Philip Gilbert Hamerton
Philip Gilbert Hamerton et al

Part 7 out of 11

"I think it is capital; you will have to guess. I had occasion to go to
Paris with a friend who was supposed to speak French creditably, and
who fancied himself a master of it. On the morning following our arrival
in the French capital, being somewhat knocked up by the journey, we had
a late breakfast at a small side-table of the dining-room, of which we
were soon the only occupants, under the watchful and, as I thought,
suspicious eyes of a waiter, whose attention had probably been attracted
by the conspicuous difference between our stature and garb from that of
his little dandified countrymen. Having caught a slight cold on the
passage, I felt more inclined to stay by the fire with a newspaper than
to go out, and did so, whilst my friend, who had some business in the
town, left me for some time. As I drew my chair up to the hearth I heard
the waiter answering with alacrity to some recommendation of my
friend's, 'Oh, monsieur peut etre tranquille, j'y veillerai.' I thought
it was some order about our dinner, and resumed my political studies.
Was it my cold which made me dull and inattentive? It is quite possible,
for my eyes kept wandering from my paper, and, strange to say, always
met those of the French waiter riveted upon me. At first I felt annoyed:
what could be so strange about my person? Then I was irritated, for
though that queer little man was making some pretence at dusting or
replacing chairs, still his eyes never left me for a moment, and at
last, being somewhat drowsy, I had the sensation that one experiences in
a nightmare, and thought I had better resort to my room and make up for
a shortened night. No sooner, however, had I got up from my chair than
the waiter was entreating me to remain, offering to heap coals on the
fire, to bring me another paper or a pillow if I was tired, and 'Did I
wish to write a letter? he would fetch instantly what was required; or
should I like something hot for my cold?' His voice had the strange
coaxing tone that we use to pacify children, and made me stare; but I
answered angrily that I only wanted a nap, and to be let alone, and I
made for the door in spite of his objurgations. Then he ran in front of
me, and barring the door with arms outstretched, besought me to await my
friend. This unaccountable behavior had rendered me furious, and now I
was determined to force my way out, despite the mad resistance and loud
gibberish of the waiter, and I began to use my fists. It was in the
midst of this tremendous row that my astonished friend re-appeared in
the dining-room, and was greeted with this exclamation from my
adversary: 'Ah, monsieur, vous voyez, j'ai tenu ma parole: je ne l'ai
pas laisse sortir _le fou;_ mais ca n'a pas ete sans peine, il etait
temps que vous arriviez.'

"It turned out that my friend, anxious for my comfort, and noticing that
the fire was getting low, had said in his easy French before leaving,
'Garcon, surtout ne laissez pas sortir le fou' (_feu_)--meaning 'Don't
let the fire go out,' and the intelligent foreigner had immediately
guessed from my appearance that I was _le fou_."

Amidst general laughter I said,--

"It is cleverly invented."

"I see you do not believe it," Mr. Tennyson answered; "yet it has passed
current in society and in the newspapers."

Sitting close to Mr. Tennyson, as I did, I noticed the large size, and
somehow plebeian shape, of his hands. They did not seem to belong to the
same body as the head, indicating merely physical strength and fitness
for physical labor. His dress also struck me as peculiar: he was wearing
a shirt of coarse linen, starchless, with a large and loose turned-down
collar, very like a farmer's of former days, and shirt and hands looked
suited to each other. After remarking this I happened to look up into
Mr. Tennyson's face, which then wore its habitual expression of serious
and grand simplicity; and I thought that the rough and dull linen, with
the natural, unstiffened fall about the neck, formed a most artistic
sculpturesque setting for the handsome head well poised above it.

After lunch Mr. Woolner took the gentlemen to his studio for a smoke,
and my husband told me afterwards that Mr. Tennyson had continued as
talkative there as he had been at lunch, and was only interrupted by the
entrance of Sir Bartle Frere, who had a great deal to say on his own

It was very gratifying to me to notice that whenever my husband met with
celebrities he was treated by them on a footing of equality, and
although still a young man, his opinions and views were always accepted
or discussed with evident respect, even by his seniors. His presence
invariably awoke interest and confidence, and in most cases sympathy. It
was felt that he was one of the few to be looked up to, and I have heard
people much older than himself tell me that they prized highly a private
hour spent with him, because his influence made them feel more desirous
of striving for noble aims and elevated thoughts which seemed so natural
and easy to him. It is true, indeed, that whatever he thought, said, or
did, bore the stamp of genuine uprightness, for his nature was so much
above meanness of any kind that he had great difficulty in admitting it
in others; whenever he met with it his first attitude was one of
charitable hesitation, but when he recognized it unmistakably his
indignation was as unbounded and unrestrained as in cases of cruelty.

In spite of the impediment to social intercourse caused by his
intermittent nervous state, Mr. Hamerton enjoyed rather a large share of
cultivated and intelligent society at this time. His worst moments
happened in the morning and in bright sunshine; the evening was in
general entirely free from disagreeable sensations, and a rainy day or
clouded sky most favorable. This peculiarity enabled him to accept
invitations to dinners, at which he met the persons whose acquaintance
he cared for.

Mr. Thomas Hamerton and his sister had left us at Kew to go back home,
and we wished it were as simple for us to do the same, but we could only
think of the journey with the saddest forebodings; yet we longed to be
through it, and safely restored to our peaceful rustic life and to a
sight of our children.

It was a very tedious, trying, and harassing journey; we travelled only
at night, by the slowest trains, and went but short distances at a time.
Sometimes my husband was unable to proceed for a few days; but, with
admirable courage and resolution, he managed to reach the much-desired

And now what was to be done? Mr. Haden allowed literary work only on two
consecutive days in the week, and when Gilbert was unwell on those days,
there was no remunerative production, and his anxieties became almost
intolerable. He resolved to try every day of the week if he were fit for
work, and to go on whenever he felt suitably disposed till the two days'
work had been done, and then to leave off till the next week. This
succeeded for a while, but as he naturally became anxious to produce as
much as possible during these two days, he felt driven, and suffered in
consequence. He then attempted to devote only two hours to literary
composition at a sitting, and to repeat the attempt twice a day when he
did not feel his powers overtaxed. To this new rule he adhered till the
end of his life--at least, generally speaking, for in some circumstances
he had to write throughout the day, but he was careful to avoid this
extremity as much as possible.

We waited impatiently for news of the reception of "Etching and Etchers"
by the public, and Mrs. Craik having been so kind as to offer any
service she could render, I wrote to her on the subject, and she

"BECKENHAM. _July_ 19, 1868.

"My dear Mrs. Hamerton,--I can quite understand how _you_ care about the
book--perhaps more than your husband even, and I wish I could send you
news of it. But there have been no reviews as yet, and this being the
dull time of year, the sale is slow. Whatever reviews come out you shall
have without fail from the firm. It is so valuable and charming a book
that I do hope it may gradually make its way. I do believe it is only
the dreadful cities which make your husband ill--and no wonder; in
peaceful Autun he will flourish, I trust; and you too recover yourself,
for I am sure you were very far from well when you were here. It was so
kind of you to come to us that Sunday, and to believe that we are both
people who really mean what we say--and say what we think: which all the
world does not. If ever I can do anything for you, pray write. And some
day in future ages I shall write to you to ask advice upon our little
tour in unknown French towns and country, when we shall certainly drop
upon Autun _en route_. Not this year, however.

"With very kind remembrance to you both, believe me, dear Mrs. Hamerton,

"Yours sincerely,

"D. M. Craik."

My sister, Caroline Pelletier, had now come to Pre-Charmoy with her
baby-daughter, to escape from the drought prevailing at Algiers, and her
presence was a great pleasure to my recluse. She often read to him to
keep up her English, and accompanied him in his drives when I was
prevented, aware that he did not much like to venture away alone since
he had been ill. At his request she had brought an Algerian necklace and
bracelets made of hardened paste of roses, which were intended for Aunt
Susan, who had greatly liked the odor of mine, and who acknowledged the
little present in a very cordial letter.

My younger brother Frederic was at that moment very ill with typhoid
fever, and I had asked my husband to let me go to help my mother in
nursing him; however, with greater wisdom and firmness he refused his
leave, and made me understand my duty to our children. "If you brought
back to them the germs of disease, and if they died of it, you never
would forgive yourself," he said. But after the fatal ending he allowed
me to attend the funeral, on condition that I should not enter the
house, but come back directly after the painful duty was accomplished.
At the same time, he kindly invited my mother to come to us, after
taking all necessary precautions against the danger of bringing
infection to her grandchildren.

The society of M. Pelletier, who used to follow his wife to Pre-Charmoy
as soon as he was free, proved quite a boon to Gilbert in his solitude,
and a solid friendship was soon formed between the two brothers-in-law.
M. Pelletier's mind was inquisitive and receptive; he had read much, and
in the family circle we called him our "Encyclopedia." He made it his
duty and pleasure to clear up any obscure point which might embarrass
any of us, and often undertook long researches to spare my husband's
time. They regularly sat up together long after the other inmates of the
house had gone to their rest, talking and smoking, or walking out in the
refreshing breeze of the summer night.

My brother Charles also joined us at times, and, being a capital
swimmer, taught his nephews all sorts of wonderful aquatic feats. We all
went daily to the pond at Varolles, and though the men and boys were all
proficient in swimming, Charles astonished them by taking a header,
preceded by a double somersault, from the top of the wall, and kindling
thereby a jealous desire to rival him, so that in a very short time my
husband, who hitherto had remained but an indifferent performer, now
trod the water, read aloud, or smoked in it, with the greatest ease. It
was very good exercise for him.

For some time past Mr. Hamerton's reputation had been growing in
America, but he did not derive the slightest profit from the sale of his
books there till Messrs. Roberts Brothers, of Boston, proposed to pay
him a royalty upon the works that should be published by them in advance
of pirated editions. This offer was accepted with pleasure and
gratitude, and the pecuniary result, though not very important, proved a
timely help. Moreover, Roberts Brothers admired Mr. Hamerton's talent,
and in very flattering terms acknowledged it, besides doing much for the
spread of his reputation in America.

In the autumn, bad news of Aunt Susan's health reached Pre-Charmoy. The
reports soon became alarming, and her nephew was made very miserable by
the impossibility of going to her bedside. When we had taken leave of
each other at Kew, she was very despondent on account of my husband's
illness, and expressed a fear that she might die without our being near
her. No one could say when the taboo on railway travelling could be
withdrawn for him, but I gave our aunt a solemn promise that in such an
emergency as she mentioned, I at any rate would go to her when she
called me, and Gilbert had ratified the engagement. From her letters it
was easy to see that she wished very much for my companionship and
nursing, being very low in spirits and feeble in body, yet she was
reluctant to ask, with the knowledge that her nephew also frequently
required my care. At last we agreed that the proposal should come from
us, my husband, as usual, sacrificing his own comfort to the claims of
affection. The offer was gratefully accepted.

As I had never travelled much alone, and am entirely destitute of the
gift of topography, it was not without misgivings that my husband saw me
off; but he had taken the trouble of writing down for my guidance the
minutest directions, and though he told his uncle that he should not be
astonished to hear that I had turned up in New York, I reached London

He was very lonely at Pre-Charmoy, with only his little girl and a maid,
the boys being at college, but he frequently went to dine there with the
principal, M. Schmitt, from whom he needed no invitation, and who always
made him welcome. He was also cheered by my letters, which told him of
his aunt's rapid improvement in health and strength. We went out
together upon the hills as often as the weather allowed, and when
threatened with an attack of nervous dizziness--which she dreaded
unspeakably--she derived confidence from my apparent composure, and
tided over it when I firmly grasped her round the waist, and made her
take a few steps in the keener and purer air of the garden. When our
aunt was restored to her usual state of health, rather more than a month
after my arrival, I took leave of my kind relatives loaded with presents
for every one of the children, and even for their parents. Of course I
wished to spend Christmas at home, and I arrived just in time to realize
my wish. Gilbert had come to meet me at the station, and as soon as we
had exchanged greetings and news he began to tell of a plan for an
artistic periodical which had mainly occupied his thoughts during my
absence. As we were driving home he entered into all the details of the
scheme as he conceived it, and said he believed he might undertake the
management of such a periodical, even where he was situated, if Mr.
Seeley gave his valuable help. He was full of the idea, and his thoughts
were continually reverting to it.



"Wenderholme."--The Mont Bouvray,--Botanical Studies--La Tuilerie.
--Commencement of the "Portfolio."--The Franco-German War.

The uncertainty of finding sufficient literary work after the
resignation of his post on the "Saturday Review" had been a cause of
great anxiety to Mr. Hamerton, though he had enough on hand at that
time, but he wondered very much if it would last. He wrote for the
"Globe" regularly; for the "Saturday Review," "Pall Mall Gazette," and
"Atlantic Monthly" occasionally, though he had a great dislike for
anonymous writing, as he bestowed as much care and labor upon it as if
it could have added to his reputation. He worked with greater pleasure
and some anticipation of success at his novel of "Wenderholme," the
first volume of which had been sent to Mr. Blackwood, who agreed to give
L200 for the copyright. Here are some passages from his letter, which of
course was very welcome. After a few criticisms:--

"The narrative is natural and taking. Your description of the drunken
habits of Shayton are _excellent_, and not a bit overdone. It reminds me
of a joke of Aytoun's when there was a report of an earthquake at a
village in Scotland notorious for its convivial habits. He remarked,
'Nonsense; the whole inhabitants are in a chronic state of D. T. that
would have shaken down the walls of Jericho.'

"The picture of poor Isaac's struggles and his final break-down at his
own home is very well done, and so is that of his old mother, with her
narrow fat forehead.

"I particularly like Colonel Stanburne. He _is_ like a gentleman, and I
hope he has a great deal to do in the remaining part of the story.
Little Jacob is very nice, and promises to make a good hero.

"The style is throughout pleasant and graceful. I shall look anxiously
for vols. 2 and 3, but I feel confident that you will not write anything
unkind or inconsistent with good taste."

Encouraged by the favorable opinion of Mr. Blackwood, the author went on
as diligently with the novel as his health allowed. From time to time I
find in his diary, "too unwell to work," or "obliged to rest," or "not
well enough to write." Still, he was remarkably free from bodily pain,
as it is generally felt and understood; he never complained of aches or
sickness, and to any ordinary observer he looked vigorous and unusually
healthy; but from me, accustomed to scrutinize the most transient
expression of his face and countenance, he could not hide the slightest
symptoms of nervousness, were it merely the bending forward of the body,
the steady gaze or unwonted cold brightness of the eyes. Whenever I
detected any of these threatening signs at home, I begged him to leave
work and to go out, and if we happened to be in an exhibition or any
crowded place, we had to resort to some secluded spot in a public
garden--to the parks if we were in London; and I believe it must be on
account of the repeated anguish I suffered there that I never wished to
visit them for my pleasure: those horribly painful hours have deprived
them of all charm for me. What my husband had to bear was a terrible
apprehension of something fearful,--he did not know what,--now
increasing, as if a fatal end were inevitable; now decreasing, only to
return--ah! how many times?--till sometimes only after hours of strife,
and sometimes suddenly, it left him calm but always weakened. At the
very time that he was most frequently subject to these attacks, the
American papers were giving numerous notices of his works, and brief
biographies in which he was invariably presented to the public as an
athlete in possession of the most robust health.

The doctors agreed in saying that this disorder was only nervous, and
not the result of any known disease; that the only remedy lay in rest
for the brain, and active exercise for the body in the open air. But it
was indeed difficult to give rest to a mind incessantly thirsting for
knowledge, and finding an inexhaustible mine of interest in the most
trivial events, in the simplest natures and the monotonous existence of
the rustics, as well as in the philosophy of Auguste Comte and John
Stuart Mill, or in the aesthetics of Ruskin and Charles Blanc. It was a
mind which turned all that came in its way into the gold of knowledge,
and which spent it generously afterwards, not only in his writings, but
in familiar conversations; his friends used to say that they always
gained something when with him, on account of the natural elevation of
mind which made him treat all questions intellectually. He had no taste
for sport or amusements or games, with the exception of boating and
chess; but chess-playing can hardly be called mental rest, and boating
is not always practicable, requiring several hours each time it is
indulged in, particularly when one is not close to a lake or river.

Riding Cocote was a pleasant relaxation to her master, as she was a
spirited little creature, and the two often went together to the Mont
Beuvray (the site of the ancient Bibracte of the Gauls), to find the
learned and venerable President of the Societe Eduenne busy with his
researches among the ruins, but nevertheless always ready to receive
them hospitably. The use of one of his huts was given to his young
friend, and his four-footed companion was turned loose to browse on the
fine, short grass which grew thickly under the shade of the noble oaks
and chestnut trees of the mountain.

On these occasions, a valise containing sketching material and books was
strapped on behind the rider, on the horse's back; at other times, when
I accompanied my husband, we went in a light cart, which was left with
Cocote at a farmhouse about half-way up the hill.

My husband liked me to read to him whilst he sketched, and I see by his
diary of 1869 that some of the works he listened to in the course of
that year were: "Les Couleuvres," by Louis Veuillot; Victor Jacquemond's
"Voyage en Italie;" "l'Art en Hollande," and "La Litterature Anglaise,"
by Taine "Le Postscriptum;" George Eliot's "Silas Marner;" Sidney
Colvin's "Academy Notes;" Tennyson's "In Memoriam;" Legouve's "l'Art de
la lecture;" "Chateaubriand et son groupe litteraire," "Beranger et de
Senancourt," by Sainte-Beuve, whose talent as a critic he greatly

The rambles and drives which he took in quest of picturesque subjects
inclined him to botanical studies, and he began to form a herbarium; the
search for plants gave a zest to the long walks recommended by the
doctors, which might have become tedious had they been aimless. The
prettiest or most remarkable of these plants were sketched or painted
before being dried, to be used in the foregrounds of pictures. Gilbert's
mind was also inventive; the reader may have remarked in the
autobiography that he had made various models of double-boats, the
principle of which he wished to see more generally adopted on account of
their safety; but in 1869 it was not with boats that this faculty of
invention was busy,--it was with a plan for a carriage which would meet
our requirements. The little donkey-cart was so rickety now that it had
become unsafe, and the carriage-builders could not show anything
sufficiently convenient of a size and weight to suit Cocote. The elegant
curves above the fore-wheels reduced the stowage room to a mere nothing,
and we required plenty of space to carry, safely protected from rain and
dust, many things--amongst them change of garments when we went to Autun
for a wedding, a funeral, or a soiree, and plenty of wraps for the drive
back in the cold or mist of midnight. A good deal of room was also
wanted for the provisions regularly fetched from the town,--grocery,
ironmongery, etc. My husband succeeded in contriving a carriage
perfectly answering our wants: it was four-wheeled, and provided with a
double seat covering a roomy well; there was also a considerable space
behind to receive bundles and parcels, or at will a small removable
seat. Six persons could thus ride comfortably in the carriage, and as we
were expecting a visit from Mr. T. Hamerton and his sister, we wished
very much to have it ready for their use.

With the tender thoughtfulness which characterized my husband, he had
contrived a low step and a door at the back part of the carriage to
allow an aged person, like his aunt or my mother, to get inside with
ease and safety, and to get out quite as easily in case of danger.

They arrived in the middle of July, and spent a month with us. They were
both in very good health, and Aunt Susan, in spite of her seventy years,
rivalled her little grand-niece with the skipping-rope. She wrote
afterwards from West Lodge on August 20:--

"MY DEAR NEPHEW AND NIECE,--We arrived at home all safe and well at five
o'clock on Monday to tea, and to-day it is a week since we left your
most kind and hospitable entertainment, and I can assure you a most
true, heartfelt pleasure and gratification it has been to me to spend a
month with you, for which you must accept our best thanks for your
kindly studied attentions and exertions to make our visit pleasant. I am
sure I am much better for my journey; I feel strong and more vigorous;
the drives in the little carriage were no doubt the very thing that
would conduce to my getting strong, as I had then fresh air and exercise
without fatigue. [There follows a description of the journey, according
to a careful itinerary prepared by her nephew.] How is little Lala, lal,
a, lala? [her little niece, who was always singing]. We often talk of
her interesting ways and doings, and I often wish I could give other
English lessons to my nephews. I think we should have made some
progress, as both sides seemed interested in their business."

Shortly after the departure of his relatives, Mr. Hamerton was informed
by his landlord that he would have to leave the little house and garden
and stream he liked so well, because it was now the intention of the
proprietor to come to it with his family to spend the vacations. He was
offered, instead, another house on the same estate, called "La
Tuilerie," larger and more convenient, but a thoroughly _banale maison
bourgeoise_, devoid of charm and picturesqueness, close to the main
road, and without a garden; moreover, in an inconceivable state of
dirtiness and dilapidation. I felt horror-struck at the notion of
removing to such a place; however, I was at last obliged to submit to
fate. My husband, though very disinclined to a move, thought that since
it could not be avoided, it was as well to make it as easy, cheap, and
rapid as possible. He could not afford to lose time, and his health
prohibited long travels in search of a new abode, since he could not
make use of railways. We went as far in the neighborhood of Pre-Charmoy
as Cocote could take us in a day in different directions, but found
nothing suitable, probably because we did not wish to be at a distance
from the college, which would prevent the boys from coming home as they
had been accustomed to do.

The greater space and conveniences offered at La Tuilerie were a
temptation to my husband. We had, besides two entrances, a large
dining-room, drawing-room, kitchen, six bedrooms, lots of closets,
cupboards, dressing-rooms, and an immense garret all over the first
floor, well lighted by two windows, and paved with bricks. In the
extensive courtyard was a set of out-buildings, consisting of a
gardener's cottage, cartshed, and stable for six horses; and as on the
ground belonging to the house there had formerly existed a tile-kiln
(_tuilerie_) with drying sheds, there was ample space for a garden after
removing the rubbish which still covered it.

The fact is that circumstances allowed of no choice, and we had to
resign ourselves to the inevitable. Gilbert saw at once that with a
certain outlay and a great deal of ingenuity he could make La Tuilerie
not only tolerable, but even convenient and pleasant--though I doubted
it--and he explained how the outbuilding might be used as laundry,
laboratory, and carpenter's shop--there being three rooms of different
sizes in it; and what a gain it would be so to have all the dirty work
done outside the house. Another attraction was the good views from all
the windows; that of the Beuvray, with the plain leading to it; the
amphitheatre of Autun, with the intervening wood of noble trees, and
beyond it the temple of Janus; the range of the Morvan hills, the fields
of golden wheat and waving corn, and the pastures which looked like
mysterious lakes in the moonlight when the white mist rose from the
marshes and spread all over their surface--endlessly as it seemed. He
promised me to plan out a garden, and there being several fine trees
about the kiln and on the border of the road--oaks, elders, elms, and
spindle trees--he said he would contrive to keep them all, so as to have
shade from the beginning, and to give the new garden an appearance of
respectable antiquity.

The workmen were set at once to their task of repairing, painting, and
papering, and though my husband deprecated both the time spent on
supervision and the unavoidable expense (for the landlord, under pretext
that the rent was low, refused to contribute to the repairs, which he
called _ameliorations_), was unmistakably elated by the prospect of
having the use of a more spacious dwelling; for he very easily suffered
from a feeling of confinement, and tried to get rid of it by having two
small huts which could be moved about to different parts of the estate
according to his convenience, and to which he resorted when so inclined.
Even when they were not used, it was for him a satisfaction to know that
he had in readiness a refuge away from the house whenever he chose to
seek it. This dislike to confinement was betrayed unconsciously when he
sat down to his meals by his first movement, which pushed aside whatever
seemed _too near_ his plate--glass, wine-bottle, salt-cellars, etc. I
remember that he would not use the public baths in France, because the
cabins are small and generally locked on the outside. It was therefore a
great pleasure to devise stands and cupboards and shelves in the large
room which was to be his laboratory, and which he adorned with a cheap
frieze of white paper with gilt edges, and "Lose no Time" in
black-and-red letters, repeated upon each of the four walls, so as not
to escape notice whichever way you turned.

The carpenter's shop also had its due share of attention, and was well
provided with labelled boxes of all dimensions for nails, screws, etc.,
whilst a roomy closet, opening into the studio, was fitted up with a
piece of furniture specially designed to receive the different-sized
portfolios containing engravings, etchings, and studies of all kinds,
together with a lot of pigeon-holes to keep small things separate and in
order. All this was done at home, under his direction, and he has let
his readers into the secret of his taste when he wrote in "Wenderholme":
"For the present we must leave him (Captain Eureton) in the tranquil
happiness of devising desks and pigeon-holes with Mr. Bettison, an
intelligent joiner at Sooty thorn, _than which few occupations can be
more delightful._" About the pigeon-holes, a friend of my husband once
made a discovery which he declared astounding. "I well knew that Mr.
Hamerton was a model of order," he said to me; "but I only knew to what
extent when, having to seek for string, I was directed to these
pigeon-holes. I easily found the one labelled 'String,' but what it
contained was too coarse for my purpose. 'Look above,' said Mr.
Hamerton. I did, and sure enough I saw another label with 'String
(thin).' I thought it wonderful."

Yes, Gilbert _loved_ order, and strove to keep it; but as it generally
happened that he had to do many things in a hurry (catching the post,
for instance), he could not always find time to replace what he had
used. When this had gone on so as to produce real disorder, he gave a
day to restoring each item to its proper place--this happened generally
after a long search for a mislaid paper, the finding of which evoked the
oft-repeated confession, "I love Order better than she loves me, as
Byron said of Wisdom."

The correspondence relating to the foundation of the "Portfolio" was now
very heavy; everything had to be decided between Mr. Seeley and Mr.
Hamerton; suitable contributors had to be found, subjects discussed,
illustrations chosen. The only English art magazine of that day confined
its illustrations to line engravings and woodcuts, and its plates were
almost always engraved from pictures or statues. It was intended that
the "Portfolio" should make use of all new methods of illustration, and
should publish drawings and studies as well as finished works. But it
was the dearest wish of the editor that the revived art of Etching
should receive due appreciation in England, and that, with this object,
etched plates should be made a feature of the new magazine.

The contents of the first volume will best show the plan, which was
quite unlike that of any existing periodical. A series of articles on
"English Artists of the Present Day" was contributed by Mr. Sidney
Colvin, Mr. W. M. Rossetti, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr. Beavington Atkinson, and
the editor. These were illustrated by drawings most willingly lent by
Mr. G. F. Watts, Mr. Poynter, Sir E. Burne-Jones, Mr. Calderon, Mr. H.
S. Marks, Mr. G. D. Leslie, and other painters; and by paintings by Lord
Leighton, Mr. Armitage, and Mr. A. P. Newton. The reproductions were
made by the autotype (or carbon) process of photography, which was then
coming into high estimation as a means of making permanent copies of
works by the great masters. Every copy of these illustrations was
printed by light, a process only possible in the infancy of a magazine
which could count at first on the interest of but a small circle, and
had to form its own public. The editor contributed a series of papers,
entitled "The Unknown River," illustrated by small etchings by his own
hand. These were printed on India paper, and mounted in the text,
another process only possible in a magazine addressed to a few. The
first volume also contained a very fine etching by M. Legros, and others
by Cucinotta and Grenaud. Articles were contributed by Mr. F. T.
Palgrave, Mr. Watkiss Lloyd, Mr. G. A. Simcox, and Mrs. Mark Pattison
(Lady Dilke). A paper on "A New Palette" of nine colors was the
forerunner of the elaborate "Technical Notes" of later years. The
imposing size of the new magazine, its bold type, fine, thick paper, and
wide margins were much admired, and prepared the way for the many
editions _de luxe_ issued in England in the next quarter of the century.

In the second year the slow autotype process had to be abandoned for the
quicker Woodburytype, by which were reproduced drawings kindly
contributed by Sir J. E. Millais, Sir John Gilbert, Mr. Holman Hunt, Mr.
Woolner, Mr. G. Mason, Mr. Hook, and others. The editor commenced a
series of "Chapters on Animals," illustrated with etchings by Veyrassat.
Other etchings by M. Martial, Mr. Chattock, Mr. J. P. Heseltine, and Mr.
Lumsden Propert appeared. Mr. Basil Champneys, Mr. W. B. Scott, and Mr.
F. G. Stephens contributed articles.

In the third year a series of "Examples of Modern Etching" was made the
chief feature. It included plates by M. L. Flameng, Sir F. Seymour
Haden, M. Legros, M. Bracquemond, M. Lalanne, M. Rajon, M. Veyrassat,
and Mr. S. Palmer. The editor wrote a note upon each, and had now the
pleasure of seeing one of his objects accomplished, and the public
appreciation of his favorite art extending every day.

In subsequent years the various methods of photo-engraving were employed
instead of the carbon processes of photography, and the "Portfolio" was
one of the first English periodicals to give reproductions of

Several of M. Amand-Durand's admirable facsimiles of etchings and
engravings by the old masters adorned its pages. In 1873 appeared one of
Mr. R. L. Stevenson's first contributions to literature,--if not his
first,--a paper on "Roads," signed "L. S. Stoneven." This was followed
by other articles in the years 1874, 1875, and 1878, bearing his own

The fear of running short of work was not realized; on the contrary, my
husband had always too much on his hands; for he dreaded hurry, and
would have liked to bestow upon each of his works as much time as he
thought necessary, not only for its completion, but also for its
preparation, and that was often considerable, because he could not
slight a thing. When he was writing for the "Globe" he polished his
articles as much as a book destined to last; he always respected his
work, and the care given to it bore no relation to the price it was to
fetch. He often expressed a wish that he might labor like the monks in
the Middle Ages, without being disturbed by mercenary considerations;
that simple shelter, food, and raiment should be provided for himself
and for those dependent upon him--he did not foresee any other wants--so
that he might devote the whole of his mental energy to subjects worthy
of it. But I used to answer that if he had such liberty he never would
publish anything; for whenever he sent MS. to the printer it was
inevitably with regret at not being able to keep it longer for
improvement. Still, the second volume of "Wenderholme" had been sent to
Mr. Blackwood, who wrote on Sept. 24, 1869:--

"There is no doubt that I liked vol. 2 very much. The story is told in a
simple, matter-of-fact way, which is very effective, by giving an air of
truth to the narrative.

"The fire and the whole scene at the Hall is powerfully described. The
love at first sight is well put, and the militia quarters and the
landlord are true to the life."

My husband read to me the MS. of the novel as fast as he wrote it, and I
was afraid that some of the original characters might be recognized by
their friends, being so graphically described; however, he believed it
unlikely, people seeing and judging so differently from each other.

In the summer, as usual, we had several visitors who afforded varying
degrees of pleasure; a strange lady-artist amongst others, whose
blandishments did not succeed in making my husband acquiesce in her
desire of boarding with us, free of charge, in return for the English
lessons she would give to our children. She resented the non-acceptance
of her proposition, and having begged to look at the studies on the
easel, feigned to hesitate about their right side upwards, by turning
them up and down several times, and retiring a few steps each time as if
in doubt.

A more desirable visit was that of M. Lalanne, who besides his talent
had much amiability and very refined manners. Ever after he remained, if
not quite an intimate friend of my husband, at least more than an
acquaintance, and whenever they had a chance of meeting they made the
most of it. Gilbert, after one of these meetings,--a _dejeuner_ at M.
Lalanne's,--told me the following anecdote. Some one asked him if he
had not the "Legion d'honneur"? and being answered that it had not been
offered, went on to say that it was not "offered," but "accordee"
through the influence of some important personage, or by the pressure of
public opinion; "and I think this should be your case," M. Lalanne's
friend went on, "for you have rendered, and are still rendering, such
great service to French art and to French artists, that it ought to be
acknowledged. As you do not seem inclined to trouble yourself about it,
a deputation might be chosen among your admirers to present a petition
to that effect to the Ministre des Beaux-Arts." Mr. Hamerton having
replied that he should prize the distinction only if it were
spontaneously conferred, M. Lalanne remarked that decorations were of
small importance, and asked without the slightest pride, "Do you know
that I am one of the most _decores_ of civilians?... No; well, then, I
will show you my decorations." Then ringing the bell, he said to the
maid who answered it, "Bring the box of decorations, please." It was a
good-sized box, and when opened showed on a velvet tray a number of
crosses, stars, rosettes, and ribbons of different sizes and hues, all
vying in brilliancy and splendor. The first tray removed, just such
another was displayed equally well filled, and M. Lalanne explained
that, having given lessons to the sons of great foreign personages, they
had generally sent him as a token of regard and gratitude some kind of
decoration--maybe in lieu of payment.

At the end of 1869 "Wenderholme" was published, and the first number of
the "Portfolio" made its appearance on January 1, 1870, and from that
date it became for the editor an undertaking of incessant interest, to
the maintenance and improvement of which he was ever ready to devote
himself, and for which he would have made important sacrifices. The
dedication of "Wenderholme" was meant for Aunt Susan, and after
receiving the book, she wrote:--

"Accept my most sincere and highly gratified thanks for the copy of your
novel, and its dedication. We have heard that the "Times" and the
"Yorkshire Post" had each favorable articles on the merits of your
novel. We have detected nearly every character, even those that take
other forms, but we do not even whisper any information in this
neighborhood. Mr. and Mrs. W---- were immediately struck with the
'hoffens' and 'hirritation' of the doctor, but I pretend to think it not
individual, but that it was the case among the people you were writing

In May 1870, Mr. Hamerton removed to La Tuilerie, about five hundred
yards from Pre-Charmoy. He continued to date his letters from
Pre-Charmoy--the new house being on the estate so called; his motive was
to avoid possible confusion in the delivery of his letters. He was
greatly tickled to hear the peasants call his new abode "le chateau de
l'Anglais," and to see them staring admiringly from the road at the
windows, which were left open that paint and plaster might dry before we
came to live in it. Though perfectly independent of luxury, my husband
liked cleanliness and taste in the arrangement of the simplest
materials, and he contrived by a good choice of patterns and colors in
the papering of the rooms, with the help of fresh matting on the floors,
and the judicious hanging of fine engravings and etchings in his
possession, to impart quite a new and pleasant aspect to the _banale
maison bourgeoise_. Gradually I became reconciled to it, on account of
its greater convenience, and I even came to like it when the vines and
wisteria and golden nasturtiums hid the ugly bare walls, and the
fragrance of mignonette and roses and petunias was wafted into the rooms
looking over the garden, and that of wild thyme and honeysuckle into
those which looked over the fields; when the tall acacias began to shoot
upwards straight and graceful from their velvety green carpet, and
scattered upon it their perfumed moth-like flowers; while we listened to
the humming of the happy bees in the sweet-smelling lime trees and to
the wondrous song of the rival nightingales challenging each other from
bower to bower in the calm, warm nights of summer-time. And such a great
change did not take very long to realize: the ground had been well
drained and plentifully manured, and it was almost virgin soil,
unexhausted by previous vegetation, so that the elm-bower was soon
thickly leaved and with difficulty prevented from closing up, the
climbing vines became heavy with grapes, whilst the spreading branches
of the acacias speedily formed a vast parasol, and afforded a pleasant
shelter from the glare of the August sunshine. Hardy fruit trees of all
kinds had been planted all along the garden hedge, and in the third year
began to yield cherries--in moderation--but plums of different species
we had in great quantities, also quinces, sometimes apples, apricots,
and figs--the two last, however, were frequently destroyed by frost,
the spring being generally very cold in the Morvan. As to pears, we had
to wait somewhat longer for them, the pear trees requiring strict
pruning to preserve the quality of the fruit; but we used to have a
small cart-load of them when the year had been favorable. There was
nothing my husband liked better than to pick gooseberries, currants,
raspberries, cherries, or plums, and eat them fresh as we took a walk in
the garden; he was very fond of fruit, and unlike most men, he would
rather do without meat than without vegetables or dessert. His tastes in
food, as in everything else, were very simple, but he was particular
about _quality_. I never heard him complain of insufficiency, though,
situated as we were, there was sometimes only just enough; and even that
lacking which might have been considered as most necessary, namely, a
dish of meat. For Gilbert, however, it was not a privation when
occurring occasionally; nay, he even enjoyed the change, and as I
generally went to Autun on Fridays and could get fish, we made it a
_jour maigre_, though not from religious motives. It was understood that
if eggs were served they must be newly laid; if potatoes, mealy and _a
point_; if fish, fresh and palatable; he would not have tolerated the
economy of one of our lady neighbors, who abstained from buying fish at
Autun because it was too dear, she said; but who used to bring a full
hamper when she came back yearly from Hyeres, where it was cheap, enough
to last for a week _after the journey_, and who considered the unsavory
hamper an ample compensation for the absence of fish from her menus
during the remainder of the year.

The removal did not hinder or interrupt Mr. Hamerton seriously in his
work, for the new house was quite ready to receive the furniture; and
the place of every piece having been decided beforehand, the farmers
merely handed them out of their carts to the workmen, who carried them
inside the rooms, according to previous directions.

The difficulty of getting proofs of the different states of his plates
whilst etching them, incited my husband to invent a press for his own
laboratory, that he might judge of his work in progress by taking proofs
for himself whenever he liked. Considering the present state of our
affairs I was not favorable to the idea, but I was overruled, as in all
cases concerning expenses deemed necessary to artistic or literary
pursuits. He had few material wants, and therefore thought himself
justified in providing for his intellectual needs--for instance, by the
gradual formation of a library. He often deprecated the necessity of
apparent extravagance in such things; "but you see," he would say, "I
cannot stand stationary in the acquirement of knowledge if I am to go on
teaching others--I must keep ahead--without mentioning the satisfaction
of my own tastes and cravings, to which I have a certain right." Indeed
it was truly wonderful that he should have been able to achieve so much
work, and work of such quality, in the intellectual solitude and
retirement of these seven years passed out of great cities where
libraries, museums, and human intercourse constantly offer help and
stimulus to a writer. Luckily for him he bore solitude well. He has said
in "The Intellectual Life": "Woe unto him that is never alone, and
cannot bear to be alone!" And again: "Only in solitude do we learn our
inmost nature and its needs." Further on: "There is, there is a strength
that comes to us in solitude from that shadowy awful Presence that
frivolous crowds repel." He often sought communion with that awful
Presence in the thick forests of the Morvan and on the highest peak of
the Mont Beuvray, and found it.

For some time our minds had been disturbed by the unsettled aspect of
French politics, and the possibility of a war with Prussia had been a
cause of great personal anxiety to my husband on account of his
nationality. He has related in "Round my House" how the news of the
declaration of war reached us on a Sunday, as we were bringing the
children home after spending the day peacefully in the fields and on the
river-banks of a picturesque little village.

It is probable that if my husband had been able to bear a long railway
journey, we might have accepted the hospitality so kindly offered in the
following letter:--

WEST LODGE. _August_ 12, 1870.

"MY VERY DEAR NEPHEW AND NIECE,--I am most grievously and fearfully
concerned to hear of your sad condition in consequence of the terrible
and needless war that is now spreading misery, desolation, and perhaps
famine all over the Empire, just to gratify the unbounded ambition of
one man. We wish you and your three children could fly over to us and be
in safety. Really, if you get at all alarmed, do not hesitate to come,
all of you, with as much of your property as you can pack and bring; we
can and shall be pleased to find you refuge from any pending evil you
may be dreading. Dear P. G., you would find your articles about the
state of your country had got copied into the 'Manchester Courier,' but
we wish to caution you about what you put in them. Remember whose iron
heart could punish you, and what would become of your wife and family if
you were cast into prison.

"The little grandson and his nurse are coming here on Tuesday next for a
month; they will only occupy one bedroom, so there will still be the
best bedroom and a very good attic, and half of my bed if little Mary
Susan Marguerite dares trust herself with me"

Although Mr. Hamerton had always taken great interest in politics, he
never wished to play an active part in them; from time to time he wrote
a political article about some cause he had at heart, or some wrong
which he wished to see redressed, or again on some obscure point which
his experience of two countries might help to clear up, but he never
consented to supply regular political correspondence to any newspaper.
Having had rather a lengthened connection with the "Globe," he was
offered the post of war-correspondent, which he declined.

He has passed over many interesting incidents of this wartime in "Round
my House," although he has given a few. One of the most striking was
certainly his guiding a Garibaldian column _en reconnaissance_ across
the bed of the river Ternin, on a bitterly cold day, mounted on his
spirited little Cocote, who showed quite a martial mettle, and may well
have felt proud of leading a number of great cavalry horses. She took no
harm from her cold bath, but her master, whose legs had been in the icy
water (on account of her small height) up to the thighs, was not so
fortunate: he caught a serious chill, accompanied with fever and pains,
which confined him to the house over a week. He mentions in the book our
anxiety when the spy mania was at its height, and the workmen had almost
decided to attack us in a body, but he refrains from detailing how, day
after day, when the "hands" congregated in the village inns after dinner
in the twilight, we used to take our children by the hand and pass, with
hearts in anguish for their safety, but with as confident a countenance
as we could command, before their infuriated groups; never knowing
whether some fatal blow would not be dealt from the next group or the
one following. The men stood on the door-steps, or in the very middle of
the road, awaiting us with lowering brows and sullen looks of suspicion,
when with sinking hearts and placid faces we stopped to say a few words
to one of our _present_ enemies to whom we had formerly rendered some
help in illness or destitution. The truth is, they generally looked
somewhat ashamed on such occasions, and always answered politely, but
without the frank and pleased looks of other days, when they were proud
of our notice and interest; they would rather have done without it now,
especially in the company of their fellow-conspirators against our
safety. I dare say the innocent unconcern of our children, who laughed
and played freely in their happy ignorance of danger, proved our best
safeguard, but still every night after reaching home we could not help
thinking--"How will it be to-morrow?"

Just at the beginning of the hostilities, my husband had deprecated the
rashness of the French people, which was blinding them to the unprepared
state of their army, and to its numerical inferiority when compared with
the German force. But when he saw that, although the King of Prussia had
said that the war was not directed against the French people, he was
still carrying it on unmercifully after the fall of Napoleon III., his
sympathies with the invaded nation grew warmer every day, and he did all
that was in his power to spare from invasion that part of the country
where we lived, and which we knew so well. He put himself in
communication with General Bordone,--Garibaldi's aide-de-camp (Garibaldi
himself being very ill at that time),--and explained how Autun might be
surprised by roads which had been left totally unguarded. He made a
careful map of the country about us for Garibaldi, and shortly after,
outposts were placed according to his directions, so as to prevent the
enemy from reaching Autun by these parts, without resistance.

He used to go to Autun with Cocote almost every night for news, and met
there with Garibaldian officers whom he often drove to inspect the
outposts, and they gave him the password for the sentinels on his way
home. One night, however, he had remained even later than usual, having
taken an officer to a very distant outpost, and when he reached the road
leading to La Tuilerie, the password had been changed, and he was
detained in spite of all he could say to be allowed to proceed on his
way. He would have submitted easily to the discomfort of a few hours in
the guard-room had it not been that he realized how anxious I must be,
and when he heard the order of march given to a patrol, he asked to be
allowed to join it as it was going his way, observing that the soldiers
would have the power of shooting him if he attempted to run away.

The permission was granted, and he set off on foot, in the midst of the
patrol, followed by his dog, Cocote having been left at the inn.

It was freezing hard, and the snow lay deep on the ground; the march was
a silent one--the men having been forbidden to talk--and it was a
miracle that Gilbert's dog escaped with its life, for every time it
barked or growled it was threatened with instant death. His master,
however, artfully represented that in case enemies were hidden in the
ditches or behind the hedges bordering the road, "Tom" would soon
dislodge them and help in their capture. This seemed to pacify the men,
together with the prospect (no less artfully held out) of a glass of rum
each when they reached La Tuilerie.

It was a weary march for Gilbert and an anxious watch for me, and as
soon as I heard the joyful bark of our dog announcing his master's
return, I hastened downstairs and made a great blaze for the half-frozen
patrol and its prisoner, and served to them all some hot grog which was
duly appreciated.

I have no doubt it seemed hard to the poor soldiers to leave the seats
by the leaping flames to resume their slippery march in the creaking
snow, but they did it promptly enough, somewhat cheered by the renewed
warmth they were carrying away with them.

Mr. Hamerton has described in "Round my House" how he watched the
battle which took place at Autun, from our garret window. With the naked
eye we could only see the dark lines of soldiers without being able to
follow their strategical movements; but to my husband, with the help of
his telescope, every incident was instantly revealed, and he
communicated them to us in succession as they occurred.

It is needless to say what a relief we experienced when we heard that
the enemy was falling back--ever so slightly. Then every one of us,
women and children, wanted to look through the telescope, and for once I
_did_ see in it, and hailed with heartfelt thanksgivings, the scarcely
perceptible retreating movement of the Germans.

At that moment the light of day was fading fast, and in the twilight I
could just see my husband turning towards our awestruck children and
saying to them: "I am certain that you will never forget this day, and
what a horrible thing a war is."

And they answered, "Oh! never!"

Despite these painful preoccupations, Mr. Hamerton had prepared the
"Etcher's Handbook" and its illustrations, and was writing a series of
articles on the "Characters of Balzac" for the "Saturday Review." To
save time I read to him "Le Pere Goriot," "Eugenie Grandet," "Ursule
Mirouet," "Les Parents Pauvres," "La Cousine Bette," etc. Mr. Harwood
approved of the series, but although my husband admired Balzac's talent
greatly, he disliked the choice of his subjects in general, and
complained to me of the desponding state of mind they produced in him;
he called it "withering" sometimes. In consequence he became convinced
that it was not a good study--mentally--for him, and rightly abandoned
the series, for it was of importance that he should be in the healthiest
mental condition to write the "Intellectual Life," the form of which was
giving him a great deal of trouble. He had already begun it twice over,
and each time had read to me the preliminary chapters, without giving to
my expectant interest entire satisfaction. He had had the plan of the
book in contemplation for years, and the gathered materials were rich
and ready, but the definite form had not yet been found. He was in no
way discouraged by repeated failures, and told me he "was sure to grasp
it sometime," only he grew excited in the struggle. The prudent rule
which forbade work at night had been cast aside, and it was about two
o'clock in the morning when I was awakened to listen to the first
chapters of the "Intellectual Life," as they now remain. I was very
happy to be able to praise them unreservedly: hitherto my part had been
but a sorry one. I could only say, "I don't think this is the best
possible form," without suggesting what the best form ought to be; but
now I felt sure it answered exactly to my expectations, and my husband
rejoiced that "he had hit it at last."



Landscape-painting.--Letters of Mr. Peter Graham, R. A.--Incidents of
the war time.--"The Intellectual Life."--"The Etcher's Handbook."

An American clergyman, Mr. Powers, after reading Mr. Hamerton's works,
had become one of his most fervent admirers, and there came to be a
regular correspondence between them. Mr. Powers used to gather all the
information he could about the progress of his friend's reputation in
the United States--newspaper articles, criticisms, encomiums, notes,
etc., and to send them to Pre-Charmoy. He was a great deal more
sensitive to strictures on my husband than the victim himself; and I see
in the letter-book of 1870 this entry: "April 28. Powers. To console his
mind about the article on me."

Now Mr. Powers longed to see some pictures from the hand of Mr.
Hamerton, and had so often expressed this wish, that the artist, out of
gratitude for the constant interest shown in his work, rashly promised
to paint two landscapes as a present. It was very characteristic that he
did not promise one only, but two, and at a time when he was so
overwhelmed with work that he hardly knew how to get through the most
pressing; and still more characteristic is this other entry in the
letter-book: "February 7, 1871. Powers. Sending him measures of his
pictures, so that he may get frames for them."

It is true that one of the pictures was begun, but before it was brought
to completion several years were to elapse, though the pictures were
both--at intervals--on the easel; always undergoing some change either
of effect or of composition, even of subject, for the painter could
never be satisfied with them. He felt that he lacked the power of
expressing himself, and said to me: "These are not my pictures, I
_dream_ them differently;" whilst when he had seen Mr. Peter Graham's
"Spate in the Highlands," he exclaimed: "This is one of my
_dream_-pictures; I should like to have painted it." Entirely devoid of
the false pride which prevents learning from others, he had written to
Mr. Peter Graham about what he considered his failures, and had received
the following reply:--

"With regard to what you say of yourself in your last letter, I have
never had an opportunity of seeing a picture of yours; but I cannot
imagine any one to fail in landscape who has the high qualifications for
it which you obviously have--a sensitively impressionable nature, a
strong, loving admiration for whatever in heaven or earth is beautiful
or grand in form, color, or effect. Then you have the faculty of
observation, without which a mind, however sensitive to the impressions
of nature, will not be able to do anything, will be passive, not active.
The mechanical difficulties of our art must be to some extent overcome
before our thoughts and intentions can be realized and our impressions
conveyed to others. After all, every artist feels that his work is a
failure, the success of rendering what he wishes is so exceedingly
limited in his mind. I am talking of what you know as well as I do; but
my only reason is that you spoke of yourself as failing in landscape,
'probably from want of natural ability,' which I cannot believe. My
method of getting memoranda, which you inquire about, is to study as
closely as I can; to watch and observe and make notes and drawings, also
studies in color, and patient groping after what I wish to learn, are my
only methods. I feel unable to enter into details, so much would need be
said on the subject. I believe I am much indebted to my long education
as a figure-painter for any little ability I may have in rendering the
material of nature. I was a figure-painter many years before I touched
landscape. Continued study from the antique and painting from the nude
in a life-class give, or ought to give, an acquaintance with light and
shadow which to a landscape-painter is invaluable--nature affects our
feelings so much in landscape by light and shadow. In Edinburgh we had a
long gallery with windows from the roof at intervals, and the statues
were arranged there; a splendid collection. I shall never forget the
exquisite beauty of the middle tint, or overshadowing, which the statues
had that were placed between the windows; those which were immediately
underneath them were of course in a blaze of light, and we had all
gradations of light, middle-tint, and shadow. When I came to study
clouds and skies, I recognized the enchantment of effect to be caused by
the same old laws of light I had tried to get acquainted with at the
Academy. Of course color adds immensely to the difficulty of sky
painting, and the amount of groping in the study of gray, blue, etc., is
very disheartening. I need not longer weary you, however, on this
subject, but shall just again say that I really see no reason why you
should not succeed in landscape-painting if such be your wish, and
therefore cannot think of you as having failed."

Then, in a subsequent letter, I find this passage:--

"Since receiving your last letter I have read, and with great pleasure,
your 'Painter's Camp in the Highlands.' I am stronger than ever in the
belief that it is merely from your never having devoted the necessary
amount of time to art in the right direction that unqualified success
has not been attained by you as an artist. I think it unfortunate that
you 'learned painting with a clever landscape-painter.' You probably far
excelled him in sympathy with nature, power of observation, and all the
gifts especially required for a landscape-painter. What you really
needed, study under a figure-painter, or better still at an Academy,
would have given you. Landscape nature is too complicated to be a good
school to acquire the mastery over the mechanical difficulties in art. I
don't agree with you that you ought to have filled your notebooks with
memoranda from nature instead of painting pictures at Loch Awe. Your
experience there was very valuable. A notebook memorandum from nature is
of little or no use for a picture in oil without previous study of
similar subjects or effects in the same vehicle. You ask my opinion of
your present method of study. I think it excellent, and would make only
two suggestions. You might safely discontinue the study of botany and
dissection of plants; there is not the slightest fear of a want of truth
in your pictures, and the time might be devoted to some more pressing
work. Then I think you might paint the human figure with much profit,
even to landscape-painting and writing on art."

The reader may have remarked that Mr. Hamerton had frequently painted
from a model at Pre-Charmoy, though not from the nude, for he was of
opinion that this kind of study was no great help to him at this stage,
though it might have been earlier.

A more serious impediment than technical difficulties soon stopped all
progress with Mr. Powers' pictures. It was a recurrence of the cerebral
excitement, almost in a chronic form. My husband had made a plan for
issuing--separately--proofs of the etchings appearing in the
"Portfolio;" but he was so ill that he could not hold a pen; and to
explain the details of this plan to Mr. Seeley I acted as amanuensis
under his dictation. His aunt was very much grieved to hear of this
illness, and wrote:--

"Suppose you tried a ten or twenty miles' journey by train, in some
direction whence you could return by water or conveyance if necessary. I
assure you I can do valiant things with impunity that the very thinking
of them would have made me ill about thirteen months ago."

He did not need courage to be preached to him, he had a sufficient store
of it; indeed, his nervousness had nothing to do with fear: he used to
drive or ride Cocote after she had been running away, upsetting the
carriage and breaking the harness, till she was subdued again into
docility. Once at Dieppe, in a storm, he had volunteered to steer a
lifeboat which was making for a ship in distress, but his services had
been refused when it was known that he had a family. He rode fearlessly
one of the high, dangerous bicycles of that time, about which Aunt Susan
humorously said in one of her letters that "they often prove rather
restive, and are given to, or seized with, an inclination to butting the
walls, and also of lazily lying down on the road over which they ought
to be almost imperceptibly passing along." And during the war he kindly
received, fed, and helped several _francs-tireurs_ and stray French
soldiers, perfectly aware that he was risking his life in case the
Prussians came near; he even conveyed one of them to the Garibaldian
outposts in his carriage. Of his own accord he attempted time after time
to get the better of this peculiar nervousness, but it had lately
increased to such a point that, for a time, when we reached Autun in the
carriage and came _in sight_ of the railway bridge, he had to give me
the reins, jump down, and go back to wait for my return outside the
town; for I could not go with him, having to take our boys to the
college. I never knew how I might find him when we met again. Unlike the
majority of patients, who make the most of their ailments to excite
sympathy, he considerately let me know immediately of the slightest
improvement, and kept repeating: "It will soon be over now; don't
distress yourself."

I believe that the great excitement and anxiety of the wartime had
caused the recurrence of the ailment, and no wonder, for we knew several
cases of mental derangement in the small circle of our acquaintances,
even amongst peasants, who are far from imaginative or nervous. In
Gilbert's case there were only too many reasons for anxiety, besides the
uncertainty of his situation. His brother-in-law, M. Pelletier, then
Econome of the Lycee at Vendome, was in the thick of the strife, and his
post was not unattended with danger--though the Lycee had become an
International Ambulance. It was sometimes hard for him to restrain his
indignation before the insolence and partiality of the victors: once,
for instance, he appealed to the general in command to obtain for the
French wounded an equal portion of the bread given to the Prussians; but
he was pushed by the shoulder to an open window, from which the French
army could be seen, and the general exclaimed--pointing to the soldiers
in the distance: "Vous n'aurez rien, rien! tant que nous ne les aurons
pas battus!... allez!..."

Another time M. Pelletier had to go to Chateau Renaud to fetch several
things sorely wanted at the ambulance. It was forbidden by the enemy,
under penalty of death, to carry any letters out of the city, which they
had declared in a state of siege; but M. Pelletier could not find in his
heart to refuse a few from desolate mothers and wives, and these letters
were carefully sewn up at night, by his wife, in the lining of his
overcoat. Who betrayed him?... No one knows, but just as he was about to
descend the stairs, some one rapidly brushed past, whispering hurriedly,
"Leave that coat behind." He understood, went back to his apartment,
threw the coat to his terrified wife, merely saying "Burn," and had only
time to seize another great-coat hanging in the passage and rush to the
omnibus waiting with the escort. He was, however, stopped by a Prussian
officer, who said: "You sha'n't go--you are carrying letters, and you
know that you have put yourself in the way of being shot." The coat was
taken from him _and the lining cut open_. On finding nothing, the
officer said, with a dry smile: "You have been warned; but let it be a
lesson to you,--you might not escape so easily another time."

My brother Charles, despite his being the only son of a widow and
_soutien de famille_, had been enlisted, and his letters did not always
reach their destination, though his regiment was at Chagny, not far from
Autun, and for a while Mr. Hamerton had lost all traces of his
mother-in-law. Madame Gindriez had gone to Vendome to be near her
younger daughter, Madame Pelletier, in the hope of keeping clear of the
bloody conflict, but found herself in the very centre of it after the
occupation of Vendome by Prince Frederick Charles, and was thus shut off
from all news of her son. After vainly attempting to get a safe-conduct
during the hostilities, she at last succeeded after the armistice, and
left the town to go to Tours, where she had friends willing to receive
her, and where she expected to hear from her son. The omnibus in which
she travelled was escorted by Bismarck's White Cuirassiers, pistol in
hand, till it reached Chateau Renaud. In the night, Madame Gindriez was
awakened by loud rappings at her bedroom door, and ordered to give up
her room to some Prussian sergeants who had come back from an
expedition. She dressed quickly and went to the kitchen--the only place
in the hotel free from soldiers--to await the morning as she best could.
Her breakfast was served upon a small table, apart from the long one in
the centre of the room, which was reserved for the German officers. They
were very much elated, it seemed, by the armistice, thinking that it
might lead ultimately to a peace, for which they openly expressed their
desire, ordering champagne, clinking their glasses together, and
politely offering one to Madame Gindriez with the words: "You won't
refuse to drink with us _a la paix_, Madame?" "A la paix, soit," she
courageously answered; "mais sans cession de territoire." They did not

It may be easily surmised that such tidings, reaching my husband from
time to time, kept him in an anxious state far from beneficial to his
health. After the armistice, I find a great many entries in the
letter-book of letters inquiring about friends, and how they had fared
during this terrible war-time. Despite this chronic state of anxiety,
Mr. Hamerton was writing "The Intellectual Life," and had offered it for
publication in America to Messrs. Roberts Brothers. They answered:--

"We liked the title and the plan of your new work, as outlined by you,
and presuming it will be larger than 'Thoughts about Art,' we will give
you fifty pounds outright for the early copy, or we shall allow you a
percentage on it, after the first thousand are sold, of ten per cent, on
the retail price, provided we are not interfered with by competing

The author had the satisfaction of receiving another letter from Roberts
Brothers, dated July 21, 1871, in which this passage occurs: "'Thoughts
about Art' is quite popular; you have many very dear friends in this
country, and the number is increasing."

In September of the same year Mr. Haden wrote, in reference to the
projected "Etcher's Handbook":--

"Your new processes interest me immensely, and I am glad you are going
to give us a handbook on the whole subject. Let it be concise, and even
dogmatic, for you have to speak _ex cathedra_ on the matter, and people
prefer to be told what to do to being reasoned into it."

Ever anxious to improve himself, my husband had asked Mr. Lewes to
advise him about his reading preparatory to the new book he had begun to
write on the Intellectual Life. Here is the answer:--


"_Nov_. 2, 1871.

"MY DEAR HAMERTON,--We so often speak of you and your wife, and were so
very anxious about you during the war, that we have asked right and left
for news of you, and were delighted at last to get such good news of you

"As to the books to be suggested for your work, partly the fact that no
one can really suggest food for another, partly the fact that I don't
clearly understand the nature of your work--these perhaps make a good
excuse if the following list is worthless. It is all I have been able to
gather together.

"Littre, 'Vie d'Auguste Comte.'
St. Hilaire, 'Vie et travaux de Geoffroy St. Hilaire.'
Gassendi, 'Vita Tychonis Brahei, Copernici.'
Bertrand, 'Fondateurs de l'Astronomie Moderne.'
Morley, 'Life of Palissy' (passionate devotion to research).
Morley, 'Life of Cardan.'
Berti, 'Vita di Giordano Bruno.'
Bartholmess, 'Vie de Jordano Bruno.'
Muir's 'Life of Mahomet.'
Stanley's 'Life of Arnold.'
Mazzuchelli, 'Vita di Archimede.'
Blot's 'Life of Newton.'
Drinkwater's 'Kepler and Galileo.'

"All these are first-rate, especially the two last, published by the
Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge, together with some
others, under the title of 'Lives of Eminent Persons.'

"The 'Biographie Universelle' will give you, no doubt, references as to
the best works under each head.

"We did not go abroad this year, but buried ourselves in absolute
solitude in Surrey--near Haslemere, if you know the lovely region; and
there I worked like a man going in for the Senior Wranglership, and Mrs.
Lewes, who was ailing most of the time, went on with her new work. This
work, by the way, is a panorama of provincial life, to be published in
eight parts, on alternative months, making four very thick vols. when
complete. It is a new experiment in publishing. While she was at her
art, I was at the higher mathematics, seduced into those regions by some
considerations affecting my personal work. The solitude and the work
together were perfectly blissful. Except Tennyson, who came twice to
read his poems to us, we saw no one.

"No sooner did we return home than Mrs. Lewes, who had been incubating
an attack, _hatched_ it--and for five weeks she was laid up, getting
horribly thin and weak. But now she is herself again (thinner self) and
at work.

"She begs me to remember her most kindly to you and to Mrs. Hamerton.

"Ever yours truly,

"G. H. LEWES."

Almost in every letter that my husband received from Mr. Lewes, he had
this confirmation of what George Eliot had told him about the heavy
penalty in health attending or following her labors.

Mr. Lewes had not mentioned his lives of Goethe and Aristotle, but they
were ordered with the other books he had recommended, and I began to
read them aloud to my husband whilst he was etching the plates for an
illustrated edition of the "Painter's Camp," that he had always hoped to
see accepted by Mr. Macmillan.

M. Pelletier had been promoted from Vendome to Lons-le-Saunier, and
after spending a month of the vacation at our house with his wife and
three children, now invited his host and family to go back with him for
the remainder of the holidays. However, the boys only went, for their
father was incapacitated for railway travelling, and the little girl May
could not be persuaded to leave her parents, even to go with her cousins
and her Aunt Caroline, whom she so much loved.

The nervous state into which my husband had been thrown back had
produced a morbid sensitiveness to noise and to the sight of movement
which isolated him more and more, even from his nearest friends, and
during these last vacations he had seldom been able to take _dejeuner_
with us. In consequence he had a little hut erected near the river, _au
buisson Vincent_, whither he retired almost daily, and to which I took
or sent him his lunch; there he read, wrote, or sketched, surrounded
only by silent and motionless objects. This morbid sensitiveness
decreased with the light of day, and when the sun had set we generally
joined him to admire the beauty of the after-glow fading slowly into
twilight in the summer evenings. He always dined with us all, and after
dinner he either listened to music, of which he was very fond, or even
played a little himself on the violin, or walked out in company. We made
quite a little procession on the road now,--six children romping about,
my sister and her husband, my mother and my brother Charles, the master
of the house and myself; and since it had transpired that my husband was
not so well, some of his friends at Autun or in the neighborhood came as
often as they could to make him feel less out of the world. He has said
himself: "The intellectual life is sometimes a fearfully solitary one.
Unless he lives in a great capital the man devoted to that life is more
than other men liable to suffer from isolation, to feel utterly alone
beneath the deafness of space and the silence of the stars. Give him one
friend who can understand him, who will not leave him, who will always
be accessible by day and night,--one friend, one kindly listener, just
one,--and the whole universe is changed." In his case the friendly and
intelligent intercourse kept up with his wife's relatives alleviated in
a great measure the sense of isolation.

The life in the hut, together with the botanical studies and the
formation of the herbarium, suggested the plan of the "Sylvan Year," and
thereby lent additional interest to these pursuits, though at that time
his main work was the prosecution of "The Intellectual Life," now that
he had finished the correction of the handbook on etching. [Footnote:
Contributed to the "Portfolio," and afterwards published separately.]
This last work brought him many pleasant letters from brother artists,
but I shall only quote what Mr. Samuel Palmer said about it, because it
was his praise, and that of Mr. Seymour Haden, which gave the author the
greatest satisfaction, coming from authorities on the subject.

"REDHILL. _January_, 1872.

"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--Had I thanked you earlier for your 'handbook,'
which came long ago, I could not have thanked you so much: for it is the
test of good books, as of good pictures, that they improve with
acquaintance. I had a little 'Milton' bound with brass corners, that I
might carry it always in my waistcoat-pocket--after doing this for
twenty years it was all the fresher for its portage. Your invention of
the positive process is equally useful and elegant; useful because the
reverse method lessens the pleasure of work, elegant because the
materials are delicate and the process cleanly and expeditious."

In this letter Mr. Palmer expressed his desire to publish a translation
of Virgil's "Eclogues" in verse, and asked for his correspondent's
advice about it. Another source of satisfaction to Gilbert was the
increasing success of his works in America. In January, 1872, he had a
letter from Roberts Brothers, in which they said:--

"We have mailed you a copy of 'The Unknown River.' It has proved a
success, and has been generally admired. It is a charming book, and we
should like to bring out a popular edition. 'Thoughts about Art' is
selling better than we expected--it has given a start to the 'Painter's
Camp,' which we are now printing a second edition of.

"We think you are getting to be well known and appreciated in this

Enclosed in the letter was a remittance for L49 8_s_., which proves that
an author has need of a good many successes to pay his way; still, these
remittances from America made a difference in Mr. Hamerton's
circumstances, and were exclusively devoted to the education of his
boys. Though unambitious, he was not indifferent to the increase in his
reputation, for he had written in "The Intellectual Life," "Fame is
dearer to the human heart than wealth itself." He certainly cared
infinitely and incomparably more for his reputation--such as he wished
it to be, pure, dignified, and honored--than for wealth; his only desire
about money, often expressed, was "not to have to think about it."



Popularity of "The Intellectual Life."--Love of animals.--English
visitors.--Technical notes.--Sir F. Seymour Haden.--Attempts to resume

The dedication of "The Intellectual Life" was a perfect surprise to me
when I first opened my presentation copy: the secret had been well kept.
I felt grateful and honored to be thus publicly associated by my husband
in his work, though my share had been but humble and infinitesimal--more
sympathetic than active, more encouraging than laborious. Our common
dream had been to be as little separated as possible, and he had
attempted soon after our marriage to rouse in me some literary ambition,
and to direct my beginnings. I first reviewed French books for "The
Reader," and he was kind enough to correct everything I wrote; then he
induced me to try my hand at a short novel, reminding me humorously that
some of my father's friends used to call me "Little Bluestocking." He
took a great deal of trouble to find a publisher for my second novel,
and was quite disappointed to fail. He wrote to encourage me to

"The reviews of your first novel have all been favorable enough, but the
publishers told me they had _never_ published a one-volume novel that
had succeeded, and that they had now made up their minds _never_ to
publish another, no matter who wrote it. I rather think they would
publish your new novel, but I earnestly recommend you to try ... _I am
quite sure_ you have something in you, but you want wider culture,
better reading, and more of it, and the difficulty about household
matters is for the present in your way, though if I go on as I am doing
now we will get you out of that."

A copy of "The Intellectual Life" was sent to Aunt Susan, who received
it just as she was going to visit her sister, Mrs. Hinde, whom she
found in failing health, and who died shortly after. It was a new grief
for my husband, to whom she had always been very kind. As soon as
tranquillity was re-established in France, after the war and Commune,
Mr. Hamerton had renewed a regular correspondence with his friends, and,
being greatly interested in the technique of the fine arts, consulted
those friends whose experience was most to be relied upon. Mr. Wyld's
letters are full of explanation about his own practice, as well as that
of Decamps, Horace Vernet, Delaroche, and Delacroix. In one of them I
find this interesting passage:--

"I very much doubt if the talent of coloring can be _learnt_. I think it
is a gift like an ear for music, which if not born with you can never be
perfectly acquired (I, for instance, _I am sure_, could never have
_perfectly_ tuned a violin). Doubtless if the faculty exists
intuitively, it may be perfected, or at all events much improved by
study and practice, but he that has it not from birth, _I_ think, can
never acquire it."

Mr. S. Palmer, in a long letter also devoted to the technical part of
painting and etching, turns to literature to say:--

"My pleasure in hearing of the success of 'The Intellectual Life' is
qualified only by the comparative apathy of the English. Of such a book
one edition here to three in America is something to be ashamed of."

The sale of the book was rapid, both in England and in America, but the
American sale continued to be incomparably the larger. As early as
February, 1874, Roberts Brothers wrote:--

"'The Intellectual Life' is a complete literary success in America; it
has been the means of making you almost a household god in the most
refined circles. We are now selling the fifth thousand. Our supply of
the English 'Chapters on Animals' [Footnote: Contributed to the
"Portfolio," and afterwards published separately.] is all sold, and we
are now stereotyping the book. We hope to sell a good many."

The motive which prompted my husband to write these "chapters" was
purely his love and pity for all dumb creatures. He never could do
without a dog--and the dog was always the favorite, being even preferred
to the saddle-horse; and when out of compassion for its infirmities it
had to be out of pain, his master never shirked the painful duty, but
performed it himself as mercifully as he could. One of his dogs, which
had long been treated for cancer, was at last chloroformed to death, his
master helping the veterinary surgeon all the time. Another, who became
suddenly rabid, and could not be prevented from entering the house, to
the imminent peril of us all, he met and stunned at a blow with a log of
wood, having no weapon ready. Poor Cocote was not sold when she became
useless, but allowed to divide her old age peacefully between the
freedom of the pasturage and the comfort and plenty of the stable, till
her master asked the best shot of the place (a poacher) to assist him in
firing a volley, which quickly put an end to her life, as she was
unsuspectingly coming out of the field. And he only came to this
decision when we left the country. Out of love or pity my husband was
interested in all animals, and I believe that animals were instinctively
aware of it. Dogs always sought his caresses; he used to remove _with
his hands_ toads from the dangers of the road, and they did not seem
afraid. He never was stung by bees, though he often placed his hand flat
in front of the opening in the hive, so that they were obliged to alight
upon it before entering. Of the rat only he had a nervous horror, but it
remained unconquerable; he disliked the sight of one, and if he met one
accidentally, he always experienced a disagreeable shock. When he tried
to find out the reason, he was inclined to attribute it to the
disquieting rapidity and restlessness of its movements.

In 1874 Mr. Hamerton began to write for the "International Review,"
principally on the fine arts, and continued his contributions till 1880.
Roberts Brothers expressed a wish that he would reserve the publications
in book form to their firm, which had done so much for his reputation.

At the beginning of April he heard from Boston that they were printing
the sixth thousand of the "Intellectual Life," and had written to
Messrs. Macmillan that they were willing to unite in bringing out a new
edition of "Etching and Etchers." In October the seventh thousand of the
"Intellectual Life" was being printed; the second edition of "Chapters
on Animals" and the second of "Thoughts about Art" were about half gone,
and "A Painter's Camp" was going off quite freely. About the last
Roberts Brothers added: "This book ought to sell better. We have reason
to congratulate ourselves that it so fascinated us that we ventured to
republish it. We are Nature lovers, and delight to keep the company of
one who loves her and is able to tell of it as you can."

Of course we cheered Aunt Susan with the list of these successes, and
she answered: "I wish, my dear P. G., that all your admirers would be as
generous with their money as they are with their flattery, for flattery
is not a commodity to supply a family with means of subsistence." In the
same letter she told of Mr. Hinde's death and funeral, and of her hopes
of seeing her nephew, Ben Hinde, succeed to his father's living.

Early in 1874 Mr. Hamerton had the pleasure of becoming personally
acquainted with one of the most distinguished of the contributors to the
"Portfolio,"--Mr. Sidney Colvin, who now came to pay a visit to the
editor, after nursing his friend R. L. Stevenson through one of his
dangerous attacks of illness. My husband esteemed highly Mr. Colvin's
knowledge and acquirements. During his short stay this esteem expanded
into personal regard, and in after years, whenever a meeting with him
was possible, it invariably afforded gratification.

In the summer our house was turned into a sort of temporary hospital by
an epidemic of measles brought to it by the boys from their college.
Having had it in my youth, I luckily was spared to nurse in succession
the three children and my husband, whose case was by far the most
serious. However, he would not take to his bed, but remained in his
study with a good fire at night, sleeping upon an ottoman or in an
arm-chair, wrapped up in his monk's dress, and the head covered with an
Algerian chechia. In due course he got through the distemper without
accident, but for fear of chills he continued to wear the chechia and
monk's dress in the house some time after his recovery, and he was so
discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Mark Pattison when they paid us an unexpected
visit. It happened thus. I had driven my sister and her youngest boy to
Autun, where he had been invited to stay a few days at his godmother's,
and as we alighted in the courtyard of the hotel I was told that an
English gentleman and his wife had ordered an omnibus to call upon Mr.
Hamerton, and were on the point of starting. On learning that I was at
the hotel they came to propose that I should go back to La Tuilerie with
them, which proposition I accepted with pleasure. I left the
pony-carriage, told my sister that I would fetch her in the evening, and
drove off with Mr. and Mrs. Pattison, the latter very much interested by
what I could point out to her on the way,--the Temple of Janus, the
Roman archways, the double walls of the town, and Mont Beuvray.

The drive from Autun to La Tuilerie is a short one, and we soon arrived
at the garden gate. As we stopped, the study window was quickly, almost
violently, thrown open, my husband's anxious face appeared through it,
and he shouted to the bewildered coachman, "What has happened?" At the
sight of an omnibus he had been afraid of an accident (not at all
unusual with Cocote's tendency to take fright, run away, and upset
carriage and all), and had fancied me hurt, and brought back laid upon
the cushioned seat. But as soon as he saw me safe and sound, and noticed
my companions, he hastened down to receive his visitors. We spent the
afternoon very pleasantly, but as it was getting cooler and a little
damp after sunset, my husband, who was not fully recovered, had to
excuse himself from accompanying Mr. and Mrs. Pattison back to Autun,
and to let me go instead. I had the pleasure of a second meeting with
them on the following morning at the hotel, when we took leave of each

I have always remembered an incident in connection with this visit that
Mr. and Mrs. Pattison never knew of. There had been in our entrance hall
for the last four months at least, a manuscript notice written very
legibly by Mr. Hamerton, and carefully pasted up with his own hands, in
a very good light by the side of the drawing-room door, to this effect:
"English visitors to this house are earnestly requested not to stay
after seven o'clock p.m. if not invited to dine; and when invited to
dine, not to consider themselves as entitled to the use of a bedroom,
unless particularly requested to remain."

This had been done in a moment of legitimate anger and vexation (of
course without consulting me), and I had thought it the best policy to
ignore it for some time--particularly during winter, when it was put up,
for there was little probability of English visitors at that time. As to
French visitors, it was unlikely that they could make out its meaning,
and if they did, as it did not concern them, they would consider it as a
humorous _boutade_. After a fortnight, however, I begged my husband to
remove the "notice;" but his anger had not cooled a bit, and he said in
a tone that I knew to admit of no opposition that the "notice" was meant
to remain there _permanently_. And there it remained, at first
partially, and by degrees almost entirely, covered up by the shawls or
mantles that I artfully spread as far as possible over the obnoxious
manuscript, till, emboldened by non-interference, and under pretext that
the wall-paper about the door was soiled, I got leave to have a new
piece hung, and took care to have it laid _over_ the notice. This took
place on the very day that Mr. and Mrs. Pattison paid their friendly

I must now explain the cause of my husband's temporary ukase. As I have
said before, M. Bulliot, President of the Societe Eduenne, was a friend
of his, and on one occasion, a Scotchman having applied to him for
permission to see a precious book kept in the archives of the learned
society, M. Bulliot, finding him well-bred and interesting, took the
trouble of bringing him to La Tuilerie, in the hope that Mr. Hamerton
and Mr. W---- would derive pleasure from the meeting. It was so, and Mr.
W----'s researches at Autun requiring a few days only, he was invited to
dinner for the morrow. He duly arrived and dined, but as he gave no sign
of going away, I asked him a little before ten if he was a good walker,
as the hotels at Autun closed at eleven. He merely answered, "No
matter." Looking already like an old man, and weak besides, I felt
certain that he could not possibly reach the town in time for a bed, and
I quietly retired to mine. My husband told me in the morning that he had
shown Mr. W---- to the spare room, unwilling to turn an old man out in
the cold and mist of an early morning. I foresaw a repetition of what
had happened at Pre-Charmoy. And so it proved, for Mr. W---- quartered
himself upon us for two days, and it is impossible to say how much
longer he would have stayed if my husband had not at last insisted
peremptorily on driving him back to Autun.

On reaching home Gilbert immediately went up to his study to write his
"Notice to English visitors," and without saying a word securely pasted
it up at the entrance. A few days later he heard from the proprietor of
the Hotel de la Poste, that before leaving Mr. W---- had said, "Mr.
Hamerton will settle the bill."

It was a good thing for my husband that he gave so much consideration to
the bringing up of his children, for indirectly he derived from it some
benefit to his own health; for instance, not wishing them to be always
confined to college, he used often to drive them to and from Autun; and
in the summer, as he came back, he would just stop the pony for a few
minutes at our gate to pick up the rest of the family and a hamper, then
take us to a cool and shady dell divided from a little wood by the river
Vesvre--the coldest water I ever bathed in; and as soon as Cocote was
taken out of harness and left in the enjoyment of the fresh grass, we
all tumbled into the icy water, and swam till our appetites were
thoroughly sharpened for a hearty dinner in the lingering twilight.

The children were also taken by their father to the hills, where they
climbed about whilst he sketched; his little daughter Mary liked nothing
better than to spend a day "au Pommoy" above the beautiful valley of the
Canche, where the parents of our servant-girl lived. They were farmers
in a very humble way, but they offered us heartily the little they
possessed,--the new-laid eggs, the clotted cream, which the children
delighted in, thickly spread upon black bread, and which the mother
prepared in perfection; also frothy goat's milk, with walnuts and
chestnuts in their season. Cocote, too, had free access to the dainty
grass and crystal spring of their pasturage in the hollow behind the
cottage. Whilst my husband painted and I read to him, we watched the
children, who, bare-footed and bare-legged, turned up the stones in the
river-bed seeking for trout and crayfish. In the course of these
pleasant excursions Gilbert entered into conversation with every one he
met--farmers, shepherdesses, cow-boys, and even beggars, learning what
he could of their lives and thoughts, sympathizing with their labors and
their wants, often conveying useful information to their minds,
frequently on politics, sometimes on geography or science. He tried to
explain to them the railways and telegraph, for many of the dwellers in
these hilly regions had never seen a railroad, especially the old folk,
who could no longer walk any great distance, and remembered Autun only
as it was in the time of the diligences. He liked the polite,
deferential manners of the French peasants and their quiet dignity; and
they felt at ease with him because of his serious interest in what
concerned them, and total absence of pride in the superiority of his
station or learning. Wherever he went he liked to see the parish church,
and generally found it worth his while, either artistically or
historically. The cure was frequently to be met with, and not sorry to
talk with a person better informed than most of his parishioners: it was
for Gilbert another field to glean from, and on such occasions he
generally managed to bring home a sheaf with him. It was most remarkable
to see how well he got on with the Roman Catholic clergy, although his
religious opinions were never hidden from them, and his attitude by no
means conducive to hopes of conversion; but on the other hand, he was
not aggressive, and did not turn into ridicule ceremonies or beliefs to
which he remained a stranger. Perfectly firm in his own convictions, he
respected those of other people, because his large sympathy understood
the different wants of different natures, even when he had no share in
them. He was always on visiting terms with _our_ cure (the one
officiating at Tavernay--the nearest village to La Tuilerie), and on
friendly terms with the Aumonier de l'Hopital and the Aumonier de
College (although the boys were not under his spiritual direction, their
father considering it as a duty to let them choose their own religion
when they were of age); later on l'Abbe Antoine, professor at the
seminary, became a faithful and welcome visitor to La Tuilerie; even
Monseigneur the Bishop of Autun gave a signal proof of his respect for
Mr. Hamerton's character, which will be related in due course, and
visited him afterwards so long as we remained in the Autunois.

The technical difficulties of painting, which were giving my husband so
much trouble to conquer, led him to speak not unfrequently of the
advantages formerly afforded to students by the privilege of working in
the same studios with their masters, and even of having some portions of
the masters' pictures to execute under their personal and invaluable
direction. He realized what a gain it would be, not only for beginners,
but even for artists, to be acquainted with the best methods of the best
artists, and at last, counting upon their well-known generosity, he
resolved to make a general appeal to their experience. They were almost
unanimously favorable to the idea, and furnished valuable notes, the
substance of which was published in the "Portfolio." The letters are too
technical, though very interesting, to be quoted here, but the eminent
names of the writers will be a proof of the importance attached to the
subject. I find those of Sir Frederick Leighton, Sir John Gilbert,
Watts, Holman Hunt, Samuel Palmer, Calderon, Wyld, Dobson, Davis,
Storey, etc., etc., in the notes still in my possession.

My husband was himself in the habit of making experiments in painting
and etching, though he deplored both the time and money so spent, and
repeatedly resolved not to meddle any more with them; but he could not
keep the resolution. His mind was so curious about all possible
processes and technicalities, and his desire of perfection so great,
that not only did he experiment in all the known processes, but invented
new ones. Entries in the note-book like the following are of frequent

"Experiments with white zinc did not succeed."

"This month tried sulphur with success. I discovered also that the
three-cornered scraper is excellent for obtaining various breadths of
line in the background."

"I made a successful experiment in sandpaper mezzotint."

"M. de Fontenay and I made _creme d'argent_ very cheaply indeed."

"To-day I tried experiments on grains: the grains given by the sandpaper
and rosin. That given by the fine glass-paper was the best."

"Quite determined to put a stop to all experiments, in view of
typographic drawings."

Here is an important entry, August 19, 1875:--

"RESOLVED in future to confine myself exclusively to oil-painting and
etching in all artistic work done for the public, except the designs for
the bindings of my books, which may be done in water-colors.

"RESOLVED also that there shall be as little as possible of copying and
slavery in my artistic work, but that Etching shall be Etching, and
Painting Painting."

He had been working very hard, copying etchings for the new edition of
"Etching and Etchers," and was thoroughly tired of it. I see in his

"Finished my plate after Rembrandt. N.B.--Will never undertake a set of
copies again."

"Felt it a great deliverance to be rid of plates for 'Etching and

A later note:--

"There is no technical difficulty for me in etching. I ought therefore
to direct my energies against the artistic difficulties of composition,
drawing, light and shade. Haden's 'Agamemnon' is the model for the kind
of work I should like to be able to do in etching. Comprehensive
sketching is the right thing."

Meanwhile our boys were growing, and giving great satisfaction to their
father by their application to and success in their studies; they always
kept at the head of their class, and carried off a great number of
prizes at the end of every scholastic year. The younger boy, Richard,
evinced an early taste for the pictorial arts, and was gifted with a
sure critical faculty and a natural talent for drawing. Although he had
never taken regular drawing-lessons, he had often watched his father at
work, had occasionally sketched and painted under his direction, and was
receiving a sort of artistic education by what he saw at home of
illustrated periodicals, engravings, and etchings sent for presentation
or criticism. He was early tempted to try etching, and of course
received encouragement and help; the first attempt was a success, as far
as it went, and Mr. S. Palmer wrote about it:--

"Your son's etching has given pleasure to other than 'parental eyes.'
'What a sweet little etching,' said my wife, who saw it lying on the
table; 'it is like an old master.' There is something touching in the
sight of a beginner, full of curiosity and hope. My yearning is, 'O that
he may escape the rocks on which I split--years wasted, any one of which
would have given a first grounding in anatomy, indispensable anatomy, to
have gone with the antique. The bones are the master-key; the marrowless
bones are the talisman of all life and power in Art. Power seems to
depend upon knowledge of structure; all surface upon substance; knowing
this, and imbued with the central essence, we may venture to copy the
appearance, perhaps even imitate it."

Mr. Seeley also wrote, with sly humor: "Your boy's etching is capital.
It would be interesting to know what processes this remarkable artist

Richard frequently expressed his intention of being a painter; but his
father, though much pleased to notice in the boy a real tendency towards
art, did not at all feel certain that there were in him the gifts
indispensable to the making of an artist. I was often told that, despite
the cleverness of his copies, and even of his caricatures, he seemed to
lack invention and originality. However, it was understood that he would
be allowed a fair trial,--but only after taking his degree of "Bachelier
es-lettres," for his father was of opinion that perhaps more for artists
than for men in other professions, a liberal education was necessary to
the development of the finest aptitudes. He also thought that the boys
might now appreciate English poetry, and selected short passages from
the best poets, which he read aloud in the evenings, whilst they
followed with books in their hands; it accustomed them to the rhythm and
to the music of the language, and the peculiar qualities of each piece
were explained to them afterwards. Little Mary Susan also received
encouragement in the practice of her music, for I see this entry on
March 7, 1875: "My little daughter and I played piano and violin
together to-day for the first time."

Very slowly and gradually his health had improved, and he was in 1875
almost free from nervousness, but he had not yet dared to attempt
railway travelling; he had occasion to write to Mr. Seymour Haden, and
here is part of the reply:--

"First, I am delighted to hear that the improvement in your health
maintains itself; next, that I shall be very happy to do you a plate for
the 'Portfolio.' I was with Macmillan the other day, and heard from him
that you were at work upon a new edition of 'Etching and Etchers.' He
spoke so well of you and of your work, that I am _empresse_ to report
him to you in this. It must be a great satisfaction to you, after the
extraordinary life you have led, to find that it is producing such
satisfactory results. May it and the good effect which attends it
continue! And this brings me to speak of your railway malady. It does
not differ from other cases of the kind in any one particular. It is an
idiosyncracy. It is not to be got over by medicine (certainly not by
chloral), but by time--or rather, by the difference induced in the
constitution by age. A man may be subject to all you describe at forty,
and actually free from such symptoms at fifty--and I should advise you
to _test_ yourself, after so long an abstinence from this mode of
travel, by a short journey now and then. No accumulative mischief could
arrive--and you _may_ find, to your great satisfaction, that you have
entirely lost your enemy. If you do, by all means come, pay us a visit,
and see what we are doing in England. I have done an etching of Turner's
'Calais Pier,' 30 _inches square_, which is by many degrees the finest
thing (if I may be permitted so superlative an expression) I have done
or ever shall do. I mean to publish it about the close of the year. I
have _built_ a press for printing it, and am having paper _made_
expressly, and real sepia (which is magnificent--both in color and
price) got from the Adriatic for the ink! so that great things ought to

And the result was certainly by far the finest of modern etchings,
according to Mr. Hamerton's opinion; in some particulars he preferred
the "Agamemnon," but the size of "Calais Pier" as an increase of
difficulty was to be considered, and if the "Agamemnon" was an original
conception, it cannot be said that "Calais Pier" was a copy--so much
being due to interpretation. Later on, when my husband was in possession
of this _chef-d'oeuvre_, it always occupied the place of honor in the

Following Mr. Haden's advice, he now tried short railway journeys at
intervals, by slow trains, so that he could get out frequently at the
numerous stations,--not to allow the accumulating effect of the
vibration,--and generally in the night. There are some short entries
about it in the diary:--

"October 7, 1875. Went to Laisy in boat with M. de Fontenay; the day was
most lovely. Came back in the train without feeling any inconvenience."

"October 12, 1875. Went from Laisy to Etang by the river. Dined there;
returned by train in the evening all right. We had no accidents, except
on a little sunken rock after Chaseux, when M. de Fontenay's boat was

In this manner he used to go to Chalon (there was rather a long stoppage
at Chagny for change of train) to stay two or three days with my mother
and brother, who lived there. He was still anxious and uneasy, but he
nerved himself to bear the discomfort, in the hope that he would get
inured to it in time, and he used to close his eyes as soon as he was in
the carriage, and to draw the curtains to avoid seeing the objects that
we passed on the line.

In the summer of 1875 he received from the new owner of Innistrynich an
invitation to revisit the dear island. Nothing could have given him more
pleasure. Mr. Muir gave him all the details of the improvements he had
effected, but said:--

"I retained the old cottage, with its twelve small apartments, and added
a new front, containing five rooms.

"I saw Donald Macorquodale [whom my husband often had in the boat with
him]; he was much pleased to hear that you had been inquiring about him.
He is now getting frail, and not very able to work. He requested me to
say that he was very glad to hear of you, and would be delighted to see
you at Loch Awe. He sold the boats you were so kind as to give him, but
he only received a small sum for them, having kept them too long."

My husband never forgot his old servants, and showed his interest in
them whenever he could; they had great affection and respect for him,
mingled with awe, well knowing that, although he gave his orders kindly,
he meant to be obeyed. There was a very trusty widow, who came to our
house twice a week, and I remember finding her in tears, and asking what
was the matter. "Ah! c'est Monsieur qui m'a grondee," she sobbed
desperately. "But what has he said to put you in such a state?" "Oh! he
did not say much; only, 'Lazarette, why will you scratch off the paint
with the matches?' ... 'Mais quand Monsieur gronde,'" ... and there was
a fresh explosion.

It was well that my husband's health was better, for it enabled him to
bear the saddening news of his uncle Thomas's approaching end; he had,
for the last few months, grown weaker and weaker, till his sister

"WEST LODGE. _September_ 1875.

"The loss of my dear worthy brother is indeed a sad blow to me, and I
was not able to attend the funeral.... I am better now, though the
doctor is still in attendance upon me. I should indeed have liked you
both to have been here, but I could not press you, or even expect you to
run such a risk.... Still, I look forward to the pleasure of seeing you
all at West Lodge before the winter sets in."

It may be here briefly explained that Miss Susan Hamerton greatly needed
her nephew's advice about money matters; they had been hitherto managed
by her brother, and she had had no care about it; but now, after
entrusting what she possessed to a person recommended by Mr. T.
Hamerton, she had become aware that it was not safe, and was afraid of
losing the savings she had been able to make, for she had no control
over the capital.

It was difficult to explain all this by letters, and she was anxious to
give all the details by word of mouth, consequently she grew more and
more pressing in the expression of the desire that her nephew should
attempt the journey; he was not to be detained by the consideration of
expense, for she intended to make him a present of some bank-shares
which she no longer wanted, since her brother had left her an increase
of income for her life.

My husband resolved to undertake the long journey in the course of 1876,
and to arrange his work in view of it. Besides his contributions to
different periodicals, he had in the year 1875 entirely written "Round
my House," prepared the new edition of "Etching and Etchers," got the
notes necessary for the "Life of Turner," and given much consideration
to a plan mentioned thus in the note-book: "December 28, 1875. Feel
inclined to write a book on remarkable Frenchmen, such as the Amperes,
Victor Jacquemont, the Cure d'Ars, and a few others who interest me."



"Round my House."--Journey to England after seven years' absence.
--Friends in London.--Visit to Mr. Samuel Palmer.--Articles for the
"Encyclopaedia Britannica."--Death of my sister.--Mr. Appleton.

The note-book for 1876 opened with the following rules, written by my
husband for his own guidance:--

"Rise at six in winter and five in summer. Go to bed at eleven in winter
and ten in summer. There must be two literary sittings every day of two
hours each. The first to be over as soon as possible, in order to leave
me free for practical art work; the second to begin at five p.m., and
end at seven p.m.

"_Something_ really worth reading must be read every day, the quantity
not fixed.

"I must go out every day whatever the weather may be.

"Time may be taken, no matter when, for putting things in order. The
best way is to do it every morning before setting to work. It is better
to try to keep things in order than to accumulate disorder.

"Keep everything _quite_ in readiness for immediate work in literature
and art.

"When tired, rest completely, but never dawdle. Be either in harness or
out of harness avowedly. Special importance is to be given to painting
this year. Pictures are to be first painted in monochrome, in raw umber
and white. Read one thing at a time in one language. All rules suspended
during fatigue."

At the beginning of the year Roberts Brothers had asked for a photograph
of the now popular author of "The Intellectual Life." In April they
acknowledged the receipt of two, and were sending some copies of the
engraving from them. They also said:--

"Suppose we should wish to bring out an edition of 'Wenderholme' this
autumn, would you abridge and rewrite it? Condensation would be likely
to make it more powerful and more interesting. Or perhaps you would
rather write an entirely new novel? We think such a novel as you could
write would have a large sale.

"The accompanying letters will interest you as proofs of your growing
popularity. We mail you to-day, by request of Miss May Alcott, a copy of
her father's clever little volume, 'Concord Days.' A fine old gentleman
he is, the worthy father of the most popular of American authoresses."

Here is Miss May Alcott's letter:--

"MY DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--I am pleased and proud that you should have
considered my letter worthy an answer, and I am still more gratified to
be allowed the satisfaction of selecting the best pictures of Concord's
great man for you. Mr. Emerson has been for more than thirty years the
most intimate friend of my father, as also Mrs. Emerson and mother; the
daughters and myself growing up together. And as father is thought to
know and understand the poet perhaps better than any other contemporary,
I venture sending by post one of his books, which contains an essay on
Mr. Emerson, which may interest you. It was thought so fine and true on
its first appearance that it was published in illuminated form for
private circulation only; but as there is not a copy of the small
edition to be obtained, I send 'Concord Days' instead. This morning, on
receipt of your very kind reply to my letter, I went to Mr. Emerson's
study and read him the paragraph relating to himself, which pleased him
exceedingly; and while his daughter Ellen stood smilingly beside him, he
said, 'But I know Mr. Hamerton better than he thinks for, as I have read
his earlier works, and though I did not meet him while in England, I
value all he writes.' Then I showed him the two pictures which father
and I thought the preferable likenesses, which I enclose by mail to you,
though he produced a collection taken at Elliot and Fry's, Baker Street,
London, from which we find none better on the whole than this head,
which gives his exact expression, and the little one giving the _tout
ensemble_ of the man we admire so much."

Few things could have given greater pleasure to Mr. Hamerton than to
learn that his works were appreciated by such a writer and thinker as
Mr. Emerson, whose books he studied and enjoyed and quoted very
frequently. But he was quite put out by the engraving of his portrait,
which, indeed, could not be called a likeness. He wrote as much to
Roberts Brothers, who replied: "We are not a bit disappointed to hear
that you don't like the head, for we have come to consider the dislike
of all authors to similar things as chronic." They offered, however, to
have the plate corrected according to the victim's directions, and
added: "But take heart upon the fact that nine hundred and ninety-nine
out of a thousand who look upon it believe it to be a facsimile of
yourself, and where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

In another letter, they say again:--

"The head, which to you is an insurmountable defect, is favorably looked
upon by everybody. If Mrs. Hamerton should hear the praise from fair
lips she would certainly be jealous. However, the engraver will see how
nearly he can conform to your wishes, and perhaps we may be able to
please you yet."

No praises from lips however fair would have induced me to put up with
the portrait, and I said so frankly, without being at all influenced by
jealousy, for in my opinion the original was far handsomer in expression
and bearing than the likeness; but Roberts Brothers, who had never seen
the original, still clung to the obnoxious engraving, and wrote again:
"If _we_ are deluded, and happy in that delusion, why should _you_ care?
Mrs. Hamerton, she must confess it, is jealous of our fair
countrywomen." Nevertheless it was withdrawn in deference to our wishes.

Mr. Powers was now and then discreetly reminding Mr. Hamerton of his
promised pictures, and after hearing from the painter that they were
_safe_ (whatever that may have brought to his mind) sent these verses:--


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