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To Benjamin Robert Haydon (Wentworth Place, Tuesday, December 22, 1818)
Wentworth Place, Tuesday, December 22, 1818
My dear Haydon
Upon my Soul I never felt your going out of the room at all—and believe me I never rhodomontade anywhere but in your Company—my general Life in Society is silence. I feel in myself all the vices of a Poet, irritability, love of effect and admiration—and influenced by such devils I may at times say more ridiculous things than I am aware of—but I will put a stop to that in a manner I have long resolved upon—I will buy a gold ring and put it on my finger—and[Pg 212] from that time a Man of superior head shall never have occasion to pity me, or one of inferior Nunskull to chuckle at me. I am certainly more for greatness in a shade than in the open day—I am speaking as a mortal—I should say I value more the privilege of seeing great things in loneliness than the fame of a Prophet. Yet here I am sinning—so I will turn to a thing I have thought on more—I mean your means till your picture be finished: not only now but for this year and half have I thought of it. Believe me Haydon I have that sort of fire in my heart that would sacrifice everything I have to your service—I speak without any reserve—I know you would do so for me—I open my heart to you in a few words. I will do this sooner than you shall be distressed: but let me be the last stay—Ask the rich lovers of Art first—I’ll tell you why—I have a little money which may enable me to study, and to travel for three or four years. I never expect to get anything by my Books: and moreover I wish to avoid publishing—I admire Human Nature but I do not like Men. I should like to compose things honourable to Man—but not fingerable over by Men. So I am anxious to exist without troubling the printer’s devil or drawing upon Men’s or Women’s admiration—in which great solitude I hope God will give me strength to rejoice. Try the long purses—but do not sell your drawings or I shall consider it a breach of friendship. I am sorry I was not at home when Salmon called. Do write and let me know all your present whys and wherefores.
Yours most faithfully