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of Ireland and the Union, of Nelson and Collingwood, and of Napoleon, and generally upon the current events of the day, which, I regret to say, Haydon has been too prudent to record, or we might have had some curious and secret history. There

is nothing so entertaining as the conversational reminiscences of men who have taken an active part in politics, diplomacy, or war. If you listen to them judiciously, they will let out many of the secret springs of action which you will rarely find in their deliberate writings or published works. Their minds, as Macaulay says of Mackintosh, are like a vast magazine of facts. "They recollect, they do not create, and you have only to apply the right key, and they will unlock their stores and display the real article to your delighted view." But no third person must be present. Two are friends, three are company." It was much in this spirit, I take it, that Lord Mulgrave confided to his eager young listener many details of his secret mission to the Archduke Charles, after Marengo; of the wars of 1805-6, the Copenhagen Expedition, the war in Spain, Canning, the Convention of Cintra, and the future of Wellington, of whom Lord Mulgrave said, in 1809, "If you live to see it, that man will prove a second Marlborough."



In the midst of all this dining-out and these pleasant evenings Haydon never lost sight of his main object, but to this he now added daily study of the French, Latin, and Greek authors, in order to perfect his powers of verbal expression, and to qualify himself to converse freely with the foreigners he was thrown amongst. I find him also "attacking" Italian. Whole pages


of his Journal are filled with verbs and idioms and translations, until he had mastered the language, and could read Dante, Ariosto, and Tasso in the original. It was the same in everything he undertook. Thorough was his word. There was nothing of "the poor half and half" about him. The result of this self-culture was that he mastered French and Italian, and got through Latin and Greek. Couple this with his art, and

his complete mastery of that, and it must be admitted that, considering all things, he did well. During the season of 1807 Haydon was again recalled home by an accident to his father, who had broken his "tendon Achilles" at a ball, and was lamed for life. Wilkie strongly advised him to set to work while at home and paint portraits for practice. This advice Sir George Beaumont confirmed, provided “you do not allow yourself to be led away from High Art by the money you can quickly realize by portraits." Haydon carried the advice down with him to Plymouth, and immediately began to paint portraits of his Plymouth friends at fifteen guineas a-head—a very “handsome" price, he frankly admits, considering the small merit of the pictures. By the tumultuous kindness of his friends he made money so fast as to astonish Wilkie and alarm himself. Then, like Wycherley with the King, Haydon ran away from his good fortune, married himself to High Art, as Wycherley did to Lady Drogheda, to find himself in the end very much in the same sad plight.2

1 Haydon is frequently accused by biographers of holding portrait painting in great contempt. This is quite an error. What he ridiculed and despised was, not portrait "painting," but portrait "manufacture." He had no contempt for anything good in art. He objected only to the supremacy being given to portrait, and particularly to the detestable caricatures of his day, over and above, and almost to the exclusion of, all higher art. Many passages might be quoted from his Journals of his high opinion of good portrait painting. One or two occur to me: "After having gone through his preparatory studies," he writes of a pupil, "let him paint portraits diligently. He will find it of the very first importance." Again, I find in his Journal: "There is something in the eminent portrait painters, from their daily and perpetual intercourse with Nature, that painters of history can always look at with advantage, and learn from." In his evidence before Mr. Ewart's Committee, 1836, Haydon says: "We owe an everlasting obligation to portrait painting, for, had there been none after the Reformation, the art would have gone out entirely."-ED.

2 Charles II. was so delighted with Wycherley that he was on the point of making him Governor to the Duke of Richmond, with a salary of 1,500l. a year. Wycherley meanwhile fell in love with Lady Drogheda, or she with him, neglected the King, lost his appointment, married Lady Drogheda, and in a few years found himself in the Fleet Prison, where he languished for seven years, when James II., who remembered him kindly, paid his debts, and released him.-ED.


By the first of January, 1808, Haydon had returned to London, and having removed to 41 Great Marlborough Street, Regent Street, he commenced Lord Mulgrave's commission of "Dentatus." The moment selected is when Dentatus, fiercely pressing back his assailants, is to be crushed by the rock being thrown on him from above. It is a fine picture, full of life, as Leigh Hunt said, "like a bit of embodied lightning," the action is so immediate. It was while engaged on this picture that Haydon first made acquaintance with John and Leigh Hunt. Wilkie introduced the Hunts to Haydon; but where or how Wilkie made their acquaintance does not appear. Leigh Hunt was a great contrast in every respect to Wilkie. Something from each put into one would have made a perfect character. Hunt was good-looking and agreeable, which Wilkie certainly was not; and Hunt was witty, well read, fond of music, of high poetic temperament, and full of fun and sparkle, in all of which Wilkie was deficient. But if he had no wit and no music, and not much conversation or poetry, and nothing to boast of by way of looks, Wilkie had good qualities. He knew how to hold his peace and pick his way, and could never set his own house on fire, or yours, to roast his eggs," as the saying is, and he was wholly innocent of bills and discounters. Wilkie, in short, was the more judicious friend. He was the man to settle and direct you, but he would not lend you a sixpence, or his name. The other, to amuse, distract, and unsettle you, would lend you half he possessed, back a bill when you wanted it, and ask you to do the same for him next day. I am much mistaken but Haydon found this to be Of Leigh Hunt's brother John, Haydon always spoke in terms of the highest respect and admiration.o



1 "Dentatus" is in the collection at Mulgrave Castle, near Whitby. It is a cabinet picture, very fine in color and drawing, and in excellent preservation. It was engraved in England by Harvey, and in France, where it was highly esteemed, and held to have "established the painter's reputation."-ED.

2 In a very kindly-written article upon "Leigh Hunt and B. R. Haydon," pub


In this picture of "Dentatus" Haydon encountered greater difficulties than had ever occurred to his inexperience were likely to obstruct him. But every fresh difficulty only gave zest to his ardent mind. "Nothing is really difficult," he used to say; "it is only we who are indolent." Sir George Beaumont, too, comforted and inspirited him greatly. "The more elevated be your goal," he writes, "the greater must be the exertion of every nerve and sinew to reach it.” These inspiriting words cheered him on to the task he had set himself. His object was to paint for "Dentatus" the finest form he could invent. But between the two opinions of Fuseli, who said "Dentatus" looked "too much like life," because painted from a living model, and of Wilkie, who said, when Haydon, to please Fuseli, softened down the markings of the joints and muscles, that it looked as if painted from stone," Haydon, in consequence, painted "Dentatus" in and out several times. Certain art-critics I remember, who, if they had to paint a lion would paint the skin and not the lion, and be satisfied, have in their wisdom appealed to Haydon's action here as a proof of “ Haydon's ignorance." Young men of high design when they begin great works are always taunted with want of experience, under one form or another. This is the common misfortune on first setting out in life. But what these critics forget to acknowledge is, that it is the capability or incapability of conquering consequences that distinguishes the man of genius from the man of none. In the midst of his distress at not being able to realize his own conception of a figure of truly heroic mould, combined with all the essential detail of actual life, Wilkie called with an order to see some "marbles" Lord Elgin had brought from Athens. Haydon had no idea of what he was going to see, nor how the sight would reward him. At the first glance he saw in these Greek marbles that combination of Nature and Idea he had in vain sought among existing antiques.1


lished in the "St. James's Magazine" (1875), the writer regrets Haydon's separation from Leigh Hunt. I, on the contrary, feel satisfied it would have been better for Haydon had they never met.-ED.

1 The great distinction between the Elgin Marbles and other antique, according to

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"The first thing I fixed my eyes on," he writes, was the wrist of a figure in one of the female groups, in which was visible the radius and the 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 affecting the shape, as in nature. I saw that the arm was in repose, and the soft parts in relaxation, as in nature. My heart beat! If I had seen nothing else I had seen enough 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 the two sides of his back varied; one side, stretched from the shoulder blade, being pulled forward, and the other side, compressed from the shoulder blade, being pushed closed to the spine, as he rested on his elbow; and when I turned to the Ilissus and to the fighting Metope, and saw the most heroic style of art, combined with all the essential detail of actual life, the thing was done at once and forever.” "Now," he adds, in a burst of very natural enthusiasm, "now was I mad for buying Albinus?" He walked hurriedly home and, looking at his figure of Dentatus with disgust, "dashed out the abominable mass." Then, with the leave of Lord Elgin, Haydon put himself again at school, and for three months spent his days, from morn to midnight, drawing, alone, from these marbles.


As this Elgin marble question greatly affected Haydon's fate and fortunes, I may be permitted to say here, this conviction which he felt of the beauty and inestimable value of the marbles was soon called in question. Mr. Payne Knight, Lord

Haydon, is the want of unity and dependence of the parts in the latter, and the complete unity in the former. Thus in the Niobe the head is placed as if it had no connection with the neck, or the neck with the body. So in the Apollo Belvedere, the arms look as if stuck on to the body without any of the connecting incidents of flesh. Cover the head of the Apollo, and the body, limbs, and arms are stuffed skins. In 1815 Haydon said to Canova, "Do you think if the Apollo had been found without his head, his figure would have stood so highly?" "Peut-être non," said Canova; "they would have been considered commonplace fragments."--ED.

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