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66

And so

66

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ning a three-hundred guinea prize that decided him. he entered the lists, all the while declaring that, if his toons" were as perfect as Raphael could make them, he knew he had no chance. He wrote to this effect to me. He said he ought not to compete, that he knew the feeling of prejudice was so strong against him he should be refused, but that he was "so pressed for money" he could not decline the chance. An intimate friend of Sir Robert Peel's warned him that he had no chance." Barry told him "there is a dead set against you among the Commissioners ;" and Eastlake-good, gentle Sir Charles-though he would have been glad enough, I believe, to help his old master, whose benefits to him he had declared he never could forget to his dying day, was too much engaged in watching the "wind," like a master-mariner in uncertain weather, in the hope of reaching his port, viz., the decoration of the Houses, to maintain Haydon's claims against such determined hostility to him, and such indifference to art as the nobility displayed. But he certainly gave Haydon all the hints he dare, and these are not favorable.

All this only added zest to the determination of Haydon to compete. He shut himself up with his two cartoons and his pecuniary embarrassments, which were now becoming most harassing from the postponement of two commissions, and other professional disappointments, and worked vigorously for six months, till he had completed the cartoons. One was "The

Curse of Adam and Eve," the other, "The Entry of King John of France into London" after Poitiers. This was his answer to Sir Robert Peel and the Commissioners.

right of reply.

Sir Robert had the

There were three distinct parties of competitors: the Royal Academicians and their party; Haydon and the reform party; and the young students. The exhibition of cartoons took place at Westminster Hall, in the season of 1843. The result dissipated the unjust suspicion that the lay artists of England could neither draw nor design. The power displayed was astonishing; and when Haydon went into the room he expressed his joy heartily and without reserve. The young students crowded

round him and

this all to you."

"We owe

congratulated him warmly, saying,
This soothed him for what had happened.

WHO TOOK THE PRIZE.

When the time came for decision, which Sir Robert Peel had proposed should be given before the public were admitted, the six judges went round and made an inspection. The cartoons of the Royal Academicians were so glaringly defective in drawing, expression, and power, it was out of the question to award a prize to any academician. The cartoons of the reform party and of the young students were pronounced to be so equal in power, drawing, expression, and character, the judges declared themselves at a loss how to decide. This looks like artifice on the part of Sir Robert Peel. Prince Albert then came in and was shown round. On coming before the cartoon of the English pupil of De la Roche he stopped, and said "That is worth 2000l. ;" Etty and the artists on the committee of judges, says Haydon, "held down their heads." The cartoon was defective in drawing and proportion; but that, in the opinion of such a courtier as Sir Robert Peel had now become, was of no consequence after the remark of the Prince Consort. This cartoon headed the list of three hundred guinea prizes.'

66 ARISTIDES" AND "NERO."

He began the first of his series of six pictures in April, 1845. The "Banishment of Aristides," a fine subject, forcibly painted, he finished in four months; the second, "Nero watching the Burning of Rome," hastily conceived and painted, he finished in two months. Yet these arduous and impassioned labors

My father used to tell a little bit of Court gossip-he had man y sources of information as to this particular cartoon. De la Roche was a great friend of the late Lord Ellesmere, and also of his brother, the late Duke of Sutherland, and he besought their influence on behalf of his young pupil, though I believe wholly without his pupil's consent, or even knowledge. The services of the Duchess were also enlisted. All fair enough, if the commission, of which Prince Albert was the head, had not passed a rule that no names of competitors were not be known. But Suckling's experience of Court life holds good, viz., "He that's best horsed, that is best friended, gets in soonest; and all that he has to do is to laugh at those that are behind."-ED.

could not recover the year lost in indecision, nor remove that disquiet of the soul which precedes misfortune. He reads, he writes, he works incessantly, but ever and anon I find him referring directly and indirectly to Death as if he felt its awful shadow near. Dr. Hook sends him the "Confessions of St. Augustine." He reads them, reviews his own life, and writes: "The first step towards fitting the Soul to stand before its Maker is a conviction of its unworthiness." Then he is more constant in prayer-more curious in his utterances and quotations from Scripture, more humble towards Him "in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Suddenly he hears the sad news that his old friend, Colonel Gurwood, has destroyed himself. This affects him profoundly. Now he refuses to record his prayers any more. "I feel them," he says; "but it is too familiar to write them down, and bring them in contact with daily expression of worldly mattters." It is as if he dared not utter and record them, lest the effort should turn him from the fascination of some shackled propensity, suddenly broken loose and mastering his obedience. He flies for relief to a fresh subject, “Alfred and his First Trial by Jury." But the weight of Gurwood's miserable death presses on his mind and heart. In February, 1846, he leaves London in low spirits and goes to Edinburgh. Here he met with his usual enthusiastic reception. His lectures were crowded to excess, and the profuse hospitality of the famous city freely extended to him. Donald may not have more money than suffices for his own modest wants; but he appreciates a man with brains, is a staunch friend, and is always glad to give you a warm welcome in his hospitable home. The following month Haydon returned to London, and prepared for his exhibition in April. The two pictures, "Aristides" and "Nero" were exhibited at the Egyptian Hall. The newspapers spoke highly of them as works of art. But the next room to Haydon's exhibition was taken by the dwarf "Tom Thumb." The London world rushed in its thousands to see this novelty-dukes, duchesses, earls, and countesses led the van, and all the "Public" followed. When they came out from the Presence, the poor people were

so overcome by their emotions they could not endure the shock, or afford the additional expense of looking at "Nero" or "Aristides." They passed Haydon's exhibition room, and went off to Grange's for ice and wafers. After six weeks Haydon closed his exhibition with the loss of 1117., rolled up his pictures, and went to work vigorously at the next of his series. To his own mind, unless some extraordinary assistance arrived, his days were now numbered. But "to-morrow knaves will thrive through craft and fools through fortune; and honesty will go as it did, frost-nipt in a summer suit." Day by day passed, and no inquiries, no commissions came in, no offers to to buy either of the four large pictures he had now upon his hands. He began to lose confidence in his power to stave off the last day long enough to enable him to complete his series. "The great thing will be to get them done," he continually writes in his journal. And he struggled bravely on, flying hither and thither to pacify creditors, raise money, gain time-anything for peace to think and paint. His debts were not large. The price of a small yacht, or of another diamond necklace, would have covered them all. But no member of the nobility came near him. Prince Albert was one day seen to ride by and to look up at the house, and speak to his equerry. His Royal Highness had not the courage to come in.

WRONG IN HIS HEAD.

With the month of June came no improvement of prospects, no diminution of pecuniary pressure. He works vigorously. He prays earnestly to be carried "through the evils" of each day, and he entreats the Almighty to preserve his “mind,” so as to enable him to bear up against "all obstructions." But at last it dawns upon his too sanguine hopes that all his labor is in vain; the taste of the Nobility for art is no higher than it was fifty years before, and perhaps, after all, he may have mistaken the "feeling" of the " People." An old friend, whom he had helped in early life, now offers to lend him 1000l. They are to meet and dine in the City. L- keeps the engagement, but after dinner breaks the news to Haydon that he is unable

to advance the money. Haydon drank deeply (hotel wine is not always sound), and the next day, between the disappointment and the dinner, he was "wrong" in his "head." The weather now (14th June) became intensely hot, and he got completely out of health. All the week he was in this state, and could get no rest at night, but he refused to send for medical advice, and gradually abandoned work. It looks as if he felt the end was near, and thought it time to fold his robe about him. But now, a very curious thing happened, upon which a vast deal of fine writing has, in my humble opinion, been needlessly expended. The 15th June had been a day of great anxiety and no relief. On the 16th June, Haydon wrote to his old friend, the Duke of Beaufort, to explain his situation and ask assistance. The letter reached the duke at Badminton, just as he was going out to enjoy the bright day by shooting rabbits. The duke put the letter into his pocket and took down his gun. Haydon wrote also to Lord Brougham, and, oddly enough, to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel. Now, if ever there was a time for one man to do a graceful and generous act towards another he had helped to ruin, this was the moment. Sir Robert Peel, in the midst of all his Corn Law debates, replies promptly, though in a formal letter, enclosing an official order for 50l. on a fund over which, as Prime Minister, he had official control.

SIR ROBERT PEEL'S CONTRIBUTION.

It is hardly fair to look your gift horse too curiously over; but it is to be remarked that only to send 50l. to an artist owing 3000/., and on the brink of arrest and ruin, was the merest illusion in the world. It was like that phantom Minerva sends to Hector to tempt him to his fate by making him believe Deiphobus is at hand. Moreover, Sir Robert's "contribution for your necessities" did not come out of Sir Robert's private purse. It was "public" money. Considering his position and grave responsibilities at that moment, his prompt reply compares favorably with the Duke of Beaufort's forgetfulness, and Lord Brougham's silence. But yet there is something in the gift un

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