The Autobiography of a Journalist, Volume II
William James Stillman

Part 2 out of 5

personal danger, had long been producing their effect on her mind,
and the weaning of the baby precipitated the change into a profound
melancholy, which became insanity accompanied by religious delusions
from which she sought refuge in a voluntary death. She was given a
public funeral, and the government sent a caisson to carry the coffin
to the grave, but the Cretans claimed the right to take charge of it,
and the coffin was carried to the cemetery on the shoulders of the
oldest chiefs. The Cretan women looked on her as their best friend,
and always spoke of her after her death as "the Blessed "--their form
of canonization, for even in Athens they had been her chief care. The
quiet but indomitable courage with which she faced danger in Crete,
lest they should be involved in the panic which prevailed all around
us, was as remarkable as the humility with which she repelled all
acknowledgment of any merit on her part. She indulged in no sentiment,
had no poetic prepossession concerning the people she protected and
worked for, but the dominant sense of duty carried her through all
difficulties. She never gave a thought to personal danger, and though
a fragile creature, not five feet high, she was capable of cowing the
most brutal of the barbarians who were gathered around us at Khalepa,
and, whether to keep the consulate for me while I was away, or to
navigate the yacht to meet me on my return from my visits to Greece,
nothing made her hesitate to do what she thought her duty. In the
three years of almost breaking strain of our residence in the midst
of the anarchy of the insurrection, she had only the few days' relief
from anxiety of her stay in Syra, while waiting the arrival of the
Kestrel, but in all that time I never saw her make the least display
of trepidation or anxiety, until the dispatch came from Secretary
Washburn to tell us that the salary would be stopped.

I was asked then, as the reader may ask now, why I did not take her
away when I found that she was failing. I had not the means to pay my
passage to any other country. I was myself nearly prostrated mentally
and physically, and unfit for anything but my photography. I was in
debt so deeply that I could not honestly borrow, and my brother was
dead. The American government pays no traveling expenses for its
consuls, and I had not an article that I could sell for a dollar, for
the furniture of the little house we lived in had been provided by the
Cretan committee. The Greek government was hostile to me until Laura's
death stirred the public feeling so profoundly, but even then the king
was bitterly opposed to me. I was physically and financially a wreck
on a foreign strand, with neither hope nor the prospect of relief.
I struggled along as best I could, Mrs. Dickson taking charge of my
children, and I made my home with the Dicksons.

In June I had to go back to Crete to make consignment of the consulate
to my successor. I found the island materially as I had left it, but
almost deserted and quite desolate, and the local administration in
the hands of the spies and the traitors of the insurrection; all the
brave men in exile and the gloom of death over everything; villages
still unrebuilt, and the only sign of activity the building in the
most accessible districts of military roads and blockhouses. As my
successor delayed, I, to pass the time, went to Omalos to carry out
the ancient plan which could no longer be postponed if it was to
be carried out, for I never intended to see Crete again. The new
governor-general--Mehmet Ali, the Prussian (in subsequent years
murdered in Albania)--was an amiable, just, and intelligent man, who
would have saved the position if he had been there in the beginning,
but now there was nothing to be done. When he learned that I intended
to go to Omalos he decided, with a more friendly impulse than any
governor of Crete had ever shown towards me, to join me there and make
the visit pleasant for me. He preceded me, in fact, and I found the
posts all warned to show me the customary honors, and when I reached
the plain I found his tent ready to entertain me. The most sumptuous
dinner his resources afforded was served in his audience tent; we had
a grand acrobatic and dramatic entertainment of the soldiers and a
torchlight _retraite_, and he gave me rugs to cover me, without which
I must have suffered severely, for, though in June, it was bitterly
cold at Omalos, and I had brought only one rug to sleep on. We
returned together next day after I had visited the great ravine of
Agios Rumeli, the most magnificent gorge I have ever seen, never taken
from the Cretans by an enemy until this betrayal; and, as we went
back, we discussed the condition of the island. I told him freely
what I thought of the situation, and he so far agreed with me that he
begged me to go to Constantinople and lay my ideas before A'ali Pasha,
promising to support them.

On my return to Athens I raised money enough to get a return ticket
to the Turkish capital, and had an immediate audience of the grand
vizier, to whom I stated frankly, and without in the least disguising
the faults committed by his government, the condition of the island
as I saw it, and the remedies necessary for the restoration of its
prosperity. He asked me to give him a written memorandum of my views,
which I did, and he then asked me to stay in Constantinople until he
could send a commission to Crete and get a report from it. I replied
that I had not the means to stay so long, the time he indicated being
several weeks, and he offered to pay my expenses liberally if I would
stay. I went to the office of the "Levant Herald" to ask for work.
They knew me well enough there, for I had been their correspondent
from Crete, and the journal had once been fined £100 for one of my
letters, and once confiscated for another. On what I earned I lived
for the time I had to wait for the report of the commission.

When the report came I was summoned to the grand vizier to receive my
reply. A'ali Pasha said that he had found that my statements of the
condition of things in the island were correct, and he approved the
remedies I proposed; would I go out to Crete with full powers to carry
out the measures I recommended, the chief of which was an amnesty for
such of the exiles as, knowing them personally, I could trust to carry
out my dispositions? He could not give me an official position under
the Turkish government, having been reputed so long as an enemy; but a
semi-official position for the definite purpose of the pacification he
was prepared to offer me with an adequate salary and appointments, and
_carte blanche_ for the pardon of whomever I saw fit to name. On one
condition, I replied, I would accept the appointment, this being that
the persons I pardoned and recalled to the island should also be
guaranteed from arrest and molestation on civil process for acts
committed in the course of the military operations, such as the
taking of cattle or sheep for the subsistence of the bands, but not
comprehending criminal acts. On this condition we came to a final
difference, as A'ali said that by the Turkish law the government
became pecuniarily responsible for all such damages by condoning the
acts of the offenders, and that they were not prepared to agree to.
But it was impossible for me to enter into an agreement to invite a
chief to the island with his pardon, under my full powers, and then
see him thrown into prison by civil process for acts which the war
had made necessary, as had already happened in several cases, as it
impugned my good faith and made the pardon null and void, as much as
if the offense charged were the rebellion. A'ali's confidence and the
prospect of doing good to my Cretan friends touched me profoundly, and
in my destitute condition the salary of a Turkish official was a heavy
inducement, but I had to insist on the condition which divided us, and
I withdrew.

A'ali asked me to come to the treasury and receive the compensation
for my time spent in waiting on his inquiries, but the messenger
carrying the money missed or evaded the appointment, or I mistook it;
for, after waiting some time, I had to go back empty-handed, and
after waiting two or three days longer to hear of the money, with an
unjustifiable suspicion of A'ali's good faith, I took boat again for
Athens, more destitute than I had come. I had the additional pain of
telling the chiefs, on whose behalf I had pleaded, that there was no
hope of an amnesty. I shall never forget the despair in the face of
old Costa Veloudaki, the chief of the Rhizo district, when I told him
of my failure. Tall and straight under his seventy odd years, sickened
with a terrible nostalgia away from his mountain home, he listened
mute and turned away without a word, bowed with grief and too much
moved to risk speaking lest tears should shame him. I had known the
old man from the beginning of the troubles, for he was the chief of
the mountain country above Canea, and had been the spokesman of the
committee when they came to see the consuls,--a noble, honest, and
truly patriotic man, and a hero of all the movements since 1827. In
one of the first battles, fought in view of my house, his son had
been killed, and, taking his hand as he lay on the ground they had
successfully defended, he thanked God his son had been worthy to die
for Crete. It was, for me, the hard ending of a tragedy in which I had
had my part, serious enough to identify myself with my island friends,
and I can remember this episode of my life with the consciousness that
those who suffered more than I did acknowledged that I had been a true
friend and a prudent counselor from the beginning.

On my return to Athens I found Russie limping from the effects of a
heavy fall he had had during my absence, and to which no attention had
been paid, though it gave him continual pain. I called in the leading
Greek physician, who, on examination, pronounced it rheumatism, and
prescribed exercise and walks. I took the child on all the excursions
I made, to Marathon and other of the local points of interest, for he
was a great reader, and interested in Greek history and archeology
already, passing most of his time with me in my work on the Acropolis.
He limped painfully over all the sites we visited, and presently we
accepted an invitation to Aegina, to the home of the Tricoupis, the
parents of the well-known premier of later years. We spent some days
there, fishing and exploring and photographing the ruins, but Mrs.
Tricoupi recognized in Russie's lameness the beginning of hip disease,
and, returning to Athens, I had a council on him, when it was placed
beyond doubt that that deadly disease was established, aided largely
by the false diagnosis that substituted severe exercise for the
absolute quiet which the malady required. He was at once put in
plaster bandages and we were ordered home. Home! But how? I had not
money enough to pay a single passage even to England, and had no
friends from whom I could ask the means to get home. In despair I went
to the Turkish minister--Photiades Pasha--and told him of the promise
of A'ali Pasha to pay me for my time and expenses while waiting at
Constantinople, asking him to remind the pasha that I had not been
paid, as he probably supposed, possibly through the dishonesty of the
messenger. A'ali made inquiry, and, finding it to be the case, sent
me, through Photiades, a hundred Turkish pounds, with which I was
enabled to pay all local debts and reach London, more grateful to the
Turkish sense of justice than to that of my own government.

It only wanted for the diversity of my career that I should have
served a term as a demi-official of the Turkish government I had
served to undermine. For A'ali Pasha I retain the respect due to the
most remarkable ability, honesty, and patriotism combined I have ever
known in a man in his position, a most difficult one, surrounded by
corruption, venality, and treason as probably the ruler of no other
state has been in our day. He was free from prejudice, fanaticism,
and political passion, and had he been seconded by his colleagues and
administrators, as he should have been, I am convinced that he might
have restored the prosperity of his country. But, so far as I know, he
stood alone in the government. He was a just and impartial minister
where ministers are notoriously unjust, corrupt, and partisan, and,
of my past failures, I regret none so much as that I was unable to
coöperate with him in restoring peace to Crete.

At Paris I had the advice of a specialist in hip disease for Russie,
and the plaster bandage was replaced by a wire envelope, which fitted
the entire body and which made his transfer from vehicle to vehicle
without any strain a matter of comparative ease. But the poor child
suffered the inevitable acute pains of active hip disease before
anchylosis takes place, and he wasted visibly from the incessant pain.
He had been, when stricken in his seventh year, a boy of precocious
strength and activity, a model of health and personal beauty, whom
passersby in the streets stopped to look at, so that from the common
people one often heard an exclamation of admiration, as from our
English fellow passengers between Calais and Dover, who gathered round
him as he lay in his wire cradle with murmurs of admiration, for the
pallor which had begun to set in only made his beauty more refined and
his color a more transparent rose and white. In London we were warmly
received by the Greeks who had been prominent in supporting the
insurrection in Crete, and a testimonial was proposed for me of a
piece of plate, for which £225 were subscribed, which as testimonial
I declined to accept, but did accept on account of the debt which the
Cretan committee of Boston owed me. Here I met with great kindness,
especially from the Greek consul-general, Mr. Spartali, and I then
made the acquaintance of his daughter, who, two years later, became
my wife. The Rossettis, especially Christina, who had known Laura and
Russie when the latter was a boy of two, were most thoughtful and
kind, and I had some wheels put to Russie's cage, so that his passion
for seeing, which the incessant pain he was in never abated, could
be indulged to a certain extent. Miss Rossetti went with us to the
Zoological Gardens to satisfy his passion for natural history, and
so far as kindness could compensate for his helplessness he lacked
nothing. We sailed for New York and were met at landing by my brother
Charles, who told me of the death of our mother, two weeks before. Her
last wish had been for my coming, and to be able to embrace our little
Lisa, her namesake. I had not seen her for seven years.

I had made preparations while in London, for the publication of a
volume of photographs of the Acropolis of Athens, and, when I had left
the children with their mother's parents, I returned to London for a
few weeks, to superintend the production of it. The American medical
man called in to treat Russie proved as great a quack as the Greek,
and his case grew worse. Finally he was sent to the hospital, from
which he was, after a long treatment, sent back as incurable, and I
was told that probably all I could do for him henceforward was to make
death as easy as it might be.

The Acropolis book, published privately, cleared for me about $1000.
Moreover, difficulties had arisen over the will of my brother, with
which none of the parties interested were contented, and so, by a
compromise, the family received a part, of which, after the deduction
of my drafts from Rome, accepted before his death, there came to me
$500. Hence I was, after my straits, at comparative ease for the
moment. One of the most generous friends my vagabond past had given
me, the late J.M. Forbes of Boston, gave me a commission for a
landscape, and I returned to my painting, living in a tent in the Glen
of the White Mountains near to the subject chosen. Here I received a
visit from Agassiz, and here we had our last meeting and conversation
on nature and art. But the long abstention from painting had left me
half paralyzed--the hand had always been too far behind the theory. I
now began to question if I had any vocation that way, and, with the
passing of the summer, I went back to literature and found a place on
the old "Scribner's Monthly," now "The Century," under Dr. Holland,
the most friendly of chiefs, and there I had as colleague Mr. Gilder,
the present editor of the magazine. The greatest mistake, from
the business point of view, I have ever made was in leaving the
collaboration with Dr. Holland.



Of a life so desultory, fragmentary rather, it is useless to keep the
chronology. At no period of it have I been able to direct it with
primary reference to pecuniary considerations, nor have I ever
succeeded in anything I undertook with primary reference to pecuniary
return. My impulses, erratic or otherwise, have always been too strong
for a coherent and well subordinated career, and the aimlessness of my
early life, favored by the indulgence of my brother and the fondness
of my mother, might well account for a life without a practical aim or
gain. It is too near its end for regrets or reparation--so that if
it ends well it will be well, but it is hardly fitted for systematic

During the two years between my leaving Crete and Athens and my second
marriage I spent the larger part of my life in London, engaged in
literary pursuits and in fugitive work. I prepared the history of the
Cretan insurrection, but the dissolution of the publishing company
which undertook it left the actual publication to Henry Holt & Co. in
1874. All interest in the subject having long lapsed, it was hardly
noticed, and was as a publication a complete failure, but I sent
copies of it to some English friends who were interested in Greek
affairs, and amongst others to Professor Max Müller, who made an
extended review of it for the "Times," which had on my subsequent
career an important influence. During the time I spent in England I
naturally saw a great deal of the Rossettis, especially of Dante, with
whom I became intimate. He lived in Cheyne Walk, and I in Percy Street
near by, so that there were few days of which a part was not spent
with him. I had made in America, about 1856 or 1857, the acquaintance
of Mme. Bodichon, an Englishwoman married to a French physician, who
is equally well known by her maiden name, Barbara Leigh-Smith, a
landscape painter of remarkable force, and one of the most delightful
and remarkable Englishwomen I have ever been privileged to know. When
I knew her in America, she had taken an interest in my painting, which
she regarded as promising a successful career, and when I came to
England, I renewed the acquaintance. As the spring came on, she
offered me for a few weeks her house at Robertsbridge, a charming
cottage in the midst of woodland, and with her consent I asked
Rossetti to share it with me.

Rossetti was then in the beginning of the morbid attacks which
some time later destroyed his health completely. He was sleepless,
excitable, and possessed by the monomania of persecution. His family
had tried to induce him to go away for a change, but the morbid
condition made him unwilling to do so, and he never left his house
until late in the evening, under the prepossession of being watched by
enemies. I recommended him to try chloral, then a nearly new remedy
which I had used by prescription with excellent effect for my own
sleeplessness, and which I always carried with me. I gave him twenty
grains dissolved in water to be taken at three doses, but, as he
forgot it on the first two nights, he took the whole on the third, and
complained to me the next day that it made him sleep stupidly for a
few hours, and then made him so wakeful that he was worse than without
it, so that he refused to make any further experiment with it, nor did
he at that time, and as long as we remained in touch with each other,
venture another trial of it. At a subsequent time, taking it on the
prescription of a physician, he fell into the habit of using it to his
great injury, from the want of self-control in the employment of it.
At the time I am writing of, I succeeded in getting him away from
London to stay for a long visit at Robertsbridge, where the quiet and
long daily walks in the woodland, a simple life and freedom from
all causes of excitement, rapidly brought him back to his natural
condition, and he resumed work, doing some of his best drawings there,
and completing his poems for publication. Indeed, several of the poems
in his first volume were written there. Sleep returned, and health,
with cessation of all the morbid symptoms, the result of overwork
and night work, for he used at Cheyne Walk to begin painting in the
afternoon, and, lighting a huge gasalier on a standard near his easel,
keep at his drawing far into the night, sleeping late the next day. At
Robertsbridge he returned to natural habits, having no gas and falling
in with my hours perforce, as otherwise he had no company.

And Rossetti was one of the men most dependent on companionship I have
ever known. When not at work he needed some one to talk with, and in
our long walks he unfolded his life to me as he probably never did
to any other man, for he had a frank egotism which made him see
everything and everybody purely in their relation to him. And in these
circumstances he and I were, after a manner, the only people in our
world. As he himself said, "In this Sussex desert one tells all his
secrets," and I doubt if even in his own family he ever threw off
reserve so completely as with me in the solitude of Robertsbridge,
where he was very happy and very well.

Rossetti's was one of the most fascinating characters I ever knew,
open and expansive, and, when well, he had a vein of most delightful
talk of the things which interested him, mostly those which pertained
to art and poetry, the circle of his friends and his and their poetry
and painting. To him, art was the dominant interest of existence, not
only of his own, but of existence _per se_, and he tolerated nothing
that sacrificed it to material or purely intellectual subjects. I
remember his indignation at the death of Mrs. Wells, the wife of the
Royal Academician, herself a talented painter, who died in childbed,
"a great artist sacrificed to bringing more kids into the world, as if
there were not other women just fit for that!" he exclaimed; and when
Regnault was killed in the sortie from Paris, he burst out in an angry
protest at this throwing away valuable lives like Regnault's in a
stupid war. The artist was to him the _ultima ratio_ of humanity, and
he used to say frankly that artists had nothing to do with morality,
and practically, but in a gentle and benevolent way, he made that the
guiding principle of his conduct. Whatever was to his hand was made
for his use, and when we went into the house at Robertsbridge he at
once took the place of master of the house, as if he had invited me,
rather than the converse, going through the rooms to select, and
saying, "I will take this," of those which suited him best, and "You
may have that" of those he had no fancy for.

He was the spoiled child of his genius and of the large world of his
admirers; there was no vanity about him, and no exaggeration of his
own abilities, but other people, even artists whom he appreciated,
were of merely relative importance to him. He declined to put himself
in comparison with any of his contemporaries, though he admitted his
deficiencies as compared to the great Venetians, and repeatedly said
that if he had been taught to paint in a great school he would have
been a better painter, which was, no doubt, the truth; for, as he
admitted, he had not yet learned the true method of painting. He
refused to exhibit in the annual exhibitions, whether of the Academy
or other, not because he feared the comparison with other modern
painters, but because he was indifferent to it, though I have heard
him say that he would be glad to exhibit his pictures with those of
the old masters, as they would teach him something about his own. Like
every other really great artist, he had a very just appreciation of
the work of other men, and his criticisms were, _me judice_, very
sound and broad from the point of view of art; the only painter of any
note I ever heard him speak of with strong dislike was Brett, whom he
could not tolerate. But he had a higher opinion of his own natural
abilities than of his actual achievement,--his self-appreciation was
not the conceit of a man who understood only what he himself did, but
a full consciousness of what at his best he would be capable of doing
and hoped to do before he died. In my opinion he understood himself
and his merits justly, but he was to himself the centre of his own
system; other stars might be as great, and probably there were many
such, but they were remote, and judged in perspective.

He was undoubtedly the most gifted of his generation of artists, not
only in England, where art is, if not exotic, at least sporadic, but
in Europe, and I consider that if he had been of Titian's time he
would have been one of the greatest of the Venetians. His imaginative
force and intensity were extraordinary, and some of the elaborate
compositions he drew in pen and ink, for future painting, are as
remarkable in invention and dramatic feeling as anything I know in
art, and all drawn without a model. The "Hector," the "Hamlet and
Ophelia," the "Magdalene at the door of Simon the Pharisee," are
designs of unsurpassed power, eminent in all the great qualities of
design, harmony of line, invention, and dramatic intensity. His early
work had all the purity and intensity of feeling of the primitive
Italians, and the designs alluded to are of a little later period and
of his highest imaginative activity. Had he always maintained the
elevation of that period he would have done more and better work,
but he fell into irregularities of life which wasted his powers and
destroyed the precious exaltation of his early art. The sensuous
quality of his painting, the harmony of color and the play of it, like
the same qualities in his poetry, remained as long as I knew anything
of his life, but his drawing and even his intellectual powers fell off
through his unsystematic, excessive demands on them, night work and
overwork. In his later years his work was nearly always more or less
jaded, his eye failing in the perception of forms, as has so often
been the case in even the greatest painters in their decay.

No doubt chloral was ultimately one of the agencies of his
prostration, though not of his death, but he did not have recourse to
it until his power of recuperation from overwork had begun to fail;
and, when he had become accustomed to the effect of the chloral, he
took it as the means of a form of intoxication, a form well understood
by those who have had any experience, personal or by observation, in
the use of the drug. The craving for this intoxicant, once it becomes
a habit, is, like the use of morphia, invincible, and Rossetti
indulged in it to such an extent that he used to take the original
prescription to several druggists to obtain a quantity that one would
not have given him. The crisis came long after my close personal
relations with him had ceased, and I had become only an occasional
correspondent, living in Italy. But to make his decline the
consequence of the use of chloral, even when it was finally become
habitual, as some do, is absurd. It had been prescribed for him by a
competent physician, because some remedy for his malady had become
necessary. Even before I had recommended his first experiment with it
he had been incapacitated from work by sleeplessness, and was in
a very precarious condition of nerves and brain, and, though he
recovered at Robertsbridge a comparative health, so that he was
enabled to do some of his best work, his return to London, and
gradually to his old habits of life and work, ultimately reproduced
the old symptoms.

During the earlier days of the return of the malady I was in London
again and saw a great deal of him, was witness to his having become
subject to illusions, and heard his declarations that he was beset
by enemies and that he continually heard them in an adjoining room
conspiring to attack him, and he attributed the savage criticism of
Buchanan on his volume of poems to his being in the conspiracy to ruin
him. The attack of Buchanan had a most disastrous effect on his mind.
It was the first time that Rossetti had experienced the brutalities of
criticism, and his sensitiveness was excessive. No reassurance had
any effect; he had heard, he declared, the voices of those who had
combined to ruin his reputation discussing the measures they were
going to take, and it was evident that it had become a mania closely
resembling insanity. Buchanan's criticism had a rancor and breath of
personality in it which had no excuse; it was a savage, wanton attack
on the poet which he felt not only as poet and artist but as personal;
for, to Rossetti, the two were the silver and golden sides of the
shield. Though the morbid state was there, I think that the article
of Buchanan had more to do with the intensification of the mania of
persecution than anything else that occurred. And at that time he had
not yet contracted the habit of taking chloral.

In the diary of Ford Madox Brown, published by William Rossetti, there
is an amusing story of Dante's keeping Brown's overcoat, and keeping
the room needed for other occupants, with the unconscious oblivion of
any other convenience than his own, which was quite characteristic of
the man, and which was shown on a larger scale at Robertsbridge. He
not only took possession of whatever part of the house pleased him
best, but, without in the least consulting me, he invited his friends
to come and occupy it. As the agreement was that we should pay share
and share alike of the expense, and as I invited no one, the burden
on me was out of all proportion to our respective means. Rossetti's
income, according to his own statement, was, at that time, £3000 a
year, but he was always in debt. He denied himself nothing that struck
his fancy, and he had the most costly Oriental porcelain in London,
and the most beautiful old furniture to be found, and the most
princely disregard of expenditure. I had finally to refuse to continue
the life in common. Dante invited Mr. and Mrs. Ford Madox Brown, and
then Mr. and Mrs. Morris, and as they were all excellent friends of
mine I could make no objection, though ill able to bear my share of
the expense of the ménage incurred, and finally I broke away, leaving
him in possession, with Madame Bodichon's consent. He was generous to
the same degree of extravagance that he was indifferent to the claims
of others; he made no more account of giving you a treasured curio
than he did of taking it. His was a sublime and childlike egotism
which simply ignored obligations until, by chance, they were made
legal, at which, when it happened, he protested like a spoiled child.
And he had been so spoiled by all his friends and exercised such a
fascination on all around him, that no one rebelled at being treated
in his princely way, for it was only with his friends that he used it.
He dominated all who had the least sympathy with him or his genius.

Had Rossetti's knowledge of the technique of painting, its science,
been equal to his feeling for it, he had certainly founded a school of
the truest art; but, for schools, the grammar is the first requisite,
and Rossetti had himself never been taught what he would have had
to teach. His feeling for color was on a par with his power of
composition, and it seems to me that since Tintoret no one has equaled
him in the combination. Of modern men, I know only Baron Leys and
Delacroix who possessed to the same degree the power of spontaneous,
harmonious composition, except Turner in landscape; all other modern
art has, to my mind, more or less of the _pose plastique_, the air of
the _tableau vivant_. His death, at a time when he should have been
at the height of his powers, a premature victim of his undisciplined
temperament and the irregularities it led him into, coupled with the
over-intense mental vivacity, equally undisciplined, is one of the
most melancholy incidents in the chaotic artistic movement of our

Ford Madox Brown, who was his first master, and is commonly considered
to have exercised a great influence on Rossetti, in my opinion had
none that was permanent. He was Rossetti's antithesis, and in
himself as inconsequent as Rossetti was logical. He was severely and
uncompromisingly rationalistic; with the conscience of a Puritan he
was an absolute skeptic, with a profound contempt for all religious
matters, while Rossetti, with all his irregularities, never could
escape from his religious feeling, which was the part of his
constitution he possessed in common with his sisters. Brown had, of
the purely artistic qualities, only the academic; he was neither a
colorist nor a great draughtsman; his art was literary, didactic, and,
except for occasional dramatic passages, unemotional and unpoetic. The
predominance of the intellectual powers in him was so great that the
purely artistic view of nature was impossible to him; and his artistic
education, while curiously erratic and short-sighted in its elementary
and technical stage, was intellectually large in academic and literary
qualities, and comprehensive. It appears to me that the telling of
the story was, in his estimation, the highest office of art, so
that, while his drawing was bad in style, his execution scrappy
and amateurish and deficient in breadth and subordination, his
compositions were often masterly, fine in conception, and harmonious
in line, in the pen-and-ink study; but the want of _ensemble_ and the
insubordination of the insistent detail generally made his work less
imposing when it was on canvas than in the first study. His habit of
finishing from corner to corner, without having the whole work broadly
laid out before him to guide him in the proper subordination of the
details to the general effect, made it impossible for him to make
his pictures broad and effective. His most successful pictures were,
therefore, the small ones, in which the impossibility of too much
insistence on detail proved an advantage.

I shall always regard Brown as a man carried by a youthful enthusiasm
for art out of his true occupation, which was history; for his
literary and scientific tendencies and his vehement love of truth were
the larger part of his mind, and these qualities are of secondary
importance in art. He sympathized strongly with the early phase of the
pre-Raphaelite movement, which was what he had attempted with less
intensity himself; but when Rossetti entered upon his true artistic
development, it was only the personal influence of the past that gave
the elder painter any power of influencing the younger. It is possible
that Rossetti owed something of his manner of painting--a fragmentary
method of completion--to the teaching of Brown; if so, he was indebted
to his friend for the weakest side of his art. But, for the rest, this
system of working is very general amongst English painters, in whom
the amateur is persistent--the building the picture up in detail,
with minor reference to the mass of the structure; and this was the
weakness of Brown's art, for what he did was done with such intensity
that no after treatment could bring it into complete subordination to
the general effect. Theodore Rousseau's maxim, "If you have not got
your picture in the first five lines you will never get it," seems to
me the true golden rule of the art of painting, as in all creation. A
picture should grow _pari passu_ in all its parts; otherwise there is
no certainty of its keeping together when finished.

Rossetti's influence, though always partial and never leaving a
genuine pupil, was very wide, in the end, it seems to me, much
exceeding that of Millais and that of Holman Hunt; but it is a
question in which of his two functions--poet or painter--it was most
effective. I have heard Swinburne say that but for Rossetti's early
poetry he would never have written verses, but this I think must be
taken conditionally. Swinburne has the poetic temperament so decided
and so individual, and his musical quality is so exalted, that it was
impossible that he should not have shown it at some time; but it is
possible that Rossetti furnished the spark that actually kindled the
fire. Perhaps Swinburne himself cannot trace the vein to its hidden
sources, and confounded the mastery of Rossetti's temperament and the
personal magnetism he exercised on those who came into close relations
with him with an intellectual stimulus which, strictly speaking,
Rossetti did not exercise. He was too specialized, too exclusively
artistic in all his developments, to carry much intellectual weight,
and Swinburne was more fully developed in the purely intellectual man;
but the warmest friendship existed between them. I often saw Swinburne
at Cheyne Walk, and, when they were together, the painter's was
certainly the dominant personality, to which Swinburne's attitude was
that of an affectionate younger brother.

One day Rossetti had invited us all to dinner, and when we went down
to the drawing-room there was great exhilaration, Swinburne leading
the fun. Morris was, as usual, very serious, and, in discussing some
subject of conversation, Swinburne began to chaff and tease him, and
finally gave him a vigorous thrust in the stomach, which sent him
backwards into a high wardrobe, on the outer corners of which stood
Rossetti's two favorite blue and white hawthorn jars, a pair unrivaled
in London, for which he had paid several hundred pounds each. The
wardrobe yielded and down came the jars. I caught one, and Morris,
I believe, the other, as it was falling on his head. Rossetti was
naturally angry, and, for the first and only time in my experience of
him, lost control of his temper, bursting out on the culprit with a
torrent of abuse which cooled the hilarity of the poet instantly, and
reduced him to decorum with the promptness of a wet bath. To hear
Swinburne read his own poetry was a treat, and this I enjoyed several
times at Rossetti's; the terrible sonnets on Napoleon III. after
Sedan, amongst the readings, being the most memorable and effective.

The influence of Rossetti on Morris and Burne-Jones is unquestionable,
and they probably both owed their embarking in an artistic career to
the stimulus given by the advent of a purely artistic nature which
set a new light in their firmament. The little we have of Morris's
painting shows only that he had the gift, but his own appreciation of
his work was too modest to encourage him to face the strain of going
through the necessary education, made more difficult by his want of
early training, even of the imperfect and incorrect kind against
which Rossetti had so successfully had to make his way to a correct
conception of his art. On the whole, I consider Morris to have been
the largest all-round man of the group, not merely on account of the
diversity of his faculties, for he had in his composition a measure,
greater or less, of most of the gifts which go to make up the
intellectual man and artist, but because he had, in addition to those,
a largeness and nobility of nature, a magnanimity and generosity,
which rarely enter into the character of the artist; and perhaps the
reason why his gifts were not more highly developed was that his
estimation of them was so modest. His facility in versification led
him to diffuseness in his poems, and the modest estimation in which he
held his work, when done, was a discouragement to the _limae labor_ so
necessary to perfection. He told me that he had written eight hundred
lines of one of his tales in one night, but at the same time he
regretted that he could not invent a plot, though the exquisite manner
in which he carried out the old plots which have been the common
property of poets since poetry existed in the form of tales is honor

But in the feeling for pure decoration, which is the essential element
in art, in the universality of his application of it, and the high
excellence to which he brought it in each branch to which he devoted
himself, I doubt if Morris has had a rival in our day; and I am
inclined to think that in the default of an early education in art,
such as the great Italian painters received, we lost one of the
greatest artists who have ever lived. For with the high degree in
which he possessed taste, technical abilities never fully developed in
work, and exquisite feeling for color and invention in design, he had
the large human mould which would have made his work majestic beyond
that of any of his great contemporaries and co-workers. He remained,
owing to the late discovery of himself and the poor opinion of his
abilities, only a large sketch of what his completed self would
have been. He had that full, sensuous vitality which Madox Brown so
completely lacked to his great injury, without the excess of it which
was so treacherous with Rossetti. Mr. Mackail's recent life of Morris
does great injustice to Rossetti without in any way exalting his
friend, for Rossetti always urged Morris to follow his artistic
tendencies with the largest and most liberal encouragement and
appreciation, and all the stimulus derivable from a most exalted
opinion of his native abilities. Rossetti would have set everybody to
painting, I think, for, in his opinion, it was the only occupation
worth living for, and he was absolutely free from personal jealousy.

Of Burne-Jones I saw little in those days. He was still working out
his artistic problem, and came now and then to the studio of Rossetti,
who had the highest opinion of his abilities. And, taking art in its
special function, that of the decorator, there can hardly be a dispute
as to his rank amongst the greatest of romantic designers of the
centuries following that of Giotto. His fertility of invention was
very great; and, considering that his studies began at a period which
for most artists would have been too late for the acquisition of
technical excellence of a high degree, his attainment in that
direction was most remarkable. Entirely original, if that quality
could be predicated of any artist, he certainly was not, and he
borrowed of his predecessors to an immense extent, not slavishly but
adaptingly, and what he borrowed he proved a good right to, for he
used it with a high intelligence and to admirable effect. It seems to
me that though he added little or nothing to the resources of art, as
Rossetti undoubtedly did, he employed the precedents of past art, and
especially of the Italian renaissance, to better effect than any other
artist of our epoch; and, in borrowing as he did, he only followed the
example of most of the great old masters, who used material of any
kind found in their predecessors' works, in perfectly good conscience.
His industry was prodigious, and his devotion to art supreme.



Miss Spartali and I were married in the Spring of 1871, and in justice
to her I came to the hazardous decision to make my home in England,
and there to devote myself to general literature and correspondence
with America. As my financial condition at that moment, thanks to the
various contributions to it, was better than it had ever been before,
I had the courage needed to face the great change in my life. I
brought with me from Lowell a letter to Leslie Stephen, whose
friendship has ever since been one of the pleasantest things in my
English life. Mrs. Stephen, the elder daughter of Thackeray, was to us
an angel of goodness, and never since has the grateful recognition of
her loving hospitality in thought and deed diminished in my mind. Our
debt to her was a debt of the heart, and those are never paid. Her
sister, later Mrs. Ritchie, added much to the obligations of our early
life in London, and still remains our friend. Mr. Stephen gave me an
introduction to the "Pall Mall Gazette," then under the charge of
Greenwood, and I contributed in incidental ways to its columns; and
with contributions to "Scribner's" and other magazines it seemed that
we might forgather, and we decided to bring the children out.

An article on the Cretan insurrection, printed while I was still in
the island, had led the way to an acquaintance with Froude, in whose
magazine it appeared, and I had been put on the staff of the "Daily
News," which had printed a contribution on the Greek question as a
leading article; so that, on the whole, the venture did not seem
too rash for a man who never looked far ahead for good fortune. My
friendship with Froude lasted as long as he lived. He was a warm and
sincere friend, always ready with word or deed to help one who needed
it, and one of the men for whom I retain the warmest feeling of all I
knew at this epoch of my life. In New York I had made an arrangement
with Dr. Holland to hold the literary agency for "The Century" (then
"Scribner's") for England, and on returning to London we took a small
furnished house at Notting Hill Way, where our daughter Effie was
born. In the following spring we moved out to Clapham Common, to be
near the parents of my wife, and in the comparative quiet of that then
delightful neighborhood we gave our experiment full scope. The life as
a literary life was ideal, but as a practical thing it failed. Here
I had the pleasure of extending hospitality to Emerson on his way to
Egypt, and Lowell on the way to Madrid. To make the acquaintance of
Lowell we had Professor and Mrs. Max Müller to meet him at dinner, and
Tom Taylor was of the company, he living as a near neighbor.

But Russie's condition was a shadow over my life, growing deeper every
day. Though he had been discharged from Boston as incurable, we put
him under the care of one of the best of English surgeons, and one of
the kindest-hearted men I have ever known, the late Mr. John Marshall,
one of the warm and constant friends I had made through my relations
with Rossetti, of whom Marshall was a strong admirer. Though his
charges were modified to fit our estate, they aggregated, with all his
moderation, to a sum which I could ill support; but to save, or even
prolong Russie's life, I would have made any sacrifice. He was then
not far from nine, and, though crippled by his disease, with his once
beautiful face haggard with pain and no longer recognizable by those
who had known him in his infancy, he was to me still the same,--a dear
and loving child, the companion of my fortunes at their worst; and his
devotion to me was the chief thing of his life. I had carried him in
my arms at every change of vehicle in all the journeys from Athens
to Boston and from Boston to London again, and to him I was all the
world; to me he was like a nursling to its mother, the first thought
of every day, an ever-present care, and his long struggle with death
was an inseparable sadness in my existence. I remarked to Lowell one
day that I feared he would die, and Lowell replied, "I should be
afraid he would not die." The seeming cruelty of the expression struck
me like a sentence of death, and momentarily chilled my feeling
towards Lowell; but the incident made me understand some things in
life as I could not have otherwise understood them, enabling me to
take a larger view of our individual sorrows. There is no doubt that
to Russie's sufferings and death I owe a large part of my experience
of the spiritual life, and especially a comprehension of the secret of
the mother's heart, so rarely understood by one of the other sex.

But my unfailing facility for getting into hot water was not to find
an exception in London. As agent for "Scribner's" I had to secure
contributions from English authors, not so easy then as now. Amongst
other items I was instructed to secure a story from a certain author,
and I contracted with her for the proof sheets of her next novel,
about to be published in England in the--Magazine, the price to be
paid for the advance proofs being £500, if I remember rightly. There
was then no international copyright with America, but a courtesy right
between publishers, with a general understanding amongst the trade
that the works of an author once published by a house should be
considered as belonging by prescription to it. On the announcement by
"Scribner's" of the coming publication of this author's novel, the
firm who had published her prior works announced that they would not
respect the agreement with the author, but would pirate the story.
As the result of the quarrel, "Scribner's" resigned the story to its
rival on payment to the lady of the sum agreed on. But now appeared an
utterly unsuspected state of things: the--Magazine had already sold
the proof sheets of the story to a third American house, and an exposé
of the situation showed that English publishers had been in the
practice of selling the advance proofs of their most popular works of
fiction to the American houses, and recouping the half of the price
paid the authors.

On the heels of this discovery by the public, there happened one of
the periodical outbreaks of English journalism against the "American"
system of literary piracy, and simultaneously the visit of a committee
of the American publishers deputed by the government of the United
States to study out an arrangement for a treaty of international
copyright on the basis of equality of right and privileges in both
countries of the authors of both countries, but with no recognition
of publishers' rights or privileges. The English government, taking
advice from a committee of authors and publishers, in which the
interest of the publishers was dominant, declined the offer of the
American form of treaty, insisting on the protection of publishers'
rights, and the negotiations fell through, with great increase of the
outcry in the English press. Being in communication with Mr. William
H. Appleton, the head of the American committee, and in possession of
the facts of the case as regarded the courtesy right, I wrote to the
English papers, putting the American view of the matter, and the
facts, dwelling on the hitherto unknown point that the depredations on
the authors' interests were committed by the English publisher, who
sold to the American the wares the latter was accused of stealing,
whereas the fact was that he bought and paid equally for the right of
publication, while the English publisher continued to reprint American
books without the least regard for analogous transatlantic rights.

The consequences to me were variously disastrous. In the first place
I was deluged with applications from authors of still unestablished
transatlantic reputation to secure for them offers from "Scribner's"
for the advance sheets of their books. In the second I was treated to
a torrent of abuse as "the friend of piracy" ("Daily News" leading
article), and for some days not a single London paper would print a
word of reply or explanation from me. The "Echo" was the first to
do me the justice of printing a defense, and it was followed by the
"Times," which printed my letter and one from Mr. Appleton; but of the
authors who, having a transatlantic reputation, had profited by the
"courtesy right," only Mr. Trollope came forward to sustain me with
the statement that he had received more from the Harpers--his American
publishers--than from his English publishers. The author whose novel
had been the occasion of the original trouble, grateful for what I had
done in her case, declared that the English authors ought to make me a
testimonial (or perhaps it was a monument she suggested), but from no
other source did I receive a word of thanks. And the third consequence
was that the "Pall Mall Gazette" dropped me "like a hot potato." As
my monthly cheques had reached the sum of ten pounds, and were slowly
increasing, the inroad on my income arising from my crusade against
publishing abuses was a serious item in my outlook.

As misfortunes never come alone, this was followed by my supersession,
as literary agent of "Scribner's," by Mr. Gosse, who had been making a
visit to New York. It was in curious coincidence with these disasters
that I addressed (with a letter of introduction from Madame Bodichon,
who always was the kindest of friends to me) a distinguished lady
member of the staff of an evening paper, with a request to help me to
get work on it, and was told distinctly that she did not favor the
entry of foreigners on the staff, as English writers had too much
competition amongst themselves, and "the crumbs from the table" should
be reserved for them, so that while I had opened the door for English
writers in my native land, to the disadvantage of myself and my
compatriots, I was to be excluded from the English market as a
foreigner. My old friend the editor of the "Daily News," had, during
my absence in America, been appointed to the "Gazette," and the new
Pharaoh "knew not Joseph." And so we decided to throw up the sponge
and go back to America, though even there the new influx of English
competitors (for which I was in part responsible) had made our chance
less brilliant. My father-in-law offered us, if we withdrew from our
decision, to settle £400 a year on my wife. With this aid we felt
that we might carry through; and to her the change from English life,
surrounded by old friends and an artistic atmosphere, to the strange
and comparatively cruder surroundings of America, was to be avoided at
any possible price, and I had no right to hesitate.

The great Exhibition of Vienna, in 1873, found the New York "Tribune"
unprovided in time for its correspondence, and the European manager,
my friend G.W. Smalley, proposed to me to go out for the paper. There
were three months still to the opening, but the preparation of the
groundwork of a continuous correspondence, on an occasion to which the
American public attached much importance, was a matter of gravity, and
the time was not too long. The editor had neglected the matter,
owing to considerations which deluded him, and I was just in time to
forestall the worst effects of a scandal which made its noise in its
day. The chief commissioner, General Van Buren, had had associated
with him, through influences which need not be cited, several
under-commissioners who were Jews, formerly of Vienna, and of course
obnoxious to the society, official and polite, of the Austrian
capital, and who were exercising a most unfortunate influence on the
prospects of the American exhibitors. In addition to this, they had
entered into a system of trading in concessions for their personal
advantage, the competition being very keen, especially in the
department of American drinks, and their dealings with the competitors
had excited great indignation in certain quarters. One of the
disappointed applicants, whose concession had been unjustly annulled
in favor of a higher bidder, came to me for advice. I at once
instituted a rigorous though secret inquiry, and collected a body
of evidence of corrupt practices, which I laid before the American
minister, Mr. Jay, with a demand that it should be communicated to
the government. Mr. Jay at first declined to take cognizance of the
matter, and accused me of doing what I did with political partisan
bias, Van Buren being a prominent politician. I assured him that I did
not even know to which party Van Buren belonged; but, what probably
moved him more was my assurance that the affair was not going to be
whitewashed, that if it was not corrected quietly I was determined to
make a public exposure, and that whoever tried to whitewash it would
need a whitewashing himself, whereupon he decided to take, under oath,
the evidence I had laid before him and send it to Washington, which he

The result was a cable dismissal of the entire commission and the
nomination in their places of several American gentlemen who had come
to Vienna to witness the opening of the Exhibition, amongst whom were
two of my warmest personal friends. They immediately offered me the
official position of secretary to the commission, which I declined.
Having enlisted on the "Tribune," and considering myself held "for the
war," I could not desert, though the inducement was very strong, for
I should not only have been better paid than by the "Tribune," but
should have been practically director of the Exhibition, so far as the
American department was concerned. The exposure of the old commission
which I sent the "Tribune" was printed reluctantly, for Van Buren was
a personal friend of the editor-in-chief; but as I had taken the
pains to make the substance of it common property so far as the other
correspondents were concerned, it could not be suppressed.

For the opening ceremony there was great rivalry amongst the leading
papers of New York, and the "Herald" made very expensive arrangements
to cable a full account; and, beside its European manager, John
Russell Young, and its telegraphic manager, Mr. Sauer, it had Edmund
Yates and a well-known European lady novelist to make up the report.
The "Tribune" sent to my assistance an old friend, Bayard Taylor,
and one of the staff from New York, E.V. Smalley. The "Herald" was
prepared for practically unlimited expenditure on the occasion; the
"Tribune" simply ordered me to telegraph 6000 words to Smalley at
London, leaving the question of cabling open. Young thought me a rival
to be held in poor account, and was careless. All the "Herald" staff
took their places in the Exhibition building for the ceremony of
opening by the Emperor, which was no doubt spectacular; but, as the
doors were to be closed until the ceremony was over, and the Emperor
rose to make the tour of the Exhibition, no one could get at the
telegraph till all was complete. I stayed outside and sacrificed the
spectacle. I had found who was to be the telegraph inspector for the
day, and I went to him with an offer to hire a wire for the day. This
was impossible, he said, as there was to be but one wire for all the
foreign press. I put my case to him as that of a beginner in the
service, to whom a success was of great importance for the future, and
asked to be allowed to declare 6000 words to follow continuously; but
this too, he said, was against the regulations. But I secured his
sympathy, and he finally promised me that if I got first on the wire,
and my message came without interruption, one section being laid
before the operator before the other was finished, they should go on
without interruption, as one message; but, if one minute lapsed and
another message came in the interval, I must take my turn with the

As Taylor was an old hand, and wrote a most legible script, and style
_currente calamo_, I told him to write what he could as the ceremony
went on, and, the moment the doors were opened, to consign what he
had written to a messenger whom I had hired for the day,--an American
clerk of one of the exhibitors under some little obligation to me, a
sharp Yankee, for whose use I had hired a cab, with the fastest horse
I could find, to run back and forth between the Exhibition and the
telegraph. Taylor was then to finish his account of the opening
ceremonies and bring it or send it by the messenger to me at the
telegraph office, the messenger waiting or returning for the first
installment of Smalley's account of the imperial inspection, which
he was to follow closely. After this he was to continue to write the
incidents of the opening; and when the whole approximated to the 6000
words needed, he was to come himself to the telegraph. I, meanwhile,
went into the streets and devoted myself to picking up incidents of
the procession, the deportment of the population, and the weather; and
when I supposed that the opening of the doors was about to take place
I went to the telegraph office and deposited 1200 words. Long before
these could be sent, Taylor's first installment came, and then Taylor
himself with the second. Young, seeing my staff always present, and
thinking me asleep, took his time.

When Taylor's second part had been deposited and paid for, I saw
coming down the street in a furiously driven carriage Mr. Sauer, with
the first part of his message. I slipped out at a back door and was
not seen, and Sauer returned for the continuation of his telegram.
When Smalley's first dispatch had been put on, I saw Sauer coming
again with his second. Then I sat tight and saw that the message had
been written in columns of words on large paper, so that the counting
should be rapid. It made a huge packet, and he deposited it with
evident satisfaction and turned to go out, when he saw Archibald
Forbes, who was writing his telegram to the "Daily News" at the table
in the office, and turned to speak to him. When leaving him he caught
sight of me in the corner, and started as if he had been hit by a
bullet, then made as if he had not seen me and was going out, but
reconsidered and came to speak to me. "Well, what have you done?"
he said. I replied that I had put about 5000 words on, and was only
waiting for the odds and ends from Smalley. He flushed with surprise
and vexation, and began to curse the telegraph officials "who never
kept their engagements," and went off in a towering rage. My 6000
words went on before a single word of the message to the "Herald"
could go.

Mr. Young had ordered for that evening a magnificent dinner for his
staff, to which mine was invited to celebrate his unquestioned feat.
While waiting for the dinner to come on, he took me apart and asked
confidentially what we had really done. I told him, and he asked if we
cabled, to which I replied that as to that I knew nothing, that I had
wired G.W. Smalley in London, but what he had done I could not say.
"Well," said he, "if you have cabled you have beaten us, and if you
have not cabled you may have beaten us," and then he went on to say
that if I would drop the "Tribune" and come over to the "Herald" he
would give me a good post and good pay. "No," I replied, "I have taken
service with the 'Tribune' for the campaign, and I cannot desert
them." (My recompense was a curt dismissal from the "Tribune" as soon
as the urgent work of the reporting of the opening was done.) Mr.
Whitelaw Reid's nerve had failed him when it came to the question of
the expense of cabling, and the 6000 words had gone by steamer from
Queenstown. I had given the "Tribune" the best beat it had ever had
except the Sedan report, if the editor had had the courage to profit
by it. The "Herald" received 150 words of its report in time for the
press the next morning, and had to make up its page of dispatches
from matter sent by post in advance and by expansion of the 150 words
received. Edmund Yates, in his autobiography, tells a story of the
affair which is in every important detail untrue, and he probably knew
nothing of it except what Young had admitted, and that was certainly
very little, for Young was a very reticent man, and not likely to tell
his defeat even to his staff.

Bennett was too fickle and whimsical an employer to suit me, and I had
no disposition to expose myself to his whims. With Young I was always
on the best terms, and he was disposed to employ me when a momentary
service was required, but I had had one experience with his chief,
which was sufficient. He had offered me the London agency of the
"Herald" at a time when any constant occupation would have been
acceptable, and we had come to terms, when suddenly he was taken with
the notion that Edmund Yates, in addition to the service to the paper,
would be of use to him in social ways, and he dropped me and appointed
Yates, to drop him a little later, paying him a year's salary to break
the contract.

One bit of work I did for the "Herald" which I remember with much
pleasure. It was the reporting of Beaconsfield's Aylesbury speech, not
a stenographic report, for that they had from the English press, but a
letter on the occasion as a demonstration. I went to Aylesbury, and,
as Beaconsfield was to speak twice,--once at the farmers' ordinary and
then at the assembly rooms,--I dined at the ordinary; and as all the
places in the assembly rooms had been taken before the dinner was
over, I had to employ some assurance to hear the principal speech. As
soon as the company rose from the table, I pushed through to where
Beaconsfield was standing, and, presenting my card as correspondent of
the New York "Herald," asked him to be kind enough to put me in the
way of hearing him, explaining why I had lost my chance through
remaining to hear him at the dinner. He turned to one of the young men
who were with him, remarking that my card would take me anywhere, and
said, "See that Mr. Stillman has a place near me," and to me, "Keep
close to me," which I did, and took a seat on the edge of the
platform, at his feet; and I certainly never heard a more effective
speech. The lordly, triumphant manner with which he bantered Gladstone
for his dealings in the Straits of Malacca, the demonstrative
confidence with which he took victory for granted, and the magnetism
of his personal bearing, made an impression on me quite unique in my
experience of men. Gracious is the only word which I can apply to his
manner to those around him, and it had a fascination over them which
I could perfectly understand, and I could easily comprehend that
he should have a surrounding of devotees. The serene, absolute
self-confidence he evidently felt was of a nature to inspire a
corresponding confidence in his followers. It was an interesting
display of the power of a magnetic nature, and gave me a higher idea
of the man than all his writings had given or could give. For his
intellectual powers and their printed results I never had a high
opinion, but his was one of the most interesting and remarkable
personalities I ever encountered.

As Russie continued to hold his own against his terrible disease, Mr.
Marshall thought that the operation of resecting the leg at the hip
might save his life, and though such a maimed existence as his would
then be was but a doubtful boon, the boy eagerly caught at the chance
of life; and, to recruit strength for the operation, I decided to take
him, by Marshall's advice, to America, and give him a summer in the
woods, camping out. I took him to the Maine woods instead of my old
haunts of the Adirondacks, because the rail served to the verge of
the wilderness, and we had, on Moosehead Lake, the resource of a good
hotel to take refuge in if matters went ill. They did go ill, and I
found that life was too low in him to give the woodland air and the
influence of the pine-trees power to help him. Hope left me, and we
turned homeward again, sailing from Boston direct to London. It was
in late December, and we had a terrific voyage, and one of the
hairbreadth escapes of which I have had so many. In the height of the
gale Russie and I were standing in the companion-way, watching the
storm, for the boy loved the sea dearly and enjoyed the heaviest
weather, when the captain called to me to say that we were not
safe there and had better go below. Only a few minutes later an
exceptionally heavy sea broke over the deck, took five boats out
of the davits or crushed them, carried away in splinters the
companion-way in which we had been standing, and swept the decks, the
chief officer being saved only by being lashed to the railing of the
bridge, and the fall of the mass of water on the deck breaking several
of the deck beams. We had to lie to for the rest of the gale. We
landed at Gravesend just before Christmas, Russie being in much worse
condition than when we left England. Up to that time I had clung
to hope, for to lose the boy was like tearing my soul in two. Mr.
Marshall no longer held out a hope, but said if he had known the
strength of the boy's constitution he would have operated when he
first saw him, which was what Russie then begged for and had always
looked forward to. Through five years he had resisted the pain of that
most painful disease, hoping always, always reading, almost always

Our lease expiring, I decided to leave London, and Mr. Spartali
offered us a cottage on one of his estates in the Isle of Wight, where
the children, Russie especially, might have sweet English air. Marie
being engaged in finishing her pictures for the spring exhibition, I
went down alone with the children, stopping at an inn at Sandown till
the furniture was in the cottage. While so waiting Russie was taken
with the first convulsion peculiar to his malady, and then I realized
that Death had come, and, unwilling to face him in the semi-publicity
of an inn, I took the boy in my arms to the railway, and from the
station nearest to the cottage bore him thither.

I tried to prepare him for the impending death, by showing him that it
was the end of pain, but his horror of it was inextinguishable, and he
cried in agony, "Oh, no, no! Papa, I wish to live as long as you do;"
and, though his faculties were fortunately failing, he beckoned me to
lay my head by his on the pallet I had prepared for him on the floor,
and offered me a last feeble caress and showed his pleasure in having
me by him. He had loved me above all things on earth, even more than
his loving mother, and to be with me had always been his dearest
delight, and now we met Death alone, he and I, and I could only
remember David's cry, "Absalom, my son!" I watched the fading life,
the diminishing breath in the midnight silence of the solitary house,
and almost desired Death to hasten, for the final struggle had begun,
and the suspense was torture to me. And when the last long breath was
drawn, and the limp, deserted body was all that was left to me of my
thirteen years of passionate devotion, my pride and hope, and the
nursing care of so many years, I walked out into the midnight and left
my boy to Death. The long tension was over, and I could give way to

It was only a child's death, a common thing, almost as common as
family existence, but it gave a new color to my life, establishing
forever a sympathy with the common grief, and a community of sorrow
with all bereft fathers and mothers, in the premature dissipation of
the hopes of their future, and the lapse of a dear companionship into
the eternal void. This is the human brotherhood of sorrow, sacred,
ennobling, sanctifying where it abides, the deepest lesson of the
school of life. My feet have wandered far, and my thoughts still
further from the places and beliefs of my childhood; but whatever and
wherever I may be, this grief at times catches me and holds me in a
pause of dumb tears, and every similar bereavement I witness renews
the sympathetic grief. I have never been able to find a consolation
for that loss, for it carried with it the future and its best dreams.
When his mother died, I thought that any death were easier to bear
than the sudden and terrible tragedy of that; but in the devastated
youth and the lingering pain of Russie's leaving, I found that

"not all the preaching since Adam
Has made Death other than Death."

We buried him quietly in the churchyard at Arreton, the kind rector
not asking for a baptismal certificate, for he knew that I was not
a churchman, and Russie had never been baptized. In these things we
follow prejudices. Mine were Baptist; his mother was an advanced
Unitarian, and had been born in the Brook Farm community, of which her
father was a member, so that we had no sympathy with paedobaptism,
while the terrible effect of my own religious education forbade me to
encumber the boy's mind with religious dogmas, and from the beginning
I had forbidden any one in the house to teach him the name of God
until he was old enough to understand what "God" meant; but one day
during his illness I found him, when he should have been sleeping,
weeping bitterly, and to my inquiry as to the cause of his trouble,
he replied, "Do you think, Papa, that, if I went to sleep saying my
prayers, God would be satisfied if I finished them after I woke?" That
terrible hereditary conscience could not be laid, and perhaps the boy
was fortunate in his early death.



To me Russie's death was a crushing disaster. The care and constant
preoccupation of my life was taken away, and nothing moved me to
activity. I missed him every moment that I was awake, and in my
condition I could not rally from the depression caused by the mental
void and grief. I do not think I should have recovered from it had not
Mr. Spartali conceived the idea of my going off to Herzegovina, where
the insurrection of 1875 was just beginning to stir, and, to cut short
my hesitation at the venture as a volunteer correspondent, got me an
introduction to the manager of the "Times," and offered to pay my
expenses should the "Times" not accept my letters. I knew so well the
condition in which the Turkish Empire had been left by the Cretan
affair, and the apathy that had ruled ever since, that I was convinced
that a disaster was pending, and the state to which Russia had brought
matters in the Ottoman Empire in 1869 pointed to a Slavonic movement
this time. The manager was not of my opinion; he thought the
disturbances would blow over in a few weeks, and nothing serious would
come of it. I went home, but watched the news, and a few days after
went again to the office and offered to go out at my own expense, with
the understanding that if they printed my letters they should pay me
for them, but that they ran no risk and need not print them unless
they wished. The review of my Cretan book in the "Times" now served me
as credentials by showing my knowledge of Turkish ways. At the same
time I arranged to send letters to the New York "Herald," also as a
volunteer, for no one then attached any importance to the rising.

Arriving at Trieste in August, 1875, I found that a committee was at
work sending arms and ammunition, and, following the coast down, I
found other committees at work at Zara and elsewhere, under Austrian
auspices, without any attention being paid to their action by the
Imperial authorities. At Ragusa I found the headquarters of the
agitation, there under the direction of the captain of the port,
Kovachevich, a zealous Slavonic patriot. The movement was evidently
regarded benevolently by the Kaiserlich-Koeniglich, and the insurgents
came openly into the city, and returned again to their fighting with
fresh supplies of ammunition and provisions. I pushed on to the Bocche
di Cattaro, and at Castel Nuovo found the insurgents coming and going
freely, and at Sutorina, in the corner of Herzegovina, which comes to
the Gulf of Cattaro, their depot and manufactory of cartridges.
The information to be obtained there was abundant, if not always
absolutely trustworthy; but on the whole I found the only fault of
that which I got from the insurgents was its exaggeration, while
what I got from the Turkish consul-general at Ragusa was simple
fabrication. Volunteers fully armed went by every steamer, and when
they had enough of campaigning they went to Castel Nuovo and
refreshed themselves, and returned, quite regardless of the Austrian
regulations. I found that the insurrection was spreading through
all the mountain section of Herzegovina and along the border of
Montenegro, and it was said that strong detachments of Montenegrins
were aiding in the operations. The Prince of Montenegro had opposed
the insurrection in the early stages of it, and had even sent old Peko
Pavlovich to arrest the Herzegovinian leader, Ljubibratich, and carry
him to Ragusa, where he left him under Austrian authority, to return
freely as soon as his band had reunited. But as, according to the
general Slav opinion, there was nothing important to be done without
Montenegro, I pushed on to Cettinje to see with my own eyes what there
was to see.

The little world about Cettinje has changed so much since this my
first visit there, and was so little known then by the outer world,
that my experiences there will be to the present day like those which
one might have in a perished social organization. The only access to
the capital of the principality was by a zigzag bridle-path up from
Cattaro to a height of 4500 feet above the sea,--a hard, rough road,
more easily traveled on foot than in the saddle, and so I traveled it,
in the company of a Scotch cavalry officer intending to volunteer.
Passing the rocky ridge along which ran the boundary between freedom
and Austria, one descended by another precipitous path into the valley
of Njegush, the birthplace of the family of the Prince, a circular
amphitheatre of rocks, a narrow ridge here and there holding still a
little earth on which the people raised a few stalks of maize or a few
potatoes, a few square yards of wheat, or a strip of poor grass for
the sheep or goats. Every tiny field was terraced against the wash
of the rains so that the soil should not be carried away, for the
geological formation of this part of the principality, Montenegro
proper, is a porous rock, which allows water to filter through it, and
which is even so fissured that no stream will form, and the drainage
is through the rocks or in _katavothra_ which gush out in mysterious
fountains in the Gulf of Cattaro or into the Lake of Scutari.

Njegush, the village in which the Prince was born, was a collection of
a score or more of stone cottages of two rooms on the ground floor,
with two or three--of which one was the house of the Petrovich
family--of two stories, simple as the people we saw moving about, the
women carrying heavy loads on their backs, and a few ragged children
peeping round the corners of the houses at the foreigners passing
through. Suspicion was on every face, for the foreigner was still an
enemy. We had taken the trouble to send word to Cettinje that we
were coming up on that day, and the coming of a correspondent of the
"Times" apparently had some importance to Montenegro, for we had found
and made friends with, in the market-place where our baggage horses
were to be hired, a senator of the principality who had _accidentally_
come down from Cettinje, and we did not suspect that he had been sent
down to see if there was danger in our visit or not; and so suspicious
was the little community that every Montenegrin set himself, without
orders and by the instinct of danger, to watch every stranger within
the gates.

The road from Njegush to Cettinje, at present replaced by a good
carriage road, was worse than that from Cattaro, a craggy climb over
which it would have been hardly possible to ride a mule, had I had one
to ride; but from the crown of the pass over which we had to go, there
is one of the finest wide views I have ever seen, over the plains of
Northern Albania and the Lake of Scutari, with the mountains of Epirus
in the extreme distance. The bad roads were part of the Montenegrin
system, which, as the Prince later explained to me, was not to make
roads for Austrian artillery.

Cettinje was a poor village of one-story houses, with two or three
exceptions of two-storied ones, of which the principal was the
"palace," a residence which in another country would have been a poor
gentleman's country house. Our senatorial herald had gone ahead and
announced our coming and our friendliness, and the hotel, the second
largest building in the village, had rooms ready for us, and the
little world of the Montenegrin capital had put on the air of
nonchalance, as if such things as the arrival of a "Times"
correspondent and a foreign cavalry officer were things of everyday
occurrence. No one would condescend to show curiosity; all were as
impassive as Red Indians; and though we were the only strangers there,
no one seemed at all curious about our business. This was the manner
of the entire population, and it was a trait which I soon realized in
everybody, from highest to lowest, that they kept the habitual garb
of an incurious reticence, neither asking nor giving information.
We found, as if carelessly loitering around the hotel, or playing
billiards in it, several young men who spoke excellent French, and we
laid cautious traps for conversation, but no one could tell us any
news or give us any information about the fighting, or answer
any questions other than evasively. And it was only after a long
acquaintance, and when I had become in a way naturalized, that I was
able to provoke confidence in any Montenegrin. The generations
of isolation, surrounded only by enemies whom it was a duty to
mislead,--four hundred years of a national existence of combat and
ruse, always at war, with no friend except far-off Russia,--had
developed the natural Slav indifference to the truth into a fine and
singularly subtle habit of communicating nothings to any inquiring
outsider, which never failed even the most humble clansman. I was,
however, pushed on from hand to hand by casual suggestions until I
reached the Prince, who gave us audience under the famous tree where
he heard appeals of all kinds, from petitions for help to the last
recourse from the judgments of the tribunals, a final appeal to which
every Montenegrin was entitled, and without which none submitted to an
unfavorable judgment.

The moment was critical, for communications had been passing between
Servia and Montenegro for an alliance and a declaration of war against
the Sultan, for which the entire population of the principality was
impatient, and when I arrived the rumor had begun to spread that
Servia had yielded to diplomatic pressure and would decline the
alliance. The young Montenegrins were chafing, and the old men
complaining that the young ones were growing up without fighting and
would be nerveless. The Prince was very guarded, but it was easy to
gather from what he said that he neither could nor cared to restrain
the people from going in limited numbers, and in an unobtrusive way,
into Herzegovina to fight the Turks, and in fact he was perfectly
within his rights to send his army there, for, curious as it may seem,
the Turkish government had never terminated the _de jure_ state of
war with the principality, or acknowledged its independence, and
the fighting in the vicinity of Niksich had been going on in an
intermittent way for more than three hundred years, during which the
city had been in a small way in as close a state of siege, probably,
as Troy was for ten years. As to operations in Herzegovina, small
bands had been going and coming, concentrating when there was a
movement to be made by either combatant, and slipping back across the
frontier when they had had a brush, but all _sub rosa_.

The Prince, Nicholas, is personally a prepossessing man, and it was a
good fortune which permitted me to study him and his people at a time
when the primitive, antique virtue of the little nation had not been
deteriorated by civilization, for it was then a pure survival of
the patriarchal state, holding its own in the midst of an enslaved
condition of all the population around. He is a man of large mould, of
a robust vigor which gave him a distinct physical preëminence amongst
his people, with the effusive good humor which belongs, as a rule, to
large men, and a hearty _bonhomie_ which with that simple people was
a bond to the most passionate devotion. He is quick-witted and
diplomatic, with a knowledge of statecraft sufficient for the
elementary condition of government over which he presided; and his
subjects were not then so many that he did not know by name every head
of a family amongst them. He could give you off-hand the genealogy of
each of the families which had, after the defeat of Kossovo, taken
refuge in the Bielopolje, the central valley of the principality, from
the defeat of Dushan down, and he knew all the traditions of their
early history. When the young men played at games of strength or
skill, there were few who could pitch the stone so far or shoot so
well, and perhaps those few had the tact not to let it be seen, so
that he stood amongst his people as the model and type of all the
heroic virtues. In spite of his great physical proportions he was
nervous and excitable. In all but military abilities he had grown
curiously to the measure of his place, and his diplomatic abilities
more than compensated for the want of the military. And what was most
singular was that his early education in Paris had not spoiled the
Montenegrin in him.

Probably much of this conserved character was due to the Princess, an
admirable woman, who deserves a place amongst the world's remarkable
female sovereigns; for her energy, patriotism, and instinct of the
obligations of the crisis were more remarkable than anything else
connected with the house of Njegush. Beautiful even at the period in
which I first saw her, gifted with a tact and sympathetic manner quite
regal in their reach, she held her husband up to action and decision
when his own nerves were shaken. A Montenegrin of voivode stock, the
daughter of the commander-in-chief of the army, who had been
the right-hand man of Mirko, the father of the Prince, the
commander-in-chief of the previous reign, she had the true Amazonian
temper, and would not have hesitated to take the field had the courage
of her husband failed him; though, in tranquil times, she was a true
Slavonic woman, domestic, affectionate in her family, and effacing
herself before her husband. I remember that the Prince told me that,
after the splendid victory of Vucidol, he sent two couriers to
announce to the Princess at Cettinje the news of the victory, and the
first question she asked of them was, "Did the Prince show courage?"
and when they replied, with a little Montenegrin craft, that they had
had to hold him by force to keep him from plunging into the mêlée, she
gave them each a half ducat. "And," said the Prince, "if they had said
that I had led the charge, she would have given them a whole ducat."

But, with all his civic virtues, the Prince was the very type of a
despotic ruler. The word "constitution" was his bugbear, and he would
not abate one particular of his absolute power, or tolerate the
slightest deflection of his authority in his family, any more than in
the principality. His will was the law, and though, in the details of
administration, the voivodes and the "ministers" were trusted, nothing
could be decided without his personal supervision, nor was any
decision of a tribunal settled without an appeal to him in person.
One day, as I sat with him under the Tree of Judgment, we saw in the
distance a number of the common people approaching the tree. "Now,"
said he, "you will see a curious thing. This is a case of appeal from
the decision of the head men of a village on which there had been
quartered more of the Herzegovinian refugees in proportion to their
population than they thought they should support, so that they sought
relief by sending a part of the refugees to a neighboring village
which had not had what they considered its due charge. The villagers
of the second village appeal from this overcharge, alleging that their
means do not permit them to receive more than they actually have." The
rival deputations approached the tree, cap in hand, and, on the Prince
giving the order to open the case, it was stated through the head men
as the Prince had summarized it. The Prince heard both cases and then
asked the head man of the lesser village if they had done as much as
they could do in the way of relief, and the head man explained that
their village was small and poor (which was quite unnecessary to say
of a Montenegrin village), and they could not support more refugees;
whereupon the Prince, addressing himself to the deputation of the
larger village, repeated to them the parable of the widow and her
mite, and, assuring them that the little village had done its best,
as the widow did, and they must be content, dismissed the case, and
without a word of complaint the two deputations went off together,
discussing with each other in the most friendly manner; and the
discontent, so far as we could see, was at an end.

But if this patriarchal form of government was interesting, the
character of the people under it was still more so, and it was to me a
great pleasure and privilege to be enabled to study, as I did for the
three years of the insurrection and war, a nation in the earliest
stage of true civilization, corresponding as nearly as we can
reconstruct ethnology to that of the Greeks in the time of the Trojan
war, arms but not men being changed. The honesty and civic discipline
were perfect, hospitality limited only by the ability to give it, and
the courage and military discipline absolutely unquestioning. If the
Prince ordered a position to be stormed, no man would return from the
attack till the bugle sounded the recall. I remember charges made
during the war in which the half of the battalion was down, dead
or wounded, before they could strike a blow, and this without the
presence of the Prince to stimulate the soldier; but, before him, no
man would flinch from certain death when an order was given.

The honesty was singular. I remember that one day, when I was in
Cettinje, two Austrian officers came up from Cattaro, and one of them
lost on the road a gold medal he wore, which was picked up by a poor
woman passing with a load over the same road, and she went to Cattaro
and spent a large portion of the day hunting for the officer who had
lost the medal. Sexual immorality was so rare that a single case in
Cettinje was the excited gossip of the place for weeks; but to this
virtue the influence of the Russian officers during the year of
the great war was disastrous. The Russians introduced beggary and
prostitution, and the crowd of adventurers from everywhere during the
two later years made theft common; but stealing was considered such a
disgrace by the Montenegrins that during all my residence there I had
only one experience,--the theft of a small pocket revolver by my first
Dalmatian horse-keeper, and I think that robbery with violence was
never heard of in the principality. During the third year I carried,
for distribution among the families of the killed and wounded, the
large subsidies of the Russian committees, amounting to several
hundred pounds in gold, and in this service I penetrated to the
remotest parts of the principality until I reached the Turkish posts
in Old Servia, countries of the wildest character, with a very sparse
population; and, though it was known that I carried those sums, I was
never molested, though I had only one man for escort. And during the
two campaigns which I made with the Prince, living in a tent, on the
pole of which hung my dispatch-bag containing my store of small money
(it being impossible to obtain change for a piece of gold anywhere in
the interior), and no guard being kept on the tents, I never lost a
_zwanziger_, or any other article than a girth by which the blanket
was fastened on my horse when grazing at night; and, as the blanket
came back, even that did not look like a theft.

And yet so poor and so contented were they that the life of the
primitive man could not have been much simpler. I have seen, in the
cold end of September, in the high mountain districts, a whole
family of little children, whose united rags would not have made a
comfortable garment for one of them, playing with glee in the fields.
On one occasion, when I had been caught by the heavy autumn rains in
remote Moratcha, roads washed away and riding a mile impossible, I had
to take with me two or three men, beside my guide and horse boy, to
make a road where I had to travel, and we were obliged to halt for the
night at one of the poorest villages I ever saw in Montenegro. The
best house in it was offered me, with such fare as they had, to
supplement bread which I had brought from the convent. The house had
but one room, with a large bedstead built in it of small trees in the
rough, and the beaten ground for floor. The bed was given up to me,
and the family lay on the ground with a layer of straw, which was
all that the bedstead had in the way of bedding. When we left in
the morning I was asked for no compensation, nor did it seem to be
expected; but, as my silver had been expended, I gave the woman of the
house (the husband being at the war) a gold ten-franc piece. She took
it shamefacedly, turned it over and over, looked at it curiously, and
then asked my guide, "What is this?" It was the first time in her life
that she had seen a gold coin, and the guide had to explain to her
that it could be changed into many of the zwanzigers or beshliks which
were the only coins she knew. And with all this poverty they seemed
most happy when they could extend their poor hospitality to a
stranger, and always reluctant to receive any compensation, though the
Prince was obliged to furnish to the general population about half the
breadstuffs they used in the year.

Seven senators were always on duty near the Prince; they received
about $250 a year each when on duty, at other times nothing. The
entire civil list of the Prince amounted to about $250,000 a year,
from which all the expenses of the government, civil, military, and
diplomatic, had to be paid. But for the subsidies of Russia and
Austria-Hungary the entire people must have migrated long ago, and I
have several times heard Montenegrins say, when asked why they did not
build more substantial houses, that "they were not going to stay
there long, but meant to get a better country." And yet, like most
mountaineers, they were so attached to this rugged and infertile
country of theirs that there was no punishment so hard as exile.

During the greater part of the time I spent in the principality the
entire male adult population was on the frontier, or fighting just
beyond it, and, when a messenger was wanted, the official took a man
out of the prison and sent him off, with no apprehensions of his not
returning. One such messenger I remember to have been sent to Cattaro,
in Austrian territory, with a sum of three thousand florins to be paid
to the banker there, and he came back before night and reported at the
prison. Jonine told me that one day, being in Cattaro, he was accosted
by a Montenegrin, who begged for his intercession with the Prince to
let him out of prison. "But," said the Russian official, "you are no
more in prison than I am; what do you mean?" "Oh," said the man, "I
have only come down for a load of skins for Voivode So-and-so, but I
must go into prison again when I get back to Cettinje." The prison
was a ramshackle building, in the walls of which a vigorous push of
several strong men would have made a breach, and I have often seen all
the prisoners out in the sun with a single guard, on absolutely equal
terms; and if, as sometimes happened, the guard was called away,
any of the prisoners was ready to take his rifle and duties for the

I have seen it stated that the Montenegrin is a lazy man, who puts off
the hard work on the women; but this is quite untrue, the fact being
that any work which he considers the work of a man he is eager to do.
He is an admirable road-maker and navvy, goes far and wide to get work
on public works, and at home, when peace allows it, he does the heavy
work; but as, in the ordinary life of the past four centuries, he was
almost constantly on the frontier to meet the Turkish invasions or the
Albanian raids, the agricultural and much other work fell necessarily
to the women. When there were considerable flittings from Cettinje,
and the amount of baggage to be carried down to Cattaro was large, it
was always allotted to one of the most intelligent men to judge of the
weight; and when it was a heavy package he said, "This is the load of
a man," or, if a light load, "This is for a woman," many of whom were
waiting, eager for the chance of gaining something by their labor. But
no compensation will induce a Montenegrin to accept a work which is
considered not the work of a man.

In military courage and docility the Montenegrin probably stands at
the head of European races. He is born brave, and comes under the law
of military obedience as soon as he can carry arms. The good wish for
the boy baby in his cradle is, "May you not die in your bed," and to
face death is to the boy or man the most joyous of games. I have seen
a man, in the midst of a hot interchange of rifle bullets between the
Turkish trenches and our own, the trenches occupying the crests of two
parallel ranges of low hills, go around outside the works and climb
with the greatest deliberation up the hillside, exposed to the Turkish
fire, and back over the breastwork into our trenches, all the time
under a hail of rifle bullets. During the siege operations at Niksich
the Prince was obliged to issue an order of the day forbidding burial
to any man killed in this ostentatious exposure to the Turkish fire,
so many men having been killed while standing on the crests of the
shelter trenches in pure bravado. While lying at headquarters at
Orealuk (where the Prince had a little villa), waiting the opening of
the campaign of 1877, I was walking on the terrace with him one day
after dinner when I noticed a boy of sixteen or eighteen standing at
the end of the terrace with his cap in his hand, the usual form of
asking for an audience. "Now I'll show you an interesting thing," said
the Prince, as he made a sign to the boy to approach. "This boy is the
last of a good family, whose father and brothers were all killed in
the last battle, and I ordered him to go home and stay with his mother
and sisters, that the family might not become extinct." As the boy
drew near and stopped before us, his head down and his cap in his
hands, the Prince said to him, "What do you want?" "I want to go back
to my battalion," the boy replied. "But," replied the Prince, "you are
the last of the family, and I cannot allow a good family to be lost;
you must go home and take care of your mother." The boy began to cry
bitterly. The Prince then asked him if he would go home quietly and
stay there, or take a flogging and be allowed to fight. He shook his
head and stood silent a little while and then broke out, "Well! it
isn't for stealing; I'll take the flogging!" that being the deepest
disgrace which can befall a Montenegrin. And he broke down utterly
when the Prince finally said that he must go home, for his family was
a distinguished one, and he was not willing that no man should be left
of it to keep the name. "But," said the boy, "I want to avenge my
father and brothers," this being the highest obligation of every
Montenegrin. The boy went away still crying, but when he had gone the
Prince said, "I know that he will be in the next battle in spite of
anything I can say."



I have anticipated the events of the year, but this illustration of
the character of the little people whose tenacity and courage put
their mark on European history during the subsequent three years will
help to give significance to the story. Without being undiplomatically
frank, on the one hand, or attempting to conceal his rôle on the
other, the Prince allowed me to see that everything depended on
Montenegrin action, and that he, to a certain extent, must permit
his people to follow their sympathies. The young men went in groups
without any pretense of organization, with their rifles and yataghans,
and, when the opportunity offered, took part in any pending skirmish,
and then came home, to be replaced by others. To have forbidden this
would have made the people mutinous, and the Dalmatians, though under
the authority of Austria, were no more closely held to neutrality than
the Montenegrins. The Austrian Slavs could not be permitted to be more
patriotic than the Montenegrin; and the Prince, after having attempted
to quiet the former by sending old Peko Pavlovich to bring them to
reason, and found that the matter could not be settled in that way,
allowed Peko to take a band of young men into Herzegovina and assume
the direction of the insurrection.

There was nothing more to be learned in Montenegro that belonged to
war correspondence, and I went back to Cattaro. There I learned that
there was a great assemblage of refugees at Grahovo, a remote corner
of the principality, which could best be reached from the Bocche; and
enlisting the agent of the Austrian Lloyds as guide and interpreter, I
went by way of Risano and the country of the Crivoscians, a Slavonic
tribe who gave great trouble to the Romans in their day, and to
their successors in that part of the world, the Austrians, whom
they defeated disastrously in 1869. The Crivoscians contributed an
important element to the forces of the insurrection; they were held to
be great thieves, but greater Turk fighters, and on the way to Grahovo
we met many of them coming home wounded, or carrying their booty from
the recent battles (one amongst them had forgotten whether he was
seventy-five or seventy-six), for there had been serious fighting in
the corner of the Herzegovina adjacent.

Then we came into the long procession of refugees, mostly women and
children, a dribbling stream of wretched humanity, carrying such
remnants of their goods as their backs could bear up under, with a few
old men, too old to fight, all seeking some hiding-place until the
storm should be over,--wretched, ragged, worn out by the fatigues of
their hasty flight from "the abomination of desolation," for it seemed
as if he that was on the housetop had not gone down to take anything
out of his house, and woe had been pronounced upon them that were with
child and them that gave suck in those days. I had seen enough of the
horrors of suppression of Christian discontent by the Mussulmans of
Crete, but the brutality of the Slavonic Islam in time of peace was
other and bitterer than the Cretan, and the miserable remnant of
escaped rayahs of Herzegovina was the very ragged fringe of humanity.
I wish every statesman who had ever favored tonics for the "sick man"
could have stood where I did and have seen the long reiteration of the
damning accusation against the "unspeakable Turk" in these escapes of
the peaceful stragglers from massacre and rapine which every rising
in the provinces of Turkey brings forth for the shame of our
civilization. There were whole families in such rags that they would
not have been permitted to beg in the streets of any English city,
lucky even to have escaped as families; parents whose daughters, even
more miserable, had not been permitted to escape to starvation.
We found at Grahovo the body of which those we had seen were the
fringe,--a mass of despairing, melancholy humanity, brooding over the
misery to come, homeless, foodless, and the guests of a people only
less poor than themselves, the hospitable hovels of the Montenegrins
housing a double charge.

I was desirous to learn from themselves the details of their
oppression, and my friend questioned one group as to what they had to
complain of. It was practically everything but death,--their cattle
taken, their crops ravaged or reaped by the agas, the honor of wives
and daughters the sport of any Mussulman ruffian who passed their way.
One tall, gaunt old woman, who had not spoken, but listened, with a
face like a stone, to all that the others replied, suddenly threw her
ragged robe over her head and burst into a tempest of tears. Another
turned to me a stolid face, saying, "Gospodin! we do not know what a
virgin is!" I saw enough of it before I had finished to have made the
world turn Turcophobe. And twenty years later we hear of the same
fruits of the same régime and, as I found then, Christian statesmen
who tolerate it.

I tried to penetrate to the scene of the fighting in Herzegovina, but
was on all sides warned that from Grahovo it was impossible; it was
necessary to return to Ragusa. There I learned that a fight had just
taken place on the road between Trebinje and Ragusa. There is a
good carriage road between the two cities, and, in company with two
colleagues, and under the guidance of a daring carriage driver, we
went to Trebinje. The plain between the frontier and Trebinje is a
waste of limestone crags and blocks, scattered as if after a combat of
Titans, a miserable stunted vegetation springing between the rocks,
capable of hiding thousands of men within a rifle-shot from the road,
and, as we found, actually hiding a good many. But word had been sent
before by our friends the patriots, and we only caught a glimpse of
one insurgent, and saw one dead Turk, a victim of the last skirmish,
whose body the garrison had not dared come out to bury.

We brought the first news the pasha had received in five days. He gave
me, for official information, his version of the late fight, in which
old Peko had drawn a convoy of provisions into an ambush and captured
it, killing eighty men of the escort, whose heads one of my colleagues
had seen stuck up on poles at the insurgent camp, but in which the
pasha admitted a loss of only twenty or thirty men. I had seen many
Turkish pashas, but never one of that type,--amiable, lethargic,
and quite indisposed to do any harm to anybody, and he could not
understand why the insurgents could not let him alone; he did not want
to disturb them. He complained bitterly that ill-disposed people had
been stirring up the population of his province and that, though he
had a force of two thousand men, the disorderly Herzegovinians made it
very difficult for his men to go about. It was really pathetic to hear
him. He wished harm to no one; so courteous and civilized-over was he
that one could easily imagine that such officials at Constantinople
might give the Turcophile color to a _corps diplomatique_. Invited
to coffee by the Austrian consul, I heard the views of a man whose
experiences have been equaled by few, for he had been fourteen years
at that post; and he fully confirmed the impressions I had from the
refugees at Grahovo. But, on the other side of the matter, I was
really interested in the Turkish troops, so good-natured, so patient,
and not in the least concerned at having been several months besieged
and blockaded, supplies short, and relief not even hoped for. I hated
the system, but I could not help liking its victims on both sides.

Returning to Ragusa, I found Ljubibratich on the point of returning to
the insurgents' camp at Grebci, just over the Austrian frontier, and
only about three hours' walk, we were told, from Ragusa. They came
with unrestricted freedom from camp into Ragusa, carried away what
supplies of any kind they needed, and, when ill, came to the hospital
of the city. Dalmatia and its medley of races are still in the Eastern
state of activity, in which time is of no account; and, instead of
getting off in the early morning to return before night, as arranged,
we left Ragusa at 2 P.M. We were in October, and the shortening days
did not favor long journeys, and the road was even worse than those
in Montenegro. On the way across the frontier the going was simply
climbing a Cyclopean stairway, and we reached the camp only at dusk.

Grebci was an abandoned village of the Herzegovinian population,
robbed and maltreated even here within a rifle-shot of the Austrian
territory, and the entire population had taken refuge across the
frontier. There was a reunion of all the bands, amounting to about 900
men, of whom 250 were Montenegrins under old Peko Pavlovich, a wiry,
wily, Slavonic Ulysses, who had been in more than ninety battles
with the Turks, and who knew and used every stratagem of this border
warfare. There was Melentie, the fighting Archimandrite of the convent
of Duzi; Luka Petcovich, a Herzegovinian of the Montenegrin frontier,
a tried Turk fighter; and the fighting popes of three villages of
Orthodox Christians, Bogdan Simonich, Minje, and Milo. There was a
small band of Italians, with one Frenchman, Barbieux,--one of the
bravest of the brave and an ex-Zouave officer,--ten Russians, and a
few Servians. We were in for a night, and had brought no provender,
while all the food in camp was the half of an old goat and some flinty
ship's biscuit. The goat was roasted before the camp-fire, laid on a
timber platform, which served for bed by night and table by day, and
hacked to pieces by the yataghans which had come from the battle two
days before. The meat was tough beyond exaggeration, and the biscuit
had to be broken with a stone into small pieces; but we had wine, for
this abounded across the frontier and was indispensable. We heard the
story of the fight at Utovu, where the insurgents had been taken in
a trap by treachery of the weak chiefs of a Catholic village, and
escaped with the loss of only four killed, owing to the precautions
of the wily Peko, who, like an experienced fox, never went into a
possible trap without seeing the way out of it; but they brought away
the visible proofs of their fight in the noses of fifty-eight Turkish
soldiers killed. In the custom of the country the nose of an enemy
stands as the logarithm of his head, which is inconvenient of
transportation in number; and, though the Prince had forbidden the
mutilation of the dead, it was impossible to enforce the prohibition
out of Montenegro, and this was the only proof of the actual fruits of
victory permitted by the circumstances.

The Italians sang songs, and the whole band made merry till far into
the night, when the correspondents, the honored guests, to be served
with the best of the accommodations, were shown to the abandoned house
of the captain of the village, a stone-built hut, the only one of two
stories, which gave us a board floor to sleep on in the upper story,
garnished with a bundle of straw for each of us, on which we lay down
to sleep, tired to exhaustion. My overcoat was my only covering,
and there had been a slight snowfall the day before. I slept, to be
awakened ten minutes later by swarms of fleas so numerous that it was
like lying in an ant-hill. Three times in the night I went out to
shake the fleas from my clothing in the cold night air, and when the
first daylight came we turned out and made our way back to Ragusa.

Dissensions and mutual recriminations followed the defeat of Utovu,
Peko openly expressing his disgust with the insurgents of the plain,
who were braver when there was no enemy than when the fighting was
imminent, and he marched off to a position in the hilly country nearer
the Montenegrin frontier, leaving Ljubibratich with the men of the
low country. The lull brought into action that Shefket Pasha who,
the following year, inaugurated the "Bulgarian atrocities," and who,
declining to attack the band of Peko, came to vent his prowess on the
people of the Popovo plain, of whom about five thousand had returned
from exile in Dalmatia under the guarantee of the Turkish authorities
of freedom from molestation on resuming their ordinary vocations.
These were all Catholics, and the Catholics of Herzegovina and Bosnia
have always been submissive, even to all the rigors of the Turkish
rule, while the Orthodox Christians have been the rebels, the popes
being generally the captains in time of war. Shefket, disregarding
the guarantees of his government, marched on the villages of Popovo,
killed or carried away prisoners all the men who did not escape again
over the frontier, and allowed the bashi-bazouks to plunder and
ravage. Male children were killed with the men; and the women,
abandoning everything they could not carry, returned to Austrian
territory, where I visited them to get the facts of the matter.

The result was that I decided to go to Mostar and lay the facts before
the consuls, who had been charged to form a commission to investigate
and report on the state of things in Herzegovina. I was joined by the
correspondent of "Le Temps" and a Belgian engineer engaged on the new
road beyond Seraievo, and we engaged a courageous coachman to drive us
to the capital of Herzegovina, for timid people would not venture
to make the journey, such was the anarchy of the country. As far as
Metcovich we were in Austrian territory, but there we fell into the
Asiatic order of things, meeting a frontier guard of ragged Turkish
regulars, to whom the visas on our passports seemed of small account,
in view of their evident desire to regard us as enemies; and all along
the road to Mostar we had the scowling faces of the native Mussulmans
bent on us as we passed, and the few Christians we saw wore an air of
harelike timidity.

The city of Mostar is one of the most picturesque I have ever seen. At
that time its dirt, decay, and generally unkempt appearance added to
the picturesqueness, but not to the comfort. We got shelter at a khan,
whose owner hardly knew if he dared admit a Christian guest; but the
authority of the English consul, Mr. Holmes, reassured him, and we
were admitted to the society of more fleas than I had considered
possible at that time of the year. I had, however, provided myself
with an ample supply of the Dalmatian product known as "flea powder,"
the triturated leaves of the red camomile which grows in great
perfection all over the mountains of Dalmatia and Montenegro, as if
nature had foreseen that it would be especially needed there, and I
slept in comparative immunity, though my prior experiences in hostelry
had never given me an adequate understanding of the khan filth and

I found that the consuls had all been fully informed of the general
state of the country and the treachery exercised by the Turkish
commanders, and Holmes told me that he had reported to the ambassador
at Constantinople what he had learned, and that his report had been
sent back with orders to make it less unfavorable to the Turks. Holmes
(later Sir William Holmes, the distinction being well deserved for
the courage and honesty with which, though strongly Turcophile in his
tendencies, he exposed the abuses) said to me, relating this fact,
"What can I do? I tell him what I know to be the facts as I have
learned them, and he wants me to change them to make the report more
favorable to the Turks!" I put his case before the public in the
"Times," and the honest fellow reaped the reward he deserved, though
against the will of his ambassador.

Here I met again an old Cretan friend, Server Pasha, sent to try the
same silly, futile tactics which so failed in Crete, i.e. offering the
insurgents elaborate paper reforms in exchange for actual submission.
He reminded me of the reply of the local commandant of the army at
Mostar when one of the consuls remonstrated at the authorities having
taken no action in a case of peculiarly brutal assassination in the
city of Mostar, the author of which had not even been arrested. The
Colonel Bey replied, astonished, to the indignant consul, "Why,
haven't we made a report?" The case was rather a peculiar one: a young
Mussulman, having received a present of a new rifle, went out into the
suburbs, and, seeing a Christian boy gathering the grapes from his
mother's vineyard, took a pot shot at him and shot him through the
body. The young assassin was carried in triumph about the town on the
shoulders of his playmates, and was never in any way punished for the
crime. I had the story from the surgeon who attended the Christian
boy, and from Mr. Holmes. I took a keen delight in illuminating the
intelligent mind of Server Pasha as to the true condition of the
country, telling him what I had seen and reported to the "Times;" and,
as he knew me well, and that I was trustworthy in my reports,--for he
knew how A'ali Pasha had regarded me,--he was in a curious state of
mental distress. On his report to Constantinople, the consul-general
at Ragusa, an Italian Levantine called Danish Effendi, whom I had also
known at Syra in the old days, was ordered to make an investigation
into the Popovo atrocities, and, being under the eyes of a large body
of correspondents and a Christian public, he reported confirming my

Our return to Ragusa was not entirely free from excitement, for the
indigenous Mussulman had less avidity for prey he saw going into the
trap, Mostar, than for that which he saw escaping, and we had to face
small predatory detachments of bashi-bazouks raiding in the country we
passed through, who looked at us with eyes of fire, and muttered in no
doubtful language, interpreted by my colleague of "Le Temps," who knew
Turkish, what they would be glad to do with us. As we sat eating our
lunch in the shelter of a hovel by the roadside, while the horses were
baiting, a party of the fanatics watched us with growing malignity
and a truculent interchange of sentiments of an evidently unfriendly
nature. To puzzle them as to our status, I took the pains to repeat in
conversation with my colleague the formula of adherence to the faith
as it is in Islam, a scrap of Arabic I had learned in Crete, the
repetition of which, according to the rite, is equivalent to the
recognition of Mahomet and his teachings. The effect on them was
curious, and, though they evidently did not consent to regard us as of
the true faith, they as evidently were puzzled, and we went our way
unmolested; but I felt more at my ease, I am willing to admit, when we
passed the last Turkish post on the road.



Utovu was followed by a lull in military operations; but in the latter
part of November, as the insurgents had beleaguered all the forts in
the upper Herzegovina and the town of Niksich in the debated territory
between Montenegro and Herzegovina, Shefket gathered a force of 3000
regulars, with artillery and bashi-bazouks to escort a train of
supplies to them. He was met by Lazar Soeica, the chief of that part
of the mountain country, and disastrously defeated at Muratovizza,
leaving behind him 760 dead, and carrying away about 900 wounded, most
of whom died of their wounds, as I learned from one of the European
surgeons in the Turkish service who deserted a little later, dismayed
by the constant menaces of death to all Christian employees in the
camp, uttered by the troops, suffering, angry, and continually worsted
in the little fights. Shefket saved himself and his artillery by
sending the latter to the rear as soon as the battle was at its
height, and then, having posted a strong rear guard,--the insurgents
having neglected to close the road behind them,--retreating with all
possible speed, leaving the rear guard to be killed or taken, which it
was to a man. The insurgents lost fifty-seven killed and ninety-six
seriously wounded, but the result was to throw the whole upper
Herzegovina into their hands, and they captured and destroyed all the
small blockhouses and forts not armed with artillery. The interest
now centred on the high mountain district about Niksich, where
I determined to go to watch the operations. The winter was well
commenced, but only in the higher districts was the snow on the
ground. I returned, therefore, to Cettinje, where I was now received
as a tried friend.

At the time of which I am now writing there were practically no roads
in Montenegro but bridle-paths, over large stretches of which it was
unsafe to ride, even the Montenegrins dismounting, whether going up or
down. That passage between Cettinje and Rieka, on the Lake of Scutari,
was one of the worst I have ever found in the principality. The lower
part, nearing Rieka, was simply a Cyclopean stairway, with rocky steps
so high that the horses had to _jump_ down from one to another. My
cavalcade consisted of a Montenegrin soldier for guide, a Montenegrin
student, and the horse-boy, necessary to lead the horses when, as was
the case for a large part of the way, we could not ride them; and
halfway down to Rieka we were overtaken by a deaf-mute porter, sent as
a kind afterthought by the Prince, with a samovar and a provision of
tea, sugar, etc., in view of the dearth of comforts beyond. I carried
an order for shelter and such fare as was obtainable at Rieka, in
the little house of the Prince at that village, and we passed a
comfortable night, but found the succeeding day the opening of one of
the spells of rainy weather of which only one who has lived in
the principality much can know the inconvenience. To wait in the
half-furnished house with no resources was worse than going out in
the rain, although I had no protection other than a cape of my own
manufacture, a circle of the thinnest india-rubber cloth, with a hole
cut in the middle for my head, and covering my arms to the wrists.

Hoping for the rain to stop, we waited till nine A.M., when a break in
the clouds flattered us into starting for Danilograd, to be caught in
another downpour an hour later. The way was down a long slope, part
mud and part broken rock, over which in either case we found the
traveling easier on foot than on horseback, so that we did most of the
way on foot while daylight lasted, the unfortunate porter between the
cavalry and the infantry struggling, slipping, and moaning in his
inarticulate way in great physical distress. We had continually to
stop and wait for the horses to overtake us until the long descent
was accomplished, by which time the twilight had come, and we found
ourselves in the valley of the Suchitza, a wide waste of clay soil
saturated with rain, and two hours' ride in ordinary condition of the
roads from any shelter. The steady rain in which we had traveled for
eight hours then became a violent thunder-storm; all the brooks and
ditches by the way were over their banks, and our horses could hardly
flounder under their loads through the heavy going; while we, in the
darkness, could not see the road, even where it could he followed,
save when the lightning flashes showed it, and so, not being able to
walk, rode perforce. My horse refused a ditch a foot wide, and when
we came to one I had to get off and drag by the bridle, while the
horse-boy pushed from behind, till he yielded to the persuasion and
ventured over. The two hours' ride became four, and the way got
heavier as we went on, woodland alternating with flooded plain, in the
former of which only the experience of the guide could keep the road;
while in the latter we could follow it only by the telegraph wires
cutting against the sky. We finally saw a light and came to a cabin,
where we deposited the poor mute, with all the impedimenta, to follow
by daylight; but for us there was no place to sleep, and we gave the
reins to the horses, and let them flounder their way into Danilograd,
where we arrived at 10 P.M., drenched to the skin and hungry.

There was a light still burning in the house of the village doctor,
on whom we had an order from the Prince, and who found us a
sleeping-place in the loft of a neighbor, where we got a supper of
trout and maize bread, and a bundle of straw to lie on in our wet
clothes. The doctor was a German, and, though he was an official, the
instinct of hospitality which rules the Montenegrin did not exist in
him, so he offered us the house of his neighbor. The day broke fine
for our journey to the convent of Ostrog, the only bit of good weather
we had until our return to Cettinje, ten days later.

Ostrog is one of the three sanctuaries of Montenegro, the others being
Moratcha, on the old Servian frontier, and Piperski Celia, above the
fortress of Spuz, where the valley of the Zeta then entered into the
Turkish dominions. The convent is on a site of singular beauty and
salubrity, on a fertile plateau several hundred feet above the valley
of the Zeta, at the foot of a precipice, in the face of which is a
cave enlarged into a chapel, where lies the body of St. Basil, a
Herzegovinian bishop of the early days of the Turkish conquest,
who did his Christian duty by the scattered Orthodox Christians in
Herzegovina and Montenegro, visiting stealthily and at the constant
risk of his life the little groups of the faithful over a territory
vast for the supervision of one man. He died in this refuge, and was
buried at the foot of the cliff; but on an attempt being made to
remove the body some years later, it was found to be uncorrupted, upon
which he was canonized, and the body was placed in a fine coffin and
removed to the little chapel, which has a single window also rock-cut
and is only to be approached by a narrow stairway of the same
structure. Outside, at the foot of the cliff, is the convent, in which
reside two or three priests and as many _kalogheri_, constituting the
community, for the convents of the Orthodox church are not communities
of idle devotees, but of men who are mostly engaged in the culture of
the land belonging to the convent, when not engaged in the performance
of the rites of the church. The hegumenos I found to be more a man
of war than one of ritual, and really the commander of an outpost of
observation on the frontier towards Niksich. He delighted more in arms
than in the mass, and I made a firm friend of him by the gift of a
small Colt's revolver. I was permitted to see the body of St. Basil in
the chapel, which was filled with a fragrance like that of cedar
wood, which I naïvely attributed to the wood of the coffin, when the
attendant protested with indignation that what I smelled was the odor
of sanctity. I was incompetent to distinguish it. St. Basil is held in
great reverence for his miracles, and immense numbers of pilgrims come
to his annual festa with their sick from all the country round, even
Mussulman families from Albania paying their devotions in the hope and


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