On the sixth day we took leave of Mr. and Mrs. Seeley, and took a night-train for Peterborough, where we visited the cathedral and town to await the dusk; then on to Doncaster and Knottingly. From Knottingly we did not see clearly how to reach Featherstone, and were greatly embarrassed, when a coachman, who had just driven his master to the station, foresaw the possibility of a handsome tip, and offered to take us—without luggage—in his trap. It was pitch dark, he had no lamps, the road was all ruts, and the horse flew along like mad. We only held to our seats—or rather kept resuming them, in a succession of bumps, now on one side, now on the other, and up in the air—by grasping the sides of the trap with all our might, till a sudden stop nearly threw us all out; at any rate it did throw us in a heap over each other at the bottom of the trap—unhurt. It was with a sense of immense relief that we plodded the rest of our way to the vicarage, where we arrived at eleven. The diary says: "October 17, 1876. Saw my Aunt Susan again for the first time since 1869, at which time I hardly hoped ever to see her again."
It was a great comfort to Gilbert to witness the affectionate care taken of his aunt by her niece, Annie Hinde, and her brother Ben, with whom she lived. He had always entertained a great liking for these cousins, but it was increased during his stay at the vicarage by their hospitable and friendly ways, and by his gratitude for their having given to his dear relative as much of peaceful satisfaction as it was in their power to do. Miss Susan Hamerton was aged, no doubt, but she was still able to do everything for herself, and to occupy her time usefully in housekeeping, sewing, reading, writing, and going out. She still retained her strong will, and manifested it in a way which nearly destroyed all the pleasure of the meeting with her nephew—and would have done so, had he not yielded to it by consenting to a transfer of bank-shares (in his favor) which involved great liabilities. She would not listen to an explanation of the risk, and considered it ungracious to look the gift-horse in the mouth. "It had been a capital investment," she said, and she remained absolutely opposed to the sale of the shares. Her nephew had to accept the gift as it was—so that instead of relieving anxiety it created a new one. However, having come to give her a little of the sunshine of happiness, he decided not to let it be clouded over. We stayed a month in happy and cordial intercourse, my husband spending the intervals of work in long talks and walks with his aunt, and when the time for our departure arrived, the sadness of parting was soothed by the hope of meeting again, now that Gilbert seemed to have recovered the power of travelling.
On our return to London we lunched with Mr. Seymour Haden, who took my husband to the room in which he kept his collections, where they had a long talk on art matters, and where he gave him a proof of the "Agamemnon," whilst I was having a chat over family interests, children, and music with Mrs. Haden.
In the afternoon we called upon George Eliot and Mr. Lewes, who were very friendly indeed. I was greatly struck by George Eliot's memory, for she remembered everything I had told her—seven years ago—about our rustic life, and her first question was, "Are your children well, and do you still drive them to college in a donkey-chaise?" She was gravely sympathetic in alluding to the cause of our long absence from London, and when I said how great was my husband's satisfaction in being there again, she seized both of my hands softly in hers, and asked in the low modulations of her rich voice, "Is there no gap?" ... "Thank God!" I answered, "there is none." Then she let go my hands, and smiling as if relieved she said, "Let us talk over the past years since you came;" and then she told me of the growing interest manifested by the "thinking world" in the works of my husband. "We are all marvelling at the maturity of talent in one so young still, and look forward hopefully for what he may achieve."
The day after we saw Mr. Calderon in his studio, painting two beautiful decorative pictures; there was a garland of flowers in one of them—the freshness of their coloring was admirable. We missed Mr. Woolner, who was out, and thence went to Mr. Macmillan's place of business, and with him to Knapdale, where we dined and stayed all night.
As soon as dessert had been put on the table, Mrs. Macmillan begged to be excused for a short time, as she wished to see that Mr. Freeman (who was on a visit, but not well enough to come down) had been made comfortable. On hearing of Mr. Freeman's presence at Knapdale, my husband expressed his regrets at not being able to see him, and these regrets were kindly conveyed to the invalid by Mrs. Macmillan, who brought back his request to Mr. Hamerton for a visit in his bedroom.
I heard with satisfaction that Mr. Freeman had been very cordial, and had shown no trace of resentment at what had passed at a former meeting at Mr. Macmillan's house. The conversation had then turned on Ireland, and Mr. Macmillan was, like my husband, for granting autonomy. This set Mr. Freeman growling at the use of a Greek word, and he exclaimed, "Why can't you speak English and say Home Rule, instead of using Greek, which you don't know!" My husband flushed with anger, and recalled the irritable historian—not without severity—to a proper sense of the respect due to their host, at the same time paying a tribute to Mr. Macmillan's remarkable abilities. Later in the evening the word "gout" was mentioned. "There again," Mr. Freeman exclaimed, "why can't we call it toe-woe!" But this was said in a joke, and accompanied with a laugh.
Wherever we went, we heard praises of the "Portfolio." Throughout his life Mr. Hamerton remained, not only on good terms, but on friendly terms with every one of his publishers; and whenever he went to London he looked forward with great pleasure to meeting them in succession. There were, of course, different degrees of intimacy, but the intercourse was never other than agreeable.
For many years he had wished to know Mr. Samuel Palmer personally, and the wish was reciprocated. Now an opportunity presented itself, and one afternoon saw us climbing Redhill in pleasant anticipation; but when after admiring the view we rang the bell of the artist's secluded abode, we were told that Mr. Palmer had been very ill lately, was still keeping his bed, and could see no one. It was a great disappointment, and some words to this effect were written on a card and sent up to the invalid. Soon after Mrs. Palmer came down and feelingly expressed her husband's sincere regrets; she told us of his illness, which had left him very weak and liable to relapses, and of the pleasure he would have derived from a long talk with Mr. Hamerton on artistic topics. We had been shown into the dining-room, which evidently, for the present, was not used, though it was warmed by a good fire, but darkened by the blinds being down and the curtains drawn. The rays of a golden sunset diffused through the apertures a strange and mysterious glow, which suddenly seemed to surround and envelope an apparition, standing half visible on the threshold of the noiselessly opened door. A remarkably expressive head emerged from a bundle of shawls, which moved forward with feeble and tottering steps—it was Mr. Palmer. His wife could not trust her eyes, but as soon as she became convinced of the reality of his presence, she hastened to make him comfortable in an arm-chair by the fire, and to arrange the shawls over his head and knees with the most touching solicitude. "I could not resist it," he pleaded; "I have looked forward to this meeting with so much longing." His eyes sparkled, his countenance became animated, and regardless of his wraps, he accompanied his fluent talk with eloquent gestures—to the despair of his wife, who had enough to do in replacing cap and rugs. He put all his soul and energy (and now there was no lack of it) into his speech. The art-talk kindled all the fire of enthusiasm within him, and he told us anecdotes of Turner and Blake, and held us for a long time fascinated with the charm of his conversation. He could listen too, and with so vivid an interest and sympathy that his mere looks were an encouragement. My husband was afraid of detaining him, but he declared he felt quite well and strong—"the visiting angels had put to flight the lurking enemy;" he had even an appetite, which he would satisfy in our company. Nothing loath, we sat down to an excellent tea with delicious butter and new-laid eggs, with the impression of sharing the life of elves, and of being entertained by a genie at the head of the table and served by a kind fairy. This feeling originated no doubt in the small stature of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer; in the strange effect of light under which our host first appeared to us, and lastly in the noiseless promptitude with which the repast was spread on the table, whilst the darkness of the room gave way to brightness, just as happens in fairytales.
It is curious that my husband and myself should have received exactly the same impression, and a lasting one.
The journey to Paris was resumed by slow night-trains without disturbance to his health, and the day after his arrival he had a long talk about etching with M. Leopold Flameng, who encouraged my husband's attempts, and even offered to correct his defective plates rather than see them destroyed; but this was declined, though the valuable advice was gratefully accepted. M. Flameng looked very happy; he was in full success, very industrious, and fond of his art; married to a devoted wife of simple tastes, and already able to discern and foster in his son the artistic tendencies which have made him celebrated since. They were a very cheerful and united family. Two days after we had dejeuner with M. Rajon. Of all the French etchers who, from time to time, went to London for the "Portfolio," I believe M. Rajon was the one best known in English society, where his liveliness and amiability, as well as his great talent, found appreciators.
Like almost every other artist, he did not attach so much importance to what he could do well, as to what he could never master. His ambition was to become a celebrated painter, but his pictures gave little hope of it; they were heavy and dull in color, and entirely devoid of the charm he lent to his etchings. He showed himself very grateful for what Mr. Hamerton had done for his reputation. Accidentally, as he was admiring the design of some very simple earrings I wore, I said that I did not care so much for jewels as for lace, on which he answered he was extremely fond of both—on women—and invited me to go and see a collection of old laces he was forming. I was obliged to decline, for our time was running short; but he made us promise to pay a long visit to his studio during our next sojourn in Paris.
We reached home safely, and found my mother and the children all well.
There had been a great step made in the possibility of travelling this year, though it had been attended by many returns of anxiety and nervousness; still, it was a not inconsiderable gain to know that in case a journey became absolutely necessary it might be achieved, and our stay in London and Paris had been of importance in allowing my husband to study seriously in the public galleries.
Mr. Powers had been delighted to receive his long-delayed pictures, and wrote his thanks in terms of enthusiasm; he said that many people had been admiring them, and that a well-known painter had exclaimed, "Now I swear by Hamerton." About the growing popularity he wrote: "As I said before, you win the hearts of men, and your name is now a household word in many quarters of this country." It was exactly, in almost identical words, what Roberts Brothers had already written. And this was true not only in America, for many English letters echoed it.
"Round my House" was very well received. There was an important and favorable review in the "Times," and one in the "Debats" by Taine.
In the beginning of the year Gilbert had undertaken the painting and decoration of the staircase and lobby, which occasioned a great amount of labor and fatigue, and interfered with his other work. He gave it up at my entreaty, and only directed the painter, being thus enabled to devote more time to the articles on "Drawing" in preparation for Messrs. Black's new edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," which were finished in February.
Soon after he told me of a plan for a new book, the title of which he meant to be "Human Intercourse," and which would require a large number of memoranda. We all liked the idea in the family circle when it was explained, and he began immediately to gather materials. At the same time he continued his readings for the biographies of remarkable Frenchmen, and he contemplated the task with deep interest and earnestness. The year 1877, which had begun so auspiciously, had in store for my husband one of the lasting sorrows of his life. On the morning of March 11 he received a telegram announcing the death of his beloved sister-in-law, Caroline Pelletier, who had died at Algiers of meningitis, leaving three young children to the care of their desolate. father. It was a heavy blow, an irreparable loss. She had been like both a daughter and sister, and her affection had always been very sweet to him. The shock was so great that his health suffered in consequence, and the nervousness reappeared. It was of Caroline he was thinking when he wrote in "Human Intercourse" this passage about a wife's relatives: "They may even in course of time win such a place in one's affection that if they are taken away by Death they will leave a great void and an enduring sorrow. I write these lines from a sweet and sad experience. Only a poet can write of these sorrows. In prose one cannot sing,—
"'A dirge for her the doubly dead, in that she died so young.'"
M. Pelletier still continued with his children to spend the vacations at La Tuilerie, but the joy fulness of these holidays was now replaced by sorrow and regrets; the evenings were particularly trying, for of late years they had been very merry. Our children having taken a great fancy to acting charades, we all took part in them by turns. Their Aunt Caroline and their father were the stars of the company, and to this day they recollect her irresistible sprightliness as a coquettish French kitchen-maid attempting the conquest of their father, in the character of the typical Englishman of French caricatures. She smiled, curtsied, and whirled about him, handling her brass pans so daintily, tossing them so dexterously, that the bewildered and dazzled islander could not resist the enchantress, and joined enthusiastically in the chorus of the song she had improvised,—
"La femme que l'on prefere C'est toujours la cuisiniere,"
while she played the accompaniment with a wooden spoon upon the lids of the pans.
Her brother-in-law achieved unqualified success in the part of the Englishman. He had kept on purpose an immense chimney-pot hat and a tartan plaid which he used to perfection, and his "Oh's!" and "Ah's!" were of such ludicrous prolongation, and his gait so stiff, and his comical blunders delivered with so much of haughty assurance, that he "brought down the house."
It was seldom that my husband consented to take an active part in games: he generally preferred being a spectator; but whether acting or listening, charades were one of the few pastimes for which he had a taste,—it seems the more strange since he did not care for the theatre, though he liked plays to be read to him. I suppose that the feeling of being penned in a crowded place was insupportable to him.
After the death of my sister, some years had to elapse before we could bear to see charades again.
On May 25 my husband had the pleasure of bringing home from the railway station Mr. Appleton, editor of the "Academy," for whom he had a great regard. His notes say:—
"We passed a very pleasant evening, and did not go to bed till after twelve.
"26th. Walked with Mr. Appleton to Pre-Charmoy in the morning. In the afternoon took him to Autun and showed him the Roman arches, the Gothic walls, the cathedral, the Chemin des Tours, etc., etc. A very pleasant day. We got home in time for dinner, found the boys at home, and talked till one in the morning.
"27th. Took Mr. Appleton to the railway in the morning, with regrets, and a certain sadness on account of his health."
Mr. Appleton was on his way to Egypt by his doctor's advice. He was singularly amiable and sympathetic. He thought, and said simply, that very likely he had not long to live, and dared not marry on that account, though he often felt solitary. He suffered from asthma, and could only sleep with the windows of his bedroom wide open, and a bright wood fire burning in the chimney.
He had promised to pay us another visit if he were spared, but alas! we never saw him again.
As the biographies advanced, the author grew uncertain about the title he would give them. It could not be "Celebrated Frenchmen," because some of them would not exactly answer to the qualification. He had thought of "Earnest Frenchmen," but Mr. Seeley objected, and said, "The word 'earnest' has got spoilt. It was used over and over again till it got to sound like cant, and then people began to laugh at it. How would 'Modern Frenchmen' do?" It was deemed a perfectly suitable title, and given to the book.
At the end of the summer Mr. Seeley and his wife paid us a flying visit on their way back from Switzerland. It was a great pleasure to see them again.
Shortly after them M. Brunet-Debaines came, and I could not help directing my husband's attention to the simplicity of his arrangements for working from nature; a small stool, upon which was fixed a canvas or a drawing-board, and a color-box, were all he required; however, I was told that "wants varied with individuals."
Hitherto Mr. Hamerton's plan about painting had been to begin several pictures at once, to allow them to dry; but now he was sick of remaining so long over the same pieces of work, and he decided to paint only two pictures at a time, and to use drying materials.
He had succeeded in mastering the technicality of charcoal drawing, and had made an arrangement with the Autotype Company for the reproduction of some drawings in this medium.
"Marmorne."—Paris International Exhibition.—"Modern Frenchmen." —Candidature to the Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Arts.—The Bishop of Antun.—The "Life of Turner."
The important literary works undertaken by Mr. Hamerton in the year 1878 were "Modern Frenchmen" and a "Life of Turner."
The artistic work remained unsatisfactory to the severe self-criticism of the artist, who kept destroying picture after picture, notwithstanding his serious studies and experiments in various modes and methods of painting. He succeeded better with charcoals and monochromes, and sent several finished subjects to be reproduced by the Autotype Company. Mr. S. Palmer wrote about it: "If I had twenty years before me, I should like to spend them on monochromes and etching."
In the same letter he went on:—
"Life being spared, your 'Marmorne,' the fame of which had already arrived, is the next reading treat on my list. You call it your 'little book,' a recommendation to me, for, with few exceptions, I have found small books and small pictures the most beautiful, and I doubt not that you know better than myself how much almost all three-volume novels (including Scott's) would be improved, as works of art, by condensation into one.
"Both yourself and Mrs. Hamerton are often mentally present with us here: the evening of our first, and, alas! only meeting is among the vivid pleasures of memory, and a repetition is a cherished pleasure of hope. I will only add that I fear you are killing yourself with overwork, and that you should put yourself under a repressive domestic police."
Some time before, my husband had received from G. H. Lewes a letter with this address: "Mr. Adolphus Segrave, care of P. G. Hamerton, Esq., Pre-Charmoy, Autun." George Eliot and Mr. Lewes had been reading "Marmorne," and had never entertained the slightest doubt about the authorship, though the book was published under the assumed name of Adolphus Segrave. The story had been greatly appreciated by both of them, and especially the style in which it was told. Such high praise was in accordance with what Mr. Palmer had previously said to Mr. Seeley; namely, that "he considered Mr. Hamerton as the first prose-writer of his time."
It may be remembered that a cousin of my husband's, Mr. H. Milne, had called upon us at Innistrynich, and had since bought his little property. He heard of our last visit to Yorkshire, and, not aware of his relative's trouble in regard to railway travelling, had felt hurt at his apparent neglect. Luckily my husband heard of it through his Aunt Susan, and immediately wrote to explain matters. Mr. H. Milne, who had known all about the pecuniary situation, now answered:—
"I can assure you that it is very pleasing to me to know that your career has been so successful as to enable you to give your sons an education to fit them to grapple with the difficulties people have to meet with nowadays to make them comfortable, and to do so is all the more satisfactory when accomplished by their own exertions. My mother [the lady who served as model and suggestion for Mrs. Ogden in 'Marmorne'] still retains unimpaired all her faculties, and looks much the same as when you were here. We shall celebrate her eighty-sixth birthday on March 15. She really is wonderful, and a marvel to every one, and particularly so to her doctor, who on no occasion has ever prevailed on her to take one drop of medicine, notwithstanding he persists in coming to see her twice a week—for what reasons seems quite past my mother's comprehension."
The pecuniary situation had certainly improved, which was a relief to my husband, for his children were growing up, and losses due to non- remunerative work and ill-health had to be gradually made good. There seemed to be a fate adverse to his making money, even by his most successful works. Here is "Marmorne" as an example, published in America, in England, in France, both in Hachette's "Bibliotheque des meilleurs Romans Etrangers," and as a feuilleton in the "Temps," also in the Tauchnitz collection, unanimously well received by the press; said to be "le roman de l'annee" by the "Revue des Deux Mondes," and still bringing considerably less than L200 to the author's purse. It was a great disappointment to the publishers also. Roberts Brothers wrote: "Of 'Marmorne' we have only sold 2,000 copies; there ought to have been 10,000 sold;" and Mr. Blackwood said: "The sales have been rather disappointing to us after the attention and favorable impression the work attracted; we had looked for a larger and more remunerative demand."
The character of the scenery in the Autunois pleased Mr. Hamerton more and more, though it lacked the grandeur of real mountains. He was particularly sensitive to the beauty of its color, which reminded him sometimes of the Scotch Highlands, and was said to be very like that of the Roman Campagna in summer-time. Such notes as the following are frequent in his diary:—
"January 11, 1878. Went to Fontaine la Mere; beautiful drive the whole way. Was delighted with the Titian-like quality of the landscape. Much of the sylvan scenery reminded me of Ruysdael. Took five sketches."
Throughout this year my husband gave a great deal of his time to his aunt's affairs, which were in a deplorable state, owing to the dishonesty of her lawyers; accounts for several years past had to be gone over, cleared up, and settled, and at so great a distance the proceedings involved a heavy correspondence. However, the help given was efficacious, and Miss Hamerton's independence was secured in the end. In the summer Gilbert had to relinquish the river-baths that he enjoyed so much. In the two preceding years he had remarked that he was often unwell and agitated after a swim, but had kept hoping that the effect might be transitory; it was, however, now renewed with growing intensity every time he took a cold bath, so that, with much regret, he had to give them up. He used to say with a shade of melancholy, that we must resign ourselves to the gradual deprivation of all the little pleasures of existence,—even of the most innocent ones,—but that the hardest for him to renounce would be work.
Having borne the journey to England in 1877 without bad results to his health, he now decided to attempt a visit to the Paris International Exhibition. He was very anxious to ascertain the present state of the fine arts all over the globe, and if possible to make the best of this opportunity. On the day appointed for starting, and whilst he was packing up, Mr. R. L. Stevenson just happened to call without previous notice. What a bright, winning youth he was! what a delightful talker! there was positively a sort of radiance about him, as if emanating from his genius. We had never seen him before; we only knew his works, but he seemed like a friend immediately. Listening to his fluent, felicitous talk, his clear and energetic elocution, his original ideas and veins of thought, was a rare treat, and his keen enjoyment of recovered health and active life was really infectious. He could not remain seated, but walked and smoked the whole of the afternoon he remained with us. Knowing that he had lately been dangerously ill, I ventured to express my fear that the smoking of endless cigarettes might prove injurious. "Oh, I don't know," he said; "and yet I dare say it is; but you see, Mrs. Hamerton, as there are only a very limited number of things enjoyable to an individual in this world, these must be enjoyed to the utmost; and if I knew that smoking would kill me, still I would not give it up, for I shall surely die of something, very likely not so pleasant." Although the shutters were closed in all the rooms that were not to be used in our absence, they were opened again to let him see the etchings on the walls; for he had a fine taste, not only for the beauties of nature, but also for artistic achievements. We felt it most vexatious to be obliged to leave that very evening, but my husband managed to remain with Mr. Stevenson till the last available minute, by asking me to pack up his things for him. I remember that after reading the "Inland Voyage" I had told my husband how I had been charmed by it, and had begged to be given everything which came from the same pen; but at that time we were afraid that such a delicate and refined talent would not bring popularity to the author; happily we were mistaken,—perhaps only to a certain extent, however,—as his most successful works belong to a later and quite different genre.
At the recommendation of M. Rajon, we went to a quaint little hotel in Paris, near La Muette, well known to artists and men of letters, and patronized, for its quietness, by some of the most famous, being usually let in apartments to persons who brought their own servants with them. Its situation, close to the Bois de Boulogne, made our returns from the exhibition easy and pleasant—so easy, indeed, that when we had to spend the evening in Paris, and could find no carriage to take us there, we merely went back to our headquarters, where we had the choice of railway, tramways, and omnibuses for every part of Paris.
According to our promise we went to meet M. Rajon at his studio, and amongst other things saw a beautiful portrait of him, which, however, was so much flattered that for some time I hesitated about the likeness. He was represented on horseback, with a long flowing cloak, and a sombrero casting a strong shadow over one of his eyes, which was afflicted with a weakness of the eyelid, which kept dropping down so frequently that the pupil was seldom seen for any time; the horse was a thoroughbred; two magnificent greyhounds (the originals we could admire, at rest upon a raised platform of carved oak and red cushions) ran alongside of him, and this tall-looking, dignified, romantic rider was—little, spare, merry M. Rajon. Gossip whispered that he had been somewhat intoxicated by his sudden fame, and had been, for a while, desirous of showing off, so that he had brought back from England the thoroughbred and the greyhounds to be noticed in the "Allee des Cavaliers," but that not having been accustomed to sit a horse before, his thoroughbred had flung him against a tree so severely that the taste for equitation had gone out of him for ever. Be this as it may, M. Rajon was far from being vainglorious; he knew his value as an artist, frankly and openly enjoyed his success, but remained simple, urbane, and courteous. He told us that he could only give two hours a day to original work, and that his mother (a simple woman for whom art remained an incomprehensible mystery) could not admit this limitation. At that time he was spending money rather lavishly—giving fetes in his studio to celebrated actors and actresses, musicians, singers, poets, and artists, and the expenses were sometimes a cause of momentary embarrassment; then his simple mother would say: "Why need you trouble yourself about it? You work very little—then work twice as much, which won't tire you, and you'll have twice as much money." She could not, he said, be made to understand that this prolonged labor would be worthless, because the inspiring flame would be burned out.
Mr. Woolner arrived in Paris a few days after Mr. Hamerton, and they spent a whole day together in the sculpture galleries of the Louvre. Mr. Woolner remembered that old Madame Mohl, having read my husband's works, had expressed a wish to renew the acquaintance of former days, and would be glad to see us both at tea-time—any day that might suit us.
A week later we called upon the wonderfully preserved old lady, who was delighted to receive a visit from a rising celebrity—though a host of celebrities had passed through her drawing-room. She complained of being delaisee by the young generation. Still, she remained lively and gracious; her quick intelligence and ready memory were unimpaired by her great age, and it was with eagerness that she seized upon another opportunity for narrating her treasured-up stories of renowned people, particularly of the two Amperes, whom she had known intimately. She was still living in the same house that they had inhabited together, when Mr. Mohl kindly gave them the benefit of his more practical sense in household management. Madame Mohl was rather severe about Jean Jacques Ampere, whom she called a "young coxcomb," and "an egotist." She was not sentimental, and had no sympathy with or pity for the love so long faithful to Madame Recamier; nay, I thought I could detect in her strictures the unconscious feminine jealousy of a lady whose salon had been forsaken by one of its "lions" for a more attractive one, and who had resented it bitterly. But Andre Marie Ampere she praised unreservedly, with the warmth of most exalted admiration.
It was very funny to see the little lady curled up on a couch, propped by cushions, running over her strings of memories with pleased alacrity, then jumping down in her stockings to pour out tea for her guests in utter disregard of her shoes, which lay idly by the sofa, even when we took leave of her; and as she accompanied us to the door, the white stockings conspicuously displayed themselves at every step, without the slightest attempt at concealment. (At that time black stockings would have been thought an abomination.)
Almost every morning saw Mr. Hamerton in the exhibition before the crowd of visitors arrived, so that he was able to study in peace and profitably. He had had a card-case, and cards of a convenient size and thickness, made especially to take notes upon, and he devoted a separate card to every picture worth studying. It was a very convenient plan, with alphabetical classification for references; every time he went he took with him a fresh supply, and was not encumbered with those he had already filled up.
Generally some etcher met him by appointment, and together they selected pictures to be reproduced for the "Portfolio." His evenings were mostly taken up by invitations; and it was well for his wife that she had been mercifully exempted by nature from jealous tendencies, for the ladies paid the author of "Marmorne" such a tribute of admiration that he was sometimes abashed by their fervor, yet never intoxicated. Friends had repeatedly told him that he could win the hearts of men, and if women dared not say as much of themselves, they let him see that he exercised a great and healthy influence over them too; he also enjoyed their society, and though he did not mean it to be a flattery, they accepted it as such.
Amongst artists and men of letters he was acknowledged as a writer of genuine worth and extensive acquirements. There is a proof of it in a letter addressed to him by M. Veron, editor of "L'Art," on merely guessing that Mr. Hamerton must be the writer of a criticism of his "Esthetique" in the "Saturday Review."
"PARIS, 11 9bre, 1878.
"CHER MONSIEUR,—On me communique une revue tres remarquable de la 'Saturday Review' sur mon 'Esthetique.' Ce qui distingue cet article c'est une serieuse connaissance du sujet et une puissance d'analyse des plus rares. Cela ne ressemble en rien a ces generalites vagues et flottantes dont se contentent la plupart des ecrivains qui font de la critique dans la revue des journaux. Aussi ai-je eprouve a etre loue par un pareil homme une jouissance infiniment plus vive que celle qu'auraient pu me procurer des eloges beaucoup plus hyperboliques, mais moins competents.
"Cet homme, je suppose que c'est vous. Si je ne me trompe pas, permettez-moi de vous dire que je me sens singulierement heureux de me rencontrer en fait d'esthetique avec un ecrivain capable de raisonner sur ces questions comme l'a fait l'auteur de l'article de la 'Saturday Review.'"
More acquaintances amongst artists were made during his stay in Paris, including Bracquemond, Protais, Feyen-Perrin, Waltner, Lhermitte, and Munkacsy.
Having finished his work in the exhibition, my husband went home to write a notice of it for the "International Review." In the course of November his eldest son Stephen passed a successful examination for the second part of the Baccalaureat-es-Lettres, and as the boy was now to study at home, his father frequently employed him to write letters under his dictation. It was very good practice for Stephen, and spared his father's time for painting and drawing.
At the beginning of 1879, Mr. R. L. Stevenson had sent a manuscript to Mr. Hamerton, with a request that he would read it, and recommend it to a publisher if it were thought worth the trouble. It was appreciated, and a successful sale expected. In the interest of Mr. Stevenson, my husband advised him to sacrifice the idea of immediate payment, and to retain the copyright, hoping that it would prove more advantageous. However, the young author preferred the ready cash, which he may have been in need of; nevertheless acknowledging afterwards that it would have been preferable to have acted according to the sound advice given at the time.
As our daughter was fast developing a talent for music, her father felt tempted to resume the practice of the violin regularly, and they often played duets and sonatas together; but the difficulty—nay, the impossibility—of finding time for the prosecution of all the studies he had undertaken was a source of oft-recurring discouragement, because unavoidably he had to replace one by another now and then, it being impracticable to carry them on de front. Sometimes he complained, good-humoredly, that I rather discouraged than encouraged him about music—which was certainly true, for well knowing that to become a violinist of any skill involves years and years of regular and steady practice, I was adverse to this additional strain, leading to no adequate reward. I well knew it could not be sustained, and would have to give way to pressure from other quarters—writing, painting, etching, or reading. The study of Italian had also been vigorously resumed, so that in the diary I see this note regularly: "Practised Spohr and Kreutzer, or Beethoven. Read Dante." I also find the following in April: "Spent the greater part of the day in planning my new novel with Charles (his brother-in-law). Worked on plan of my novel, and modified it by talking it over with my wife," I did not like the plan, which, in my opinion, went too much into the technicalities and details of a young nobleman's education; I feared they might prove tedious to the reader; in consequence there is a new entry a week later: "Improved plan of novel with wife. Now reserve mornings exclusively for it, or it will never be finished at all. Make this a fixed rule."
At the end of April some monochromes had been sent for reproduction, but he was greatly disappointed with them, as may be seen by the diary:—
"May 31. Had a great deal of trouble this month about reproductions of drawings in autotype. Dissatisfied with the reproductions of the oil monochromes, which came coarse, with thousands of false specks of light. The surface of a drawing should be mate for autotype reproduction. This led me to make various experiments of various kinds, and the latest conclusion I have arrived at is something like drawing on wood; that is, pencil or chalk, going into detail, and sustained by washes of Indian ink, and relieved by touches of Chinese white. The whole business hitherto has been, full of difficulties of various kinds."
"June 11. The proofs of the autotypes on white paper with brown pigment arrived to-day. Determined to have second negatives taken of all of them, and to repaint them on the positives."
To turn his thoughts away from his repeated disappointments in artistic attempts, and to a greater disappointment in his novel—which he had entirely destroyed after bestowing upon it two months of labor—Gilbert began to scheme a boat, a river yacht. It was the best of diversions for him, as he took as much pleasure in the planning of a boat as in the use of it. This new one was to be a marvel of safety and speed, but especially of convenience, for it would be made to carry several passengers for a month's cruise, with means of taking meals on board, and of sleeping under a tent. Of course Mr. Seeley had been informed of the scheme, and wrote in answer: "Don't fail to send me notice when your boat may be expected on the Thames, that I may rouse the population of Kingston to give you an appropriate reception."
Another novel was begun, but it was still to be the story of a young French nobleman's life, spent alternately in France and in England, and in the manner of "Tom Jones." Meanwhile "Modern Frenchmen" was selling pretty steadily, but slowly, the public being mostly unacquainted with the names, though Mr. G. H. Lewes, Professor Seeley, Mr. Lockhart, and many others, had a very high opinion of the work. Mr. Lockhart wrote about the biography of Regnault:—
"I have by me at this moment your life of Henri Regnault. I trust you will not consider it an impertinence if I tell you how it has delighted me, both as a man and a painter. I have the most intense admiration for Regnault, and in reading his biography it has rejoiced me to find the author in such thorough sympathy with his subject. Biographies of artists, as a rule, are the most disappointing of books to artists. This is indeed an exception, and I most heartily congratulate you on your very subtle and delicate picture of a noble life.
"I was in Granada with Fortuny when the news of Regnault's death came. I shall never forget the impression it made on us all. The fall of Paris, the surrender of Napoleon, all the misfortunes of France were as nothing compared to this.
"When I first had the book I thought you a little unjust to Fortuny, and was prepared to indorse Regnault's estimate of him. Since then I have seen the thirty Fortunys at the International Exhibition, and they have moderated my enthusiasm, and brought me back to sober orthodoxy, to Velasquez and Rembrandt."
Mr. G. H. Lewes also wrote:—
"We left London before your book arrived, but I sent for it, and Mrs. Lewes has been reading it aloud to me the last few evenings. It has charmed us both, and we regret that so good a scheme, so well carried out, should in the nature of the case be one doomed to meet with small public response. No reader worth having can read it without interest and profit, but il s'agit de trouver des lecteurs.
"My son writes in great delight with it, and I have recommended it to the one person we have seen in our solitude; but I fear you will find the deaf adder of a public deafer than usual to your charming. A volume of biographies of well-known Frenchmen would have but a slender chance of success—and a volume on the unknown would need to be spiced with religion or politics—et fortement epice—to attract more than a reader here and there.
"We are here for five weeks in our Paradise without the serpent (symbol of visitors!); but alas! without the health which would make the long peace one filled with work. As for me, I vegetate mostly. I get up at six to stroll out for an hour before breakfast, leaving Madonna in bed with Dante or Homer, and quite insensible to the attractions of before-breakfast walks. With my cigar I get a little reading done, and sometimes write a little; but the forenoon is usually sauntered and pottered away. When Madonna has satisfied her inexhaustible craving for knowledge till nearly lunch-time, we play lawn-tennis. Then drive out for two or three hours. Music and books till dinner. After cigar and nap she reads to me till ten, and I finish by some light work till eleven. But I hope in a week or two to get stronger and able to work again, the more so as 'the night in which no man can work' is fast approaching."
Mr. R. Seeley agreed with Mr. Hamerton's opinion that "Modern Frenchmen" was one of his best works, "admirably written, full of information and interest."
Professor Seeley had also said: "I wish English people would take an interest in such books, but I fear they won't. There ought to be many such books written."
Mr. G. H. Lewes suggested that the other biographies in preparation should be published separately in some popular magazine; but the author, having been discouraged by the coolness of the reception, gave up the idea of a sequel to what had already appeared, and the material he had been gathering on Augustin Thierry, General Castellane, and Arago remained useless.
The boat in progress had been devised in view of a voyage on the Rhone, for Mr. Hamerton, who greatly admired the noble character of the scenery in the Rhone Valley, had longed for the opportunity of making it known by an important illustrated work. He submitted the plan to Mr. Seeley, who answered:—
"I like your Rhone scheme; it is a grand subject, but a book on the Rhone should begin at the Rhone glacier and end at the Mediterranean. Have your ideas enlarged to that extent. One cannot well omit the upper part, which the English who travel in Switzerland know so well. The Rhone valley is very picturesque, and the exit of the Rhone from the Lake of Geneva is a thing never to be forgotten. But don't go there to get drowned; it is horribly dangerous."
For various reasons—amongst others, the time required and the outlay—the idea of the book entertained by Mr. Hamerton differed considerably from that of Mr. Seeley; it was explained at length, and finally accepted in these words: "I think your plan of a voyage on the navigable Rhone, with prologue and epilogue, will do well."
This plan, however, was never realized, owing to insurmountable obstacles; it was taken up again and again, studied, modified, and regretfully relinquished after several years for that of the Saone, much more practicable, but still not without its difficulties.
And now what might have been a great event in the life of Mr. Hamerton—namely, the possibility of his election to the Watson-Gordon Chair of Fine Arts in Edinburgh, began to occupy his mind. He was strongly urged by his friends to come forward as a candidate, but he hesitated a good deal for several reasons, the most important being the necessity of two places of residence, for he would not have inflicted upon my mother and myself the pain of absolute separation. Still, there were, as it seemed to me, in case of success, some undeniable advantages—first of all a fixed income, and the possibility of seeing, in the course of the necessary journeys, what might be of interest in London and Paris, as well as the possibility of attending more efficaciously to the "Portfolio." Mr. Seeley, who had always endeavored to tempt his editor over to England, declared himself delighted at the prospect. He had formerly sent such hints as these: "I wish you had a neat flying machine and could pop over and do the business yourself." Or at Cowes: "I thought of you, and said to myself, how much more reasonable it would be for Hamerton to have a snug little house here, and a snug little sailing-boat, instead of living at that preposterous Autun. How he would enjoy dancing over these waves, which make me sick to look at them; and how pleasant it would be to tempt him to pay frequent visits to Kingston! There are delightful cottages and villages to sketch in the Isle of Wight, and charming woodland scenery in the New Forest." Again: "When our new house is dry enough then you will be obliged to come over. It will be better than seeing the Paris Exhibition. And when you are once in England you will take a cottage at Cowes, and buy a boat, and never go back to Autun."
The idea of becoming a candidate was first suggested by T. Woolner after a journey to Edinburgh, where he had heard some names put forward for the Watson-Gordon chair, and amongst them that of Mr. Hamerton, which had seemed to him the most popular. On his part, he had done what he could to strengthen this favorable opinion by spreading what he knew of his friend, not only as an artist and cultured man of letters, but also as a sociable conversationalist, capable of enjoying intercourse with his fellow-men in moments of leisure, and he took care to let my husband know that this point was of importance—the new professor being expected to exercise hospitality, so as to create a sort of centre for the gathering of art-lovers. He said he had heard of a good income, of light duties, and of the almost certainty of success in case Mr. Hamerton should present himself.
Professor Masson had also suggested to Mr. Macmillan that "many persons in Edinburgh would like to secure the best man in Mr. Hamerton," and Mr. Craik wrote about it: "You would be an ornament to the University, and might do useful and important work there. For many reasons the Scotch professorships are enviable, for this particularly—that the session is a short one, and would require short residence. It will be pleasant for all of us, your friends, if you go to Edinburgh, for it will compel you to come to England and be seen."
Mr. Seeley was also of opinion that "no man ought to be wholly dependent upon literary labor. It tries the head too much."
All the friends who were consulted by my husband answered that they considered him perfectly adapted for the situation—apart from friendly motives. Mr. Alfred Hunt wrote: "I would be very glad to do everything to forward your election. I am indebted to you for a large amount of gratification and profit which I have derived from your books; I am sure you will allow me to say that I am often very far from agreeing with you," etc.
R. L. Stevenson wrote:—
"Monterey, Monterey Co., California.
"My dear Mr. Hamerton,—Your letter to my father was forwarded to me by mistake, and by mistake I opened it. The letter to myself has not yet reached me. This must explain my own and my father's silence. I shall write by this or next post, to the only friends I have, who, I think, would have an influence, as they are both professors. I regret exceedingly that I am not in Edinburgh, as I could perhaps have done more, and I need not tell you that what I might do for you in the matter of the election is neither from friendship nor gratitude, but because you are the only man (I beg your pardon) worth a damn. I shall write to a third friend, now I think of it, whose father will have great influence.
"I find here (of all places in the world) your 'Essays on Art,' which I have read with signal interest. I believe I shall dig an essay of my own out of one of them, for it set me thinking; if mine could only produce yet another in reply we could have the marrow cut between us.
"I hope, my dear sir, you will not think badly of me for my long silence. My head has scarce been on my shoulders. I had scarce recovered from a prolonged fit of useless ill health than I was whirled over here double-quick time and by cheapest conveyance.
"I have been since pretty ill, but pick up, though still somewhat of a massy ruin. If you would view my countenance aright, Come—view it by the pale moonlight. But that is on the mend. I believe I have now a distant claim to tan.
"A letter will be more than welcome in this distant clime where I have a box at the post-office—generally, I regret to say, empty. Could your recommendation introduce me to an American publisher? My next book I should really try to get hold of here, as its interest is international, and the more I am in this country, the more I understand the weight of your influence. It is pleasant to be thus most at home abroad, above all when the prophet is still not without honor in his own land."
Mr. W. Wyld had also written: "I need not say I heartily wish you success—and the more so that it would have the result of my seeing you at least twice a year, a pleasure I shall anxiously look forward to; for the older I grow the more I yearn for that sort of communion of thought which is scarcely ever to be met with in the ordinary way of existence ... I have no one I can discuss art with ... and as for philosophy—"
Miss Susan Hamerton also pressed her nephew to offer himself for the chair, and indulged in bright hopes of frequent meetings.
The result was that, after a long talk with me on March 21, 1880, my husband determined to offer himself as a candidate, and although he did it without much enthusiasm, he began immediately to prepare himself for the new duties that would be involved. First of all, he told me that his knowledge of the history of art was insufficient, and would require additional researches. His plan was to go to Greece first, then to Italy; another year he would go to Holland and Belgium, then to Spain—I began to be afraid of this programme, as I reflected that the income from the professorship would hardly cover our travelling expenses, and that very little time would be left for literary work if the lectures required so much preparation; however, I only begged him to wait for the result of the election before he undertook anything in view of it. He agreed, and turned his thoughts towards the "Graphic Arts," and a new edition of "Etching and Etchers."
In the beginning of April, Mr. Hamerton attended with his family the wedding of Charles Gindriez, his brother-in-law, and was well pleased with the young lady, who thus became a new member in the gatherings at La Tuilerie.
Three days later, his elder son Stephen started for Algiers, where he had an appointment at the Lycee.
For some time past, the two great political parties at Autun had been at daggers drawn, and the proprietors of the Conservative paper, "L'Autunois," had brought from Paris a skilful and unscrupulous political writer to crush its opponents and to effect the ruin of the rival paper, "La Republique du Morvan," by fair means or foul. The first stabs dealt by the new pen were directed against notable residents, and being a good fencer and a good shot—in fact, a sort of bravo—M. Tremplier, the wielder of the pen, proclaimed loudly after every libel that he was ready to maintain what he advanced at the point of the sword, and to give a meeting to all adversaries. Unacquainted with the real social standing of Mr. Hamerton in Autun, but knowing that he was President Honoraire du Cercle National, a Liberal institution patronized by the Sous-Prefet and Republican Deputies, M. Tremplier thought it would be a master-stroke to defame his character by accusing him of being the author of some anonymous articles against the clergy which had appeared in "La Republique du Morvan." Though greatly irritated by this unfair attack, my husband contrived to keep his temper, and simply denied the accusation. This denial was indorsed by the editor of the newspaper in which the articles had been published, and the disagreeable incident was expected to end there. But this would not have satisfied the truculent M. Tremplier, and in the next number of his paper he expressed in arrogant terms an utter disbelief in Mr. Hamerton's denial, and venomously attacked him for his nationality, literary pretensions, etc., winding up his diatribe, as usual, by a challenge. This was too much, and my husband resolved to start for Autun immediately, and to horsewhip the scoundrel as he deserved. Mr. Pickering, an English artist, and friend of ours, who happened to be at La Tuilerie, offered to assist my husband by keeping the ground clear while he administered the punishment—for M. Tremplier, notwithstanding his bravado, deemed it prudent to surround himself with a bevy of officers, and was seldom to be met alone. I was strongly opposed to this course, and at last I prevailed upon my husband to abandon it by representing that he was being drawn into a snare, for no doubt M. Tremplier was only waiting for the attempt at violence he had provoked to get his victim seized and imprisoned, so as to be able ever after to stigmatize him with the terrible phrase, "C'est un homme qui a fait de la prison." This would be undeniable, and as people never inquire why "un homme a fait de la prison," it is as well to avoid it altogether. We agreed upon a different policy, and resolved to prosecute the "Autunois" for libel, and immediately set off to retain a well-known advocate, who belonged to the Conservative party, and was said to be one of the proprietors of the "Autunois." He knew my husband personally, and also knew that he was incapable of having written the anonymous articles, still less capable of telling a lie, and as we felt sure of his own honorable character, we boldly asked him to defend a political opponent. This was putting him in a very delicate situation, and he complained of it at once; but my husband insisted, and said that he could not fairly shun this duty. Vainly did this gentleman, supported by the President du Tribunal and other notabilities of the same party, try to dissuade Mr. Hamerton from seeking redress, by saying that "no one attached the slightest importance to such libels," "that he was too much above M. Tremplier to resent anything that came from his mercenary pen," "that his character was unimpeachable," etc. He was even warned that he had not the remotest chance of a verdict in his favor, because he could not prove that he was not the author of the objectionable articles. "I should have thought that M. Tremplier would be called upon to prove that I had written them," he answered. "Anyhow, if I can't count upon justice here, I will appeal to the court at Dijon." Seeing that his resolution was not to be shaken, he was asked what would satisfy him, and he answered, "An apology from M. Tremplier in the 'Autunois.'" And M. Tremplier had to submit to the orders of the all-powerful keepers of the purse-strings: he did it with a bad grace—but he had to do it.
One of the articles attributed to Mr. Hamerton had been directed against the Bishop of Autun, whom he highly esteemed, and there was much curiosity as to the opinion of the prelate himself. That opinion was soon publicly expressed by a visit from this dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestant tenant of La Tuilerie.
On receiving Monseigneur Perraud, I thanked him first for his good opinion, of which I had never doubted, knowing him to be a reader of my husband's works, and also because there was no fear that a man of his culture could believe the anonymous articles to be written by the author of the biography of l'Abbe Perreyve in "Modern Frenchmen."
Monseigneur Perraud answered that my husband's character and literary talent were so much above question that he would never have given a thought to this affair had it not been that the "Autunois" was often called "Le Journal de l'Eveche," though in fact the Bishop had no more to do with it than with its editor, M. Tremplier, whom he had never consented to receive. But unwilling to allow the possibility of any doubt to remain in other people's minds, he had taken this opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with my husband, and of giving a proof of his high regard for him.
Monseigneur Perraud had a reputation for freezing dignity which kept many people aloof; but he talked quite freely with my husband. Dignity he certainly possessed in an unusual degree, and the same might be said of Mr. Hamerton, but it was no bar to interesting intercourse nor to brotherly sympathy, as we found afterwards in sorrowful circumstances.
This first visit certainly enhanced the high opinion which each had formed of the other, and subsequent meetings confirmed the interest they found in each other's views and sentiments.
I mentioned Mr. Pickering in connection with the affair of the "Autunois," and it may now be explained that after reading "Round my House," he had fancied he should like to see the scenery described in the book, as it would probably afford him paintable subjects. Although the name of the neighboring town was not given, and though great changes had been made by the construction of a railway since the publication of the book, Mr. Pickering lighted upon Autun as the very place he was in search of. He soon made my husband's acquaintance, and a friendship between them was rapidly established.
Mr. Woolner, who had kept up for some months a brisk correspondence in behalf of Mr. Hamerton's candidature, now heard that matters were not going so smoothly as he had expected. He was told that the income would not come up to the sum stated at first; that the formation of an art museum was contemplated, in which case the duties of forming and keeping it would devolve upon the professor. There was also a desire that the students should receive technical instruction; and, lastly, it was rumored that forty lectures a year would be required. In fact, Mr. Hamerton began to regret that he had offered himself for the post without knowing exactly what he would be expected to do.
Whilst in this frame of mind he was advised to go to Edinburgh in order to call upon each of the electors. No one acquainted with his character could have imagined for an instant that he would comply. "The electors," he said to me, "must be acquainted with my works; I have sent nearly fifty testimonials given by eminent artists, men of letters, and publishers; I consider this as sufficient to enable the electors to judge of the capacities for which an art professor ought to be chosen. If these are judged insufficient, my presence could not give them more weight."
I find this simple entry in the diary: "July 20, 1880. Got news that I was not elected;" and though he may have regretted the time wasted in this fruitless attempt, I am convinced that he experienced a sensation of delightful relief when no longer dreading encroachments upon his liberty to work as he thought fit. [Footnote: It was also Mr. R. Seeley's opinion when he wrote: "You have felt so much doubt as to the effect of such a change of life upon your health that the decision may come as a relief to you."] After all, there remained to him as a lasting compensation the tokens of flattering regard for his character and of appreciation of his talents given in the numerous testimonials by such eminent persons as Mr. R. Browning, Sir F. Leighton, Sir J. E. Millais, Sir John Gilbert, Mr. T. Woolner, Mr. G. F. Watts, Professor Seeley, Professor Sidney Colvin, Professor Oliver, Mr. Mark Pattison, Mr. S. Palmer, Mr. Orchardson, Mr. Marks, Mr. A. W. Hunt, Mr. Herkomer, Mr. Vicat Cole, Mr. Alma Tadema, Sir G. Reid, Mr. W. E. Lockhart, Mr. J. MacWhirter, Professor Legros, M. Paul Rajon, M. Leopold Flameng, etc.
The testimonials are too numerous to be given here, but they all agreed in the expressed opinion that Mr. Hamerton would be "the right man in the right place," or "the very man."
Although the "Life of Turner" had first appeared in the "Portfolio," it was again well received by the public in book form, and greatly praised by the press, particularly in America. The "Boston Courier" said:—
"We have found this volume thoroughly fascinating, and think that no open-minded reader of 'Modern Painters' should neglect to read this life. In it he will find Turner dethroned from the pinnacle of a demi-god on which Ruskin had set him (greatly to the artist's disadvantage); but he will also find him placed on another reasonably high pedestal, where one may admire him intelligently and lovingly, in spite of the defects in drawing, the occasional lapses in coloring, and the other peculiarities which are made clear to his observation by Mr. Hamerton's discussion."
He had found it a difficult subject to treat because of the paucity of incidents in Turner's life; but the painter's genius had made so deep an impression upon him in his earlier years that he had eagerly studied his works and sought information about his personality from the friends who had, at some time or other, been acquainted with the marvellous artist. I believe that my husband hardly ever went to the National Gallery without visiting the Turner Room, and that is saying much, for during his sojourns in London he seldom missed going every day it was open, and sometimes he went twice,—once in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Great as was his admiration of Turner's oil pictures, I believe it was equalled by his delight in the same master's water-colors and drawings. When in the lower rooms, where they are exhibited, he could hardly be prevailed upon to go upstairs again, and I had to plead fatigue and hunger to recall him to the realities of life. Although his appreciation of Constable was high, it could not be compared to what he felt for Turner, because "Turner was so wide in range that he was the opposite of Constable, whose art was the expression of intense affection for one locality."
Third edition of "Etching and Etchers."—Kew.—"The Graphic Arts."—"Human Intercourse."
Once rid of the perturbation occasioned by the affair of the election, Mr. Hamerton was free to devote himself energetically to the preparation of a new and splendid edition of "Etching and Etchers," for which he spared neither thought nor pains,—being generously entrusted by Messrs. Macmillan with the necessary funds, and given carte blanche for the arrangement. Mr. Craik had said, in a letter dated Jan. 10, 1880: "We are disposed to make it a very fine book, and not to grudge the outlay. We must leave all the details for you to arrange." In another, of May 29, he said again: "We are particularly anxious to make it a beautiful book; and I think the plan of making each edition completely different from the preceding, gives it an interest and value that will make the book always sought after. The first edition is a scarce and valuable book. The second will rise in value."
Being allowed to do exactly as he liked, the author of "Etching and Etchers" set to his task with delightful anticipation of the result.
At the same time he was also giving a good deal of time to the annotation of certain engravings and etchings presented by himself and some friends to the Manchester Museum, in which he took great interest.
When the vacation brought the boys home in August, it was decided to have a trial trip on the Saone in the "Morvandelle;" but after behaving well enough on the water, she filled and sank at anchor whilst her captain was quietly enjoying dinner with his sons at the nearest inn. The boat being made of wood, and divided into a great many compartments to hold stores and luggage, let the water into those compartments as the wood dried and shrank. It became, therefore, necessary to exchange the wooden tubes for iron ones, for it was a double boat. So the crew had to come back home, and Mr. Hamerton sent to a periodical a relation of his impressions and adventures in this brief voyage and shipwreck.
In the summer there was an exhibition at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and my husband was asked to send something if possible; but being almost overwhelmed with work, he was obliged to decline the invitation. Mr. R. Walker, the secretary of the Institute, wrote to say how sorry he was not to have his name in the catalogue, and added:—
"Our collection of etchings is very good, and during the short time we have been open the people of Glasgow have learned more about etching than ever they knew before. Your book has been a source of infinite delight to many here. A short time ago we all hoped to have you among us. The loss is ours. Sometimes I trust we may have the pleasure of seeing you in Glasgow. You would find us not altogether wanting in appreciation of what is right in art, and there is an increasing number of people here who believe that ledgers are not the only books worth studying."
Although the "Portfolio" was now generally acknowledged to be at the head of artistic periodicals in England, it was the desire of both its editor and publisher to improve it still further. In one of his letters Mr. Craik had said: "What an important part the 'Portfolio' is playing! I believe you are affecting the public, and compelling them to recognize the best things in a way they never did before. I think your conduct of the monthly admirable."
It was now proposed to add to its artistic value by giving more original etchings. Hitherto the peculiar uncertainty of the art of etching had hindered the realization of this desire, for there being no certainty about the quality of an etching from a picture, the risk is immensely increased when a commission is given for an original etching. The celebrity of an etcher and his previous achievements can only give hopes that he may be successful once more, but these hopes are far from a certainty. Even such artists as Rajon and Jacquemart,—to mention only two of the most eminent,—who constantly delighted the lovers of art by masterpieces of skill and artistic feeling,—and were, moreover, painters themselves,—were not safe against failure, and repeated failure, even in copying.
When a commission has been given to an artist, the stipulated price has to be paid whether the result is a success or a failure, unless the artist himself acknowledges the failure—a very rare occurrence; at best he admits that some retouching is desirable, and consents to undertake it; but too often with the result that the plate loses all freshness.
Such considerations, and many more, made it necessary for the publisher and editor of the "Portfolio" to discuss the subject at length and without hurry. In addition to the affairs of the "Portfolio," there was the choice of illustrations for the book on the Graphic Arts, which was to be published by Mr. Seeley, and for which the presence of the author in London was almost a necessity.
It was then decided that, both our boys having situations, we would take our daughter with us and seek for lodgings somewhere on the banks of the Thames, probably at Kew. Mr. and Mrs. Seeley, with their usual kindness, invited us to stay with them until we had found convenient accommodation.
We started in October, and as soon as we reached Paris we heard from our younger son Richard that he was far from pleased with his present situation. Instead of having to devote only a few hours a day to teaching English, as he had been promised, the whole of his time was taken up by the usual drudgery which is the lot of an under-master, so that he could not study for himself. The first thing his father did was to set him free from that bondage, and to devise the best means to enable him to pursue the study of painting which the boy wished to follow as a profession. They went together to consult Jean Paul Laurens, who said that the most efficacious way would be—not to study under one master, but to go to one of Juan's ateliers, where students get the benefit of sound advice from several leading artists. In conformity with this counsel my husband saw M. Juan, and after learning from him the names of the artists visiting the particular atelier where Richard was to study, he got him recommended to Jules Lefebvre and to Gerome by an intimate friend.
Paul Rajon, as usual, did not fail to call upon us, and we were very sorry to notice a great change for the worse in his appearance. He said he had been very ill lately, and was still far from well; he seemed to have lost all his buoyancy of spirits, and to look careworn. He alluded to pecuniary difficulties resulting from the early death of his brother-in-law, which left his sister, and a child I believe, entirely dependent upon him. Without reckoning on adverse fortune or ill-health, he had built himself a house with a fine studio at Auvers-sur-Oise, to escape from the incessant interruptions to his work when in Paris. But of course the outlay had been heavier than he had intended it to be, and these cares made him rather anxious. Being very good friends, we had formerly received confidences from him about the dissatisfaction created by the loneliness of his home and the want of a strong affection—in spite of his success in society and the flattering smiles and speeches of renowned beauties. In answer to my suggestion that marriage would perhaps give him what he wanted, he had answered: "No doubt; but where shall I find the wife? The girl I introduce into society as my wife must be very beautiful, else what would society think of my taste as an artist?... She must also be above the average in intelligence, to meet with the elite and keep her proper place; and lastly, she must also be wealthy, for my earnings are not sufficient for the frame I desire to show her in." He was quite serious, but I laughed and said: "I beg to alter my opinion of your wants. The wife you describe would be the mere satisfaction of your vanity, and if you were fortunate enough to meet with the gifts of beauty, intelligence, and wealth in the same person it would be very exacting to expect that in addition to all these she should be domestic, to minister to your home comforts, and sufficiently devoted for your need of affection."
"I told you I thought it very difficult," he sighed.
"If you take other people's opinion about the choice of a wife," my husband said, "you are not ripe for matrimony; no man ought to get married unless he feels that he cannot help it,—that he could not live happily without the companionship of a particular woman."
There had been an interval of a few years between this conversation and our present meeting; but M. Rajon had not forgotten it, for he said with a shade of sadness: "It is now, Mrs. Hamerton, that I feel the want of a domestic and devoted wife, such as you advised me to choose; but marriage is out of the question. I am an invalid."
We tried to cheer him up, and my husband's serene philosophy seemed to do him good. He repeated to Paul Rajon his usual comparison of the events of life to a very good cup of coffee to which a pinch of salt is always added before we are allowed to taste it. "Your reputation and talent," he said, "make a capital cup of coffee; but your illness has seasoned it with rather a heavy pinch of salt."
The journey to England was got through without any serious accident to my husband's health, but we had to be very careful in adhering to our rules of slow trains and night travelling and frequent stoppages.
It was the first visit of our daughter to England, and her father watched her impressions with great interest. She spoke English timidly and reluctantly; but Mrs. Seeley was so kindly encouraging that she overcame her timidity.
Mr. Seeley received us in his pretty, newly built house at Kingston, which, being quite in the country and very quiet, suited my husband's tastes admirably. The proximity of a beautiful park was very tempting for rambles, and when at leisure we much enjoyed going all together for a stroll under its noble trees. Mr. Seeley and his friend sometimes went off to London together in the morning, but it was more desirable for my husband to go to town only in the afternoon, because he felt less and less nervous as the day wore on, and was quite himself in the evening.
We left Kingston to go and stay for a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Macmillan. The evenings after Mr. Macmillan's return from business were very animated with conversation and music.
Sometimes Mr. Macmillan gave us some Scotch and Gaelic songs with remarkable pathos and power; and invariably, after every one else had retired, he remained talking intimately, often confidentially, with my husband far into the night.
A pretty incident occurred before we left Knapdale. One afternoon we found Mrs. Macmillan very busy putting the finishing touches to an embroidered and be-ribboned baby's frock, intended as a present to her husband's first grandchild, on his first visit to Knapdale, which was to be on that very day. After dinner the little man made his appearance in the decorated frock, and took his place upon his grandfather's shoulders. Then we all formed a procession, headed by the still erect form of the grandsire supporting the infant hope of the family, and leading us—parents, relatives, and guests—to the cheerful domain of the cook. She proudly received the company, standing ladle in hand, by an enormous earthen vessel containing a tempting mixture, in which candied fruits, currants, and spices seemed to predominate. We were expected, every one, to bring this medley to greater perfection by turning over a portion of it with the ladle. It was duly offered first to the little stranger, whose grandsire seized and plunged it into the savory depths, whilst the tiny baby hand was tenderly laid upon his own.
The second part of the ceremony—tasting—had likewise to be performed by proxy, for the young scion of the house peremptorily refused to trifle with any temptation in the form of mincemeat. We all in succession performed the ancient rite, and my husband said to me afterwards what a capital subject for a picture of family portraits the scene would afford. The contrast in the attire of the cook and her maids with the toilettes of the ladies, together with the picturesque background of the bright kitchen utensils, made a subject in the style of an old Dutch master, with a touch of modern sentiment.
After seeing different places on the banks of the Thames we decided again for Kew, but this time we required larger lodgings—not only on account of Mary, but also for Miss Susan Hamerton and our cousins, Ben and Annie Hinde, whom we had invited to join us there. They had gladly accepted the invitation, and our meeting was happy and cheerful. We had been very fortunate in our lodgings, which were spacious, clean, and with a good view of the Green. Our landlady was a very respectable and obliging person, and she let us have, when we wished, the use of a chaise and a fast-trotting little pony, which greatly added to Aunt Susan's enjoyment of the country, for her nephew drove her to the prettiest places in the neighborhood, and through Richmond Park whenever the weather allowed it. The beautiful gardens received almost a daily visit from us, and were a most agreeable as well as a convenient resort for our aged aunt, as she could either walk in the open grounds when it was mild enough, or else visit the numerous hot-houses if she found the outside air too keen for her.
We had been fortunate in this choice of Kew for our temporary residence; not only did we like the place in itself, but we met with so hospitable and flattering a reception from several resident families, that they contrived to make us feel unlike strangers among them, and ever after, our thoughts turned back to that time with mingled feelings of regret, pleasure, and gratitude; and whenever we came to contemplate the possibility of moving to England, Kew was always the place named as being preferred by both of us.
Here we again met Professor Oliver, whom my husband had known since he came to Kew alone for the first time. Being greatly interested in painting, and possessing a collection of fine water-colors by Mr. Alfred Hunt, he took pleasure in showing them to Mr. Hamerton, as well as the Herbarium, of which he was Director.
Professor Church and his wife showed themselves most friendly and untiringly hospitable. Very interesting and distinguished people were to be met at their house, where the master was ever willing to display before his guests some of his valuable collections of jewels, rare tissues, old laces, and Japanese bronzes. We often had the pleasure of meeting at this friendly house Mr. Thiselton Dyer, now Director of Kew Gardens, and his wife, the daughter of Sir John Hooker—a most charming person, who reminded both of us of the lovely women immortalized by Reynolds.
The third edition of "Etching and Etchers," now on sale, had fulfilled all expectations, and was universally admired and praised. It was a great satisfaction to the author, who had never before enjoyed such a complete recognition. His reputation and popularity increased rapidly, and if he had liked he would have been a good deal lionized; but although far from insensible to this success, he remained true to his studious habits—going with Mr. Seeley to the National Gallery, British or Kensington Museums, to choose illustrations for the "Graphic Arts," or quietly writing at his lodgings, and only accepting invitations from his friends and publishers.
In December Mr. Macmillan gave a dinner at the Garrick Club in honor of the author of "Etching and Etchers," who was warmly congratulated by the other guests invited to meet him.
I have still in my possession the menu belonging to Mr. Alma Tadenia who said to my husband: "I dare say Mrs. Hamerton would like to have a souvenir of this evening—present her with this in my name," and he handed his menu, on the back of which he had quickly and cleverly drawn a little likeness of himself in caricature, and the guests had signed their names on it. A facsimile is given on the opposite page.
As he had given us an invitation to visit his curious house we did not fail to go, and Mary was especially attracted by the famous grand piano, inscribed inside with the signatures of the renowned musicians who had performed upon it. Knowing that our daughter was seriously studying music, Mrs. Alma Tadema generously expressed the hope of seeing sometime the signature of Miss Hamerton by the side of the other names.
My husband also took Mary to Mrs. Woolner's, and she enjoyed greatly the society of the children, who spoke French very creditably, and who were interested in the details she could give them about French life and ways. They took her to their father's studios, and showed her his works. When dinner-time came, however, she was unprepared for being waited upon by her new friends, and in consequence felt somewhat ill at ease. It was a fancy of Mr. Woolner's to make his children wait upon his guests. They offered bread and wine, and directed the maids, their duty consisting chiefly in seeing that every guest received perfect attendance. It reminded one of the pages' service in mediaeval times, and was accepted by people of mature age as a gracious courtesy of their host, though it proved rather embarrassing to a girl of fifteen. I don't know how long the custom prevailed, but I did not notice it in succeeding years.
Our cousin, Ben Hinde, had joined us only for a few days, his duties as a clergyman not allowing of a long absence, but our meeting had been very pleasant and cordial. He had left with us his sister Annie, to whom my husband endeavored to show what was most worthy of attention in the metropolis. And just as we were thus enjoying our fragrant "cup of coffee," the "pinch of salt" was thrown into it with a heavy hand—for we heard from Richard that he was lying so dangerously ill that he could not move in bed. He had only written a few words in pencil to let us know that the doctor thought our presence unnecessary, because the danger would be past, or the illness prove fatal, before we could arrive.
Of course my first impulse was to rush to my poor boy's bedside; but what was to become of Mary—a girl of fifteen—unused to English ways, and speaking English still imperfectly? Perhaps our aunt, who was to leave us in a few days, would stay a little longer, though the approach of Christmas made it imperative for her companion to get back to the vicarage as soon as possible. But my husband?... Could I think of leaving him a prey to this terrible anxiety, and to all the dangers of a return of the old nervous attacks? I saw how he dreaded the mere possibility, though he never said a word to influence my decision, but the threatening insomnia and restlessness had already made their appearance, and warned me that I ought to stay near him.
I wrote to my best friend in Paris, begging her to send her own doctor to our poor boy, and to let me know the whole truth immediately. The answer was reassuring—the crisis was past; there was nothing to fear now, only the patient would remain weak for some time, and would require great care. His friends—particularly one of them, a student of medicine—had nursed him intelligently and devotedly. As soon as he could take a little food my friend sent him delicacies and old wines, and when he could bear the railway he went to his grandmother's to await our return home.
We breathed again, and Aunt Susan and Annie left us comparatively quiet in mind.
My husband now went on with his work as fast as possible, for he longed to see his younger son again. When his notes for the "Graphic Arts" were completed, we made a round of visits to take leave of our friends, and after another short stay at Knapdale, where we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lockyer, and another very pleasant pilgrimage to Mr. and Mrs. Palmer's hermitage, we set off for Paris.
Mr. Seeley wrote shortly after our arrival in the French capital about several matters connected with the "Portfolio," and added: "How will you be able to settle down again in that little Autun? You will feel (as Robert Montgomery said of himself in Glasgow) like an oak in a flower-pot."
No, the oak liked to feel the pure air of the Morvan hills blowing about its head, and to spread its branches in unconfined space. It was in great crowded cities that it felt the pressure of the flower-pot.
On arriving at home we found Richard well again, and gifted with an extraordinary appetite—which was the restorative he most needed, having grown very thin and weak through his illness.
My husband had been very desirous to present me with a souvenir of the success of "Etching and Etchers," and pressed me to choose a trinket, either a bracelet or a brooch; but I thought what I possessed already quite sufficient, and though very sensible of his kind thoughtfulness, I said that if he liked to make me a present, I would choose something useful,—a silk dress, for instance. "But that would not be a present," he said; "when you want a dress you buy it. I should like to offer you some pretty object which would last."
I knew that he liked to see me—and ladies in general—wearing jewels; not in great quantity, but simply as a touch of finish to the toilette. When I was young, he would have liked me (had it been possible) to dress always in white, and the fashions not being then so elaborate as they have become, it was easy enough in summer-time and in the country to indulge his taste. So in warm days I often wore a white muslin dress, quite plain, relieved only by a colored sash. If the sash happened to be green, he liked it to be matched by a set of crystal beads of the same color, which he had brought me from Switzerland when he had gone there with his aunt and uncle. When the ribbon was red, I was to wear corals, and with a blue one lapis-lazuli.
At last he remembered that I had admired some plain dead-gold bracelets of English make that we had been looking at together, not far from the National Gallery, and said he would be glad if I would choose one of them. I had, however, taken the same resolution about jewels as his own about pictures, and that was, to admire what was beautiful, but never to buy, because it was beyond our means. The resolution, once taken, left no way open to temptation. Still, I did not mean to deny myself the pleasure of accepting his proffered present, only I did not want it to be expensive, and since I had a sufficiency of jewels, "would he give me a pretty casket to put them in?" "Yes," he readily assented. And when I opened the casket of fair olive-wood, with the delicately wrought nickel clasps and lock, I found a folded paper laid on the dark-blue velvet tray, and having opened it read what follows—I need not say with what emotions.
"Here in this empty casket, instead of a diamond or pearl, Instead of a gem I leave but a little rhyme. She remembers the brooch and the bracelet I gave her when she was a girl. Deep blue from beyond the sea, not paler from lapse of time. She will put them here in the casket, the ultramarine and the gold; And if such a thing might be, I would give them to her twice over; Once in my youthful hope, and now again when I'm old, But alike in youth or in age with the heart and the soul of a lover."
This note is entered in the diary:—
"January 1, 1881. Faceva i miei doni alla sposa, alla figlia, al mio figlio Stefano. La sposa era felicissima di ricevere la sua cassetta."
Roberts Brothers had heard that a new book was in preparation, and they wrote in January, 1881:—
"Your third edition of 'Etching and Etchers' is really a magnificent specimen of book-making, and we understand two hundred copies have been sold in America. At all events, whatever the number sold, it is not to be had. We should like to have the American edition of the 'Graphic Arts,' and should be glad to receive the novel when it is ready."
But the novel had been put aside, the author being doubtful if it equalled "Marmorne" in quality. The whole of his time for writing was devoted to the "Graphic Arts," and the remainder to painting from nature, often with Mr. Pickering, and to the consideration of the necessary alterations to the boat in view of a summer cruise on the Saone. The reading of Italian was resumed pretty regularly, whilst the diary was kept in that language.
Early in the spring Mr. Seeley wrote:—
"I am afraid it is indispensable that we should meet in Paris, as the selection of engravings for reproduction is very important, though, like you, I grudge the loss of time. But the book is an important one, and we must do our very best to make it a success."
It was then decided that my husband should go to Paris with Richard, and they started on May 4, stopped a day at Sens to see the cathedral again, and to call upon Madame Challard (who had become a widow), and arrived in Paris at night.
The entries in the note-book (kept in Italian) record his visits to the Salon, to the Louvre, and to various public buildings. Also to the Bibliotheque, to study the works of the Ecole de Fontainebleau, and to an exhibition of paintings in imitation of tapestry, which much interested him.
He also went with Richard to see Munkacsy's picture of "Christ before Pilate," and notes Richard's astonishment at it. He considered it himself as one of the finest of existing pictures. He also expresses the great pleasure he derived from Jacquemart's water-colors, their brilliancy and sureness of execution.
The four following days having been very busy, received only this short note, "In Parigi con Seeley;" then the fifth has, "Seeley e partito sta mattina."
The succeeding entries record further visits to the Salon, the Louvre, and Bibliotheque; but on the return journey, at Chagny on the 19th, he notes that he has received sad news of the death of M. de Saint Victor, in a duel with M. Asselin. It was only too true, and had happened on a day which was to have been a fete, for Madame de Saint Victor, whose daughter went to the same school as ours, had invited both myself and Mary, with a few others school-fellows and their mothers, to lunch at the Chateau de Monjeu, of which her husband was Regisseur. The unfortunate lady did not know what had passed between her husband and a gentleman of the locality who was trespassing on the grounds of the chateau. M. de Saint Victor considered himself insulted, and challenged M. Asselin; he, moreover, insisted upon choosing the sword as a weapon—the most dangerous of all in a serious duel—and on the morning which should have been festive and mirthful, he fell dead in the wood near his home, killed by a sword-thrust from his skilful adversary.
As soon as he was back home, Mr. Hamerton set to work regularly at the "Graphic Arts." In the diary this phrase is repeated like a litany: "Worked with great pleasure at my book, the 'Graphic Arts.'" But at the same time there is a complaint that it prevents the mind from being happily disposed for artistic work. I have already said how difficult it was for him to turn from one kind of occupation to another. Here is a confirmation of this fact:—
"I lost the whole of the day in attempting to make a drawing for an etching. Was not in the mood. It is necessary to have a certain warmth and interest in a subject—which I have lost, but hope to recover. For a long time past all my thoughts have turned upon my literary work."
It is easy for readers of the "Graphic Arts" to realize what an amount of knowledge and preparation such a book required; and to present so much information in a palatable form was no less than a feat. Still, the author took great delight in his work. As in the case of "Etching and Etchers," he was encouraged by the publisher, who wrote on June, "I mean to take a pride in the book." It was exactly the sort of work which suited him—sufficiently important to allow the subjects to be treated at length when necessary, and worthy of the infinite care and thought he liked to bestow upon his studies. In this case, wonderful as it seems, he had himself practised all the arts of which he speaks, with the exception of fresco. As to the other branches of art, namely, pen-and-ink, silver-point, lead-pencil, sanguine, chalk, charcoal, water monochrome, oil monochrome, pastel, painting in oil, painting in water-colors, wood-engraving, etching and dry-point, aquatint and mezzotint, lithography, he had—more or less—tried every one of them. And though he did not give sufficient practice to the burin to acquire real skill, still he did not remain satisfied till he could use it.
The same feeling of conscientiousness led him to become acquainted with all the different processes of reproduction so much in vogue, and he was ever anxious to learn all their technical details.
It was hoped that the "Graphic Arts" might be published at the end of the year, and in order to be ready, the author put aside all other work, excepting that of the "Portfolio;" but he longed for a short holiday, and meant to take it on the Saone. He went to Chalon to a boat-builder, and explained the changes to be made in the "Morvandelle," set the men to work, and returned to his book.
He had begun to suffer from insomnia, and Mr. Seeley wrote:—
"Probably you are right in saying that yachting is a necessity for you; but for the enjoyment of it you are badly placed at Autun. You must look after that cottage at Cowes, which I suggested some time ago; and we must set up a yacht between us; only, unluckily, I am always seasick in a breeze."
Certainly the situation of Autun was not favorable to yachting, the streams about it being only fit for canoeing; but the broad Saone was not far off, and as Chalon was my husband's headquarters when cruising, he was not disinclined to the short journey which afforded an opportunity for visiting my mother and my brother, who lived there.
My husband had thought that a river voyage would be charming with R. L. Stevenson as a companion, and that they might, perhaps, produce a work in collaboration, so he had made the proposal, and here is part of the answer:—
"RINNAUD COTTAGE, PITLOCHRY, PERTHSHIRE.
"MY DEAR MR. HAMMERTON,—(There goes the second M: it is a certainty.) Thank you for your prompt and kind answer, little as I deserved it, though I hope to show you I was less undeserving than I seemed. But just might I delete two words in your testimonial? The two words 'and legal' were unfortunately winged by chance against my weakest spot, and would go far to damn me.
"It was not my bliss that I was interested in when I was married; it was a sort of marriage in extremis; and if I am where I am, it is thanks to the care of that lady who married me when I was a mere complication of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of mortality than a bridegroom.
"I had a fair experience of that kind of illness when all the women (God bless them I) turn round upon the streets and look after you with a look that is only too kind not to be cruel. I have had nearly two years of more or less prostration. I have done no work whatever since the February before last, until quite of late. To be precise, until the beginning of the last month, exactly two essays. All last winter I was at Davos; and indeed I am home here just now against the doctor's orders, and must soon be back again to that unkindly haunt 'upon the mountains visitant—there goes no angel there, but the angel of death.' The deaths of last winter are still sore spots to me.... So you see I am not very likely to go on a 'wild expedition,' cis-Stygian at least. The truth is, I am scarce justified in standing for the chair, though I hope you will not mention this; and yet my health is one of my reasons, for the class is in summer.