"About the 'Landscape,' which I had a glimpse of while a friend of mine was preparing a review, I was greatly interested, and could write and wrangle for a year on every page: one passage particularly delighted me, the part about Ulysses—jolly. Then, you know, that is just what I fear I have come to think landscape ought to be in literature: so there we should be at odds. Or perhaps not so much as I suppose, as Montaigne says it is a pot with two handles, and I own I am wedded to the technical handle, which (I likewise own, and freely) you do well to keep for a mistress. I should much like to talk with you about some other points; it is only in talk that one gets to understand. Your delightful Wordsworth trap I have tried on two hardened Wordsworthians, not that I am not one myself. By covering up the context, and asking them to guess what the passage was, both (and both are very clever people, one a writer, one a painter) pronounced it a guide-book. 'Do you think it unusually good guide-book?' I asked. And both said, 'No, not at all!' Their grimace was a picture when I showed the original.
"I trust your health and that of Mrs. Hamerton keep better; your last account was a poor one. I was unable to make out the visit I had hoped as (I do not know if you heard of it) I had a very violent and dangerous hemorrhage last spring. I am almost glad to have seen death so close with all my wits about me, and not in the customary lassitude and disenchantment of disease. Even thus clearly beheld, I find him not so terrible as we suppose. But, indeed, with the passing of years, the decay of strength, the loss of all my old active and pleasant habits, there grows more and more upon me that belief in the kindness of this scheme of things, and the goodness of our veiled God, which is an excellent and pacifying compensation. I trust, if your health continues to trouble you, you may find some of the same belief. But perhaps my fine discovery is a piece of art, and belongs to a character cowardly, intolerant of certain feelings, and apt to self-deception. I don't think so, however; and when I feel what a weak and fallible vessel I was thrust into this hurly-burly, and with what marvellous kindness the wind has been tempered to my frailties, I think I should be a strange kind of ass to feel anything but gratitude.
"I do not know why I should inflict this talk upon you; but when I summon the rebellious pen, he must go his own way: I am no Michael Scott, to rule the fiend of correspondence. Most days he will none of me: and when he comes, it is to rape me where he will.
"Yours very sincerely,
"ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON."
Mr. Seeley wrote:—
"My brother the Professor has been staying with us and reading the 'Graphic Arts' and 'Landscape' most assiduously. He was deeply interested, and said they seemed to him most important works, giving him views about art which had never entered his mind before. He seems to feel that you are doing in Art what he is doing in History."
For the present, Mr. Hamerton had no great work in hand. There was the usual writing for the "Portfolio," and he had been asked for articles by the editors of "Longmans' Magazine" and the "Atlantic Monthly," but he had not yet made up his mind as to the subject of a new important book, and was discussing various schemes both with Mr. Seeley and Mr. Craik.
In one of his letters to Mr. Seeley he said:—
"I have sometimes thoughts of writing a book (not too long) on the Elements or Principles of Art Criticism, in the same way as G. H. Lewes once wrote a series of papers for the 'Fortnightly' on the Principles of Success in Literature. I think I could make such papers interesting by giving examples both from critics and artists, and from various kinds of art. It would add to the interest of such papers if they had a few illustrations specially for themselves, and as I went on with the writing I could tell you beforehand what illustrations might be useful, though I cannot say beforehand what might be required. I should make it my business to show in what real criticism, that is worth writing and worth reading, differs from the hasty expression of mere personal sensations which is so often substituted for it; and I would show in some detail how there are different criteria, and how they may be justly or unjustly applied, giving examples. The articles might be reprinted afterwards in the shape of a moderate-sized book like my 'Life of Turner,' but about half as thick, and if we kept the illustrations small they might go into the book. Such a piece of work would have the advantage of giving me opportunities for showing how strongly tempted we all are to judge works of art by some special criterion instead of applying different criteria. For example, I remember hearing a man say before a picture that told a story that 'its color was good, and, after all, the color was the main thing in a picture.' Another would have criticised the drawing of the figures, a third the composition, a fourth the handling. Lastly, it might have occurred to some one to inquire how the story was told, and whether the artist had understood the story he had to tell.
"I remember being in an exhibition with Robinson, the famous engraver, more than twenty, or perhaps thirty, years ago, and was very much struck by a criticism of his on a picture which seemed to me very good in many respects, though the effect was a very quiet one. He said, 'There's no light and shade;' and the want of good, strong oppositions of light and dark that could be effectively engraved seemed to him quite a fatal defect, though on looking at the work in color the absence of these oppositions did not strike me, as other qualities predominated. Here was the engraver's professional point of view interfering with his judgment of a picture that was good, but could not be engraved effectually.
"Then we have the interference of feelings quite outside of art, as when Roman Catholics tolerate hideous pictures because they represent some saint, although they have really been painted from, a hired model, and only represent a saint because the artist, with a view to sale, has given a saint's name to the portrait of the model.
"Also there is the judgment by the literary criterion, which is often applied to pictures by thoughtful and learned people. They become deeply interested in one picture because it alludes (in a manner which seems to them intelligent) to something they know by books, and they pass with indifference better works that have no literary association.
"Then you have the judgment of pictures which goes by the pleasure of the eyes, and tastes a picture with the eyes as wine and good cooking are tasted by the tongue. I believe this ocular appreciation is nearer to the essential nature of art than the literary or intellectual appreciation of it. Vide Titian's pictures, which never have anything to say to the intellect, but are a feast to the eyes.
"Then you have the scientific criterion, which judges a landscape favorably because strata are correctly superposed, their dip accurately given, and 'faults' noticed. In the figure this criticism relies greatly on anatomy.
"I have jotted down these paragraphs roughly merely to show something of the idea, but of course in the work itself there would be much more to be said—other criteria to examine, and a fuller inquiry to be gone into about these. I should rely for the interest of the papers, and for their raison d'etre in the 'Portfolio,' very much upon the examples alluded to, both in quotations from critics and in references to works of art.
"With regard to the papers on Landscape Painters—if I wrote the introductory chapter it would be on landscape-painting as an art, not so much on the painters. I should trace something of its history, but should especially show how it differs from figure-painting in certain conditions. For example, in figure-painting composition does not much interfere with truthful drawing, as a figure can always be made to conform to desired shapes by simply altering its attitude and putting it at a greater or less distance from the spectator, but in landscape composition always involves the re-shaping of the objects themselves. Again, color is of much more sentimental importance in landscape than in the figure. Purple hills, a yellow streak in the sky, and gray water produce together quite a strong effect on the poetical imagination, whereas the same colors in a lady's dress are but so much millinery. If the landscape is engraved it loses nine-tenths of its poetical significance; if the portrait of the lady is engraved there is only a sacrifice of some colors.
"October 8, 1885."
Meanwhile, it occurred to him that he might undertake his autobiography, and stipulate that it should only be published after his death. He told me that his health being so uncertain and his earnings so precarious, he had thought the autobiography might be a resource for me in case of his premature decease, as he saw clearly that notwithstanding the considerable sums which his recent successes had brought him, it was not likely that he should ever save enough to leave me independent.
As he had himself introduced the subject, I led him to consider Mary's future prospects in life, and said that Stephen and Richard being now provided with situations, we ought to think of their sister. Her musical education had now reached such a point that no teaching afforded by Autun could be of any value to her, and it was my desire that she might have the advantage of instruction and direction in her studies from one of the best professors at the Conservatoire of Paris. I realized that it would be a great tax, and a no less great sacrifice for my husband to be left alone while I should be in Paris with Mary; but I also knew that he never shrank from what he considered a duty—and we both agreed that it was a duty to put our daughter in a position to earn her living, if circumstances made it necessary.
Accordingly I inquired who was thought to be the best executant on the piano in Paris, and we had it on good authority that it was M. Delaborde, Professor at the Conservatoire, with whom we corresponded immediately. Although we had friendly recommendations, he would not pledge himself to anything before examining Mary, and we started for Paris in some uncertainty. I had engaged a little apartment at the Hotel de la Muette, where we were known, and a pleasant room looking on the garden had been reserved for us, not to inconvenience other people by Mary's practice.
I knew the result of the examination would give Gilbert great pleasure, so I gave him every detail about it. M. Delaborde, who has the reputation of being extremely severe and somewhat blunt, was most kind and encouraging. After making Mary play to him for an hour, he said: "That will do; there remains a good deal to be done and acquired, but you may acquire it by hard work and good tuition in three years. I consent to take you as one of my pupils, but I must let you know at once that I am very exacting. Don't be afraid of me, for I see that you are industrious, and that you really love music. And now I am going to pay you a compliment which has its value, coming from me—I find no defect to correct in your method." After that he gave us a long list of music to be bought for practice, and said we might come twice a week. He also inquired what direction I wished her studies to take, and whether she intended to give lessons. I answered that I wished her studies to be of the most serious character, exactly as if she were preparing herself to be a music-teacher, though it was not her parents' present intention, but because one never was certain of the future. He perfectly understood my wishes, and was also pleased to notice his new pupil's partiality for classical music. Strange to say—and I did not fail to convey the important fact to her father—Mary, who was so easily frightened, felt perfectly at ease with M. Delaborde, and besides her sentiment of unbounded admiration for his talent, she soon came to have a great liking for himself. Her father was very glad—for her sake especially—that she should have the satisfaction of seeing her efforts taken au serieux, and appreciated by such an authority as M. Delaborde. He often said that one of the greatest satisfactions in life was to be able to do something really well, better than most people could do it, and he was happy in the thought that music would give that satisfaction to his daughter. About music he had written to Mr. Seeley:—
"I was always in music what so many are in painting—simply practical. In my youth I was a pupil of Seymour of Manchester for the violin, and thought to be a promising amateur, but I have played far more music than I ever talked about. I don't at all know how to talk or write about music. It seems to me that it expresses itself, and that nothing else can express it."
After an absence of five weeks Gilbert was very glad to see us back, and to hear that M. Delaborde had been very encouraging to Mary. At the end of the last lesson he had said: "A l'annee prochaine; je suis certain que vous reviendrez: vous avez le feu sacre."
Several projects of books had occurred to Mr. Hamerton, which he submitted to his publishers for advice. He had thought of "Rouen," but Mr. Craik had answered: "Your name is a popular one, and anything coming from you is pretty sure of a sale. But we should consider whether even your name will persuade the public to buy this book on Rouen." It was abandoned for the consideration of a work on the "Western Islands," to which Messrs. Macmillan were favorable.
Mr. Seeley was suggesting the "Sea" as a subject that he might treat with authority from an artistic point of view, but he feared he had not had sufficient opportunity of studying it, and received this answer: "Your letter of this morning has suggested to me another scheme—a series of articles on 'Imagination in Landscape Painting.'" The idea pleased my husband very much, and as he reflected about it he began a sort of skeleton scheme for its treatment.
His own imagination about landscape was truly marvellous. Since he had been deprived of the power to travel, he was continually dreaming that he had undertaken long and distant voyages, in which he discovered wondrously beautiful countries and magnificent architecture. He often gave me, on awaking, vivid descriptions of these imaginary scenes, which he remembered in every detail of composition, effect, and color, and which he longed, though hopelessly, to reproduce in painting.
He was now writing in French a life of Turner for the series of "Les Artistes Celebres," published by the "Librairie de l'Art." It was not a translation from his English "Life of Turner," but a new, original, and much shorter work, about which he wrote to Mr. Seeley:—
"I am writing a book in French—a new life of Turner, not very long. I find the change of language most refreshing. Composition in French is a little slower for me, but not much, and as I am a great appreciator of good French prose, it is fun to try to imitate (at a distance) some of its qualities."
Years after, writing about this same "Life of Turner," he said to Mr. Seeley:—
"The insularity of the English that you speak of is not worse than the insularity of the French. When I wrote my 'Life of Turner' for the 'Artistes Celebres' series, I was asked to reduce the MS. by one third, for the reason that the thicker numbers were only given to great artists. The sale was very moderate, as so few French people care anything about English art."
When the first chapters of "Imagination in Landscape Painting" reached Mr. Seeley, he said: "I like your opening chapters much, and I feel glad that I have set you on a good subject."
As usual during the vacation, my husband went on the Saone with Stephen and Maurice for a fortnight. "L'Arar" had been greatly improved, but was still to undergo new improvements while laid up for the winter. On coming back home Gilbert wrote to Mr. Seeley:—
"Stephen, my nephew Maurice, and myself have just returned from an exhibition on the Saone in my boat, which turned out delightful. We had considerable variety of wind and weather, including a very grand thunderstorm with tremendous wind (of short duration). We were just near enough to a port where there was an inn to be able to take refuge in time. The boat would have ridden out the storm on the water, scudding under bare poles of course; but I have seen so many telegraph-poles and trees struck by lightning, that I apprehended the possibility of its striking one of our masts. At the inn we had dinner, and during the whole of dinner, between five and six p.m., we had a splendid view of Mont Blanc through our open window—first with all its snows rosy, and afterwards fading into gray. As there were no beds in the inn we went on by night, first in total darkness and afterwards in moonlight, beating against the wind, but the wind falling altogether and rain coming in its place, and the nearest inn being twelve kilometres away, we slept on the boat under a tent, and were comfortable enough though it rained all night. Next morning we were under sail at seven, and had a delightful day. A curious thing about that night was a swarm of ephemerae so dense that it was like a blinding snowstorm. I could hardly see to steer for them; they hit my face like pelting rain. They fell on the deck, till it was covered an inch deep, and two inches deep in parts. Next morning Stephen, on cleaning the deck, rolled them up into large balls, which he threw into the river. The people call them manna.
"We exercised ourselves in all ways, going out for manoeuvers against the wind when it was worst, rowing in dead calms, or towing the boat from the shore, as there is a towing-path all along one side, so we need never be quite stopped. The boat behaved capitally, and as the lads became better drilled they did the sailing business better together. My health kept wonderfully well in spite of (or perhaps in consequence of) a good deal of work and some hardship. I did a lot of sketches, and amused myself particularly with drawing the delicate distances. Yesterday, on our return, we met by appointment a picnic party at Norlay, and walked ten kilometres under drenching rain to see a natural curiosity called the 'end of the world,' where limestone cliffs end in a sort of semi-circle.
"It is believed to be a creek of an ancient lake or sea. The cliffs are evidently undermined by waves, and hang over. The ground in the middle is full of beautiful pastures and vineyards, with lovely groups of trees and a stream, and two very picturesque villages."
The different methods which had been tried for producing manuscript in duplicate had all proved distasteful and unsatisfactory. My husband was particularly irritated by the delay caused by having to press down the hard lead-pencil or stiletto. He could not bear any slow process for expressing the swiftly running thoughts, and he tried another plan which enabled him to write very nearly as fast as the ideas came. Using glazed paper and a soft pencil he made a rough draft without attempt at polish in style, merely fixing the thoughts. This he corrected at leisure, and copied with a particular kind of ink which was said to yield half-a-dozen copies upon moist paper put under a screw-press. But the result was very imperfect, and took too much time, and finally he used to have his corrected MS. copied by a professional typewriter. This plan was by far the most satisfactory, as, by relieving him from the drudgery of copying, it allowed more time for painting, and a rather important picture of Kilchurn Castle was begun, to be hung on the staircase.
In February "French and English" was begun. My husband was particularly qualified to give an impartial comparison of the habits, institutions, and characteristics of the two nations, on account of his sympathies with both, and his intimate knowledge of the French language and long residence in France, during which his inquisitive mind had been gathering endless information about the public institutions of the country. He had made himself perfectly acquainted with French politics, and followed with great interest all current events.
The system of public instruction in France had become familiar to him through M. Pelletier (who had been a member of the University from his youth); and he had not neglected to learn from the several ecclesiastics with whom he was acquainted, what he wanted to know about the constitution of the Roman Catholic Church and clergy.
In the same way his military friends told him what he cared to learn of the army. He had for a neighbor M. de Chatillon (cousin of the poet and painter, A. de Chatillon), a retired captain, who had been in the Crimea, and was wounded in the Franco-Prussian War; also a friend and visitor, another captain, M. Kornprobst, with whom he made the voyage on the Saone. The colonel of the regiment quartered at Autun, M. Mathieu, who had fought by the side of the English in the Crimea, came sometimes too, to talk about past days, and recalled among other things with gratitude and admiration the fare of which he had partaken on board an English man-of-war. Mr. Hamerton had only to put questions to one of these officers to obtain full information upon any point of French military organization. As regards national characteristics in individuals, he had a rich accumulation of notes and observations, both in his pocket-books and in his mind. Very observant from early youth, this tendency had been quickened by the contrasts that life in foreign parts constantly presented.
It had been decided that the Rhone voyage should be abandoned for one on the Saone; and Mr. Hamerton was in active correspondence with Mr. Seeley about the choice of an artist to illustrate the book. Both of them were great admirers of Mr. Pennell's talent, and they agreed to make him a proposal.
Mr. Pennell, having been overworked and feeling rather nervous and unwell, thought that the contemplated voyage would be the very thing to restore his health. He would have perfect tranquillity on the peaceful river, and he might sketch at his leisure, without hurry; so he gladly accepted the hospitality offered him on board the "Boussemroum."
The plan of accommodation on this boat has been explained exhaustively by the author of "The Saone," but I think I may give a few brief indications of the arrangements for readers unacquainted with the book.
Mr. Hamerton hired a large river-boat called the "Boussemroum," and two men to manage it and do the cooking. A donkey, "Zoulou," was kept on board to tow the boat when necessary, and in the course of the voyage a boy, "Franki," was engaged to drive "Zoulou." Three tents had been erected for the passengers, and an awning was placed over part of a raised platform to shelter the artists at work from the too generous heat of the June sunshine. Each tent was furnished as a simple bedroom, with an iron bedstead and a hammock, washing utensils, chest, table for drawing or writing, and mats on the floor.
Besides Mr. Pennell's tent and Mr. Hamerton's, another had been reserved for Captain Kornprobst, who was to undertake the duties of the commissariat. There was nothing so difficult for my husband as to turn his mind from intellectual or artistic thoughts to domestic or business affairs; he was aware of it, and dreaded interruptions—and the fear of interruptions—as well as the responsibility of keeping his floating home so regularly provisioned as to save its inmates from becoming, occasionally, a prey to hunger or thirst. Humbly confessing his shortcomings, he begged his friend, Captain Kornprobst, to join the expedition as Purser and General Provider, feeling confident that if he consented everything would marcher militairement. It was an immense relief when the Captain declared himself ready and willing to assume these functions.
Mr. Pennell, having been suddenly obliged to go to Antwerp for a series of drawings, could not be free at the time of starting. On the other hand, Captain Kornprobst had been summoned, the boat hired, and the men's wages were running, so the voyage was begun, on the understanding that Mr. Pennell would join the party as soon as he could leave Antwerp, probably at Corre on the Upper Saone.
On arriving at Chalon-sur-Saone, on May 31, Mr. Hamerton was met by the Captain, and they proceeded at once to the "Boussemroum," which they put in order as it moved away. It was only at Gray, on June 6, that Mr. Pennell came on board.
It has been said in some notices of Mr. Hamerton's life that he read but little; nothing could be more opposed to truth; the fact is, that he was constantly attempting to bind himself by rules to give only a certain proportion of his time to reading, and when he travelled he was sure to have among his luggage a large trunk of books. Here is a list, for instance, of the works he took with him on the Saone:—
Royau, "A travers les Mots."
No Name Series, "Signor Monaldini's Niece."
"Italian Conversation Book."
Arnold, "Light of Asia."
Auguez, "Histoire de France."
St. Simon, "Louis XIV. et sa Cour."
Paradol, "La France Nouvelle."
Caesar, "De Bello Gallico."
Palgrave, "Golden Treasury."
Milton, do. (modern edition).
Stevenson, "Inland Voyage."
Stevenson, "Travels with a Donkey."
Byron, "Poems" (4 vols.).
Helps, "Social Pressure."
Gerson, "De Imitatione."
The adventures of the voyage having been narrated in "The Saone," I shall only mention the incident of the arrest, because it turned out to be a lucky thing that I just then happened to be in Paris. It must be explained that M. Pelletier, having been entrusted with the organization of one of the great new Lycees—the Lycee Lakanal at Sceaux—had been deprived of his usual vacation in 1885, and, as a little compensation, he came to spend the Easter of 1886 with us, and took away Mary, who was to stay with him for her yearly music-lessons. At the end of the month I took advantage of my husband's absence to go and see the Paris Salon, and to bring back our daughter.
On June 25, while we were at lunch with M. Pelletier and his children, and making merry guesses as to the probable whereabouts of the voyagers on the Saone, there came a telegram for my brother-in-law, who said to me, after reading it: "What would you say if they were arrested as spies?" We all laughed at the idea, and I answered that it would be capital material for a chapter. "Well then, since you take it this way, I may as well tell you that it is a fact, though your husband wishes it to be kept from you till he is released."
I began to fear that he might be imprisoned, and that his nervousness would return in confinement. From this point of view the consequences seemed alarming, and I wondered what would be the best plan to set him free as soon as possible.
My brother-in-law was for applying to the English Ambassador, but I felt pretty sure that my husband would write to him, and that negotiations in that quarter would take some time. So I went straight to one of our friends who had a near relation holding an important military post at the Elysee, and who might be of great help on this occasion. I told my friend what had happened, and he promised to go and explain matters to his relative, and to obtain speedily an order of release for the unlucky travellers. The same evening I had a note to the effect that the Minister of War had sent the desired order by telegram.
The author of "The Saone" has explained why the voyage was interrupted at Chalon. The second part was to be made on the "Arar," and the erections on the "Boussemroum" were to be demolished and the tents removed before the boat was returned to its owner; but as Mary and I had expressed a wish to see it before the demolition, we went to Chalon, where my husband took us on board and explained all the contrivances, which were very ingenious.
The extraordinary appearance of the "Boussemroum" with its three large tents attracted quite a crowd on the quay where it was moored, and as we made our way towards it we were followed by many curious eyes.
Mr. Pennell, having been discouraged and disheartened by the loss of time and the insecurity of his situation in France, especially since he had failed to get an official permission to sketch at Lyons, gave up all idea of illustrating the Lower Saone. What was to be done with the book? Could it be published in an incomplete state and called "The Upper Saone?" In that case the work would be of small importance, after all the preparations, time, and money spent upon it. "Would it not be better to ask another artist to undertake the remaining part?" asked Mr. Seeley. But he would have to encounter the same difficulties, and be exposed to the same vexations—and, after all, the book might be wanting in harmony.
At last Mr. Pennell offered to make drawings from the author's sketches, and this was accepted. My husband had already in his possession a great number of studies taken at Chalon, Macon, and upon the river on previous cruises, and they might be utilized in this way, together with those he could still make during the vacation on the "Arar."
In the interval between the two boat voyages, Mr. Hamerton devoted himself almost exclusively to writing "French and English" for the "Atlantic Monthly," and "The Saone." He also took some precautions in view of the next cruise, and when he started for it, with Stephen and Maurice, he was provided with a passport and a recommendation from the English Ambassador.
The voyage was a pleasant one, and ended prosperously, but it soon became evident that the book could not be published before the next year, mainly because the stereotype plates could not have reached America before December, and the publishers then would still have to print and bind the book.
Roberts Brothers said about it:—
"We are very glad you have decided to postpone the publication of the boat voyage till next year. You will see by our account that we allow you nothing on the cheap edition of the 'Intellectual Life.' Thank the pirates for it.
"Mrs. Hamerton's 'Golden Mediocrity' has passed through a second edition; the first was 1,000 copies."
This last book was a novelette that I had written at the instigation of Roberts Brothers, and which had been corrected by my husband.
The illustrations needed for the completion of "The Saone" took a great deal of Mr. Hamerton's time in 1886. Early in January he went to Chalon to take several sketches, which he worked out afterwards in pen-and-ink. We took the opportunity of this journey to see a few houses which had been recommended to us as possible future residences, La Tuilerie requiring expensive repairs that we were not inclined to undertake, because every time we made any our rent was raised,—no doubt because it was thought that just after a fresh outlay we should not be disposed to leave. But we found the house-rents much higher about Chalon than in our neighborhood, and although Gilbert was fond of the Saone—particularly for boating—he was far from admiring the landscape as much as that of the Autunois, from a painter's point of view. After much consideration we decided to go through the unavoidable repairs, and to renew our lease.
I suppose that the Saone voyage had directed my husband's thoughts towards boats more than ever, for his diary is full of notes about them. I shall only give a few to show the drift of his mind.
"Made a sketch for a possible triple catamaran.
"Made an elevation of hull for the 'Morvandelle,' using an elevation of a quickly turning steamer in 'Le Yacht,' and improving upon it.
"Made a new balancer for canoe.
"Began to prepare pirogue with marine glue before putting the rudder-post.
"Lengthened cross-pieces; completed beam for catamaran, adding details of ironwork.
"Demolished old balancer log of canoe, and began to saw it to make a little bridge.
"Found that boiling wood was the best plan for bending it; steaming is too troublesome.
"Thought much about sails.
"Wrote a letter to 'Yacht' about invention of paper-boats."
In October he began to write for "Le Yacht" a history of catamarans, which was highly appreciated by the readers of that paper.
In the course of that year he also wrote a long and careful review of "L'Art" for "Longmans' Magazine," "Conversations on Book Illustrations," and a review of Mr. Ernest George's etchings. He also worked at the autobiography.
It was a real sorrow for my husband to hear that in consequence of the demise of Mr. John Hamerton, Hellifield Peel and the estate were for sale and likely to go out of the family. He had been considerately offered the first option of purchase, and he wrote in the diary, "How I wish I had the money!"
In January, 1887, he wrote to Mr. Seeley:—
"We are rather troubled by the possibility of a war between France and Germany. The French papers take the thing coolly, but the English ones, especially the 'Daily News,' are extremely pessimist. If there is war I mean to come to England, having had enough anxiety and interrupted communications during the last war. My sons would probably both volunteer into the French army in defence of their mother's country, as it would be a duel of life and death between Germany and France this time. If you and Mrs. Seeley visit the Continent in the spring you may perhaps witness a battle. I have seen just one, and heard the cannonade of another—sensations never to be forgotten."
In the spring he had had an attack of gout, in consequence of working at the boats instead of going out. He bore it with his usual philosophy—trying to read or write whenever the pain was supportable. It happened during the Easter vacation, and Stephen used to sit up late into the night to keep his father company.
At the end of the vacation Richard, who had obtained a post in Paris, took his sister with him, and in June, Gilbert being now quite well, I went to fetch her back. M. Delaborde had recommended her the study of harmony, and we found an able professor in M. Laurent, the organist of the cathedral at Autun.
It was with great satisfaction that her father noticed her application and success in this arduous study. He considered it, like algebra, an excellent discipline for the mind—too often wanting in a feminine education.
Against all expectations "The Saone" did not sell well. It was unaccountable; the illustrations were numerous and varied, picturesque, and greatly admired by artists,—Rajon in particular was charmed with them,—but it appears that their sin consisted in not being etchings; so at least said the booksellers, as if the author's works were never to be illustrated in any other way. The subject was new, and presented in felicitous style; the reviews were hearty; but in spite of all that could be said in its favor, the book never became a popular one. Mr. Seeley had mentioned in a letter the uncertainty of the publishing business, and my husband answered:—
"What you say about the lottery of publishing is confirmed by the experience of others. Macmillan said to me one day, 'As one gets older and certainly more experienced one ought to get wiser, but it does not seem to be so in publishing, for I am just as liable to error now in my speculations as I was many years ago.' Evidently Roberts Brothers are the same."
The subject of "French and English" seemed too important to Mr. Hamerton to be adequately treated in a few articles, and he decided to give it proper development in a book, for which all his accumulated observations would become useful. He proposed it to Messrs. Macmillan, warning them that, as he intended to be impartial, they might find that his opinions—conscientiously given—would often be at variance with those generally accepted. Mr. Craik answered: "As to 'French and English' I do not think that it matters in the least that you differ from the opinions of others." Then he went on to say: "I hope to hear from you about a large illustrated book for 1889, and we will gladly go into the matter with you when you have got an idea into your head."
In the autumn we learned with deep regret the death of our dear cousin, Ben Hinde. My husband conveyed it to his friend M. Schmitt in the following letter:—
"J'ai recu ces jours-ci la triste nouvelle que mon cousin—le pretre anglican que j'aimais comme un frere, a succombe a une assez longue maladie. Ce qu'il y a de plus penible c'est la position de sa soeur qui s'etait entierement devouee a lui et a la paroisse. Elle a vecu toute sa vie au presbytere, et maintenant, son frere mort, il va falloir qu'elle s'en aille. Elle a une petite fortune qui suffira a ses besoins, et j'ai l'immense satisfaction de penser que c'est moi qui ai pu sauver cet argent des griffes d'executeurs testamentaires mal intentionnes. Je les ai forces a payer quarante mille francs. Ma cousine supporte son sort avec un courage parfait. Je n'ai jamais rencontre une foi religieuse aussi parfaite que la sienne. Pour elle, la mort d'un Chretien est un heureux evenement qu'elle celebrerait volontiers par des rejouissances. Elle n'y voit absolument que la naissance au ciel. Ceci l'expose a etre tres meconnue. Quand elle perd un parent elle est tres gaie et on peut s'imaginer qu'elle est sans coeur. Elle va se devouer entierement a ses pauvres; elle vit absolument de la vie d'une soeur-de-charite, sans le titre.
"La mort de mon cousin, et peut-etre l'eloignement de ma cousine, me laisseront, pour ainsi dire, sans parents. Je ne regrette pas de m'etre donne une nouvelle famille en France, et je me felicite des bonnes relations, si franchement cordiales, que j'ai avec mes deux beaux-freres et avec ma belle-soeur."
Some time later he wrote to the same friend:—
"Nous avons fait un charmant voyage sur la Saone, de Macon a Verdun avec retour a Chalon—une flanerie a voile avec toutes les varietes de temps: vents forts et vents faibles, calmes plats (c'est le moins agreable), bourrasques, beau temps, pluie, clair-de-lune, obscurite presque complete, splendeurs du soleil. Comme nous voyageons a toute heure du jour et de la nuit, nous voyons la nature sous tous les aspects imaginables. Cela renouvelle pour moi cette intimite avec la nature qui etait un des plus grands bonheurs de ma jeunesse.
"C'est a peu pres le seul genre de voyage que j'aime reellement, et c'est le seul qui me fasse du bien."
Note in the diary:—
"January 13, 1888. Fought nearly all day against a difficulty about 'French and English,' and decided to divide the book into large sections and small chapters, divisions and subdivisions. Chapters to be confined strictly to their special subjects."
It became the main work of the year, with the articles on catamarans for the "Yacht," and the numerous drawings to illustrate them. The autobiography was also carried forward.
Our little pony, Cocote, was growing old and rheumatic, and could no longer render much service. My husband was unwilling to make her work at the cost of pain, and we found it impossible to do without a reliable horse at such a distance from Autun.
As Cocote was not always unfit for work—only at intervals—her master decided to buy a horse that he might ride when the pony could manage the carriage work. He chose a young, nice-looking mare at a neighboring farm, and took great pleasure in riding her every day; this regular habit of exercise in the open air was of great benefit to his health.
The death of Paul Rajon, which occurred in the summer, was deeply lamented by my husband, who, besides his great appreciation of the artist's exquisite talent, entertained for him sentiments of real friendship. When we came to live at Paris, he made a pilgrimage to his house, and to his, alas! neglected tomb at Auvers.
In August, Mr. Seeley wished to republish in book form some of Mr. Hamerton's contributions to the "Portfolio," and to give his portrait as a frontispiece. He wrote about it: "My traveller says he is continually asked for your portrait. If Jeens were living I would ask him to engrave it, but as we have no one approaching him in skill, perhaps the safest plan would be a photogravure from a negative taken on purpose."
My husband suggested that perhaps Mr. H. Manesse might etch the portrait satisfactorily. Mr. Seeley thought it an excellent idea, and said he was willing to give the commission.
Mr. H. Manesse arrived on October 17, and set to work immediately. He was most assiduous, and progressed happily with his work. His model drove him out every day—the weather being fine,—and they derived pleasure from each other's society, being both interested in the beauty of nature and in artistic subjects.
"Man in Art" begun.—Family events.—Mr. G. T Watts.—Mr. Bodley. —"French and English."
After long reflections given to the choice of a subject for a new illustrated book, Mr. Hamerton thought that after "Landscape in Art," "Man in Art" would be interesting as a study.
Mr. Craik wrote: "'Man in Art' is an excellent idea; you will find us ready to embark on it with sanguine expectation. You will later tell me your ideas of illustrating—it ought to be well done in this particular; but if there is a chance of your coming to England next winter we might settle this better in talk."
In the spring Stephen and Richard came as usual for the Easter vacation, but our younger son's altered looks and ways greatly disquieted us. In the last year he had evinced a growing disinclination to society and pleasure; his former liveliness, gayety, and love of jokes had been replaced by an obvious preference for solitude, and, as it seemed to us, melancholy brooding. To our anxious inquiries he had answered that he was nervous, and suffering from mental unrest and insomnia. His tone of voice was now despondent, and if he spoke of the future it was with bitterness and lassitude. He had been so bright, so confident in his powers, so full of praiseworthy ambition, so ready to enjoy life, that this sudden change surprised all his friends and gave great anxiety to his parents. I begged his father to question him about his health, and to advise him to get a conge which he could spend in the country with us, and during which he might rest thoroughly.
But I was told that he had not borne the questioning patiently. He had answered that he was "only nervous ... very nervous, and wanted peace." How different was this answer from the one he had given three years before to another inquiry of his father when he was going to his first post.
"Richard, I can give you no fortune to start you in life—education was all I could afford, so you will have to make your own way. You are now strong and well, but you have been a delicate child, and have often suffered physically. Now, considering all this—are you happy?"
"Happy?" he had readily answered, "I am very happy; I enjoy life exceedingly. As to money matters, I can truly say that I would not exchange the education you have given me for three thousand pounds."
My husband attempted to calm my sad forebodings by telling me that there is generally a crisis in the life of a boy before he becomes a man, and he concluded persuasively by saying: "C'est un homme qui va sortir de la." But I felt that his own mind was still full of care.
When the time of my yearly departure for Paris came round, I recommended Gilbert to hire a tricycle, and try to get a change of exercise by alternately riding his horse and his velocipede, and he promised to do so.
For some time I had been desirous to join Mary, on account of her confidences about the probability of her becoming engaged. Of these confidences I said nothing to her father, as I had made it a rule not to disturb him about any projects of marriage for his daughter till I felt satisfied that everything was suitable and likely to lead to a happy result. His love for Mary was so tender, his fears of any match which would not secure for her the greatest possible amount of happiness so great, his dread of the unavoidable separation so keen, that I avoided the subject as much as possible.
When I arrived at Bourg-la-Reine, I was disappointed not to see Richard at the station, with his sister and cousins awaiting me, as he had done the year before, but I tried not to seem to notice it. He came, however, on the following day and breakfasted with us at his uncle's. He appeared cheerful enough when he talked, but as soon as he was silent his features resumed the downcast expression they had worn for some time, and he was ashy pale.
Being obliged to take Mary to her last music-lesson, I asked Richard when I should see him again?... He gave me a kiss, and said "To-morrow." There was to be no morrow for him.
* * * * *
When, after vainly waiting for him, the cruel news of his tragic end was broken to us by M. Pelletier, when we learned that the poor boy had committed suicide, my sorrow was rendered almost unbearable by apprehension for my husband. I had long feared that there might be something wrong with his heart, and now I became a prey to the most torturing forebodings. My daughter and brother-in-law shared in them, and M. Pelletier approved my resolution to leave Paris immediately and endeavor to be with Gilbert before the delivery of the newspapers.
Mary and I left by the first train we could take, and arrived at La Tuilerie shortly before eleven at night. My husband divined at once that there was some great calamity, but his fears were for M. Pelletier. When he knew the truth, he silently wrapped me in his arms, pressing me to his bosom, within which I felt the laboring heart beating with such violence that I thought it could but break....
* * * * *
The courage of which my husband gave proofs in this bitter trial was mainly derived from his pitiful sympathy for those whose weakness he supported. He sought relief in work, but did not easily find it. There is the same plaintive entry in the diary for some weeks: "Tried to work; not fit for it." "Tried to do something; not very well." "Not fit for much; succeeded in reading a little" "Attempted to write a few letters. Rather unwell." Then he gave up the diary for some time.
More than ever I felt reluctant to tell him of what had happened to Mary, and of the probability of her marriage; however, she had been so sorely tried by the loss of her brother, that it was imperative to turn her thoughts from it, as much as possible, to other prospects. This conviction decided me to tell her father everything, and it was a great relief to hear that he shared my views entirely. Although I had learned long since how little he considered his own comfort in comparison with that of those dear to him, how unselfish he was—in affection as in other matters—I must avow that I was unprepared for the readiness of his self-sacrifice in this case. We were both of opinion that if all went well, the marriage should take place as early as possible, so as to bring a thorough change in the clouded existence of our daughter.
Note in the diary: "Monsieur Raillard this morning asked Mary to marry him, with my consent, and she accepted him. Day passed pleasantly. I drove Raillard and his mother to the station."
It now became necessary to make preparations for the wedding, which was to take place in the beginning of September. For the choice of an apartment and its furniture my husband himself considerately suggested my going again to Paris with Mary, where we would meet M. Raillard and consult his tastes. Accordingly I left La Tuilerie very reluctantly after the great and recent shock my husband had experienced. I am convinced it was due to the manful effort he made not to increase my distress by the sight of his own that he conquered his nervousness from that time, and was even able to strengthen and support me on my too frequent breakdowns. He attributed Richard's desperate action partly to depression arising from the effects of an accident, confided only to his brother, but partly also to the influence of unhealthy and pessimist literature on a mind already diseased, and he had said so to Mr. Seeley, who answered:—
"I am sure that poor Richard came under the influence of pure and noble examples. It may be that there was actual brain disease, though of a nature that no surgeon at present has skill to detect. I suppose it is possible that disease in the organ of thought may be accelerated or retarded by the nature of the thoughts suggested in daily life or conversation; and I suppose every one believes that in such disorders there may come a time when the will, without blame, is overmastered.
"As to the bad literature of the day, I believe our feelings are quite in unison. What an awful responsibility for the happiness of families rests upon successful authors—and upon publishers too!"
The letters of condolence and sympathy were numerous and heartfelt; some came late, for the friends who had known Richard in his bright and merry days refused to believe that it was the same Richard who had come to so tragic an end; they thought it was a coincidence of name. I only give Mr. Beljame's letter to show how the poor boy had endeared himself to every one, and in what esteem he was generally held. All the other letters expressed the same sentiments in different words.
"8 juillet 1889.
"Je suis bien sensible, Monsieur, a votre lettre, ou vous m'associez, en des termes qui me touchent profondement, au souvenir de votre fils Richard, mon cher et excellent eleve.
"C'etait pour moi, non seulement un disciple dont je me faisais honneur, mais aussi un veritable ami, et depuis son installation a Paris, j'avais eu grand plaisir a l'accueillir dans ma famille. Les details que vous voulez bien me donner, m'expliquent pourquoi, dans ces derniers mois, ses visites etaient, a mon grand regret, devenues de plus en plus rares.
"Sa fin si inattendue, alors que la vie semblait de tous cotes lui sourire, a ete pour moi une douloureuse surprise; j'ai refuse d'abord d'y croire; c'est pourquoi je ne vous ai pas tout de suite ecrit.
"J'ai tenu a me joindre a ceux qui lui ont rendu les derniers devoirs; et j'ai charge alors votre fils aine et votre beau-frere d'etre mes interpretes aupres de vous.
"A des malheurs comme celui qui vient de vous frapper il n'y a pas de consolation possible. Si c'est au moins un adoucissement de savoir que celui qui n'est plus laisse derriere lui de souvenir d'un esprit d'elite, d'une nature aimante et aimable, soyez assure que tels sont bien les sentiments que votre fils a inspires a tous ceux qui l'ont connu, a ses camarades de la Sorbonne, qui l'avaient en affection particuliere, a ses collegues—mais a nul plus qu'a son ancien maitre qui vous envoie aujourd'hui, ainsi qu'a Madame Hamerton, l'expression de sa triste et respectueuse sympathie.
When Mr. Seeley was told of Mary's engagement, he wrote: "We are very glad to hear of Mary's engagement, and we wish her all possible happiness. But because you and I are so nearly of an age, I cannot help thinking most of you, and thinking what the loss to you and to Mrs. Hamerton will be."
In preceding years Mary's brothers and cousins had often made projects in expectation of her marriage, but under the present painful circumstances it was understood that only relations would he invited. Still the disturbance in our habits could not be avoided, as we had to provide lodgings for twenty people. My husband gave up his laboratory and his studio and with the help of the boys transformed the hay-loft into working premises. He got carpenters to fit up the big laundry as a dining-room, under his directions, and when fresh-looking mats covered the tiles, and when the huge chimney-piece, the walls, and the doors were ornamented with tall ferns, shiny hollies, and blooming heather, of which Stephen and his cousins had gathered a cartful, the effect was very charming.
My husband had to be reminded several times to order new clothes for the ceremony,—a visit to his tailor being one of the things he most disliked,—and being indisposed to give a thought to the fit, he used to decline all responsibility in the matter by making me a judge of it. His fancy had been once tickled by hearing a market-woman say that, though she did not know my name, she identified me as "la petite Dame difficile," and he called me so when I found fault with his attire.
A few days before the wedding he had gone to Autun, to fetch different things in the carriage, among them his dress-coat and frock-coat, and after putting on the last, came for my verdict. "It fits badly; it is far too large." ... Then I was interrupted by—"I was sure of it; now what is wrong with it?" "Wrong? why everything is wrong; the cloth itself is not black—it looks faded and rusty—why, it can't be new!" "Not new!... and I bring it straight from the tailor's. Really, your inclination to criticism is beyond—" He was getting somewhat impatient, for the time given to trying on was, in his estimate, so much time lost. "It is an old coat," I nevertheless said decisively. "Your tailor has made a mistake, that's all." "I am certain it is my coat," he answered, quite angrily this time. "I feel at ease in it; the pockets are just in their right place;" and as he plunged his hands deliberately in the convenient pockets, he drew out of one an old "Daily News," and from the other a worn-out pair of gloves. His amazement was indescribable, but he soon joined in the general merriment at his expense—for Mary and Jeanne, the cousins, and even M. Pelletier, had been called as umpires to decide the case between us. The new coat had been left in the dressing-room, and it was the old one, given as a pattern to the tailor, which had been tried on. The best of it was that on the day of the ceremony Gilbert committed the same mistake; luckily I perceived it when he had still time to change.
He attached so little importance to his toilet that he never knew when he was in want of anything, yet his appearance was never untidy, in spite of his omissions. I remember a little typical incident about this disinclination to give a thought to needful though prosaic details. Before leaving for England on one occasion, I had repeatedly called his attention to what he required—in particular a warm winter suit and an overcoat. He had promised several times to order them, but when the day of our departure arrived he had forgotten all about it. "It's no matter," he said; "I shall get them ready-made in London, and with the chic anglais too." In England we found the temperature already severe, and I urged him to make his purchases. On the very same day, he announced complacently that he had made them, and they were to be sent on the morrow. He was quite proud of having got through the business, particularly because he had bought two suits, though he needed only one. "The other would turn out useful some time," he said. And lo! when the box was opened, I discovered that instead of clothes fit for visits, he had been persuaded to accept a sort of shooting-jacket of coarse gray tweed, waistcoat and trousers to match, with a pair of boots only fit for mountaineering. When I told him my opinion, he acknowledged it to be right, but said the tailor had assured him that "they would be lasting." And he added: "I was in a hurry, having to go to the National Gallery, and I felt confident the man would know what I wanted, after telling him."
Mary was married on September 3, and she was so much loved in the village that every cottage sent at least one of its members to the ceremony; the children whom she had taught, and in whom she had always taken so much interest, came in numbers, and the evident respectful affection of these simple people quite moved and impressed the parents of M. Raillard. Her father was also pleased with the presence of all our neighbors and friends, and he went through the trying day with entire self-command. But when the birds had flown away the nest seemed empty and silent indeed, and to fill up the time till their return, I thought a little cruise on wheels would be the best diversion.
The weather was still fine and warm enough for working from nature, and preparations were made for a sketching tour, in which M. Pelletier would accompany his brother-in-law while the house was put to rights again.
They started with Cadette, and went successively to Etang, Toulon-sur-Arroux, St. Nizier, Charbonnat, Luzy, La Roche-Millay, St. Leger, l'Etang-des-Poissons, and La Grande-Verriere,—a most picturesque excursion, from which my husband brought back several interesting studies.
The day after the return, M. Pelletier and his family left us, my brother, his wife and daughters, who had been bridesmaids, having preceded them.
At the end of a fortnight Raoul Raillard and his wife came back to spend with us the rest of the vacation. The day they went away the diary said, "We bore the separation pretty well." Yes, we bore it pretty well this time, because it was not to be very long. It had been decided that as soon as the young couple were settled in their apartments, we should become their guests,—my husband hoping, in this way, to see the great Exhibition at leisure and without fatigue.
We arrived at M. Raillard's on October 13, and the very next day saw us in the English Fine Arts department of the Exhibition. Our daughter lived in the Rue de la Tour, at Passy, an easy walking distance to the Champ de Mars, and her father made it a rule to go there on foot with me every morning between the first breakfast and dejeuner a la fourchette. The plan answered very well. We were almost alone in the rooms, and could see the pictures at our leisure. My husband took his notes with ease and comfort, without nervousness. After a two hours' study, we went back to the family lunch, and such was Gilbert's improvement in health that he often took us again to the Exhibition in the afternoon merely for pleasure.
He enjoyed the works of art immensely, and said that he felt like a ravenous man to whom a splendid banquet was offered.
Being also greatly interested in the progress of the various sciences, he liked to become acquainted with all new inventions, and often resorted to the Galerie des Machines.
Mr. Seeley had been told of our intended visit to England, in case my husband did not feel any bad effects from the stay in Paris, and he wrote: "It is fortunate that you are coming just now, when we want to start the 'Portfolio' on a new career; it will be delightful to consult over it with you. Do not exhaust your energy in Paris, and find you have none left to bring you over to England."
Although he worked unremittingly, he felt no fatigue; his nervous system was quiet and allowed him to seek diligently for promises of new talent among the mass of painters and engravers, and to feast his artistic sense in the Exposition du Centenaire. He also gave more than his usual attention to sculpture, and was of opinion that France remained unrivalled in that branch of art.
On our way to England we stopped at Chantilly, and slept at Calais in the Hotel Maritime, on the new pier. I almost believe that we happened to be the first travellers asking for a bedroom, for the waiters offered excuses for the still incomplete furnishing, and for the service not being yet properly organized. After a good night's rest, we visited Calais Maritime and the important engineering works there, for which my husband expressed great admiration. On arriving in London we went straight to Mr. and Mrs. Seeley's, who had kindly invited us to stay with them till we found comfortable lodgings.
It was not Gilbert's intention to stay long in England this time; he had come mainly to discuss with Mr. Seeley the improvements they both desired to introduce in the "Portfolio," and to choose the illustrations for "Man in Art." In order not to lose time, he decided to take lodgings in a central part, as near to the National Gallery as possible; but he wished the street not to be noisy. He found what he wanted in Craven Street.
This time he had to pay calls alone, and to beg our friends to excuse me, for I had not yet been able to master my sorrow sufficiently to allow of my resuming social intercourse without fear of breaking down. With her tender sympathy, Mrs. Seeley bore with me, and strove to console me when my resignation failed; but I could but feel that I was a saddening guest.
While we were still at Nutfield, Mr. A. H. Palmer, the son of Samuel Palmer, who had a warm admiration for Mr. Hamerton, had been invited to meet him, and he brought his camera with him, proposing to take our photographs. The portraits of the ladies were failures; Mr. Seeley's was fairly successful; but my husband's was the best portrait we had ever seen of him, very fine and characteristic.
We had intended to spend only two or three days with M. and Madame Raillard on our return, but our son-in-law being obliged to leave suddenly on account of his grandmother's illness, and unwilling to expose his wife to contagion, we offered to remain with her till he should come back.
We soon received the sad news of the deaths, at an interval of two days only, of the grandmother and an aunt; also of the dangerous illness of Madame Raillard senior, which happily did not prove fatal, the disease having apparently spent its virulence on the two first victims.
During our enforced stay in Paris Gilbert wrote an article for the "Photographic Quarterly" on Photogravure and Heliogravure, and for the "Portfolio" a review of Mr. Pennell's book on Pen-and-Ink Drawing. We went by boat to Suresnes, to see the banks of the Seine, for Mary was trying to draw us to live nearer to her. With her husband she had already visited several pretty places in the neighborhood of Paris, and had given us some very tempting descriptions. As for me, I should have desired nothing better than to live near to my daughter, but I never expected my husband to reconcile himself to town life.
There was a marked and decided improvement in his ability to travel, for he did not suffer at all on the way home; it is true that we strictly adhered to the rule of slow and night trains.
The pleasant exercise of riding had to be reluctantly given up because Cadette, who had betrayed from the beginning a slight weakness in the knees, now stumbled often and badly, especially out of harness. The veterinary surgeon who had examined her before we bought her, had said that it was of no consequence, only the result of poor feeding, and would disappear after a course of prolonged river-baths. Instead of disappearing, the tendency had so much increased that it was deemed safer not to trust Cadette even in the two-wheeled carriage, at least for a while. This mishap was the beginning of my husband's real appreciation of velocipedes. He had liked them well enough from the first, and used to hire one now and then, but it was only after he had become possessed of a good tricycle that the taste for the kind of exercise it affords developed itself apace. M. Raillard had made him a present of one for which he had little use in Paris, and this present having been made just after Mary's betrothal, her father playfully said that "he had sold his daughter for a velocipede."
As soon as he had adopted the machine as his ordinary steed, he began to consider how to make it carry his sketching apparatus. He invented various straps, boxes, holders, rings, etc., fitting in different places according to the bulk and nature of the things he wished to have with him: a sketching umbrella, a stool, and all that was needful for water-color, etching, or oil-painting. He also devised a zinc box, easily adapted to the tricycle, to take his letters, manuscripts, and parcels to the post, and found it very convenient.
At the end of January he was seized with an attack of gout which lasted a week, and took him quite by surprise, for he had not neglected physical exercise; the doctor, however, said that an attack of gout might be brought on by a mere change of locality—and we had just returned from Paris.
He strove to do some work in spite of pain and bad nights, and succeeded now and then, and as soon as he could manage—with help—to get into the carriage, he drove out for change of air.
In March he received from Mr. Watts the permission he had asked, to have his portrait of Lord Lawrence engraved.
I transcribe Mr. Watts's letters, with two others which had preceded it, to show in what esteem he held his correspondent's opinions.
"MONKSHATCH, GUILDFORD, SURREY. November 23, 1889.
"MY DEAR SIR,—Our short talk was very interesting to me, and I should like to have an opportunity of explaining my views on art and the practice of it, which opportunity I hope you will give me at some future time. I have asked Mr. F. Hollyer of 9 Pembroke Square, Kensington, to let you have prints of Lord Lawrence and Mr. Peabody. On the other side of the sheet I send the permission you require."
"MONKSHATCH, GUILDFORD, SURREY. December 4, 1889.
"MY DEAR SIR,—I have just seen the December number of the 'Magazine of Art,' in which I find an engraving of my portrait of Peabody. I did not know that it would be there, but I have given Mr. Spielman a sort of general permission to use certain of the photographs. I do not know whether the appearance of the head will vitiate the interest of your proposed publication, but I hope not, as the use of it will be of a very different nature.
"I am much gratified by what you said of my works in your letter to me. However limited may be the result of my efforts, I have worked from the very beginning with sincerity of aim, certainly never regarding the profession as a trade; and for some years not considering my avocation as a profession, declining to paint portraits professionally or to take commissions.
"Such wares as I may have of an unimportant aim and character, I am not unwilling to sell, as Lord Derby is not unwilling to sell his coals; for I am not wealthy, and find many good ways of using money, but I do not regard my art as a source of income any longer. I hope some day to have the pleasure of discussing certain artistic questions with you."
"MONKSHATCH, GUILDFORD, SURREY. March 14, 1890.
"MY DEAR SIR,—The picture of Lord Lawrence is in my possession, and the engraver may have it for two weeks in May or June. Of course he is trustworthy! The picture being one of those I have made over to the nation, I lend it with a certain hesitation, as I do not consider it belongs to me. I am flattered by the opinion of the young men, especially as I think I may hope it becomes more favorable with time.
"The portrait of Tennyson is at South Kensington, and no doubt I can easily manage that Mr. Frank Short should have access to it.
"I do not expect to be in town for good before the end of April, but here I am within an hour and a half of London."
Although a great amount of labor had been bestowed upon "Man in Art," the author thought it advanced but slowly, and became anxious as the year wore on. In July he wrote a long explanatory letter to Mr. Craik, and received this answer:—
"I am much interested in your report of what has been done towards the new book. You have done a good bit of work, and I think you have made a thoroughly interesting selection of pictures. You have an almost endless field to choose from.
"It is quite impossible to publish this year, but you ought to have plenty of time to prepare for next autumn. It is strange how long a book with illustrations takes to get ready; but the disappointment when many artists are at work is proverbial.
"I look forward with sanguine interest to the publication next year."
Note in the diary: "I feel much relieved by this letter, altogether a day of detente."
Although he had taken an immense quantity of notes both in London and Paris, my husband was sometimes greatly perplexed by the want of references, and said almost desperately: "No one has any idea of the difficulty of doing my work in my situation,—far from picture galleries, museums, and libraries. It is so arduous that, at times, I feel as if I could not go on. It is too much for the brain to carry so many images, to remember so many things, without the possibility of refreshing my memory, of settling a doubt, of filling up a gap." He was not the only one to wonder at the extraordinary feats of literary production which he was compelled to accomplish under such unfavorable circumstances. AH those who knew of it said that his store of accumulated knowledge must be marvellous indeed. And yet, the only remedy was hardly to be hinted at; I felt so certain that he would be miserable in a great capital that I never mentioned the possibility of living in one of them; he was sufficiently aware of its desirability.
Early in the summer, as I had suffered much from rheumatism, our doctor insisted upon my being sent to Bourbon-Lancy for a course of baths. I was most unwilling to leave my husband now that Mary was married and away, but he said the hope that the treatment would do me good was enough to make him bear his temporary loneliness cheerfully, and then my mother would come to stay with him. As I was very down-hearted myself, he promised to make a break in our separation by coming to see me.
When the first half of my season at the baths was over, I saw him arrive in the little gig with M. Bulliot, who had come on an antiquarian quest. They went together, to see the curious, simple church of St. Nazaire (eleventh century), of which my husband made a drawing. He also sketched a view of the Loire, which may be seen from the height above Bourbon-Lancy, for a great length of its sleepy course.
In the course of the vacation, my husband listened pretty regularly to M. Raillard's English readings out of Emerson or Tennyson, while he occasionally read a little German with his son-in-law. He was very desirous of resuming the study of that language, which, he said, would be of great service in his studies, but he was not able to find the time—Italian absorbing all he could spare. Two masters—or rather a master and a mistress—had been recommended to him, and when he could manage it, he wrote to them alternately long letters in Italian, which they returned corrected.
Mr. Bodley, an English gentleman who was studying French institutions and politics most seriously, and who was acquainted with Mr. Hamerton's works, came in August to see him. This visit was the beginning of a lasting acquaintance, which was appreciated and valued by both parties. When we settled in the Parc des Princes, and when, after his marriage, Mr. Bodley resided in Paris, they met with new pleasure and fresh interest whenever an opportunity offered itself.
Mr. Bodley was commencing his studies on Prance for the work he had just undertaken for Messrs. Macmillan, which should essay to do for France what Mr. Bryce had done for the United States in his "American Commonwealth." Recognizing Mr. Hamerton as the chief English authority on all French questions, he had, soon after his first arrival in Paris, been put into communication with him by the good offices of a common friend in the diplomatic service. A correspondence ensued, in the first letter of which my husband gave Mr. Bodley some advice on an article the latter had been requested to write for the "Quarterly Review," on "Provincial France," before he had had any opportunity of studying the French provinces. Here is part of the letter:—
"AUTUN, SAUNE-ET-LOIRE. June 11, 1890.
"MY DEAR SIR,—It is a laudable, though an extraordinary desire on your part to know something about the subject you have to treat. I have never heard of such a case before. I have known France for thirty-five years, and find generally that English critics, who know nothing two miles from the British Embassy, are ready enough to set me down and teach me my proper place. I send by this post a colis postal, containing—
"1. 'Round my House,' by P. G. H.
"2. 'La France Provinciale,' par Rene Millet.
"3. 'French and English,' by P. G. H.
"I have not a copy of the English edition of 'French and English,' but the Tauchnitz is better, as it had the benefit of correction.
"You ought to notice, with reference to provincial France, the extreme difficulty of making any general statements that are true. For example, it is believed in England that all French land is cut up into small bits. A traveller who writes in the 'Temps' newspaper said lately, that although the greater number of proprietors in the Forest Lands of the Nievre were small owners, the greater part of the land was in the possession of large owners; and he mentioned one who, he said, owned 12,000 hectares (more than 24,000 acres) of excellent forest. He did not give the name. There are several large landowners in this neighborhood. One had an income of L24,000 a year, but it was divided amongst his children.
"France is a very various country, and therefore difficult to know. If you have Mr. H——'s book amongst those you notice, you should bear in mind that it is a strictly partisan publication, hostile to all republicans, against whom the author seems to have taken a brief," etc., etc.
Then followed some other letters, from which. I give a few paragraphs:—
"AUTUN. July 15, 1890.
"You have done an imprudent thing in not publishing your 'Quarterly' article at once. There are two times for writing—first when you know nothing, secondly when you know a great deal; the intermediate time, that of acquisition, is not favorable to writing, because it destroys the author's confidence in himself. He possesses that confidence before learning, and renews it when he has learned. In the interval he suffers from diffidence.
"I am glad to hear that M. Jusserand likes my books; he is just the kind of Frenchman whose opinion one really values.
"I shall be very glad if you can come. I shall be away part of September. All August I shall be at home, but if you could have come about now, it would have been better still."
"July, 28, 1890.
"The shortest rout from Paris to Autun, as to mere distance, is by Laroche, Gravant, Avallon, etc. In the present case I strongly recommend the shorter and more rural route, as being by far the prettier and less fatiguing, and also because it enables you to see one of the most picturesque small towns in France—Avallon. You have five hours to see Avallon, and the picturesque valley that it overlooks.... The next morning you will of course be occupied in seeing Autun, but if you will make your way to the railway station, so as to be there at 11.15, you will see a vehicle with yellow wheels and a chestnut mare, with a white mark on her face. The said vehicle will bring you to Pre-Charmoy (if you will kindly allow it to do so), in time for dejeuner. Please let me know the day. It would be better not to make any hard-and-fast arrangement about your departure, as I may be able to persuade you to take some drives with me to see something in this neighborhood."
"AUTUN. November 2, 1890.
"I received the 'Quarterly' this morning, and read your article. Towards the close, you say every Frenchman in the provinces works. That, I am sorry to say, is a mistake. Unfortunately there is still a strong survival of the old caste prejudice against work, as being beneath a gentleman. All the young men I know whose parents are very well off are as idle as they can be, unless they go into the army or the Church, and now they hardly ever go into the Church, or when they do it is in some order (Jesuits, Marists, etc.). I was talking about this with a rich old French gentleman about ten days ago, and he deeply deplored it; he said he felt more respect for common workmen than for the idle young men in his own class.
"You appear to think that the Morvan language is a Celtic tongue. No; it is only a French patois, very interesting and peculiar in its grammatical forms. I understand it partly when spoken, and can read it with some little difficulty. My daughter understands it very well. Our servants speak it among themselves. Their French is very pure, though somewhat limited in its vocabulary.
"It seems to me that you are happily endowed and situated for undertaking a work of the kind you intend to write. You have seen a great deal of the world, you have no prejudices, you desire nothing but to be just, and especially you have that very rare quality—a right curiosity. I was pleased, and a little amused by the contrast, when I compared you with the strangely uninterested English whom I have seen in and out of France. I recollect staying with a friend in England, a few years ago, and I noticed that he did not ask me one single question about France. He simply talked of his own locality, and did not appear to take the slightest interest in the continent of Europe.
"You made me pass a very pleasant day, which encourages the hope that you will come again to this neighborhood. There is a great deal to be seen within a driving radius, especially if you consent to sleep one night away from home.
"My wife and I are going to Paris in December, when I mean to look you up."
To another visitor whose name I am not at liberty to mention, my husband had written the following interesting letter:—
"Whilst driving home in the dark, after saying good-bye to you, I thought over your remarks about the great revolution in habits of thought which must take place in consequence of the influence of scientific methods. The difficulty I foresee is this. Religions supply a want that science does not and cannot supply; they answer to the need of certain emotions—trust, hope, joy, 'peace in believing,' the happiness of thinking that we are each of us individually cared for by a supremely good and all-powerful Father. Women especially seem to need these emotions to make life happy for them, and when they cease to believe, as many now do, they feel a sense of desolation. The most successful religion (the Roman) has succeeded by supplying most abundantly that care and those consolations which women expect a religion to give, and which science does not in the least degree supply; in fact, women usually dislike science. Now, as the churches maintain themselves chiefly by the influence and support of women, may they not continue to maintain themselves indefinitely in this way? Is it not possible, to mention a special case, that the Roman Catholic Church may exist for an indefinite length of time simply as a provider of the kind of authority and the kind of emotion that women desire, and that they cannot obtain from science? Mr.——, a friend of mine, considers religion absolutely necessary to women, and to many men, not that he at all considers religion to be true in the matter-of-fact sense, but the scientific truth of a doctrine is quite distinct from its beneficial effect upon the mind.
"For my part, I don't know what to think about the future. Long ago I used to hope for a true religion, but now I see that if it is to be free from mythology, it ceases to be a religion altogether, and becomes only science, which has none of the heating and energizing force that a real religion certainly possesses. Neither has science its power of uniting men in bonds of brotherhood, and in giving them an effective hostile action against others as religious intolerance does."
On the subject of religious belief, my husband had written previously to Mr. Seeley:—
"I have been corresponding with a friend [the same Mr.—— mentioned in the letter to another visitor] about the religious views of Mark Pattison and Dean Stanley. He knew both of them, and quite confirms what I had heard before, that they were no more believers than Renan. Pattison he describes as a conservative agnostic or pantheist, meaning by 'conservative' a man who thought it better to preserve old forms. I recollect that Appleton told me when he was here that there was not the slightest obligation on a clergyman of the Church of England to believe in the divinity of Christ, and that many clergymen in the present day, including Pattison, had no such belief. My friend himself seems to be an agnostic, and a strong supporter of the Church of England at the same time, and quite lately he earnestly counselled some young English ladies (who were Unitarians, but obliged to live abroad) to join the Church of England for the sake of 'religious fellowship.' He tells me that there is in Dean Stanley's 'Christian Institutions' an exposition of the Apostles' Creed, containing hardly a syllable to which Renan could not subscribe.
"From all this it would appear that some, at least, of the English clergy have adopted the Jesuit principle, practically so convenient, by which any one may have an esoteric religion for himself as the comfortable lining of the cloak, and an esoteric religion for other people as the outside of the cloak. Meanwhile these clergymen are deeply respected, whilst honest men whose opinions are not one whit more heretical are stigmatized as 'infidels,' and excluded from 'good society.' You seem to have got into a curious condition in England. Surely many laymen are right in distrusting parsons."
As editor of the "Portfolio," he had been contributing articles from time to time, but Mr. Seeley was anxious to see him undertake an important series for the following year. He proposed different subjects likely to tempt the author's fancy, and suggested "Turner in Switzerland;" but one of the difficulties was the quantity of work done by Turner in Switzerland, and the time that would be required to follow in his steps. Another suggestion of Mr. Seeley's was to write about a group of French living artists who would be good representatives of the modern school, and whose works would furnish striking illustrations. He said with his usual kind thoughtfulness: "I must confess that my suggestion of a French subject arose partly from the pleasure you would find in paying a visit to your daughter at Paris; and partly also from the reflection that Paris is not far from London."
Mr. Hamerton had proposed "The Louvre," but it was feared that the subject would not be a popular one; and after mature consideration, the idea of a connected series of articles on modern French painters was entertained by both publisher and editor. Mr. Seeley wrote: "I was rather in hopes that my vague suggestion of a subject might take root in your mind and develop into something definite; or, to change the metaphor, that it might be a spark to kindle your invention. I think such a series would be interesting here, and would furnish admirable subjects for twelve etchings."
A journey to Paris was then decided upon for the winter.
The Saone cruise proved particularly pleasant this time, on account of the welcome offered to the passengers of "L'Arar" by several friends at Neuville, who most hospitably entertained them on land and water. They were invited on board "L'Hirondelle" and "Petite Amie," and raced "L'Arar" against them. It was a comfort to my husband to feel himself among friends, for he suddenly suffered from an irregular action of the heart which lasted for thirty-six hours, but ceased as suddenly as it came. He had had another distress of the same kind in the summer, but only of a couple of hours' duration. I had entreated him to see a doctor at the time; but he said it was only nervousness. At Neuville likewise he refused to seek advice, feeling sure it would cease of itself; and now I have the painful certainty that he was already laboring under the symptoms of heart disease. Still, he speedily recovered, and resumed his studies in water-colors and in pen-and-ink the day after.
I see by this note in the diary that he was well satisfied with his boat: "Sept. 15. My studies occupied me till lunch-time, and then, after dejeuner, we started in 'L'Arar' to try an experiment in sailing with a breeze so light as to be imperceptible, sheets not even stretched, yet we went up as far as Pont Vert and beyond. We might have gone further, but came back to call upon Madame Vibert."
In October, Mr. Hamerton wrote an article for "Chambers' Encyclopaedia" on the "History of Art," and another for the "Portfolio" on "National Supremacy in Painting." Having been asked to contribute to the "Forum," he began in November an article on "Home Life in France."
He was always anxious to clear up any international misunderstanding between France and England, and had written in May to the "Pall Mall Gazette" an explanatory letter on the so-called persecution of the Church by the Republic, as regarded the execution of the decrees concerning religious orders.
He had also sent a letter to the "Academy" on "France and the Republic."
Although very tolerant himself in matters of religion, it was his opinion that the State, whether under a Republic or a Monarchy, had a right to exact obedience to its laws as well from religious bodies as from private persons; and that a Republican government ought not to be accused of tyranny because it enforced the execution of these general laws. But people are very apt to take the view which M. de Cassagnac so frankly avowed when addressing the Republican party in the Chamber: "We claim unbounded liberty for ourselves—because you promise it in your programme; but we refuse it to you—because it is contrary to our principles."
About the middle of November there was copied into the "Temps" an anonymous letter which had appeared in "Truth," professing to express the hostile feelings entertained by English naval officers against the officers of the French fleet, which had recently visited Malta. This roused Mr. Hamerton's indignation; the more so as he never for one moment believed the discourteous and outrageous letter to be genuine. I transcribe his explanation of the incident as given by himself to his son-in-law:—
"Novembre 17, 1890.
"MON CHER FILS,—Il m'est arrive de pouvoir, je crois, etre utile au maintien des bonnes relations entre les marines anglaises et francaises. Un journal anglais, 'Truth,' a publie il y a quinze jours une lettre sans signature, mais presentee comme la communication authentique d'un officier de notre flotte de la Mediterranee. Dans cette lettre l'ecrivain representait les officiers comme tres mecontents d'etre obliges de donner l'hospitalite a ceux de l'escadre francaise qui est venue a Malte; disant que c'etait leur metier de recevoir les Francais a coups de fusil et qu'ils ne desiraient pas les voir autrement.
"Je connais assez les sentiments d'un 'English gentleman,' (et nos officiers de marine se piquent de soutenir ce caractere) pour savoir qu'ils comprendraient l'hospitalite mieux que cela, et j'ai envoye le paragraphe en question a l'Amiral commandant la flotte Anglaise de la Mediterranee, en lui suggerant l'idee d'une protestation. Il m'a repondu par telegramme qu'au recu de ma lettre l'indignation avait ete generale parmi les officiers et qu'ils preparent une protestation qu'ils m'enverront pour que je la fasse circuler autant que possible dans la presse francaise. Le retard a ete probablement occasionne par les mouvements de la flotte."