first requisite before they 
could so completely obey the feeling as to be identified 
with it. 

"I most sincerely hope, that this fatal proof of Mr. Payne 
Knight's complete want of judgment in refined Art will have 
its due effect: — that it will show they are the most likely 
to know an art to its foundation, who have given up their 
life to the investigation of its principles ; and will inq)ress 


noLlemen with this truth, that by listening to the authorita- 
tive dictates of such men, they risk sharing tlie disgrace of 
their exposure." 

Lord Elgin saw Kniglit was done up, and done up 
was the whole clique. 

I believe the committee now felt they had better 
have let me be examined. What delicacy was due to 
Kni^rht who had shown so little to Lord EIo;in ? What 
had I done ? I had refuted him on a passage in Pliny, 
which he knew as well as I did, but which he had sup- 
pressed ; supposing no artist would take the trouble or 
had the knowledge to find him out. 

The public voice so completely and enthusiastically 
responded to my letters that the pati'ons were afraid to 
let me see their hatred, but I saw pride and revenge 
lurking beneath the smoothness of their manner ; they 
had found out I must still depend on them and they 
resolved to let me feel it. 

In a week my painting-i"oom was again crowded with 
rank, beauty and fashion, to such excess that I ordered 
the front doors to be left open. 

Lord Mulgrave, always regarding me, had at the very 
moment the letter appeared laid a plan before the direc- 
tors of the Institution to send me out to Italy. It would 
have been done, but the moment the letter appeared he 
sent for a friend. " What the devil is Haydon about?" 
*' Upon my word I don't know, my lord." "Here 
have I been planning to get him a handsome income for 
three years and send him to Italy, and out comes this 
indiscreet and abominable letter." 

The letter was translated into Italian and French, 
and was dispei'sed over Europe. Rumohr found it and 
another upon the Ilissus in the Magliabecchian library, 
Elorence, and Lord Elgin told me Danneker showed it 
to him. In Germany it prepared the way for an en- 


thusiastic reception for Lord Elgin. The great Goethe 
spoke of it when he noticed my essay on the Venetian 
Horses, and the criticism may be found in his works. 

My views were now completely before the world. 
Wilkie said I should carry all before me. I was an 
object of curiosity whenever I appeared in a public place. 
My vanity was tickled ; and the Academicians when I 
met them at a conversazione, or a rout, slunk by, pale 
and contemptible, holding out a finger as they passed. 

The committee proceeded : Lawrence, Westmacott, 
West, Nollekens and Chantrcy did themselves great 
honour, and yet so great was the influence of the clique 
that in spite of Canova's opinion, in spite of the sanction 
of these eminent artists, and in spite of my letter, the}'- 
prevailed so far against Lord Elgin as to induce the 
coaunittee to vote him a sum less than the money he 
had laid out. 

The charge of artists and expenses of the original £ 
moulding, &c., was proved to be (139,000 pias- 
tres) 10,700 

Expense of subsequent removing, Sec, (224,700 

piastres) ----- 17,300 
Expense of further removals _ - - 12,000 
Expense of loss and recovery of cargo - - o,000 
Expenses in England - - - - 6,000 
Cost of removing them from Park Lane to Pic- 
cadilly - - . - 1,500 

Knight valued them at - - - - 25,000 

Hamilton ----- 60,000 

Lord Aberdeen ----- 35,000 

Avhich sum was recommended*, (because it was between 
the maxinuun and minimum,) and paid, and thus Lord 
Elgin, who might have had double from Napoleon, was 
10,000/. out of pocket from his love of his country. 

* See Onicial Report on Elgin :M:ublos, 181G. 

z 3 


This is the style (I regret to say) in which old England 
always pays those servants wlio love her better than 
themselves, and thouoi;h Lord Elgin was accused of 
making this matter a money speculation, that accusation 
is no reason whatever why he should not have had the 
money he had spent. He was in my opinion and that 
of his friends very badly treated, to gratify a malevolent 
coterie of classical despotic dilettanti devoid of all 
genuine taste or sound knowledge of Art. 

1816.] I FALL IN LOVE. 343 


Thus ended the great Elgin Marble question. I had 
■won golden opinions from all sorts of people, and secret 
denunciations of vengeance from all connoisseurs. 

One evening, just after the sun had gone down in its 
gold and crimson glory, as I was lying in ray arm chair 
lost in meditation on my day's labour, my past uproar 
and my future success, dreaming of KaiFaele and the 
Greeks, the door opened without the least ceremony 

and like a vision there stood M F . She had 

been shopping with a young friend, had stayed later 
than usual, and called to beg I would protect them 
home. As we were on terms of family intimacy I was 
delighted at the request and marched forth. Not fur 
from my house she requested me to stop a moment 
whilst she left a letter with a lady who was going into 
Devonshire. I waited, a servant came down, and re- 
quested I would walk up. I Avalkcd up into a neat, 
small drawing-room, and in one instant the loveliest 
face that was ever created since God made Eve smiled 
gently at ray approach. The effect of her beauty was 

On tlie sofa lay a dying raan and a boy about two 
years old by his side. What did it all mean? We 
shortly took leave. I never spoke a word, and on 

sceinij j\I home, rctiu'ncd to tlie house and stood 

outside in hopes she would appear at the windows. 

I went home, and for the first time in ray life was 
really, heartily, thorouglily, passionately over head and 
ears and heart in love. I hated my pictures. I hated 
the Elgin Marbles. I hated books. I could not cat, or 

z 4 


sleep, or think, or write, or talk. I got up early ; ex- 
amined the premises and street, and gave a man half-a- 
crown to let me sit concealed and watch for her 
coming out. Day after day I grew more and more 
inextricably enraptured till resistance was relinquished 
with a glorious defiance of restraint. Her conduct to 
her dying husband, her gentle reproof of my impassioned 
and luirestrained air, riveted my being. But I must 
not anticipate. Sufficient for the present purpose, O 
reader, is it to tell thee that B. B. Haydon is and for 
ever will be in love with that woman, and that she is 
his wife. 

My necessities, in consequence of my enthusiasm for 
Art so entirely occupying my time, became dreadful and 
harassing. More than a year before the money lenders 
had intimated to me that as I was a young man they 
had heard highly of, tliey would be happy to aid me at 
any time provided I would pay a little more interest 
than usual. 

I had borrowed of them and paid them, and had re- 
solved to have done with such dangerous aids, but this 
year 1 found myself without commissions, employment 
or money ; for all my devotion to Art and my attempts 
to raise the taste of the country had not procured me 
one shilling. I therefore had recourse in an evil hour 
to money-lenders, the bane, the curse, the pestilence of 
indiiient genius. 

Never shall I forget the agitated wrench of my frame 
as I first crossed the threshold of a money-lender, and 
stopped before the inner door, a shelter from notice till 
the door is opened, which the thief, the profligate, the 
murderer, the pickpocket, the seducei", the necessitous 
and the ruined, know well the value of. 

As I stood, after knocking, till the door opened, my 
knees shook under me. I had resisted a father's and a 
mother's tenderest affections ; I had sacrificed an es- 

1816.] MONEY-LENDERS. 345 

tablished business for the pursuit of Art, and after 
eleven years of hard and devoted study, and the attain- 
ment of great fame, I was now standuig at the door of 
a money-lender like a culprit, poor, sinking fast to ruin 
and in debt, though at the height of reputation. 

A head at this moment peeped through the glass over 
the door: the door was cautiously opened, and a mean, 
skinny, malicious face said, " Walk in." I entered, and 
as the door closed I felt as if in a condemned havmt of 
villany. " Walk in there," said the face : I went in and 
found his wife who seemed quite accustomed to receive 
people in want. 

Tiie wretch came in, surveying me under his little 
eyelids, which were red, inflamed, without lashes, and 
pendent. "Well, you want 100/." "I do." "Humph! 
I don't think I can do it." This was the usual artifice. 
He saw my anxiety, and with the Avary practice of a 
villain hung back to raise the terms. I left him with a 

Want staring me in the face, I became solitary and 
crest-fallen. I called a2;ain. I carried him a bill in- 
dorsed by a friend. The fellow was shaving and talking 
as he shaved: " I don't like to do anything with gen- 
tlemen. If I lend money, you must buy something; 
Avalk up stairs." I walked up and saw a miserable copy 
of Rubens placed in a good light. I came down and 
said, "I'll take that Rubens. How much?" "20/." 
" I '11 give it." " Leave the bill." I did — for 122/. 10^., 
51. per cent, at 3 months. He then smiled as if delighted, 
and took mc into a sort of dusty secret place full of boots, 
hats, prints, shirts, breeches, pictures, jewellery, guns, 
])istols, Irames, everything wanted by a family or saleable 
in the inhabited world. There he gave me my cheque for 
the money, deducting interest and the price of the pic- 
ture, and away I went as if out of the regions of the 
devil. How I was to pay this debt I did not know, but 


I had commissions at the time and hoped for an advance. 
If I had taken Sir George Beaumont's sensible advice I 
would not have anticipated my reward. 

My passion for Art blinded me, and the seeds of all 
ray ruin were sown the day I entered the den of this 

I was too proud at this time to borrow of the rich, and 
when I was forced to do it it was to replace the advances 
of such reptiles as this. 

The ice was thus broken. The fine edge of a feeling: 
of honour was dulled. Though my honourable dis- 
charge of what I borrowed (by the sale of Solomon) 
justified my borrowing again, yet it is a fallacious relief, 
because you must stop sooner or later ; if you are punc- 
tual and can pay in the long run why incur the debt 
at all ? 

Too proud to do small modest things, that I might 
obtain fixir means of existence as I proceeded with my 
great work, I thought it no degradation to borrow, to 
risk tlie insult of refusal and be bated down like the 
meanest dealer. 

Then I was liberal in my art: I spared no expense 
for casts and prints, and did great things for the art by 
means of them. This is true ; yet to be strictly correct, 
you sliould do nothing, however necessary, which your 
income does not warrant you in doing. 

But ousrht I after such efforts as I had made to have 
been left in this position by the Directors of tlie British 
Institution or the Government? Under any other 
government in Europe, after what I had done, I should 
not have been allowed to remain one moment in ne- 

The stern habits of England are different. I had 
conducted myself as I pleased, as if I had a fortune : 
very well then, if you do as men do who are inde- 
pendent, wc are not to suppose you want help. 


The cause of my immediate necessity was a bill I 
gave my landlord for 200/., the balance of rent due to 

I borrowed lOOZ. to make it up, and paid 227. lOs. 
for the favour. Thus I increased my rent by 22/. 10s., 
and this is the anatomy of all such detestable transac- 
tions. When this bill of 122/. IO5. came due, I had 
received 100/. on a commission, so I was obliged to bor- 
row 22/. lOs. to make up the total; for this I paid 51. 
or 61., so here again was 61. added to 22/. 10^., making 
28/. \0s. on 200/. rent. 

I got such repute amongst this class of heartless 
robbers that reports reached me of a gentleman in 
Poland Street wishing to see me, who had a great respect 
for my genius and would accommodate me at a less rate. 

I called and was shown into a parlour where sat a 
little scrofulous-looking figure with law papers before 
him. In the most insinuating tone he be<2;an the old 
seductive tale ; he understood I wanted to see him. 
" No," said I ; " you wanted to see me I understood." 
The fact was he found my bills were met, and he could 
accommodate me at 40 per cent., 20 less than any other 
of the trade. 100/. was directly advanced for 10/. at 
three months. 

AVhen you deal with a rascal turn him to the light. 
The eftect is unquestionable. I got him to the light ; 
his eyes shrank ; his face was the meanest I ever saw ; 
the feeble mouth and little nose, brassy eyes, blotched 
skin, low forehead and foetid smell, all announced a 

I was now regularly involved, with a large picture 
lialf done. A commission or public employment would 
have saved me, but nothino; of the sort arrived, and I 
was left to struggle on, and struggle on I did, greatly 
and gloriously. 

In April I addressed a letter to the directors of the 


British Gallery*, on the proper mode of gradually elicit- 
ing the genius of the country, by a plan for the distri- 
bution of premiums, which if persevered in with consis- 
tency would (I said in my letter) essentially contribute 
to advance the great interests of British Art and the 
objects for which the directors were assembled. 

Historical painting 

For the best 

■ 100 





Poetical Landscape 

For the best 

• 80 





Subjects of peasant- 

life and humour 

For the best 

• 80 



■ 40 


Landscape, class of 

Cuyp and But/s- 


For the best 

- 60 



- 30 


Poetical Heads 

For the best 

. 60 



• 30 


Heads — studies 

from statues 

For the best 

- 40 



- 20 


By this plan (I pointed out), all parts of the Art 
would be essentially benefited and no part neglected. A 
good exhibition would be secured to the British Gallery, 
and the young student in historical painting would look 
forward to the prize as his first assistance after his pre- 
paratory studies, and as a certain and assured means of 
interesting the public in his favour. 

I expi'essed my belief that if the noble directors 
would pledge themselves regularly to bestow such prizes 
for five or six years, and then reconsider the plan and 
remodel it accox'dino; to its failure or success, the artists 
would come forward with more confidence and rely on 

* The British lustitution. 


their decisions with more security than Avhen the 
directors reserved to themselves the right of withholding 
the ])remlums for one year ; for though no man could 
dispute such right, yet the uncertainty resulting from 
the prospect of Its exercise was a sufficient reason to In- 
duce many men of talent to abstain from the contest 
when employment and sale of works are more attainable 

I gave as my reason for recommending that no prize 
should be higher than one hundred guineas, because the 
great object of prizes should be to assist young men 
till their talent be sufficiently matured to deserve em- 

Mr. R. Gillam, the secretary, acknowledged my 
letter, and said It would be considered at a future meet- 
ins of the directors. 

Sir Georfie now came to town. I called, and as I 
foresaw I should have a great deal of trouble with his 
new commission, T, as delicately as I could, alluded to 
the former picture of Macbeth, showed him the Irrepa- 
rable injuries I had suffered, and concluded by saying, 
'' ISIy dear Sir George, you have my interest at heart. 
Take the jNIacbeth for two hundred guineas." He 
asked time to reflect, and on May 20th, 1816, I received 
his letter accepting my offer. 

In June the Gallery Issued a circular, giving notice 
that they proposed in the ensuing year either to offer 
gratuities (!) to artists who should produce at their next 
exhibition pictures wliich they might think of sufficient 
merit, or to purchase them, or to give commissions for 
painting them on a larger scale for some public building. 

This was nothing but that usual want of confidence in 
their own judgment which has ever fettered, and will ever 
fetter, the directors of the Gallery and all committees 
or commissioners composed of the same class. 

High bred, and feeling that the patronage of Art is a 


part of their duty as an aristocracy, they are very much 
to be pitied for their want of knowledge of Art as a 
class. With no Art-tutors at Oxford (in spite of Aris- 
totle's jpacfitK/]), they leave college just as wise in Art as 
they enter It. Your committees and Art institutions, too 
happy to lean on any one for instruction, become the 
tools of an academic clique. More money has been 
spent on Art in Britain, and more money voted for it, 
than in any other two countries, with the least possible 
effect. One quarter the money so voted applied with 
energy and largeness of view would have long since 
raised the Art of England to be the glory of the age. 

At the end of the war ours was the soundest school 
in Europe, and had the war continued and a blockade 
been kept up against French impurities and German 
inanities, the Britlsli school would have been by this 
time the greatest and the noblest. 

The following letter from Wilkie Is of interest, as 
containing a long account of the honour done him by 
tlie Didvc of Wellington In calling and giving him the 
commission for the Clielsea Pensioners. 

I was at that time on a visit to my sister in the 

"Kensington, August 18tli, 1816. 
" My dear Haydon, 

"I sliould not perhaps have been disposed to break through 
tlie etiquette of writing you before you have written me from 
the country, had it not been that I have a piece of intelH- 
gence to give you of an event that is to me more gratifying 
than any honour or compliment I have yet had conferred on 
me. It is that of being waited on by Ilis Grace the Duke of 
Wc4Hngton for the purpose of giving me a commission to 
paint him a picture. As you will no doubt feel a keen in- 
terest in everything relating to such a man, and may be 
pleased also by the particulars of this mark of his attention 
to me, I shall proceed to relate the circumstances of his call 
as they happened. 


" Yesterday morning Lord Lynedoch (Sir Tliomas Graham 
that was) called upon me, and said that if I should be at 
home at four o'clock the Duke of Wellington and a party 
that came to meet at his house previous to that would then 
call on me wdth him. Upon this information I set to work 
for the rest of the day to get my rooms put to rights, put all 
my pictures in order for view, and last, though not least, had 
to arrange it so that my mother and sister might see the 
great man from the parlour -windows as he came in. 

" Matters being thus settled, we w^aited in a sort of breath- 
less expectation for their arrival, and at half past four they 
accordingly came. The party consisted of the Duke and 
Duchess of Bedford, Lady Argyle and another lady, the 
Duke of Wellington and Lord Lynedoch, to all of which the 
latter introduced me as they came in. When they went up 
stairs they were first occupied in looking at the pictures 
severally, but without entering into conversation further 
than by expressing a general approbation. The Duke, on 
whom my attention was fixed, seemed pleased with them, 
and said in his .firm voice " Very good," " Capital," &c., but 
said nothing in the way of remark, and seemed indeed not 
much attended to by the company, of whom the ladies began 
to talk a good deal. They went on in this way for a consi- 
derable time, and I had every reason to feel satisfied with 
the impression my works seemed to make on the Duke and 
Duchess of Bedford and the others, but though the Duke of 
Wellington seemed full of attention, I felt disappointed with 
his silence. At last Lady Argyle began to tell me that the 
Duke wished me to paint him a picture, and was explaining 
what the subject was, when the Duke, who was at that time 
seated on a chair and looking at one of the pictures that 
happened to be on the ground, turned to us, and swinging 
back upon the chair turned up his lively eye to me and said 
that the subject should be a parcel of old soldiers assembled 
together on their seats at the door of a public-house chewing 
tobacco and talking over their old stories. lie thought they 
might be in any uniform, and that it should be at some 
public-house in the King's Koad, Chelsea. I said this would 
make a most beautiful picture, and that it only wanted some 
story or a principal incident to connect the figures together : 


be said perhaps playing at skittles would do, or any other 
game, when I proposed that one might be reading a news- 
paper aloud to the rest, and that in making a sketch of it 
many other incidents would occur. In this he perfectly agreed, 
and said I might send the sketch to him when he was abroad. 
He then got up and looked at his watch, and said to the 
company his time was nearly out, as he had to go and dine 
with the Duke of Cambridge. 

"After they had proposed to go, he made me a bow, and 
as he went out of the room he turned to me, and said, ' Well, 
when shall I hear from you?' To wdiich I replied that my 
immediate engagements, and the time it would take to collect 
materials for his Grace's subject, would prevent me being 
able to get it done for two years. ' Very well,' said he, 
' that will be soon enough for me.' They then went down 
stairs, and as they went out our people were all ready to see 
him from the parlour windows : when he got to the gate, he 
made me a bow again, and seeing at the same time my family 
at the parlour windows he bowed to them also. As he got 
upon his horse he observed all the families and the servants 
were at the Avindows, and I saw two lifeguardsmen, the 
rogues, just behind the pillar at the corner, waiting to have 
a full view of him. 

" The sensation this event occasioned quite unhinged us 
for the rest of the day. Nothing was talked of but the Duke 
of "Wellington, and the chair he happened to sit upon has 
been carefully selected out, and has been decorated with 
ribbons, and there is a talk of having an inscription upon it, 
descriptive of the honour it has received. 

" With I'cspect to the appearance of the man, none of the 
portraits of him are like him. He is younger and fresher, 
more active and lively, and in his figure more clean-made 
and firmer built than I was led to expect. His face is in 
some respects odd ; has no variety of expression, but his eye 
is extraordinary, and is almost the only feature I remember, 
but I remember it so well that I think I see it now. It has 
not the hungry and devouring look of Buonaparte, but seems 
to express in its liveliness the ecstasy that an animal would 
express in an active and eager pursuit. 

" With respect to the commission^ I felt in the highest 


degree proud of it. The subject has most probably origi- 
nated with himself, and Lord Lynedoch has merely recom- 
mended me to be employed, but his taking the trouble to 
come and talk to me himself about it shows a respect for our 
art that others as well as myself may be delighted to see in 
such a man. 

" The subject he has chosen seems to reflect on him, from 
its reference to the good old English companions of his vic- 
tories : and to me it is a gratification to find that even my 
peaceful style of Art should be felt necessary as a recreation 
to a Wellington. 

" I am, dear Ilaydon, 
" Tours, 

" D. WiLKIE." 

Wilkie about this time made a tour in Belgium and 
the Netherlands and wrote me letters full of fresh and 
close observation. 

As much has been said of the treatment experienced 
at the cleaner's hands by the pictures taken to Paris, 
it may be worth while to extract Wilkie's opinion from 
one of his letters from Rotterdam (25th September, 
1816): — 

"To the Hague I brought an introduction to an En- 
glish artist who had been settled there for twenty years. 
It seemed to be a feast to him to meet with me, and I 
certainly derived great advantage from him. He took 
me to sec the j)ictures belonging to the King which had 
just come back from Paris. They were not put u[), 
and here I had another treat. The Ostades and Jan 
Stccns arc of the very finest quality. I only wish I 
could say they were in the best preservation, but they 
have received considerable damage ; and it is the same 
with the pictures that have come back to Antwerp. 
This, however, has not arisen from their removal, as 
the admirers of Buonaparte would have us believe, but 
from a set of picture-cleaners who had already done the 
mischief here, and are now at Antwerp completing the 

VOL. I. A A 


glorious work of reform. The large picture of the Bull 
by Paul Potter has had a most thorough scouring:, and 
the high lights in Ostade and Jan Steen are rubbed 
into the very bone. The beautiful picture of the Dead 
Christ (Vandyke) has a large patch of raw colour quite 
bare. I expressed great indignation to the conservateur. 
His views and mine, however, were very different, and 
it seemed a delicate subject ; but I saw the same thing 
was threatened to some of the others, and I kept renew- 
ing the subject at every picture we came to. An intel- 
ligent traveller told me that the Taking Down from the 
Cross was most confoundedly rubbed before it was put 
up. If you could come to Antwerp we would make a 
row about it." 

1816 was now rapidly drawing to a close. I had ex- 
erted myself well and advanced my picture of Christ's 
Entry into Jerusalem. In 1815 Mr. Landseer, the en- 
graver, had brought his boys to me and said, " When 
do you let your beard grow and take pupils ?" I said, 
''If my instructions are useful or valuable, now." 
*' \Yill you let my boys come ? " I said, " Certainly." 
Charles and Thomas, it was immediately arranged, 
should come every Monday, when I was to give them 
work for the week. Edwin took my dissections of the 
lion, and I advised him to dissect animals, — the only 
mode of acquiring their construction, — as I had dissected 
men, and as I should make his brothers do. This very 
incident generated in me a desire to form a school, and 
as the Landseers made rapid progress I resolved to com- 
municate my system to other young men, and endeavour 
to establish a better and more regular system of instruc- 
tion than even the Academy afforded. 

One morning, while visiting the Elgin Marbles, (then 
at Burlington House,) I saw a youth with a good head 
drawing in a large way. I spoke to him and was 
pleased by his reply. It ended by an invitation to 


breakfast. The next day he came and told me his name 
■was Bewicke; that he came up from Darlington to find 
me out, and that after I was gone somebody told him 
who I was, and he was very much agitated. He entered 
my school at once, was introduced to the Landseers, 
proceeded to copy all my dissection drawings and soon 
became the most prominent pupil of the whole set. 
William Harvey followed him shortly after, and then 
another well-educated, accomplished youth, Edward 
Chatfield. All these young men looked up to me as 
their instructor and their friend. I took them under 
my care, taught them everything I knew, explained the 
principles of Raflfaele's works, in my collection of his 
prints, and did the same thing over again which I had 
done to Eastlake, without one shilling of payment from 
them any more than from him. They improved rapidly. 
The o-vatitude of themselves and of their friends knew 
no bounds. 

About the same time a periodical work was begun by 
my old friend Elmes the architect, called the " Annals 
of Art." Thinking to help my views of founding a 
school, and to put the editor in the right road of sound 
Art, I flung some of my best writing into it, and uplield 
through its pages the necessity of public encouragement. 
Elincs backed my views with all his might, and as the 
Catalofjue raisnnne which came from the Academy had 
sneered at me, the instant it appeared, I opened my 
battery against that stumbling-block and coiled snake. 

Elmes encouraged me of course, and I was too ready 
to listen to him. Elmes was a man of considerable 
talent, of great good -nature, and a tliorough admirer of 
mine. He had been tlic very first to notice and criticise 
my early works; but he was extremely thoughtless, full 
of imagination, always scheming and very likely to 
Ining himself and his friends into scrapes. I cared 
nothing for his peculiarities. I hated the Academy, and 

A A. 2 


was very glad of the use of a publication where I had 
unlimited control. Elines republished my original attack 
on this institution, which announced at once his prin- 
ciples and creed. The Art was soon in an uproar, and 
the quarterly appearance of the Annals was watched 
for with the same sort of anxiety as a shell in the air 
during a siege. " Here it comes ; now for it." The 
state of my eyes gave me leisure for meditation. I was 
perpetually dictating when I could not paint, while 
Elmes was always ready to copy. It was a pity I al- 
lowed my mind to act again through the pen when the 
pencil was my real instrument, but the temptation was 
irresistible ; and then I thought of doing good by im- 
planting sovmd principles of patronage in a proper 
quarter. I might perhaps have done this without 
irritating and exasperating the Academicians. Yet, re- 
garding them as a great body who influenced and pre- 
judiced the aristocracy, it was impossible to touch on 
Art without finding the Academy at every point check- 
ing, misleading, and obstructing. Every weapon of attack 
was resorted to, — ridicule, sarcasm, allegory and insi- 
nuation, — with such success that a member said, " By- 
and-by a man will be afraid to become an Academician." 
Once when Wilkie was with me, and an Academician 
came in, Wilkie seeing the Annals on the table said, in 
absolute horror, "Just take away that publication." 

The best things in it were my defence of Reynolds 
and the Dreams of Somniator. In the Dreams I imagined 
a deputation from the French Academy to the English, 
to consult on the principles of Greek form, and I made 
each Academician give his opinion according to his own 
mode of dialect and practice ; it was irresistible. Lord 
Mulgrave read it in the evening ; Sir George enjoyed 
it ; the Academicians shrunk from it. At a particular 
period of the discussion I raised Michel Angelo's ghost, 
who, in anger at the perversion of a good institution, 


changed the members into animals and objects expressive 
of their characters. One was transformed into a vinegar- 
cruet ; another into a viper ; Fuseli was sent to hell as 
a place congenial to his genius ; West was turned into 
a chameleon; Shee into a magpie; Wilkie and Mulready 
were spared, and so was Turner. I had said in my 
dream " Turner l-owing withdrew," at which Beechy 
remarked, "He withdrew without bowing, I'll answer 
for that." 

The Dream made such a noise that the circulation of 
the Annals increased because people hoped to see other 
dreams. But the object of the publication was to ad- 
vance the taste of the people and the principles of the 
student, and to bring the Academy into its just position. 
A jeu d^ esprit of this sort was well enough now and 
then, but to feed human malignity on principle was 
what I had no idea of doing, nor Elmes either. When 
the public found no more Dreams the circulation fell 
back again. Sound principles of science and simple 
truth are not pungent enough to rouse an interest in 
the ordinary reader who is not professionally interested. 

Besides these polemic articles I extracted valuable 
things from Coypel's Discourses, compressed much use- 
ful information from Adam's Antiquities, and marked 
or pointed out passages in authors which might do the 
student good ; in fact, I made my reading and expe- 
rience conducive to the improvement of the young 
artist. But such was the animosity generated by my 
terrific truths about the Academy that the good which 
was really in the work was rendered nugatory by the 
violence and inju.<ticc of those it skinned. 

Hardly any publisher continued it beyond a year, 
and Elmes and I used to lay our heads together at the 
end of one year how to start it the beginning of another. 
Elmes, who had a great deal of tact, always succeeded 
in animating a fresh publisher with new hopes, and \i\ 

A A 3 


convincing him the last did not understand the value of 
the work and the state of the question, and used to 
come in great glee witli his success. So at it again we 
would go for another year, prepared to look out for a 
new publisher the year following. 

All this, though it fed my revenge on the Academy, 
told perniciously on my interests. It turned aside my 
mind from its right direction. Yet it had its good too, 
because it brought out my pupils, who have all since 
become eminent men, and it brought me other pupils, 
■who paid me premiums, and thus in some measure re- 
paid the loss of the time bestowed without remuneration 
on my first set. 

On the other hand, the combined fury, ridicule, 
sarcasm and truth of my writing, understanding the 
subject as I did, indisputably stirred the public mind in 
favour of High Art and laid the foundation of the irreat 
move which afterwards took place. I may have sacri- 
ficed my interests, and I did ; but I kept the art in 
motion ; I prevented stagnation ; I laid open the pre- 
tences of a set of men, who were masking; their real 
views by the grossest hypocrisy, and prepared the peo- 
ple and the Government for what was their duty, if 
they wished the country to take its proper rank. The 
Academy never recovered this just exposure and it 
never will. Sooner or later, reform will be forced on 
it either by the uproar of artists or the convictions of 
the Sovereign. Never until its power of mischief be 
diminished and its power of good increased can High 
Art have fair play or be developed in proportion to the 
genius of the country. 

During the progress of the picture of Jerusalem I 
resolved to put into it, in a side group, Voltaire as a 
sneerer and Newton as a believer, — an anachronism of 
course, yet not a greater one than Virgil bringing Dido 
and ^neas together, who were three hundred years 


apart. The anachronism, however, was not what was 
complained of but the cruelty to Voltaire ! Leigh Hunt 
received a letter from Norwich complaining of the in- 
justice, and I received one from Oxford complaining 
of the absurdity. It was evident the conception had 
hit ; and, therefore, I determined to keep him in at all 

I foresaw attack on this score. I read Voltaire to 
be up to the mark, and found myself strengthened 
rather than intimidated as to my plan. 

If Christ was an impostor, Voltaire would be the 
hero. If Christ was (as I believe him) divine, Voltaire 
surely would not have been ashamed to appear as an 
incredule. Where, then, was the injustice ? 

I was accused of appealing to the passions of the 
million ; — I deny it : — I appealed to their common 

About this time I met John Keats at Leigh Hunt's, 
and w^as amazingly interested by his prematurity of in- 
tellectual and poetical power. 

I read one or two of his sonnets and formed a very 
high idea of his genius. After a short time I liked him 
so much that a general invitation on my part followed, 
and we became extremely intimate. He visited my 
painting-room at all times and at all times was wel- 

He was below the middle size, with a low forehead, 
and an eye that had an inward look, perfectly divine, like 
a Delphian priestess^ who saw^jdsions. The greatest 
calamity for Keats w'as liis being broughriDefore the 
Avorld ])y a set who had so much the habit of pufling 
each other that every one connected with it suffered in 
public estimation. Hence every one was inclined to 
disbelieve his genius. After the first criticism in the 
Quarterly somebody from Dartmouth sent him 25/. I 
told Mrs. Hoppncrthis, and begged her to go to Gifford 

A A 4 


and endeavour to prevent his assault on Endymlon. 
She told me she found him writinnj with his o;reen shade 
before his eyes, totally insensible to all reproach or en- 
treaty. " How can you, Gilford, dish up in this dread- 
ful manner a youth who has never offended you?" " It 
has done him good," replied Gilford ; " he has had 251. 
from Devonshire." Mrs. Hoppncr was extremely inti- 
mate with Gilford, and she told me she had a great mind 
to snatch the manuscript from the table and throw it in 
the fire. She left Gilford in a great passion, but without 
producing the least effect. 

One evening (19th November, 1816) after a most 
eager intercliange of thoughts I received from Keats 
his sonnet beginning, " Great spirits now on earth are 
sojourning." * I thanked him, and he wrote — " Your 
letter has filled me with a proud pleasure, and shall be 
kept by me as a stimulus to exertion. I begin to fix 
my eye on one horizon. The idea of your sending it 
to Wordsworth puts me out of breath. You know with 
what reverence I would send my well wishes to him." 

As I was walking one day with him in the Kilburn 
meadows, he said " Haydon, what a pity it is there is 
not a human dusthole." 

*' Great spirits now on earth are sojourning, 
He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake. 
Who on Helvellyn's summit, wide awake. 
Catches his freshness from Archangel's wing : 
He of the rose, the violet, tlie spring. 
The social smile, the chain for freedom's sake : 
And lo ! whose steadfastness would never take 
A meaner sound than Raffaele's whispering. 
And other spirits there are standing apart, 
Upon the forehead of the age to come; 
These, these will give the world another heart, 
And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum 
Of mighty workings ? — 
Listen awhile, ye nations, and be dumb." 

1816.] KEATS. 361 

His brother (who died In a consumption, and to 
whom Keats alludes in the lines in his beautiful " Ode 
to the Nightingale," " and youth grows pale and spectre 
thin, and dies,") told me some interesting things about 
his infancy, which they got from a servant whom they 
were obliged to find out to ascertain his brother's ajie 
before he could come to his property. 

He was when an infant a most violent and uno;overn- 
able child. At five years of age or thereabouts, lie 
once got hold of a naked sword and shuttinsc the door 
swore nobody should go out. His mother wanted to 
do so, but he threatened her so furiously she began to 
cry, and was obliged to wait till somebody through ths 
window saw her position and came to her rescue. 

An old lady (Mrs. Grafty, of Craven Street, Fins- 
bury) told his brother George, — when in reply to her 
question, " what John was doing," he told her he had 
determined to become a poet — that this was veiy odd, 
because when he could just speak, instead of answering 
questions put to him he would always make a rhyme to 
the last word people said, and then laugh. As he grew 
up he was apprenticed to an apothecary, in which posi- 
tion he led a wretched life, translated Ovid without 
having ever been properly taught Latin, and read Shak- 
spearc, Spenser and Chaucer. He used sometimes to 
say to his brother he feared he should never be a poet, 
and if he was not he would destroy himself. He used 
to suffer such agonies at this ajiprehenslon, that his 
brother said tbey really feared he would execute his 
threat. At last his master, weary of his disgust, gave 
him up his time. During his mother's last illness his 
devoted attachment interested all. He sat up whole 
nights with her in a great chair, would suffer nobody 
to give her medicine, or even cook her food, but himself, 
and read novels to her in her intervals of ease. 

Keats was the only man I ever met with who seemed 


and looked conscious of a high calling, except Words- 
■\vorth. Byron and Shelley were always sophisticating 
about their verses : Keats sophisticated about nothing. 
He had made up his mind to do great things, and when 
he found that by his connexion with the Examiner 
clique he had brought upon himself an overwhelming 
outcry of unjust aversion he shrunk up into himself; 
his diseased tendencies showed themselves, and he died 
a victim to mistakes on all hands, alike on the part of 
enemies and friends. Another acquaintance I made 
about this time was Horace Smith. Where I first met 
him I have no recollection, but there never was a more 
delightful fellow, or a kinder or sounder heart. It was 
now, too, I was first invited to meet Shelley, and 
readily accepted the invitation. I went a little after 
the time, and seated myself in the place kept for me at 
the table, right opposite Shelley himself, as I was told 
after, for I did not then know what hectic, spare, 
weakly yet intellectual-looking creature it was, carving 
a bit of brocoli or cabbage on his plate, as if it had been 

the substantial wing of a chicken. and his wife 

and her sister, Keats, Horace Smith, and myself made 
up the party. 

In a few minutes Shelley opened the conversation by 
saying in the most feminine and gentle voice, " As to 

that detestable religion, the Christian " I looked 

astounded, but casting a glance round the table easily 

saw by 's expression of ecstasy and the women's 

simper, I was to be set at that evening vi et armis. No 
reply, howevei', was made to this sally during dinner, 
but when the dessert came and the servant was gone to 

it we went like fiends. and were deists. I 

felt exactly like a stag at bay and resolved to gore 
without mercy. Shelley said the Mosaic and Christian 
dispensations were inconsistent. I swore they were 
not, and that the Ten Commandments had been the 


foundation of all the codes of law In the earth. Shelley 

denied It. backed him. I affirmed they were, 

— neither of us using an atom of logic. Shelley said 
Shakspeare could not have been a Christian because 
of the dialogue In Cymbellne. 

'■^Gaoler. For look you, sir, you know not the way you should go. 

Posthumits. Yes indeed I do, fellow. 

Gaol. Your death has eyes in his head then, and I have never 
seen him so pictured : you must either be directed by some who 
take upon themselves to know, or take upon yourself that I am sure 
you do not know, or jump the after inquiry on your own peril, and 
how you shall speed on your journey's end, I think you will never 
return to tell me. 

Post. I tell ye, fellow, there are none want eyes to direct them 
the way I am going, but such as wink, and will not use them. 

Gaol. What an infinite mock is this, that a man should have the 
best use of eyes to see the way of blindness." 

I replied, that proved nothing; you might as well 
argue Shakspeare was in favour of murder because, 
when he makes a murderer, he Is ready to mui'der, as 
infer he did not believe In another world, or In Chris- 
tianity, because he has put sophistry about men's state 
after death In the mouth of his gaoler. 

I arfjued that his own will mioht be Inferred to con- 
tain his own belief, and there he says, " In Jesus Christ 
hoping and assuredly believing, I, W. Shakespeare, 
&c. * * * * " Shelley said, " That was a mere matter of 
form." I said, " That opinion was mere matter of in- 
ference, and, if quotation were argument, 1 would give 
two passages to one in my favour." They sneered, and 
I at once quoted 

" Though justice be thy plea, consider this, 
That in the course of justice none of us 
Should see salvation." 

And again : — 

" Why all the souls that are were forfeit once, 
And he that might th' advantage best have took, 
Found out the remcily." 


Neither , Keats nor said a word to this ; 

but still Shelley, and ke})t at it till, finding 

I was a match for them in argument, they became 
personal, and so did I. We said unpleasant things 
to each other, and Avhen I retired to the other room for 
a moment I overheard them say, " Haydon is fierce." 

" Yes," said ; " the question always irritates him." 

As the women were dressing to go, said to me 

with a look of nervous fear, " Are these creatures to 

be d d, Haydon?" "Good Heaven," said I, 

" what a morbid view of Christianity." 

The assertion of , that these sort of discussions 

irritated me is perfectly true ; but it was not so much 
the question as their manner of treating it. I never 
heard any sceptic but Hazlitt discuss the matter with 
the gravity such a question demanded. The eternity 

of the human soul is not a joke, as was always 

inclined to make of it, not in reality, — for the thought 
wrenched his being to the very midriff, — but apparently 
that he might conceal his frightful apprehensions. For 
he was by nature gloomy, and all his wit, and jokes, 
and flowers and green fields were only so many de- 
sperate eflforts to break through the web which hung 
round and impeded him. Luckily for me, 1 was 
deeply impressed with the denunciations, the promises, 
the hopes, the beauty of Christianity. I received an 
impression at an early age which has never been 
effaced, and never will, and which neither the insidious 

efforts of nor the sophistry of Shelley ever for a 

moment shook. My irritation proceeded not from my 
fear of them, but from my being unable to command my 
feelings when I heard Voltaire almost worshipped in 
the very same breath that had called St. Paul, Mister 
Paul, and when, with a smile of ineffable superiority, it 
was intimated that he was a cunning fellow. I used to 
say, " Let us go on without appellations of that kind. 


I detest them." " Oh, the question Irritates you," 
was the reply. " And always will when so conducted," 
was my answer. " I am like Johnson ; I will not 
suffer so awful a question as the truth or falsehood of 
Christianity to be treated like a new farce, and if you 
persist I will go." It was singular to watch the fiend 
that had seized 's soul trying with the most ac- 
complished artifices to catch those of his friends. 
Often, when all discussion had ceased and the wine 
had gone freely round — when long talk of poetry and 

painting had, as it were, opened our hearts 

would suddenly (touching my arm witli the most 
friendly pressure) show me a passage in the Bible and 
Testament, and say, as if appealing to my superiority 
of understanding, " Ilaydon, do you believe this?" 
*' Yes," I would instantly answer, Avith a look he will 
remember. He would then get up, close the book, 
and ejaculate, " By heavens, is it possible ! " This 
was another mode of appeal to my vanity. He would 
then look out of window with an affected Indifference, 
as if he pitied my shallow mind ; and, going jauntily 
to the piano, strike up " Cosi fan tuttip or " Addio il 
mio cuore^^ with a " liing the bell for tea." 

After this dinner, I made up my mind to subject 
myself no more to the chance of these discussions, but 
gradually to withdraw from the whole party. 

My puj)il.s being now well advanced in drawing, and, 
by demonstrations on a subject at Bell's, thoroughly 
•versed in human construction, I thought it a good plan 
to get up to the British Gallery two Cartoons from 
Hauqiton Court. I mentioned it to Scguier, who 
pi)oke of it to Lord Stafford and Lord Farnborouo-h. 
They were so pleased that tliey went to the Prince 
llegent, who immediately ordered West (as keeper of 
the King's pictures) to go down and send up two 
Cartoons to the Gallery. The portrait-j)aintcrs were in 


a rage, and swore the Cartoons would be ruined, 
broken, smoked and never get back safe. West, 
however, though he said the same, was obliged to obey 
orders, got cylinders made, and the Cartoons came up ; 
Seguier and I dying with laughter at making the 
venerable President do the thing. 

I was immediately accused of being at the bottom of 
this, as, I am happy to say, I always was when the 
good of the art was concerned ; and I came in for a 
double share of abuse for my impudence. However, 
up came the jMiraculous Draught of Fishes and Paul 
at Athens. I moved in directly, and drew full-size all 
the heads and the figure of Paul. My pupils came in 
after me, and we all set to work and made such studies 
and cartoons as had never been seen in England before. 
The excitement was tremendous. Bewicke, Harvey, 
C. and T. Landseer and Chatfield had all fine heads, 
and the way in which they stood up and manfully 
drew attracted the attention and wonder of all. 

The Academy were in a fury. I got, I really may 
say, dozens of anonymous letters all threatening me 
with vengeance. Behnes was the only one not my 
pupil who drew, and when the whole collection were 
hung up at the end of the season, my Paul in the 
centre, and my pupils' works around me, the nobility 
were all highly delighted. Had there been no Aca- 
demy the Art Avould have gone on from that moment 
for ever. But their bile was roused ; and by ridicule 
and abuse, by attributing the basest motives to me 
(that I Avanted the Gallery to buy my picture), they 
succeeded in so alarming the directors that all the good 
was rendered nugatory ; and, though the people rushed 
in thousands till the doors were obliged to be shut, 
nothing ever came of it, and nothing ever will, Avhilst 
that body, under the mask of doing good to Art, seek 
only their own predominance, and by standing between 

1816.] CLOSE OF TUE YEAR. 307 

the nobility and the people baffle every attempt to 
enlighten either upon Ai't. If you ask their assistance 
they thwart the best plans by diplomacy ; if you leave 
them out they destroy the best prospects by malignity. 
The result was so liir good that the people were roused 
and interested and proved their relish for High Art. 

I find in my Journal for December 23rd of this 
year, " Wilkie spent the evening with me ; he seems 
to be getting rid of his prejudices. I never saw him 
so affected before by my picture. He dwelt on it with 
mute eagerness ; and at last, completely conquered, he 
said, 'It will make a decided impression.' 'God 
grant it may,' said I. ' It is very imposing,' said 
Wilkie, 'and a great advance beyond Solomon.' We 
then examined every head with a candle, and criticised 
each with the severity of the most acrid critics." This 
is true human nature. After either had expressed a 
decided approbation of what the other had done each 
could bear fault-finding; we could not bear it else. 
Often, when he has failed in a head, and I have told 
him so bluntly, he has defended every error even to 

In my own case, if AYilkie did not begin by praising, 
1 always defended myself against his censures ; but if 
cither praised first the other generally acquiesced on his 
discovery of error. 

And now came the last day of 1816, the year in 
which the Elgin INIarblcs were bought, and which, 
therefore, should stand marked as an era in Art. I 
always concluded the year with a review and a thanks- 
giving to (jod, and always opened it with a prayer for 
His blessing. I have no pleasure so great as the belief 
in the perpetual and secret intercourse with my Creator.' 

I ushered in the new year with prayer and gratitude 
to my great, my beneficent, leader througli the wilder- 
ness. I blessed Him with fulness of heart for His 


mercies. I reviewed with the rapidity of intuition the 
events of the past year, and my lieart yearned to God 
for His goodness. I prayed with all my might that no 
disease or weakness of sijiht mio-ht hinder me from 
bringing my present picture to a glorious and mag- 
nificent conclusion. 

Many people may smile at the simplicity which dic- 
tated these pourings forth, as well as the vanity which 
has induced their publication. My view is to give my 
readers a notion of my character, temperament, virtues, 
vices and infirmities. 

About this time I had written to Sir George Beau- 
mont for pecuniary assistance. In his reply, after 
granting me the aid I wanted, he wrote : — 

" Pray excuse me if I again take the opportunity of re- 
commending some profitable mode of practice. I know you 
object to portraits, although the dignity you would be able 
to give them, so far from degrading, would greatly add to 
your reputation ; and the greatest artists have not considered 
tlie practice as beneath their notice. 

" Again, painting fancy heads, and other smaller works, 
would be a relief from severer studies, and be very likely to 
answer the purpose. 

" Indeed, my dear sir, you must attend to this necessary 
concern, or circumstances more mortifying than what I re- 
commend cannot fnil to attend you. Recollect how imme- 
diately the head of the Gipsy sold ! " 

This letter was prophetic ; but all my friends were 
always advising me what to do instead of advising the 
Government what to do for me. Now a different 
course, I have no hesitation in saying, would have 
prevented my necessities and developed what powers 
I had. 

Dear Sir George's advice was kind and good, but it 
was yielding the question of public support ; and as I 
had made up my mind to bring that about by storm I 


disdained Sir George's timid cautioUj and flew at my 
picture, come what might. 

There was in town at this time a Russian artist, 
named Sauerweid, who had been living in Paris when 
the allied armies entei'ed it. lie was known to the 
Czar and the Imperial family. He made admirable 
sketches of Cossacks and of the allied troops in which 
he distinguished the different nations with very great 
truth. He came over to England and was employed 
here Avhen the Grand Duke Nicholas arrived. As 
Sauerweid admired my picture much, he said he would 
bring the Grand Duke to see it, and to pave the way 
bcc'i'ed me to come to the British Museum the next 
day where the Duke was to be, when he would pre- 
sent me. 

As this was my first prospect of a royal connexion, 
I went, and on my arrival was taken into the Holy of 
Holies, and presented by Sauerweid to his Imperial 
Highness as " Un peintre cVhistoii'e distingue." 

The Grand Duke was a very tall, graceful and fine 
young man, with high-bred manners and a frank car- 
riage. In a loud voice, as if giving the word of com- 
mand, turning to the Ilissus he thundered out, " Cest un 
superhe fragment," to which I replied not in the gentlest 
voice, " Oui, Altesse Imperiale" He then said, " Vous 
etes un peintre dldstoire 9 " I bowed. " Ou sont vos 
tableaux; dans quel edifice puhlique 9 " This was a 
poser, but with a bitter smile I replied, " Altesse Impi- 
riale, dans ce pays-ci, a present, on ne place pas des 
tableaux dldstoire dans les Mifices pulAiques" He stared 
and turned to the Theseus. 

So far all was well. I had been favourably received 
and should have waited ; but my natural eagerness to 
press an advantage urged me to say to the Grand Duke 
" Xai un oncle uu service de votre Frere Imjn'riale" 
" Quel norn?" said the Grand Duke: " Coblcy" said 

VOL. J. 15 r. 

370 AUTOBIOGRAl'Iir OF B. R. HAYDON. [l817. 

I. His face lighted up, and he replied, " Cohley ! Je 
le connais tres bien ; c'est un commandant distingm. Xai 
pass4 trois semaines avec lui a Odesse." He now treated 
me a merveille, and there was an enormous curiosity in 
the circle : a Calmuc-looking man seemed burstino; to 
speak to me ; but I was not to be spoken to ! The 
Grand Duke lingered round the marbles. As the offi- 
cials in attendance could not answer one-half of the 
Duke's questions about the marbles and I could, before 
we got through I was the real official. The moment 
the Grand Duke turned to go, the Calmuc squeezed 
over to me and in very good English said, " What 
pleased the Duke so ? " " Oh," said I, like an ass, " I 
have an uncle in the Russian army." Sauerweid seemed 
to eye me with a sort of fear. AFe all descended into 
the yard of the Museum where the Grand Duke got 
into his carriage. As he did so. Young Kutusoff (the 
nephew of the celebrated general) came to Sauerweid, 
on whose arm I was leaning, and spoke in Russ. What- 
ever it was, Sauerweid gave a negative, and hurried me 
away. The carriage drove off, and as it passed through 
the gate I received a gracious bow. 

His Highness had begged me to send him my draw- 
ings of the marbles, which I did ; and Sauerweid 
brought me word he would call and see my picture. I 
found out afterwards that the drawings were never laid 
before him, nor did he ever send to say he would call. 
It was an artifice to keep me from calUng on him ; and 
when his Imperial Highness was gone the drawings 
came back with a very peculiar knot in the cord which 
tied up the roll, and which I had remarked before 
sending them. 

So ended my first introduction to royalty. I advise 
young painters, when their first step has been success- 
ful with such exalted personages, to let the next step 
come from them. It was grossly imprudent in me to 


say one word about connexions till I had his Highness 
alone. Had I been quiet and allowed Sauerweid to 
keep the lead as he desired, he would have brought me 
to the Grand Duke's presence again, and then my great 
reserve (my ftunily connexions) might and should have 
been brought up at the proper time, when his Higimess 
had got interested. He would have been delighted to 
find this out then, in confirmation as it w^ere of his good 

I was told, and I believe, that when he sent Kutusoff 
to Sauerweid, it was to take me with him to Stratford 
House as a compliment to a nephew of Cobley. No- 
thing, however, came of it. 

The honour paid to the marbles by this visit w\as 
glorious. A temporary building had been erected to 
shelter them, and I had accompanied the first visit of a 
royal personage to works which I had studied when 
they were in a pent-house, damp, dusty and obscure. 
Before the Duke came I gave three hearty cheers, and 
taking off my hat thanked God inwardly I had lived to 
see that day. 

The Cahnuc -was a Dr. Hamel, a very intelligent 
agent of the Russian government, wdiom I afterwards 
got acquainted with, and who told me what I have 
mentioned about my drawings and Sauerweid after tlic 
Duke was gone. 

I now was a very great man in my own eyes. I had 
a notion at one time of wearing mustachios, but that 
went off. I set to work and advanced my great picture 
well and heartily. The interest about it was so intense 
that iny room was always full of English or foreigners. 
The presentation to the Grand Duke had made a great 
noise. AVilkic said it would be nothiiig unless a good 
commission followed. He was right in part, but still it 
annoyed me to find he was never satisfied. 

1 now put Ilazlitt's head into my picture looking at 

15 U '1 


Christ as an investigator. It had a good effect. I then 
put in Keats in the background, and resolved to in- 
troduce Wordsworth bowins: in reverence and awe. 
Wordsworth was highly pleased, and before the close of 
this season, (1817,) the picture was three parts done. 
The centurion, the Samaritan woman, Jai'rus and his 
daughter, St. Peter, St. John, Newton, Voltaire, the 
anxious mother of the penitent girl and the girl blush- 
ing and hiding her face, many heads behind, in fact the 
leading groups, wei*e accomplished, when down came 
my liealth again, eyes and all. Shaking like an aspen 
leaf, I was obliged to stop, to the regret of everybody. 
]\Iy room was so small, the air so confined, the ef- 
fluvium of paint so overpowering, that many people of 
fiishion advised me to move if I wished to save my life. 
This was all very fine talking: but how was it to be 
done ? I svas deeply in debt to my worthy landlord. I 
had no money. I had been anticipating my commission 
from Mr. Phillips. I was in the clutches of money- 
lenders. I was passionately in love, and dared not 
marry. I was in fact so surrounded by difficulties that 
it required all my skill and tact to carve out time to 
work and advance my picture. 

Yet there was this consolation ; nobody else in the 
art was doing any important thing, so that exactly as I 
Avas alone, and the undertaking desperate, so did I glory, 
and pray, and work and trust. 

Horace Smith said he would help me if he could. 
He asked me about my connexions. I said I had tried 
them and tired them. I happened to mention I knew 
Harman. He said, " Why not tell him your exact con- 
dition ? If you stay here you cannot live. Many 
people say they become faint after a few minutes." I 
calculated the cost of removino* and furnishino; and found 
that to do it under 300/. was impossible. I really had 
not courage to ask for such a sum merely because 


Harman M'as a good man and I had crossed him by ac- 
cident. I made up my mind to go on, and at it again 
I went, till one evening after severe application I was 
seized with a convulsion in my midriff from working too 
long without food ; not that I could not get it, but that 
I forgot it, such was my delight in my w^ork. 

I still applied, but became feebler and feebler, and at 
last it became impossible to bear it. I took lodgings 
out at Somers Town, near where Bailey, the sculptor, 
was living, and where he made his first bust. Campbell, 
the sculptor, was then his journeyman. Hunting for a 
house, and calling in at Rossi's, he offered me his gallery 
for a painting-room, and to fit the rooms near it into 
a house large enough for a bachelor, for marriage in my 
circumstances was still a distant hope. I tlien wrote 
Mr. Harman. I laid my case before him. I offered 
him my picture as security, and to insure it and place 
the policy in his hands. The next day I received his 

He told me the claims upon him were so great that 
he must return an unfavourable answer. He seemed 
from the note to have been called away while writing, 
to have returned and then reading over his refusal to 
have thought it cruel with his vast wealth, and to have 
written in a hurry, " However, after this if you still 
choose to call, you may." This part was blotted, and 
therefore written after tlic other. I saw iunnediatcly 
there was hope ; I called the next day on this good man ; 
he felt for my wretched health and ill-treatment. He 
hoped, he said, that 300/. would be of all the utility I 
expected, and gave me a cheque, hurrying away, and 
appearing unwilling to let me express my gratitude. I 
insured the picture and hjdged the })olicy with him, and 
in a very short time left 41, Great jNIarlborough Street, 
where I had passed so many happy and so many painful 
moments, praying God to bless my dear and worthy 

It ]i 3 


landlord, and liis Avife, who had behaved with such ex- 
traordhiary forbearance. I had paid within the last 
three years 400/. and more, but a balance was still 
owing. I had been with them ten years and left them 
with affectionate rejxret. 

I now removed to Lisson Grove North, and became 
tenant to an Academician, Rossi. 

Seven years before, in 1810, I had called on Eossi as 
a youth and candidate for an associateship, and he re- 
ceived me then with great vulgarity and almost pushed me 
from the door ; now he was glad to have me as tenant ; 
appealed to me for an advance to help him to make the 
alterations, to which out of sheer sympathy I consented, 
and advanced him 60/. (two quarters' rent), for he and 
his family were most wretchedly off. 

Rossi was a singular man. He had made by commis- 
sions 10,000/., but he had such an appetite for bricks 
and mortar he would let no tenant repair his house. In 
my lease it was by his own desire literally specified that all 
alterations should be made by the landlord ! He sunk 
the whole of his money on tliis place, and built a parlour 
kitchen that he might have a beef-steak hot from the 
fire on to his plate. He told me he always regretted 
his apprentice days when he dined in that way, and was 
determined to revive them. Early habits are never 
rooted out : my landlord in Marlborough Street, after 
he became a monied man, never washed his face and 
hands in his bed-room, but came down to the servants' 
sink, and did as he always had done in early days. He 
told me he liked the water fresh from the cistern. Such 
is habit, which (as the Duke told Sir Astlcy in my 
presence) is " ten times nature." 

The pure air of this part of the town, the escape from 
the continued rush of fashion, which never left me any 
rest in Marlborough Street, the quiet and peace of 
having a painting-room and a parlour to live in with my 


books around me, was heavenly. I thought of my love 
but it would have been wrong to involve her with her 
infants : I therefo' e only guided her Avith respect to 
their education, and as she had an income from her 
marriage settlement, she was happy and spent her time 
in improving herself. All depended upon the success of 
Jerusalem which from my bad health was still incom- 
plete. It was now the only object of my life to bring 
it to an end. 

I soon began to regain my health and drove at my 
picture once again. The subject grew on my imngina- 
tion. I used to retire to rest positively Avcighed down 
by the scene : the tumultuous roaring of the crowd, — 
the moving Deity, in the midst — filled my soul to 
positive aching. I daily arose and worked with an in- 
tensity hardly to be credited. 

Some time before this the infamous Catalogue rai- 
sonnee made its appearance. This work was one of the 
most singular productions that ever appeared in the 
literature of Art. Its production was owing to the ap- 
prehension of the Academicians that the Directors of 
the British Institution entertained the notion of opening 
the eyes of the people and thereby lowering and depre- 
ciating their supremacy. They were so very angry 
they could not control themselves. "With tlieir usual 
diplomacy they gave vent to their irritability through this 
work in the most gross scurrility against the nobility, 
the pictures and the plans of the Directors. As I had 
been loud in my delight I came in fur a share in tluir 
abuse. I fired up in an instant ; told Elmes I would 
help hini, and did help him in his review, adding some 
of the strongest things I ever wrote in all my life. Ilaz- 
litt called this singular publication (the Catalogue rai- 
sonnee) the most extraordinary which ever appeared in 
a country making pretensions to civilisation. 

B 11 4 


So conscious wei'c the authors of the iniquity of their 
proceedings that neither writer, printer, nor publisher 
put liis name to the work. The Duke of Sutherhmd, 
Lord Mulgrave, Sir George Beaumont, West, Seguier 
and all who were supposed to have planned these exhi- 
bitions of fine works, were caricatured under nicknames. 
Hazlitt made an onslaught ujon it with a gusto that 
did him honour, and by our united eitorts the injuiy 
likely to accrue to the budding Art-knowledge of the 
people Avas effectually prevented. 

At the first appearance of the Catalogue the Academy 
hailed it, and Northcote told me he was so delighted he 
ordered a lono; candle and went to bed to read it in 

Hazlitt took it up as the work of a body of low 
traders, who feared exposure of their fraudulent impo- 
sitions through the success of a sounder article, and de- 
cried the superior manufacture instead of rivalling it by 
hio'lier skill. He considered the work a gross attack on 
human genius, permanent reputation, and liberal Art. 
He said most truly that it asserted in so many words 
that the knowledo;e of Hiwh Art in England is inconsis- 
tent with the existence of the Academy, and that their 
success as a body instituted for the promotion of the fine 
Ai'ts requires the destruction or concealment of all works 
of acknowledged excellence. " The Academicians hereby 
avow," said Hazlitt*, "their rankling jealousy, hatred 
and scorn of all Art, and the great names in Art, and 
require the keeping down the public taste as the only 
way to keep up the bubble of their reputation." 

" The day after it came out," he continues, " it ought 
to have been burnt by the common hangman. A 
society for the encouragement of Art has no riglit to 
exist a moment, if it profess to exist in wrong of Art, by 

* Examiner, 181G, page 697. 


its suppressiorij in contempt of its genius, or in defiance 
of all manly sentiment." 

The object of its vile aiitliors was to mislead the 
people. They were just beginning to take an interest 
in the art. They had rushed with extraordinary feel- 
ins to the noble works the Directors had laid before 
them, and the bad passions of some disappointed artists 
had been roused. This is the only key to this extra- 
ordinary production, a copy of which is now hardly to 
be got.* Indeed I am not certain whether it appeared 
this year (1817) or the year before, but the exact date 
is of no consequence. It certainly arose out of the 
exhibition at the Gallery which gave fuch mortal ofFenco 
to the Academy. 

Sir Georo-c Beaumont asked an Academician who 
was the author. He said, "I don't know. I am not, 
but I approve of everything in it." Its effect was 
deadl}'. It cut both ways. It annoyed the patrons ; so 
that little employment was given for some years in his- 
torical painting. But what did the authors care for 
that ? They were sure of the work of portrait painting 
going on. Vanity, fully and wealth would be painted 
and painted they wei'c. Portraiture is always inde- 
pendent of Art and has little or nothing to do with it. 
It is one of the staple manufactures of the empire. 
AVhercvcr the British settle, wherever they colonise, 
they carry and will ever carry trial by jury, hor.-;e 
racing and portrait painting. 

As soon as Parliament was up and town empty I felt 
the usual irresistible disposition to go somewhere because 
everybody else did. So, wishing always to make my 
pleasures subservient to my art, I went to Oxford and 
Blenheim. At Oxford, not havinoi; seen a college before, 
I was deeply interested, and at Blenheim still more 

* I have tried in vain to get a copy. — Ed. 


affected, for here were the finest works of Rubens I had 
seen. One, the Rape of Proserpine, has never been ex- 
celled. The Nymph Arethusa, with her back towards 
you, is the purest form of woman he ever painted. 

I returned to town much benefited, though my eyes 
still continued weak, and Horace Smith in a letter of 
this date alludes to this in his usual strain. " Take 
care of your twinklers, and tell your landlord if he give 
you such another notice to quit you are determined not 
to wink at it, for it not only offends you but your 

There was no speaking, writing or talking to Horace 
Smith without a joke in reply. 

My pupils were advancing admirably with their 
drawings from the Cartoons, and finding them quite au 
fait I got leave and sent them at once to the Museum 
to draw from the Elgin Marbles. 

The astonishment of the people was extraordinary ; 
they would not believe they were Englishmen; they 
continually asked if they were Italians. Their cartoons 
(drawn the full size) of the Fates, the Theseus and the 
Ilissus literally made a noise in Europe. An order 
came from the great Goiithe at Weimar for a set for his 
own house, the furniture of wliich having been since 
bought by the government of Weimar, and the house 
kept up as it was in G ethe's time, the cartoons of my 
pupils are thus preserved, whilst in England the rest 
were lying about in cellars and corners. There is only 
one left, I believe, and that one was bought by Hamilton 
of Bewicke. Hamilton found it a nuisance, gave it to 
me, and I gave it to the Mechanics' Institute at 
Liverpool. Still this was ti'iumph, a great triumph, a 
very great national triumph, because it showed the 
people could be made to feel Art. If Englishmen were 
educated in Art like foreigners they could soon equal or 
surpass them. 


In England, however, nothing followed. Except the 
one from Hamilton not one order came in. The Aca- 
demy set their face against the whole scheme of a school, 
abused and nicknamed it. Blackwood assaulted it, 
calling me and my pupils by every species of offensive 
epithet. Still this was a proof the thing was taking 
root, and I resolved next year to make a greater push 
than before and bring the efforts of my pupils to a test 
by a public exhibition for money. 

Nothing is ever effectually victorious in England till 
it brings money. What people will pay for (Bull 
argues) they care about, and what tliey care about must 
have something valuable to attract them ; and after all, 
however expressive of a commercial habit this may be, 
it is no bad test of merit. 

Some time before this a coolness had grown up be- 
tween Leigh Hunt and myself. Accidentally meeting 
him at a friend's, he was so exceedingly delightful I 
could not resist the dog. AVe forgot our quarrels and 
walked away together, quoting, and joking and laugh- 
ing as if nothing had hapjiened. 

The assaults on Hunt in Blackwood at this time 
under the signature of Z. were incessant. Who Z. was 
nobody knew ; but I myself strongly suspect him to 
have been Terry the actor. Leigh Hunt had exaspe- 
rated Terry by neglecting to notice his theatrical efforts. 
Terry was a friend of Sir Walter's, shared keenly his 
political hatreds, and was also most intimate Avith the 
Blackwood party, which had begun a course of attacks 
on all who showed the least liberalism of thinking or 
who were praised by or known to the Examiner. Hunt 
had addressed a sonnet to me. Tliis was enough ; we 
were taken to be of the same clique of rebels, rascals 
and reformers, \\\\o were supposed to support that pro- 
duction of so much power and talent. On Keats the 
effect was melancholy. He became morbid and silent. 


Avoulcl call and sit whilst I was painting for hours with- 
out speaking a word. As I was on a great work it did 
not affect me, but it had its effect on my connexions 
who were all High Toiy and indirectly backed the 
Academy, which I was trying through the Annals (read 
principally in high life) to bring into contempt and level 
to the ground in pu])lic opinion. 

War is war ; and if you carry it on you must not 
complain of its inconveniences ; but I considered it hard, 
because I proved a nest of portrait painters were ruining 
public taste, to be accused of designs against the throne 
and the altar. All this, however, I ought to have fore- 
seen. The Academy was a royal institution, one of the 
institutions of the country, and so imbedded in the 
habits, and weaknesses and pleasures of people of fashion, 
that it would have been foolish to expect that every 
effort would not be made to support the institution and 
to blacken the characters of its enemies. Touch a link 
of the chain from the people to the Crown, and you risk 
destroying the equilibrium of both. 

On this principle it was that I was considered a mem- 
ber of that party who wanted to reform the constitution 
and made no scruple to avow it. It was only natural I 
should be so considered. They were my companions ; 
they dined with me. How were others to know it was 
the pleasure I had in their literature, their conversation, 
that was the bond of sympathy between me and them, 
and not their politics or their religious opinions ? 

I had got myself into a difficulty with my eyes open. 
But this does not excuse the heartless mode of attack 
adopted by the writers in Blackwood. The greater the 
lie and the more fatal the consequence the greater the 
joke for them. Xo character could escape if attacked 
with such a defiance of truth as marked the assaults of 
this publication. 

L , when we became acquainted, felt so strongly 

1817.] IN DIFFICULTIES. 381 

how little I deserved what had been said of mc, tliat his 
whole life has since been a struo::i2:le to undo the evil he 
Avas at the time a party to. Hence his visits to rae in 
prison, his praise in the Quarterly, and his opinion ex- 
pressed so often on what he thinks my deserts. This 

shows a good heart, and a fine heart L has ; but 

he is fond of mischief and fun, and does not think of the 
wreck he has made till he has seen tlie fn)gments. 

All this time I was terribly hampered for money. 

And now one word as to my applications (too frequent, 
alas !) for pecuniary assistance. 

It would hardly be believed that I had brought 
myself to consider that I had, by my public devotion to 
High Art, a claim on all tlie nobility and opulent in the 

Tiiis was no crime, and it was perhaps reasonable ; 
but it was not delicate or manly. There can be no doubt 
I ought to have been helped by the State, and I should 
have been if the Academy had not existed, which obsti- 
nately intrigued against a vote of money either to indi- 
viduals or bodies, where Art was concerned. No doubt 
there were means of earning wliat I wanted by occasion- 
ally devoting myself, as Sir George suggested, to por- 
traits and small subjects. But that always divided my 
mind. While a great work was in progress I always dwelt 
and mused, and eternally, as it were, kept my attention 
on it; so that I began again, after an interval, as eagerly 
as ever. It was not so, I found, when I painted small 
things. I never, I must confess, tried the plan fairly, 
and for that I deserve censure. Be that as it may, I 
was resolved to go through my work, — to raise loan 
after loan to complete it, — to set my life upon a chance, 
and to bear the hazard of the die. But had I a right 
to make others share the risk ? I did not deceive them. 
I told the ricli my condition, — that I had no chance of 
repaying anything unless my work sold. 


Fuseli told me Coutts had behaved to him about his 
picture of the Lazar-house in a princely way. Mr. Har- 
man, as I have mentioned, had nobly advanced me 300/.* 
This advance being gone I wrote to Mrs. Coutts. An 
answer came from Mr. Coutts peculiarly touching and 
characteristic, and as it is an honour to his head and his 
heart I insert it in full. 

" Strand, December, 1817. 
" Sir, 

" I have considered with attention your letter, and I con- 
fess though my feelings tell me I ought not to consent to the 
request it contains, considering the great number of a similar 
kind that are at this very time before me, (many of them 
from people who have superior claims on me for relationship 
and connexions of various kinds,) and the impossibility of 
satisfying one quarter part of them, and the great doubt of 
any of them succeeding in any adequate manner to the ex- 
pectations of the parties, or the hopes I can even imagine 
myself, yet I feel an inclination to put the sum of 400/. in 
your power, and to indulge the flattery of seeing by that 
means your picture finished, and your fortune established in 
the manner you have pictured, so pleasing a matter to be 
accomplished, and the sum I have advanced repaid. 

" On the other hand past experience almost blasts all 
hopes, as I have assisted several in your line in the course 
of a long life, and have never succeeded ; on the contrary I 
have seen their prospects disappointed, and my money lost. 

'" That your case may prove contrary, and that I may see 
you successful, will give me great pleasure, but indeed I 
must look to it with very doubtful eyes. But the trial shall 
be made. All depends on your exertions, and I shall say no 
more on the subject now, but conclude with my good wishes. 
" Sir, your faithful, humble servant, 

" T. Coutts." 

Here was the letter of another as benevolent and as 
rich as Mr. Harman. I had known Mrs. Coutts when 

* It appears from a subsequent passage in the Journals that this 
sum was afterwards increased to 1000/. — Ed. 


Miss Mellon, and dined with her with Maria Foote at 
Holly House, where she was living then under the pro- 
tection of Mr. Coutts, but certainly not in vice. 

It was a curious scene ! so exactly what is described 
in Gil Bias. The rich banker and the gay actress, 
splendour and vulgarity, charity and extravagance, fun 
and frolic. There was a room at Holly House called 
the *' fun-room," without chair or table. It was for 
dancing and romping: here we all played at blind man's 
buff. It is my honest conviction there was nothing in 
Harriet Mellon but a gii'lish, romping, full-hearted, rich 
enjoyment at seeing every man, woman and child about 
her as happy as herself. 

She was thoughtless in caring nothing about appear- 

After this kindest of all kind letters, and after her 
marriage to INIr. Coutts, a day Avas appointed for me to 
call in Piccadilly. I did call, and after a reasonable 
time Mr. Coutts came in leaning on her arm. 

A look from her at once told me all was altered. No 
more " fun-rooms." I bowed with stately gravity, and 
he welcomed me and shook my hand. We then walked 
into the dining-room where he had got a very fine copy 
from Guldo's Aurora in the Rospigliosi palace. All 
went on with gravity and decorum till we came to a 
bust of Mr. Coutts by Nollekens. Nolly was a charac- 
ter. Harriet Mellon's love of humour made her forget 
Mrs. Coutts' sense of dignity. She went off like a rocket 
and mimicked Xolly's manner to perfection. But times 
were altered; she was the great banker's wife, — I his 
supi)liant for cash ; — freedoms must be over. ]Mr. Coutti 
gave lier a look which iced her. In a minute or two 
she curtsied low to me, and swept out of the room ; but 
she could not help turning that eye of laers as she went. 
A glance was enough to convince me she was Harriet 
Mellon still. 


INIr. Coutts now began, — solemn and kind ; he had 
placed the money to my account. I gave huii my note- 
of-hand, and shortly took my leave with unaffected gra- 

As I was coming out a poor negro beggar stood on 
the steps and asked for help. " Stand aside," said the 
porter, "and let the gentleman pass." He fell back in 
sorrow. " Ah, my poor fellow," I thought, as I gave 
him a shilling, " in the eye of God, who is the greater 
beo'irar of the two ? I asked for 400/. and was received 
in the drawing-room ; you for a bit of bread, and were 
spurned from the door." I went home up Park Lane, 
lost in meditation on life and all its varieties, — death 
and all its hopes : but I entered my painting-room and 
looked at my picture. " I have 400/. at Coutts'," 
thought I, never thinking how I was to return it, but 
trusting in God for all. 

In December Wordsworth was in town, and as Keats 
wished to know him I made np a party to dinner of 
Charles Lamb, Wordsworth, Keats and Monkhouse, 
his friend, and a very pleasant party we had. 

I wrote to Lamb, and told him the address was 
"22, Lisson Grove, North, at Kossi's, half way up, right 
hand corner." I received his characteristic reply. 

" My clear Haydon, 
" I will come with pleasure to 22. Lisson Grove, North, 
at Rossi's, half way up, right hand side, if I can find it. 

" Yours, 

" C. Lamb, 

"20. Russel Court, 
Covent Garden East, 
half way np, next the corner, 
left hand side." 

On December 28th the immortal dinner came off in 
my painting-room, with Jerusalem towering up behind 
us as a background. Wordsworth was in fine cue, and 


we had a glorious set-to, — on Homer, Shakeepeare, 
Milton and Virgil. Lamb got exceedingly merry and 
exquisitely witty ; and his fun in the midst of Words- 
worth's solemn intonations of oratory was like the 
sarcasm and Avit of the fool in the intervals of Lear's 
passion. He made a speech and voted me absent, and 
made them drink my health. "Now," said Lamb, "you 
old lake poet, you rascally poet, wliy do you call Voltaire 
dull?" We all defended Wordsworth, and affirmed 
there was a state of mind when Voltaire would be dull. 
"Well," said Lamb, "here's Voltaire — the Messiah of 
the French nation, and a very proper one too." 

He then, in a strain of humour beyond description, 
abused me for putting Xewton's head into my picture, — 
" a fellow," said he, " who believed nothing unless it 
was as clear as the three sides of a triangle." And then 
he and Keats agreed he had destroyed all the poetry of 
the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colours. It 
was impossible to resist him, and we all drank "Newton's 
health, and confusion to mathematics." It was deli<2;ht- 
ful to see the good-humour of Wordsworth in givinsf 
in to all our frolics without affectation and laughino; as 
heartily as the best of us. 

By this time other friends joined, amongst them poor 
Ritchie who was going to penetrate by Fezzan to Tim- 
buctoo. I introduced him to all as "a gentleman going 
to Africa." Lamb seemed to take no notice ; but all 
of a sudden he roared out, " Which is the gentleman we 
are Q;oinfi to lose ?" We then drank the victim's health, 
in wliich llitchic joined. 

In the morning of this delightful day, a gentleman, a 
perfect stranger, had called on me. He said he knew 
my friends, had an enthusiasm for \Vordsworth and 
begged I would procure him the happiness of an intro- 
duction. He told me he was a comptroller of stamps, 

VOL. I. c c 


and often had correspondence with the poet. I thought 
it a liberty ; but still, as he seemed a gentleman, I told 
him he might come. 

"When we retired to tea we found the comptroller. In 
introducing him to Wordsworth I forgot to say wlio he 
Avas. After a little time the comptroller looked down, 
looked up and said to Wordsworth, " Don't you think, 
sir, Milton was a great genius ? " Keats looked at me, 
Wordsworth looked at the comptroller. Lamb who 
Avas dozing by the fire turned round and said, "Pray, 
sir, did you say Milton was a great genius?" "No, 
sir ; I asked Mr. Wordsworth if he were not." " Oh," 
said Lamb, " then you are a silly fellow." " Charles ! 
my dear Charles ! " said Wordsworth ; but Lamb, per- 
fectly innocent of the confusion he had created, was off 
again by the fire. 

After an awful pause the comptroller said, " Don't 
you think Newton a great genius?" I could not stand 
it any longer. Keats put his head into my books. 
Ritchie squeezed in a laugh. Wordsworth seemed 
asking himself, "Who is this?" Lamb got up, and 
taking a candle, said, " Sir, Avill you allow me to look 
at your phrenological development ? " He then turned 
his back on the poor man, and at every question of the 
comptroller he chaunted — 

"Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John 
Went to bed with his breeches on." 

The man in office, finding Wordsworth did not know 
who he was, said in a spasmodic and half-chuckling anti- 
cipation of assured victory, " I have had the honour of 
some correspondence with you, jNIr. Wordsworth." 
''With me, sir?" said Wordsworth, "not that I re- 
member." " Don't you, sir ? I am a comptroller of 
stamps." There was a dead silence ; — the comptroller 


evidently thinking that was enough. While we were 
waiting for Wordsworth's reply. Lamb sung out 

" Hey diddle diddle, 
The cat and the fiddle." 

" My dear Charles ! " said Wordsworth, — 

" Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John," 

chaunted Lamb, and then rising, exclaimed, "Do let 
me have another look at that gentleman's organs." 
Keats and I hurried Lamb into the painting-room, shut 
the door and gave way to inextinguishable laughter. 
JNIonkhouse followed and tried to get Lamb away. We 
went back but the comptroller was irreconcilable. 
We soothed and smiled and asked him to supper. He 
stayed though his dignity Avas sorely affected. However, 
being a good-natured man, we parted all in good-humour, 
and no ill effects followed. 

All the while, until Monkhouse succeeded, we could 
hear Lamb struggling in the painting-room and calling 
at intervals, " Who is that fellow ? Allow me to see 
his organs once more." 

It was indeed an immortal evening. Wordsworth's 
fine intonation as he quoted Milton and Virgil, Keats' 
eager inspired look, Lamb's quaint sparkle of lambent 
humour, so speeded the stream of conversation, that in 
my life I never passed a more delightful time. ,V11 our 
fun was within bounds. Not a word passed that an 
apostle might not have listened to. It was a night 
worthy of the Elizabethan age, and my solemn Jeru- 
salem flashing up by the flame of the fire, with Christ 
hanging over us like a vision, all made up a picture 
which will long glow upon — 

" that inward eye 
"Which is the bliss of solitude." 

c 2 


Keats made Ritchie promise he would carry his Endy- 
mion to the great desert of Sahara and fling it in the 

Poor Ritchie went to Africa, and died, as Lamb 
foresaw, in 1819. Keats died in 1821, at Rome. C. 
Lamb is gone, joking to the last. Monkhouse is dead, 
and AVordsworth and I are the only two now living 
(1841) of that glorious party. 

At last came the last day of the current year. In 
the usual review in my Journal I say I have more to 
thank God for than in any previous twelve months. 

I resolved to acquire the fundamental principles of 
perspective, of which I did not know enough. I 
earnestly prayed that I might conceive and execute such 
a head of Christ as would impress the Christian world ; 
— that ray life might be spared till the public mind was 
moved to the commemoration of Art, and the art ad- 
vancing steadily and gloriously. 




Almost immediately nftcr the year began, I received 
a letter from the President of the Imperial Academy of 
St. Petersburghj in answer to an offer of mine of my 
services in procuring for the Academy casts from the 
Elgin INIarbles. This was brought about by the very 
Russian artist who entirely thwarted my prospects with 
the Grand Duke Nicholas. Such is human nature. It 
has always its redeeming point, or rather we have all a 
conscience which induces us to remedy an injustice 
we have done. This was a very delightful bit of 
triumph. I was chosen to select casts for Russia and 

to appoint whom I 2)leased to send them. was 

a very Avorthy little man, fond of money and always 
ready to turn his hand to anything for an honest penny. 
I asked him to take tea with me, and to bring an estimate 
with him that we might go over it together, and that I 
might send word to the President of the Academy what 

the expenses would be. had been appointed to 

make our government casts, after Lord Elgin gave me 
leave to make moulds, with which I had already sup- 
plied myself and Edinburgh. It was a very wet, snowy 
night when my Academician came. I welcomed him 
like a gentleman. We had tea and then proceeded to 
business. I soon saw how men make money who never 
borrow it. On my remonstrating on the exorbitancy 
of his charge for extra-packing, by a slash of the pen he 
struck off half. After an hour's chat on Art and other 
things he took his leave, evidently annoyed. I had 
made him come to me, promising to send his estimate iu 

c c 3 


writing, which in a few days he did. In the meantime 
I had casts made from my own moulds as a private 
present to Olenin, the President ; and soon shipped off 
at my own expense the Theseus, Ilissus, and various 
fragments with the casts from the negro's body ; they 
arrived safe and were the first casts of the Elgin Marbles 
which ever entered Kussia. 

's charges were sent up, but the insurance, 

freiffhtaore and other additions at least trebled the cost 
of the casts. So I thought it right to send over his 
list before proceeding any further in the business. 

I glorified in makino; Eno-land as it were a benefactor 
to the arts of Europe. In my letter to Olenin I said, 
" You will now be able to judge of the principles of 
these divine works. You will see that in them nature, 
and the inherent properties of things, are never sacri- 
ficed to that false and affected heau ideal which was the 
corrupt characteristic of a subsequent age." 

About this time a large sum of money was voted for 
a great many additional churches. I saw at once that 
if, whilst the churches were building, I could induce 
the building committee to approve of one altar-piece for 
every church, and the Government to allow a percent- 
age out of the money voted for the purpose, a great 
benefit must accrue to High Art, and a certain prospect 
of reward be established for those who devoted them- 
selves to it. I wrote a pamphlet directly, which every 
body praised and nobody bought, and addressed a letter 
to Lord Farnborough (then Sir Charles Long). 

Sir Charles Long, who viewed everything with re- 
ference to keeping up the supremacy of the Academj^, 
laid my letter before Vansittart, the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, — I have no doubt, with certain hints of 
his own, — and I received a reply informing me that 
he had laid my letter before Mr. Vansittart, but had 
not received any positive answer, though from a conver- 

1818,] LETTER TO CANNING. 391 

satlon with Mr. Vansittart lie feared there was no chance 
of the proposal being adopted. 

I called on Sir C. Long and had a long conversation 
with him. 

He told nie Mr. Vansittart said " Let us build 
churches first, and think of decorating them afterwards," 
i. e., let us build churches without a thought about 
pictures, and then when churches are built without any 
reference to pictures, let us think of hanging up pictures 
in churches where there are no lights to see them. Sir 
C. Long said, he gave it up : I said, " I never would." 
He smiled, but replied there was nothing of which 
public men knew so little as Art. 

The Marquess of Stafford, as if he thought the idea 
quite a good joke, said, "You'll never persuade the 
House to vote one per cent, for pictures." I walked 
up St. James's Street in a fuiy and determined to try 
Canning. At any rate he was a man of genius. I 
wrote to him as soon as I got home. 

" London, Lisson Grove North, 
March 5th, 1818. 
" Sir, 
" I bad the honour of being introduced to you some years 
since by Lord Mulgrave. I am most anxious, with your 
leave, to impress you with the importance of the public en- 
couragement of painting, and earnestly beg you not to 
consider it a question of mere ornament. 

" Could one of your genius and fume be induced to take it 
under your protection in Parliament, depend upon it it would 
be worthy of you and not tarnish either. 

" Everything cannot be done at once. Great changes in 
taste are effected only by gradation, and if you would, when 
the subject of new churches comes before tlie House, prepare 
the minds of the members, by recommending that the archi- 
tects in their plans should be ordered to arrange the altars 
so that they miglit be fit for the reception of any pictures 
which in future Government might tliink worthy to be luuig 

c c 4 


there, it would be the first step, and could not be considered 
as abruptly bringing the subject into notice. 

" Indeed, Sir, you must permit me to assure you that the 
first minister who moves towards the public encouragement 
of painting will create an era in a department of intellect 
yet to be filled, and which must be filled greatly and glori- 
ously before the country will completely take its stand with 
Italy and Greece. 

" Indeed I do not overrate from professional enthusiasm 
the value of Art. It will not carry a nation down to poste- 
rity alone : it is but a component part of its greatness, but a 
component part of such importance that no nation has ever 
been refined or intellectual without it, nor ever can be. 
Excuse the great liberty I thus take with you, Sir. If I 
could be allowed, at any time most agreeable and convenient 
to your occupations, a quarter of an hour's conversation with 
you, I should consider myself very highly honoured. As I 
have no right to ask such a favoui*, so I can have no right 
to complain if it be not granted to me. 

" I am yours faithfully, 

"B. R. Hatdon. 

" Right Hon. George Canning, M. P." 

" Ah but," said the icy ones, " it is such uphill work." 
Of course ; if it were not, all the blockheads would be 
trying; was it not uphill work for Alexander, Csesar, 
Napoleon and Wellington ? 

What is there In the world, great, glorious or grand, 
that is not, ever has been and ever will be uphill Avork ? 
The incapacity or capacity to breast the brow of the 
hill marks the man. 

I was now In correspondence with Keats, then in 
Devonshire. I make no apology for Introducing one of 
his letters in reply to the following from me : — 

"March, 1818. 
" My dear Keats, 
" I shall go mad ! In a field at Stratford upon Avon, that 
belonged to Shakespeare, they have found a gold ring and 

1818.] LETTER FEOM KEATS. 393 

seal, with the initials W. S. and a true lover's knot between. 
If this is not Shakespeare, who is it ? — A true lover's knot ! 
I saw an impression to-day, and am to have one as soon as 
possible : as sure as that you breathe, and that he was the first 
of beings, the seal belonged to him. 

" B. R. Haydon." 

" Teignmouth, Saturday morning. 
" My dear Haydon, 
" In sooth I hope you are not too sanguine about that 
seal, in sooth I hope it is not Brummagem, in double sooth 
I hope it is his, and in triple sooth I hope I shall have an 
impression. Such a piece of intelligence came doubly wel- 
come to me while in your own county, and in your own 
hand, not but what I have blown up the said county for its 
watery qualifications. The six first days I was here it did 
nothing but rain, and at that time having to write to a 
fi^iend, I gave Devonshire a good blowing up ; it has been 
fine for almost three days, and I was coming round a bit, 
but to-day it rains again. With me the county is on its good 
behaviour. I have enjoyed the most delightful walks these 
three fine days, beautiful enough to make me content. 


Here all the summer could I stay, 

For there's Bishop's Teign, 

And King's Teign, 

And Coomb at the clear Teign's bead, 

Where close by the stream 

You may have your cream 

All spread \ipon barley bread. 


There's Arch Brook. 
And there's Larch Brook, 
Both turning many a mill; 
And cooling the drouth 
or the salmon's mouth 
And fattening his silver gill. 


There's the wild wood, 
A mild hood 

To the sheep on the lea o' the down, 
Where the golden furzef;^;^ 
With its green thin spurs 
Doth catch at the maiden's sown. 


There's Newton ISIarsh 
AVith its spear grass harsh, 
A pleasant summer level, 
Where the maidens sweet 
Of the Market Street 
Do meet in the dark to revel. 

There 's Barfou rich. 
With dyke and ditch. 
And hedge for the thrush to live in. 
And the hollow tree 
For the buzzing bee, 
And a bank for the wasp to hive in. 

And O and O, 
The daisies blow, 
And the primroses are wakened. 
And the violets white 
Sit in silver light, 
And the gi-een buds are long in the spike end. 

Then who would go 
Into dark Soho, 

And chatter with dark-hair'd critics. 
When he can stay 
For the new-mown hay 
And startle the dappled crickets ? 

" There's a bit of doggrel; perhaps you would like a bit 
of botheral. 

1818.] LETTER FROM KEATS. 395 


Where be you going, you Devon maid, 
And what have ye there in the basket ? 
Ye tight little fairy just fresh from the dairy, 
Will ye give me some cream if I ask it ? 


I love your meads, and I love your dales, 

And I love your junkets mainly. 

But behind the door I love kissing more, 

look not so divinely. 


1 love your hills, and I love your dales, 
And I love your flocks a-bleating. 
But oh, on the heather, to lie together, 
With both our hearts a-beatino;. 

I'll put your basket all safe in a nook, 
Your shawl I'll hang on the willow. 
And we will sigh in the daisy's eye, 
And kiss on a grass green pillow. 

" I know not if this rhyming fit has done anything ; it 
will be safe with you, if worthy to put among my Lyrics. 

" Plow does the work go on ? I should like to bring out 
my Dentatus, at the time your epic makes its appearance. 

" I expect to have my mind clear for something new. 
Tom has been much worse, but is now getting better : his 
remembrances to you. I think of seeing the Dart and Ply- 
mouth ; but I don't know ; it has yet been a mystery to me 
liow and where Wordsworth went. I can't help thinking 
he has returned to his shell, with his beautiful wife and his 
enchanting sister. It is a great pity that people by asso- 
ciating themselves with the finest things spoil Ihem. Hunt 
lias damned Ilampstead with masks and sonnets and Italian 
tales ; Wordsworth has damned the Lakes ; Milman has 
damned the old dramatists ; AVest has damned wholesale ; 
Peacock has damned satire ; Ilazlitt has damned the bigoted 
and the blue-stockinged ; how durst the man ? He is your 


only good damner, and if ever I am damned, I should like 
him to damn me. It will not be long ere I see you, but I 
thought you would like a line out of Devon. 
" Remember me to all we know. 

*' Yours affectionately, 

"John Keats," 

Now came the effects of my appeal to Sir C. Long. 

" Downing St., March 6th, 1818. 
" Mr. Vansittart's compliments to Mr. Haydon, and begs 
to acknowledo;e his letter of the 4th instant." 


Brilliant promise of Mr. Vansittart's impassioned in- 
terest for High Art. 

Disgusted with the ministers, I thought it would be 
a good thing to get Southey to review my pamphlet in 
the Quarterly. I wrote him, and had a reply at once, 
(27th March, 1818,) in which he told me, 

" I have arrived at that time of life and that state of mind 
in which men learn and know their own weakness, and their 
own ignorance, if they are ever capable of attaining to that 
knowledge. In matters of Art I am entirely ignorant ; for 
although I never should be pleased with a bad picture, and 
can feel, I believe, the full merit of certain pictures, as far 
as relates to their conception and effects, other works which 
are acknowledged to be of the highest excellence have little 
or none to me, — a decisive proof that I have not the faculty 
required for relishing them. 

" This, however, is in my power. I can take your 
pamphlet for my text, repeat its arguments, and enforce 
them as well as I am able ; and then cast the bread upon the 
waters. Furnish me therefore with the needful facts, and 
then no time shall be lost. 

" The light you have followed has been light from Heaven, 
and let happen what will, you are on the summit. 

" Oil never let us doubt the elevation of this glorious 
country in Art as well as in arms, and in general happiness 
as Avell as in arts, if we can but preserve it from the bestial 
mob rule." 


I sent Soutliey my pamphlet and a clear statement of 
the state of the art : from Canning I had not yet heard, 
but Sou they got excited, wrote a capital article in the 
Quarterly and brought in my pamphlet on churches 
in a very good manner; but he complained of Gifford 
having cut out the best parts (as editors always do). 

One of my pleasantest and most constant correspond- 
ents at this time, and indeed for long before this, and 
one of my truest and kindest friends, now and always, 
was Mary Russell Mitford. God bless her warm heart ! 

Two letters of Wilkie and Eastlake of this date deserve 
insertion, as mentioning names then little known but 
now distinguished. Wilkie wrote me, (April 3rd, 1818,) 
" I am going to-morrow morning to the Koyal Aca- 
demy, and shall be there, I may say, all the week. 
We were let in yesterday for the first time. I cannot 
yet form an idea of it, but it appears that Jackson, 
Stothard, Mulready, Ward, Hilton and Raeburn are 
stronger than usual. 

" Geddes has a good head, and Etty has a clever 
piece, and young Landseer's Jackasses are also good." 

And Eastlake, now (March 22nd, 1818) at Rome, 
starting for a tour in Greece, writes, 

" I am accompanied by a young Irishman called 
Barry *, more an amateur than an artist." 

At this time there befell me an opportunity which 
thousands would have seized and which thousands will 
blame me for not seizinir. One evcninir in October I 
received an offer from my constant friend W. Hamilton, 
(then of the Foreign Office,) that if I had a mind to go 
to Italy free of expense I could be accommodated with 
a bag of dispatches as far as Naples. If I agreed I was 
to call on Hamilton in a day or two. My imagination 
fired up at the thought. But then my picture would 

* Eastlake is at this moment Secretary to the Commission, and 
Barry architect of the Lords. (1 845.) — B. R. II. 


be delayed. My heart and soul were bent on com- 
pleting it. I had formed a school depending on my 
direction. I Avas involved in jiecuniary matters. My 
health was delicate and the journey would have done 
me good. I was so tortured with conflicting feelings, 
that before I decided I got another note from Hamilton, 
Avho was more impatient than I appeared to bim to be, 
telling me that tliere would be no need for me to travel 
Avith courier rapidity, nor by night, as it was not an 
affair of life and death ; and that I would be paid the 
full expenses of a post-chaise. Still I could not make 
up my mind. I had suffered much for the cause of High 
Art in England. I was bringing things really and truly 
to a point. The public was interested. C. and T. Land- 
seer, Harvey and my other pu^iils had proved the capa- 
city of Englishmen to draw largely. I feared if I left 
them now in the very crisis of the struggle the whole 
thing might cool before I returned. My picture was 
coming to a close thougli tliere was much to do. After 
pacing my painting-room long after midnight, till like 
Columbus I thought I heard voices and saw faces, I 
made up my mind on a principle of duty not to leave 
my country at such a moment. I wrote to Hamilton 
to tell him so; and I believe he thought my conduct 
unintelligible and myself cracked. 

During the summer the Grand Duke Michael came 
over. Hammond presented me, and he and Bai'on 
Nicholai called to see the picture. He was the brother 
of Nicholas, and a fine grenadier-looking youth. Dr. 
Hamel, who had attended Nicholas, was in attendance 
on tlie Grand Duke. The great delight of Michael 
was to torment Hamel ; sometimes he would sit down 
upon him with all his weight, as if he did not see 
him behind. Sir Thomas Hammond told me royal 
people have great delight in torturing those who dare 
not complain. One day Hamel rushed out of the room 
saying, in a fury, '' 11 faut soiiffrir!^^ However, on 

1820.] CHKIST's entry INTO JERUSALEM. 399 

his return to Russia, he got promoted as he deserved : 
he was a most intelligent man, and knew more about 
the statistics of England than half the ministers of the 

My eyes had by this time recovered, and I set to 
work again in earnest, at first for half an hour a day, 
then for an hour. My studio was open every Sunday 
from two till five and generally crowded by visitors, — 
from the citizen up to the prince. Mr. Harman and 
Mr. Coutts had been my great aids when I was in bad 
health. They had, in fiict, saved my life by their noble 
generosity ; and I was now able to prove my gratitude 
by my devotion to my picture. I felt such assurance 
inwardly of being able to go on to conclusion, after so 
many years, that I engaged the great room upstairs at 
the Egyptian Hall for a year from March 1st, 1820. 
It was singular how the bad passions of the Academy 
reached me in every move in life. When I called on 
the landlord, Bullock, I met an Academician there. 
The next time he saw Bullock, (so Bullock told me,) he 
inquired what Haydon wanted. " To hire a room," 
was Bullock's answer. " Hire a room ! Take care of 
your rent," said the Academician with a laugh. 

Bullock told me he was so disgusted, that even if he 
had Ijclleved such a caution necessary, he would have 
let me the room at once. We concluded our bargain, 
and I took the room for a year at 300/., without a 
shilling in my pocket, my capability to pay depending 
entirely on my success. But my landlord was a fine 
fellow and loved the game of ruin or success — West- 
minster Abbey or victory — as well as myself. 

Being now certain of a resting-place I daily proceeded, 
and at the end of January, 1820, finished (except 
glazing) this work which had been visited by Canova, 
Cuvlcr, Horace Vernet, the Grand Duke Michael and 
most of the eminent men of all nations who came to 
England during its progress. 


My great anxiety was about the head of Christ, 
which at hist I believed I had succeeded in, but in 
swerving from the traditional type I had shocked some 
devout Christians, as if it were not like him ! Wilkie 
thought it completely successful. I painted it six times 
before I succeeded. I endeavoured to combine in it 
power and humbleness, but power took the lead, and by 
overdoing the intellectual a little, I injured, I fear, the 
simplicity of that divine mildness which should always 
be the ruling expression in the Saviour's face. 

My Jerusalem was thus this year (J 820) after six 
years' of struggle, ill-health and pecuniary distress, by 
the help of Jeremiah Harman, jNIr. Coutts, Watson 
Taylor and Thomas Hope, brought to a successful 
conclusion. It might at this time be called a solitary 
effort. West's Christ healino; the Sick and his Death 
on the Pale Horse had lost their novelty and enthusiasm 
Vv^as cooled about them. The Elgin contest had really 
raised a higher opinion of me than was ever entertained 
of him, and I know he said of my letter on that subject 
that I should have greater influence on the art than 
either he or his predecessors had ever had. As the time 
approached for the exhibition of this work, this venerable 
and good old man was stretched on his dying bed, and 
expired just before it appeared or dii-ectly after and was 
buried in St. Paul's when my picture was in the full 
tide of popularity. In fact, enthusiastic criticisms on it 
were preceded in the same paper by an account of his 
funeral. Such is human life. 

The time came for rolling and moving this work, 
which during its progress had been visited by fashion, 
beauty and rank, by genius and by royalty, and the ex- 
pectation was very high indeed. 

It got down safely, rolled and carried on the shoulder? 
of three lifeguardsmen, my factotums. Colonel Barton 
having given me leave to employ them. 


It was framed and put up. The frame weighed 600 lbs., 
and at the first attempt to hang snapped an iron ring, 
strong enough, we thouglit, to cai'ry anything. The 
strongest soldiers were as nervous as infants, but at last 
we lifted it by machinery and pitched it without accident 
right on its proper support. 

The picture was tipped, and ready for glazing, when 
lo ! my money was all gone. 

As I was in bitter anxiety how to provide the means 
of opening the exhibition, Sir George, who with his 
usual goodness of heart had anticipated this chance, 
witliout any application on my part sent me a cheque 
for 30/. This soon went, and now with upholsterers, 
soldiers and journeymen in full work, the picture up and 
looking gloriously, every body waiting for the word of 
command to buy hangings and begin fittings,' myself 
ready to glaze, oil staring me in the fiice, picture re- 
proaching, the sun shining, my palette set, the landlord 
peeping in now and then, as if half suspicious, there was 
a halt. Sir George's gift was gone ! 

Tlie picture was up ; the private tickets all out ; the 
public on the qui vive. I was in good health, but no 
cash. I went rii>-ht down to Coutts' and saw old Sir E. 
Antrobus and Mr. INIajorlbanks. I said, '' I am going 
to exhibit a picture which has taken six years to paint." 
They stared. "Six years over a picture?" said Sir 
Ednuuid. "Yes, sir." " AVcll, what do you want?" 
" Wliy I am asliamed to say I have no money left, and 
am overdrawn." " How much do you want?" said Mr. 
IVIajoribanks, putting on the banker look, which means 
"No effects!" I thought it was all over. " Poor Je- 
rusalem!" thought I, "I must mortgage more 3'et." 
" Why," said I, " 50/. would do." " You sliall have it," 
said both ; " give us yovu' note." I rushed out for a 
stamp to a stationer's close by, and never wrote " I pro- 
mise to pay" witli such inspired fury before. I was 

VOL. I. D D 


back ngain in two minutes, had the note signed in two 
moi'e, and in five more tocrk out 501. by cheque. I went 
off to a wholesale house, bought all the fittings wanted 
of the right colour (purple brown), galloped back to the 
Eo-yptian Hall, where whispers were already beginning 
to be heard. Sammons, though 6 feet 3 inches high, 
was like a child in a fright. Bullock was looking at the 
picture with all the air of a landlord who scented no 
rent : Blnns, the upholsterer, was half in suspicion all was 
not rifht. But my appearance with my mouth clenched 
five times fiercer than ever, the rolls of fittings actually 
bringing up, my stamping walk, my thundering voice, 
put fire into all. Women began to sew, boys cleared 
away and bustled, fittings were tearing right and left, 
while I mounted the ladder, palette in hand, ordered 
the doOr to be locked, and let fly at the foreground 
fio'ures with a brush brimming with asphaltum and oil, 
and before dark had toned richly one-third of the 

Glorious days ! The opening of the exhibition of a 
picture of mine was relished by none so much as by my 
pupils. To them I trusted for writing and dispatching 
tickets for the private days, and it was a time of general 
fun and enjoyment In my house and painting-room. In 
the evening I returned and signed, till they amounted to 
800, I having previously marked the Court Guide. All 
the ministers and their ladies, all the foreign ambas- 
sadors, all the bishops, all the beauties in high life, the 
officers on guard at the palace, all the geniuses in town, 
and everybody of any note, were Invited and came. 

I got through the glazing in three days ; covered up 
the picture and finished the room by Friday night, 
promising the men a guinea to drink. Never did fine 
fellows prove themselves more thorough-bred. 

Ah those days ! Whilst the excitement lasts it is all 
very well, but then come the reaction and the cxhaus- 

1820.] A PRIVATE DAY. 403 

tion. The tickets were all out. Saturday came at last. 
I stayed over at Hatchett's Coffee Room, went into the 
hall before the hour I had fixed, and seehig servants 
all at their posts, chairs all in a row, thought it odd 
nobody had come before twelve. I felt at any rate 
somebody ought to have been over-anxious. Then I got 
wretched and said, " Perhaps, nobody will come. Yes, 
nobody avIU come, that's clear." I went over to the 
cofFee-roora again, watching the clock inside the bar. 
At half-past twelve I stole over again. Sammons looked 
knowing. " Anybody come ? " said I. " Yes, sir ; Sir 
William Scott is just gone in." "That will do; he 
always goes to every exhibition on earth, and brings 
everybody." Away I went and had a good lunch, di'ank 
a couple of glasses of sherry, and sallied forth about half- 
past three, ready for anything. As I turned my anxious 
eyes towards the Hall a crowd of carriages was blocking 
up Piccadlll}'. " Ha, ha, that will do," said I, and 
bounding over, I found the whole passage full of 
servants, and all the bustle and chat, and noise and hal- 
looing of coachmen, of a regular rout at noon-day ! Up 
I went, proudly ; Sammons was seven feet high ; there 
was no speaking to him. The room Avas full. Keats 
and llazlltt were up in a corner, really rejoicing. At 
this moment in came the Persian ambassador and his 
suite ; his fine manly person and black beard, with his 
splendid dress, made a prodigious show, and he said, in 
good English and in a loud voice, "' I like the elbow of 

Py five all was enthusiasm, especially amongst the 
women. Pretty dears ! when were their hearts shut 
against enterprise, pathos, or passion ? 

Still the Clirist's head was certainly not successful. 
The j)enltent girl, blushing and Ifuling her face, brought 
to Christ by her anxious mother ; the Samaritan woman 
and centurion spreading their garments in the road; 

» D 2 


Words worth's bowing head; Newton's face of belief ; 
A^oltaire's sneer; the enormous shouting crowd, and tlie 
action and position of our Saviour, with Peter and 
John, were decided favourites. The Christ's head 
startled people. It was not the traditional head ; not 
the type; not orthodox. Everybody seemed afraid, when 
in walked, with all the dignity of her majestic presence, 
Mrs. Siddons, like a Ceres or a Juno. The whole room 
remained dead silent, and allowed her to think. After 
a few minutes Sir George Beaumont, who was extremely 
anxious, said in a very delicate manner, " How do you 
like the Christ ? " Everybody listened for her reply. 
After a moment, in a deep, loud, tragic tone she said, 
" It is completely successful." I was then presented 
wuth all the ceremonies of a levee, and she invited me 
to her house in an awful tone, and expressed her high 
admiration of the way in which I had so variously mo- 
dified the same expression. " The paleness of your 
Christ," said she, " gives it a supernatural look." 

Lady Murray said, " Why, you have a complete 
rout." Lord INIulgrave was at the top of the room and 
received congratulations from everybody. Wilkle tried 
to be enthusiastic ; Jackson was startled ; but neither 
expressed himself to me as I had done to them under 
similar circumstances. Prince Hoare was there. In fact, 
all the world of fiishion was there ; and I returned home, 
totally overwhelmed by a flood of sensations which may 
easily be conceived by every reader who remembers 
what I had undergone since I began the study of the 

The Jerusalem was considered, like the Solomon, a 
national triumph. I had proved that the people cared 
about High Art, and that an Englishman could execute 
it. I had defied the Academy ; I had kept my position 
against its incessant obloquy; I had brought a great 
work to successful conclusion without legitimate means, 
relying on my energy and the sympathy of my friends. 

1820.] Christ's entry into Jerusalem. 405 

On the Monday after the exhibition opened to the 
public. The rush was great and went on increasing ; 
the success was so palpable, so decided, that the Acade- 
micians got into a fury, and crept to see it one at a time, 
each time holding forth to their friends, and damning 
it by saying it had good parts. Notwithstanding the 
feeling displayed in its favour the abuse of it was so 
great that it was the subject of a positive battle. 

Before the picture was moved, overwhelmed with 
gratitude to God at having lived to complete it, I poured 
forth my soul, and not less did I bow to the earth for 
its success. On Monday, after the private day, I wrote 
to Mrs. Siddons. 

" St. John's Wood Place, 
" March 27th, 1820. 
" Madam, 
" I hope I may be pai-Joned for venturing to express again 
my gratitude for your unhesitating decision on Saturday. 

" I have ever estimated you, Madam, as the great high 
priestess at the shrine of Nature; — as the only being living 
AY ho had ever been, or who was worthy to be admitted within 
the veil of her temple ; — as one whose immortality was long 
since decided. You will then judge of my feelings at having 
been so fortunate as to touch the sensibility of so gifted a 
being. The whole evening I could not avoid believing I hud 
held converse with a spirit of my own imagination, whom 
for years I had pictured in solitude as the organ of Nature 
herself, in whose immediate impressions I would place more 
confidence, and bow to them with more deference, than to 
the united reasoninir of the rest of the world. 

" By this liberty I know I risk all prospect of any future 
notice from you, yet I rely on your goodness to pardon the 
indelicacy as well as rudeness of the intrusion. 

" I am. Madam, 
" With the most respectful admiration, 
" Your faithful servant, 

" B. R. IIaydon. 
" Mrs. Siddons." 

1) D 3 


To which she immedlatelj answered ; — 

"27. Upper Baker Street, 
" Kegent's Park. 
'' Sir, 

" In answer to your very flattering note I can no ot];er- 
wise reply than in the words of Hamlet, that the suffrage of 
one so great a genius ' o'erweighs a whole theatre of others.' 

" Your time must of course be so completely devoted to 
your divine art, that I can scarcely hope you will find leisure 
to gratify me by calling here when it may not be out of your 
way to do me that favour ; yet I doubt ; I will not despair, 
and I remain, 

" With the utmost admiration, 

" Your most obliged servant, 

" S. SiDDONS." 

I called and was most gloriously received. It was 
like speaking- to the mother of the gods. I told her 
when a boy I had crept below the orchestra door at 
Plymouth theatre and squeezed up underneath the stage 
box, sitting on the stage with my legs hanging Into the 
orchestra, to see her perform the Mother In Lillo's 
Cornish Tragedy. She was pleased. She showed me 
a model of Charles Kemble, her brother, then handsome 
and young: I took my leave. Her enthusiasm for the 
picture the public got hold of, and It doubled their 
eagerness. Money kept pouring In and I kept paying 
off; but my receipts became so palpable that a base 
appetite was raised In some to whom I was indebted 
to have a slice ; and though up to this hour I never had 
had a penny of law costs, because I was poor, now, the 
moment It was clear I was reaping the fruits of my 
labour. Instead of relying on my honour, which was un- 
tainted, my creditors loaded me with lawyers' letters. . 

During this enthusiasm, which was extraordinary, 
Walter Scott came to town. Terry the actor was his 
friend, and both were Intimate at Atkinson's the archi- 


tect wlio built Abbotsford. Scott had conceived from 
Terry a desire to know nie, and I received an invitation 
from Atkinson to dine with him to meet Scott. 

I find in my Journal that this dinner was on the 30th 
of April, 1820. One talk satisfied me who was the 
author of AVaverley. His expression denoted a kind, 
keen, prudent, deep man. His conversation showed 
great relish of what is nature, and for no part of her 
works so much as where vice and humour are mingled. 

He told us a story of one Dick, a smuggler, who had 
broke his arm, and always had it shorter, had one eye, 
and was so well known to the magistrates as to have 
rather excited their sympathy and good wishes. 

Dick was transported at last, and a year or two after 
was found before them again. They seemed half pleased 
to see him as au old acquaintance, yet with awful 
anger asked him how he dared return. " Please your 
honours," said Dick, " I did not like the climate ! " 

The detail of Dick's dress, his large buttons, his dog, 
and other peculiarities of description, so convinced me 
who wrote the novels, that I could hardly help thinking 
that Scott took a pleasure in exciting your suspicions 
that he was the author, without confessing it, chuckling 
that good breeding prevented you from opening your 
lips. If this were the result of plan it was the deepest 
plan ever executed. The strangest interest was felt. 
You thought, " Here is a mysterious being, with wliom 
allusion to a certain topic is forbidden ; " and there you 
sat, listening to stories which convinced you you were 
right, and yet you did not dare to say so. 

He paid me liigli compliments ; said he was anxious 
to see a picture the world was talking of, and the next 
morning, when Sammons came down to open the gallery, 
who should be sitting on the stairs outside of the door, 
with simple patience, but the mysterious author of 
AVavcrley ! 

D u 4 


I remember this fact with peculiar pleasure. He had 
called before the room was open, and hearing the man 
would not be long, quietly, as if on a bank, sat down 
and waited. This always appeared to me a beautiful 
trait of the natural character of this great genius. 

He, as well as Mrs. Siddons, thought the Christ 
successful ; so did AVordsworth ; so did many emi- 
nently religious persons ; so did I, as far as character 
went. But it was not painted in a sufficiently grand w^ay ; 
not suitable to the rest of the work, — and did not 
harmonise in execution with the rest. 

The moment the picture was pitched into its place, I 
walked away forty feet, and turned round, when the 
head of Christ struck me as a failure. Of course I 
kept quiet, but I felt it was not the thing, nor do I be- 
lieve Wilkie ever thought of it otherwise than I did, 
though he did not say so. I had painted it seven times 
and had overwrought my imagination and my feelings. 
In fact I over-did it ; and like all overduings it was 

The defect was not in character but in execution ; 
that is, when it ought to have looked best it looked 
worst, and looked well only when the whole picture 
could not be seen. However, Sir George and all my 
friends Avere up in the clouds ; he proposed to the 
Gallery to buy it ; Payne Knight opposed him ; Sir 
George said, " You have advertised for such men, and 
now you have one, buy his picture." But Payne 
Knight and the Academy were too strong for him and 
the proposition was thrown out. 

Sir George waited on the Duke's brother, the Rev. 
Gerald Wellesley, at Chelsea, to see if it could be 
bought for a church ; but here the prosjoect was pre- 
carious and the offer small. Sir George behaved 
throughout like a true and kind friend, but though the 
success with the public was unquestionable, there was 

1820.] west's funeral. 409 

evidently a counter-current running strongly, and as I 
soon found, from the old source. 

During the excitement poor old West died and was 
buried. Wilkie went to the funeral ; and wrote me the 
following account of it (March 30th, 1820) : — 

" The funeral of our venerable President was very solemn ; 
there was not so many of our nobility as I expected, but 
the company was highly respectable. As the procession went 
up the steps and entered the great west door of St. Paul's, 
it was really very fine, and as it moved slowly up the long 
aisle to the choir, I looked round at the statue of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, in one of the corners of the dome, which seemed 
to regard us with a look that the immovable stillness of the 
marble rendered to one's fancy particularly impressive. 

" The funeral service was read by Mr. Wellesley, brother 
of the Duke of Wellington, who it seems had volunteered 
to ofhciate on the occasion, and the whole was conducted in 
a higlily respectable manner. 

" Having assisted thus in the interment of the bones of 
our late President yesterday, we this evening assembled to 
fill his place. The choice, with two exceptions, fell on 
Sir Thomas La\vrence, who was declared duly elected Pre- 
sident of the Royal Academy. Sir Thomas bad heard of the 
death of Mr. West in Paris, and had made all the haste he 
could to be present at the funeral, but owing to the delays at 
Calais by weather, &c., he was a day too late." 

Whilst the enthusiasm for Jerusalem was at its 
height a gentleman asked if lOOOZ. would buy it. My 
servant replied " No." 

Sir George Beaumont told the nobility that the 
Gallery would not purchase it. Lord Ashburnhani sent 
for nie and said it was the lot of genius. lie seemed to 
think it might discourngc me ; but I soon relieved his 
mind. lie said he wondered how the people at the 
Gallery* could answer to their own consciences for such 

* The British Institution, 


conduct. He said, " I cannot buy it myself, but if you 
will allow me to present you with 100/. as an expres- 
sion of my high estimation of your beautiful picture you 
v/ill do me a favour." Then, as a man of rank only 
could do, he took both my hands and I found in one of 
them a cheque for 100/. 

This was kind ; — but was this the way I ouglit to 
have been helped after such a labour? Such bene- 
volence always lowers the object of it. Lord Ash- 
burnham was a most delightful man. I had met him at 
Sir George's, to whom he was much attache.!, and I 
dare say they had both sympathised with me at the 
picture not selling. 

As the Gallery had refused to purchase it, Sir George 
proposed to buy it by subscription and present it to a 
church, and here instead of letting everybody put down 
what they pleased, he and Sir George Phillips, the 
trustees, limited each subscriber to ten guineas. 

It was my destiny always to suffer by the mis- 
management of kind friends. Men of high rank would 
as soon have given a chsque for 50/. as 10/. in those 
days, and it was perfectly absurd to put any restraint 
on anybody's enthusiasm. About 200/. was paid into 
Coutts's, and there it laid useless to my creditors and 
entirely stopping the purchase by bodies or individuals, 
for there is nothing bodies and individuals seize with 
more avidity than a plausible excuse to avoid doing 
their duty, if money is to be paid. 

The exhibition continued open till the 4th of No- 
vember. People had left town and forgotten me and 
my picture in summer tours. From 20/., 30/., and 50/. 
a-day the receipts dwindled down one day to 9s. The 
last three days they rallied, 4/. II5., 4/. 16a., and the 
last day 51. 5s. I wound up with a total receipt of 
1547/. 8s. received in shillings, and 212/. 19^. 6d. for 


sixpenny catalogues, the sum total amounting to 17G0Z. 
7s. 6d. The expenses in town had been 462Z. 5s., 
leaving a clear profit of 1298/. 2s.. every shilling of 
Avhich had been paid away ; for now, as it was clear to 
the world that money had made its appearance, every- 
body to whom I owed a shilling took into their heads 
they had only to press me to get their cash. The least 
delay, though thoroughly explained, was followed by a 
lawyer's letter. 

It is a curious and cruel fact that the first writ ever 
issued against me Nvas in consequence of my having 
assisted Hazlitt, who a year before had written to beg 
me to buy his copies made in the Louvre, as he had an 
execution in the house. I went down to him and fcfund 
him in great distress. I told him his copies were worth 
501. instead of 40/., and if a 50/. note was of use, I 
would give it him : I did, and had his copies, which 
were not artistic, but as if done by a literary man with 
great feeling for the beauties of High Art. 

I paid half this sum on the maturity of the bill, but 
not being able to do my duty to all, after six years' de- 
votion to one work, a writ was issued for the 251. left ; 
and so utterly ignorant was I of the nature of the thing 
I did not know what the copy meant. I went down 
and paid the debt and costs, but felt as if from that hour 
the curse had lighted on me, and so it ^Droved. 

The subscription failed from the very restriction I 
have referred to, and as winter was coming on, I thought 
a dash upon Scotland, the very camj) of the enemy, 
where Blackwood reigned, would be a daring move ; but 
without money it was a difficult thing to accomplish. I 
soon got enough to start, but not enough to leave my 
rear in safety, when at this moment some dear friends, 
women, to whom I had shown great attention, called, 
and finding I was tranuncUed in my resources, with 


great agitation and nervousness hinted they would feel 
it an honour if I would permit thera to transfer to me 
any sum I wanted, I paying the usual interest of the 
funds, Avhich would leave my house in security before I 
went and enable me to accomplish my object. I de- 
clined at first, but after subsequent conversation I 
accepted their offer, and clearing away all that was 
dangerous behind, started for Auld Reekie like Caesar 
with his fortunes, determined to carry on the war in 
face of the foe and equally prepared for success or 
failure in the contest. 

I dispatched the picture under the care of my jftdus 
Achates, Sammons, in the Queen Charlotte Leith smack, 
but preferred going by land myself, as I wished to see 
Castle Howard. 

I visited Castle Howard, saw the Three Maries, 
which I still tliiuk coarse in expression, and the dead 
body of Christ unrefined and ill formed, though the 
picture has an expression of deep grief, very touching. 
Here too was Snyders by Vandyke, amazingly fine. 

I hurried on to Scotland, and was intensely impressed 
with its wild and blasted look after passing Berwick. I 
came in to Edinburgh late and slept at an hotel in 
Princes Street. I rose and looked out. Never to my 
last hour shall I forget the castle and the old town rifrht 
02")posite, enveloped in the sunny mist of morning. 

Always in a new city secure lodgings before you call 
on your friends, or else you are plagued with recom- 
mendations. I determined to secure lod2jino;s and a 
room for my picture. I took Brace's room in Waterloo 
Place, and got lodgings with a Mrs. Farquharson in 
Prince's Street. She had been an old housekeeper of 
Lord Buchan's, who had furnished her house from his 
old stock. The chairs were so heavy you could not lift 
them, but were obliged to direct your friends to go to 


She was a capital specimen of an old Scotch house- 
Avife such as you find in Walter Scott, — talkative, 
shrewd, cunning, saving, full of capital sayings, and 
always, under every disguise of religion, affection, or 
respect, keeping her eye on the main chance. 

She and I got very intimate, and I was advised what 
to be on my guard against, as a " puir body frae the 
south," who knew nothing and must just be taken care 
of by a gude housewife experienced in the ways of the 
"wicked world. 

We brought by the mail the news of the Queen's 
triumpli, and Edinburgh was in an uproar. I had gone 
to bed very fatigued and had fallen sound asleep, when 
I was awakened by Mrs. Farquharson screaming and 
thumping at my door " to light up." She had a candle 
in her hand : I got up, scarce awake, when bump came 
a stone against my bed-room window and tinkle went 
the fallino; irlas.'^. The sliout of the crowd was savaoe. 
They were coming out of the wynds of the old town 
Avith a hollow drum, just like the mob in the Heart of 
Mid Lothian. In my confusion I took the candle from 
Mrs. Farquharson, who was screaming for her drawing- 
room glass, and put It against the place where the 
window had been broken : in came the wind and out 
went the candle, and bang came another shower from 
the roaring mob, so that I shut up the shutters and they 
battered till there was not a pane left. A pretty recep- 
tion for me, I thought. After smashing all the glass 
right and loft of us, the drum beat, and away roared the 
mob Into St. Andrew's Square, — certainly a more fero- 
cious crowd than a London one. 

Nothincc struck me so much as the extreme cunning 
and extreme simplicity of the Scotch. Their hospita- 
lity and heartiness were indisputable, their knowledge 
and literature were eminent ; but their simplicity was 
the most striking. The greater part of the middle 


classes believed London was a, great, overgrown beast 
of a city, not to be compared to Edinburgh in point of 
intelligence, but owing its rank entirely to the accident 
of its being the seat of Government, and not to its en- 
terprise, its skill, its capital, or its genius. 

Sir William Allan was an old friend of mine, and to 

him I went. As we were walking we met L ■. 

I was pleased at meeting him, though he was rather 
nervous. He had assaulted me as one of the cockney 
clique, and he seemed surprised to find that I was human. 

In L 's melancholy and Spanish head there was 

evidence of genius and mischief. I dined with him. 
His reception was open and frank. He treated me 
then, and ever since, as if I was a man he had un- 
wittingly injured. The next man I dined with was Sir 
Walter. I called on him and heard him stamping down. 
At the head of his first landing he waved his stick, and 
cried, " Hurrah ! welcome to Scotland, Haydon." He 
then came down, squeezed, in fact griped, my hand. 
" How d'ye like Edinburgh ? " " It is the dream of a 
great genius," said I. " Well done," said Sir Walter ; 
" when will ye dine with me?" A day was fixed: I 

went, Allan was there, and L and Terry were also 

of the party, with Miss Scott, Mrs. L , and Lady 


Sir Walter said, in taking wine with me, " I say to 
you, as Hogg said to W^ilkie, I am happy to see you 
are so young a man." 

Sir Walter showed a button that belono;ed to the 
waistcoat of Balfour of Burley. I happened to say that 
I had been on Salisbury crags, " Ah ! " said he, quite 
forgetting himself; " when I was a youth, I have often 
sat there thinking of my prospects in life. It is a 
glorious place." " 'Gad," I thought, " I remember 
that in one of the novels ! " and next mornine; send- 
ing for all of them, I pitched on the passage where 


Butler escaping from the Porteiis' mob gets up to 
Salisbury crags and sitting down muses on his future 

I had a letter to Wilson, and he also made up a 
large party at which we had a splendid set-to. Wilson 
looked like a fine Sandwich Islander who had been edu- 
cated in the Higlilands. His light hair, deep sea-blue 
eye, tall athletic figure, and hearty hand-grasp, his 
eagerness in debate, his violent passions, great genius, 
and irregular habits, rendered him a formidable partisan, 
a furious enemy, and an ardent friend. 

His hatred of Keats, which could not be concealed, 
marked him as the author of all those violent assaults 
on my poor friend in Blackwood. 

As I was describing the glass-breaking of my first 
night, I saw mischief in his eye when he said, "I suppose 
you took it to yourself?" 

I saw his drift. If I had given the slightest symptoms 
of being so weak, wdiat a glorious subject for the ridi- 
cule of Blackwood would my simplicity of conceit have 
been ! 

'•Have you seen Hay don?" said Allan to David 
Bridges, a well-known character of the set, and a good 
hearty fellow. "Yes," "And how d'ye like him?" 
said the other. " Why," said David, " there is a good 
deal of genius in the toes of Ids hoots !'" alluding to the 
square-toed boots I wore to avoid corns. 

David was full of humour, bore and gave repartee, 
kept a shop in the High Street, and was veiy enthusi- 
astic about me ever after we had met. 

It was time to oj)cn the exhibition, which I did after 
a splendid private day, — a new thing then in Scotland, 
though eminently successful. Still, after the large 
receipts of London, my money taking seemed depressed 
with 9/., lOZ., 14/., 4Z., and 51 a day. In Edinburgh I 
believe about 500Z. was taken altogether, with about 


400/. at Glasgow, making the total receipts nearly 

The season in Edinburgh is the severest part of 
winter. Prince's Street in a clear sunset with the 
Castle and the Pentland Hills in radiant a;lorv, and the 
crowd illumined by the setting sun, was a sight perfectly 

First you would see limping Sir Walter, talking as he 
walked with Lord Meadowbank ; tlien tripped Jeffrey, 
keen, restless, and fidgety ; you next met Wilson, or 
Lockhart, or Allan, or Thompson, or Kaeburn, as if all 
had agreed to make their appearance at once. It was a 
striking scene; — foreigners were impressed like myself. 
I wonder Allan never thought of it as the subject of a 
picture. It would make a fine one. 

I never had a com^ilete conception of Scotch hospi- 
tality till I dined at Geddes' with Sir H. Raeburn, 
Thompson (who set Burns' songs to music), and a party 
of thirty at least. 

Thompson sang some of the songs of Burns with 
great relish and taste, and at the chorus of one, to my 
utter astonishment, the whole company took hands, 
jumped up, and danced to the tune all round till they 
came to their seats again, leaving me sitting in wonder. 
Raeburn was a glorious fellow and more boisterous 
than any. 

The enthusiasm of the Scotch for Jerusalem, and 
even their awe, was extraordinary. At Glasgow, I 
came in one day to see how it was doing with my hat 
on. A venerable Scotchman came over and said, " I 
think you should take your hat off in sic' an awfu' 

A friend of mine was sketchinof in the Hio-hlands the 
year after when a poor Highland woman crept out of a 
mud hut near him : " Ar' ye fond of pectures ? " she asked. 
*' Yes," said he. " Did ye see a pecture at Edinburgh, 


of Christ coming into Jerusalem?" "I did." "Yon 
vms a pecture ! " said she : " when I saw a' the lads and 
lassies with their hats alF, I jist sat me doon and grat " 
(cried). The year after, when I sent Solomon to 
Scotland, an old Scotch lady was explaining it to her 
daughter. "Jest look at him, he is putting oot his 
haun' as if he was saying, 'Cut the child in twa!'" 
And yet with all this enthusiasm nobody of authority 
thought of securing the picture by purchase for the in- 
struction or benefit of the people. 

Not convinced yet of my not being a cockney the 
Blackwood set (fine dogs), determined to put me to that 
sure test, — a gallop ! 

Bred up in Devonshire to ride all sorts of horses at 
all sorts of leaps, saddle or no saddle, I gloried inwardly 
at this proposition. 

One of them lent me a fine spirited mare of his own, 
anticipating a tumble. Away we went and they soon 
found I was not to be beaten. We raced once or twice, 
Avhen I beat, because they did not want to heat their 
horses ; and I had a tremulous sort of hint not to push 
the mare too much lest she might throw me. At last 
we came to the hills ; my friends cut capers and sprang 
up and down and I after them, for wherever they went 
I swore to myself to follow. I then bade them follow 
me. None of them, as I pushed my marc up the face 
of a rock, dared ; and there I sat on my mare, who stood 
firmly planted, nostrils open, her eye brilliant, on a 
narrow pinnacle, breathing and glorying in defiance. I 
leapt down and galloped off, my friend roaring, " Hay- 
don, you'll kill the mare ! " " Ha ! ha I my friend, what 
had become of the cockney ? " I reincil in and we all 
walked coolly back to town, dined, and not a word about 
the cockney was heard for the remainder of my time in 
Auld Reekie. 

John Scott [iredi<;ttd I irihoiild return victorious and 

VOL. I. E E 


SO I did. I bad dined, drank, talked, rode, and argued 
with the enemy in his camp. I had proved my genius 
in the heart of their ranks ; and certainly I returned to 
London (taking the route by the Lakes, in order to see 
Wordsworth, whom I missed), crowned with laurel. 

I here got acquainted with Thompson, the landscape 
painter, and a man of great feeling he was. So I did 
witb Williams, another painter, who started the plan 
of building the model of the Parthenon on the Calton. 
He was also a man of deep feeling and talent. 

I now returned to town, and finished for Sir George 
Phillips the picture of Christ in the Garden ; he having 
advanced me the whole five hundred guineas to com- 
plete my great work. It was my duty, for a more 
benevolent man never lived than Sir George Phillips ; 
but we were wrong in pitching on such a subject for a 
drawing-room, in spite of the earnest remonstrances of 
Sir George's son and of Lady Phillips herself.* 

However, I finished it and exhibited it with my other 
works. I took a great deal of money at this exhibition, 
but not enough ; and it was wrong so to strain public 
enthusiasm. This particular picture was severely 
handled. Sir George was disappointed (though he was 
as much to blame as myself) ; and when the picture was 
sent home, he so objected to a sacred subject in a 
drawing-room that he put it out of view altogether. 

It was wrong in me to paint it so large ; it was wrong 
to choose such a subject to be hung where quadrilles 
were danced. It was wrong in every way ; and although 
he wrote a favourable criticism himself in the Globe the 
picture was condemned and hidden. 

Such a conclusion after such noble liberality was 
painful. The very desire to make a noble return cramped 
my feelings ; and except the Christ's head and the St. 

* This picture is now in the hands of Mr. Barrett, a picture 
dealer in the Strand. — Ej?. 


John sleeping it was the worst picture ever escaped 
from my pencil. 

Whilst looking over prints at the British Museum 
one clay, about this time, I saw a resuscitation of 
Lazarus in such a state that a space was left vacant 
where the head of Lazarus ought to be. My imagina- 
tion filled the vacancy and I trembled at my terrific 
conception of the head. 

I went home, sketched it, and determined to make it 
my grandest and largest work. 

I always filled my painting-room to its full extent ; 
and had I possessed a room 400 feet long, and 200 feet 
high, and 400 feet wide, I would have ordered a canvas 
399-6 long by 199-6 high, and so have been encum- 
bered for want of room, as if it had been my pleasure 
to be so. 

My room was thirty feet long, twenty wide, fifteen 
high. So I ordered a canvas nineteen long by fifteen 
high, and dashed in my conception, the Christ being 
nine feet high. 

This was a size and a subject which I loved to my 
very marrow. But how should I get through it ? " Go 
on," said the inward voice I had heard from my youth ; 
" work and trust ; " and trust and work I did. 

I had returned from Scotland victorious l)ut still 
dej)ly in debt. Not all my success had cleared me, and 
now, to crown the affair I was desperately in love, 
longing to be married to a young widow with two 
infants, and Lazarus was a sketch only on the canvas. 
Two years must elapse before it could be done. Still 
at the canvas I flew and made all my studies in gasping 
anxiety. ]My man-servant (Sammons) was my model 
and always at hand. I prayed ardently to get through 
it, never doubting. 


LoNuoN : 

SkoTTiswooiiEs and .Shaw, 
New-street- Square. 


Los Angeles 
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