He was consumed with infinite ennui. The pleasure he had felt in the possession of his amazing flowers was exhausted; and the shades of their blossoms. Besides, for all the care he lavished upon them, most of his plants had died; these he had removed from the rooms, and then, to such a pitch of nervous irritability had he come, that the sight of the places left vacant for want of them wounded his eye and reduced him to a condition of further exasperation.
To distract his attention and kill the interminable hours,he had recourse to his portfolios of prints and sorted his Goyas. The early states of certain plates of the Caprices, proofs distinguishable by their reddish tone, which he had bought in former days at sales, at extravagant prices, struck his fancy, and he lost himself in their contemplation, as he followed the weird fancies of the artist with an unfailing delight in his bewildering imaginations,—witches riding black cats, women extracting a dead man’s teeth at the food of the gallows, bandits, succubi, devils and dwarfs.
After this, he went through all the other series of the artist’s etchings and aquatints, his Proverbs, so grotesque in their gloomy horror, his battle subjects, so ferocious in their blood thirstiness, his plate of the Garotte, of which he possessed a superb proof before letters, printed on heavy paper, unsized, with visible watermark-lines showing in its substance..
The savage vigour, the uncompromising, reckless talent of this artist captivated him. Yet, at the same time, the universal admiration his works had won put him off somewhat, and for years he had always refused to frame them, fearing, if he exhibited them, that the first noodle who might happen to see them would feel himself bound to talk inanities and fall into and ecstasy in stereotyped phrases as he stood in front of them. 18 months ago