Part 10 out of 11
It was a real sorrow for my husband to hear that in consequence of the
demise of Mr. John Hamerton, Hellifield Peel and the estate were for
sale and likely to go out of the family. He had been considerately
offered the first option of purchase, and he wrote in the diary, "How I
wish I had the money!"
In January, 1887, he wrote to Mr. Seeley:--
"We are rather troubled by the possibility of a war between France and
Germany. The French papers take the thing coolly, but the English ones,
especially the 'Daily News,' are extremely pessimist. If there is war I
mean to come to England, having had enough anxiety and interrupted
communications during the last war. My sons would probably both
volunteer into the French army in defence of their mother's country, as
it would be a duel of life and death between Germany and France this
time. If you and Mrs. Seeley visit the Continent in the spring you may
perhaps witness a battle. I have seen just one, and heard the cannonade
of another--sensations never to be forgotten."
In the spring he had had an attack of gout, in consequence of working at
the boats instead of going out. He bore it with his usual
philosophy--trying to read or write whenever the pain was supportable.
It happened during the Easter vacation, and Stephen used to sit up late
into the night to keep his father company.
At the end of the vacation Richard, who had obtained a post in Paris,
took his sister with him, and in June, Gilbert being now quite well, I
went to fetch her back. M. Delaborde had recommended her the study of
harmony, and we found an able professor in M. Laurent, the organist of
the cathedral at Autun.
It was with great satisfaction that her father noticed her application
and success in this arduous study. He considered it, like algebra, an
excellent discipline for the mind--too often wanting in a feminine
Against all expectations "The Saone" did not sell well. It was
unaccountable; the illustrations were numerous and varied, picturesque,
and greatly admired by artists,--Rajon in particular was charmed with
them,--but it appears that their sin consisted in not being etchings; so
at least said the booksellers, as if the author's works were never to be
illustrated in any other way. The subject was new, and presented in
felicitous style; the reviews were hearty; but in spite of all that
could be said in its favor, the book never became a popular one. Mr.
Seeley had mentioned in a letter the uncertainty of the publishing
business, and my husband answered:--
"What you say about the lottery of publishing is confirmed by the
experience of others. Macmillan said to me one day, 'As one gets older
and certainly more experienced one ought to get wiser, but it does not
seem to be so in publishing, for I am just as liable to error now in my
speculations as I was many years ago.' Evidently Roberts Brothers are
The subject of "French and English" seemed too important to Mr. Hamerton
to be adequately treated in a few articles, and he decided to give it
proper development in a book, for which all his accumulated observations
would become useful. He proposed it to Messrs. Macmillan, warning them
that, as he intended to be impartial, they might find that his
opinions--conscientiously given--would often be at variance with those
generally accepted. Mr. Craik answered: "As to 'French and English' I do
not think that it matters in the least that you differ from the opinions
of others." Then he went on to say: "I hope to hear from you about a
large illustrated book for 1889, and we will gladly go into the matter
with you when you have got an idea into your head."
In the autumn we learned with deep regret the death of our dear cousin,
Ben Hinde. My husband conveyed it to his friend M. Schmitt in the
"J'ai recu ces jours-ci la triste nouvelle que mon cousin--le pretre
anglican que j'aimais comme un frere, a succombe a une assez longue
maladie. Ce qu'il y a de plus penible c'est la position de sa soeur qui
s'etait entierement devouee a lui et a la paroisse. Elle a vecu toute sa
vie au presbytere, et maintenant, son frere mort, il va falloir qu'elle
s'en aille. Elle a une petite fortune qui suffira a ses besoins, et j'ai
l'immense satisfaction de penser que c'est moi qui ai pu sauver cet
argent des griffes d'executeurs testamentaires mal intentionnes. Je les
ai forces a payer quarante mille francs. Ma cousine supporte son sort
avec un courage parfait. Je n'ai jamais rencontre une foi religieuse
aussi parfaite que la sienne. Pour elle, la mort d'un Chretien est un
heureux evenement qu'elle celebrerait volontiers par des rejouissances.
Elle n'y voit absolument que la naissance au ciel. Ceci l'expose a etre
tres meconnue. Quand elle perd un parent elle est tres gaie et on peut
s'imaginer qu'elle est sans coeur. Elle va se devouer entierement a ses
pauvres; elle vit absolument de la vie d'une soeur-de-charite, sans le
"La mort de mon cousin, et peut-etre l'eloignement de ma cousine, me
laisseront, pour ainsi dire, sans parents. Je ne regrette pas de m'etre
donne une nouvelle famille en France, et je me felicite des bonnes
relations, si franchement cordiales, que j'ai avec mes deux beaux-freres
et avec ma belle-soeur."
Some time later he wrote to the same friend:--
"Nous avons fait un charmant voyage sur la Saone, de Macon a Verdun avec
retour a Chalon--une flanerie a voile avec toutes les varietes de temps:
vents forts et vents faibles, calmes plats (c'est le moins agreable),
bourrasques, beau temps, pluie, clair-de-lune, obscurite presque
complete, splendeurs du soleil. Comme nous voyageons a toute heure du
jour et de la nuit, nous voyons la nature sous tous les aspects
imaginables. Cela renouvelle pour moi cette _intimite_ avec la nature
qui etait un des plus grands bonheurs de ma jeunesse.
"C'est a peu pres le seul genre de voyage que j'aime reellement, et
c'est le seul qui me fasse du bien."
Note in the diary:--
"January 13, 1888. Fought nearly all day against a difficulty about
'French and English,' and decided to divide the book into large sections
and small chapters, divisions and subdivisions. Chapters to be confined
strictly to their special subjects."
It became the main work of the year, with the articles on catamarans for
the "Yacht," and the numerous drawings to illustrate them. The
autobiography was also carried forward.
Our little pony, Cocote, was growing old and rheumatic, and could no
longer render much service. My husband was unwilling to make her work at
the cost of pain, and we found it impossible to do without a reliable
horse at such a distance from Autun.
As Cocote was not always unfit for work--only at intervals--her master
decided to buy a horse that he might ride when the pony could manage the
carriage work. He chose a young, nice-looking mare at a neighboring
farm, and took great pleasure in riding her every day; this regular
habit of exercise in the open air was of great benefit to his health.
The death of Paul Rajon, which occurred in the summer, was deeply
lamented by my husband, who, besides his great appreciation of the
artist's exquisite talent, entertained for him sentiments of real
friendship. When we came to live at Paris, he made a pilgrimage to his
house, and to his, alas! neglected tomb at Auvers.
In August, Mr. Seeley wished to republish in book form some of Mr.
Hamerton's contributions to the "Portfolio," and to give his portrait as
a frontispiece. He wrote about it: "My traveller says he is continually
asked for your portrait. If Jeens were living I would ask him to engrave
it, but as we have no one approaching him in skill, perhaps the safest
plan would be a photogravure from a negative taken on purpose."
My husband suggested that perhaps Mr. H. Manesse might etch the portrait
satisfactorily. Mr. Seeley thought it an excellent idea, and said he was
willing to give the commission.
Mr. H. Manesse arrived on October 17, and set to work immediately. He
was most assiduous, and progressed happily with his work. His model
drove him out every day--the weather being fine,--and they derived
pleasure from each other's society, being both interested in the beauty
of nature and in artistic subjects.
"Man in Art" begun.--Family events.--Mr. G. T Watts.--Mr. Bodley.
--"French and English."
After long reflections given to the choice of a subject for a new
illustrated book, Mr. Hamerton thought that after "Landscape in Art,"
"Man in Art" would be interesting as a study.
Mr. Craik wrote: "'Man in Art' is an excellent idea; you will find us
ready to embark on it with sanguine expectation. You will later tell me
your ideas of illustrating--it ought to be well done in this particular;
but if there is a chance of your coming to England next winter we might
settle this better in talk."
In the spring Stephen and Richard came as usual for the Easter vacation,
but our younger son's altered looks and ways greatly disquieted us. In
the last year he had evinced a growing disinclination to society and
pleasure; his former liveliness, gayety, and love of jokes had been
replaced by an obvious preference for solitude, and, as it seemed to us,
melancholy brooding. To our anxious inquiries he had answered that he
was nervous, and suffering from mental unrest and insomnia. His tone of
voice was now despondent, and if he spoke of the future it was with
bitterness and lassitude. He had been so bright, so confident in his
powers, so full of praiseworthy ambition, so ready to enjoy life, that
this sudden change surprised all his friends and gave great anxiety to
his parents. I begged his father to question him about his health, and
to advise him to get a _conge_ which he could spend in the country with
us, and during which he might rest thoroughly.
But I was told that he had not borne the questioning patiently. He had
answered that he was "only nervous ... very nervous, and wanted peace."
How different was this answer from the one he had given three years
before to another inquiry of his father when he was going to his first
"Richard, I can give you no fortune to start you in life--education was
all I could afford, so you will have to make your own way. You are now
strong and well, but you have been a delicate child, and have often
suffered physically. Now, considering all this--are you happy?"
"Happy?" he had readily answered, "I am very happy; I enjoy life
exceedingly. As to money matters, I can truly say that I would not
exchange the education you have given me for three thousand pounds."
My husband attempted to calm my sad forebodings by telling me that there
is generally a crisis in the life of a boy before he becomes a man, and
he concluded persuasively by saying: "C'est un homme qui va sortir de
la." But I felt that his own mind was still full of care.
When the time of my yearly departure for Paris came round, I recommended
Gilbert to hire a tricycle, and try to get a change of exercise by
alternately riding his horse and his velocipede, and he promised to do
For some time I had been desirous to join Mary, on account of her
confidences about the probability of her becoming engaged. Of these
confidences I said nothing to her father, as I had made it a rule not to
disturb him about any projects of marriage for his daughter till I felt
satisfied that everything was suitable and likely to lead to a happy
result. His love for Mary was so tender, his fears of any match which
would not secure for her the greatest possible amount of happiness so
great, his dread of the unavoidable separation so keen, that I avoided
the subject as much as possible.
When I arrived at Bourg-la-Reine, I was disappointed not to see Richard
at the station, with his sister and cousins awaiting me, as he had done
the year before, but I tried not to seem to notice it. He came, however,
on the following day and breakfasted with us at his uncle's. He appeared
cheerful enough when he talked, but as soon as he was silent his
features resumed the downcast expression they had worn for some time,
and he was ashy pale.
Being obliged to take Mary to her last music-lesson, I asked Richard
when I should see him again?... He gave me a kiss, and said "To-morrow."
There was to be no morrow for him.
* * * * *
When, after vainly waiting for him, the cruel news of his tragic end was
broken to us by M. Pelletier, when we learned that the poor boy had
committed suicide, my sorrow was rendered almost unbearable by
apprehension for my husband. I had long feared that there might be
something wrong with his heart, and now I became a prey to the most
torturing forebodings. My daughter and brother-in-law shared in them,
and M. Pelletier approved my resolution to leave Paris immediately and
endeavor to be with Gilbert before the delivery of the newspapers.
Mary and I left by the first train we could take, and arrived at La
Tuilerie shortly before eleven at night. My husband divined at once that
there was some great calamity, but his fears were for M. Pelletier. When
he knew the truth, he silently wrapped me in his arms, pressing me to
his bosom, within which I felt the laboring heart beating with such
violence that I thought it could but break....
* * * * *
The courage of which my husband gave proofs in this bitter trial was
mainly derived from his pitiful sympathy for those whose weakness he
supported. He sought relief in work, but did not easily find it. There
is the same plaintive entry in the diary for some weeks: "Tried to work;
not fit for it." "Tried to do something; not very well." "Not fit for
much; succeeded in reading a little" "Attempted to write a few letters.
Rather unwell." Then he gave up the diary for some time.
More than ever I felt reluctant to tell him of what had happened to
Mary, and of the probability of her marriage; however, she had been so
sorely tried by the loss of her brother, that it was imperative to turn
her thoughts from it, as much as possible, to other prospects. This
conviction decided me to tell her father everything, and it was a great
relief to hear that he shared my views entirely. Although I had learned
long since how little he considered his own comfort in comparison with
that of those dear to him, how unselfish he was--in affection as in
other matters--I must avow that I was unprepared for the readiness of
his self-sacrifice in this case. We were both of opinion that if all
went well, the marriage should take place as early as possible, so as to
bring a thorough change in the clouded existence of our daughter.
Note in the diary: "Monsieur Raillard this morning asked Mary to marry
him, with my consent, and she accepted him. Day passed pleasantly. I
drove Raillard and his mother to the station."
It now became necessary to make preparations for the wedding, which was
to take place in the beginning of September. For the choice of an
apartment and its furniture my husband himself considerately suggested
my going again to Paris with Mary, where we would meet M. Raillard and
consult his tastes. Accordingly I left La Tuilerie very reluctantly
after the great and recent shock my husband had experienced. I am
convinced it was due to the manful effort he made not to increase my
distress by the sight of his own that he conquered his nervousness from
that time, and was even able to strengthen and support me on my too
frequent breakdowns. He attributed Richard's desperate action partly to
depression arising from the effects of an accident, confided only to his
brother, but partly also to the influence of unhealthy and pessimist
literature on a mind already diseased, and he had said so to Mr. Seeley,
"I am sure that poor Richard came under the influence of pure and noble
examples. It may be that there was actual brain disease, though of a
nature that no surgeon at present has skill to detect. I suppose it is
possible that disease in the organ of thought may be accelerated or
retarded by the nature of the thoughts suggested in daily life or
conversation; and I suppose every one believes that in such disorders
there may come a time when the will, without blame, is overmastered.
"As to the bad literature of the day, I believe our feelings are quite
in unison. What an awful responsibility for the happiness of families
rests upon successful authors--and upon publishers too!"
The letters of condolence and sympathy were numerous and heartfelt; some
came late, for the friends who had known Richard in his bright and merry
days refused to believe that it was the same Richard who had come to so
tragic an end; they thought it was a coincidence of name. I only give
Mr. Beljame's letter to show how the poor boy had endeared himself to
every one, and in what esteem he was generally held. All the other
letters expressed the same sentiments in different words.
"8 _juillet_ 1889.
"Je suis bien sensible, Monsieur, a votre lettre, ou vous m'associez, en
des termes qui me touchent profondement, au souvenir de votre fils
Richard, mon cher et excellent eleve.
"C'etait pour moi, non seulement un disciple dont je me faisais honneur,
mais aussi un veritable ami, et depuis son installation a Paris, j'avais
eu grand plaisir a l'accueillir dans ma famille. Les details que vous
voulez bien me donner, m'expliquent pourquoi, dans ces derniers mois,
ses visites etaient, a mon grand regret, devenues de plus en plus rares.
"Sa fin si inattendue, alors que la vie semblait de tous cotes lui
sourire, a ete pour moi une douloureuse surprise; j'ai refuse d'abord
d'y croire; c'est pourquoi je ne vous ai pas tout de suite ecrit.
"J'ai tenu a me joindre a ceux qui lui ont rendu les derniers devoirs;
et j'ai charge alors votre fils aine et votre beau-frere d'etre mes
interpretes aupres de vous.
"A des malheurs comme celui qui vient de vous frapper il n'y a pas de
consolation possible. Si c'est au moins un adoucissement de savoir que
celui qui n'est plus laisse derriere lui de souvenir d'un esprit
d'elite, d'une nature aimante et aimable, soyez assure que tels sont
bien les sentiments que votre fils a inspires a tous ceux qui l'ont
connu, a ses camarades de la Sorbonne, qui l'avaient en affection
particuliere, a ses collegues--mais a nul plus qu'a son ancien maitre
qui vous envoie aujourd'hui, ainsi qu'a Madame Hamerton, l'expression de
sa triste et respectueuse sympathie.
When Mr. Seeley was told of Mary's engagement, he wrote: "We are very
glad to hear of Mary's engagement, and we wish her all possible
happiness. But because you and I are so nearly of an age, I cannot help
thinking most of you, and thinking what the loss to you and to Mrs.
Hamerton will be."
In preceding years Mary's brothers and cousins had often made projects
in expectation of her marriage, but under the present painful
circumstances it was understood that only relations would he invited.
Still the disturbance in our habits could not be avoided, as we had to
provide lodgings for twenty people. My husband gave up his laboratory
and his studio and with the help of the boys transformed the hay-loft
into working premises. He got carpenters to fit up the big laundry as a
dining-room, under his directions, and when fresh-looking mats covered
the tiles, and when the huge chimney-piece, the walls, and the doors
were ornamented with tall ferns, shiny hollies, and blooming heather, of
which Stephen and his cousins had gathered a cartful, the effect was
My husband had to be reminded several times to order new clothes for the
ceremony,--a visit to his tailor being one of the things he most
disliked,--and being indisposed to give a thought to the fit, he used to
decline all responsibility in the matter by making _me_ a judge of it.
His fancy had been once tickled by hearing a market-woman say that,
though she did not know my name, she identified me as "la petite Dame
difficile," and he called me so when I found fault with his attire.
A few days before the wedding he had gone to Autun, to fetch different
things in the carriage, among them his dress-coat and frock-coat, and
after putting on the last, came for my verdict. "It fits badly; it is
far too large." ... Then I was interrupted by--"I was sure of it; now
_what_ is wrong with it?" "Wrong? why everything is wrong; the cloth
itself is not black--it looks faded and rusty--why, it can't be new!"
"Not new!... and I bring it straight from the tailor's. Really, your
inclination to criticism is beyond--" He was getting somewhat impatient,
for the time given to trying on was, in his estimate, so much time lost.
"It _is_ an old coat," I nevertheless said decisively. "Your tailor has
made a mistake, that's all." "I am certain it is _my_ coat," he
answered, quite angrily this time. "I feel at ease in it; the pockets
are just in their right place;" and as he plunged his hands deliberately
in the convenient pockets, he drew out of one an old "Daily News," and
from the other a worn-out pair of gloves. His amazement was
indescribable, but he soon joined in the general merriment at his
expense--for Mary and Jeanne, the cousins, and even M. Pelletier, had
been called as umpires to decide the case between us. The new coat had
been left in the dressing-room, and it was the old one, given as a
pattern to the tailor, which had been tried on. The best of it was that
on the day of the ceremony Gilbert committed the same mistake; luckily I
perceived it when he had still time to change.
He attached so little importance to his toilet that he never knew when
he was in want of anything, yet his appearance was never untidy, in
spite of his omissions. I remember a little typical incident about this
disinclination to give a thought to needful though prosaic details.
Before leaving for England on one occasion, I had repeatedly called his
attention to what he required--in particular a warm winter suit and an
overcoat. He had promised several times to order them, but when the day
of our departure arrived he had forgotten all about it. "It's no
matter," he said; "I shall get them ready-made in London, and with the
_chic anglais_ too." In England we found the temperature already severe,
and I urged him to make his purchases. On the very same day, he
announced complacently that he had made them, and they were to be sent
on the morrow. He was quite proud of having got through the business,
particularly because he had bought _two_ suits, though he needed only
one. "The other would turn out useful some time," he said. And lo! when
the box was opened, I discovered that instead of clothes fit for visits,
he had been persuaded to accept a sort of shooting-jacket of coarse gray
tweed, waistcoat and trousers to match, with a pair of boots only fit
for mountaineering. When I told him my opinion, he acknowledged it to be
right, but said the tailor had assured him that "they would be lasting."
And he added: "I was in a hurry, having to go to the National Gallery,
and I felt confident the man would know what I wanted, after telling
Mary was married on September 3, and she was so much loved in the
village that every cottage sent at least one of its members to the
ceremony; the children whom she had taught, and in whom she had always
taken so much interest, came in numbers, and the evident respectful
affection of these simple people quite moved and impressed the parents
of M. Raillard. Her father was also pleased with the presence of all our
neighbors and friends, and he went through the trying day with entire
self-command. But when the birds had flown away the nest seemed empty
and silent indeed, and to fill up the time till their return, I thought
a little cruise on wheels would be the best diversion.
The weather was still fine and warm enough for working from nature, and
preparations were made for a sketching tour, in which M. Pelletier would
accompany his brother-in-law while the house was put to rights again.
They started with Cadette, and went successively to Etang,
Toulon-sur-Arroux, St. Nizier, Charbonnat, Luzy, La Roche-Millay, St.
Leger, l'Etang-des-Poissons, and La Grande-Verriere,--a most picturesque
excursion, from which my husband brought back several interesting
The day after the return, M. Pelletier and his family left us, my
brother, his wife and daughters, who had been bridesmaids, having
At the end of a fortnight Raoul Raillard and his wife came back to spend
with us the rest of the vacation. The day they went away the diary said,
"We bore the separation pretty well." Yes, we bore it pretty well this
time, because it was not to be very long. It had been decided that as
soon as the young couple were settled in their apartments, we should
become their guests,--my husband hoping, in this way, to see the great
Exhibition at leisure and without fatigue.
We arrived at M. Raillard's on October 13, and the very next day saw us
in the English Fine Arts department of the Exhibition. Our daughter
lived in the Rue de la Tour, at Passy, an easy walking distance to the
Champ de Mars, and her father made it a rule to go there on foot with me
every morning between the first breakfast and _dejeuner a la
fourchette_. The plan answered very well. We were almost alone in the
rooms, and could see the pictures at our leisure. My husband took his
notes with ease and comfort, without nervousness. After a two hours'
study, we went back to the family lunch, and such was Gilbert's
improvement in health that he often took us again to the Exhibition in
the afternoon merely for pleasure.
He enjoyed the works of art immensely, and said that he felt like a
ravenous man to whom a splendid banquet was offered.
Being also greatly interested in the progress of the various sciences,
he liked to become acquainted with all new inventions, and often
resorted to the Galerie des Machines.
Mr. Seeley had been told of our intended visit to England, in case my
husband did not feel any bad effects from the stay in Paris, and he
wrote: "It is fortunate that you are coming just now, when we want to
start the 'Portfolio' on a new career; it will be delightful to consult
over it with you. Do not exhaust your energy in Paris, and find you have
none left to bring you over to England."
Although he worked unremittingly, he felt no fatigue; his nervous system
was quiet and allowed him to seek diligently for promises of new talent
among the mass of painters and engravers, and to feast his artistic
sense in the Exposition du Centenaire. He also gave more than his usual
attention to sculpture, and was of opinion that France remained
unrivalled in that branch of art.
On our way to England we stopped at Chantilly, and slept at Calais in
the Hotel Maritime, on the new pier. I almost believe that we happened
to be the first travellers asking for a bedroom, for the waiters offered
excuses for the still incomplete furnishing, and for the service not
being yet properly organized. After a good night's rest, we visited
Calais Maritime and the important engineering works there, for which my
husband expressed great admiration. On arriving in London we went
straight to Mr. and Mrs. Seeley's, who had kindly invited us to stay
with them till we found comfortable lodgings.
It was not Gilbert's intention to stay long in England this time; he had
come mainly to discuss with Mr. Seeley the improvements they both
desired to introduce in the "Portfolio," and to choose the illustrations
for "Man in Art." In order not to lose time, he decided to take lodgings
in a central part, as near to the National Gallery as possible; but he
wished the street not to be noisy. He found what he wanted in Craven
This time he had to pay calls alone, and to beg our friends to excuse
me, for I had not yet been able to master my sorrow sufficiently to
allow of my resuming social intercourse without fear of breaking down.
With her tender sympathy, Mrs. Seeley bore with me, and strove to
console me when my resignation failed; but I could but feel that I was a
While we were still at Nutfield, Mr. A. H. Palmer, the son of Samuel
Palmer, who had a warm admiration for Mr. Hamerton, had been invited to
meet him, and he brought his camera with him, proposing to take our
photographs. The portraits of the ladies were failures; Mr. Seeley's was
fairly successful; but my husband's was the best portrait we had ever
seen of him, very fine and characteristic.
We had intended to spend only two or three days with M. and Madame
Raillard on our return, but our son-in-law being obliged to leave
suddenly on account of his grandmother's illness, and unwilling to
expose his wife to contagion, we offered to remain with her till he
should come back.
We soon received the sad news of the deaths, at an interval of two days
only, of the grandmother and an aunt; also of the dangerous illness of
Madame Raillard senior, which happily did not prove fatal, the disease
having apparently spent its virulence on the two first victims.
During our enforced stay in Paris Gilbert wrote an article for the
"Photographic Quarterly" on Photogravure and Heliogravure, and for the
"Portfolio" a review of Mr. Pennell's book on Pen-and-Ink Drawing. We
went by boat to Suresnes, to see the banks of the Seine, for Mary was
trying to draw us to live nearer to her. With her husband she had
already visited several pretty places in the neighborhood of Paris, and
had given us some very tempting descriptions. As for me, I should have
desired nothing better than to live near to my daughter, but I never
expected my husband to reconcile himself to town life.
There was a marked and decided improvement in his ability to travel, for
he did not suffer at all on the way home; it is true that we strictly
adhered to the rule of slow and night trains.
The pleasant exercise of riding had to be reluctantly given up because
Cadette, who had betrayed from the beginning a slight weakness in the
knees, now stumbled often and badly, especially out of harness. The
veterinary surgeon who had examined her before we bought her, had said
that it was of no consequence, only the result of poor feeding, and
would disappear after a course of prolonged river-baths. Instead of
disappearing, the tendency had so much increased that it was deemed
safer not to trust Cadette even in the two-wheeled carriage, at least
for a while. This mishap was the beginning of my husband's real
appreciation of velocipedes. He had liked them well enough from the
first, and used to hire one now and then, but it was only after he had
become possessed of a good tricycle that the taste for the kind of
exercise it affords developed itself apace. M. Raillard had made him a
present of one for which he had little use in Paris, and this present
having been made just after Mary's betrothal, her father playfully said
that "he had sold his daughter for a velocipede."
As soon as he had adopted the machine as his ordinary steed, he began to
consider how to make it carry his sketching apparatus. He invented
various straps, boxes, holders, rings, etc., fitting in different places
according to the bulk and nature of the things he wished to have with
him: a sketching umbrella, a stool, and all that was needful for
water-color, etching, or oil-painting. He also devised a zinc box,
easily adapted to the tricycle, to take his letters, manuscripts, and
parcels to the post, and found it very convenient.
At the end of January he was seized with an attack of gout which lasted
a week, and took him quite by surprise, for he had not neglected
physical exercise; the doctor, however, said that an attack of gout
might be brought on by a mere change of locality--and we had just
returned from Paris.
He strove to do some work in spite of pain and bad nights, and succeeded
now and then, and as soon as he could manage--with help--to get into the
carriage, he drove out for change of air.
In March he received from Mr. Watts the permission he had asked, to have
his portrait of Lord Lawrence engraved.
I transcribe Mr. Watts's letters, with two others which had preceded it,
to show in what esteem he held his correspondent's opinions.
"MONKSHATCH, GUILDFORD, SURREY. _November_ 23, 1889.
"MY DEAR SIR,--Our short talk was very interesting to me, and I should
like to have an opportunity of explaining my views on art and the
practice of it, which opportunity I hope you will give me at some future
time. I have asked Mr. F. Hollyer of 9 Pembroke Square, Kensington, to
let you have prints of Lord Lawrence and Mr. Peabody. On the other side
of the sheet I send the permission you require."
"MONKSHATCH, GUILDFORD, SURREY. _December_ 4, 1889.
"MY DEAR SIR,--I have just seen the December number of the 'Magazine of
Art,' in which I find an engraving of my portrait of Peabody. I did not
know that it would be there, but I have given Mr. Spielman a sort of
general permission to use certain of the photographs. I do not know
whether the appearance of the head will vitiate the interest of your
proposed publication, but I hope not, as the use of it will be of a very
"I am much gratified by what you said of my works in your letter to me.
However limited may be the result of my efforts, I have worked from the
very beginning with sincerity of aim, certainly never regarding the
_profession_ as a trade; and for some years not considering my avocation
as a profession, declining to paint portraits professionally or to take
"Such wares as I may have of an unimportant aim and character, I am not
unwilling to sell, as Lord Derby is not unwilling to sell his coals; for
I am not wealthy, and find many good ways of using money, but I do not
regard my art as a source of income any longer. I hope some day to have
the pleasure of discussing certain artistic questions with you."
"MONKSHATCH, GUILDFORD, SURREY. _March_ 14, 1890.
"MY DEAR SIR,--The picture of Lord Lawrence is in my possession, and the
engraver may have it for two weeks in May or June. Of course he is
trustworthy! The picture being one of those I have made over to the
nation, I lend it with a certain hesitation, as I do not consider it
belongs to me. I am flattered by the opinion of the young men,
especially as I think I may hope it becomes more favorable with time.
"The portrait of Tennyson is at South Kensington, and no doubt I can
easily manage that Mr. Frank Short should have access to it.
"I do not expect to be in town for good before the end of April, but
here I am within an hour and a half of London."
Although a great amount of labor had been bestowed upon "Man in Art,"
the author thought it advanced but slowly, and became anxious as the
year wore on. In July he wrote a long explanatory letter to Mr. Craik,
and received this answer:--
"I am much interested in your report of what has been done towards the
new book. You have done a good bit of work, and I think you have made a
thoroughly interesting selection of pictures. You have an almost endless
field to choose from.
"_It is quite impossible to publish this year_, but you ought to have
plenty of time to prepare for next autumn. It is strange how long a book
with illustrations takes to get ready; but the disappointment when many
artists are at work is proverbial.
"I look forward with sanguine interest to the publication next year."
Note in the diary: "I feel much relieved by this letter, altogether a
day of _detente_."
Although he had taken an immense quantity of notes both in London and
Paris, my husband was sometimes greatly perplexed by the want of
references, and said almost desperately: "No one has any idea of the
difficulty of doing my work in my situation,--far from picture
galleries, museums, and libraries. It is so arduous that, at times, I
feel as if I could not go on. It is too much for the brain to carry so
many images, to remember so many things, without the possibility of
refreshing my memory, of settling a doubt, of filling up a gap." He was
not the only one to wonder at the extraordinary feats of literary
production which he was compelled to accomplish under such unfavorable
circumstances. AH those who knew of it said that his store of
accumulated knowledge must be marvellous indeed. And yet, the only
remedy was hardly to be hinted at; I felt so certain that he would be
miserable in a great capital that I never mentioned the possibility of
living in one of them; he was sufficiently aware of its desirability.
Early in the summer, as I had suffered much from rheumatism, our doctor
insisted upon my being sent to Bourbon-Lancy for a course of baths. I
was most unwilling to leave my husband now that Mary was married and
away, but he said the hope that the treatment would do me good was
enough to make him bear his temporary loneliness cheerfully, and then my
mother would come to stay with him. As I was very down-hearted myself,
he promised to make a break in our separation by coming to see me.
When the first half of my season at the baths was over, I saw him arrive
in the little gig with M. Bulliot, who had come on an antiquarian quest.
They went together, to see the curious, simple church of St. Nazaire
(eleventh century), of which my husband made a drawing. He also sketched
a view of the Loire, which may be seen from the height above
Bourbon-Lancy, for a great length of its sleepy course.
In the course of the vacation, my husband listened pretty regularly to
M. Raillard's English readings out of Emerson or Tennyson, while he
occasionally read a little German with his son-in-law. He was very
desirous of resuming the study of that language, which, he said, would
be of great service in his studies, but he was not able to find the
time--Italian absorbing all he could spare. Two masters--or rather a
master and a mistress--had been recommended to him, and when he could
manage it, he wrote to them alternately long letters in Italian, which
they returned corrected.
Mr. Bodley, an English gentleman who was studying French institutions
and politics most seriously, and who was acquainted with Mr. Hamerton's
works, came in August to see him. This visit was the beginning of a
lasting acquaintance, which was appreciated and valued by both parties.
When we settled in the Parc des Princes, and when, after his marriage,
Mr. Bodley resided in Paris, they met with new pleasure and fresh
interest whenever an opportunity offered itself.
Mr. Bodley was commencing his studies on Prance for the work he had just
undertaken for Messrs. Macmillan, which should essay to do for France
what Mr. Bryce had done for the United States in his "American
Commonwealth." Recognizing Mr. Hamerton as the chief English authority
on all French questions, he had, soon after his first arrival in Paris,
been put into communication with him by the good offices of a common
friend in the diplomatic service. A correspondence ensued, in the first
letter of which my husband gave Mr. Bodley some advice on an article the
latter had been requested to write for the "Quarterly Review," on
"Provincial France," before he had had any opportunity of studying the
French provinces. Here is part of the letter:--
"AUTUN, SAUNE-ET-LOIRE. _June_ 11, 1890.
"MY DEAR SIR,--It is a laudable, though an extraordinary desire on your
part to know something about the subject you have to treat. I have never
heard of such a case before. I have known France for thirty-five years,
and find generally that English critics, who know nothing two miles from
the British Embassy, are ready enough to set me down and teach me my
proper place. I send by this post a colis postal, containing--
"1. 'Round my House,' by P. G. H.
"2. 'La France Provinciale,' par Rene Millet.
"3. 'French and English,' by P. G. H.
"I have not a copy of the English edition of 'French and English,' but
the Tauchnitz is better, as it had the benefit of correction.
"You ought to notice, with reference to provincial France, the extreme
difficulty of making any general statements that are true. For example,
it is believed in England that all French land is cut up into small
bits. A traveller who writes in the 'Temps' newspaper said lately, that
although the greater number of proprietors in the Forest Lands of the
Nievre were small owners, the greater part of the land was in the
possession of large owners; and he mentioned one who, he said, owned
12,000 hectares (more than 24,000 acres) of excellent forest. He did not
give the name. There are several large landowners in this neighborhood.
One had an income of L24,000 a year, but it was divided amongst his
"France is a very various country, and therefore difficult to know. If
you have Mr. H----'s book amongst those you notice, you should bear in
mind that it is a strictly partisan publication, hostile to all
republicans, against whom the author seems to have taken a brief," etc.,
Then followed some other letters, from which. I give a few paragraphs:--
"AUTUN. _July_ 15, 1890.
"You have done an imprudent thing in not publishing your 'Quarterly'
article at once. There are two times for writing--first when you know
nothing, secondly when you know a great deal; the intermediate time,
that of acquisition, is not favorable to writing, because it destroys
the author's confidence in himself. He possesses that confidence before
learning, and renews it when he has learned. In the interval he suffers
"I am glad to hear that M. Jusserand likes my books; he is just the kind
of Frenchman whose opinion one really values.
"I shall be very glad if you can come. I shall be away part of
September. All August I shall be at home, but if you could have come
about now, it would have been better still."
"_July_, 28, 1890.
"The shortest rout from Paris to Autun, as to mere distance, is by
Laroche, Gravant, Avallon, etc. In the present case I strongly recommend
the shorter and more rural route, as being by far the prettier and less
fatiguing, and also because it enables you to see one of the most
picturesque small towns in France--Avallon. You have five hours to see
Avallon, and the picturesque valley that it overlooks.... The next
morning you will of course be occupied in seeing Autun, but if you will
make your way to the railway station, so as to be there at 11.15, you
will see a vehicle with yellow wheels and a chestnut mare, with a white
mark on her face. The said vehicle will bring you to Pre-Charmoy (if you
will kindly allow it to do so), in time for dejeuner. Please let me know
the day. It would be better not to make any hard-and-fast arrangement
about your departure, as I may be able to persuade you to take some
drives with me to see something in this neighborhood."
"AUTUN. _November_ 2, 1890.
"I received the 'Quarterly' this morning, and read your article. Towards
the close, you say every Frenchman in the provinces works. That, I am
sorry to say, is a mistake. Unfortunately there is still a strong
survival of the old caste prejudice against work, as being beneath a
gentleman. All the young men I know whose parents are very well off _are
as idle as they can be, unless they go into the army or the Church_, and
now they hardly ever go into the Church, or when they do it is in some
order (Jesuits, Marists, etc.). I was talking about this with a rich old
French gentleman about ten days ago, and he deeply deplored it; he said
he felt more respect for common workmen than for the idle young men in
his own class.
"You appear to think that the Morvan language is a Celtic tongue. No; it
is only a French patois, very interesting and peculiar in its
grammatical forms. I understand it partly when spoken, and can read it
with some little difficulty. My daughter understands it very well. Our
servants speak it among themselves. Their French is very pure, though
somewhat limited in its vocabulary.
"It seems to me that you are happily endowed and situated for
undertaking a work of the kind you intend to write. You have seen a
great deal of the world, you have no prejudices, you desire nothing but
to be just, and especially you have that very rare quality--a right
curiosity. I was pleased, and a little amused by the contrast, when I
compared you with the strangely uninterested English whom I have seen in
and out of France. I recollect staying with a friend in England, a few
years ago, and I noticed that _he did not ask me one single question
about France_. He simply talked of his own locality, and did not appear
to take the slightest interest in the continent of Europe.
"You made me pass a very pleasant day, which encourages the hope that
you will come again to this neighborhood. There is a great deal to be
seen within a driving radius, especially if you consent to sleep one
night away from home.
"My wife and I are going to Paris in December, when I mean to look you
To another visitor whose name I am not at liberty to mention, my husband
had written the following interesting letter:--
"Whilst driving home in the dark, after saying good-bye to you, I
thought over your remarks about the great revolution in habits of
thought which must take place in consequence of the influence of
scientific methods. The difficulty I foresee is this. Religions supply a
want that science does not and cannot supply; they answer to the need of
certain emotions--trust, hope, joy, 'peace in believing,' the happiness
of thinking that we are each of us individually cared for by a supremely
good and all-powerful Father. Women especially seem to need these
emotions to make life happy for them, and when they cease to believe, as
many now do, they feel a sense of desolation. The most successful
religion (the Roman) has succeeded by supplying most abundantly that
care and those consolations which women expect a religion to give, and
which science does not _in the least degree supply_; in fact, women
usually dislike science. Now, as the churches maintain themselves
chiefly by the influence and support of women, may they not continue to
maintain themselves indefinitely in this way? Is it not possible, to
mention a special case, that the Roman Catholic Church may exist for an
indefinite length of time simply as a provider of the kind of authority
and the kind of emotion that women desire, and that they cannot obtain
from science? Mr.----, a friend of mine, considers religion absolutely
necessary to women, and to many men, not that he at all considers
religion to be true in the matter-of-fact sense, but the scientific
truth of a doctrine is quite distinct from its beneficial effect upon
"For my part, I don't know what to think about the future. Long ago I
used to hope for a true religion, but now I see that if it is to be free
from mythology, it ceases to be a religion altogether, and becomes only
science, which has none of the heating and energizing force that a real
religion certainly possesses. Neither has science its power of uniting
men in bonds of brotherhood, and in giving them an effective hostile
action against others as religious intolerance does."
On the subject of religious belief, my husband had written previously to
"I have been corresponding with a friend [the same Mr.---- mentioned in
the letter to another visitor] about the religious views of Mark
Pattison and Dean Stanley. He knew both of them, and quite confirms what
I had heard before, that they were no more believers than Renan.
Pattison he describes as a conservative agnostic or pantheist, meaning
by 'conservative' a man who thought it better to preserve old forms. I
recollect that Appleton told me when he was here that there was not the
slightest obligation on a clergyman of the Church of England to believe
in the divinity of Christ, and that many clergymen in the present day,
including Pattison, had no such belief. My friend himself seems to be an
agnostic, and a strong supporter of the Church of England at the same
time, and quite lately he earnestly counselled some young English ladies
(who were Unitarians, but obliged to live abroad) to join the Church of
England for the sake of 'religious fellowship.' He tells me that there
is in Dean Stanley's 'Christian Institutions' an exposition of the
Apostles' Creed, containing hardly a syllable to which Renan could not
"From all this it would appear that some, at least, of the English
clergy have adopted the Jesuit principle, practically so convenient, by
which any one may have an esoteric religion for himself as the
comfortable lining of the cloak, and an esoteric religion for other
people as the outside of the cloak. Meanwhile these clergymen are deeply
respected, whilst honest men whose opinions are not one whit more
heretical are stigmatized as 'infidels,' and excluded from 'good
society.' You seem to have got into a curious condition in England.
Surely many laymen are right in distrusting parsons."
As editor of the "Portfolio," he had been contributing articles from
time to time, but Mr. Seeley was anxious to see him undertake an
important series for the following year. He proposed different subjects
likely to tempt the author's fancy, and suggested "Turner in
Switzerland;" but one of the difficulties was the quantity of work done
by Turner in Switzerland, and the time that would be required to follow
in his steps. Another suggestion of Mr. Seeley's was to write about a
group of French living artists who would be good representatives of the
modern school, and whose works would furnish striking illustrations. He
said with his usual kind thoughtfulness: "I must confess that my
suggestion of a French subject arose partly from the pleasure you would
find in paying a visit to your daughter at Paris; and partly also from
the reflection that Paris is not far from London."
Mr. Hamerton had proposed "The Louvre," but it was feared that the
subject would not be a popular one; and after mature consideration, the
idea of a connected series of articles on modern French painters was
entertained by both publisher and editor. Mr. Seeley wrote: "I was
rather in hopes that my vague suggestion of a subject might take root in
your mind and develop into something definite; or, to change the
metaphor, that it might be a spark to kindle your invention. I think
such a series would be interesting here, and would furnish admirable
subjects for twelve etchings."
A journey to Paris was then decided upon for the winter.
The Saone cruise proved particularly pleasant this time, on account of
the welcome offered to the passengers of "L'Arar" by several friends at
Neuville, who most hospitably entertained them on land and water. They
were invited on board "L'Hirondelle" and "Petite Amie," and raced
"L'Arar" against them. It was a comfort to my husband to feel himself
among friends, for he suddenly suffered from an irregular action of the
heart which lasted for thirty-six hours, but ceased as suddenly as it
came. He had had another distress of the same kind in the summer, but
only of a couple of hours' duration. I had entreated him to see a doctor
at the time; but he said it was only nervousness. At Neuville likewise
he refused to seek advice, feeling sure it would cease of itself; and
now I have the painful certainty that he was already laboring under the
symptoms of heart disease. Still, he speedily recovered, and resumed his
studies in water-colors and in pen-and-ink the day after.
I see by this note in the diary that he was well satisfied with his
boat: "Sept. 15. My studies occupied me till lunch-time, and then, after
_dejeuner_, we started in 'L'Arar' to try an experiment in sailing with
a breeze so light as to be imperceptible, sheets not even stretched, yet
we went up as far as Pont Vert and beyond. We might have gone further,
but came back to call upon Madame Vibert."
In October, Mr. Hamerton wrote an article for "Chambers' Encyclopaedia"
on the "History of Art," and another for the "Portfolio" on "National
Supremacy in Painting." Having been asked to contribute to the "Forum,"
he began in November an article on "Home Life in France."
He was always anxious to clear up any international misunderstanding
between France and England, and had written in May to the "Pall Mall
Gazette" an explanatory letter on the so-called persecution of the
Church by the Republic, as regarded the execution of the decrees
concerning religious orders.
He had also sent a letter to the "Academy" on "France and the Republic."
Although very tolerant himself in matters of religion, it was his
opinion that the State, whether under a Republic or a Monarchy, had a
right to exact obedience to its laws as well from religious bodies as
from private persons; and that a Republican government ought not to be
accused of tyranny because it enforced the execution of these general
laws. But people are very apt to take the view which M. de Cassagnac so
frankly avowed when addressing the Republican party in the Chamber: "We
claim unbounded liberty for ourselves--because you promise it in your
programme; but we refuse it to you--because it is contrary to our
About the middle of November there was copied into the "Temps" an
anonymous letter which had appeared in "Truth," professing to express
the hostile feelings entertained by English naval officers against the
officers of the French fleet, which had recently visited Malta. This
roused Mr. Hamerton's indignation; the more so as he never for one
moment believed the discourteous and outrageous letter to be genuine. I
transcribe his explanation of the incident as given by himself to his
"_Novembre_ 17, 1890.
"MON CHER FILS,--Il m'est arrive de pouvoir, je crois, etre utile au
maintien des bonnes relations entre les marines anglaises et francaises.
Un journal anglais, 'Truth,' a publie il y a quinze jours une lettre
sans signature, mais presentee comme la communication authentique d'un
officier de notre flotte de la Mediterranee. Dans cette lettre
l'ecrivain representait les officiers comme tres mecontents d'etre
obliges de donner l'hospitalite a ceux de l'escadre francaise qui est
venue a Malte; disant que c'etait leur metier de recevoir les Francais a
coups de fusil et qu'ils ne desiraient pas les voir autrement.
"Je connais assez les sentiments d'un 'English gentleman,' (et nos
officiers de marine se piquent de soutenir ce caractere) pour savoir
qu'ils comprendraient l'hospitalite mieux que cela, et j'ai envoye le
paragraphe en question a l'Amiral commandant la flotte Anglaise de la
Mediterranee, en lui suggerant l'idee d'une protestation. Il m'a repondu
par telegramme qu'au recu de ma lettre l'indignation avait ete generale
parmi les officiers et qu'ils preparent une protestation qu'ils
m'enverront pour que je la fasse circuler autant que possible dans la
presse francaise. Le retard a ete probablement occasionne par les
mouvements de la flotte."
A few days later the following letter was received by Mr. Hamerton:--
"H. M. S. BENBOW. _November_ 17,1890.
"DEAR SIR,--I hope you will kindly assist us in getting the gross
misstatements copied from 'Truth' as to our feelings towards the French
"You will perceive that the paper I enclose is signed by an officer
representing each ship, and that most ranks in the service are also
"Any expense that may be incurred would you kindly let me know?
"Capt. R. N."
The protestation which accompanied the letter ran thus:--
"H. M. S. BENBOW, AT MALTA. _November_ 15, 1890.
"DEAR SIR,--Your letter of the 1st of November, sent to the
Commander-in-Chief of the British fleet in the Mediterranean, has been
forwarded to us, and we have to thank you for having called our
attention to the paragraph in the 'Temps,' copied from 'Truth' of the
31st of October.
"Referring to the language in 'Truth,' the editor of the 'Temps' says
that he hopes it will be protested against in England. The paragraph had
been seen and commented on by our officers; but as in England no one
ever takes the trouble to answer or contradict any statement made in
that paper ('Truth'), and as in this case its object was so palpably
political, viz. to cause the present Government trouble, and prevent the
cordiality and friendship that has existed so long between the two
nations, no notice was taken of it; but when a paper of such importance
as the 'Temps' copies the paragraph, and it is thus brought before the
French nation, it at once becomes important and demands a protest and a
"As you have already taken an interest in the matter, we are led to hope
that you will assist us in procuring the insertion in any French papers
that may have copied this paragraph, most especially the 'Temps,' the
naval papers, and the local papers at Toulon, of a protest on the part
of the officers of the English fleet in the Mediterranean against the
language of the article, and to deny, on our part, any such feelings or
ideas as are attributed to us in it.
"We beg to assure you that it gave us real and unfeigned pleasure to see
the French fleet in our midst at Malta, and that what little we were
able to do to make their visit agreeable and pleasant was done from no
feeling of duty, or even as a mere return for the kindly reception
accorded to us at Toulon, but from a sincere appreciation of the high
qualities of French naval officers, and a desire to cultivate their
"We have the honor to be,
"Your obedient servants."
Three weeks later came a letter of thanks, closing the incident, which
had caused no little trouble to Mr. Hamerton.
"MALTA. _December_ 12, 1890.
"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--Thank you very much in the name of the English Navy
for so kindly assisting us to repel the gross insinuations of 'Truth,'
also for the extracts, and the trouble you have taken for us. I only
regret that you should have drawn 'Truth' on you.
"I have shown your letter to the Admiral and all the officers here, who
are much pleased with all that has been done.
"Again thanking you, believe me,
Mr. Hamerton considered himself well rewarded for his exertions by the
tokens of warm approval he received both from England and from France.
"French and English" did not meet with the success it deserved, though
it was published in England, America, and France, and in the Tauchnitz
edition. The author had entertained few illusions about the fate of the
work, for some reasons which he has himself explained in private
letters, and in his prefaces to the book. He once wrote in answer to a
letter from M. Raillard:--
"Vous lisez mes livres, un peu sans doute pour faire plaisir au vieux
Papa, mais je crois reellement qu'ils vous seront utiles a cause de la
simplicite du style et de la clarte que j'ai toujours cherchees. Ces
qualites m'ont gagne de nombreux lecteurs, mais en meme temps m'ont
prive de toute reputation de profondeur. En Angleterre on classe tous
les ecrivains clairs, comme ecrivains superficiels."
But he said in the preface to the Tauchnitz edition:--
"The kind of success most gratifying to me after writing a book of this
kind would be to convert some readers to my own method, or rule, in the
formation of opinion, whether it concerns one side or the other.
"My method is a good one, but not so good for eloquence as the hastier
methods of journalism."
And in the preface of the English edition:--
"I should like to write with complete impartiality if it were possible.
I have at least written with the most sincere desire to be impartial,
and that perhaps at the cost of some popularity in England, for certain
English critics have told me that impartiality is not patriotic; and
others have informed me of what I did not know before, namely, that I
prefer the French to my own countrymen."
Though "French and English" never became what may be called a popular
book, it nevertheless attracted a good deal of attention, and the author
received a great number of letters expressive of admiration and
gratitude for the clear discernment and impartiality with which the
differences existing between the two nations had been studied and
Here is a pretty sample from a French lady:--
"MONSIEUR,--Je viens de lire avec le plus grand plaisir votre livre
'French and English.' Il est si rare qu'un ecrivain anglais ose--ou
veuille, aller contre les prejuges de ses lecteurs anglais, et nous
fasse justice, que j'en ai eprouve un vrai sentiment de reconnaissance.
Bien des jugements portes sont ceux dont j'ai l'habitude de gratifier
mes amis, et, comme il y a toujours, 'a great deal of human nature in
mankind;' je n'apprecie que mieux votre livre a cause de cela. A
quelques exceptions pres, par exemple, la fin du chapitre 'on Truth,' je
vois les choses comme vous, mais certains prejuges sont bien inveteres
dans l'esprit de vos compatriotes.
"Lorsque je protestais contre les idees fausses qu'on se faisait de
nous, on m'a dit si souvent: 'Oh! mais, vous n'etes pas francais, vous!'
Le mot est bien caracteristique. Un Francais qui ne repond pas a l'idee
qu'on se fait de sa nation, c'est une exception.
"Je ne l'aurais peut-etre pris que comme une maniere de taquiner, une
plaisanterie, si cela ne m'avait ete repete encore tout dernierement par
un homme d'une vraie valeur intellectuelle, qui a toute une theorie sur
les races. La conclusion a deduire etait: tout ce qui pense serieusement
ne peut etre francais. Qui sait si votre livre ne vous a pas fait
accuser de vous etre perverti a notre contact puisque vous nous etes
"Je trotte tous ces temps-ci dans la neige, avec votre livre dans mon
manchon, lisant a chacun de mes amis le morceau qui lui revient, mais je
voudrais qu'ils lisent tout.
"Sans me donner le temps de trop reflechir j'ai ecrit ma lettre; apres
je n'aurais plus ose. J'aurai eu ainsi l'occasion de dire a un homme de
talent qu'il m'a fait gouter un vrai plaisir ... peut-etre est-ce une
satisfaction pour un auteur.
"Veuillez agreer, Monsieur, mes compliments bien sinceres pour votre
'fairness' a notre egard.
I also give a passage from one of Mr. Calderon's letters:--
"Last night--to my regret--I finished the last chapter of your 'French
and English.' I am delighted with its truth. Remember (as an excuse for
giving an opinion so freely) that I too am very fairly acquainted with
both countries--their capitals and provinces."
The book, as I have said, was translated into French, and, as usual, the
author took the trouble of revising the translation. Far from taking any
pride in the fact that the translation of his works was desired and
sought after, he dreaded it, and would even have opposed it, had the
thing been in his power. The inevitable loss of his style--upon which he
always bestowed such conscientious care--was to him almost unbearable.
Roberts Brothers did not appear dissatisfied with the American sale, for
they said: "We have sold fifteen hundred copies, and are quite ready for
another popular book."
Decision to live near Paris.--Practice in painting and etching.--Search
for a house.--Clematis.
We left home on December 21, 1890, and spent a day and two nights very
agreeably at Dijon with the parents of our son-in-law. Then we went on
to Paris by an early morning train, which necessitated our lunching in
We were to stay with our daughter and her husband, but Gilbert took a
separate study for his work, in a quiet house in the same street.
My husband had himself made a careful drawing for Richard's monument,
and now, being in Paris, we went to see it, and wished to have it
completed by an inscription. Hitherto we had not agreed about any, but
as we were sadly recalling his last intimate talk, it seemed that the
desire for "Peace" which he had expressed should be recorded as an
acquittal of the deed which brought the fulfilment of his wish. And his
father caused the word _eiraenae_, to be engraved at the head of the
M. Pelletier, having been promoted to the Economat of the old and famous
Lycee Henri IV.,--where so many celebrated Frenchmen have been
educated,--took pleasure in showing us the most ancient or curious parts
of the building, such as La Tour Clovis, the vaulted kitchen, the
painted cupola over the staircase, and the delicately carved panels of
the old monks' library--now the Professors' billiard-room.
My husband was much interested by this visit, and repeated it shortly
after in the company of M. and Mme. Manesse, M. and Mme. L. Flameng, M.
Pelletier acting as cicerone.
It being the season of the Epiphany, our niece had the traditional cake
served on the tea-table, and the royal honors fell to the lot of her
uncle. He chose Madame Flameng for his queen, and they made us pass a
merry hour under their joint rule.
The serious part of the talk had concerned the possibility of engaging
L. Flameng to engrave one of his son's pictures. He had consented, and
my husband called upon Francois Flameng to make a choice.
On his return he gave me a description of the studios and library, which
are very curious, and offered to take me with him on his next visit, to
renew my old acquaintance with the now celebrated artist. But my
infirmity would have rendered awkward the introduction to his young
wife, to whom the memories of previous friendship did not extend.
Writing once to Mr. Seeley about my deafness, my husband had said: "She
sits surrounded by a silent world, and sees people's lips move and their
gestures. How difficult it is to imagine such a state of existence! As
for me, I suffer from the opposite inconvenience of hearing too well.
When I am unwell my hearing is preternaturally acute, so that my watch
in my waistcoat ticks as if it were held almost close to my ear."
Being desirous of forming a sound opinion about the present state of the
fine arts in France, Mr. Hamerton went to visit the New Sorbonne, the
Hotel de Ville, the Lycee Janson, the new pictures in the Museum of the
Luxembourg, those in the private exhibition of M. Durand-Ruel, as well
as the exhibitions at Messrs. Goupil's and Petit's. He saw J. P.
Laurens' "Voute d'Acier," M. Rodin's studio, and the Musee du Mobilier
National, with its beautiful tapestries.
We left Paris at the end of January and returned home, my husband having
got through a vast amount of work with ease and pleasure, and with a new
hopeful confidence in his powers of acquisition and endurance, and also
with a gratifying sense of his acknowledged standing--even in France--
among celebrated artists and men of letters.
At the Easter family gathering our possible change of residence was
exhaustively discussed. The state of the buildings at La Tuilerie was
growing worse and worse every day, and my brother's opinion, as an
architect, having been asked for, was that the time for very important
repairs could no longer be postponed: new roofs would have to be built,
one of the walls strengthened, the floor tiles taken up; and the
woodwork of every window was so rotten that it could no longer hold the
iron with which it had already been mended.
Mary and her husband represented what a heavy outlay would be required
if we undertook these repairs, and also said, with great truth, that
after it we should feel bound to the house on account of the money spent
on it. It was an opportunity for changing a mode of life no longer
adapted to our wants nor to our years. Why such a big house for two
solitary beings?... And now that their father was subject to attacks of
gout and not so sure of immunity from colds, was he to continue to have
the care of horses and to drive in an open carriage in all weathers?
Could we be so easily reconciled to the idea of never seeing them longer
than the short space of five weeks every year, when there was no
plausible reason for being so far apart?... Their father disliked great
cities, but he would not be obliged to live inside Paris; there were
plenty of comfortable and quiet villas in the neighborhood or in the
suburbs, from which Paris would be accessible by the Seine, thus
rendering a great part of his work so much easier.
He, on his part, objected that living would be more expensive; that he
would not be so well situated for working from nature; and last of all
that, if he decided for a change, he would expect to be so near to Mary
and her husband as to be able to reach them on foot and in a short time,
for he could not be reconciled to the loss of a whole day every time he
went to see them. "The two requisites," he said--"life in the country
and frequent meetings--cannot be reconciled together."
M. Raillard and his wife praised Montmorency, Meudon, Marly, and St.
Germain, which they had visited on purpose, but he answered that any of
these places would be too far off.
However, when Stephen, Mary, and her husband had left us, their father
was not proof against melancholy thoughts, from which he did not always
find refuge in work. The following note in the diary is a proof of it:
"April 5. Did not feel disposed to work, on account of the children's
The solitude of our lives had also been considerably increased by the
deaths of five Autunois friends, and by the departure of M. Schmitt with
his family. My husband wrote to him:--
"Vous me demandez des nouvelles d'Autun, mais depuis votre depart nous y
allons le moins possible. Je n'ai rien a y faire, presque plus personne
a y voir. Je crains meme qu'au bout d'un certain temps cet isolement ne
produise un facheux etat dans mon esprit. Je me plonge dans le travail,
le refuge des gens isoles."
Shortly after Easter there came an attack of gout, this time in one
knee, and Gilbert was naturally disturbed by the conviction that the
disease had become more threatening now that it was going up. He became
more alive to the difficulties of our present conditions of existence in
the country, and more willing to consider the desirability of a change.
The business of the "Portfolio" would be so much more easily and
promptly transacted if he were in Paris; correspondence with England so
much more rapid, and the length of journeys to London diminished so
appreciably that all these considerations were of great weight in the
final decision, as well as others of a different nature.
I could not hope to hide from Gilbert the void left in my life by the
loss of one of my sons, and the absence of a daughter who had never left
me before for any length of time; nor the sorrowful recollections
incessantly awakened by the surrounding scenes and objects, and he began
to think that to break the chain of such painful associations might be
beneficial to me. This, I believe, dictated his letter of May 8 to Mary,
in which he told her that she might make serious inquiries for a house,
as he had definitely decided to go and live near Paris.
Mr. Seeley was very glad to hear that the editor of the "Portfolio"
would be nearer to England; he said: "I hope you will get comfortably
settled in the suburbs of Paris. If I may judge by my own experience I
do not think you will regret the change. I have never done so for a
moment, although I was fond of Kingston."
Since he had been last at Burnley, and had seen again the pictures
painted at Sens for Mr. Handsley, my husband had been dissatisfied with
them. The development of knowledge, skill, and the critical faculty made
him intolerant of the shortcomings of that early period, and hopeful of
doing better work now. So he wrote to Mr. Handsley, and proposed to
paint him two new pictures to replace the old ones. In the reply he was
begged to think of no such thing, as although the pictures might not be
quite satisfactory to him, the owner valued them as among the earliest
productions of the artist. But Gilbert insisted on being allowed to
replace at least the view of Sens by another subject--already begun and
about which he felt hopeful--and finally it was left to him to do as he
It is a curious thing that, feeling as he did the pressure of work, he
should have been always ready to undertake some additional task. At that
moment, when he had so little spare time, he had promised (for an
indefinite date, it is true), a picture of Mont Beuvray for M. Bulliot,
and others of Pre-Charmoy for Alice Gindriez, his sister-in-law; Mary
also was to have her share. The pictures intended for Alice Gindriez had
been painted several times over, and destroyed, and the one for Mr.
Handsley had already passed through various changes of effect, but it
looked very promising. The artist intended to send it to the Salon, and
had even ordered the frame; but our removal having interrupted painting
for a long time, it remained unfinished; though it was taken up again at
It is my belief that artistic work, in spite of its disappointments,
proved a relief and a distraction to my husband; but it is much to be
regretted that his own standard should have been so high, for it
prevented him from completing and keeping many etchings and pictures
which, if not perfect, still possessed great charms. It is also a
subject for regret that he should have been led to undertake large
pictures of mountain scenery--so difficult to render adequately. If the
time spent in fighting against these difficulties had been bestowed upon
smaller canvases and less ambitious subjects, he would undoubtedly have
succeeded in forming quite a collection. The greater part of his studies
are graceful in composition, harmonious in color, tender and true in
sentiment--why should not the pictures have possessed the same
qualities? The main reason for his failing to express himself in art, is
that he was too much attracted by the sublime in Nature, and that the
power to convey the impression of sublimity has only been granted to the
greatest among artists.
In May there came a triumphant letter from Mary saying that she had
discovered the _very_ house wanted by her father, uniting in incredible
perfection every one of the conditions he had laid down. Once, being
hard pressed to give his consent to a change of residence, he had
playfully spread a plan of Paris on the table, and had stuck a pin in
it, saying at the same time: "When you find me a suitable house _there_,
in this situation and at that distance from you, I promise to take it."
It was considered as a joke, but Mary now affirmed that the Villa
Clematis was at the exact distance from the Rue de la Tour (where she
lived) that her father had mentioned. Moreover, the roads in the avenues
leading from Clematis to Passy were excellent for a velocipede, or he
could reach her in a charming walk of less than an hour--through the
Bois de Boulogne--and by rail three minutes only were required from the
station of Boulogne to that of Passy. The rent was moderate, and
although higher than our present one, would still be within our means,
if it were taken into consideration that neither horse nor carriage
would be necessary.
The villa was in the Parc des Princes, which offered several advantages.
No shops or factories of any kind being allowed within the park, its
peacefulness was never disturbed by the noise of traffic. The houses,
which varied in sizes from the simple ordinary villa to the hotel or
chateau, were each surrounded by a garden, small or large; and long
avenues of fine trees so encircled the park that its existence was not
much known outside. Quite close to it, however, was the town of
Boulogne, with its well-provided market and shops, and at a distance of
a few minutes the _chemin-de-fer de ceinture_, a line of tramways, one
of omnibuses, and the steamboats not very far off. Clematis had a very
_small_ garden--a recommendation to my husband--but was still
sufficiently isolated from the neighboring villas by their own grounds
on each side. There was a veranda looking over the little garden, and a
large balcony over the veranda; the dining and drawing-rooms were
divided by double folding doors, and both had access to the veranda by
_porte-fenetres_; the low and wide marble chimney-pieces were surmounted
by plate-glass windows affording a sight of trees and flowers, and
giving a most light and cheerful effect to the rooms. There were several
well-aired bedrooms, and under the house vaulted cellars to keep it
healthy and dry.
Such was the description sent us, which we found perfectly accurate when
we visited the house the very day of our arrival at Passy, on June 1,
1891. The diary says about it: "Went to Boulogne to see the Villa
Clematis. On the whole pleased with it." As for me, I was charmed with
it after all the inconveniences I had had to put up with, hitherto, in
our rough country houses.
We had been told that the rents were low at Billancourt, and we went
there to ascertain, but we did not like the horrid state of the roads,
nor the unfinished streets, the result of house-building all over the
We also saw Vanves and the Chateau d'Issy, in which there were two
pavilions to let. Gilbert's fancy was so much taken by one of them that
I began to dread he might want to live in it. He wrote in the diary:
"The place seemed curious and romantic. Three very fine lofty rooms, a
number of small ones. Plenty of space. Not much convenience; wife not at
all pleased with it." It would have been much worse than anything I had
experienced before. The house was dark, being surrounded and over-topped
by a small but dense park climbing up an eminence above it; all the
rainwater coming down this slope remained in stagnant pools about the
lower story, the stones of which were of a dull and dirty green, being
covered with moss. There was a queer circuitous kitchen round the base
of the stairs, and the dishes prepared in it would have had to be
carried up the stairs through an outside passage before arriving on the
dining-room table. Then I wondered how the "fine, lofty rooms" (damp
with moisture and cold with tiled floors) could be warmed in winter, and
also lighted; for they all looked upon the tree-clad hill rising up
hardly a few feet from the windows. All that was nothing to Gilbert, who
only saw in perspective so many spacious studios and workrooms. At last
I noticed that a paved road wound round the outside of the pavilion, and
just as I was pointing it out, there came several heavily laden carts
thundering along, and shaking the whole building quite perceptibly. My
husband had enough of it after that, and I rejoiced inwardly at the
opportune appearance of those carts. The day after, the diary says:
"Went in the afternoon to Sevres. Found the place divided into two
parts: the lower, which smells badly, and the upper, which is all but
inaccessible, being up a steep hill. Renounced Sevres."
Besides looking about for a house, we went frequently to the Salons,
there being two now, and my husband regularly continued his work. Mr.
Seeley wrote: "The quickness with which your letters come gives me a
pleasant feeling as regards the future."
To my inexpressible delight "Clematis" was chosen for our future abode,
after other fruitless researches; indeed, in my opinion it was
impossible to find anything better suited to our wants--and what sounds
almost incredible, the situation of the Parc des Princes was found to be
exactly where Gilbert had pricked the pin in the plan of Paris.
The little garden looked very pretty now in June, with the pillars of
the veranda all blue with flowers of the climbing clematis, and the
cornice loaded with the pink and white bouquets of roses. The wild
clematis, Virginia creeper, and honeysuckle clothed the trunks of every
tree, whilst their roots were hidden by flowers and ferns of various
Another pleasant feature of the park was the quantity of singing birds;
there were larks, blackcaps, white-throats, and blackbirds, no doubt
attracted by the security and peace they enjoyed all the year round--no
shooting being allowed either in the park or in the Bois de Boulogne.
My husband wished to appropriate all the upper story of Clematis to his
work, so as to have within easy reach everything he wanted for it, and
at the same time to escape from all household noises. The large middle
room with the balcony would be his study and atelier, only he required
more light for painting, and a tall window was made for him. One of the
small rooms was to be a laboratory, the other a sort of storeroom for
papers, panels, frames, canvases, colors, etc., and one of the garrets a
joiner's shop. Bookcases were to be placed against all the walls of the
studio, which would serve as a library at the same time.
Removal to Paris.--Interest in the Bois de Boulogne.--M. Vierge.--"Man
in Art."--Contributions to "Scribner's Magazine."--New form of "The
Portfolio."--Honorary degree.--Last Journey to London.--Society of
Illustrators.--Illness and death.
We were no sooner home again than the transformation of my husband's
study and laboratory furniture began. He had carefully taken all the
necessary measurements, and he now set two joiners to work under his
Of course we had some months of discomfort and fatigue, with the packing
up and the sale which preceded our departure. At one time I was almost
in despair of ever getting through, Gilbert being so very exacting about
the packing that we had to wrap up each single book separately, and to
fold up carefully every sheet or bit of paper without creases. It was
one of his characteristics, this respectful care he took of books and
papers; it went so far that he could hardly bring himself to destroy
waste-paper; and when he had not quite filled a page with his writing,
he would cut off the white piece and lay it aside in a drawer for
further use; nay more, after making use of these fragments of paper for
notes which had been copied out, he drew a line of red or blue pencil
across the writing, and returned the paper to another drawer to be used
_on the other side_. And it was not for the sake of economy, for he was
frequently indulging in the purchase of note-books, pocket-books,
memorandum-books, etc. No; it was a sort of instinctive respect. If any
one held a book carelessly, or let it fall, he was absolutely miserable,
and could not refrain from remonstrating. When we unpacked, he directed
a man to fold up the papers which had been used as wrappers, and when I
told him that the papers were not worth the man's wages and had better
be thrown into the street, he looked surprised, and reluctantly allowed
them to be stuffed into the empty boxes; but be could not bring himself
to remain while it was being done.
It was hard to break away from the associations of so many years, and
the last meal we took _tete-a-tete_ in the dining-room, emptied of all
its furniture except a small table and two chairs, was a melancholy one.
I swallowed many a tear, and Gilbert's voice was somewhat tremulous when
he attempted to talk.
Roberts Brothers had inquired early in the year if Mr. Hamerton had
decided about a new book, and had been answered in the affirmative. They
now said: "We hasten to reply to your query. Yes, we think 'The Quest of
Happiness' an admirable title for a book destined for the popular
heart--so happy that it will of itself sell it. Don't meditate about
doing it too long."
Messrs. A. and C. Black had also proposed that Mr. Hamerton's articles
for the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" should be revised and enlarged so as
to make an interesting and valuable "Hand-book to Drawing and
Engraving," and the author had agreed to undertake the work. They were
so considerate as to send a copy of the "Encyclopaedia" to the writer,
who had long desired to possess it, and who valued it as a treasure. He
had a special bookcase made for it, with many divisions, to preserve the
volumes from too much rubbing, and was pleased with their handsome
appearance in his library.
A letter received in the autumn may offer some interest to the reader.
It tells of a rather curious occurrence. The writer had been
occasionally in correspondence with the author of "Wenderholme," and,
living in Lancashire, had greatly appreciated the accuracy of the
descriptions and characters in that locality. Two years before he had
discovered "Thursday," and under his guidance had visited the site of
the first camp at Widdup, and noted the changes; now he wrote again,
giving an account of his experiences during a little visit to the Bronte
country, and explaining at some length that he was "driven by bad
weather to the 'house' (you will remember the sense in which the word is
used in the district) occupied by the wrangling drunkard. The talk
turning upon a hut which had been erected by a _mon_ through Halifax for
the grouse-shooting, evoked a reminiscence from the only (relatively)
sober member of the party, of another mon--a hartist--who, aboon thirty
year sin', built a hut at Widdup, and hed a gurt big dog, and young
Helliwell, ower at Jerusalem, wor then a lad, and used to bring him (the
mon) milk, and in the end gat ta'en on as sarvant, and went wi' him to
Scotland and all ower--you may imagine my delight....
"I was sorry to hear that Thursday was not in very good health. He is,
however, married, and the proud father of a little girl--Mary Alice. He
seems very comfortable, and has promised me a photograph of himself by
way of a frontispiece to my copy of the 'Painter's Camp.'
"I trust I am not boring you; but I thought that you might like to know
that you and your encampment are still remembered in the district."
It always pleased Gilbert to have news of the people and places
associated in his mind and affections with his youth, and his interest
in them never grew cold with years.
Our new installation at Clematis was much simplified by the fact that
everything from La Tuilerie had been sent in advance.
In order not to keep Gilbert too long from his work, the study was first
arranged, and he was well pleased with it; indeed, he said he had never
been so conveniently or comfortably established "for his work" before;
but still I saw, with pain, that he looked depressed in spite of
New Year's Day saw us established in the new house, and regular habits
of work resumed.
Having two spare bedrooms, our children came to use them during the
Christmas holidays, and we had some pleasant meetings with M. Pelletier
and his family. It was by a sort of tacit understanding that almost
every Sunday we lunched, in turn, at each other's houses,--once at
Clematis, then at Madame Halliard's, and afterwards at M. Pelletier's.
After lunch we had a long walk either in the Bois de Boulogne, Parc de
St. Cloud, Jardin du Luxembourg, or Jardin des Plantes; but although
Gilbert enjoyed these strolls, they did not make up for the loss of the
country; neither did the Seine replace the Saone, and Mr. Seeley said:
"I am sorry the Seine is not what it ought to be. You will miss your old
amusement of sailing, for which steaming will be a poor substitute."
We all tried to find something that might take his fancy, and we went to
see the Marne. He said it afforded refreshing and pretty scenes; but he
was not enthusiastic about its character. I plainly saw that what I had
feared had come to pass--namely, that this new way of life did not suit
him so well as the old, and that, despite the greater facilities, he did
not seem to work to his own satisfaction, and felt dull. This lasted for
some time. Mr. Seeley humorously teased him about it, and suggested that
he should write for an American magazine an article on "The Dulness of
Paris." He went on: "If you could only run over here to roam about our
Kentish hills, you would soon be all right again. They are covered with
millions of wood anemones, violets, primroses, cuckoo flowers, and
blue-bells; and the low ground is gay with marsh-marigolds." Alas! the
Bois offered all this in profusion, but for flowers Gilbert never really
cared; he merely appreciated their _valeur_ in the harmony of a
landscape. He thus explained his feelings, in answer to Mr. Seeley:--
"My complaints about the dulness of Paris refer to the peculiar state of
mind the place always induces in myself, that is, _ennui_. Now, the
_ennuye_ state of mind is the worst possible for a writer, because his
interest in things ought always to remain keen and lively; he ought to
have the intelligence of a man with the interest of a child. I believe
Paris to be, on the whole, the most endurable of great cities, that in
which the disagreeables of such places are most successfully palliated.
For instance, I can go from here to the Louvre in magnificent avenues
all the way. But, for a writer, it is not enough to find life endurable;
he ought to be keenly interested. My life at Autun was pleasant and
refreshing; at Loch Awe it was an enchantment. However, I did not come
here for my pleasure."
And work was crowding upon him; besides "Man in Art," which had been put
aside since the interruption necessitated by the removal, the editor of
the "Forum," Mr. Walter H. Page, asked for an article on the "Effects on
Popular Education of Great Art Collections." He said: "I am glad to be
able to tell you that some of the best American newspapers have
discussed your article on the 'Learning of Languages,' and that I have
many evidences of the appreciation of a large number of our most
The editor of the "Illustrated London News" also wished for a series of
articles on "French Life," and was very sorry that Mr. Hamerton could
not undertake them for want of time, and the publisher of the
"Portfolio" would have been pleased to get reviews of the annual Salons
from the editor's pen.
Early in the spring, as soon as the weather permitted it, we began to go
regularly with M. and Mme. Raillard to the prettiest places in the
neighborhood of Paris to spend the Thursdays and Sundays. We were
frequently joined by the Pelletier family, and had picnics together in
sheltered nooks. We started early in the morning, carried our provisions
with the exception of beer, wine, and bread, which could always be
bought anywhere, and roamed about or rested till the end of the day. In
this pleasant and independent manner we saw St. Germain,--the forest and
chateau,--by which my husband was much impressed; the lakes and Bois de
Vincennes; the park at Marly, L'Yvette; the mills of Meaux, St. Remy:
the Chateau de Chevreuse, Bougival, Ville d'Avray, La Celle St. Cloud,
La Terrasse de Meudon, Le Vesinet, Nogent-sur-Marne; the ponds at
Garches, L'Abbaye des Vaux-de-Cernay, Mareuil-Marly, Melun, and L'Etang
de St. Cucufa, with its surroundings of luxuriant vegetation and noble
These walks in the country--much more of the real country than my
husband had ever expected to find so near Paris--began to reconcile him
to his new life; but what helped most towards this reconciliation was
the Bois de Boulogne, with its hidden charms and beauties, which he had
the pleasure of discovering for himself, never having heard of them. For
the parts of the Bois best known and always offered to admiration are
the most artificial, and the resorts of fashion, equipages, and crowds;
the cascade, the lakes, the Allee des Acacias, the Pre-Catelan, and La
Grande Pelouse, while there are enough solitary nooks and unfrequented
alleys, thick underwoods, open vistas, and groups of graceful and
handsome trees to interest a lover of landscape for miles and miles,
without any other disturbance than a chance meeting with a timid rabbit
or a curious deer.
No sooner had Gilbert found out that there existed in the Bois real and
extensive woodland scenery--almost untrodden and unexplored, than it
became a pleasure to start on his tricycle, followed by his dog, for an
early ride under the dewy branches, in the light and fragrant mist
rising from the moist mosses and wild-flowers under the first rays of
the sun. From these healthy rides he returned to his first _dejeuner_
much exhilarated, having breathed fresh air without the sensation of
confinement so painful to him. Gradually he came across various scenes
which he felt attracted to paint, and then his liking for the Bois was
formed. There were among others, La Mare d'Auteuil, the incomparable
group of grand old oaks, a single branch of which would have made a fine
tree; the ponds of Boulogne; the varied views of the Seine, with the gay
and sunny slopes from the walks running parallel to the river. Then the
mill and its surrounding fields, quiet at times with browsing cows
knee-deep in the rich grass, or at other times alive with merry mowers
and hay-makers. Several views of Mont Valerien, looming in the haze of
the after-glow, or in dark contrast with the splendor of the afternoon
sunshine, also caught my husband's attention; as well as numberless
other places without a name, which pleased him for one sort of beauty or
another. After each new discovery, he wanted me to go with him to see,
and whenever it was possible, and at a walking distance from the house,
I took a book with me and read to him as he sketched. By a few notes in
the diary it will be seen that his explorations extended to rather long
distances from the house:--
"Went to L'Alma on the tricycle. Found capital place for studying boats
not far from the Pont d'Iena."
"Went round by Bois to Rothschild's, till I came to bridge of St. Cloud
and to the house--lovely play of lights on the water and upon the
"In afternoon rode as far as Argenteuil, and saw Texier's boat-building
establishment there, and the fleet of pleasure-boats."
"Went to Asnieres on tricycle by the Rond-Point of Courbevoie. Some
difficult passages on road. Return easier by riverside, right bank.
Beautiful hazy distances."
"Found out boat-house of the Bilancourt boat-club. Spacious and rather
nice. Keeper boat-builder. Came back by riverside, Auteuil and Bois.
Charming harmony of grays in the sky--silvery, bluish, rose-tinted, and
"In afternoon rode to St. Cloud with a view to comparison with Turner.
In coming back met a steam-carriage on the road, managed, I believe, by
Caran d'Ache," etc., etc.
When he had regained the elasticity of his mind, his thoughts were
turned again to his important work.
Note in the diary on March 3: "Tried to recover command of 'Man in Art,'
putting the MS. in order. Read the chapters over again to recover
materials and spirit of work."
From that date "Man in Art" was steadily resumed till its completion.
There was a good deal of trouble and disappointment with the
illustrations, some of which were found unworthy of insertion; but
having been ordered, they would have to be paid for. The author was
ready to bear the cost rather than see them inserted, but Messrs.
Macmillan very kindly and generously refused to allow this, and proposed
that he should send a bill for any money that he should find it
necessary to expend on unsatisfactory illustrations.
My husband was now in far better spirits, and, apparently, in very good
health. A friend, Mr. Oliver, who had named his son Hamerton out of
admiration for the author, wrote in answer to one of his letters: "I was
pleased to hear that you find the later period of life not unattended
with deep satisfaction and pleasure."
Among those pleasures were the friendly or interesting visits that the
remoteness of Autun from great centres would have effectually prevented.
In the spring we saw Mrs. Macmillan and her son; in the autumn we had
the pleasure of becoming personally acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Adam
Black, who were passing through Paris, and with whom we spent an
afternoon visiting the gardens and ruins of St. Cloud.
Roberts Brothers, to whom many applications for letters of introduction
were addressed, and who managed to give only a few, sent some of their
friends to Mr. Hamerton now and then. They said in one of their letters:
"Since you will not come to America and see for yourself, we want to
show you that our aborigines are as good specimens of the _genus homo_
as they make anywhere."
In the Parc des Princes lives a great artist, Urrabieta Vierge, whose
house and studio were only a few minutes distant from Clematis. Mr.
Hamerton's admiration of this artist's talent was great, and his liking
for him as a man became great also. He often expressed the opinion that,
in his best pen-drawings, Urrabieta Vierge was--and would
remain--without a rival. He used to spend hours over the original
illustrations to Pablo de Segovie, and other drawings in the possession
of the artist. Hardly ever did a day pass without seeing my husband in
M. Vierge's studio once at least. He had opportunities of rendering him
a service sometimes, as the artist had dealings with English and
American publishers, but was ignorant of their language, and in token of
gratitude M. Vierge painted his new friend's portrait, and also that of
his mother-in-law, Madame Gindriez.
The idea of a book on the study of words, to be written in collaboration
with M. Raillard, had not been abandoned by my husband, who submitted
the title for Mr. Seeley's approval. It was to be: "Words on their
Travels, and some Stay-at-home Words." It was pronounced lively and
interesting. His own share had been delayed; but his son-in-law was
working at it, and they carefully planned together the composition and
form of the book, the separate parts of which were to be linked together
by essays from my husband's pen.
Much time was devoted to the exhibitions in 1892. The Salons, of course,
had many visits, but they did not give so much pleasure to Gilbert as
"Les Cent Chefs-d'oeuvre," or the Pelouse Exhibition; he was also
greatly interested by Raffet's works.
Our children spent with us a month of the long vacation, as they used to
do at Pre-Charmoy, and our excursions to the most picturesque places in
the neighborhood of Paris became more frequent. We had formed a project
for going to Pierre-fonds and Compiegne; but my husband, being now most
anxious to finish "Man in Art" before Christmas, regretfully put off the
excursions to the ensuing year. Now that he had regained the buoyancy of
his spirits, he was fully alive to the peculiar charms of the country
about Paris, and even intended to write a series of small books on the
most noteworthy and remarkable places--something in the way of
exhaustive guides. He thought of beginning with those that he knew
thoroughly well already, and to acquaint himself gradually with the
In September our son-in-law, with his wife, went to stay with his
parents for the remainder of the vacation; but Mary left them a few days
before her husband to see her relatives at Chalon, and in the way of
consolation, her father sent the following to Raoul:--
"Blest is the man whose wife is gone away!
From cares exempt, he dwells in perfect peace.
His heart is light as boy's on holiday.
He walks abroad and joys in his release.
The cat is gone, the frisky mouse doth play.
The fox remote, walk forth the wandering geese.
So he, delivered, thinks his troubles past,
O halcyon days!--if they could only last.
"P. G. H. to R. R.
"_Sept_. 11, 1892."
Ever since he had heard of Lord Tennyson's illness, my husband had been
greatly concerned, and never missed going every evening to the Auteuil
railway station for the latest news. After the death of the poet he
wrote to Mr. Seeley:--
"One must die some time; but it is still rather saddening to know that
Tennyson is no longer a living poet. I have always enjoyed his verse
very much; the art is so perfect, so superior to that of Browning or
Wordsworth, even to that of Byron. I know of no poet to equal Tennyson
in finish except Shelley, Keats, and Horace, and those three only in
In a letter to Miss Betham-Edwards he had said once: "Have you observed
how _very_ careful Tennyson has always been never to publish prose? That
was capital policy in his case; he seems so much more the poet to the
Mr. Seeley was anxious to confer with the editor of the "Portfolio"
about plans for the following year; but he had considerately refrained
from mentioning it, so long as the large book was not announced for
publication. In the beginning of October, however, he wrote: "I see that
Macmillans announce your big book; so I suppose that labor is off your
hands." Then he went on to propose that the editor should write a series
of articles on the "Humorous Art of the Present Day," and my husband
took time to think about the subject.
The last sheets of "Man in Art" were sent off on October 20, and after
acknowledging their receipt, Mr. F. Macmillan said:--
"With regard to the drawings on glass, I write to say that we are
perfectly willing that, as you suggest, you should make a present of
them to the Art School of Burnley, in Lancashire.
"The same applies to the original wood-block engraved by Pierre Gusman."
Our November journey to London was unattended with troubles to my
husband's health, and it was with unalloyed pleasure that we met Mr. and
Mrs. Seeley again. Our stay was to be a short one, for it had been
decided that, in the future, we would come over at least once every
year, and more probably twice.
Here is the first letter after our arrival:--
"LONDON. _November_ 26, 1892.
"MY DEAR MARY,--I have some good news to tell you. My new book is not
out yet, but soon will be. It is in two editions, one large paper, and
dear, the other smaller paper and much lower in price. The first is
exhausted before publication, and the second without being exhausted
yet, is still going off well. I dined last night with Messrs. Macmillan,
and they seemed quite satisfied.
"Mr. Seeley has just offered to publish my next novel.
"I was glad to get a post-card from Raoul. It will be a great pleasure
to me to work with him. Perhaps, however, we shall quarrel over our
book, and never speak to each other again. But his mother-in-law will
love him still, whatever happens.
"Your very affectionate old father,
"P. G. HAMERTON."
The work that my husband had to do was easily gone through, and his
nervous system had so much improved that he went alone about London
without any forebodings, without even thinking about it, except to
remark to me sometimes that he had never expected such an improvement.
Had it not been for a very slight and short attack of gout, he would
have been perfectly well all the time.
Mr. and Mrs. Seeley were then, living in Kensington, and it was very
convenient for my husband, the situation being quiet and within easy
reach of the museums. Although the season was not favorable for going to
the country, our friends knew that their visitor would be pleased to
escape from London--were it only for a day or two, and they were so kind
as to take us to their pretty cottage at Shoreham, in Kent, and to show
us the country surrounding it. Gilbert was out walking most of the time,
and there being hills and water, wished he had time for sketching,
though he told me he would not like to live there permanently, the
country not being sufficiently open for his tastes.
The new arrangements for the "Portfolio" having been decided upon, my
husband wrote to tell Mary of our near arrival. In this letter he
"In spite of the great kindness we meet with here, I don't feel any
desire to live in or near London, it is so gloomy and dirty, besides
being so expensive, at least according to present customs of living. We
are better where we are, near you.
"I am very glad that Raoul likes the idea of our book. I believe we can
work out together something decidedly new and valuable."
In the course of a visit to Mrs. A. Black, she gave us good and
interesting news of her cousin, R. L. Stevenson, and showed us a
photograph taken inside his house at Samoa, in which he was seen
surrounded by his mother, his wife, his wife's children, and his
native servants. It was very pleasant to see him looking happy, and so
much stronger than he used to be.
Mr. Macmillan, though very feeble, was so kind as to receive us. We were
for leaving him soon, fearing that he would be fatigued; but he insisted
upon our remaining, and brightened wonderfully as he talked with my
husband. He ordered glasses and wine, and drank to our healths with such
hearty good-will, and pressed our hands at parting so affectionately,
that we were quite moved. He had been such a strong and active man, and
there was still such an expression of power and will in his countenance,
that to see him an invalid, unable to walk without help, was
inexpressibly pitiful. He had said--not without sadness--that he had
grown resigned to this trying bodily weakness, but at the same time that
he had a great dread of the weakness reaching the seat of thought some
day. It was the last time we saw him, though he lived some years longer,
and we liked ever after to recall his last kind greeting, as warm as
those of former days.
M. Raillard and his wife received us joyfully on our arrival in Paris;
we were all greatly cheered by the fact that my husband could now travel
like everybody else, and this feeling of security gave a great stimulus
to his energies. We were often planning journeys to places of interest
that it might be useful for him to visit, either for his artistic
studies or for literary work. The Countess Martinengo Cesaresco, with
whom he had long been in correspondence, had invited us to go to see her
on the Lake of Garda, and this was a great temptation to which he hoped
to yield some day.
Meanwhile, we planned for the autumn a visit to Lucerne, in which our
son and daughter and her husband would join, and we often talked about
it. I knew perfectly well that very few of our schemes could ever be
carried out, but I encouraged the discussion of them--for even that gave
pleasure to Gilbert, who had been kept sedentary so long. He told us
what he would do, and what he would attempt in such and such a place;
and his desire for beautiful natural scenes was so intense that he often
dreamt he was _flying_ towards them, and afterwards described his
sensations. The recurrence of this sensation of _flying_ over space
caused him some slight alarm, for he explained that doctors considered
it as a symptom of disturbed equilibrium in the system, which they
called levitation. Still, he was now almost in perfect health, indeed he
did not remember the time when he had been so well, so ready for work,
or enjoying it more--he said he was almost afraid, it seemed so strange.
In a letter from Roberts Brothers, dated March 10, 1893, I read: "We are
indeed pleased to hear that 'The Quest of Happiness' is likely to be
ready for this autumn, and the title is so promising that we should not
wonder if it made your 'cheques' larger."
This book, however, was laid aside for more pressing work. The
Meissonier Exhibition was opened, and my husband, who delighted in the
talent of the artist, had already gone there several times when he
received a letter from Mr. Seeley asking him to notice it for the
"Portfolio," and he assented.
Then Mr. Burlingame, of the house of Scribner's Sons of New York, came
over from London for the special purpose of becoming personally
acquainted with Mr. Hamerton, and of proposing to him to write a series
of twelve articles on modern representative painters for "Scribner's
Magazine." The proposal was flattering in itself, but the pleasure it
gave was singularly enhanced by the visitor's friendly courtesy and
cultured appreciation. After two meetings only, Mr. Burlingame had to
leave Paris, and my husband spoke regretfully of the shortness of a
visit he had so much enjoyed, and expressed a wish that an opportunity
for more prolonged intercourse might present itself before long.
Judging from Mr. Burlingame's letter, the pleasure had been mutual. I
quote a passage out of it:--
"I use my earliest opportunity to jot down a note for our better
remembrance of the main points of the arrangement for 'Scribner's
Magazine,' by assenting to which you gave me such pleasure in Paris.
"I sail on Saturday, and assure you I shall carry home no pleasanter
recollection than that of the two days which you made very enjoyable for
me at Paris and Boulogne."