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small difficulty, we can well believe, and very successfully performed; for though we could often have wished the book shorter, the very tediousness and irksome repetition of painful details could not have been further abridged without weakening the impression that the work leaves upon us, and which it is its proper office to excite.
The first volume consists of an autobiography written expressly for publication, carried down to the author's thirty-fifth year. The second and third are condensed by the editor, from the voluminous journal to which we have referred. The tone of editor and autobiographer towards the subject of the memoir, stands in amusing contrast in the two prefaces which follow close upon one another :
'Haydon is presented,' says Mr. Taylor, '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 autobiography, has ever succeeded in making himself out a hero in the world's opinion, however strenuously 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.'-Editor's Preface, pp. v. vi.
The next is Haydon's self-introduction, characteristic, as is every page he writes; with its turgid allusions to enemies, and oppressions, and its confidence in the world's enduring sympathy with his cause:
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 slightest grounds for oppression, and persecuted to ruin because 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 endured 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 the oppressor, being a body, is sure to survive, I cannot be blamed for wishing to put my countrymen 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 nobility of England, the grandest people and nobility of the world, have ever sympathised with my fate, and often deferred my ruin.'-Pp. 1, 2.
Haydon was born at Plymouth, 1786. His parentage, on both sides, was respectable, and he traces it to family misfortunes and lawsuits, that his grandfather and father were in trade as booksellers there. He records that he was an excessively self-willed and passionate child, whose fits of fury could be best allayed by showing him pretty pictures.' At six he began to find out the pleasures of the pencil for himself, his favourite first subject being not unprophetic of the historical school of high art to which he devoted his life, Louis XVI. under the Guillotine in his shirt-sleeves, taking leave of his 'people.'
There is great reason to doubt whether he had, at an early age, that amount of facility and invention great painters have commonly shown. It may seem ungenerous to infer this from the fact that he does not boast of having possessed them, but it is an inference any one familiar with his style cannot help drawing. Some inclination and facility he certainly had, enough to deter mine his ambition by what means he must be a great man, if great he was to be; but his first aspiration seems to have been after greatness, not after art. His natural bias was encouraged at his first school by his master,-who was more an artist than a classic, and who used to take Haydon with him on his sketching expeditions, and at home by his father's work people:
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 feegoore, master Benjamin." He first told me of Raphael 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 office.
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 painter, 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 neighbourhood, 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.'-Pp. 8, 9.
At thirteen he was sent to the school at Plympton, where Sir Joshua Reynolds had been educated; where he did well, and ended by being the head boy. His father, who intended him for the counting-house, would not have him learn drawing, but he copied caricatures (towards which his childhood seems to have had a leaning), and drew a hunting scene on the schoolroom walls, which his master would not allow to be effaced for some weeks.
With my schooling at Plympton concluded my classical 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 celebrated 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 prepared to do what my father thought right, and resolved 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 offered 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 price, 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 into your head?" Nobody: I always have had it." "You will live to repent." "Never, my dear father; I would
rather die in the trial."
'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; my detestation of business unaltered; my resolution no tortures of the rack would have altered.'-Pp. 12, 13.
We have dwelt thus particularly on his early youth because we believe it wanted those indications of decided genius which might have seemed some justification for this obstinacy of purpose. His parents were kind and indulgent, but it is clear he had not done anything to prove to them that high art was his vocation, though there was evidently much general power and intellect.
The reader will not fail to have marked the passing murmur at ceaseless opposition;' a complaint as reasonable in this place as in any part of his history. In fact, few men had so much of their own way as he. All strong wills do get their way in things possible, whether for their own gain or loss; and
Haydon had it as far as was compatible with other men having any exercise of free will at all. It was only when his will could not be indulged, except at the expense of other men's houseroom and purses-unless, that is, they would consent to cover their walls with pictures twelve feet by ten, at prices which would keep the artist in affluence-that it received a check.
In spite of his father's entreaties, and his mother's tears, Haydon carried his point, and at eighteen, 1804, went up to London to take the field as an historical painter. If it were not that the audacity was without sufficient warrant, there would be something greatly magnanimous, both in the step itself and the hopes that prompted it. He had had no instruction; he had little or nothing to show of his own doings; he had only confidence in himself, sustained by great powers and industry, and a firm will. He thus begins his London life. His first business on arriving was to see the exhibition:
'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 Blas was one centre, and a shipwrecked sailor boy (Westall) was the wonder of the crowd. These two are all that I remember. Í marched away, saying, "I don't fear you," inquired for a plaster shop-found one out in Drury Lane, bought the Laocoon's head, with some arms, hands, and feet, darkened my window, unpacked my Albinus, and before nine the next morning was hard at work, drawing from the round, studying Albinus, and breathing aspirations for "High Art," and defiance to all opposition.
For three months I saw nothing but my books, my casts, and my drawings. My enthusiasm was immense, my devotion for 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 again from seven to ten and eleven. I was once so long without speaking to a human creature, that my gums became painfully sore from the 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 incapacity which was impressed upon it. However visionary such aspirings may seem in a youth of eighteen, I never doubted my capacity to realize 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 great Italians in view, and to endeavour to unite form, colour, light, shadow, and expression, was my constant determination.'-Vol. i. pp. 20, 21.
And now he was fairly launched in his career; and the plunge into congenial excitement is well described, and commands our sympathies. He became a student of the Academy. Fuseli and Northcote were stars at that time; Wilkie, Jackson, and others, promising beginners. Haydon immediately took his place amongst them. Fuseli is considered to have formed his style; there is at least something congenial in his exaggeration; and both had this in common, that they reasoned, talked, and wrote for art better than they painted. Haydon's talent was
immediately acknowledged, and admitted him at once into society; his high aspirations had promise; his enthusiasm and energy augured well for their fulfilment. The lighter interests of the book all lie in the great variety of distinguished persons, by this means brought before us, often with gossiping minuteness of detail, and with enough penetration and knowledge of character to give us confidence in the truth of the portrait wherever the writer's own interests are not concerned: a very large reservation, it must be granted, and one demanding continual circumspection in the reader; for Haydon's vanity was such that it would scarcely be too much to say, that he never came in contact with any fellow-creature with a just view of their relative claims and position, so that, in every transaction in which he is personally concerned, we have at once to alter the focus from his medium of viewing the affair to our own. Thus, with his first and most intimate friend, Wilkie, we can only see a course of most valuable services where he continually suspects mean and unworthy motives, selfishness, cowardly subserviency to the great, and the like. It is clear Wilkie's was a timid cautious character, in every respect the opposite of his friend's; therefore, how he bore with Haydon so long, and kept on with him so well, is, to ourselves, the main cause of surprise. Yet, because he would not enter into his quarrels, nor lend as much money as he considered himself entitled to, Haydon wrote against him, after his death; and his journal is full of unsupported insinuations, and, we suspect, might be fuller still, but for the editor's judicious excisions; and this is only a sample of his whole course.
It was Wilkie who first brought Haydon under the notice of the then patrons of art, Lord Mulgrave, and Sir George Beaumont, whose services in introducing our young artist before the world, are repaid as such services too often are, with grudging acknowledgments, tempered by illiberal comments, and a strain of derogatory anecdotes. The relation of patron and artist is necessarily a difficult one. The patron must patronise, a disposition of mind always prone to caprice, and one naturally repugnant to the impatience of genius, which chafes under assistance, even while thankful for it. We see now how really bad for such a nature as Haydon's was the frank patronage and encouragement he received before he had shown his powers. We have no doubt his manner and conversation impressed all people with an idea of genius, which, in action, he never bore out. The world is always led by self-assertion. Even when he had notoriously failed, we find how powerful an influence he held over many minds through his profound unaffected confidence in himself; we may imagine, then, its charm in untried youth,