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now arrived was that in which he laid the foundations of his fame, and in which, if ever, he might have redeemed-the vices of his early liberty. He soon afterward married the sister of his host and friend; and the union of the families was still farther cemented by that of Ward himself with Maria, the elder sister of Morland. It was agreed that both families should form one establishment; and accordingly, for the first three months after the double marriage, they all lived together at a house which they took in High Street, Mary-le-bone.
Family disputes, however, occasioned a separation; and Morland removed with his wife to Camden-town, where he commenced that acquaintance with coachmen and postboys, which our young men of fashion at present consider as so very respectable and pleasant a connection. If those young men were u able and willing" to read, we should recommend the conclusion of Morland's eventful history as, a subject worthy of their serious consideration. <
His most intimate friends at this period were, first, an unprincipled fellow of the name of Irwin; a man, as Mr. Dawe informs us, of genteel manners, and whom Morland employed as his picture-seller,—for among his singularities, this was one of the most unfortunate for him, that, through bashfulness or indolence, he never could be persuaded to become the vendor of his own works, the ruinous consequences of which may be easily conjectured ; and, secondly, Brooks, a shoe-maker, a man of some acuteness, but long habituated to every species of dissipation and depravity.
Morland had now reached perhaps the greatest perfection in his art to which he ever attained; and here Mr. Dawe, after having given a catalogue of the principal works which he painted in Camden-town, adds a general account of his mode of pursuing the profession, which deserves notice:
* AH the pictures above enumerated, with many others, were painted in about a year. To account for this extraordinary degree of dispatch, we must consider the activity of his mind; for, though he wasted much time in idle tricks, when without money he worked a greater number of hours, painted quicker, and kept closer to his employment than most persons of his profession. In fact, the portion of time he now spent in vulgar diversions was not more than others devote to more refined gratifications; but he was so active, both in his profession, and in his amusements, that those who are not aware of this circumstance, are astonished how he could execute so much, and find time for any recreation.
* When endeavouring to account for the multiplicity of his productions, we must likewise recollect the nature of the subjects he painted, his mode of treating them, and his happy art of seizing op* portunitics. Thus when surrounded by companions, that would have
entirely impeded the progress of other men, he might be said to be in an academy, in the midst of models. He would get one to stand for a hand, another for a head, an attitude, or a figure, according as their countenance or character suited; or to put on any dress he might want to copy; and the pictures, which he painted about this time, contain the portraits of his companions, .as well as of the children in the neighbourhood where he lived. Morland's wife and listers were almost his only female models: hence arose his want of 'variety in this respect.
4 Wheji painting his juvenile subjects, he would invite the children of the neighbouihood to play about in his room and made sketches of them whenever any interesting situations occurred; justly observing, that to take them thus, in their unconscious moments, is the' best mode of studying their peculiar attitudes, and to catch a thousand various graces, of which it is impossible to conceive a perfect idea in any other way: grown persons may be placed in appropriate postures, but with children this is not practicable. The writer has in his possession one of Borland's sketch-books, containing several of these studies from children. They are touched with his wonted spirit, and form a sort of middle style, between his laboured minuteness while with his father, and the looseness of his latter drawings.
* He copied as much as possible immediately from nature; when he painted the Cherry Girl, he had an ass and panniers into his parlour; and while employed on stable scenes, he often scattered straw about his room. If he wished to introduce a red cloak, or any other garment of that sort, he would place a person at the window to watch till some one passed that appeared likely to suit his purpose; on which he sent for the passenger to come in, while he made a sketch, and mixed his tints, and he seldom failed to reward the person thus called upon liberally. What he could not copy immediately from nature, was supplied by a retentive memory, and acute observation of the scenes in which he mingled.
* He now put in practice the project of changing his style; when asked whether he did not think the correct manner of his early studies extremely improving, he would laughingly ask, "what, making leaves like silver pennies?" In correcting this fault, he ran into an opposite excesss; his trees, in some careless and hurried works, produced nothing less than cabbage-leaves; they however afforded him a golden fruit; for, at this period, he could earn with ease twelve guineas per week.'
His prodigality always far outran his success; and we accordingly find that, at the very moment at which he was in tho weekly habit of earning so considerable a sum of money, he commenced the ruinous practice of giving promissory notes to bis creditors. For some time, he contrived to pay these notes regularly when they became due, and was greatly distressed if by any accident he was unprepared to discharge them: but it is impossible that this punctuality, so unlike his general conduct, could have been of long continuance; and probably he soon fell into the idle and senseless habit of giving pictures for the renewal of the notes: which pictures were often of such value that, if properly sold, they would hare more than paid the debts for which they now purchased only a short extension of credit.—At length, he found even this resource unavailing to save him from the clamour of his creditors, so that he was compelled in December 1789 to make a precipitate retreat from Camden town, and to take up his residence within the verge of the Court, at that time a sanctuary for debtors. Here he had prudence enough to put his affairs into the hands of an attorney, who managed for him so well as to procure a letter of licence, and, in the course of fifteen months, to extricate him from his embarassments by satisfying every demand then existing against him.
Before Morland left Camden-town, Irwin, who had imposed on his friend's profligate facility of character so as to reap half the harvest of his labours, paid the just price cf his dishonest rapacity, by falling a sacrifice to excesses which he encouraged and participated for his own selfish ends.
Being now a new man, Morland removed from his place of refuge to a house in Leicester-street, where the best opportunities crowded on him for engaging in the most respectable line of his profession, with connections of the first consequence and of the highest advantage: but his fatal bashfulness, aided by the long habit of degrading associations, again expelled all the advances of creditable intercourse, and drew him back to the mire in which h» delighted to wallow. To some of his most reasonable friends, he would occasionally allege motives for his conduct a little more sensible, if not more justifiable, than those by which he was really influenced.
'The reasons assigned fey Morland for disliking to work for gentlemen, were, hi> not chusing to accommodate himself to the whims of his employers. If he were asked why he did not reap the profits of his own productions, instead of suffering others to benefit by them, he would allege, as a reason, the trouble which in that case must be encountered. On one occasion, "There," said he, "is a picture which Mr. 1 returned to' have a fine brilliant sky painted in, he will allow mc live guineas for ultramarine.. It will spoil the picture, and the absurdity of it is, he will not suffer the tree to be touched, but expects me to paint between the leaves.'
Ever restless, our ill-fated artist soon quitted again the place of his residence; and, after having changed his lodgings four times within six months, he fixed himself at last in a house at Paddington, for no other reason than that he found "mine host" at the White Lion a jolly companion. Here his income and his expenditure both increased, the former in a considerable and the latter in a boundless ratio. He turned horsedealer dealer, not with the view of profit, but only on account of the intimacy which he acquired in consequence with jockeys and low Blacklegs. He constantly sold his horses again for less than half his purchase-money; and his extravagance in this particular article was so great that he had ten or twelve horses standing at livery at one time. He kept open house for all descriptions of vulgar people, and became a principal in everyt species of vulgar sport. His painting-room-presented a most curious spectacle; for, as he never denied admission to any of his devouring friends, his easil was so crowded with quackdoctors, publicans, horsedealers, boxers, butchers, shoemakers, taylors, &c. all of whom he converted into picture-dealers, that he was compelled to have * a wooden frame placed across the room, similar to that a police office, with a bar that lifted up, allowing those to pass with whom he had business. Under these circumstances, (proceeds Mr. Da we) it is surprizing that he should have continued to improve in his art, as he still certainly did ; for in this manner he painted some of his best pictures, while his companions were carouzing on gia and red herrings around him.'
It would be only disgusting to pursue the course of his sxtravagance with more minuteness. Suffice it to say that notwithstanding the continual' increase of his reputation and profits, he incurred within eight months debts to the amount of 4000I., and, at the end of that time, effected a second retreat, into Leicestershire; where he lived concealed in a cottage till his former friend Mr. Wedd, the, attorney, had again compromised matters with his creditors, and procured for him a letter of licence conditioned for the payment of 120I. monthly. At this period, we are told, he could earn with ease 100 guineas in a week; so that nothing but the dreadful infatuation, which had so long possessed him, could have hindered him from clearing off every debt within a very short rime, and establishing for himself a respectable independence. Former embarassments, however, instead of teaching him wisdom, served him only a9 precedents of folly. One of the conditions prescribed to him by his creditors was that he should discard all his low and dissolute acquaintance, to which (with the exception only of Crane, a Paddington butcher,) he readily assented: but the intention of this provision was utterly defeated; for Morland, wherever he went, became the center of attraction for all the blackguards of his neighbourhood % and in Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, he soon collected round him a host of harpy-friends, not a jot more reputable or more select than those who had surrounded his easil in Winchester Row, Paddington. He accordingly incurred
6 new new debts, and underwent new embarrassments, which induced him to relinquish his great and lucrative pictures, from which only he could hope to raise the stipulated monthly installments, and to squander away his time on little hasty daubings, calculated to furnish him with trifling sums of ready money, or to purchase for him a short renewal of credit on his promissory nott-s.—Only three of the stipulated payments were made; and in less than twelvemonths he again absconded, to avoid not only his old creditors, who were become clamorous from his breach of engagements, but to escape a still greater number of new claimants whom he had since brought on his shoulders. From this time, he plunged deeper and deeper into difficulties, and cared less and less about reprieving them. Three more efforts were made for his extrication, and were abandoned by him with yet greater precipitation and folly than the first. On granting the last letter of licence in ijy6, his creditors consented to take iol. monthly in satisfaction of their claims: but not even to these easy terms could he be induced to adhere for above two or three payments. During the whole of these transactions, the forbearance and patience of his creditors are scarcely less remarkable than his own blind perversity, which annulled all their kindest intentions.
After the elopement which followed Morland's breach of this last engagement, it was too plainly seen that nothing more could be done to save him. He now * continued for some years, in the power of a few, driven from place to place, arrested and betrayed by those who called themselves his friends, still finding means to avoid a prison.' During this period, he constantly affected to laugh at the thoughts of a gaol: but his most intimate companions knew that his ridicule was merely assumed, and that, in reality, he eyer entertained a secret and undefinable horror at the prospect. It is said that he often visited that fearful abode, with the view of familiarizing' himself to an event which he considered as certain: but that he alwa.ys returned from his visits with more disgust and abhorrence than he felt before. This miserable suspense was at last terminated by the blow which he so much dreaded. In 1799, he became an inhabitant of the King's Bench prison, where he immediately obtained the rules, and took a ready furnished house in Lambeth road. ,
He was now fast approaching the awful termination of his short > career. For some time previous to his confinement, his drunken excesses had reduced him to a state of nervous debility which threatened the premature decay of all his faculties. His mind, which was never wholly corrupted, then presented so forcibly