Philip Gilbert Hamerton
Philip Gilbert Hamerton et al
Part 11 out of 11
The scheme did not require much literary labor, but it involved careful
researches for the choice of subjects, delicate negotiations with the
owners of the pictures chosen, to obtain the right of reproduction, and
moreover a superintendence of these reproductions as to quality.
After giving due consideration to the subject of "Humor in Painting" for
the "Portfolio," the editor did not feel inclined to undertake it. But
in his frequent walks about Paris his attention had been forcibly
attracted by the invention and fancy shown in the designs of modern
houses, and that was a study quite congenial to his tastes, and a
subject on which he was thoroughly competent to write. It was proposed
to Mr. Seeley, who accepted it, and from that moment we haunted the
quarters in which new buildings were rising, as if by magic, in the
purity of the white stone used in Paris, and in the richness or delicacy
of their carvings and mosaics.
Besides these various preparations for future work, Mr. Hamerton had
been much occupied by annotating a collection of different things
intended as a present to the Mechanics' Institution of Burnley. Shortly
after sending it off, he received the warm thanks of the Council through
The search after suitable subjects for "Scribner's Magazine" had only
yielded an insufficient number, and my husband decided to go to London
in July to complete his list. He felt so well that the idea of
undertaking the journey alone did not make him apprehensive in the
least. Not so with me, and my anxiety was only calmed after receiving
the assurance that he had felt perfectly comfortable the whole way.
His daughter wrote to him:--
"MON CHER PAPA,--Nous avons ete bien heureux d'apprendre que tu as ete
'si grand garcon' comme dit Bonne-maman. Ta temerite nous a tous etonnes
et nous a fait plaisir en meme temps. Ce changement ne pourra que te
faire du bien puisque tu l'as supporte d'une facon aussi parfaite."
Here is a part of the answer:--
"ARUNDEL HOTEL, VICTORIA EMBANKMENT, LONDON,
"_July_ 22, 1893.
"I am extremely pleased with my hotel, which is just what I wanted, both
as to convenience of situation, beauty, and charges. From the window
where I am writing I can see the river and a garden with trees, and some
fine architecture on the Embankment (Quai), yet I am close to the
busiest part of London.
"I was in the Academy yesterday, and enjoyed it very much. I feel
perfectly well, and not in the least fatigued by my journey, from which
I experienced no inconvenience whatever, except an increased appetite,
which has remained with me ever since."
Shortly after my husband's return from London, Mr. Jaccaci, an American
artist and author, and a devoted friend of M. Vierge, came to see us,
and Gilbert's interest in him was quickly awakened. I was told that he
had travelled much, and, though still young, could speak eight
languages. There was a first bond between them in their admiration of M.
Vierge's talent, and in their sympathy for his individuality. They met
several times at his studio. Unfortunately Mr. Jaccaci's stay was of
short duration, and he was extremely busy, so much so indeed that he
could not accept an invitation, but promised to do so next time he came
to Paris. His departure did not put an end to the friendly intercourse,
which was carried on by correspondence.
At the first appearance of the "Portfolio" it had taken an entirely new
line among English periodicals, but now there were two other art
magazines similar in character and style of illustration, and both its
editor and publisher were desirous of an alteration which would once
more distinguish it from similar periodicals.
They considered how it might be remodelled, so as to give it a new
character of its own, and at last, taking into consideration the
prejudice which had set in against big books, they decided to reduce its
size and to increase the letterpress considerably. Each number was to be
devoted to one subject, and written by the same author, so as to be
complete in itself. The new second title, "Monographs on Artistic
Subjects," was liked by many critics, and one of them said: "Monographs!
I wonder whose idea that was. What an admirable plan! Strange that no
one ever thought of it before!"
The editor undertook to write the first number, on "The Etchings of
Rembrandt;" but in spite of his enthusiasm for the subject, and his
thorough knowledge of it, he felt painfully hurried, for the decision
had been taken somewhat late in the year. He told me he would have liked
to devote six months to its preparation. Still, the new plan gave him
much pleasant anticipation of carefully prepared work, as he disliked
devoting his time to subjects of minor importance. A number of the
"Portfolio" now allowed of a worthy subject being worthily treated, and
that was in accordance with my husband's preferred method of work.
With the ordinary autumnal remittance Roberts Brothers wrote:--
"We have just bought a copy of 'The Isles of Loch Awe, and Other Poems,'
by P. G. Hamerton, Esq. 1859. Second thousand.
"We have had a good many years a copy of the first edition, 1855, which
we once loaned to Mr. Longfellow, who made from it selections for his
collection of 'Poems of Places,' and in it we have placed his letter of
thanks for the loan."
Some time in the spring my husband had made the acquaintance of M.
Darmesteter, and had hoped that it might grow into closer intimacy, M.
Darmesteter and his wife having promised to call; but we learned that
they had been mistaken as to the situation of our house, and in November
Mr. Hamerton received this reply to one of his letters:--
"CHER MONSIEUR,--Excusez mon retard a vous remercier de votre aimable
lettre du 16 courant. Nous rentrons a peine et vous savez ce que c'est
qu'une rentree en ville.
"Hafiz malheureusement n'est pas traduit que je sache en francais. Il en
existe une traduction allemande en 3 vol....
"Nous avons bien regrette de ne pouvoir, avant de quitter Paris, faire
un tour au Parc-des-Princes et presenter nos hommages a Madame Hamerton.
Ce sera pour l'annee qui vient j'espere.
"Croyez moi, cher Monsieur,
"Votre bien devoue,
Death, alas! prevented another meeting, for M. Darmesteter, who was
already in weak health, did not live very long after.
Mr. Seeley thought the monograph on Rembrandt "lively, charmingly
written, and betraying no sign of hurry." This opinion was shared by the
public, for the sale of the "Portfolio" increased largely. Indeed, the
new scheme was generally applauded, and many letters were sent both to
the editor and to the publisher in token of appreciation. Sir F. Burton,
to whom my husband had applied for a monograph on Velasquez, said in his
reply: "I have seen the 'Portfolio' in its new form, and I think the
alterations you have made in the plan and scope of the work most happily
Sir George Reid also wrote:--
"I have seen the 'Portfolio' in its new form, and I think the change a
wise one in many ways. It recalls the 'Revue des deux Mondes.' It will
be a far handier shape for the book-shelves; but I feel a--well perhaps
sentimental regret for the old 'Portfolio.' It seems like the
disappearance of on old familiar friend--although we know he is still
alive and well.
"I wish it all prosperity in its new form, and its editor many years of
happy and useful labor in the service of art."
Mrs. Henry Ady was to write on Bastien Lepage for the "Portfolio," but
she had not all the documents she wanted, and my husband undertook to
procure them. A talented French marine-painter, M. Jobert, with whom Mr.
Hamerton was acquainted, introduced him to M. Emile Bastien Lepage,
brother of the artist. Note in the diary about it:--
"January 11, 1894. Was much pleased with my visit. Saw many things by
the painter--many not published; portraits of father and mother, of
grandfather, of brother Emile, etc., and sketches for girl's funeral
which he saw; also etchings and a bust of his father. After that he
showed us a fine structure in carved wood from the church of St. Mark at
My brother, his wife, and their two little girls arrived in Paris to be
present at the wedding of our niece, Jeanne Pelletier. Stephen also
came, and on the appointed day we all went to the Lycee Henri IV., where
the ceremony took place, on January 29. We were much interested, on
account of the great affection we bore to the bride.
My husband put this note in the diary: "Wedding passed off very well.
Beautiful ceremony in chapel. I had a talk with L'Abbe Loyson (brother
of Hyacinthe Loyson). Great numbers of people to congratulate."
Gilbert had long talks on architecture with his brother-in-law, to whom
he showed several of the new buildings he had been studying for his
"Parisian Houses," particularly in the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne,
Avenue Bugeaud, and Rue de Longchamp.
When M. Gindriez left, Gilbert tried to resume the "Quest of Happiness,"
but told me he had determined to remodel the Prologue on positive and
negative happiness, because he had thought out a scheme of alteration. I
was very sorry to hear of it, because the work was already so far
advanced, and the alterations would require so much trouble and time.
But such considerations had no weight with him when he thought his work
could be improved, so I kept my disappointment to myself.
Some time in February my husband had received a letter from Sir G. Reid,
from which I quote the following passage: "I have little doubt that
before the month of March comes you will be P. G. Hamerton, LL.D. Your
claims to such recognition have long been beyond all questioning."
This was confirmed by the Secretary of the University of Aberdeen on
March 3, 1894, in these terms:--
"DEAR SIR,--I have the pleasure of informing you that the Senatus of the
University at its meeting to-day conferred upon you the Honorary Degree
of Doctor of Laws (LL. D.).
"Secretary of the Senatus."
Three days later Lady Reid wrote:--
"DEAR DR. HAMERTON,--We are delighted to see in this morning's newspaper
the announcement of your LL.D.-ship. Though we have never had the
pleasure of meeting, I feel almost as if I had known you for many years,
your writings having given me such real pleasure ever since I first made
your acquaintance in 'A Painter's Camp in the Highlands' in 1863.
"I hope you will kindly accept from me your Aberdeen LL.D.-hood, which
is the outward visible sign of your new academic rank.
"My husband says it is 'a chromatic discord of the 1st Order,' but over
the arrangements of such things the present generation has no control,
their form and colors having been settled long ago.
"Sir George unites with me in kindest regards, and in the hope that you
may long live to enjoy your most well-earned honors.
"Yours very truly,
Shortly after Sir George Reid wrote: "You have done so much for the
literature of art that the only wonder is your services have not been
acknowledged by one or other of our Universities long ago. I am very
glad that the honor has come to you from the University of Aberdeen."
Although my husband cared little for honors, this recognition--freely
and spontaneously conferred by the University of Aberdeen, without any
solicitation on his part--gave him real pleasure. He had never expected
anything in this way from Oxford or Cambridge, because he had never been
a student of either, and he fancied that this would always be against
him. It reminds me of what he wrote to Mr. Seeley soon after our arrival
in Paris, when he suffered from dulness:--
"I never was at Oxford. I always had a boyish dread of being sent there,
and put into one of the colleges. I think I was marked for Balliol.
After my escape I felt towards the place much as a sound Protestant
feels towards the Vatican. Here is a reflection that has sometimes
occurred to me since my imprisonment here began: 'Dear me! why, if I can
endure Paris, I might possibly have endured Oxford.'"
After congratulating the editor of the "Portfolio" on his new title, Mr.
Seeley said: "My brother at Cambridge has been made a Knight Commander
of St. Michael and St. George. What an extraordinary title for a
Professor! And you are now a Doctor of Laws. Will you kindly allow us to
consult you in any legal difficulty?"
The new Doctor [Footnote: Mr. Hamerton and Professor Seeley were born on
the same day, and there was an interval of only a few weeks between
their deaths.] answered:--
"I congratulate you on having a brother who is a Knight Commander of St.
Michael and St. George too. They were both very valiant saints,
dangerous to dragons and demons. The image that rose to my mind's eye
when I read your letter was that of your brother in shining golden armor
riding full tilt with spear in rest against a terrible dragon. I wish
Lord Shaftesbury had lived to hear of it, for one reason, and your
father for another.
"Thank you for your congratulations about my LL.D.-ship. In answer to
your question, I beg to say that whilst the degree is but a just tribute
to my legal knowledge, it does not confer the right to practise, so that
you would do better to consult some professional man, such as a
barrister or an attorney, even though his legal attainments might be far
inferior to mine."
In the same year Mr. Hamerton was invited by the Society of Illustrators
to accept a Vice-Presidency along with Sir J. E. Millais, Sir F. Seymour
Haden, and Mr. Holman Hunt.
Messrs. Scribner having planned a work on American wood-cuts, wrote to
ascertain if my husband would undertake it. Mr. Burlingame's letter
explains the scheme.
"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--In the course of the publication of the Magazine,
we have printed from time to time what we believe to be some of the best
American wood-engravings. We are going to make a selection of about
forty of them, thoroughly representative of the best men and subjects
(though we have not tried, of course, to have the representation
_complete_), and issue it as soon as we can in the form of India proofs,
in a portfolio in a very limited edition--probably of less than 100
copies, made with the utmost care and all possible accessories to render
the collection a standard one. Meaning to make it represent the highest
point of wood-engraving (which is now fast yielding to the mechanical
processes, so that the moment is perhaps the best we shall have), we
want to accompany the publication with a short essay on the subject, to
go with the portfolio in a little book, and afterwards to be bound up
with the popular edition should we make one."
It was just one of those schemes that my husband could set his heart
upon--requiring much knowledge and condensed writing. So he gladly
accepted the task, and applied himself to it as soon as the engravings
On receiving the manuscript Mr. Burlingame wrote: "The paper on the
engravers so thoroughly fulfilled our expectations, that we were more
than ever glad that we asked your help in this (to us) important
In the spring, before the opening of the Salons, there are always a good
many minor exhibitions, and these we went to see, in order to judge of
the prevailing artistic tendencies. I find this note in the diary:--
"March 17, 1894. Went with wife in the afternoon to see some pictures by
the 'Eclectics' at Petit's. Most of them horribly bad, especially the
Impressionists, but several by Boudot were excellent. These were
landscapes, all in perfectly true tone and good color, with a great deal
of sound, modest drawing. I wish I could paint like him. His work is
evidently founded on painted studies from nature; indeed, much of it
must have been painted directly from nature.
"Made a new plan for work, doing two tasks on alternate days: one the
current book, the other some minor task--an article, for example. In
this way both would get on, and the interval would not be long enough to
lose hold of either."
He wrote about it to Mr. Seeley, and explained:--
"I don't know how it will answer yet, but have hopes. My great
difficulty has always been (and it only increases with age) a certain
want of readiness and flexibility in turning from one thing to another.
When I have a book in hand (and I always have one), it is most
disagreeable to me to turn from it and write an article; and when the
article is finished I lose always at least a day, and often several
days, before I get well into swing with the book again. My natural
tendency is to take up one task, and peg away at it till it is done."
At Roberts Brothers' request, Mr. Hamerton had agreed to write a
translation of Renan's notice of his sister Henriette. However, he had
to give it up, not being able to get answers to his letters from M. Ary
As he greatly appreciated the spirit and usefulness of the Institution
of the Franco-English Guild, founded by Miss Williams, he wrote for its
"Review" an article on "Languages and Peace," and intended to write
others. There are some notes in the diary at this time which prove that
he could find some effects to enjoy in Paris:--
"March 13th. Went with Stephen to see Mr. Barker. We went on a walk to
the terrace at Meudon, where we joined wife and daughter and Raoul.
Thence to a pond in the wood. Came back in the evening. Beautiful
effects on the river."
"April 1st. Went to the Mont Valerien, and greatly enjoyed the views
about it over Paris on one side, and the country on the other."
The best proof that my husband's nervous system was now strong and
healthy, is that _for the first time in his life_ he proposed that we
should go together to the private view of the Champ de Mars to meet the
President of the Republic. We had a card of invitation, and I was so
happy to see him well, and to mark the respectful greetings which met
him from all quarters, that I enjoyed the day thoroughly. He was
perfectly calm the whole time, in contrast with the excitement surging
around him, and at night he wrote in the diary:--
"We went, wife and I, to the Champ de Mars, and saw the President of the
Republic arrive, and all the artistic notabilities who received him.
After the lunch, saw the exhibition well, and selected two pictures for
Scribner. Was much impressed by Tissot's 'Life of Christ.'
"We were much amused by the extravagance of the toilettes, particularly
In April he called upon MM. Louis Deschamps and Checa for notes of a
biographical kind. There was an instantaneous sympathy between him and
M. Checa, who was very cordial and communicative, and who soon returned
his visit. After the publication of the article concerning him, M. Checa
wrote: "Je vous remercie tres vivement de cet article, surement le plus
exact que l'on ait fait sur moi."
In the studio of M. Checa my husband had met an American artist, Mr. R.
J. Wickenden, who lived at Auvers, and who, being well acquainted with
his works, wished to paint a portrait of the author. During the sittings
a friendship was formed between model and painter. The portrait was
exhibited in America at Mr. Keppel's.
Mr. Hamerton having been invited to preside at a meeting and dinner of
the Society of Illustrators, and to deliver a lecture on the history of
their art, fixed an earlier date than he had intended for his proposed
visit to London, to comply with their wishes.
He started alone on May 4, going by way of Dieppe, and wrote in the
diary: "Capital passage. Enjoyed sea and color very much indeed."
On the 6th he wrote to M. Raillard that he was well enough, but that on
arriving at Charing Cross the trunk containing his clothes was missing.
He ended by saying: "And I have to preside over a dinner to-morrow! At
all events I cannot do it in a flannel shirt!... I am in a pretty mess!"
He had almost decided to buy a ready-made suit in this emergency, when
he recovered the lost trunk. After the dinner he wrote me a long account
of it in French. The reception given him by the Illustrators had been
most cordial. His speech had been delivered without nervousness or
hesitation, and with the curious illusion that he was listening to
There had been an animated debate on the grievances of the Illustrators,
who complained of the small space allotted to the exhibition of their
works in the Academy. They seemed disposed to sign a protest, when he
had offered to go and see Sir Frederick Leighton, and to talk the
subject over with him, as president of the meeting. He ended his letter
with a promise to have his photograph taken on the morrow by Messrs.
Elliott and Fry.
I was very glad of this decision about his portrait, for I had not a
good likeness of him, except the fine photograph taken by Mr. Palmer;
and of course since that time his features had altered. They retained
their expression of intellectuality and dignity, softened, as it were,
by the discipline and experience of years. Hitherto he had always
resisted any attempt to publish his portrait among a series of
celebrities; but this time he yielded to my entreaties; and he was
afterwards satisfied to have done so, for the three photographs taken on
the same day were all good likenesses. From the best of them was
engraved--later--through the care and sympathy of Messrs. Scribner, the
fine and striking portrait which appeared in their Magazine of February,
It was, I believe, a sort of unconscious presentiment which prompted my
husband to see _all_ his friends during this last visit to England.
Knowing that he had so much pressing work on hand, I had been surprised
by his decision to go to London so soon after his last journey, and
still more to hear that he intended to go to Holmwood to make the
acquaintance of Mr. C. Gould, the son of his cousin Anne; to Dorking, to
see Mrs. Hamerton, of Hellifield Peel, and her married daughter; to
Alresford, to stay a couple of days with Sir Seymour Haden and his wife;
and then to Southampton, to call upon Mr. R. Leslie. All these
arrangements surprised me exceedingly; but I came to the conclusion that
my husband's health must be excellent, since he volunteered to
undertake, with evident pleasure, what he would have dreaded to do some
Indeed, his letters expressed nothing but enjoyment from all these
visits, and the keen interest he took in the Academy exhibition.
He was made very welcome by Sir Frederick Leighton, to whom he explained
the grievances of the Illustrators, and who gave him a promise to do his
best for them; and Mr. Hamerton was glad to think he might have been of
A singular occurrence happened shortly after his return. Friends, more
particularly those who came from abroad, were often debarred from
accepting his invitations on account of the distance between Paris and
the Parc des Princes, and the consequent lateness of the hour when they
could reach their home or hotel after dining at Clematis. Gilbert,
therefore, had adopted a plan--much in use in the French capital--which
consists in inviting friends to a conveniently situated restaurant,
where the goodness of the cookery and attendance may be relied upon. It
occurred to my husband to try the Terminus Hotel at the Gare du Havre,
from which many travellers start for England; and he invited M. Raillard
to test the place with him. They were both pleased with it, and left at
about ten p.m. It was most fortunate that they did not remain much
longer, for at eleven an explosion, caused by a dynamite bomb, wrecked
the room in which they had dined, and wounded several people.
A long-deferred meeting with Mr. Frederick Harrison took place in June,
and the day was spent in visiting the Louvre, Tuileries, Notre Dame, and
the Hotel de Ville.
We had also been expecting with pleasant anticipations the visit of Mr.
Niles, when we received the sad news of his death at Perugia, and
learned that he had been in failing health for some years, and had
decided to come to Europe for rest. My husband's regrets were very
sincere. From time to time we had news of R. L. Stevenson; those
received in a letter from Mr. R. A.M. Stevenson, in the course of the
same mouth, were very pleasing.
"I heard from R. L. Stevenson a few weeks ago. He said: 'If you saw me
here you would no longer question my wisdom in staying; you would not
wonder at my preferring this life to that of Bournemouth.' In England he
passed half his time in bed, the whole winter in the house, and he could
never walk half-a-mile. Now he is out by six in the morning, sometimes
bathes, and occasionally spends the whole day in the saddle. He was
always fond of the open air, and though never strong, was a good walker,
and, as you know, able to do a little boating. He often spoke to me of
his visit to you at Autun."
The assassination of President Carnot, which occurred in June, grieved
and horrified my husband as much as if he had been a Frenchman. He had
the greatest respect for the scrupulous manner in which M. Carnot
discharged all his duties, and admired the simple dignity with which he
held the rank of First Citizen of a great nation. Being himself a
Liberal--but a Moderate one--it had given him hopes for the stability of
a Moderate-Liberal Republic, to see at the head of it the
personification of unsuspected honesty and wise patriotism.
On the whole, he was satisfied with the choice of his successor, and
amused by this phrase about M. Casimir-Perier in one of Mr. Seeley's
letters: "I saw a portrait of the new French President lately. He looks
a man not to be trifled with." The remark has been curiously justified
Having to go out so frequently now in the afternoons in order to see
artists and pictures, my husband altered his rules of work, and devoted
the whole of the mornings to literary composition, and the heat being
very oppressive this summer, he worked better in the cooler time of day;
yet I was rather afraid of the consequences when I saw him start for
Paris with the thermometer standing at 88 deg. or 90 deg. almost every
afternoon, but he maintained that it did him no harm.
On July 14--the Fete Nationale--Mr. Jaccaci having called with M.
Vierge, Gilbert went back to dine with him in Paris and to see the
fireworks. They were both struck by the extraordinary quietness of the
great town, generally so merry and noisy at that date, but now subdued
by respectful sympathy for the death of its late President.
Note in the diary: "Never saw streets of Paris so quiet before. Could
cross easily anywhere. In Avenue de l'Opera could count people."
We had heard from M. Raillard that the reputation of his father-in-law
was penetrating into Germany. He had seen some notices and reviews of
his works, and in August a professor at the Zurich University sent this
"Monsieur,--Je vais publier une petite bibliotheque francaise a l'usage
des ecoles allemandes, avec des notes en francais. Le premier volume
contiendra une forte partie du fameux livre de Tocqueville sur l'ancien
regime et la revolution. Le second sera, si vous le permettez, compose
d'extraits de votre excellent livre, 'Francais et Anglais,' traduction
de M. Labouchere.
"Auriez-vous la bonte de me fournir quelques dates sur votre vie et sur
vos autres ouvrages, que je pourrais utiliser pour l'introduction?"
Just at the time, when my husband was making extensive plans of work,
justified as it seemed by the great improvement in his health, he was
suddenly attacked by a new malady, which he believed to be asthma. There
were no premonitory symptoms; he was as well as usual in the daytime,
and even after going to bed, where he always read before going to sleep;
but directly he fell asleep, he was suddenly aroused again by
suffocation. In describing his sensations to me, he said it seemed as if
breathing required--while in a waking state--a slight effort, which he
made unconsciously, and this being discontinued when sleep arrived,
produced suffocation. I attributed this painful state to a change in the
working of his nervous system, and pressed him to see a doctor; but he
was convinced that he was becoming asthmatic, and that there was no help
Although he told me that if he had his choice in the matter, he would
rather die than be condemned to a life of impotence, with perpetual
cares and precautions, he bore his sufferings, or rather forebodings,
with his accustomed courage and patience, and attempted to calm my
apprehensions by affirming that, though his nights were disturbed, he
could still get sleep out of bed, in an arm-chair, and now and then in
the day-time when overpowered by fatigue. The various means of relief
used by asthmatic people and recommended by different friends
proving--without exception--utterly inefficacious for him, I attempted
to console him by pointing out that asthma often manifested itself at
very long intervals, and that, in general, the worst attacks were hardly
more painful than those of gout. He answered that he could bear the pain
of these attacks, but what he dreaded most was chronic asthma, which, by
lowering his general health, would reduce him to an invalid state.
However, the worst symptoms soon subsided, and about three weeks after
the first disturbance he was writing to Mr. Seeley: "I am much better,
though my nights are still frequently interrupted. I require a great
deal of exercise, more than I can find time for; the more exercise I
take the better I am." And yet when, shortly afterwards, a specialist
had to be called in, he declared that his patient "was completely
overworked mentally and physically," and he ordered him to give up the
velocipede altogether, and to restrict his walks to short distances and
a leisurely pace.
I have never been able to understand how it was that physical exercise
being so hurtful to Gilbert, he should invariably have felt benefited by
it, so far as his sensations went.
The vacation had come round again, and the impossibility of realizing
the pleasant plans we had formed obliged our children to alter theirs.
Stephen went to London, and M. Raillard took his wife through
Switzerland to Germany. They had frequently written on their way, and
now told of their impressions of Freiburg, where they decided to remain
I mentioned before that my husband's knowledge of places which he had
never seen was surprising. In this instance he could induce Mary and her
husband to believe that he had actually stayed where they were. The
attempt amused him, and he read me the following letter before posting
"19 _aout_ 1894.
"Ma Chere et bonne fille,--Je t'aurais ecrit plus tot pour te souhaiter
ta fete, qui est aujourd'hui, mais je n'esperais pas que ma lettre put
te parvenir, comme tu etais en route. Je n'ai jamais pu savoir ce que
souhaiter une fete voulait dire, mais si c'est quelque bien,--comme la
sante, par exemple,--tu sais quels sont mes voeux; enfin je voudrais te
savoir aussi heureuse que possible:
"Je ne trouve pas que la couleur de la cathedrale de Freiburg soit
desagreable. Il est vrai que je prefere un gris argente, mais le ton
chaud de Freiburg fait bien et il a gagne une certaine patine avec les
annees. On m'a dit quand j'y etais que celle de Strasbourg a la meme
couleur, mais je ne l'ai jamais vue. Quel bonheur pour Freiburg d'avoir
tous ces petits ruisseaux qui nettoient les rues et qui viennent de la
riviere Dreisam! Je n'admire pas plus que toi la tendance polychrome
qu'on voit dans certains details de la ville.
"Avez-vous vu le chateau de Zahringen? Il est au nordest de Freiburg, a
trois kilometres environ; c'est une promenade tres facile.
"Je me suis demande si a Baie vous vous etiez arretes a l'hotel des
Trois-Rois. Il y a la un long balcon d'ou l'on voit le fort courant du
Rhin qui passe sous l'ancien pont. Je me rappelle qu'a l'extremite de ce
pont, du cote oppose, il y avait une brasserie ou, en buvant son verre
de biere, on pouvait regarder l'eau qui coulait toujours, et si vite.
"A Lucerne, j'ai vu egalement couler la Reuss sous l'ancien pont ou l'on
voit la Danse de la Mort. Mr. Macgregor a ose descendre cette riviere
(qui est un torrent tres dangereux plus bas) en perissoire. Ce n'est pas
moi qui essaierai.
"Je continue a mieux aller, je puis maintenant m'endormir assez
facilement, et je reste generalement dans mon lit toute la nuit, mais
pas toujours. Mon sommeil est souvent interrompu, mais vite repris. En
somme grand progres.
"Bonne-maman va beaucoup mieux aussi, elle prend de la Kola qui lui
fait, parait-il, grand bien.
"Stephen a regagne l'appetit et part vendredi pour Londres.
"Mes meilleures amities a Raoul, et tous mes souhaits pour un bon sejour
a Lucerne, cet endroit si ravissant!
To the infinite amusement of "Vieux Papa," his daughter answered
immediately, "We never knew that you had been at Freiburg," etc., etc.
In the course of August my husband had the pleasure of becoming
personally acquainted with Mr. Scribner, who called upon him in the
company of Mr. Jaccaci.
The improvement in Gilbert's state did not last. We renewed our
entreaties about having a doctor's advice, and he yielded.
The great physician whom we called in declared it was weakness of the
heart--due to overwork--that his patient was suffering from, and not
asthma. He promised to set him up again in four months with his
Strange to say, Gilbert was greatly relieved to hear that his case was
hypertrophy of the heart rather than asthma--for me it was the dreaded
confirmation of fears that had long haunted me; still, we both derived
hope and encouragement from the doctor's assurance of an ultimate cure.
I cannot say that we really believed in a total cure, but we thought it
possible to recover the former state of health which had preceded the
attacks of suffocation. "I have not felt old, hitherto," my husband
said, "certainly not more than if I had been only fifty; but the fact
is, I am now sixty, and therefore must be prepared to face the advent of
old age. I will submit to any privation for the sake of health, though
it seems hard to be deprived of exercise. It is singular that my mental
state should be clearer and more vigorous than ever before, and that my
work should be easier and more enjoyable than at any former time."
Mr. Seeley had written:--
"What a good thing you called in this Parisian doctor! It might have
been serious if you had gone on taking strong exercise in your present
state of health.
"I can quite understand your feeling of relief that at any rate it is
not asthma. Perhaps when you take less exercise the gout may return, and
the heart be relieved at once. That the doctor confidently promises a
cure in a few months is a great satisfaction to us."
The good results of the prescribed regimen were soon experienced, and I
hailed--not unhopefully--the return of an attack of gout, predicted by
Mr. Seeley, which I feared less for Gilbert than the heart troubles. The
doctor had said, after hearing that the gout had almost entirely
disappeared, "You have made a bad bargain in exchanging gout for
This is what my husband himself wrote to his friend:--
"The worst of me just now for making inquiries, is that on getting up
this morning I found I had an attack of gout in my right knee. Hitherto
it is only slight (I write at two p.m.), but I cannot bend it without
considerable pain, so I must wait till to-morrow at any rate, before
trying to go to Paris. It is quite possible that the attack may be very
slight, but it is also possible that I may be laid up by it. However
this may be, I will of course keep your letter, and do all in my power
to help in the present emergency.
"Many thanks for your very kind letter about my doctor's visit. I wish I
had known him ten years sooner. He is most scrupulously observant of
things as they really are, and does not set off, as doctors often do,
from a preconceived notion of his own. The results of the regimen are
already beneficial. My nights have been gradually improving since it
began. Last night I slept perfectly till about two in the morning, and
then awoke without any suffocation, and soon fell asleep again,
remaining quiet with good breathing till half-past six. About a week
since I could not sleep _at all_, being immediately awakened by
suffocation every time I began to drop off.
"Please thank Mrs. Seeley on my part and my wife's for her kind
sympathy, which we know is most sincere. Tell her I regret to have
called you her teetotal husband, as I am no better myself. Nay, it is
you who have the advantage of me with your two glasses of claret, which
I call downright intemperance." (He was allowed to drink nothing but
Our children feeling uneasy still, and anxious about the state of their
father, cut their journey rather short to be back again with him. M.
Raillard wished to see Sens in coming back, and the house we had lived
in there. So his father-in-law sent him some information about the
place, and added:--
"Ne manquez pas surtout de voir l'interieur de la Salle Synodale qui est
peut-etre la plus belle salle gothique du monde apres celle de
Westminster. Le tresor de la Cathedrale est interessant.
"Je continue a me porter beaucoup mieux. Les nuits sont bonnes.
"A bientot, puisque vous avez la bonne pensee de revenir.
"Bien cordialement a vous."
The rules of work had been, perforce, relaxed lately, and almost all the
working time had been devoted to writing the "Quest of Happiness," and
an article on "Formative Influences" for the "Forum," besides the
concluding articles for "Scribner's Magazine."
A decided and rapid improvement in health had taken place, and when, at
the beginning of October, Miss Betham-Edwards came to see us, she found
my husband much as usual--though looking older--as she told me
A few days after she had come to _dejeuner_ at Clematis we went to lunch
with her at her hotel, and spent the whole day together, visiting the
Musee Carnavalet, and having a long walk the whole way back to the Rue
d'Alger. We crossed the Cour du Louvre, where my husband explained in
detail the various transformations and changes in the architecture of
the palace at different periods of time. Then, in the fading twilight,
we had a look at the magnificent and poetical vista opened by the
removal of the Tuileries, before saying goodbye; and when we reached
Clematis for a late dinner, Gilbert told my mother that he had enjoyed
the day and did not feel tired in the least.
On the following Sunday we had a long walk in the Avenue du Bois de
Boulogne with some friends, and near the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile we
happened to espy the doctor, when my husband remarked cheerfully,
"Doctor B----, who was to see me again in two months, would be surprised
to hear that I am cured already."
On October 17, a fire was lighted for the first time this autumn in
Gilbert's study, and before the flue became heated and a good draught
produced, the smoke was considerable. I warned him not to remain in the
room, the air being so bad; he answered that as soon as the work he had
begun allowed of it, he would go out. I left the door open on purpose,
and begged him not to close it; but when I went up again with the
letters--two hours after--I found him still at work, in an atmosphere of
dense yellow smoke, without possible escape, the door having been closed
again. As usual, when writing, my husband became so wrapt in his work
that he was not conscious of anything outside of it.
I became alarmed for him, as I could hardly breathe, but he felt no
inconvenience just then.
In the afternoon he had a walk, but in the evening he went up again to
the study, and remained there over an hour, giving a lesson in English
pronunciation to one of his nephews. The smoke had, however, subsided,
and the fire burned steadily.
At half-past one I was awakened by a sensation of chill on the
forehead--it came from my husband's lips--he was giving me, as he
thought, a _last_ kiss, for he murmured faintly, "J'ai voulu te dire que
je t'ai bien aimee, car je crois que je vais mourir."
He was deadly pale, but quite collected. I helped him to dress, and we
managed to reach the garden for purer air. He wrote afterwards in his
diary that his sufferings had been horrible, and lasted in full two
hours and a half. I tried to encourage him in the struggle for life, by
saying that it was asthma, and that I had witnessed a dear relation of
ours struggling successfully through several similar attacks. I felt
certain now that it was asthma, and I said so to the doctor on the
following day. He answered, "It is cardiac asthma, then."
It was freezing hard outside, and as soon as he recovered breathing
power, I led my husband to the drawing-room sofa, which I wheeled in
front of the chimney, and the wood being piled up ready for a fire, I
made a great blaze, and opened the windows wide at the same time. Once
stretched on the couch and wrapped up in blankets, facing the leaping
flames, he soon regained vital warmth, and his breathing became more
Altogether the crisis had lasted five hours, during which I had remained
alone with him without even calling a maid, for fear of making him worse
through annoyance. I affected entire freedom from anxiety as to the end,
merely expressing sympathy with his momentary sufferings, and I was
thankful to succeed in deceiving him.
As soon as he felt well enough to be left for a short time, I hastened
to the doctor's, but went first to tell Mary and her husband of the sad
occurrence, that they might go to their father while I should be away.
The doctor attributed the attack entirely to the effect of the smoke,
and said it had nothing to do with my husband's malady--"he had been
asphyxiated;" it would have no lasting effects, except as to retarding
the cure; the ground gained since the beginning of the regimen had been
lost, and it was all to begin over again.
I did not attempt to disguise from him my anxious fears nor my feelings
when I had witnessed my husband's tortures without any means or hopes of
alleviating them; "for," I added, "I have been told there is no help in
cases of acute asthma." "There _was_ not," he answered, "till a quite
recent discovery; but now immediate relief may be given by injections of
Though he assured me that there would be no other attack of the same
kind if we took care to have only wood fires and no smoke, I insisted
upon being recommended to a reliable doctor, not far from our house, who
would promise to come at any time of night if we needed him, and who
would always have serum in his possession--the great specialist being
himself at too great a distance from us to be fetched in an emergency.
The very doctor I wanted happened to be this very day sharing, as he
often did, the labors and studies of the specialist. He was called in,
and, after listening to an explanation, gave me the promise I desired,
and said he would follow me immediately to Clematis to see the patient;
and if he should see the necessity for it, would ask his friend to join
him at our house for a consultation.
As he noticed the distress under which I was laboring, the physician
kindly said before I left him: "I repeat, that I do not apprehend a
recurrence of what happened last night--but, si par impossible une
autre crise semblable survenait, rappelez-vous bien que, meme suivie de
syncope, elle ne serait _jamais mortelle_."
I believed him, though my heart was still heavy at the thoughts of the
sufferings that the future might bring to my husband. I felt greatly
relieved in being able to give him the doctor's assurance that there was
no danger for his life.
I was happy on entering the drawing-room to see him quietly talking with
Mary and Raoul, and eating grapes. He said that, with the exception of
fatigue, he felt very well indeed. He had taken some broth, and partook
of a light dinner with pleasure.
The doctor delegated by the physician, after an examination, merely
confirmed what had been said to me, and saw no necessity for a
consultation with his friend.
On the morrow we arranged a temporary study to avoid fresh troubles with
the stove, and kept up good ventilation with a bright wood fire and
frequent opening of windows looking out on the garden.
Gilbert resumed his ordinary work with great moderation, taking care to
interrupt whatever he was doing every hour by a short walk in the open
air, according to medical advice. Four days later I find this entry in
the note-book: "October 24. Walked in the Bois de Boulogne towards
evening in an enchantment of color and light; beautiful autumnal color
One of my husband's last satisfactions in life was a letter for Mr.
Burlingame, about the work lately done for Messrs. Scribner. Here is a
passage out of it:--
"I have long had in mind to say, _a propos_ of the conclusion of the
series, how much of a success I think our last plan proved, and how
cordially we all appreciate the very valuable and punctual fulfilment
which you kindly gave to it. All our relations during its progress were
a great pleasure to me; and I hope it will not be long before the
Magazine may have the benefit of your help again. It will always gratify
us very much to know of any suggestion or papers that occur to you which
you might be inclined to send our way.
"Mr. Scribner and Mr. Jaccaci are back again; and we all often speak of
you with pleasant recollections of your kindness in Paris."
Although Messrs. Scribner's pecuniary arrangements were very liberal, my
husband's satisfaction in his dealings with them was mostly derived from
their courtesy; for though he was obliged to take money into
consideration, it was almost the least weighty of considerations with
him. He often said he did not like money; he looked upon it as the
indispensable means of providing necessaries, and thereby affording the
mind sufficient peace to apply itself to study in freedom from anxious
cares. He never desired riches or luxury, and hated to have to think
about money matters or to talk about them, even to me; and aware that
the subject was more than disagreeable,--painful,--I avoided it as much
After the first terrible attack of suffocation, Mr. Seeley had been
reluctant to ask for my husband's help; still, as he had recovered so
soon, and had resumed his ordinary avocations, he was willing and able
to do several urgent things for the "Portfolio," and Mr. Seeley wrote:--
"You have done, before receiving my last letter, exactly what it asked
you to do. What a good thing when editor and publisher are in such
"I hope you have not had any more attacks."
No, he had not; and his nights were quiet again, though he got up very
early, at four or five in the morning, and had a nap in the afternoon.
The only thing he complained of was a sensation of weakness unknown to
him before. It was not sufficient to be called painful, but still he
felt it to be there, and hoped to get rid of it when allowed a little
beer or claret. He so much disliked drinking milk at meal-times that it
quite spoilt his appetite, until the doctor said he might have water
during his repasts, and milk in the intervals.
On account of the diminution in strength, I was afraid of the effects
that fatigue might produce, and did not like to see him go so often to
Paris as he had lately done, especially to the exhibitions; but when it
could not be avoided, I managed to go with him, under the pretext that I
was interested in them myself.
On November 4 he asked me if I should like to go with him to the Louvre,
where he had to see the Salle des Primitifs. I said yes. He spent an
hour there, enjoying heartily the best pictures, and extolling their
merits as we were coming back. According to his habit, he was reading in
the tram-car on his way home, and I noticed that it was a volume of
"Virgil," and in looking up from the book to his face, I observed that
he looked paler than usual. I inquired if he felt tired. He answered,
"Not in the least." And when we reached home he went up straight to his
study, and wrote till the bell called him to dinner. We had a pleasant
talk about the pictures he had just studied, while he was eating with a
After dinner, as usual, he took up his newspaper and read for about ten
minutes, when he suddenly threw it aside and told me the action of the
heart was unsatisfactory. I proposed at once to go to the garden, but
the suddenness and violence of the attack did not allow him to reach it.
When in the open air, just above the few stone steps, he had to stop and
grasp the railing till the last anguish deprived him of breath and of
life, long before the arrival of the doctors, whom I had sent for as
soon as he had felt oppressed.
He had never feared death, whatever might await him after--conscious of
a useful and blameless life. He died as he had desired to die, standing
alone with me under the moonlit sky, unconfined, escaping from the
decrepitude of old age, still in the full possession and maturity of his
talents, and in the active use of them.
Two hours before his death he had been writing these last words for the
"Quest of Happiness":--
"If I indulge my imagination in dreaming about a country where justice
and right would always surely prevail, where the weak would never be
oppressed, nor an honest man incur any penalty for his honesty--a
country where no animal would ever be ill-treated or killed, otherwise
than in mercy--that is truly ideal dreaming, because, however far I
travel, I shall not find such a country in the world, and there is not
any record of such a country in the authentic history of mankind."
Let us hope he may have found this ideal country in the unknown world.
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