Images de page

5th-0, 0, 0! I sat all day and looked into the fire. I must get up my third canvas, or I shall go cracked; I have ordered it up on Saturday, and then I'll be at it.

Perhaps this paralysis was nature's repose. I stared like a baby, and felt like one. A man who has had so many misfortunes as I have had gets frightened at leaving his family for a day.

For a moment my brain was confused.


'I came home with great pain of mind; yet would any man believe, as I waited in the lawyer's chambers, the whole background of Alfred flashed into my head? I dwelt on it, foresaw its effects, and came home in sorrow, delight, anxiety, and anticipation. I set my palette with a disgust, and yet under irresistible impulse. In coming into the parlour, the cook, whose wages I had not been able to pay, handed me a card from a broker, saying he called for a quarter's rent from Mr. Newton. I I felt my heart sink, my brain confused, as I foresaw ruin, misery, and a prison! It was hoisting the standard!

This is temper. I went on with my palette in a giddy fidget. I brought it out, and looking at my great work, rejoiced inwardly at the coming background. But my brain, harassed and confused, fell into a deep slumber, from which I did not awake for an hour. I awoke cold, the fire out; but I flew at my picture, and dashing about like an inspired devil, by three had arranged and put in the alteration.

' June 16th.—I sat from two till five staring at my picture like an idiot.'-Vol. iii. pp. 301, 311, 316.

His prayers, though more importunate than ever, have still no higher or more far-seeing aim. It does not seem that they ever rest in heaven, or have any other thought than obtaining his own will:


'June 1st, 1846.-O God, I begin this month, June, in fear and submission. Thy will, not mine, be done. Carry me through, in spite of all appearances and realities of danger, for Jesus Christ's sake; and enable me to keep my health in eyes and mind, and to bear up and get through my six great works in spite of all the difficulties, calamities, or obstructions, which ever afflicted humanity....

Sunday, 14th.—O God! Let it not be presumption in calling for Thy blessing on my six works. Let no difficulty on earth stop or impede their progression, for one moment. Out of nothing thou couldst create worlds. O God! bless me this week with Thy Divine aid. From sources invisible to us raise up friends, save me from the embarrassments want of money must bring on. O God! grant this day week I may be able to thank Thee from my soul for extrication, and preserve my health and head, and spirit and piety to bear up and vanquish all obstructions. Amen. Amen. . . . '17th.-Dearest Mary, with a woman's passion, wishes me at once to stop payment, and close the whole thing. I will not. I will finish my six, under the blessing of God; reduce my expenses; and hope His mercy will not desert me, but bring me through in health and vigour, gratitude and grandeur of soul, to the end. In Him alone I trust. Let my imagination keep Columbus before my mind for ever. O God, bless my efforts with success, through every variety of fortune, and support my dear Mary and family. Amen.'-Vol. iii. pp. 314—317.

Interspersed through the book are certain passing remarks on suicide, from which we see that it was to him a natural resource in case of despair. He admits, at one time, that he

cannot see it in the light he ought. In another, he traces it to indigestion, and would almost prove self-destruction a form of natural death, the brain and digestive organs guiding the irresponsible hand. A few months before his own death, we find this notice:

'Good heavens! Gurwood has cut his throat. The man who had headed the forlorn hope at Ciudad Rodrigo-the rigid soldier-the ironnerved hero, had not morale to resist the relaxation of nerve brought on by his over-anxiety about the Duke's despatches.

Where is the responsibility of a man with mind so easily affected by body? Romilly, Castlereagh, and Gurwood!'-Vol. iii. p. 292.

There is little doubt that, for some time, he had set this resource before him in case of need. To his imagination an old age of insignificance and neglect was unendurable. His ideas of a future world were wrapt in Pagan obscurity-all was blank hopeless oblivion. Yet he was surrounded by blessings and kindness to the end. If he could but have sacrificed the one darling dream of his life, his prospects were not wholly dreary. His sons, through his exertions, were educated and provided for, one of Sir R. Peel's very late acts having been to place one in a public office. His wife was always loving and devoted. His own art could have procured a respectable income, if he could have contentedly applied it to that purpose. He had not yet exhausted the benevolence of friends; witness Sir Robert Peel's answer to an application, written five days before his death, enclosing 50l. But he had lost patience.' Who can tell how far his love for display, and the desire of creating a sensation, may have actuated him? there is a deliberation, an arrangement, a studying of effect in his last moments, which makes this no illiberal assumption. He sets his room in order, places his wife's portrait, opens his Prayer-book, makes his last entry in his journals-an appropriate quotation, a formal conclusion, and then

17th. In the morning, fearing I should be involved, I took down books I had not paid for to a young bookseller with a family, to return them. As I drove along, I thought I might get money on them. I felt disgusted at such a thought, and stopped and told him I feared I was in danger; and as he might lose, I begged him to keep them for a few days. He was grateful, and in the evening came this 50l. I know what I believe.

18th.-O God, bless me through the evils of this day. Great anxiety. My landlord, Newton, called. I said, "I see a quarter's rent in thy face, but none from me." I appointed to-morrow night to see him, and lay before him every iota of my position. Good-hearted Newton! I said, "Don't put in an execution." "Nothing of the sort," he replied, half hurt.

'I sent the Duke, Wordsworth, dear Fred, and Mary's heads to Miss Barrett to protect. I have the Duke's boots and hat, and Lord Grey's coat, and some more heads.

[ocr errors]

'20th.-O God, bless us all through the evils of this day. Amen. 21st.-Slept horribly. Prayed in sorrow, and got up in agitation. '22d.-God forgive me.




B. R. Haydon.

"Stretch me no longer on this rough world."-Lear.

End of Twenty-sixth Volume.'-Vol. iii. pp. 317, 318.

It was ascertained that immediately after this closing entry, he had committed the act of self-destruction, using for the purpose both pistol and razor. His wife and daughter heard the report of fire-arms, but took no alarm, believing the sound to come from the troops then exercising. An hour after, his daughter entered his room to find him stretched out dead, his white hairs dabbled in blood,' before his unfinished picture of Alfred and the First British Jury.'


There was a paper of last thoughts, but too expressive of the prevailing evil of his life,' a false estimate of his position. Wellington and Napoleon had been the great men of his day; he had chosen to regard himself as on a kind of level with them, and maintains the comparison to the last :

'Last thoughts of B. R. Haydon, half-past ten.

'No man shall use certain evil for probable good, however great the object. Evil is the prerogative of the Deity.

[ocr errors]

I create good,-I create,-I the Lord do these things.

Wellington never used evil if the good was not certain. Napoleon had no such scruples, and I fear the glitter of his genius rather dazzled me; but had I been encouraged, nothing but good would have come from me, because when encouraged I paid every body. God forgive the evil for the sake of the good. Amen.'

'Besides this paper was another, his will, as follows:

In the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour, in the efficacy of whose atonement I firmly and conscientiously believe, I make my last will this day, June 22d, 1846, being clear in my intellect, and decided in my resolution of purpose.'-Vol. iii. p. 319.

That the jury were justified in taking a different view of his sanity may be a matter of question; but the difficulty was a real one; clear in his intellect,' he might be, of sound mind' he certainly was not; nor can we wonder they should gladly avail themselves of the distinction, and return a verdict of insanity. It must not be omitted, that Sir Robert Peel, whose kindness was amongst the last events recorded by this unhappy man, continued this kindness after his death, by affording liberal and immediate assistance to the bereaved widow and children. There is little need to moralize on such a termination of such Never did a life and death more distinctly convey their own moral.

a career.

Our readers may in the outset have wondered what claim a name so little known can now have on public attention; and few, probably, have first held these three close and full volumes without falling into similar reflections. We do not think that any one can lay them down, after an attentive perusal, without thanking the editor for placing this singular history of a mind before the world, and acknowledging that his task is both well performed, and one of no ordinary usefulness. And this, not chiefly for the mass of anecdote, and the great variety of general as well as particular information which the work containsthough, in this aspect, it stands in favourable contrast with the many meagre biographies with which the press teems--but these do not constitute the peculiar merit of the book, which consists in its true, graphic, forcible, grotesque, and yet awful picture of a mind of no common power, wrecked and stranded for the one error of an extravagant vanity. Probably, each generation as it passes pronounces this self-esteem a crying sin of the day. It may then be only conveying an echo from this age to the next to say, that it is a crying sin of our own time; but it is true nevertheless; and we feel as if many things now tended to promote the evil-more than we have space to enumerate. If, then, it is the province of biography, as it is commonly written, to set forth the trials and ultimate success of genius, and to encourage others in the same path by the persuasions of a brilliant example, we would suggest that it may be a no less important part of its duties sometimes to take a different turn,to show, as in this vigorous sketch, what dangers may lurk in ambition and arrogance, even when justified by superior powers, and how utterly waste and fatal these very powers may become to their possessors if pride takes the direction of them, and strains after impossible things. What a fatal and degrading possession, indeed, all intellectual gifts may become, if not governed by modesty and discretion, a rational estimate of self, and an habitual submission to the Divine will!


ART. IV.-A Treatise on Biblical Criticism, exhibiting a Systematic View of that Science. By SAMUEL DAVIDSON, D.D. of the University of Halle, and LL.D. Edinburgh: Black. 1852. BIBLICAL criticism is regarded by many, perhaps by most, to whom the term is familiar, as embracing philological treatment of the text of Scripture of every kind; everything, in fact, that lies beyond the range of the unlearned. This extended use of the term, though in itself admissible, has served to render less distinct, and to rob of its due prominence, one department to which the title has not unfrequently been rigidly restricted; namely, that which is occupied with the determination, by a critical use of all means at command, of the precise verbal form which it is most reasonable to assign to every passage of the canonical books, that is the subject of conflicting readings, or; as it has been distinctively entitled, textual criticism.

It is at once evident that, thus limited, biblical criticism, when standing in its own proper place, is preliminary to the tasks of the commentator and translator; a place which it has not always been allowed to occupy. One need not travel far in the realm of annotation to find instances of praiseworthy labour, which would have been unnecessary, or have received a different direction, but for an ignorance or disregard of certain circumstances affecting the text itself; instances of encounter with difficulties produced by false readings; of comment piled upon a spurious clause. Some knowledge, too, of the facts and results, at least, of the science, is necessary to any one who handles Scripture in discussion or controversy; otherwise, he may use with unwitting confidence citations which involve a reading either altogether untenable, or so far questionable, as to possess no real polemical force, and may thereby incur, in retort, a charge of discreditable ignorance, or of disingenuousness. That a case of this kind is not imaginary, a very moderate experience in such matters is sufficient to show.

That, with this close limitation, biblical criticism is still no narrow subject, is at once clear, from the fact that, in the present instance, it is the sole occupation of two well-filled octavos. We have, however, been more particularly led to call attention to them on the ground that supply is generally an index of demand; and as venturing, therefore, to regard a laboured work as a token of a more widely spread and deeply felt interest in

[blocks in formation]
« PrécédentContinuer »