On Varley and his Debts

“He [Varley] was admired by many who found him too easily imposed upon for his unselfishness though his best friends looked with regret upon his want of sagacity - It was clearly proved to me that wisdom and sagacity were the proper accompaniments of impulsive generosity. Yet liberality and kindness with sincerity are so scarce that even when bestowed without discrimination extort our praises …His own deficiency however in the power of using and improving the good within his reach led him into trials and wants which gradually as all mischief works warped his natural open heartedness to that degree that at last he resorted to mean shifts and tricks to get money - like Haydon always trying for a loan from every friend he met, so that may of his friends were compelled to avoid him. His habit of allowing petty bills to go on and through law expenses to become serious sums kept him constantly in the clutches of unscrupulous lawyers - I remember his saying “Well thank God I am nearly out of debt now for I have only two writs out against me and one judgement upon which my upon which my goods can be seized and the Lawyer is such a good fellow he will wait if I give him a picture which by the bye I want you to put the figures in tomorrow”. This I was in the habit of doing when we were neighbours at Bayswater in 1830 and on - and even previous to that time …”

John Linnell’s Autobiographical notes, f.60-62

© The Fitzwilliam Museum