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Title: Nights - Rome, Venice, in the Aesthetic Eighties; London, Paris, in the Fighting Nineties
Author: Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, 1855-1936
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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NIGHTS

Rome Venice London Paris

      *      *      *      *      *

LIFE OF
JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER

BY ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL
AND JOSEPH PENNELL

THOROUGHLY REVISED, FIFTH EDITION

The Authorized Life, with much new matter added which was not available
at the time of issue of the elaborate two-volume edition, now out of
print. Fully illustrated with 97 plates reproduced from Whistler's
works. Crown octavo. XX-450 pages, Whistler binding, deckle edge. $8.50
net. Three-quarter grain levant, $7.50 net.

OUR PHILADELPHIA

BY ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL
ILLUSTRATED BY JOSEPH PENNELL

An intimate personal record in text and in picture of the lives of the
famous author and artist in the city whose recent story will be to many
an absolute surprise--a city with a brilliant history, great beauty,
immense wealth. Mr. Pennell's one hundred and five illustrations, made
especially for this volume, will be a revelation in their interest and
as art inspired by the love of his native town. Quarto, 7-1/2 by 10
inches, XIV-552 pages. Handsomely bound in red buckram, boxed. $7.50
net.

JOSEPH PENNELL'S PICTURES
OF THE PANAMA CANAL

_FIFTH PRINTING_

Twenty-eight reproductions of lithographs made on the Isthmus of Panama,
January-March, 1912, with Mr. Pennell's introduction, giving his
experiences and impressions, and a full description of each picture.
Volume 7-1/4 by 10 inches. Beautifully printed on dull-finished paper.
Lithograph by Mr. Pennell on cover. $1.25 net.

JOSEPH PENNELL'S PICTURES
IN THE LAND OF TEMPLES

Forty reproductions of lithographs made in the Land of Temples,
March-June, 1913, together with impressions and notes by the artist.
Introduction by W.H.D. Rouse, Litt. D. Crown quarto, printed on
dull-finished paper, lithograph by Mr. Pennell on cover. $1.25 net.

[Illustration: Painting by J. McLure Hamilton
"J--."]

      *      *      *      *      *


NIGHTS

Rome Venice
in the Æsthetic Eighties

London Paris
in the Fighting Nineties

by

ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL

With Sixteen Illustrations



[Illustration]

Philadelphia and London
J. B. Lippincott Company
MCMXVI

Copyright, 1916, by J. B. Lippincott Company

Published March, 1916

Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company
at the Washington Square Press
Philadelphia, U.S.A.



PREFACE

There are times when we recall old memories much as we take down old
favourites from our bookshelves, just to see how they have worn, how
they have stood the test of years. Sometimes the books have worn so well
that we cannot put them away until we have read every word to the very
last again, we have not done with the memories until we have lived again
through every moment of the past to which they belong. It is in this
spirit that I brought my Nights of long ago to the test, and, finding
that for me they stand it triumphantly and are still as vivid and
vociferous and full of life as they were of old, I have not had the
courage to loose my hold upon them and let them drift back once more
into unfriendly silence.

It contributes to my pleasure in this revival of my Nights, that I have
been helped in many ways to give more substantial form to the familiar
ghosts who wander through them. My debt of gratitude is great. Mr.
William Nicholson has been willing for me to use his portrait of Henley
and from Mrs. Henley I have the bust by Rodin. Mr. Frederick H. Evans
has lent me the very interesting photograph he made of Beardsley, to
whom he was so good a friend, and to Mr. John Lane, the publisher of the
_Yellow Book_, I owe Beardsley's sketch of Harland. To Mr. John Ross I
am indebted for the drawing of Phil May by himself never before
published, to the Houghton Mifflin Company for the portrait of Vedder,
to Mr. Duveneck for the painting of himself by Mr. Joseph de Camp. The
photograph of Iwan-Müller and George W. Steevens reminds me of the day
so long since when I went with them and Mrs. Steevens to Mr. Frederick
Hollyer's and we were all photographed in turn, so that this record of
the visit seems surely mine by right. It was Mr. Hollyer, too, who
photographed the fine portrait "Bob" Stevenson painted of himself, and
it was Mrs. Stevenson who gave me my copy of it. I have Mr. J. McLure
Hamilton's permission to publish his portrait of J--, while J--has been
so generous with his prints, portraits of old backgrounds of the Nights,
that I can add this book to the many in which I have profited by his
collaboration. I have also to thank the Editor of the _Atlantic
Monthly_, in which my Nights in Rome and in Venice first appeared, for
his consent to their re-publication now in book form.

                          ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL

3. Adelphi Terrace House, London
      December 25, 1915



CONTENTS

    I. DAYS: A WORD TO EXPLAIN  11

   II. NIGHTS: IN ROME          27

  III. NIGHTS: IN VENICE        71

   IV. NIGHTS: IN LONDON       115

    V. NIGHTS: IN PARIS        225



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                   PAGE

  "J--"                              _Frontispiece_
    From the Painting by J. McLure Hamilton

  OLD AND NEW ROME                                   35
    From the Etching by Joseph Pennell

  ELIHU VEDDER                                       56

  FRANK DUVENECK                                     76
    From the Painting by Joseph R. DeCamp

  THE CAFÉ ORIENTALE, VENICE                         82
    From the Etching by Joseph Pennell

  OUT OF OUR LONDON WINDOWS                         122
    From the Mezzotint by Joseph Pennell

  W.E. HENLEY                                       125
    From the Bust by Auguste Rodin

  W.E. HENLEY                                       127
    From the Painting by William Nicholson

  IWAN-MÜLLER AND GEORGE W. STEEVENS                154
    From a Photograph by Frederick Hollyer

  "BOB" STEVENSON                                   160
    From the Painting by Himself

  HENRY HARLAND                                     172
    From the Drawing by Aubrey Beardsley

  AUBREY BEARDSLEY                                  178
    From the Photograph by Frederick H. Evans

  PHIL MAY IN CAP AND BELLS                         193
    From a previously unpublished Drawing by Himself

  IN THE CHAMPS-ELYSÉES, PARIS                      235
    From the Etching by Joseph Pennell

  THE HALF HOUR BEFORE DINNER, PARIS                244
    From the Etching by Joseph Pennell

  ARISTIDE BRUANT OF THE CABARET DU MIRLITON, PARIS 290
    From the Poster by Toulouse-Lautrec



I

DAYS

A WORD TO EXPLAIN



NIGHTS

DAYS

A WORD TO EXPLAIN

I


If I wrote the story of my days during these last thirty years, it would
be the story of hard work. No doubt the work often looked to others
uncommonly like play, but it was work all the same.

From the start it must have struck those who did not understand and
who were interested, or curious enough to spare a thought, that my
principal occupation was to amuse myself. When I was young, in
America the "trip to Europe" was considered the crowning pleasure,
or symbol of pleasure, within the possibility of hope for even those
who were most given to pleasure. In Philadelphia it also stood for
money--not necessarily wealth, but the comfortably assured income
that made existence behind Philadelphia's spacious red brick fronts
the average Philadelphian's right. And it was with this trip that J.
and I began our life together. But misleading as was the impression
made to all whom it did not concern, great satisfaction as it was to
my family, who saw in it the ease and comfort it represented to the
Philadelphian, we ourselves, with the best will in the world, could
imagine it no holiday for us, nor accept it as the symbol of the
correct Philadelphia income. Our pleasure was in the fact of the
many and definite commissions which obliged us to go to Europe to
earn any sort of an income, correct or otherwise--commissions
without which we could have faced neither the trip nor marriage. I
can remember that during the two or three weeks between our wedding
and our sailing we were both kept busy, J. with drawings he had to
finish for the _Century_, and I with the last touches to an article
for the _Atlantic_. And if the days on the boat gave us breathing
space, if not much work, except in preparation, was done, the reason
was that the new commissions commenced only with our landing at
Liverpool.

From the moment of our arrival in England I see in memory my life by day
as one long vista of work. It is mostly a beautiful vista, the more
beautiful, I am ready to admit, because the work I owed the beauty to
forced me to keep my eyes open and my wits about me. Under the
circumstances, I simply could not afford to let what small powers of
observation I possess grow rusty, for, no matter what else might happen,
I had to turn my journey into some sort of readable "copy" afterwards.
If I know parts of Europe fairly well, I am indebted not to the
fashionable need of taking waters, not to following the approved routes
of travel, not to meeting my fellow countrymen in hotels as alike as two
peas no matter how different the capitals to which they belong, not to
any fatuous preference of another country to my own, but to the work
that brought us to England and the Continent and has kept us there, with
fresh commissions, ever since.

It was work that sent us from end to end of Great Britain and gave me my
knowledge of the land. As I look back to those remote days after our
arrival in Liverpool, I see J. and myself on an absurd, old-fashioned,
long-superannuated Rotary tandem tricycle riding along winding roads and
lanes, between the hedgerows and under the elms English prose and verse
had long since made familiar, in and out of little grey or red villages
clustered round the old church tower, passing through great towns of
many factories and high smoke-belching chimneys, halting for months
under the shadow of some old castle or cathedral that had been
appointed one of our stations by the way. Or I see us both trudging on
foot, knapsacks on our backs, climbing up and down the brown and purple
hills of the Highlands, circling the peaceful lochs, skirting the swift
mountain streams, tramping along the lonely roads of the far Hebrides:
summer after summer journeying to the beautiful places the usual tourist
in Britain journeys to for pleasure, but where we went because papers
and magazines at home, with a wisdom we applauded, had asked us to go
and make the drawings and write the articles by which we paid our way in
the world.

And it was work that sent us from end to end of France, and now in
looking back I see J. and myself on the neat, compact Humber
tandem,--then so new-fashioned, to-day as out-moded as the
Rotary,--riding along straight poplared roads, through well-ordered
forests and over wild hills, between vineyards, one year under the grey
skies of Flanders or among the lagoons of Picardy and another under the
brilliant sunshine of Provence or through the rich pastures of the sweet
Bourbonnais, in and out of ancient villages and towns as full of romance
as their names, with halts as long under the shadow of still nobler
churches and fairer castles, getting to know the people and their ways
and how pleasant life is in the land where beauty and thrift, gaiety and
toil, courtesy and wit, go ever hand in hand.

And again it was work that sent us still further south, to Italy which
in my younger years I had longed for the more because I fancied it as
inaccessible to me as Lhassa or the Grande Chartreuse. And again down
the beautiful vista of work I see J. and myself still on the neat
compact Humber, but now pushing up long white zigzags to grim
hill-towns, rushing down the same zigzags into radiant valleys of fruit
and flowers, winding between vineyards where the vines were festooned
from tree to tree, and fields where huge, white, wide-horned oxen pulled
the plough, bumping over the stones of old Roman roads, parting with the
wonderful tandem only for the long stay in wonderful Rome and wonderful
Venice.

And again it was work that sent us, now each on a safety bicycle--a
change that explains how time was flying--by the canals and on the flat
roads of Belgium and Holland; into Germany, through the Harz with Heine
for guide, by the castled Rhine and Moselle that may have lost their
reputation for a while but that can never lose their loveliness; into
Austria, on to Hungary, up in the Carpathians and to those heights from
which the Russian Army but the other day looked down upon the Hungarian
plain; into Spain, to sun-burnt Andalusia, for weeks in the Alhambra, to
windy Madrid, for days in the Prado; into Switzerland, the "Playground
of Europe," where our work must have seemed more than ever like play as
we climbed, on our cycles and on foot, over the highest of the high
Alpine passes, one after the other; again into Italy; again into France;
again through England; again--but they were too numerous to count, all
those journeys that claimed so many of my days and taught me, while I
worked, all I have learned of Europe.

Of such well-travelled roads anyway, it may be said people have heard as
much as people can stand, and therefore I am wise to hold my peace about
days spent upon them. But on the best-travelled road adventure lies in
wait for the traveller who seeks it, chance awaits the discoverer who
knows his business. Why, to this day J. and I are appealed to for facts
about Le Puy because a quarter of a century ago we made our discovery of
the town as the Most Picturesque Place in the World and sought our
adventure by proclaiming the fact in print. But our discoveries might
have been greater, our adventures more daring, and I should be silent
about them now for quite another and far more sensible reason, and this
is that I was not silent at the time. The tale of those old days is
told.


II

Other journeys I made had no less an air of holiday-taking and meant no
less hard labour. For most men work is bounded by the four walls of the
office or the factory, or the shop, or the school, and rigidly regulated
by hours, and they consequently suspect the amateur or the dawdler in
the artist or writer who works where and when and as he pleases.
Journalism has led me into pleasant places but never by the path of
idleness. Rare has been the month of May that has not found me in Paris,
not for the sunshine and gaiety that draw the tourist to it in that gay
sunlit season, but for industrious days, with my eyes and catalogue and
note-book, in the _Salons_. Few have been the International Exhibitions,
from Glasgow to Ghent, from Antwerp to Venice, that I have missed, and
if in my devoted attendance I might easily have been mistaken for the
tireless pleasure-seeker, if I got what fun I could at odd moments out
of my opportunities, never was I without my inseparable note-book and
pencil in my hand or in my pocket, never without good, long, serious
articles to be written in my hotel bedroom. Even in London when I might
have passed for the idlest stroller along Bond Street or Piccadilly on
an idle afternoon, oftener than not I have been bound for a gallery
somewhere with the prospect of long hours' writing as the result of it.
But though the task varied, the tale of these days as well has been
told, and has duly appeared in the long columns of many a paper, in the
long articles of many a magazine.


III

As time went on, my journeys were fewer and J. took his oftener by
himself. A new variety of task was set me that left so little leisure
for the galleries that I gave up "doing" them for my London papers. My
days went to the making of books which, whether I wrote them alone or in
collaboration with J., required my undivided attention. When these were
such books as the Life of My Uncle, Charles Godfrey Leland, or the Life
of Whistler, they called for research, days of reading in the Art
Library at South Kensington, the British Museum, the London Library,
days of seeing people and places, days of travelling, days of
correspondence, days upon days at my desk writing--these days crowded
with interesting incident, curious surprises, amusing talk, hours of
hope, hours of black despair--in their own way days of discovery and
adventure. But in this case again the tale has been told and I am not so
foolish as to sit down and tell it anew, sorely as I may be tempted.
Anybody who reads further will find that the principal truth my nights
have revealed to me is that the man who is interested--really
interested--in something, does not want to talk, and often cannot think,
about anything else. But it does not follow that he can make sure of
listeners as keen to hear about it. The writer may, in his enthusiasm,
write the same book twice, but even if it prove a "best-seller" the
first time, he runs a risk the second of seeing it disposed of as a
remainder.


IV

So it has been throughout my working life: my day's task has had no
other object than to get itself chronicled in print. If _what_ the work
was that filled my day is not known, it could not interest anybody were
I to write about it now. If _how_ I worked during all those long hours
is to me an all-absorbing subject and edifying spectacle, I am not so
vain as not to realize that I must be the only person to find it so.
Most men--and women too--were brought into the world to work, but most
of them would be so willing to shirk the obligation that the best they
ask is to be allowed to forget their own labours while they can, and not
to be bothered with a report of other people's. By nature I am inclined
to Charles Lamb's belief that a man--or a woman--cannot have too little
to do and too much time to do it in. But necessity having forced me to
give over my days to work, it happens that I, personally, would from
sheer force of habit find days without it a bore. However, I would not,
for that reason, argue that work is its own reward to any save the
genius, or that methods of work are of importance to any save the
workman who employs them.

Whatever man's endurance may be, I know one weak woman whose powers of
work are limited. There was never anybody to regulate my day of work
save myself, since I am glad to say it has not been my lot to waste the
golden years of my life in an office, and I am not the stern task-master
or tiresome trade-unionist who insists upon so many hours and so much
work in them, and will make not an inch of allowance either more or
less. Sometimes my hours were more, sometimes they were less, but always
my energy was apt to slacken with the slackening of the day. I never
found inspiration in the midnight oil and oceans of coffee. I have
always wanted my solid eight hours of sleep, and would not shrink from
nine or ten if they fitted in with a worker's life. Youth often gave me
the courage I have not now to take up work again--a promised article,
necessary reading, making notes, copying--at night. But youth never
induced me to rely upon this night work if I could help it. My nearest
approach to a rule was that at the end of the day I was at liberty to
play, that my nights at least could be free of work.

The play to many might pass for a mild form of mild amusement, for it
usually consisted in nothing more riotous than meeting my friends and
talking with them. But I confess that the talk and the quality of it,
the meeting and its informality did strike me as so singularly
stimulating as to verge upon the riotous. The manner of playing was
entirely new to me in the beginning. All conventions bind with a heavy
chain, but none with a heavier than the Philadelphia variety. Spruce
Street nights had never been so free and so vociferous and so late, and,
being a good Philadelphian, I am not sure if the nights that succeeded
have yet lost for me their novelty. As a consequence, if, in looking
back, my days appear to be wholly monopolized by work, my nights seem
consecrated as wholly to amusement. The poet's "hideous" is the last
adjective I could apply to the night my busy day sank into.

How I worked may concern nobody save myself, but how I played I cannot
help hoping has a wider interest. Those old nights were typical of a
period, and they threw me with many people, contemporaries of J.'s and
mine, who did much to make that period what it was. The nights as gay,
as stimulating, that I have spent in other people's houses I have not
the courage to recall except in the utmost privacy. Pepys and N.P.
Willis in their time, no less than a whole army of Pamelas and
Priscillas in ours, have shown the lengths and indiscretions to which so
intimate a breach of hospitality may lead. I have had my experience. For
some years a house with closely curtained windows has reproached me
daily for not understanding that the man who invites the world to stare
at him and is not happy if it won't, objects when his neighbours say
lightly what they see. I am every bit as afraid to speak openly of
those people who shared our nights and who, with us, have outlived them.
Cowardice long since convinced me that it is not of the dead, but of the
living, only good should be spoken--and if good cannot be spoken, what
then? However, it is not in pursuit of problems that I have busied
myself in reviving those old nights, but rather for the pleasure we all
of us have, as the years go on, in feeling our way back along the
Corridors of Time and living our past over again in memory. If I go
further and live mine over again in print, it is because I like to think
the fault will not lie with me if it altogether dies--I have given it,
anyway, the chance of a longer lease of life.



II

NIGHTS

IN ROME



IN ROME

I


It will give an idea of what ages ago those nights were, and of the
youth I brought to them, if I say that I arrived in Rome on the first
tandem tricycle ever seen in Italy.

I can look back to it now with pride, for I was, in my way, a pioneer,
but there was not much to be proud about at the time. Rome was so little
impressed that J., my fellow pioneer, and I,--J. and I who in every town
on the way from Florence had been the delight of the gaping crowd, J.
and I who in all those beautiful October days on the white roads of
Italy had suffered from nothing save the excess of the people's amiable
attentions,--scarcely showed ourselves beyond the _Porta del Popolo_ and
the Piazza of the same name, before we were arrested for driving the
tandem furiously through the _Corso_--as if anybody could drive anything
furiously through the _Corso_ at the hour before sunset, when all the
world comes home from the _Borghese_. But two policemen, drawing their
swords as if they meant business, commanded us to dismount and, between
them, we walked ignominiously to the hotel, pushing the tricycle; and
an astonished and not in the least admiring crowd followed; and the
policeman asked us for a _lira_, which we refused, taking it for a proof
of the corruption of modern Rome--and they were so within their legal
rights that I do not care to say for how many more than one we were
asked a few weeks later by the Syndic, whom we could not refuse; and
altogether I do not think we were to blame if, after the policemen and
the swords and the crowd had gone and the tricycle was locked up, and we
wandered from the hotel in the gathering dusk, we were the two most
ill-tempered young people who ever set out to enjoy their first night in
Rome.

Nor was our temper improved when J.'s instinct, which in a strange place
takes him straight where he wants to go, having got us into the
_Ghetto_, failed to get us out again. The _Ghetto_ itself was all right,
so what a _Ghetto_ ought to be that had I been the Romans, I would not
have pulled it down, I would have preserved it as a historical
monument,--dirty, dark and mysterious, a labyrinth of narrow crooked
streets, lined with tall grim houses, filled with melodramatic shadows
and dim figures skulking in them, but a nightmare of a labyrinth which
kept bringing us forever back to the same spot. And we could not dine
on picturesqueness, and we would not have dined in any of the
murderous-looking houses at any price, and at last J. admitted that
there were times when a native might be a better guide than instinct,
and in his best Italian he asked the way of two men who were passing.
One, who wore the tweeds and flannel shirt by which in calmer moments we
must have recognized him, pulled the other by the sleeve and growled in
English: "Come on, don't bother about the beastly foreigners!" I can
afford to forgive him to-day when I remember what his incivility cost
him not only that night, when we would not let him off until he had
shown us out of the _Ghetto_, but on a succession of our nights in Rome,
Fate having neatly arranged that at the one house whose doors were
opened to us he should be a constant visitor.

Other doors might have opened had we had the clothes in which to knock
at them. But we had come to Rome for four days with no more baggage than
the tandem could carry, and we stayed four months without adding to it.
We could have sent for our trunks, of course, or we could have bought
new things in the Roman shops, but we did neither, I can hardly say why
except that the story of our journey had to be finished, and other
delightful articles we had crossed the Atlantic to do were waiting, and
these were commissions that could not be neglected, since they were the
capital upon which we had started out on our married life five months
before. And our Letter of Credit was small, and Youth is stern with
itself;--or, more likely, we did not trouble simply because it saved so
much more trouble not to. No woman would have to be taught by Ibsen or
anybody else how to live her own life, were she willing to live it in
shabby clothes. It is not an easy thing to do, I know. I share the
weakness of most women in feeling it a disgrace, or a misfortune, to be
caught in the wrong clothes in the right place. But that year in Rome I
had not outgrown the first ardours of work and, besides, in the old
days, a cycle seemed an excuse for any and all degrees of shabbiness. In
my short skirts, at a time when short skirts were not the mode, covered
with mud, and carrying a tiny bag, I have walked into the biggest hotels
of Europe without a tremor, conscious that the cycle at the door was my
triumphant apology. The cyclist's dress, like the nun's uniform, was a
universal passport, and I have never had the cleverness to invent
another to replace it since I gave up cycling.


II

If we could not spend our nights in other people's houses, neither could
we spend them in the rooms we had taken for ourselves at the top of one
of the highest houses on the top of one of the highest hills in Rome.
There was no objection to the rooms: they were charming, but we had
found them on a warm November day when the sun was streaming in through
the windows that looked far and wide over the town, and beyond to the
_Campagna_, and still beyond to a shining line on the horizon we knew
was the Mediterranean, and we did not ask about anything save the price,
which to our surprise we could pay, and so we moved in at once. Nor for
days, as we sat at our work in the sunlight, the windows open and Rome
at our feet, did we imagine there could be anything to ask about, except
if, by asking, we could prevail upon the _Padrona's_ son-in-law to go
and blow his melancholy cornet anywhere rather than on the roof directly
over our heads. Living in rooms was the nearest approach I had made in
all my life to housekeeping, I was still in a state of wonderment at
everything in Rome, from Romulus and Remus on the morning pat of butter
to the November roses in full bloom on the Pincian, I was quite content
to let practical affairs and domestic details look out for
themselves--or, perhaps it would be more true to say that I never gave
them a thought.

But even in Rome the sun must set and November nights grow chill, and a
night came when, after a day of rain, a fire would have been pleasant,
and suddenly we discovered there was no place to make it in. It had
never occurred to us that there could not be, fresh as we were from the
land where heat in the house is as much a matter of course as a sun in
the sky. At first we wrapped ourselves in shawls and blankets, hired the
_padrona's_ biggest _scaldino_, and called it an experience. After a few
evenings we decided it was an experience we could do without and, like
all miserable Romans who have no fireplace, we settled down to spending
our nights in the restaurants and _cafés_ of Rome.

I doubt if I should care to spend my nights that way now; a quarter of a
century has added unexpected charm to a dinner-table and fireside of my
own; but no Arabian Nights could then have been fuller of entertainment
than the Roman Nights that drove us from home in search of warmth and
food. In Philadelphia there never had been a suspicion of chance, a
shadow of adventure about my dinner. It was as inevitable as six
o'clock and as inevitably eaten in the seclusion of the Philadelphia
second-story back-building dining-room, if not of my family, then of one
or another of my friends. In Rome it became a delightful uncertainty
that transformed the six flights of stairs leading to it from our rooms
into the "Road to Anywhere". That road was by no means an easy one to
climb up again and if we could help it, we never climbed down more than
once a day, usually a little before dusk, a few hours earlier when we
were in a rare holiday mood, and always in time for a long or short
tramp before dinner. If we came to a church we dropped into it, or a
gallery, or a palace, or a garden, when we were in time. We followed the
streets wherever they might lead,--along the brand-new _Via Nazionale_
to the Forum or the narrow alleys to St. Peter's, beyond the gates to
the _Campagna_--seeing a good deal of Rome without setting out
deliberately to see anything. When we were hungry, we stopped at the
first _Trattoria_ we passed, provided it looked as if we could afford
it, and the chance dinner in a chance place at a chance hour was the
biggest adventure of all that had crowded the way to it.

[Illustration: Etching by Joseph Pennell
OLD AND NEW ROME]

One night the _Trattoria_ happened to be the _Posta_ in a narrow
street back of the _Piazza Colonna_. It was small: not more than
twenty could have dined there together in any comfort. It was
beautifully clean. And the _padrone_, his son, and the one
waiter--all the establishment--greeted us with that enchanting smile
to which, during my first year in Italy, I fell only too ready a
victim. Once we had dined at the _Posta_, we found it so pleasant
that we fell into the habit of getting hungry in its neighbourhood.

I have since got to know many more famous or pretentious restaurants,
but never have dinners tasted so good as at this little Roman
_trattoria_ where we had to consider the _centesimi_ in the price of
every dish, and the quarter of a flask of cheap _Chianti_ shared between
us was an extravagance, and we ate with the appetite that came of having
eaten nothing all day save rolls and coffee for breakfast, and fruit and
rolls for lunch, that we might afford a dinner at night. And I have
dined in many restaurants of gilded and mirrored magnificence, but in
none I thought so well decorated as the _Posta_ with its bare walls and
coarse clean linen and no ornament at all, except the stand in the
centre where we could pick out our fruit or our vegetable. Nor has any
restaurant, crowded with the creations of Paquin and Worth, seemed more
brilliant than the _Posta_ filled with officers. In Philadelphia I had
never seen an army officer in uniform in my life; at the _Posta_ I saw
hardly anything else. We were surrounded by lieutenants and captains and
colonels, and as I watched them come and go with clank and clatter of
spurs and swords, and military salutes at the door, and military cloaks
thrown dramatically off and on, and gold braid shining, I began to think
a big standing army worth the money to any country, on condition that it
always went in uniform--on condition, I might now add, that this uniform
is not khaki, then not yet heard of. When the old spare, grizzled
General, always the last, appeared and all the other officers rose upon
his entrance, our dinner was dignified into a ceremony. Sometimes, I
fancied he felt his importance more than anybody, for he is the only man
I have ever known courageous enough in public to begin his dinner with
cake and finish it with soup.

Now and then, on very special occasions, when we had sent off an article
or received a cheque, we went to the _Falcone_ and celebrated the event
by feasting on _Maccheroni alla Napolitana_, _Cinghale all'Agra Dolce_
and wine of Orvieto. The _Falcone_ was another accident of our tramps,
though we afterwards found it starred in Baedeker. It looked the
centuries old it was said to be, such a shabby, sombre crypt of a
restaurant that I accepted without question the tradition it cherished
of itself as a haunt of the Cæsars, and was prepared to believe the
waiters when they pointed out the mark of the Imperial head on the
greasy walls, just as the waiters of the Cheshire Cheese in London point
to the mark of Dr. Johnson's, while the flamboyancy of the cooking
revealed to me the real reason of the decline and fall of Rome. I am
afraid I should be telling the story of our own decline and fall had we
sent off articles and received cheques every day. Fortunately, the
intervals were long between the feasts, but unfortunately our digestion
can never again be imperilled at the _Falcone_, for they tell me it has
gone with the _Ghetto_ and so many other things in the Rome I knew and
loved.

By the middle of the winter we gave up the _Posta_ and went to the
_Cavour_ instead. I don't know how we had the heart to, for the _Cavour_
never had the same charm for us, we never got to like it so well. It was
too large and popular for friendliness, the officers carried their
ceremony and gorgeousness to a room apart, and the _padrone_ and his
waiters were too busy for more than one fixed smile of general welcome.
But then there, if we paid for our dinner by the month, it cost us next
to nothing by the day, and our Letter of Credit allowed as narrow a
margin for sentiment as for clothes. Moreover, the dinner was good as
well as cheap. And when the streets of Rome were rivers of rain, as they
often were that winter, it was brought to our rooms in a dinner pail by
a waiter, after he had first come half a mile to submit the _menu_ to
us, and in that cold, bleak interior, wrapped in blankets, a _scaldino_
at our feet, a newspaper for tablecloth, we made a picnic of it,
freezing, but thankful not to be drowned. And on great holidays, the
_padrone_ spared us a smile all to ourselves as he offered us, with the
compliments of the season, a plate of _torrone_ and a bottle of old wine
from his vineyard.


III

With dinner the night was but beginning and smiles must have faded had
we lingered over it indefinitely. I learned to my astonishment, however,
that hours could be, or rather were expected to be, devoted to the
drinking of one small cup of coffee, and that always near the
_trattoria_ was a _café_[A] which provided the coffee and, at the cost
of a few cents, could become our home for as long and as late as might
suit us. In Philadelphia after dinner coffee had been swallowed
promptly, in the back parlour if we were dining alone, in the front if
people were dining with us, and I was startled to find it in Rome an
excuse to loaf at a convenient distance from the domestic hearth for
Romans with apparently nothing to do and all their time to do it in.

[Footnote A: _Note._--Let me anticipate the amiable critic--and say that
I know this is not the Italian spelling of _café_. I use the French
spelling here, as in later chapters where it belongs, for the sake of
uniformity throughout.]

It is an arrangement I take now as a matter of course. But then, it must
be borne in mind, for me only five months separated Rome from
Philadelphia, and Philadelphia bonds are not easily broken. I suspected
something wrong in so agreeable a custom, as youth usually does in the
pleasant things of life, and as a Philadelphian always does in the
unaccustomed, and at first, when we went to the ancient _Greco_, I tried
to believe it was entirely the result of J.'s interest in a place where
artists had drunk coffee for generations. When we deserted it because,
despite its traditions, nobody went there any longer save a few
grey-bearded old men and a few gold-laced hall porters, and the dulness
fell like a pall upon us, and the atmosphere was rank, and when we
patronized instead a brand-new _café_ in the _Corso_ that called itself
in French the _Café de Venise_ and in English the _Meet of Best
Society_, I put down the attraction to the _Daily News_, to which the
_café_ subscribed, and for which in those days Andrew Lang was writing
the leaders everybody was reading. But Lang could not reconcile us to
the nightly _Gran Concerto_ of a piano, a flute and a violin of
indifferent merit concealed in a thicket of artificial trees, and the
_Best Society_ meant tourists, and after we had shocked a family of New
England friends by inviting them to share its tawdry pleasures with us,
and after a few evenings had given us, unaccompanied, all and more than
we could stand of it, we exchanged it for a _café_ without a past and
with no aspirations as the Meet of any save the usual _café_ society of
a big Italian town. By this time I had ceased to worry about excuses and
had settled down to idleness and coffee with as little scruple as the
natives.

The _café_ we chose was the _Nazionale Aragno_ in the Corso, the largest
and most gorgeous in Rome. The three or four rooms that opened one out
of the other had a magnificence that we could never have achieved in
furnished rooms and would not have wanted to if we could, and a
succession of mirrors multiplied them indefinitely. We leaned
luxuriously against blue plush, gilding glittered wherever gilding could
on white walls, waiters rushed about with little shining nickel-plated
trays held high above their heads, spurs and swords clanked and
clattered, by the middle of the evening not a table was vacant.

It was simply the usual big Continental _café_, but to me as new and
strange as everything else in the wonderful life in the wonderful world
into which I had strayed from the old familiar ways of Philadelphia,
with a long halt between only in England where the _café_ does not
exist. To the marble-topped tables, the gilding, mirrors and plush,
novelty lent a charm they have never had since and probably would soon
have lost had we been left to contemplate them in solitary state, as it
seemed probable we should. For we knew nobody in Rome except Sandro, the
youthful enthusiastic Roman cyclist we had picked up in Montepulciano,
cycled with through the Val di Chiana on a sunny October Sunday, and run
across again in Rome where he amiably showed us the hospitality of the
capital by occasionally drinking coffee with us at our expense, and by
once introducing a friend, a tall, slim, good-looking young man of such
elegance of manner and such a princely air of condescension, that Sandro
himself was impressed and joined us again, later on the same evening, to
explain our privilege in having entertained the Queen's hair-dresser
unawares. Foreigners did not often find their way into the _Nazionale_.
They were almost as few in number as women, who were very few, for as
women in Rome never dined,--or so I gathered from my observations at the
_Posta_, the _Falcone_ and the _Cavour_,--they never drank coffee. Only
on Sundays would they descend upon the _café_ with their husbands and
children, and then it was to devour ices and cakes at a rate that
convinced me they devoured little else from one Sunday to the next. When
I asked for the _Times_--they took the _Times_ at the _Nazionale_--the
waiter almost invariably answered: "It reads itself, the _Signore
Tedesco_ has it," and the _Signore Tedesco_, a mild German student who
for his daily lesson in English read the advertisement columns from
beginning to end, was the only foreigner who appeared regularly at any
table save our own.

And yet at ours, before I could say how it came about, a little group
collected, and every evening in the furthest room J. and I began to hold
an informal reception which gave us all the advantages of social life
and none of its responsibilities. We could preside in the travel-worn
tweeds of cycling and not bother because we were not dressed; we could
welcome our friends the more cordially because, as we did not provide
the entertainment, it was no offence to us if they did not like it, nor
to them if we failed to sit it out. In the _café_ we found the "oblivion
of care," the same "freedom from solitude," though not the big words to
express it, which Dr. Johnson "experienced" in a tavern. Were all social
functions run on the same broad principles, society would not be half
the strain it is upon everybody's patience and good-nature and purse.

Almost all the group were artists. In those days artists and students
were no longer rushing to Rome as the one place to study art in, nor had
the effort begun to revive its old reputation among them. Still a good
many were always about. Some lived there, others, like ourselves, were
spending the winter, or else were just passing through, and, once we had
collected the group round our table, I do not believe we were ever left
to pass an evening alone.

Artists were as great a novelty to me as the _café_--I had been married
so short a time that J. had not ceased to be a problem, if he ever
has--and nothing was more amazing to me than the talk. Its volubility
took my breath away. I thought of the back parlour at home after dinner,
my Father playing interminable games of Patience, the rest of us deep in
our books until bed-time. And these men talked as if talk was the only
business, the only occupation of life.

Still more surprising was the subject of their talk. If they had so much
to say that it made me grateful I was born a listener, they had only one
thing to say it about. It was art from the moment we met until we
parted, though we might sit over our coffee for hours. Often it was next
morning when J. and I reached the house at the top of the hill, and he
dragged the huge key from his pocket, undid the ponderous lock and
struck the overgrown match, or undersized candle, by which the Roman lit
himself to his rooms, and we panted up our six flights afraid ours would
not last, for we had but the one supplied by the restaurant.

The quality of the talk was as amazing: bewildering, revolutionary, to
anybody who had never heard art talked about by artists, as I never had
before I met J. All I had thought right turned out to be wrong, all I
had never thought of was right, all that was essential to the critic of
art, to the Ruskin-bred, had nothing to do with it whatever. History,
dates, periods, schools, sentiment, meaning, attributions, Morelli only
as yet threatening to succeed Ruskin as prophet of art, were not worth
discussion or thought. The concern was for art as a trade--the trade
which creates beauty; the vital questions were treatment, colour,
values, tone, mediums. The price of pictures and the gains of artists,
those absorbing topics of the great little men in England to-day, were
never mentioned: the man who sold was looked down on, rather. There were
nights when I went away believing that nothing mattered in the world
except the ground on a copper plate, or the grain of a canvas, or the
paint in a tube, so long and heated and bitter had been the controversy
over it. They might all be artists, but they were of a hundred opinions
as to the exact meaning of right and wrong, and they could wrangle over
mediums until the German student looked up in reproof from his columns
of advertisements and the Romans shrugged their shoulders at the curious
manners and short tempers of the _forestiere_. But there was one point
upon which I never knew them not to be of one mind, and this was the
supreme importance of art. If I ventured to disagree--which I was far
too timid to do often--they were down upon me like a flash, abusing me
for being so blind as not to see the truth in Rome, of all places, where
of a tremendous past nothing was left but the work of the masters who
built and adorned the city, or who sang and chronicled its splendours.


IV

The noise of their talk is still loud in my ears, but many of the
talkers have grown dim in my memory. Of some of the older men I cannot
recall the faces, not even the names; some of the younger I remember
better, partly I suppose because they were young and starting out in
life with us, partly because one or two later on made their names heard
of by many people outside of the _Nazionale_ and far beyond Rome.

I could not easily forget the young Architect who was then getting ready
to conquer Philadelphia--to borrow a phrase from Zola, as seems but
appropriate in writing of the Eighties--for which great end all the
knowledge of the _Beaux-Arts_ could not have served him as well as his
conviction that the architecture of Europe had waited for him to
discover it. He had never been abroad before and he could not believe
that anybody else had. He would come to our little corner from his
prowls in Rome and tell men, who had lived there for more years than he
had hours, all about the churches and palaces and galleries, like a new
Columbus revealing to his astonished audience the wonders of a New
World. And it amused me to see how patiently the older men listened,
sparing his illusions, no doubt because they heard in his ardent,
confident, decidedly dictatorial voice the voice of their own youth
calling. He carried his convictions home with him unspoiled, and his
first building--a hospital or something of the kind--was a monument to
his discoveries, a record of his adventures among the masterpieces of
Europe, beginning on the ground floor as the Strozzi Palace, developing
into various French castles, and finishing on the top as a Swiss
_châlet_, atrocious as architecture, but amusing as autobiography. All
his buildings were more or less reminiscent, and told again in stone the
story so often told in words at the _Nazionale_, for Death was kind and
claimed him before he had ceased to be the discoverer to become himself.

Donoghue too has gone, Donoghue the sculptor who as I knew him in Rome
was so overflowing with life, so young that I felt inclined to credit
him with the gift of immortal youth, so big and handsome and gay that
wherever he went laughter went with him. He too was a discoverer, but
his discovery was of Paris and the Latin Quarter. It had filled a year
between Chicago, where he had been Oscar Wilde's discovery, and Rome,
and he had had time to work off his first fantastic exuberance as
discoverer before I met him. "Donoghue is all right," they would say of
him at the _Nazionale_; "he has got past the brass buttons and pink
swallow tail stage, even if he does cling to low collars and tight pants
and spats."

Certainly, he had got so far as to think he ought to be beginning to
work, and he was in despair because he could not find in Rome a youth as
beautiful as himself to pose for his Young Sophocles. To listen to him
was to believe that Narcissus had come to life again. We would meet him
during our afternoon rambles in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, when
he would stop and take half an hour to assure us he hadn't time to stop,
he was hunting for a model he had just heard of, and then he would drop
into the _Nazionale_ at night to report his want of progress, for no
model ever came up to his standard. He referred to his own beauty with
the frank simplicity and vanity of a child--a real Post-Impressionist;
not one by pose, for there was not a trace of pose in him. I wish I
could say how astonishing he was to me. Life has since thrown many young
artists and writers my way and I am used to their conceits and
affectations and splendid belief in themselves. But my experience then
was of the most limited and bound by Philadelphia convention, and I
cannot imagine a greater contrast than between the Philadelphia youth to
whom I was accustomed, talking of the last reception and the next party
over his chicken salad at the Dancing Class, and Donoghue talking
dispassionately of his own surpassing beauty over a small cup of coffee
at the _Nazionale_.

Donoghue was a child, not merely in his vanity, but in everything, with
the schoolboy's sense of fun. I never knew him happier than the evening
he hurried to the _café_ from his visit to the Coliseum by moonlight to
tell us of his joke on the Americans he found waiting there in silence
for the guide's announcement that the moon was in the proper place for
their proper emotion. A friend was with him.

"And I said: '_Sprichst du Deutsch?_' very loud as we passed," was
Donoghue's story. "And he answered as loud as he could: '_Nichts!
Nichts!_' And I said: '_Zwei Bier_,' and of course the Americans took us
for Germans. Then we hid in the shadows a little further on and we both
yelled together at the top of our voices, 'Three cheers for Cleveland!'
and the Americans jumped, and they forgot the moon, and they wouldn't
listen to the guide, and I tell you it was just great."

I was not overcome myself with the wit or humour of the jest, but
Donoghue was, and he roared with laughter until none of us could help
roaring with him in sheer sympathy. He was as enchanted with his method
of learning Italian. He was reading Wilkie Collins and Bret Harte in an
Italian translation, and when he yawned in our faces and left the _café_
early, it was because the night before the Dago's _Woman in White_ or
_Luck of Roaring Camp_ had kept him up until long after dawn, though
really he knew it was a waste of time since anybody had only to get
himself half seas over and he'd talk any darned lingo in the world.

He joined us less often after he gave up the hopeless hunt for the model
who never was found and whom it would have been useless anyway to find,
for Donoghue always spent his quarter's allowance the day he got it, and
most models could not wait three months to be paid. To this conclusion
he came soon after the first of the year and settled down seriously to
posing for himself and, as the world knows, the Young Sophocles was
finished in the course of time and a very fine statue it is said to be.
But even if he did desert our table he would still seem to me in memory
the centre of the little group gathered about it, had it not been for
Forepaugh.

Of course his name was not Forepaugh--though something very like it--but
Forepaugh answers my every purpose. For though I did know his name I did
not know then, and I do not know now, who he was and why he was. I do
not think anybody ever knew anything about him except that he was
Forepaugh, which meant, according to his own reckoning, the most
wonderful person on earth. He was one of the sort of men whose habit is
to turn up wherever you may happen to be, in whatever part of the world,
with no apparent reason for being there except to talk to you,--the last
time we met was in a remote corner of Kensington Gardens in London,
where he took up the talk just where we had left off at the _Nazionale_
in Rome--and as it is years since he has turned up anywhere to talk to
us, I fear he has joined the Philadelphia Architect and Donoghue where
he will talk no more.

In sheer physical power of speech he was without a rival and none
surpassed him in appreciation of his eloquence. His interest never
flagged so long as he held the floor, though when we wanted him to
listen to us, he did not attempt to conceal his indifference. We could
not tell him anything, for there was nothing about which he did not know
more than we could hope to. He, at any rate, had no doubt of his own
omniscience. Judging from the intimate details with which he regaled us,
he was equally in the confidence of the Vatican and the Quirinal,
equally at home with the Blacks and the Whites. The secrets of the Roman
aristocracy were his, he was the first to hear the scandals of the
foreign colony. The opera depended upon his patronage and balls
languished without him, though I could never understand how or why, so
rarely did he leave us to enjoy them. Every archæologist, every scholar,
every historian in Rome appealed to him for help, and as for art, it was
folly for others to pretend to speak of it in his presence. He called
himself an artist and for a time he used to go with J. to Gigi's, the
life school where artists then in Rome often went of an afternoon to
draw from the model. But J. never saw him there with as much as a scrap
of paper or a pencil in his hands, and nobody ever saw him at work
anywhere. For what he did not do he made up by telling us of what he
might do. His were the pictures unpainted which, like the songs unsung,
are always the best. He condescended to approve of the Old Masters,
assured that the masterpieces he might choose to produce must rank with
theirs, but he never forgot the great gulf fixed between himself and the
Modern Masters, whose pictures were worthy of his approval only when he
had been their inspiration. It was fortunate for American Art that
scarcely an American artist could be named whom Forepaugh had not
inspired. And if he praised Abbey and Millet more than most, it was
because he had posed for both and could answer for it that Millet's
porch, or studio, or dining-room, which had had the honour of serving as
his background, was as true as the figure of himself set against it.

Like all talkers who know too much, Forepaugh had, what Carlyle called,
a terrible faculty for developing into a bore. Some of our little group
would run when they saw him at the door, others took malicious pleasure
in interrupting him and suddenly changing the conversation in the hope
to catch him tripping. But out of all such tests he came triumphantly. I
never thought him more wonderful than the evening when somebody abruptly
began to talk about Theosophy in the middle of one of his confidences
about the Italian Court. It was no use. Without stopping to take breath,
at once Forepaugh began to tell us the most marvellous theosophical
adventures, which he knew not by hearsay, but because he had passed
through them himself. We might express an opinion: he stated facts. And
it seemed that he had no more intimate friend than Sinnett, and that to
Sinnett he had confessed his scepticism, asking for a sign, a
manifestation, and that one afternoon when they were smoking over their
coffee and cognac after lunch in Sinnett's chambers, then on the third
floor of a house near the Oxford Street end of Bond Street--Forepaugh
was carefully exact in his details--Sinnett smiled mysteriously but said
nothing except to warn him to hold on tight to the table. And up rose
the table, with the litter of coffee cups, cigars, and cognac, up rose
the two chairs, one at either end with Sinnett and Forepaugh sitting on
them, and away they floated out of the open window--it was a June
afternoon--and along Bond Street, above the carriages and the hansoms
and omnibuses and the people as far as Piccadilly, and round the lamp
post by Egyptian Hall, up Bond Street again, and in at the window. "Hold
on," said Sinnett, and "I never held on to anything as tight in my life
as I did to that table," said Forepaugh in conclusion.

He always reminded me of the man who so annoyed my Uncle, Charles
Godfrey Leland, by always knowing, doing, or having everything better or
bigger than anybody else. "Why, if I were to tell him I had an elephant
in my back yard," my Uncle used to say, "he would at once invite me to
see the mastodon in his." Forepaugh had a mastodon up his sleeve for
everybody else's elephant.


V

[Illustration: By Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Company
ELIHU VEDDER]

If Forepaugh gave us a great deal of information we had no possible use
for and talked us to despair, he was really a good fellow whom we should
have missed from our table. And it was through him J. and I were first
made welcome in that one house open to us, to which I have been all this
time in coming. For it was Forepaugh who told Vedder we were in Rome,
and Vedder, once he knew it, would not hear of our shutting his door
in our own faces, nor would Mrs. Vedder, whatever the condition of our
wardrobe.

Vedder may have revealed many things in his recent _Digressions_, but
not the extent of the hospitality he and his wife showed to the American
who was a stranger in Rome, where, even then, they had been long at
home. Mrs. Vedder carried her amiability to the point of climbing our
six flights of stairs and calling on me in the rooms that suited us
admirably for our work but were less adapted to afternoon receptions,
and she would have gone further and shown me how to adapt them by moving
every bit of furniture from where it was and arranging it all over
again. Not the least part of her friendliness was not to mind when I did
not fall in with her plans, as I couldn't, since so long as the sun
shone in at the windows all was right with the rooms as far as I could
see. I was in the absurd stage of industry when I did not care where my
Roman furniture stood so long as my Roman tasks got done. Even our
_padrona_ told me her surprise that, foreigner as I was, I seemed to do
as much work as she did, which I accepted as a compliment. After that
first attempt Mrs. Vedder did not return to climb our six flights, but
she would not let us off from climbing her four or five.

Often as we took advantage of their hospitality, we never found the
Vedders alone and, chiefly American as was the group at their fireside,
it was never without a foreigner or two. The first person we were
introduced to on the first visit was the Englishman who would have
deserted us in the _Ghetto_ had we let him have his way, and who, when
he saw us, looked as if he wished the Vedders had learned to be less
indiscriminate in their hospitality. We had the satisfaction of knowing
that we made him supremely uncomfortable. He frowned upon us then as he
continued to all through the winter. He could not forgive us for having
found him out and was evidently afraid we were going to tell everybody
about it. He was something very learned and was occupied in writing a
book on Ancient Rome; later he became something more important at South
Kensington. But no degree of learning and importance helped him to
forget, or anyway to forgive. At chance meetings years afterwards in
London he frowned, as no doubt he would still had he not long since gone
to the land where I hope all frowns are smoothed from his frowning brow.

If he frowned, there was another Englishman who smiled: an elderly man
with the imperturbable serenity of a Buddha. He also had written books,
I believe. I remember articles by him, with art for subject, in the
_Portfolio_ at a time when everybody had taken to writing about art, and
I think his name was Davies. But it would be more in character to forget
that he ever worked or had a name. When I was in Rome he had risen above
activity and toil to the contemplative life and, I suppose, to the
income that made it possible. One night he explained his philosophy to
me. Men could not be happy without sunshine, he thought. The sun was
house, food, clothes, furniture, identity, everything, and as most of
the year in England sunshine was not to be had at any price, he had come
to live in Rome where almost all the year it was his for nothing. He sat
on the Pincian or in other gardens during the day, doing nothing in the
sunshine--that was living. And he urged me to follow his example and not
to wait until half my life had been wasted in the pursuit of happiness
where it was not to be found. He may have been right, but I never needed
to become a philosopher to value the virtue of indolence,--my trouble is
that I have never had the money to pay for it. Any man has the ability
to do nothing, a great authority has said, and I can answer for one
woman who has more than her fair share of it. I have always envied the
North American Indians for their enjoyment of what it seems Burke
attributed to them: "the highest boon of Heaven, supreme and perpetual
indolence."

As regular a visitor was a huge long-bearded Norwegian who looked a
prophet and was an artist, and who spent most of the winter in the study
of Marion Crawford's novels, I cannot imagine why, as they roused him to
fury.

"Marion Crawford," he would thunder at us as if somehow we were
responsible, "Bah! He is a weak imitator of Bulwer, that is all, and he
has not Bulwer's power of construction. He is not Bulwer. No. He is a
weakling. Bah!"

My only quarrel with Marion Crawford's books was that they never excited
strong emotion in me, one way or the other, and I was so puzzled by his
excitement that I remember I went to the trouble of getting out _Mr.
Isaacs_ and _A Roman Singer_ from Piali's Library in the _Piazza di
Spagna_, that centre of learning and literature for the English in Rome
where, one day when I asked for Pepys's Diary, they offered me Marcus
Ward's. A new course of Marion Crawford left me as puzzled as ever for
the reason of the Norwegian's rage, and I was the more impressed with
the possibilities of a temperament that could heat itself to such a
degree at so lukewarm a fire.

We were as certain to find this fiery Norseman and the two Englishmen
any night we called as Vedder himself. Other men came and went, amongst
them a few Italians and Frenchmen and more Americans, Coleman for one
among them, but none could have appeared as regularly, so much fainter
is the impression they have left with me. Naturally, they were mostly
artists and at Vedder's, as at the _café_, the talk was chiefly of art.
There was little of his work to see, for his studio was some distance
from his apartment. But it was enough to see Vedder himself or, for that
matter, enough to hear him. In his own house he led the talk, even
Forepaugh having small chance against him. He was as prolific, a
splendidly determined and animated talker. It was stimulating just to
watch him talk. He was never still, he rarely sat down, he was always
moving about, walking up and down, at times breaking into song and even
dance. He was then in his prime, large, with a fine expressive face, and
as American in his voice, in his manner, in his humour as if he had
never crossed the Atlantic. The true American never gets Europeanized,
nor does he want to, however long he may stay on the wrong side of the
Atlantic. When I was with Vedder, Broadway always seemed nearer than the
_Corso_.

He had recently finished the illustrations for the _Rubaiyat_ and the
book was published while we were in Rome. It was never long out of his
talk. He would tell us the history of every design and of every model or
pot in it. He exulted in the stroke of genius by which he had invented a
composition or a pose. I have heard him describe again and again how he
drew the flight of a spirit from a model, outstretched and flopping up
and down on a feather bed laid upon the studio floor, until she almost
fainted from fatigue, while he worked from a hammock slung just above. I
recall his delight when a friend of Fitzgerald's sent him Fitzgerald's
photograph with many compliments, asking for his in return. And he
rejoiced in the story of Dr. Chamberlain filling a difficult tooth for
the Queen and all the while singing the praises of the _Rubaiyat_ until
she ordered a copy of the _édition de luxe_. In looking back, I always
seem to see Mrs. Vedder pasting notices into a scrap book, and to hear
Vedder declaiming Omar's quatrains and describing his own drawings.
There was one evening when he came to a dead stop in his walk and his
talk, and shaking a dramatic finger at us all, said:

"I tell you what it is. I am not Vedder. I am Omar Khayyam!"

"No," drawled the voice of a disgusted artist who had not got a word in
for more than an hour, "No, you're not. You're the Great I Am!"

Vedder laughed with the rest of us, but I am not sure he liked it. He
could and did enjoy a joke, even if at his expense. I remember his
delight one night in telling the story of an old lady who had visited
his studio during the day and who sat so long in front of one of his
pictures he thought it was having its effect, but whose only comment at
the end of several minutes was: "That's a pretty frame you have there!"
He was sensitive to criticism, however, though he carried it off with a
laugh. Clarence Cook was one of the critics of his Omar who offended
him.

"It's funny," Vedder said, "all my life I've hurt Clarence's feelings.
He always has been sure I have done my work for no other reason than to
irritate him, and now that's the way he feels about the Omar."

The laugh was not so ready when Andrew Lang--I think it was Lang--wrote
that Vedder's Omar Khayyam was not of Persia, but of Skaneateles. And
after I suggested that it was really of Rome, and some mistaken friend
at home sent my article to Vedder, I never thought him quite so cordial.


VI

And so the winter passed. For us there was always a refuge from our cold
rooms at the _café_ or at Vedder's, and it was seldom we did not profit
by it.

Occasionally during our rambles we stumbled unexpectedly upon old
friends "doing Italy" and genuinely glad to see us, as we were to see
them, inviting us to their hotels at every risk of the disapproval of
manager and porters and waiters; and so powerful was the influence of
Rome and the _café_ that now the marvel was to sit and listen to talk
about Philadelphia, and where everybody was going for the summer, and
who was getting married, and who had died, and what Philadelphia was
thinking and doing, as if, after all, there were still benighted people
in the world who believed not in art, but in Philadelphia as of supreme
importance.

Occasionally we made new friends outside of our pleasant _café_ life. I
have forgotten how, though I have not forgotten it was in Rome, thanks
to a letter of introduction from Dr. Garnett of the British Museum, that
we first met Miss Harriet Waters Preston, who, for her part, had already
introduced me to Mistral--how many Americans had heard of Mistral before
she translated _Mirèio_?--and who now accepted us, cycling tweeds and
all, notwithstanding the shock they must have been to the admirably
appointed _pension_ where she stayed. She also climbed our six flights,
her niece and collaborator, Miss Louise Dodge, with her, probably both
busy that winter collecting facts for their _Private Life of the
Romans_, and where could they have found a more perfect background for
the past they were studying than when they looked down from our windows
over Rome, to the _Campagna_ beyond, and upon the horizon the shining
line that we knew was the Mediterranean,--over all the beauty that has
not changed in the meanwhile, though old streets and old villas and old
slums have vanished. And at these times, in the talk, not Philadelphia,
but literature was for a while art's rival.

And there were days when we played truant and climbed down in the
morning's first freshness from the high room overlooking Rome and the
work that had to be done in it, and loafed all day in Roman galleries
and at Roman ceremonies, or strayed to places further afield--Tivoli,
Albano, Ostia, Marino, Rocca di Papa,--getting back to Rome with feet
too tired to take us anywhere except up our six flights again. And there
were nights when the affairs of Rome drew us from the _café_. I remember
once our little group interrupted their interminable arguments long
enough to see the Tiber in flood, down by the _Ripetta_, where people
were going about in boats, and Rome looked like the Venice to which I
had then never been, and we met King Humbert and Queen Margherita in his
American trotting wagon driving down alone so as to show their sympathy,
for, whatever they may not have done, they always appeared in person
when their people were in trouble: not so many weeks before we had
watched the enthusiasm with which the Romans greeted King Humbert on his
return from visiting the cholera-stricken town of Naples. And I remember
on _Befana_ Night we adjourned to the _Piazza Navona_ to blow horns and
reed whistles into other people's ears and to have them blown into ours.
For the humours of the Carnival there was no need to leave the _café_,
where one _Pulcinello_ after another broke into our talk with witticisms
that kept the _café_ in an uproar, and for me destroyed whatever
sentiment there might have been in the thought that this was my last
night in Rome--the last of the friendly nights of talk in the
_Nazionale_ to which we always returned no matter how far we might
occasionally stray from it--the friendly nights of talk when I learned
my folly in ever having believed that anything in the world mattered,
that anything in the world existed, save art.

_Pulcinello_, the newest of our Roman friends, went with us from Rome,
following us to Naples, a familiar face to lighten our homesickness for
the rooms full of sunshine at the top of the high house on the top of
the high hill, and for the blue plush and the gilding and the mirrors
and the talk of the _Nazionale_.

And _Pulcinello_ went with us to Pompeii, reappearing during our nights
at the _Albergo del Sole_, that most delightful and impossible of all
the inns that ever were. It may have vanished in the quarter of a
century that has passed since the February day I came to it, when the
sky was as blue as the sea, and a soft cloud hung over Vesuvius, and
flowers were sweet in the land--can anyone who ever smelt it forget the
sweetness of the flowering bean in the wide fields near the Bay of
Naples? But Pompeii could never be the same without the _Sole_. And it
was made for our shabbiness, its three tumbled-down little houses ranged
round the three sides of an unkempt, mud-floored court; our bedroom
without lock or latch and with a mirror cracked from side to side like
the Lady of Shalott's, though for other reasons; the dining-room with
earthen floor, walls decorated by a modern-primitive fresco of the
_padrone_ holding a plate of _maccheroni_ in one hand and a flask of
_Lachrima Christi_ in the other, a central column spreading out branches
like a tree and bearing for fruit row upon row of still unopened
bottles, a door free to all the stray monks and beggars of Pompeii--to
all the fowls too, including the gorgeous peacock that strolled in after
its evening walk with the young Swiss artist on the flat roof of the inn
where, together, they went before dinner to watch the sunset.

Throughout dinner, at the head of the long table where we sat with the
Swiss artist and an old German professor of art and an older Italian
archæologist, the talk, as at the _Nazionale_, was of art, so that it
also, like _Pulcinello_, crying his jests through the window or at our
elbow, made me feel at home. While we helped ourselves from that amazing
dish into which you stuck a fork and pulled out a bit of chicken or
duck or beef or mutton or sausage; while the old professor and
archæologist absent-mindedly stretched a hand to the column behind them,
and plucked from it bottle after bottle of wine; while the beggars
whined at the open door, and the monks begged at our side, and
_Pulcinello_ capered and jested and sang; while the American tourists at
the other end of the table deplored the disorder and noise until we sent
them the longest and most expensive way up Vesuvius to get rid of them;
while the fowls fought for the crumbs;--the talk was still of art and
again of art, in the end as in the beginning. I might not understand
half of it, coming as it did in a confused torrent of German, Italian,
French, and English, but the nights at the _Sole_, like the nights at
the _Nazionale_, made this one truth clear: that nothing matters in the
world, that nothing exists in the world, save art.



III

NIGHTS

IN VENICE



IN VENICE

I


We reached Venice at an unearthly hour of a March morning and the first
thing I knew of it somebody was shouting, "_Venezia!_" and I was
startled from a sound sleep, and porters were scrambling for our bags,
and we were stumbling after them, up a long platform, between a crowd of
men in hotel caps yelling: "_Danieli!_" "_Britannia!_" and I hardly
heard what, out into a fog as impenetrable as night or London. The
muffled, ghostly cries of "_gundola! gundola!_" from invisible
gondoliers on invisible waters would have sent me back into the station
even had there been a chance to find so modest a hotel as the _Casa
Kirsch_ open so preposterously early, and my first impressions of Venice
were gathered in the freezing, foggy station restaurant where J. and I
drank our coffee and yawned, and I would have thought Ruskin a fraud
with his purple passage describing the traveller's arrival in Venice
upon which I had based my expectations, had I been wide enough awake to
think of anything at all, and the hours stretched themselves into
centuries before a touch of yellow in the fog suggested a sun shining
in some remote world, and we crawled under the cover of one of the dim
black boats that emerged vaguely, a shadow from the shadows.

I had looked forward to my first _gondola_ ride for that "little first
Venetian thrill" that Venice owes to the stranger. But I did not thrill,
I shivered with cold and damp and fog as the _gondola_ pushed through
the yellow gloom in the sort of silence you can feel, and tall houses
towered suddenly and horribly above us, and strange yells broke the
stillness before and behind, when another black boat with a black figure
at the stern, came out of the gloom, scraped and bumped our side, and
was swallowed up again.

And after we were on the landing of the _Casa Kirsch_, and up in our
rooms, and the fog lifted, and the sun shone, and we looked out of our
windows with all Venice in our faces, and J. took me to see the town, my
impressions were still foggy with sleep. For, from Pompeii, where there
had been work, to Venice where there was to be more, we had hurried by
one of those day-and-night flights to which J. has never accustomed me,
the hurried, crowded pauses at Naples and Orvieto and Florence and Pisa
and Lucca and Pistoia turning the journey into a beautiful nightmare of
which all I was now seeing became but a part: the _Riva_, canals, sails,
_Bersaglieri_, the Ducal Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark's, the
_Piazza_, _gondolas_, women in black, white sunlight, pigeons, tourists,
the _Campanile_, following one upon another with the inconsequence of
troubled dreams. And then we were on the _Rialto_ and J. was saying "Of
course you know that?" and I was answering "Of course, the Bridge of
Sighs!" and the many years between have not blunted the edge of his
disgust or my remorse. But my disgrace drove me back to the _Casa
Kirsch_, to sleep for fifteen blessed hours before looking at one other
beautiful thing or troubling my head about what we were to do with our
days and our nights in Venice.


II

What we were to do with our days settled itself the next morning as soon
as I woke. For Venice, out of my window, was rising from the sea with
the dawn, everything it ought to have been the morning before, and I had
no desire to move from a room that looked down upon the _Riva_, and
across to _San Giorgio_, and beyond the island--and sail-strewn lagoon
to the low line of the _Lido_, and above to the vastness of the
Venetian sky.

Nor was there trouble in providing for our nights. Before I left home a
romantic friend had pictured me in Venice, wrapped in black lace,
forever floating in a _gondola_ under the moon. But my Roman winter had
taught me how much more likely the gas-light of some little _trattoria_
and _café_ was to shine upon me in my well-worn tweeds, my education
having got so far advanced that any other end to my day of work could
not seem possible. The only question was upon which of the many little
_trattorie_ and _cafés_ in Venice our choice should fall, and this was
decided for us by Duveneck, whom we ran across that same morning in the
_Piazza_, and who told us that he slept in the _Casa Kirsch_, dined at
the _Antica Panada_, and drank coffee at the _Orientale_, which was as
much as to say that we might too if we liked. And of course we liked,
for it is a great compliment when a man in Venice, or any Italian
town,--especially if he is of the importance and distinction to which
Duveneck had already attained,--makes you free to join him at dinner and
over after-dinner coffee. It is more than a compliment. It launches you
in Venice as to be presented at court launches you in London.

[Illustration: Painting by Joseph R. De Camp
FRANK DUVENECK]

We began that night to dine at the _Panada_ and drink coffee at the
_Orientale_, and we kept on dining at the _Panada_ and drinking coffee
at the _Orientale_ every night we were in Venice; except when it was a
_festa_ and we followed Duveneck to the _Calcino_, where various Royal
Academicians sustained the respectability Ruskin gave it by his
patronage and Symonds tried to live up to; or when there was music in
the _Piazza_ and, happy to do whatever Duveneck did, we went with him to
the _Quadri_ or _Florian's_; or when it stormed, as it can in March, and
all day from my window I had looked down upon the dripping _Riva_ and
the wind-waved Lagoon and lines of fishing boats moored to the banks,
and no living creatures except the gulls, and the little white woolly
dogs on the fishing boats covered with sails, and the sailors miserably
huddled together, and gondoliers in yellow oilskins, and the
_Bersaglieri_ in hoods--what the _Bersaglieri_ were doing there even in
sunshine was one of the mysteries of Venice;--then we went with Duveneck
no further than the kitchen of the _Casa Kirsch_, for he hated, as we
hated, the _table d'hôte_ from which, there as everywhere, German
tourists were talking away every other nationality.

The kitchen was a huge room, with high ceiling, and brass and copper
pots and pans on the whitewashed walls, and a dim light about the
cooking stove, and dark shadowy corners. The _padrona_ laid the cloth
for us in an alcove opposite the great fireplace, while she and her
family sat at a table against the wall to the right, and the old cook
ate at a bare table in the middle, and the maid-servant sat on a stool
by the fire with her plate in her lap, and the man-servant stood in the
corner with his plate on the dresser. Having thus expressed their
respect for class distinctions, they felt no further obligation, but
they all helped equally in cooking and serving, talked together the
whole time, quarrelled, called each other names, and laughed at the old
man's stories told in the Venetian which I only wish I had understood
then as well as I did a few weeks later, when it was too late, for, with
the coming of spring, there were no storms to keep us from the _Panada_.

Just where the _Panada_ was I would not attempt to say; not from any
desire to keep it secret, which would be foolish, for Baedeker long
since found it out; but simply because I could not very well show the
way to a place I never could find for myself. I knew it was somewhere
round the corner from the _Piazza_, but I never rounded that corner
alone without becoming involved in a labyrinth of little _calli_. Nor
would I attempt to say why the artists chose it and why, because they
did, we should, for it was then the dirtiest, noisiest, and most crowded
_trattoria_ in Venice, though the last time I was there, years
afterwards, it was so spick and span, with another room and more waiters
to relieve the congestion, that I could not believe it really was the
_Panada_ and, with the inconsistency natural under the circumstances,
did not like it half so well.

No matter whether we got there early or late, the _Panada_ was always
full. As soon as we sat down we began our dinner by wiping our glasses,
plates, forks, spoons, and knives on our napkins, making such a habit of
it that I remember afterwards at a dinner-party in London catching
myself with my glass in my hand and stopping only just in time, while
Duveneck, on another occasion, got as far as the silver before he was
held up by the severe eye of his hostess. Probably it was because nobody
could hear what anybody said that everybody talked together. I cannot
recall a moment when stray musicians were not strumming on guitars and
mandolins, and the oyster man was not shrieking: "_Ostreche!_ _Fresche!
Ostreche!_" though nobody paid the least attention to him or ever bought
one of his oysters. And above the uproar was the continuous cry: "_Ecco
me! Vengo subito! Mezzo Verona! Due Calomai! Vengo subito! Ecco me!_" of
the waiters, who, though they never ceased to announce their coming,
were so slow to come that many diners brought a course or two in their
pockets to occupy them during the intervals.

The little Venetian at the next table was sure to produce a bunch of
radishes while he waited for his soup; on market days, when there was
more of a crowd than ever, few of the many baked potatoes eaten at
almost every table had seen the inside of the _Panada's_ oven; often the
shops that fill the Venetian _calli_ with the perpetual smell of frying
and where the brasses and the blue-and-white used to shine, were
patronized on the way--if dinner has to be collected in the streets, no
town, even in Italy, offers such facilities as Venice. From _Minestra_
to fruit and cheese, the Venetian in a few minutes' walk may pick up a
substantial dinner and carry it to the rooms or the street corner where
it is his habit to dine. Vance, the painter, who sometimes favoured us
at our table with his company, went further and, after he had taken off
his coat and put on his hat and emptied his pockets, seldom troubled the
establishment to provide him with more than a glass, a plate, a knife,
and a fork, for the price of a _quinto_ of Verona. His first, and as it
turned out his last, more extravagant order, was the event of the
season. The _padrone_ discussed it with him and a message was sent to
the cook that the dish was _di bistecca_. When it came it was not cooked
enough to suit Vance. A second was cooked too much. The third was done
to a turn. In the bill, however, were the three, and voices were
lowered, mandolins and guitars were stilled, the oyster man forgot his
shriek, during the five awful minutes when Vance and the _padrone_ had
it out. After that Vance made another _trattoria_ the richer by his
daily _quinto_.

J. and I had our five minutes with the _padrone_ later on once when
Rossi, our waiter, was so slow that our patience gave out and we shook
the dust of the _Panada_ from our feet. But we could not shake off
Rossi. He had arrived with our dinner just as we were vanishing from the
door and was made to pay for it. After that his leisure was spent in
trying to make us pay him back and he would appear at our bedroom door,
or waylay us on the _Riva_, or follow us into the _Orientale_, or run
us down in the _Piazza_, demanding the money as a right, begging for it
as a charity, reducing it by a _centesimo_ every time until we had only
to wait long enough for the debt to be wiped out. But this was at the
end of our stay in Venice, and months of dining at the _Panada_ had
passed before then.


III

[Illustration: Etching by Joseph Pennell
THE CAFÉ ORIENTALE, VENICE]

I would be as puzzled to explain the attraction of the _Orientale_ on
the _Riva_, unless it was the opportunity it offered for economy. In the
_Piazza_, at the _Quadri_ and _Florian's_, which are to the other
_cafés_ of Venice what St. Mark's is to the other churches, coffee was
twenty _centesimi_ and the waiter expected five more, but at the
_Orientale_ it was eighteen and the waiter was satisfied with the change
from twenty, which meant for us the saving every night of almost half a
cent. The _Orientale_ was by comparison as quiet and deserted as the
_Panada_ was crowded and noisy. Outside, tables looked upon the Lagoon
and the façade of _San Giorgio_, white in the night. In a big, new,
gilded room sailors and sergeants played checkers and more serious
Venetians worked out dismal problems in chess. But Duveneck's corner was
in the older, shabby, stuffy, low-ceilinged room, and having once
settled there we never wanted to move. As a rule we shared it with only
an elderly Englishman and his son who read the _Standard_ in the
opposite corner--after our race with them to the _café_, the winners
getting the one English paper first--and we were seldom intruded upon or
interrupted except by the occasional visit of the _caramei_ man with his
brass tray of candied fruit, impaled on thin sticks, like little birds
on a skewer, which led us into our one extravagance.

Had the old room been seedier and duller--dull our company never was--I
still would have seen it through the glamour of youth and thought it the
one place in which to study Venice and Venetian life. But nobody who
ever sat there with us could have complained of dulness so long as
Duveneck presided at our table. In Duveneck's case I cannot help
breaking my golden rule never to speak in print of the living--rules
were made to be broken. And why shouldn't I? I might as well not write
at all about our nights in Venice as to leave him out of them, he who
held them together and fashioned them into what they were. In the
_Atlantic_, as a makeshift, I called him Inglehart, the disguise under
which he figures in one of Howells's novels. But why not call him
boldly by his name when Inglehart is the thinnest and flimsiest of
masks, as friends of his were quick to tell me, and Duveneck means so
much more to all who know--and all who do not know are not worth
bothering about. It was only yesterday at San Francisco that the artists
of America gave an unmistakable proof of what their opinion of Duveneck
is now. In the Eighties "the boys" already thought as much of him and a
hundred times more.

Duveneck, as I remember him then--I have seen him but once since--was
large, fair, golden-haired, with long drooping golden moustache, of a
type apt to suggest indolence and indifference. As he lolled against the
red velvet cushions smoking his Cavour, enjoying the talk of others as
much as his own or more--for he had the talent of eloquent silence when
he chose to cultivate it--his eyes half shut, smiling with casual
benevolence, he may have looked to a stranger incapable of action, and
as if he did not know whether he was alone or not, and cared less. And
yet he had a big record of activity behind him, young as he was; he
always inspired activity in others, he was rarely without a large and
devoted following. He it was who drew "the boys" to Munich, then from
Munich to Florence, and then from Florence to Venice, and "the boys"
have passed into the history of American Art and the history of
Venice--wouldn't that give me away and explain who he was if I called
him Inglehart dozens of times over? And he also it was who packed them
off again before they learnt how easy it is to be content in Venice
without doing anything at all, though I used to fancy that he would have
been rather glad to indulge in that content himself. How far he was from
the pleasant Venetian habit of idling all day, his Venetian etchings, at
which he was working that spring--the etchings that on their appearance
in London were the innocent cause of a stirring chapter in _The Gentle
Art_--are an enduring proof. And I knew a good deal of what was going on
in his studio at the time, for J. spent many busy hours with him there,
while I, left to my own devices, stared industriously from the windows
of the _Casa Kirsch_, making believe I was gathering material, or
strolled along the _Riva_ pretending it was to market for my midday
meal, though the baker was almost next door, and the man from whom I
bought the little dried figs that nowhere are so dried and shrivelled up
as in Venice, was seldom more than a minute away. I can see now, when I
consider how my Venetian days were spent, that I came perilously near
to sinking to the deepest depths of Venetian idleness myself.

We were never alone with Duveneck at the _Orientale_. The American
Consul was sure to drop in, as he had for so many years that half his
occupation would have gone if he hadn't dropped in any longer. Martin
joined us because he loved to argue anybody into a temper and, as he was
an awful bore, succeeded with most people. He could drive me to proving
that white was black, to overturning all my most cherished idols, or to
forgetting my timidity and laying down the law upon any point of art he
might bring up. Duveneck alone refused to be roused and Martin, who
could not understand or accept his failure, was forever coming back,
making himself a bigger bore than ever, by trying again. But Shinn was
the only man I ever knew to put Duveneck into something like a temper,
and that was by asking him deferentially one night if he did not think
St. Mark's a very fine church--the next minute, however, calming him
down by inviting him out "in my gandler."

Arnold was as regular in attendance. He found the _café_ as comfortable
a place to sleep in as any other. Like Sancho Panza he had a talent for
sleeping. He had made his name and fame as one of the Harvard baseball
team in I will not say what year, and sleep had been his chief
occupation ever since. No end of stories were going the round of the
studios and _cafés_--he invited them without wanting it or meaning to.
He was supposed to be in Venice to study with Duveneck, at whose studio
he was said to arrive regularly at the same hour every morning. And as
regularly he was snoring before he had been sitting in front of his
easel for ten minutes. During his nap, Duveneck would come round and
shake him and before he slept again put a touch to the study and, as
Arnold promptly dozed off, would work on it until it was finished, and
unless it slid down the canvas with the quantity of bitumen Arnold
used--there was one story of the beautiful eyes in a beautiful portrait,
before they could be stopped, sliding into the chin of the pretty girl
who was posing--Arnold, waking up eventually, would carry off the
painting unconscious that he had not finished it himself. Nobody can say
how many Duvenecks are masquerading at home as Arnolds while their
owners wonder why Arnold has never since done any work a tenth as good.

The one thing that roused him was baseball, and he was in fine form on
the afternoons when he and a few other enthusiasts spent an hour or so
on the Lido for practice. The Englishmen did not believe in the
prodigies they heard of him as a baseball player. It wasn't easy for
anybody to believe that a man who was always tumbling off to sleep on
the slightest provocation could play anything decently. But I was told
that one day he was wide enough awake to be irritated, and he bet them a
dinner he could pitch the swell British cricketer among them three balls
not any one of which the Briton could catch. And on Easter Monday they
all went over to the Lido. The Briton asked for a high ball: it skimmed
along near the ground and then rose over his head as he stooped for it.
He asked for a low one: it came straight for his nose and, when he
dodged it, dropped and went between his legs. He asked for a medium one:
it curved away out to the right, he rushed for it, it curved back again
and took him in his manly bosom. The rest of the Britons and "the boys,"
they say, enjoyed the dinner more than he did. Such was the affair as it
was described to me and confirmed by gossip. I pretend to no authority
on a subject I understand so little as balls and the pitching of them.

A better contrast to Arnold could not have been found than the artist
with the part Spanish, part German name who called himself a Frenchman,
and who aimed to give his pose the mystery that crept, or bounded when
encouraged, into his incessant talk. I am afraid his chief encouragement
came from me. The others were as irritated by his dabbling in magic as
most of us had been in Rome by Forepaugh's theosophic adventures. But he
amused me; he did not deal in the prose of his brand of magic, the
Black, of which so much was beginning to be heard, and still more was to
be heard, in Paris. He was all innuendo and strange hints and whispered
secrets, and I-could-if-I-woulds. One of my recent winters had been
devoted, not to dabbling in magic, for which I have not the temperament,
but to reading the literature of magic or of all things psychical, and I
could then, though I could not now, have passed a fairly good
examination in the modern authorities, from Madame Blavatsky to Louis
Jacolliot. Therefore I proved a sympathetic listener and heard, for my
pains, of the revival of old religions, and above all of old rites, and
of his dignity as high-priest, a figure of mystery and command moving
here and there among shadowy disciples in shadowy sanctuaries. For one
sunk such fathoms deep in mystery he was surprisingly concerned for the
outward sign. Like Huysmans's hero, he believed in the significance of
the material background, entertaining me with a detailed description of
his apartment in Paris, and I have not yet lost the vision he permitted
me of a bedroom hung and painted with scarlet, and of himself enshrined
in it, magnificent in scarlet silk pajamas. Probably it was to deceive
the world that he carried a tiny paint-box. I never saw him open it.

But most constant of our little party was Jobbins, our one Englishman,
who came in late to the _Orientale_--where, or if, he dined none of us
could say--with the stool and canvas and paint-box he had been carrying
about all day from one _campo_, or _calle_, or _canale_, to another, in
search of a subject. Jobbins's trouble was that he had passed too
brilliantly through South Kensington to do the teaching for which he was
trained, or to be willing to do anything but paint great pictures the
subjects for which he could never find; his mistake was to want to paint
them in Venice where there is nothing to paint that has not been painted
hundreds, or thousands, or millions of times before; and his misfortune
was not to seek in adversity the comfort and hope which the philosopher
believes to be its reward. He had become, as a consequence, the weariest
man who breathed. It made me tired to look at him. Later, he was forced
to abandon his high ambition and he accepted a good post as teacher
somewhere in India. But he lived a short time to enjoy it and I am sure
he was homesick for Venice, and the search after the impossible, and the
old days when he was so abominably hard up that even J. and I were
richer. Of the complete crash by which we all gained--including the man
who got the Whistler painted on the back of a Jobbins panel--I still
have reminders in a brass plaque and bits of embroideries hung up on our
walls and brocades made into screens, which J. bought from him to save
the situation, at the risk of creating a new one from which somebody
would have to save us.

For all his weariness, Jobbins looked ridiculously young. He insisted
that this was what lost him his one chance of selling a picture. He was
painting in the Frari a subject which he vainly hoped was his own, when
an American family of three came and stared over his shoulder.

"Why, it's going to be a picture!" the small child discovered.

"And he such a boy too!" the mother marvelled.

"Then it can't be of any value," the father said in the loud cheerful
voice in which American and English tourists in Venice make their most
personal comments, convinced that nobody can understand, though every
other person they meet is a fellow countryman. A story used to be told
of Bunney at work in the _Piazza_, on his endless study of St. Mark's
for Ruskin, one bitter winter morning, when three English girls, wrapped
in furs, passed. One stopped behind him:

"Oh Maud! Ethel!" she called, "do come back and see what this poor
shivering old wretch is doing."

The talk in our corner of the _Orientale_ kept us in the past until I
began to fear that, just as some people grow prematurely grey, so J. and
I, not a year married, had prematurely reached the time for creeping in
close about the fire--or a _café_ table--and telling grey tales of what
we had been. It was a very different past from that which tourists were
then bullied by Ruskin into believing should alone concern them in
Venice--indeed, my greatest astonishment in this astonishing year was
that, while the people who were not artists but posed as knowing all
about art did nothing but quote Ruskin, artists never quoted him, and
never mentioned him except to show how little use they had for him. But
then, as I was beginning to find out, it is the privilege of the artist
to think what he knows and to say what he thinks. We were none of us
tourists at our little table, we were none of us seeing sights, being
far too busy doing the work we were in Venice to do; and no matter what
Ruskin and Baedeker taught, "the boys" gave the date which overshadowed
for us every other in Venetian history. Nothing that had happened in
Venice before or after counted, though "the boys" themselves were in
their turn a good deal overshadowed by Whistler, who had been there with
them for a while.

It was extraordinary how the Whistler tradition had developed and
strengthened in the little more than four years since he had left
Venice. I had never met him then, though J. had a few months before in
London. I hardly hoped ever to meet him; I certainly could not expect
that the day would come when he would be our friend, with us constantly,
letting us learn far more about him and far more intimately than from
all the talk at a _café_ table of those who already knew him, accepted
him as a master, and loved him as a man. But had my knowledge of him
come solely from those months in Venice I should still have realized the
power of his personality and the force of his influence. He seemed to
pervade the place, to colour the atmosphere. He had stayed in Venice
only about a year. In the early Eighties little had been written of him
except in contempt or ridicule. But to the artist he had become as
essentially a part of Venice, his work as inseparable from its
associations, as the Venetian painters like Carpaccio and Tintoretto who
had lived and worked there all their lives and about whom a voluminous
literature had grown up, culminating in the big and little volumes by
Ruskin upon which the public crowding to Venice based their artistic
creed. During those old nights I heard far more of the few little inches
of Whistler's etchings and of Whistler's pastels than of the great
expanse of Tintoretto's _Paradise_ or of Carpaccio's decorations in the
little church of _San Giorgio degli Schiavoni_. The fact made and has
left the greater impression because the winter in Rome had not worn off,
for me, the novelty of artists' talk or quite accustomed me to their
point of view, to their surprising independence in not accepting the
current and easy doctrine that everything old is sacred, everything
modern insignificant. Because a painter happened to paint a couple of
hundred years or more ago did not place him above their criticism;
because he happened to paint to-day was apt to make him more
interesting to them.

At the _Orientale_ the talk could never keep very long from Whistler. It
might be of art--question of technique, of treatment, of arrangement, of
any or all the artist's problems--and sooner or later it would be
referred to what Whistler did or did not. Or the talk might grow
reminiscent and again it was sure to return to Whistler. Not only at the
_Orientale_, but at any _café_ or restaurant or house or gallery where
two or three artists were gathered together, Whistler stories were
always told before the meeting broke up. It was then we first heard the
gold-fish story, and the devil-in-the-glass story, and the
Wolkoff-pastel story, and the farewell-feast story, and the innumerable
stories labelled and pigeon-holed by "the boys" for future use, and so
recently told by J. and myself in the greatest story of all--the story
of his Life--that it is too soon for me to tell them again. Up till then
I had shared the popular idea of him as a man who might be ridiculed,
abused, feared, hated, anything rather than loved. But none of the men
in Venice could speak of him without affection. "Not a bad chap,"
Jobbins would forget his weariness to say, "not half a bad chap!" and
one night he told one of the few Whistler stories never yet told in
print, except in the _Atlantic Monthly_ where this chapter was first
published.

"He rather liked me," said Jobbins, "liked to have me about, and to help
on Sundays when he showed his pastels. But that wasn't my game, you
know, and I got tired of it, and one Sunday when lots of people were
there and he asked me to bring out that drawing of a _calle_ with tall
houses, and away up above clothes hung out to dry, and a pair of
trousers in the middle, I said: 'Have you got a title for it, Whistler?'
'No,' he said. 'Well,' I said, 'call it an _Arrangement in Trousers_,'
and everybody laughed. I'd have sneaked away, for he was furious. But he
wouldn't let me, kept his eye on me, though he didn't say a word until
they'd all gone. Then he looked at me rather with that Shakespeare
fellow's _Et tu Brute_ look: 'Why, Jobbins, you, who are so amiable?'
That was all. No, not half a bad chap."

Now and then talk of Whistler and "the boys" reminded Duveneck of his
own student days, and would lead him into personal reminiscences, when
the stories were of his adventures; sometimes on Bavarian roads, singing
and fiddling his way from village to village, or in Bavarian convents,
teaching drawing to pretty novices, receiving commissions from stern
Reverend Mothers; and sometimes in American towns painting the earliest
American mural decoration that prepared the way, through various stages,
for the latest American series of all--at the San Francisco Exposition
where Duveneck was acclaimed as the American master of to-day. But in
his story, as he told it to us, he had not got as far as Florence when a
new turn was given to his reminiscences and to our evening talk by the
descent upon Venice of the men from Munich.


IV

They were only three--McFarlane, Anthony and Thompson, shall I call
them?--but they had not journeyed all the way from Munich to talk about
"the boys" and to drop sentimental tears over old love tales. They were
off on an Easter holiday and meant to make the most of it. Because
Duveneck was Duveneck they gave up the gayer _cafés_ in the _Piazza_ to
be with him in the sleepy old _Orientale_. But they were not going to
let it stay a sleepy old _Orientale_ if they could help themselves.
Their very first evening Duveneck called for two glasses of milk--to
steady his nerves, he said, though he politely attributed the
unsteadiness not to this new excitement but to the tea he had been
drinking. People drifted to our room from outside and from the new room
to see what the noise was about, until there was not a table to be had.
The old Englishman and his son put down the _Standard_ and laughed with
us. The _caramei_ man went away with an empty tray, I do believe the
only time he was ever bought out in his life, and McFarlane treated us
all to _tamarindo_ to drink with the fruit, and he wound up his horrible
extravagance by buying a copy of the Venetian paper "the boys" used to
call the _Barabowow_. It was nothing short of a Venetian orgy.

Nor did the transformation end here. The men from Munich were so smart,
especially McFarlane, in white waistcoat, with a flower in his
button-hole and a gold-headed cane in his hand, that we were shocked
into the consciousness of our shabbiness. Duveneck, who, until then, had
been happy in an old ulster with holes in the pockets and rips in the
seams, dazzled the _café_ by appearing in a jaunty spring overcoat. J.
exchanged his old trousers with a green stain of acid down the leg for
the new pair he had hitherto worn only when he went to call on the
Bronsons or to dine with Mr. Horatio Brown, where I could not go
because I was so much more hopelessly unprepared to dine anywhere
outside the _Panada_ or the Kitchen of the _Casa Kirsch_. But in the
_Merceria_ I could at least supply myself with gloves and veils, while
Jobbins unearthed a fresh cravat from somewhere. And we began to feel
apologetic for the dinginess and general down-at-heeledness of Venice
which bored the men from Munich to extinction--really they were so
bored, they said, that all day they found themselves looking forward to
the _caramei_ man as the town's one excitement. I thought the
illuminations on Easter Sunday evening, when the _Piazza_ was "a
fairyland in the night," and the music deafened us, and the Bengal
lights blinded us, would help to give them a livelier impression; but,
though they came with us to _Florian's_, it was plain they pitied us for
being so pleased.

They couldn't, for the life of them, see why the place had been so
cracked up by Ruskin. Nothing was right. The _Piazza_ was just simply
the town's meeting place and centre of gossip, like the country village
store, only on a more architectural and uncomfortable scale. The canals
were breeding holes for malaria. The streets wouldn't be put up with as
alleys at home. The language was not worth learning. At the _Panada_,
after we had given our order for dinner, McFarlane would murmur
languidly '_Lo stesso_' and declare it to be the one useful word in the
Italian dictionary; to this Johnson added a mysterious '_Sensa crab_'
when Rossi suggested '_piccoli fees_' under the delusion that he was
talking English; while Anthony was quite content with the vocabulary the
other two supplied him. The climate was as deplorable: either wet and
cold, when the Italian _scaldino_ wasn't a patch on the German stove and
a _gondola_ became a freezing machine; or warm and enervating when they
couldn't keep awake.

They dozed in their _gondola_, they yawned in St. Mark's and the Ducal
Palace and in all the other churches and palaces, and in front of all
the old doorways and bridges and boat-building yards and _traghettos_
and fishing boats and wells and "bits" that Camillo, their gondolier,
was inhuman enough to wake them up to look at. The beauty of Venice was
exaggerated, or if they did come to a "subject" that made them pull
their sketch books out of their pockets, Camillo was at once bothering
them to do it from just where Guardi, or Canaletto, or Rico, or
Whistler, or Ruskin, or some other old boy had painted, etched, or
drawn it--Whistler alone had finished Venice for every artist who came
after him and they were tired of his very name, and never wanted to have
his etchings and pastels thrown in their faces again. What they would
like to do was to discover the Italian town or village where no artist
had ever been seen and the word art had never been uttered.

But it was Venetian painting that got most on their nerves. They had
given it a fair chance, they protested. "Trot out your Tintorettos,"
they said to Camillo every morning, and he carried them off to the
Palace, and the Academy, and more churches than they thought there were
in the world, and at last to the _Scuola di San Rocco_. And there a
solemn man in spectacles took them in hand. They said to him too: "Trot
our your Tintorettos," and he led them up to a big, dingy canvas, and
they said: "Trot out your next," and they went the rounds of them all,
and they asked, "Where's your Duveneck?" and he said he had never heard
of Duveneck, and they said, "Why, he's here!" and they left him hunting,
and were back in their _gondola_ in ten minutes, and they guessed they
could do with Rubens! I trembled to think of the shock to tourists and
my highly intellectual friends at home, religiously studying Baedeker
and reading Ruskin, could they have heard the men from Munich talking of
art and of Venice. And I must have been painfully scandalized had I not
got so much further on with my education as to have a glimmering of the
truth Whistler was trying to beat into the unwilling head of the British
public--that an artist knows more about art than the man who isn't an
artist, and has the best right to an opinion on the subject.

Perhaps their disappointment in Venice was the reason of their
pre-occupation with Munich. Certainly "Now, at Munich" was the beginning
and end of the talk as "when 'the boys' were here" had been before they
came. They would not admit that anything good could exist outside of
Munich. I remember Duveneck once suggesting that Paris was the best
place for the student, to whom it was a help just to see what was going
on around him.

"But what does go on round the student there?" McFarlane interrupted.
"It's all fads in Paris. What do they talk about in Paris to-day but
values? [This, remember, was more than a quarter of a century ago.]
That's all they teach the student, all they think of. Look at Bisbing's
picture last year. They all raved over it, said it was the _clou_ of
the Salon, medalled it, bought it for the Luxembourg, and I don't know
what all. And what was it?--Pale green sheep in the foreground, pale
green mountains in the background, so pale you could shoot peas through
them. That's what you have to do now to make a success in Paris--get
your values so that you can shoot peas through 'em. And what will it be
to-morrow? And what help is it to the student, anyway?"

But one thing certain is, that whatever the fads and movements in the
Paris studios happened to be, the American student in those days did see
what was going on in Paris, and just to see, just to feel it, was, as
Duveneck held, a help, an inspiration. To-day, living in his own
_pensions_, studying in his own schools, loafing in his own clubs, he
does not take any interest in what is going on outside of them and will
talk about what "the Frenchmen are doing" as if he were still in
Kalamazoo or Oshkosh.

What the student, in Duveneck's and McFarlane's time saw going on round
him in Munich was, as well as I could make out, chiefly balls and
pageants. To this day I cannot help thinking of life in Munich as one
long spectacle and dance. Duveneck, who could talk with calmness of his
painting, was stirred to animation when he recalled the costumes he had
invented for himself and his friends. He could not conceal his pride in
the success of a South Sea Islander he had designed, the effect achieved
by the simple means of burnt Sienna rubbed into the poor man, but so
vigorously that it took months to get it out again, and a blanket which
he mislaid towards morning so that his walk home at dawn, like a savage
skulking in the shadows, was a triumph of realism. Pride, too, coloured
Duveneck's account of the appearance of the Socialist Carpenter of his
creation who made a huge sensation by inciting to riot in the streets of
an elaborate Old Munich--the origin of Old London and Old Paris and all
the sham Old Towns that Exhibitions have long since staled for us. But
his masterpiece was the Dissipated Gentleman, like all masterpieces a
marvel of simplicity--hired evening clothes, a good long roll in the
muddiest gutter on the way to the ball, and it was done; but the art,
Duveneck said, was in the rolling, which in this case, under his
direction, was so masterly that at the door the Dissipated Gentleman was
mistaken for the real thing and, if friends had not come up in the nick
of time, the door would have been shut in his face.

Duveneck was as enthusiastic over the Charles V. ball, though all the
artists of Munich contributed to its splendour, working out their
costumes with such respect for truth and so regardless of cost that for
months and years afterwards not a bit of old brocade or lace was to be
had in the antiquity shops of Bavaria. And the students were responsible
for the siege of an old castle outside the town, and in their
archæological ardour persuaded the Museum to lend the armour and arms of
the correct date, and, in their appreciation of the favour, fought with
so much restraint that the casualties were a couple of spears snapped.
And, in my recollection, their recollections stood for such truth and
gorgeousness that when England, years afterwards, took to celebrating
its past with pageants, more than once I found myself thinking how much
better they order these things in Munich!

And from the studios came the inspiration for that ball Munich talks of
to this day in which all the nations were represented. There was a Hindu
temple, a Chinese pagoda, and an Indian wigwam. But the crowning touch
was the Esquimaux hut. Placed in a hall apart, at the foot of a great
stairway, it was built of some composition in which pitch was freely
used, lit by tallow candles, and hung with herrings offered for sale by
nine Esquimaux dressed in woollen imitation of skins with the furry side
turned out. All evening the hut was surrounded, only towards midnight
could the crowd be induced to move on to some fresh attraction. In the
moment's lull, one of the Esquimaux was tying up a new line of herrings
when he brushed a candle with his arm. In a second he was blazing.
Another ran to his rescue. In another second the hut was a furnace and
nine men were in flames, with pitch and wool for fuel. One of the few
people still lounging about the hut, fearing a panic, gave the signal to
the band, who struck up _Carmen_. Never since, McFarlane said, had he
listened to the music of _Carmen_, never again could he listen to it,
without seeing the burning hut, the men rushing out of it with the
flames leaping high above them, tearing at the blazing wool, in their
agony turning and twisting as in some wild fantastic dance, while above
the music he could hear the laughter of the crowd, who thought it a
joke--a new scene in the spectacle.

He snatched a rug from somewhere and tried to throw it over one of the
men, but the man flew past to the top of the great stairway. There he
was seized and rolled over and over on the carpet until the flames were
out. He got up, walked downstairs, asked for beer, drank it to the
dregs, and fell dead with the glass in his hand--the first to die, the
first freed from his agony. Of the nine, but two survived. Seven lay
with their hut, a charred heap upon the ground, before the laughing
crowd realized what a pageant of horror Fate had planned for them.

Munich stories, before the night was over, had to be washed down with
Munich beer, which, at that time as still, I fancy, was best at Bauer's.
By some unwritten law, inscrutable as the written, it was decreed that,
though I might sit all evening the only woman at our table in the
_Orientale_--oftener than not the only woman in the _café_--it was not
"the thing" for me to go on to Bauer's. Therefore, first, the whole
company would see me home. It was a short stroll along the _Riva_, but
the Lagoon, dim and shadowy, stretched away beyond us, dimmer islands
resting on its waters, the lights of the boats sprinkling it with gold
under the high Venetian sky sprinkled with stars; and so beautiful was
it, and so sweet the April night, that the men from Munich could not
hold out against the enchantment of Venice in spring. I felt it a
concession when McFarlane admitted the loveliness of Venice by
starlight, and his languor dropped from him under the spell, and I knew
the game of boredom was up when, in this starlight, he decided that,
after all, there might be more in the Tintorettos than he thought if
only he had time to study them. But Easter holidays do not last for
ever, and the day soon came when the men from Munich had to go back to
where all was for the best in the best of all towns, but where no doubt,
on the principle that we always prefer what we have not got at the
moment, they told "the fellows" in the _Bier Kellars_ that only in
Venice was life worth while, that Rubens was dingy, and that they
guessed they could do with Tintoretto.


V

Somehow, we were never the same after they left us; not, I fancy,
because we missed them, but because we could hold out still less than
they against the spring. When the sun was so warm and the air so soft,
when in the little canals wistaria bloomed over high brick walls, when
boatloads of flowers came into Venice with the morning, when at noon the
_Riva_ was strewn with sleepers--then indoors and work became an
impertinence. On the slightest excuse J. and Duveneck no longer shut
themselves in the studio, I gave up collecting material from my window
and lunch from the _Riva_, Jobbins interrupted his search and Martin his
argument, the Consul fought shy of the old corner in the _café_. And in
the languid laziness that stole upon Venice, as well as upon us, I
penetrated for the first time to the inner meaning of the chapter in his
_Venetian Life_ that Howells labels _Comincia far Caldo_, the season
when repose takes you to her inner heart and you learn her secrets, when
at last you know _why_ it was an Abyssinian maid who played upon her
dulcimer, at last you recognize in Xanadu the land where you were born.

There was never a _festa_ in the _Piazza_ that we were not there,
watching or walking with the bewildering procession of elegant young
Venetians, and peasants from the mainland, and officers, and soldiers,
and gondoliers with big caps set jauntily on their curls, and beautiful
girls in the gay fringed shawls that have disappeared from Venice and
the wooden shoes that once made an endless clatter along the _Riva_ but
are heard no more, and Greeks, and Armenians, and priests, and beggars,
passing up and down between the arcades and the _café_ tables that
overflowed far into the square, St. Mark's more unreal in its splendour
than ever with its domes and galleries and traceries against the blue
of the Venetian night.

There was never a side-show on the _Riva_ that we did not interrupt our
work to go and see it; whether it was the circus in the little tent,
with the live pony, the most marvellous of all sights in Venice; or the
acrobats tumbling on their square of carpet; or the blindfolded,
toothless old fortune-teller, whose shrill voice I can still hear
mumbling "_Una volta soltanta per Napoli!_" when she was asked if
Naples, this coming summer, as the last, would be ravaged by cholera.
She was right, for in the town, cleaned out of picturesqueness, cholera
could not again do its work in the old wholesale fashion.

There was never an excursion to the Islands that we did not join it. To
visit some of the further Islands was not so easy in those days, except
for tourists with a fortune to spend on _gondolas_, and we were grateful
to the occasional little steamboat that undertook to get us there,
though with a crowd and noise and a brass band, for all the world like
an excursion to Coney Island, and though most people, except the
grateful natives, were obediently believing with Ruskin that it was the
symbol of the degeneracy of Venice and would have thought themselves
disgraced forever if they were seen on it. But the Lagoon was as
beautiful from the noisy, fussy little steamboat as from a _gondola_,
the sails of the fishing boats touching it with as brilliant colour, the
Islands lying as peacefully upon its shining waters, the bells of the
many _campanili_ coming as sweetly to our ears, the sky above as pure
and radiant; and it mattered not how we reached the Islands, they were
as enchanting when we landed.

One wonderful day was at Torcello, where nothing could mar the
loveliness of its solitude and desolation, its old cathedral full of
strange mosaics and stranger memories, the green space in front that was
once a _Piazza_ tangled with blossoms and sweet-scented in the May
sunshine, the purple hills on the mainland melting into the pale sky.
And a second day as wonderful was at Burano, with its rose-flushed
houses and gardens and traditions of noise and quarrels, and the girls
who followed the boat along the bank and pelted us with roses until
Jobbins vowed he would go and live there--and he did, but a market boat
brought him back in a week. And other excursions took us to Chioggia,
the canals there alive with fishing boats and the banks with fishermen
mending their nets; and to Murano, busy and beautiful both, with the
throb of its glass furnaces and the peace of the fields where the dead
sleep; and again and again to the _Lido_ where green meadows were
sprinkled with daisies and birds were singing.

More wonderful were the nights, coming home, when the gold had faded
from sea and sky, the palaces and towers of Venice rising low on the
horizon as in a City of Dreams, the Lagoon turned by the moon into a
sheet of silver, lights like great fireflies stealing over the water,
ghostly _gondolas_ gliding past,--then we were the real Lotus Eaters
drifting to the only Lotus Land where all things have rest.

The fussy little steamboat, I found, could rock ambition to sleep as
well as a _gondola_, and life seemed to offer nothing better than an
endless succession of days and nights spent on its deck bound for
wherever it might bear us. I understood and sympathized with the men who
lay asleep all day in the sunshine on the _Riva_ and who sang all night
on the bridge below our windows. What is more, I envied them and wished
they would take me into partnership. Were they not putting into practice
the philosophy our ancient friend Davies had preached to me in Rome? But
only the Venetian can master the secret of doing nothing with nothing to
do it on, and if J. and I were to hope for figs with our bread, or even
for bread by itself, we had to move on to the next place where work
awaited us. And so the last of our nights in Venice came before spring
had ripened into summer, and the last of our mornings when porters again
scrambled for our bags, and we again stumbled after them up the long
platform; and then there were again yells, but this time of "_Partenza_"
and "_Pronti_," and the train hurried us away from the _Panada_, and the
_Orientale_, and the Lagoon, to a world where no lotus grows and life is
all labour.



IV

NIGHTS IN LONDON



IN LONDON

I


I cannot remember how or why we began our Thursday nights. I rather
think they began themselves and we kept them up to protect our days
against our friends.

It was an unusually busy time with us--or perhaps I ought to say with
me, for, to my knowledge, J. has never known the time that was anything
else. After our years of wandering, years of hotels and rooms and
lodgings, we had just settled in London in the first place we had ever
called our own--the old chambers in the old Buckingham Street house
overlooking the river; I was doing more regular newspaper work than I
had ever done before or ever hope to do again; we were in the
Eighteen-Nineties, and I need neither the magnifying glasses through
which age has the reputation of looking backward, nor the clever young
men of to-day who write about that delectable decade and no doubt
deplore my indiscretion in being alive to write about it myself, to show
me how very much more amusing and interesting life was then than now.

There is no question that people, especially people doing our sort of
work, were much more awake in the Nineties, much more alive, much more
keen about everything, even a fight, or above all a fight, if they
thought a fight would clear the air. Those clever young men,
self-appointed historians of a period they know only by hearsay, may
deplore or envy its decadence. But because a small clique wrote anæmic
verse and bragged of the vices for which they had not the strength,
because a few youthful artists invented new methods of expression the
outsider did not understand, that does not mean decadence. A period of
revolt against decadence, of insurrection, of vigorous warfare it seemed
to me who lived and worked through it. The Yellow Nineties, the Glorious
Nineties, the Naughty Nineties, the Rococo Nineties, are descriptions I
have seen, but the Fighting Nineties would be mine. As I recall those
stimulating days, the prevailing attitude of the artist in his studio,
the author at his desk, the critic at his task, was that of Henley's Man
in the Street:

  Hands in your pockets, eyes on the pavement,
    Where in the world is the fun of it all?
  But a row--but a rush--but a face for your fist.
    Then a crash through the dark--and a fall.

Scarcely an important picture was painted, an important illustration
published, an important book written, an important criticism made, that
it did not lead to battle. Few of the Young Men of the Nineties
accomplished all the triumphant things they thought they could, but the
one thing they never failed to do and to let the world know they were
doing was to fight, and they loved nothing better--coats off, sleeves
rolled up, arms squared. Whatever happened was to them a challenge.
Whistler began the Nineties with his Exhibition at the Groupil Gallery
and it was a rout for the enemy. The harmless portrait of Desboutin by
Degas was hung at the New English Art Club and straightaway artists and
critics were bludgeoning each other in the press. Men were elected to
the Royal Academy, pictures were bought by the Chantrey Bequest; new
papers and magazines were started by young enthusiasts with something to
say and no place to say it in; new poets, yearning for degeneracy, read
their poems to each other in a public house they preferred to
re-christen a tavern; new printing presses were founded to prove the
superiority of the esoteric few; new criticism--new because honest and
intelligent--was launched; everything suddenly became _fin-de-siècle_
in the passing catchword of the day borrowed from Paris; every fad of
the Continent was adopted; but no matter what it might be, the incident,
or work, or publication that roused any interest at all was the signal
for the clash of arms, for the row and the rush. Everybody had to be in
revolt, though it might not always have been easy to say against just
what. I remember once, at the show of a group of young painters who
fancied themselves fiery Independents, running across Felix Buhot, the
most inflammable man in the world, and his telling me, with his wild
eyes more aflame than usual, that he could smell the powder. He was not
far wrong, if his metaphor was a trifle out of proportion to those very
self-conscious young rebels. A good deal of powder was flying about in
the Nineties, and when powder flies, whatever else may come of it, one
thing sure is that nobody can sleep and most people want to talk.

I had not been in London a year before I knew that there the _café_ was
not the place to talk in. I have dreary memories of the first efforts J.
and I, fresh from Italy, made to go on leading the easy, free-from-care
life in restaurants and _cafés_ we had led in Rome and Venice. But it
was not to be done. The distances were too great, the weather too
atrocious, the little restaurants too impossible, the big restaurants
too beyond our purse, and the only real _café_ was the _Café Royal_. At
an earlier date Whistler had drawn his followers to it. In the Nineties
Frederick Sandys was one of its most familiar figures. Even now,
especially on Saturday nights, young men, in long hair and strange hats
and laboriously unconventional clothes, are to be met there, looking a
trifle solemnized by their share in so un-English an entertainment. For
this is the trouble: The _café_ is not an English institution and
something in the atmosphere tells you right away that it isn't. It
might, it may still, serve us for an occasion, its mirrors and gilding
and red velvet pleasantly reminiscent, but for night after night it
would not answer at all as the _Nazionale_ had answered in Rome, the
_Orientale_ in Venice.

However, Buckingham Street made a good substitute as an extremely
convenient centre for talk, and its convenience was so well taken
advantage of that, at this distance of time, I am puzzled to see how we
ever got any work done. J. and I have never been given to inhospitality,
and we both liked the talk. But the day of reckoning came when, sitting
down to lunch one morning, we realized that it was the first time we
had eaten that simple meal alone for we could not remember how long.
The lunch for which no preparation is made and at which the company is
uninvited but amusing may be one of the most agreeable of feasts, but we
knew too well that if we went on cutting short our days of work to enjoy
it, we ran the risk of no lunch ever again for ourselves, let alone for
anybody else.

To be interrupted in the evening did not matter so much, though our
evenings were not altogether free of work--nor are J.'s even yet, the
years proving less kind in moulding him to the indolence to which, with
age, I often find myself pleasantly yielding. Our friends, when we
stopped them dropping in by day, began dropping in by night instead, and
one group of friends to whom Thursday night was particularly well
adapted for the purpose gradually turned their dropping in from a chance
into a habit until, before we knew it, we were regularly at home every
Thursday after dinner.

[Illustration: Mezzotint by Joseph Pennell
OUT OF OUR LONDON WINDOWS]

The entertainment, if it can be called by so fine a name, always
retained something of the character of chance with which it began. We
sent out no invitations, we attempted no formality. Nobody was asked to
play at anything or to listen to anything. Nobody was expected to
dress, though anybody who wanted to could--everybody was welcome in the
clothes they wore, whether they came straight from the studio or a
dinner. If eventually I provided sandwiches--in addition to the tobacco
always at hand in the home of the man who smokes and the
whiskey-and-soda without which an Englishman cannot exist through an
evening--it was because I got too hungry not to need something to eat
before the last of the company had said good-night. We did not offer
even the comfort of space. Once the small dining-room that had been
Etty's studio, and the not over-large room that was J.'s, and the
nondescript room that was drawing-room and my workroom combined, were
packed solid, there was no place to overflow into except the short,
narrow entrance hall, and I still grow hot at the thought of what became
of hats and coats if it also was filled. I can never forget the
distressing evening when in the bathroom--which, with the ingenuity of
the designer of flats, had been fitted in at the end of the narrow hall
and was the reason of its shortness--I caught William Penn devouring the
gloves of an artist's wife who I do not believe has forgiven him to this
day; nor the still more distressing occasion when I discovered Bobbie,
William's poor timid successor, curled up on a brand-new bonnet of
feathers and lace.

But it was the very informality, so long as it led to no crimes on the
part of our badly brought-up cats, that attracted the friends who were
as busy and hard-working as ourselves,--this, and the freedom to talk
without being silenced for the music that no talker wants to hear when
he can listen to his own voice, or for the dances that nobody wants to
watch if he can follow his own argument, or for the introductions that
invariably interrupt at the wrong moment, or for the games and
innumerable devices without which intelligent human beings are not
supposed to be able to survive an evening in each other's company. The
idle who play golf all day and bridge all night, who cannot eat in the
short intervals between without music, believe that talk has gone out of
fashion. My experience had been in Rome and Venice, was then in London,
and is now, that men and women who have something to talk about are
always anxious to talk about it, if only the opportunity is given to
them, and the one attraction we offered was just this opportunity for
people who had been doing more or less the same sort of work all day to
meet and talk about it all night--the reason why, despite heat and
discomfort, despite meagre fare and the risk to hats and coats, Thursday
after Thursday crowded our rooms to suffocation as soon as evening came.

[Illustration: Bust by Rodin
W.E. HENLEY]


II

As, in memory, I listen to the endless talk of our Thursday nights, the
leading voice, when not J.'s, is Henley's, which is natural since it was
Henley, followed by his Young Men,--our name for his devoted staff
always in attendance at his office and out of it,--who got so into the
habit of dropping in to see us on Thursday night that we got into the
habit of staying at home to see him. For Thursday was the night when the
_National Observer_, which he was editing at the time, went to press and
Ballantynes, the printers, were not more than five minutes away in
Covent Garden. At about ten his work was over and he and his Young Men
were free to do nothing save talk for the rest of the week if they
chose--and they usually did choose--and Buckingham Street was a handy
place to begin it in. Our rooms were already fairly well packed,
pleasantly smoky, and echoing with the agreeable roar of battle when
they arrived.

I like to remember Henley as I saw him then, especially if my quite
superfluous feeling of responsibility as hostess had brought me on some
equally superfluous mission into the little hall at the moment of his
arrival. As the door opened he would stand there at the threshold, his
tall soft black hat still crowning his massive head, leaning on his
crutch and stick as he waited to take breath after his climb up our
three flights of stone stairs--"Did I really ever climb those stairs at
Buckingham Street?"--he asked me the last time I saw him, some years
later, at Worthing when he was ill and broken, and I have often
marvelled myself how he managed it. But breathless as he might be, he
always laughed his greeting. I cannot think of Henley as he was in his
prime, to borrow a word that was a favourite with him, without hearing
his laugh and seeing his face illuminated by it. Rarely has a man so
hampered by his body kept his spirit so gay. He was meant to be a
splendid creature physically and fate made of him a helpless
cripple--who was it once described him as "the wounded Titan"? Everybody
knows the story: he made sure that everybody should by telling it in his
_Hospital Verses_. But everybody cannot know who did not know him how
bravely he accepted his disaster. It seemed to me characteristic once
when a young cousin of mine, a girl at the most susceptible age of
hero-worship, meeting him for the first time in our chambers and
volunteering, in the absence of anybody else available, to fetch the cab
he needed, thought his allowing her to go on such an errand for him the
eccentricity of genius and never suspected his lameness until he stood
up and took his crutch from the corner. There was nothing about him to
suggest the cripple.

[Illustration: Painting by William Nicholson
W.E. HENLEY]

He was a remarkably handsome man, despite his disability, tall and large
and fair, a noble head and profile, a shock of red hair, short red
beard, keen pale blue eyes, his indomitable gaiety filling his face with
life and animation, smoothing out the lines of pain and care. He was so
striking in every way, his individuality so strangely marked that the
wonder is the good portrait of him should be the exception. Nicholson,
when painting him, was a good deal preoccupied with the big soft hat and
blue shirt and flowing tie, feeling their picturesque value, and turned
him into a brigand, a land pirate, to the joy of Henley, whom I always
suspected of feeling this value himself and dressing as he did for the
sake of picturesqueness. Simon Bussy seemed to see, not Henley, but
Stevenson's caricature--the John Silver of _Treasure Island_, the
cripple with the face as big as a ham. Even Whistler failed and never
printed more than one or two proofs of the lithograph for which Henley
sat. Rodin came nearest success, his bust giving the dignity and
ruggedness and character of head and profile both. He and Nicholson
together go far to explain the man.

Unfortunately there is no biography at all. Charles Whibley was to have
written the authorized life, but the world still waits. Cope Cornford
attempted a sketch, but scarcely the shadow of Henley emerges from its
pages. Because he thundered and denounced and condemned and slashed to
pieces in the _National Observer_, his contemporaries imagined that
Henley did nothing anywhere at any time save thunder and denounce and
condemn and slash to pieces and that he was altogether a fierce,
choleric, intolerant, impossible sort of a person. The chances are few
now realize that Henley was enough of an influence in his generation for
it to have mattered to anybody what manner of man he was. A glimpse of
him remains here and there. Stevenson has left the description of his
personality, so strong that he was felt in a room before he was seen.
His vigour and his manliness, survive in his work, but cannot quite
explain the commanding power he was in his generation, while neither he
nor his friends have shewn, as it should be shewn, the other side to his
character, the gay, the kindly side, so that I feel almost as if I owed
it to his memory to put on record my impressions of my first meeting
with him, since it was only this side he then gave me the chance to see.

I wonder sometimes why I had never met Henley before. When J. and I came
to London he was editing the _Magazine of Art_, a little later he
managed the _Art Journal_, and in both he published a number of J.'s
drawings, and we had letters from him. We went to houses where he often
visited. I remember hearing him announced once at the Robinsons' in
Earl's Terrace, but Miss Mary Robinson, as she was then--Madame Duclaux
as she is now--left everybody in the drawing-room while she went to see
him downstairs, because of his lameness she said, but partly, I
fancied, because she wanted to keep him to herself to discuss a new
series of articles. She had just "come out" in literature and was as
fluttered by her every new appearance in print as most girls are by
theirs in a ball-room. In other houses, more than once I just missed
him, I had never got nearer than business correspondence when he left
London to edit the _Scots Observer_ in Edinburgh, and he stayed there
until the _Scots_ became the _National Observer_ with its offices in
London.

I had heard more than enough about him in the meanwhile. The man who
says what he believes to be the truth--the man who sits in, and talks
from, the chair of the scorners--is bound to get himself hated, and
Henley came in for his fair share of abuse. As somebody says, truth
never goes without a scratched face.

But, like all men hated by the many, Henley inspired devotion in the few
who, in his case, were not only devoted themselves but eager to make
their friends devoted too. When he got back to London one of his Young
Men, whom I do not see why I should not call Charles Whibley, insisted
that J. and I must meet Henley first in the right way, that all our
future relations with him depended upon it, and that this right way
would be for him to ask Henley and ourselves, and nobody else, to dinner
in his rooms.

When the evening came J. was off on a journey for work and I went alone
to Fig-Tree House--the little old house, with a poor shabby London
apology of a fig-tree in front, on Milbank Street by the riverside,
which, with Henley's near Great College Street office round the corner,
has disappeared in the fury of municipal town-disfigurement. A popular
young man, in making his plans, cannot afford to reckon without his
friends. Four uninvited guests, all men, had arrived before me, a fifth
appeared as I did, and he was about the last man any of the party could
have wanted at that particular moment--a good and old and intimate
friend of Stevenson's, whose own name I am too discreet to mention but
to whom, for reasons I am also too discreet to explain, I may give that
of Michael Finsbury instead. Whoever has read _The Wrong Box_ knows that
Michael Finsbury enjoyed intervals of relaxation from work, knows also
the nature of the relaxation. I had struck him at the high tide of one
of these intervals. It was terribly awkward for everybody, especially
for me. I have got now to an age when I could face that sort of
awkwardness with equanimity, even with amusement. But I was young then,
I had not lived down my foolish shyness, and I would have run if, in my
embarrassment, I had had the courage,--would have run anyhow, I do
believe, if it had not been for Henley. He seized the situation and
mastered it. He had the reputation of being the most brutal of men, but
he showed a delicacy that few could have surpassed or equalled under
the circumstances. He simply forced me to forget the presence of the
objectionable Michael Finsbury, who at the other end of the table, I
learned afterwards, was overwhelming his neighbours with a worse
embarrassment than mine by finding me every bit as objectionable as I
found him, and saying so with a frankness it was not in me to emulate.

The force Henley used with such success was simply his talk. He did not
let my attention wander for one minute, so full of interest was all he
had to say, while the enthusiasm with which he said it became
contagious. I can remember to this day how he made me see a miracle in
the mere number of the Velasquezes in the Prado, an adventure in every
hansom drive through the London streets, an event in the dressing of the
salad for dinner--how he transformed life into one long Arabian Nights'
Entertainment, which is why I suppose it has always been my pride that
his poem called by that name he dedicated to me. And so the evening that
began as one of the most embarrassing in my experience ended as one of
the most delightful, and the man whom I had trembled to meet because of
his reputation with those who did not know him or understand intolerance
in a just cause, won me over completely by his kindness, his
consideration, his charm.

Henley delighted in talk, that was why he talked so well. On Thursday
night his crutch would be left with his big hat at the front door; then,
one hand leaning on his cane, the other against the wall for support, he
would hobble over to the chair waiting for him, usually by the window
for he loved to look out on the river, and there, seldom moving except
to stand bending over with both arms on the back of the chair, which was
his way of resting, and always with his Young Men round him, the talk
would begin and the talk would last until only my foolish ideas of
civility kept me up to listen. As a woman, I had not then, nor have I
yet, ceased to be astonished by man's passion for talking shop and his
power of going on with it forever. My explanation of this special power
used to be that the occupation supplied him by the necessity of keeping
his pipe or his cigarette or his cigar going, with the inevitable
interruptions and pauses and movement, and the excitement of the eternal
hunt for the matches, made the difference and helped to keep him
awake--there is nothing more difficult for me personally than to sit
still long when my hands are idle, unless I am reading. But the women I
know who smoke are not men's equals in the capacity for endless talk and
the reason must be to seek elsewhere. He who divines it will have gone
far to solving the tedious problem of sex.

Of Henley the talker, at least, one portrait remains. He was the
original of Stevenson's Burly--the talker who would roar you down, bury
his face in his hands, undergo passions of revolt and agony, letting
loose a spring torrent of words. There was always a wild flood and storm
of talk wherever Henley might be. He and his Young Men were the most
clamorous group of the clamorous Nineties, though curiously their
clamour seems faint in the ears of the present authorities on that noisy
period. I have read one of these authorities' description of the London
of the Nineties dressed in a powder puff, dancing beneath Chinese
lanterns, being as wicked as could be in artificial rose-gardens. But
had Henley and his Young Men suspected the existence of a London like
that, they would have overthrown it with their voices, as Joshua
overthrew the walls of Jericho with his trumpets. To other authorities
the Nineties represent an endless orgy of societies--Independent Theatre
Societies, Fabian Societies, Browning Societies, every possible kind of
societies--but the _National Observer_, with its keen scent for shams,
was as ready to pounce upon any and all of them for the good of their
health, and to upbraid their members as cranks. It was a paper that
existed to protest against just this sort of thing, as against most
other things in a sentimental and artificial and reforming and ignorant
world. It made as much noise in print as its editorial staff made in
talk. The main function of criticism, according to Henley, was to
increase the powers of depreciation rather than of appreciation, and
what a healthy doctrine it is! As editor, he roared down his opponents
no less lustily than he roared them down as talkers, and he had the
strong wit and the strong heart that a man must have, or so it is said,
to know when to tell the truth, which, with him, was always. He could
not stand anything like affectation, or what people were calling
æstheticism and decadence. To him, literature was literature and art was
art, and not puling sentiment, affected posturing, lilies and
sunflowers. The _National Observer_ was the housetop from which he
shouted for all who passed to hear that it did not matter twopence what
the dabbler wanted to express if he could not express it, if he had not
the technique of his medium at his fingers' ends and under his perfect
control. A man might indulge in noble and beautiful ideas, and if he did
not know how to put them in beautiful words or in beautiful paint or in
beautiful sound, he was anathema, to be cast into outer darkness where
there is gnashing of teeth--the doctrine of art for art's sake which the
advanced young leaders of the new generation assure me is hopelessly out
of date. Pretence of any kind was as the red rag; "bleat" was the
unpardonable sin; the man who was "human" was the man to be praised. I
would not pretend to say who invented this meaning for the word "human."
Perhaps Louis Stevenson. As far back as 1880, in a letter from Davos
describing the people "in a kind of damned hotel" where he had put up, I
find him using it as Henley and his Young Men used it later:

  Eleven English Parsons, all
    Entirely inoffensive; four
  True human beings--what I call
    Human--the deuce a cipher more.

Stevenson may even then have learned it from Henley. But however that
may have been, "bleat" and "human" were the two words ever recurring
like a refrain in the columns of the _National Observer_, ever the
beginning and end of argument in the heated atmosphere of Buckingham
Street.

In my memory, every Thursday night stands for a battle. Henley was then
always at his best. His week's task was done, he was not due at his
house in Addiscombe until the next day, for he always stayed in his
Great College Street rooms from Monday to Friday--and the night was
before him. At first I trembled a little at the smell of powder under my
own roof, at turning our chambers into the firing line when friends came
to them to pass a peaceful friendly evening--the Roman and Venetian
_cafés_ and restaurants of my earlier experience had been common ground
on which combatants shared equal rights or, better, no rights at all. It
was probably my old Philadelphia bringing up that made me question the
propriety of the same freedom at home, that made me doubt its being
quite "the thing" when J., who is an excellent fighter though a
Philadelphian, met Henley in a clash of words. But I quickly got
accustomed to the fight and enjoyed it and would not have had it
otherwise.

Some friends who came, I must confess, enjoyed it less, especially if
they were still smarting from a recent attack in the _National
Observer_. There were evenings when it took a good deal of skilful
manoeuvring on everybody's part to keep Henley and his victims at a
safe distance from each other. More than once in later days Walter Crane
laughed with us at the memory of a Thursday night, just after he had
been torn to pieces in the best _National Observer_ style, when he
gradually realized that he was being kept a prisoner in the corner into
which he had been driven on his arrival, and he could not understand why
until, breaking loose, he discovered Henley in the next room. Our alarm
was not surprising, knowing as we did what a valiant fighter Crane was
himself: as a socialist waving the red flag in the face of the world, as
an artist forever rushing into the papers to defend his theories of art,
as a man refusing to see his glory in passing by an offence. Not very
long before, J. had exasperated him in print, by the honest expression
of an opinion he did not happen to like, into threats of a big stick
ready for attack the next time J. ventured upon his walks abroad. I need
not add that J. did not bother to stay at home, that the big stick never
materialized, that, though this was only the first of many fights
between the two, Walter Crane was our friend to the end. But the little
episode gives the true spirit of the Nineties.

I can still see Beardsley dodging from group to group to escape Henley,
for he never recovered from the fright of the first encounter. He told
me the story at the time. He had gone, by special appointment, to call
on Henley, under his arm the little portfolio he was rarely without in
those early days, ready and enchanted as he always was to show his
drawings to anybody willing to look at them. As he went up the two
flights of stairs to Henley's Great College Street rooms, he heard a
voice, loud, angry, terrifying; at the top, through an open door, he saw
a youth standing in the middle of the room listening in abject terror to
a large red man at a desk whom he knew instinctively to be Henley;--one
glance, and he turned and fled, down the stairs, into the street, the
little portfolio under his arm, his pace never slackening until he got
well beyond the Houses of Parliament, through the Horse Guards into the
Park.

Other friends would not come at all on Thursday because of Henley, just
as later more than one stayed away altogether because of Whistler. I was
wretchedly nervous when they did come and brave a face-to-face meeting.
Henley was not the sort of man to shirk a fight in the open. The
principal reason for his unpopularity was just that habit of his of
saying what he thought no matter where or when or to whom. He did not
spare his friends, for he would not have kept them as friends had they
not held some opinions worth his attacking, and they understood and
respected him for it. Moreover, he said what he had to say in the
plainest language. He roared his adversary down in good, strong,
picturesque English, if that was any consolation, and with a splendidly
rugged eloquence.

I wish I could remember the words as well as the roar. Henley's
eloquence cannot be forgotten by those who ever once listened to him,
but his wit was not, like Whistler's, so keen nor his thrust so direct
that the phrase, the one word of the retort or the attack, was
unforgettable. He had his little affectations of speech as of style, and
they added to its picturesqueness. But it was what he said that counted,
the talk itself that probably inspired more sound thought and sound
writing than most talk heard in the England of the Nineties. But it fell
unrecorded on paper and memory could not be trusted after all these
years.

It is the greater pity because his books are few. He was poor when he
started in life; almost at once he married; he was generous to a fault,
and the generous man never yet lived who was not pursued by parasites;
and as he was obliged to earn money and as his books were not of the
stuff that makes the "best sellers," his criticism of life and art was
expressed mainly in journalism.

Unfortunately, no just idea of the amount or the quality of his
journalistic work is now to be had even from the files of the _National
Observer_. He had a way of editing every article sent in to him until it
became more than a fair imitation of his own. I can sympathize with his
object--the artist's desire for harmony, for the unity of the paper as a
whole. But if he succeeded, as he did, it was at the sacrifice of the
force, the effect, the character of individual contributions, and nobody
can now say for sure which were Henley's save those he re-published in
book form. When articles I wrote for him appeared in print, it was an
open question with me whether I had the right to call them mine and to
take any money for them. His _Views and Reviews_ gathered from the
_National Observer_ and other papers and periodicals, his three or four
small volumes of verse, the plays he wrote with Stevenson, an anthology
or two, a few books of his editing, are scarcely sufficient to explain
to the present generation his importance in his day and why his
influence made itself felt in literature as keenly as Whistler's in
art, through all the movements and excitements and enthusiasms of the
Nineties. The joyous wars that marked the beginning of my life in
London, when not led by Whistler's "Ha! Ha!" were commanded by Henley's
roar.

No man was ever more in need of a Boswell than Henley. Dr. Weir Mitchell
once complained to me that in America nobody waited upon great men to
report their sayings, while in England a young man was always somewhere
near with a clean cuff to scribble them on. The enthusiast, with his
cuff an impatient blank, never hung about Henley. Anyway, that was not
what our Thursday evenings were for. Of all his Young Men who climbed up
the Buckingham Street stairs with him on Thursday night and sat round
him, his devoted disciples, until they climbed down the Buckingham
Street stairs with him again, not one seems to have hit upon this useful
way of proving his devotion.

I do not need to be told that this was no excuse for my not having my
cuff ready. But, foolishly perhaps, I too often spent my Thursday nights
oppressed by other cares. For one thing, I could seldom keep my weekly
article on Cookery out of my mind. Without it Saturday's _Pall-Mall_, I
felt, would lose its brilliancy and my bank account, I knew, would grow
appreciably less, and Friday was my day for writing it. A serious
question therefore was, how, if I did not get to bed until two or three
or four o'clock on Friday morning, was I to sit down at my desk at nine
and be the brilliant authority on Eating that I thought I was?

Another distraction grew out of my mistaken sense of duty as hostess, my
feeling of responsibility in providing for all a share in the cheerful
smell of powder and the stimulating sound of strife.

Also, men being at best selfish animals, their wives, whose love of
battle was less, were often an anxiety.

These seemed big things at the time, though in retrospect they have
dwindled into trifles that I had no business to let come between me and
my opportunities to store up for future generations talk as brilliant as
any on record. Of course I heard a great deal of it, and what I missed
at home on our Thursday nights, I made up for at Henley's, and at
friends' houses on many other occasions, and few can answer better than
I for the quality of Henley's talk if I have forgotten the actual words.
Its strength was its simple directness,--no posing, no phrasing, no
attitudinizing for effect. This, I know, was always what most struck
people when they first met him on our Thursday nights, especially
Americans, for with us in America the man who has won the reputation of
greatness too often seems afraid he will lose it if he does not forever
advertise it by fireworks of cleverness and wit.

Henley's talk had too a strange mixture of the brutal and the tender,
the rough and the fine, a blending of the highest things with what might
seem to the ordinary man the most trivial. I asked two old friends of
his the other day what they remembered best of him and of his talk. The
answer of one was: "He was certainly the most stupendous Jove-like
creature who ever lived, and I did not in the least mind his calling me
Billy, which I have always hated from others." The second answer was:
"He talked as he wrote, and I know of nothing more characteristic of his
talking and his writing than that tragic poem in which, with his heart
crying for the child he had adored and lost, he could compare himself to
'an old black rotter of a boat' past service, and could see, when
criticised for it, nothing discordant in that slang _rotter_ dropped
into such verse!" A good deal of Henley is in both answers. This
curious blend must have especially struck everybody who saw him and
listened to him in his own home. I can recall summer Sunday afternoons
at Addiscombe, with Henley sitting on a rug spread on the lawn behind
his house, Mrs. Henley at his side, his eyes following with twinkling
tenderness his little daughter as she ran backwards and forwards busy
with the manifold cares of childhood, while all the time, to his Young
Men gathered round him, he was thundering against the last book, or the
last picture show, or the last new music, in language not unworthy of
Defoe or Smollett, for Henley could call a spade not only a spade but a
steam shovel when so minded. He could soar to the heights and dive to
the depths in the same breath.

But Henley's talk was animated above all by the intense and virile love
of life that I was so conscious of in him personally, that reveals
itself in every line he wrote, and that is what I liked best about him.
He was so alive, so exhilarated with the sense of being alive. The
tremendous vitality of the man, that should have found its legitimate
outlet in physical activity, seemed to have gone instead into his
thought and his expression of it--as if the very fact that fate forced
him to remain a looker-on had made him the more sensitive to the
beauty, the joy, the challenge in everything life gave him to look at.
He could wrest romance even out of the drear, drab hospital--there is
another characteristic glimpse in one of Stevenson's letters, a picture
of Henley sitting up in his hospital bed, his hair and beard all
tangled, "talking as cheerfully as if he had been in a King's palace, or
the great King's palace of the blue air."

His interest in life was far too large and all-embracing for him to be
indifferent to the smallest or most insignificant part of it. He had
none of the disdain for everyday details, none of the fear of the
commonplace that oppresses many men who think themselves great. Nothing
that lived came amiss to his philosophy or his pleasure. He could talk
as brilliantly upon the affairs of the kitchen as upon those of state,
he could appreciate gossip as well as verse, he could laugh over an
absurdity as easily as he could extol the masterpiece. Romance for him
was everywhere--in the slang of the cockney of the Strand as in a
symphony by Berlioz, in 'Arriet's feathers as in the "Don Diegos" of the
Prado--the mere sound of the title in his mouth became a tribute to the
master he honoured above most--in the patter of the latest Lion-comique
of the Halls as in the prose of Meredith or Borrow, in the disreputable
cat stealing home through the dull London dawn as in the Romanticists
emerging from the chill of Classicism--in everything, big and little, in
which he felt the life so dear to him throbbing.

And he loved always the visible sign through which the appeal came. I
have seen him lean, spell-bound, from our windows on a blue summer
night, thrilled by the presence out there of Cleopatra's Needle, the
pagan symbol flaunting its slenderness against river and sky, while in
the distance the dome of St. Paul's, the Christian symbol, hung a
phantom upon the heavens. His pleasure in the friendship of men of rank
and family might have savoured of snobbishness had not one understood
how much they stood for to him as symbols. I am sure he could fancy
himself with these friends that same King of Babylon who thrills in the
lover of his poem. I used to think that for him all the drama of
_Admiral Guinea_, one of the plays he wrote with Stevenson, was
concentrated in the tap-tap of the blind man's stick. In his _Hospital
Verses_, his _London Voluntaries_, his every _Rhyme_ and _Rhythm_, the
outward sign is the expression of the emotion, the thought that is in
him. And coming down to more ordinary matters--ordinary, that is, to
most people--I shall never forget, once when I was in Spain and he wrote
to me there, his decoration of my name on the envelope with the finest
ceremonial prefix of the ceremonious Spanish code which to him
represented the splendour of the land of Don Diego and Don Quixote.

It was this faculty of entering into the heart, the spirit of life and
all things in it that made him the inspiring companion and friend he
was, that widened his sympathies until he, whose intolerance was a
byword with his contemporaries, showed himself tolerant of everything
save sham and incompetence. The men who would tell you in their day, who
will tell you now, of the great debt they owe to Henley, are men of the
most varied interests, whose style and subject both might have been
expected to prove a great gulf to separate them. Ask Arthur Morrison
straight from the East End, or FitzMaurice Kelly fresh from Spain; ask
W.B. Blakie preoccupied with the modern development of the printed book,
or Wells adrift in a world of his own invention; ask Kipling steeped in
the real, or Barrie lost in the Kail-Yard; ask Kenneth Grahame on his
Olympian heights or George S. Street deep in his study of the prig--ask
any one of these men and a score besides what Henley's sympathy,
Henley's outstretched hand, meant to him, and some idea of the breadth
of his judgment and taste and helpfulness may be had. Why he could
condescend even to me when, in my brave ignorance, I undertook to write
that weekly column on Cookery for the _Pall-Mall_. He it was who gave me
Dumas's _Dictionnaire de la Cuisine_, the corner-stone of my collection
of cookery books--a fact in which I see so much of Henley that I feel as
if the stranger to him who to-day takes the volume down from my shelves
and reads on the fly-leaf the simple inscription, "To E.R.P. d.d.
W.E.H.," in his little crooked and crabbed writing, must see in it the
eloquent clue to his personality that it is to me.


III

I have said that Henley seldom came to us--as indeed he seldom went
anywhere or, for that matter, seldom stayed at home--without a
contingent of his Young Men in attendance. I do not believe I could ever
have gone to his rooms in Great College Street, or to his house at
Addiscombe, or in later, sadder days to the other, rather gloomy, house
on the riverside at Barnes,--turned into some sort of college the last
time I passed, with a long bare students' table in the downstairs
dining-room where I had been warmed and thrilled by so much exhilarating
talk,--that some of his Young Men were not there before me or did not
come in before I left. In London, on his journeys to and fro, they
surrounded him as a bodyguard. If on those old Thursday nights, his was
the loudest voice, theirs played up to it untiringly. There were no half
measures about them. As warriors in the cause of art and literature,
they reserved nothing from their devotion to their leader, they
exhausted every possibility of that form of flattery usually considered
the greatest. They fought Henley's battles with hardly less valour,
hardly milder roaring. On Thursday, they had been working with him all
day and all evening, they probably had lunched together, and dined
together, and yet so far from showing any desire to separate on their
arrival in our rooms, they immediately grouped themselves again round
Henley.

It was curious, anyway, how strong the tendency was with all the company
to break up into groups. Work was the common bond, but there was also a
special bond in each different kind of work. On my round as hostess I
was sure to find the writers in one corner, the artists in another, the
architects in a third--though to this day it is a question with me why
we should have had enough architects to make a group and, more puzzling,
why, having them, they should have been so unpopular, unless it was
because of their air of prosperity and respectability, always as correct
in appearance as if there was a possible client at the door. I can still
recall the triumphant glee, out of all proportion to the cause, of one
of Henley's Young Men the Thursday night he came to tell me that all the
architects were safe out of the way in the studio, and "I have shut both
doors," he added, "and now that we are rid of them we can talk." As if
any of Henley's Young Men under any circumstances ever did anything
else.

Some of Henley's staff, if I remember, never came to us, others came
only occasionally, but a few failed us as rarely as Henley himself. The
Thursday night was the exception that did not see Charles Whibley at
Henley's right hand even as he was in the pages of the _National
Observer_, not merely ready for the fight but provoking it, insisting
upon it, forcing it, boisterous in battle, looking like an
undergraduate, talking like a pastmaster of the art of invective, with a
little stammer that gave point to his lightest commonplace. Rarely
lagging very far behind came Marriott Watson, young, tall, blonde,
good-looking--a something exotic, foreign in the good looks that I put
down to New Zealand, for I suppose New Zealand as well as America has
produced a type--not quite so truculent in talk as in print, more
inclined to fight with a smile. A third was Wilfred Pollock, forgotten
save by his friends I am afraid; and a fourth, Vernon Blackburn, who
began life as a monk at Fort Augustus and finished it as a musical
critic, he too I fear scarcely more than a name; and a fifth, Jack
Stuart, and a sixth, Harold Parsons, and a seventh, and an eighth, and I
can hardly now say how many more long since dead, now for me vague
ghosts from out that old past so overflowing with life.

When William Waldorf Astor bought the _Pall Mall Gazette_ and started
the weekly _Pall Mall Budget_ and the monthly _Pall Mall Magazine_, he
presented Henley with two or three new Young Men and added to our
company on Thursday nights, little as he had either of these
achievements in view. His plunge into newspaper proprietorship was one
of the newspaper ventures that counted for most in the Nineties. It was
a venture inclining to amateurism in detail, but run on business, not
romantic, lines and therefore it was less talked about than those
purely amateur plunges into journalism which gave the Nineties so much
of their picturesqueness. But all the same, we saw revolution in it, the
possibility of wholesale regeneration, the inauguration of a new era,
when "sham" would be exposed, and "Bleat" silenced, and art grow "Human"
once more. In the _Budget_ and the _Magazine_ it was likewise to be
proved that America and France were not alone in understanding and
valuing the art of illustration:--vain hopes!

Henley and his Young Men rejoiced in a new sphere for fighting, certain
of a brilliant victory, since they were to have a share in the command.
Astor, with a fine fling for independence--his only one in public--or
else with that old gentlemanly dream of a newspaper "written by
gentlemen for gentlemen," had captured his editors in regions where
editors are not usually hunted--Henry Cust, heir to a title, for the
_Gazette_, Lord Frederick Hamilton, his title already inherited, for the
_Magazine_. Fleet Street shrugged its shoulders, laughed a little, not
believing title and rank to have the same value in journalism as in
society. Cust, to do him justice, agreed with Fleet Street, and, knowing
that he was without experience, had the sense to appeal for help to
those with it. By good luck he went to Henley, who was not free to do
much for the paper save give it his advice, offer it those of his Young
Men whom he could spare, and take under his wing the new Young Men it
invented for itself. When new enthusiasts fell into Henley's train, it
was never long before they followed him to Buckingham Street on Thursday
nights.

I could scarcely label as anybody's Young Man Iwan-Müller, huge, half
Russian, half English, all good comrade, who had come up from Manchester
and the editorship of a leading paper there to be Cust's Assistant
Editor. He was nearly Henley's contemporary, but he did not, for such a
trifle as age, let any one of Henley's Young Men exceed him in devotion,
and his laugh became the unfailing accompaniment of Henley's talk, so
much so that I am convinced if Henley still leads the talk in the land
beyond the grave, Iwan-Müller still punctuates it with the big bracing
laugh that was as big as himself.

[Illustration: Photograph by Frederick Hollyer
IWAN-MÜLLER AND GEORGE W. STEEVENS]

At the other extreme, younger than the youngest of the Young Men he
joined, came George W. Steevens, fresh from Oxford, Balliol Prize
Scholar, shy and carrying it off, in the Briton's way, with appalling
rudeness and more appalling silence. I remember J., upon whose nerves as
well as mine this silence got, taking me apart one Thursday evening
to tell me that if that young Oxford prig was too superior to talk to
anybody, why then he was too superior to come to us at all, and he must
be made to understand it. Eventually he learned to talk, with us
anyway--he was always a silent man with most people. And I got to know
him well, to like him, to admire him,--to respect him too through the
long summer when his friends were doing their best to dissuade him from
his proposed marriage with a woman many years older than he. The men of
the _National Observer_ and the _Pall Mall_ were such keen fighters that
they could not be kind or sentimental--and they grew maudlinly
sentimental over Steevens's engagement--without a fight for it. They
thought he was making a mistake, forgetting that it was his business,
not theirs, if he was. He fought alone against them, but he held his
place like a man and won. Our Thursday nights had come to an end before
he went to America, to Germany, to Khartoum with Kitchener, to South
Africa, where he passed into the great silence that no protest of ours,
or any man's can break. If his work was overrated, he himself as I knew
him was as kind and brave as in Henley's verse to his memory.

Others of the same group, the writers' group, who flit across the scene
in my memory are less intimately associated with Henley. Harold Frederic
wrote for him occasionally--wrote few things, indeed, more amusing than
his _Observations in Philistia_, a satire first published in the
_National Observer_--but his chief business was the novel and the _New
York Times_ correspondence. He was an able man, something more than the
typical clever American journalist, a writer of books that deserve to be
remembered but that have hardly outlived him. He was an amusing
companion, the sort of man it was delightful to run across by chance in
unexpected places, for which reason my most agreeable recollections of
him are not in Buckingham Street but in the streets and _cafés_ of
Berlin and Vienna that summer he was studying Jews in Southeastern
Europe, and first knew there were Jews in Vienna when J., who afterwards
began to study them for himself, introduced him to the _Juden Gasse_. He
liked a good dinner, and gave us more than one, and he was an amusing
talker over it and also on our Thursday nights until he got to the stage
he always did get to of telling tales of his boyhood when he carried
milk to the big people in his part of the Mohawk Valley, was dazzled by
his first vision of Brussels carpet on their floors, and determined to
have Brussels carpet on his own before he was many years older, and I
can answer for it that, by the time I knew him, his house was all
Brussels carpet from top to bottom. They were most creditable tales and
entertaining too at a first hearing, but they staled, as all tales must,
with repetition.

S.R. Crockett never wrote anything for Henley. Henley would have been
outraged by the bare suggestion, and Crockett the writer was never
handled with the gloves by Henley's Young Men in the _National
Observer_. But with Crockett himself they had no quarrel. We all liked
him--a large red and white Scotchman, the Scots strong in every word he
spoke, hustling us all off for a fish dinner at Greenwich on the
strength of his first big cheque for royalties; or as happy to spend the
evening sitting on our floor and diverting William Penn with the ball of
paper on the end of a string that William never wearied of pursuing,
partly for his amusement, partly because, with his innate politeness, he
knew it contributed to ours.

I cannot imagine a Thursday night without Rosamund
Marriott-Watson,--Graham R. Tomson as she was then,--beautiful,
reminiscent of Rossetti in her tall, willowy slimness, with her long
neck like a column and her great halo of black hair and her big brown
eyes, appealing, confinding, beseeching. Fashion as she, the poetess,
extolled it week by week in the _National Observer_, became a poem with
a stately measure in frocks and hats, a flowing rhythm in every frill
and furbelow. I lost sight of her later, for reasons neither here nor
there, but it pleases me to know that not many months before her death
she looked back to those years as her happiest when weekly, almost
daily, she was going up and down the Buckingham Street stairs which her
ghost, she said, must haunt until they go the way of too many old stairs
leading up to old London chambers. Violet Hunt was almost as faithful.
And both contributed, as I did, a weekly column--mine that amazing
article on cookery--to the _Pall Mall's_ daily _Wares of Autolycus_,
daily written by women and I daresay believed by us to be the most
entertaining array of unconsidered trifles that any Autolycus had ever
offered to any eager world. Graham Tomson was even moved to commemorate
our collaboration in verse the inspiration of which is not far to seek,
but of which all I remember now is the beginning:

  O, there's Mrs. Meynell and Mrs. Pennell,
        There's Violet Hunt and me!

for Mrs. Meynell contributed a fourth column, though she never
contributed her presence to Buckingham Street.

Once or twice, George Moore hovered from group to group, his childlike
eyes of wonder protruding, wide open, and his ears open too, no doubt,
for, if I can judge from his several books of reminiscences, his ears
have rarely been closed to talk going on about him. After reading the
Irish series I should suspect him not only of well-opened ears but of an
inexhaustible supply of cuffs safely stored up his sleeves. Bernard Shaw
honoured us occasionally, but I have learned that, bent as he is upon
talking about himself, whatever he has to say, he grows more fastidious
when others talk about him and say what they have to. Now and then,
Henry Norman, journalist, his title and seat in Parliament yet to come,
dropped in. Now and then Miss Preston and Miss Dodge came, both in
London to finish in the British Museum the studies begun in Rome. Rarely
a week passed that James G. Legge was not with us, then deep in his work
at the Home Office but full of joy in everything that was most joyful in
the Nineties--its fights, its books, its prints, its posters. And I
might name many besides, some forgotten, some dead, some seen no more
by me, life being often more cruel than death in the separations and
divisions it makes. But two voices above the others are almost as
persistent in my ears as Henley's--the voices of Bob Stevenson and Henry
Harland.


IV

I have no fancy for nicknames in any place or at any time. I have
suffered too much from my own. But I dislike the familiarity of them
above all in print. And yet, I could no more call Bob Stevenson anything
save Bob than I could venture to abbreviate the Robert or the Louis of
his cousin. He had been given in baptism a more formal name--in fact, he
had been given three of unquestioned dignity: Robert Alan Mowbray. But I
doubt if anybody had ever known him by them or if he had ever used them
himself. When he wrote he signed his fine array of initials, and when he
was not R.A.M.S., he was Bob.

[Illustration: Painting by Himself
"BOB" STEVENSON]

It seems to me now a curious chance, as well as a piece of good luck,
that the two most eloquent of the company in Louis Stevenson's _Talk and
Talkers_ should have come to us on our Thursday nights, for Bob was the
Spring-Heeled Jack, "the loud, copious, and intolerant talker" of
that essay just as Henley was the Burly.

He was not more spring-heeled in his talk than in evading capture for
it. In his later years he made few visits. If we wanted him we had to
gather him up by the wayside and bring him home with us. The newspaper
work I was doing then took me the rounds of the London galleries on
press days and, as he was the art critic of the _Pall Mall_, I was
continually coming across him busy about the same work in Bond Street or
Piccadilly. Nothing pleased me better than to meet him on these
occasions, for he could make the dull show that I, in my dull way, was
finding dull the most entrancing entertainment in London. His every
visit to a gallery was to him an adventure and every picture a romance,
and the best of it for his friends was that he would willingly share the
inspiration which he, but nobody else, could find in the most
uninspiring canvas, an inspiration to criticism that is, not to
admiration--he never wavered in his allegiance to the "Almighty Swells"
of Art. Once he began to talk I did not care to have him stop, and I
would say, "Why not come to Buckingham Street with me? You have not seen
J. for a long while." He would vow he couldn't, he must get back to Kew
to do his article. I would insist a little, he would waver a little, and
at last he would agree to a minute's talk with J., excusing himself to
himself by protesting that Buckingham Street was on his way to the
Underground, as it was if he chose to go out of his way to make it so.
Before he knew it, the minute had stretched out to our dinner hour when
he was persuaded that he would save time by dining with us, as he must
dine somewhere; if he went right afterwards, he could still be back at
Kew in plenty of time to finish his article for the last post.

Of course he never did go right afterwards--what talker ever did go
right anywhere immediately after dinner when the real talk is only
beginning? Presently people would filter in and now, well adrift on the
flood of his own eloquence, nothing could interrupt him and he was the
last to leave us, the later it grew the more easily induced to stay
because he knew that the last train and the last post and all the last
things of the day had gone and that he must now wait for the first
things of the morning.

If I could talk like Bob Stevenson I would not be interrupted either.
Greater excitement could not be had out of the most exciting story of
adventure, and I do not believe he knew until he got to the end any
more where his talk was going to lead him than the reader knows how the
story is going to turn out until the last chapter is reached. Louis
Stevenson described certain qualities of his talk, but made no effort to
give the talk itself, and in Bob's case, as in Henley's, it was the talk
itself that counted. There was no acting in it as in Henley's or in
Whistler's--no burying of his head in his hands and violent gestures--no
well-placed laugh and familiar phrase. The talk came in a steady stream,
laughter occasionally in the voice, but no break, no movement, no
dramatic action--the sanest doctrine set forth with almost insane
ingenuity, for he was always the "wild dog outside the kennel" who
wouldn't imitate and hence kept free, as Louis Stevenson told him;
extraordinary things treated quite as a matter of course; brilliant
flashes of imbecility passed for cool well-balanced argument; until
often I would suddenly gasp, wondering into what impossible world I had
strayed after him. And he would tell the most extravagant tales, he
would confide the most paradoxical philosophy, the most topsy-turvy
ethics, with a fantastic seriousness, never approached except in the
Arabian Nights of Prince Florizel for the puppets of whose adventures,
as for Spring-Heeled Jack, he was the sitter. It was a delightful
accomplishment, but dangerous when applied to actual life. I cannot
forget his advice once to a friend on the verge of a serious step that
might sink him into nobody could foretell what social quagmire. Bob
could see in it only the adventure and the joy of adventure, not the
price fate was bound to demand for it. To him the mistake was the unlit
lamp, the ungirt loin--the adventure lost--and, life being what it is, I
am not sure that he was not right.

I think his talk struck me as the more extraordinary because he looked
so little like it. In the Nineties he had taken to the Jaegers that
usually stand for vegetarianism, teetotalism, hygiene--all the drab
things of life. He wore even a Jaeger hat and Jaeger boots--as complete
an advertisement for Jaeger as old Joseph Finsbury was for his Doctor.
No costume could have seemed so altogether out of character with the
fantastic, delightful, extravagant creature inside of it, though,
really, none could have been more in character. It had always been Bob's
way to play the game of life by dressing the part of the moment. Before
I met him I had been told of his influence over Louis Stevenson, whose
debt to him for ideas and conceits was said to be immeasurable, and
nobody who knew Bob has doubted it. I feel convinced that Louis owed to
him also his touch of the fantastic, the unusual, in dress, since it
belonged so entirely to Bob and was no less entirely in keeping with his
attitude towards the universe and his place in it--his tendency of
always probing the real for the romantic.

Knowing one cousin and the books of the other, I should say it was Bob
who, in their childhood, originated the drama of the Lantern-Bearers and
the evil-smelling lantern under the great coat, symbol of adventure and
daring--that it was Bob who, in their gay youth, evolved the black
flannel shirts to which they owed the honour of being, with Lord
Salisbury, the only Britons ever refused admission to the Casino at
Monte Carlo, and which were worn by the Stennis Brothers in _The
Wrecker_,--that it was Bob who impressed upon Louis the importance of
being dressed for the scene until he surpassed himself in his amazing
get-up for the _Epilogue to an Inland Voyage_. Bob's own disguises
rarely got into print, but in Will Low's _Chronicle of Friendships_
there is a photograph of him in his student days, figuring as a sort of
brigand of old-fashioned comic opera, that shows he did not from the
beginning shirk the obligations he imposed upon others. I remember a
huge ring, inherited from his father to whom the Czar had given it for
engineering services in Russia, which he kept for formal occasions so
that when I saw it covering his finger, almost his hand, at the dinner
to which we had both been invited, I understood that to him the occasion
was one of ceremony and he never failed to regulate his conduct
accordingly. I was glad the ring did not appear on our Thursday nights,
so much freer of formality, and therefore more amusing, was he without
it. The large perfection of his Jaegers in his last years was no less
symbolic; in them he was dressed for the rôle of middle age which he,
who had the gift of eternal youth, had already reached when I first knew
him. It was a rôle to which, at the time, I attributed his concern about
his health--his anxiety to know if we, any of us, had influenza before
he would come home with me, his rush from the room or the house at a
sniff or a sneeze. The truth is Bob shared Henley's love of the visible
sign, or it may be nearer the truth to say that he shared his own love
of it with Henley and his cousin who rarely, either of them, wrote
anything in which it is not felt.

But Henley loved the visible sign for itself--the romance was actually
in the tap-tap of the blind man's staff, in the pagan obelisk towering
above the Christian river. Bob loved the visible sign for the hint it
gave to his imagination, the adventure upon which it sent him galloping.
He could build up a romance out of anything and nothing--he was the
modern Scheherezade, but, as time went on, with nobody to repeat his
stories. He could have made the fortune of any number of young men with
their cuffs ready, but the only young man who ever did use his cuff was
Louis Stevenson when they were young together. Bob had not the energy to
put down his stories himself--he would not have written a word for
publication had he not been forced to. For him the romance would have
been lost in the labour of recording it, and, anyway, he was always
consistent in not doing more work than he was obliged to in order to
live. He had not the talent for combining, or identifying, his pleasure
with his work. Painting was the profession for which he had been
trained, but with it he amused himself and, as far as I know, never made
a penny out of it. When he talked he would have lost his joy in the
invention, the fabrication, had he thought he must turn it to profit. Of
the curious twist of his imagination there remains but the faint
reflection here and there in Prince Florizel and the romantic
adventurers swaggering and talking splendid nonsense through the earlier
tales by Louis Stevenson, whose books grew less and less fantastic as
his path and Bob's spread wider apart. Even in the earlier tales Bob
will not be discovered by future generations who have lost the key.

For the sake of posterity, if not for my own, I would have been wiser on
Thursday nights to think less of my next morning's article than of his
inventions. As it is, I retain merely a general impression and an
occasional detail of his talk. I am glad I remember, for one thing, his
unfailing prejudice in favour of his friends, so amiable was the side of
his character it revealed--though it revealed also his weakness as
critic. He had a positive genius for veiling prosaic facts with romance
where the people he liked were concerned. How often have we laughed at
his amiability to a painter of the commonplace who had happened to be
his fellow-student in Paris, whose work, as a consequence, his friendly
imagination filled with the fine things that to us were conspicuously
missing, and whose name he dragged into every criticism he wrote, even
into his Monograph on Velasquez, nor could he be laughed, or argued out
of it.

And I am glad I remember another trick of his imagination, though it was
like to end in disaster for us all, so equally characteristic was it of
his genius in weaving romance from prose. He was talking one evening of
wine, upon which he had large--Continental--ideas, declaring he would
not have it in his house unless all his family, including the servants,
could drink it without stint and also without thought of
expense--though, if I am not mistaken, his household staff consisted
chiefly of a decent old Scotchwoman who would have scorned wine as a
device of the foreigner. The triumphant ring of his voice is still in my
ears as he announced that he had found a merchant who could provide him
with just the wine he wanted, good, pure, light, white or red, an
ordinary brand for sevenpence a bottle, a superior brand for eightpence.

The marvel of it all was that we believed in that wine and when the
company left for home, the merchant's address was in almost everybody's
pocket. It was not a bad wine in the sample bottles J. and I received a
day or two later, nothing much to boast of, but harmless. For the
further cheapness promised we next ordered it by the case, one of red
and one of white--a rare bargain we thought. But in the end it was the
most expensive wine it has ever been our misfortune to invest in. For
when it came in cases it was so potent that nobody could drink as much
as a glass without going to sleep. I never had it analyzed, but, after a
couple of bottles, I did not dare to put it on the table again, or to
use it even for cooking or as vinegar. To balance our accounts, we did
without wine of any kind, or at any price, for many a week to come. But
we had our revenge. In the course of a few months Bob's wine merchant
was summoned before the magistrate for manufacturing Bordeaux and
Burgundies out of Greek currants and more reprehensible materials in the
backyard of his unpretending riverside house, and it was one of our
Thursday night fellow victims who had the pleasure of exposing him in
the _Daily Chronicle_. Bob did not share our resentment. He had his
pleasure in the charm his imagination gave to every drop of the few
bottles he drank and managed not to die of.

I began to notice in the galleries and on Thursday nights that Bob
became more and more engrossed in the question of his health and quicker
to fly at a sniff or a sneeze. The time came when no persuasion could
bring him home with me. He described symptoms rather than pictures, his
interest in anything in the shape of paint weakened. I fancied that he
was romancing, that he was playing the hypochondriac as part of his rôle
of middle-age, and I thought it a pity. It might provide a new
entertainment for him, but it deprived us of the entertainment of his
company. Then I hardly met him at all, or if I did he was too nervous to
linger before each painting or drawing, to gossip about it and
everything under the sun. He would walk through the galleries with one
leg dragging a little--the visible sign, I would say to myself, amused
to see that he could turn romance into reality as easily as reality into
romance. He would start for Kew right off, without any loitering,
without any delicious pretending that he was going in the very next
train and then not going until the very next train meant the very next
day. But before long I learned that there was no romance about it, that
it was grim reality, the grimmer to me because I had taken it so
lightly. His illness was mere rumour at first, for few people went to
his house in far Kew to see him. It was more than rumour when he ceased
altogether to appear in the galleries, for we knew he was dependent
upon art criticism for his butter, if not for most of his bread. I had
not got as far as belief in his illness before the news came that he had
set out upon the greatest adventure of all and that no more would
Buckingham Street be transfigured in the light of his romancing,
glorified by his inexhaustible fancy. I owed him much: the charm of the
personality of "this delightful and wonderful creature" in Henley's
words of him, pleasure from his talk, stimulus from his criticism, and I
wish I had had the common sense to do what I could to make him live as a
pleasure and a stimulus to others. My mistake on our Thursday nights was
to keep my cuff clean, my note-book empty.

[Illustration: Sketch by Aubrey Beardsley
HENRY HARLAND]


V

In the case of Henry Harland my conscience makes me no such reproach. If
ever a man became his own Boswell it was he, though I do not suppose
anything was further from his mind when he sat down to write. But as he
talked, so he wrote--he could not help himself--and all who have read
the witty, gay, whimsical, fantastic talk of his heroes and heroines,
especially in his last three books, have listened to him. He, no less
than his Adrian Willes--even if quite another man was the model--never
understood how it was possible for people to be bored. Flaubert once
said in a letter, "Life is so hideous that the only way of enduring it
is to avoid it." But Harland believed in plunging into it headlong and
getting everything that is to be got out of it. He had eyes to see that
"life is just one sequence of many-coloured astonishments", and the
colours were the gayer when he came to our Thursday nights because he
was still so young.

He and Mrs. Harland had been in London only a few years, his career as
Sydney Luska was behind him, his career as Henry Harland was before him,
he was full of life, energy, enthusiasm, deep in long novels, busy for
the _Daily Chronicle_, writing as hard as he talked, and he talked every
bit as hard as Bob Stevenson.

Like Bob, he seemed to love talk more than anything, but he must have
loved work as Bob never loved it, for he put the quality of his talk
into what he wrote. Bob Stevenson's writing never suggested his talk. I
might find his point of view and his amiable prejudices in his criticism
and his books--only he could have written his _Velasquez_ quite as he
wrote it--but nowhere do I find a touch, a trace of the Lantern-Bearer
or Prince Florizel or the Young Man with the Cream Tarts. But I never
get far away from Harland in his novels. I re-read them a short time
ago, and they were a magic carpet to bear me straight back to Buckingham
Street, and the crowded, smoky rooms overlooking the river, and the old
years when we were all young together.

A delightful thing about Harland was that he did not care to monopolize
the talk, to talk everybody else down. On the contrary, I doubt if he
was ever happier than when he roused, provoked, stimulated everybody to
talk with him. I remember in particular an evening when J. and I were
dining with him and Mrs. Harland at their Kensington flat, and Mr. and
Mrs. Edmund Gosse were there, and Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Fisher--Fisher was
then editor of the _Daily Chronicle_ and Mrs. Fisher was still Adrienne
Dayrolles on the stage--and Louis Austen, a handy man of journalism, and
when, happening to turn for a minute from Harland by whom I was sitting,
and to look round the table, I found I was the only one of the party not
talking--and we had got no farther than the fish! But I flatter myself I
have few rivals as an accomplished listener.

Often Harland had the floor to himself simply because everybody else
wanted to listen too. When what he calls in one of his books "the
restorative spirit of nonsense" descended upon him, his talk could
whisk off the whole Thursday night crowd, before they knew it, to that
delectable Land of Nonsense to which he was an inspired guide. Nobody
understood better how to set up the absurd and the impossible in the
garb of truth. An old admirer of his reminded me not long since of a
tale he used to tell, almost with tears in his voice, of the _petit
patissier_ who was hurrying through the streets of Paris to deliver
_brioches_ and tarts to customers and who, crossing the Boulevards, was
knocked down by a big three-horse omnibus. And as the crowd collected
and the _sergent-de-ville_ arrived, he was seen painfully and
deliberately freeing his one uninjured arm, feeling carefully in pocket
after pocket, and, as he drew his last breath, holding up triumphantly
the exact number of francs the Parisian on foot then had to pay for
venturing rashly to get in the way of the Paris driver. And Harland told
it all with such eloquence that it was some minutes before those who
listened realised he was laughing and began to laugh with him. And the
tale was typical of many others he loved to tell. As his talk led the
way to the Land of Nonsense, so he himself could of a sudden whirl us
all off to a restaurant, or a park, or an excursion we had not thought
of an hour, a minute before. Many a time, instead of sitting solemnly
at home reading or working as we had meant to, we would be going down
the river in a penny steamboat, or drinking coffee at the _Café Royal_
or tea in Kensington Gardens--but Harland as an inspired guide was at
his best in Paris I always thought, perhaps because in Paris he had so
much larger scope than in London.

He impressed one as a man who never tired, or who never gave in to being
tired, either at work or at play--a man who, knowing his days would be
few on this earth, found each fair as it passed and, if he could not bid
it stay, was at least determined to fill it as full as it would hold.
There was no resisting his restless energy when with him, and it was
because he could so little resist it himself, that he was continually
seeking new outlets--new forms for its expression. He had just the
temperament to take up with the mode of the Nineties that drove the
Young Men to asserting themselves and upholding their doctrines in
papers and magazines of their own. The pedant may trace the fashion back
to the _Hobby-horse_ of the Eighties, or, in a further access of
pedantry to the _Germ_ of the early Fifties. He may follow its growth as
late as the _Blast_ of yesterday and _The Gypsy_ of to-day. But I do
not have to go further than my book shelves, I have only to look and see
there the _Dial_ and the _Yellow Book_ and the _Savoy_ and the
_Butterfly_ and the _Pageant_ and the _Dome_ and the _Evergreen_, each
with its special train of memories and associations, and I know better
than the greatest pedant of them all that the fashion, no matter when it
began, no matter when it may end, belongs as essentially to the Nineties
as the fashion for the crinoline belongs to the Sixties. Harland was not
original in wanting to set up a pulpit for himself--the originality was
in the design for it. The _Yellow Book_ was not like any other quarterly
from which any other young man or group did his preaching.


VI

Harland shared his pulpit. He would not have found the same design for
it without Beardsley, nor would our Thursday nights, where a good deal
of that design was thought out and talked out, have been the same
without Beardsley. I would find it hard, even had there been no _Yellow
Book_, not to remember Harland and Beardsley together. For it was from
Mrs. Harland that we first heard of the wonderful youth, unknown still,
an insignificant clerk in some Insurance Company, who made the most
amazing drawings--it was she who first sent him to us that J. might look
at his work and help him to escape from the office he hated and from the
toils of Burne-Jones and the Kelmscott Press in which he was entangled.

[Illustration: Photograph by Frederick H. Evans
AUBREY BEARDSLEY]

He came, the first time, one afternoon in the winter dusk--a boy, tall
and slight, long narrow pale clean-shaven face, hair parted in the
middle and hanging over his forehead, nose prominent, eyes alight,
certain himself of the worth of his drawings, too modest not to fear
that other artists might not agree with him. The drawings in his little
portfolio were mostly for the _Morte d' Arthur_, with one or two of
those, now cherished by the collector, that have a hint of the Japanese
under whose influence he momentarily passed. J. enjoys the reputation,
which he deserves, of telling the truth always, no matter how unpleasant
to those to whom he tells it. Truth to Beardsley was pleasant and his
face was radiant when he left us. J. has also the courage of his
convictions, and all he said to Beardsley he repeated promptly to the
public in the first number of _The Studio_, a magazine started not as a
pulpit but as a commercial enterprise--started, however, at the right
moment to be kindled into life and steered toward success by the
enthusiasm and the energy of the Young Men of the Nineties.

Beardsley was bound to become known whether articles were written about
him or not. But J.'s was the first and made recognition come the sooner.
The heads of many young men grow giddy with the first success; at the
exultant top of the winding stair that leads to it, they no longer see
those who gave them a hand when they balanced on the lowest rung. But
Beardsley was not made that way. He kept his head cool, his eyesight
clear. He never forgot. Gratitude coloured the friendship with us that
followed, even in the days when he was one of the most talked about men
in London. He knew that always by his work alone he would be judged at
Buckingham Street, and to J. he brought his drawings and his books for
criticism. He brought his schemes as well, just as he brought the youth
not only of years but of temperament to our Thursday nights. He came
almost as regularly as Henley and Henley's Young Men, adding his young
voice to the uproar of discussion, as full of life as if he too, like
Harland, grudged a minute of the years he knew for him were counted. In
no other house where it was my pleasure to meet him did he seem to me to
show to such advantage. In his own home I thought him overburdened by
the scheme of decoration he had planned for it. In many houses to which
he was asked he was amiable enough to assume the pose expected of him.
The lion-hunters hoped that Beardsley would be like his drawings.
Strange, decadent, morbid, bizarre, weird, were adjectives bestowed upon
them, and he played up to the adjectives for the edification or
mystification of the people who invented them and for his own infinite
amusement. But with us he did not have to play up to anything and could
be just the simple, natural youth he was--as simple and natural as I
have always found the really great, more interested in his work than
most young men, and keener for success.

I like to insist upon his simplicity because people now, who judge him
by his drawings, would so much rather insist upon his perversity and his
affectation. How can you reconcile that sort of thing with simplicity?
They will ask, pointing to drawings of little mocking satyrs and twisted
dwarfs and grotesques and extravagant forms and leering faces and a
suggestion of one can hardly say what. But it might as well be asked why
the mediæval artist delighted to carve homely, familiar scenes and
incidents, and worse, in the holiest places, to lavish his ingenuity
upon the demons and devils above the doors leading into his great
churches; why a philosopher like Rabelais chose to express the wisest
thought in the most indecent fooling; why every genius does not look out
upon life and the world with the same eyes and find the same method to
record what he sees. Some men can only marvel with Louis Stevenson at
the wide contrast between the "prim obliterated polite face of life" and
its "orgiastic foundations"; others are only reconciled to it by the
humour in the contrast or by the pity invoked by its victims. What makes
the genius is just the fact that he looks out upon life, that he feels,
that he uses his eyes, in his own way; also, that he invents his own
methods of expression. Beardsley saw the satire of life, he loved the
grotesque which has so gone out of date in our matter-of-fact day that
we almost forget what it means, and no doubt disease gave a morbid twist
to his vision and imagination. But, above all, he was young, splendidly
young: young when he began work, young when he finished work. He had the
curiosity as to the world and everything in it that is the divine right
of youth, and he had the gaiety, the exuberance, the flamboyancy, the
fun of the youth destined to do and to triumph. Already, in his later
work, are signs of the passing of the first youthful stage of his art.
It is suggestive to contrast the conventional landscapes with the
grinning little monstrosities in some of the illustrations for the _Rape
of the Lock_; the few drawings for his _Volpone_ have a dignity he had
not hitherto achieved.

Nobody can be surprised if some of the gaiety and exuberance and fun
got no less into his manner towards the people whose habit is to
shield their eyes with the spectacles of convention. Beardsley had a
keen sense of humour that helped him to snatch all the joy there is
in the old, time-honoured, youthful game of getting on the nerves of
established respectability. Naturally, so Robert Ross, his friend,
has said of him, "he possessed what is _called_ an artificial
manner"; that is, his manner was called affected, as was his art,
because it wasn't exactly like everybody else's. I have never yet
come across the genius whose manner was exactly like everybody
else's, and shyness, self-consciousness, counted for something in
his, at least at the start. He had only to exaggerate this manner,
or mannerism, to set London talking. It was the easier because
rumours quickly began to go about of the darkened room in which he
worked, of his turning night into day and day into night like
Huysmans's hero, and of this or of that strange habit or taste,
until people began to see all sorts of things in him that weren't
there, just as they read all sorts of things into his drawings that
he never put into them, always seeking what they were determined to
find. To many there was uncanniness in the very extent of his
knowledge, in his wide reading, in his mastery of more than one art,
for, if he had not been an artist, he most assuredly would have been
a musician or a writer. Added to all this, was the abnormal notice
he attracted almost at once, the diligence with which he was
imitated and parodied and the rapidity with which a Beardsley type
leaped into fashion.

Of course Beardsley enjoyed it. What youth of his age would not have
enjoyed the excitement of such a success? It would have been morbid at
his age not to enjoy it. He never seemed to me more simply himself than
when he was relating his adventures and laughing at them with all the
fresh, gay laughter of the boy--the wonderful boy--he was. Arthur Symons
wrote of him, I have forgotten where, that he admired himself
enormously. I should say that he was amused by himself enormously and
was quite ready to pose and to bewilder for the sake of the amusement
it brought him. He was never spoiled nor misled by either his fame or
his notoriety.

It was so Beardsley's habit to consult J. that he would have asked
advice, if Harland had not, for _The Yellow Book_ which went through
several stages of its preliminary planning in the old Buckingham Street
chambers. Among the vivid memories of our Thursday nights one is of
Harland taking J. apart for long, intimate discussions in a corner of
the studio, and another of Beardsley taking him off for confidences as
intimate and long, and my impression in looking back, though I may be
mistaken, is that each had his personal little scheme for a journal of
his own before he decided to share it with the other. It was
characteristic of the friendliness of both that they should have
insisted upon J. figuring in the first number. As vivid in my memory is
the warm spring morning when Beardsley, his face beaming with joy,
called to give me an early copy of this first number, with a little
inscription from him on the fly-leaf--I have just taken down the volume
from the near book shelf--"To Mrs. Pennell from Aubrey Beardsley" I
read, as commonplace an inscription as ever artist or author wrote, but,
reading it, I see as if it were yesterday the sunlit Buckingham Street
room where I used to work, William Penn curled up on my desk, and,
coming in the door, the radiant youth with the gay-covered book in his
hands.

And there followed the dinner--the amazing dinner as unlike the usual
formal dinner of inauguration as could be. It was given in an upper room
of the Hotel d'Italie in Old Compton Street and was as free of ceremony
as our Thursday nights. The men were in dress suits or tweeds as they
chose, the women in evening or tailor gowns according to their
convenience. I have an impression that more people came than were
expected and that it was all the waiters could do to serve them. I know
I was much more concerned with my discomfort to find that Harland and
Beardsley, for the first time in my experience, had forgotten how to
talk. Everybody else was talking. I can still see the animated faces and
hear the animated voices of Mrs. Harland and John Oliver Hobbes and
Ménie Muriel Dowie and Kenneth Grahame and George Moore and John Lane
and Max Beerbohm, and all the brand-new writers prepared to shock, or to
"uplift," or to pull down old altars and set up new ones, or any other
of the fine things that were to make the _Yellow Book_ a force and
famous. But also I can still feel the heavy, unnatural silence of the
two editors from which I was the chief sufferer, to me having fallen
the honour of sitting in the centre of the high table between them. J.
was away and, in his absence, I was distinguished by this mark of
Beardsley's appreciation and Harland's friendliness. I was greatly
flattered, but less entertained. They were both as nervous as débutantes
at a first party. Shrinking from the shadow cast before by their coming
speeches, neither of them had as much as a word to throw me. Nor could
they concentrate their distracted thoughts upon the _menu_--plate after
plate was taken away untouched, while I kept on emptying mine in
self-defence, to pass the time, wondering if, in my rôle of the _Pall
Mall's_ "greedy Autolycus," my friends would now convict me of the sin
of public eating as well as what they had been pleased to pretend was my
habit of "private eating," for not otherwise, they would assure me,
could they account for the unfailing flamboyancy of my weekly article on
cookery. Seated between the two men, in their hours of ease when they
were not editors, my trouble would have been to listen to both at the
same moment and to get a word in edgewise. However, when the speeches
were over the strain was relaxed. The evening ended in the accustomed
floods of talk;--on the way from the Hotel d'Italie; at the Bodley
Head, John Lane's new premises in the Albany to which he took us all
that we might see the place from which the _Yellow Book_ was to be
published; round a little table with a red-and-white checked cover in
the basement of the Monico, the company now reduced to Harland and Mrs.
Harland, Beardsley, Max Beerbohm and two or three others whose faces
have grown dim in my memory, everybody as unwilling to break up the
meeting as on Thursday nights in our Buckingham Street rooms. And with
these ceremonies the _Yellow Book_ was launched into life.

I am not sure what the _Yellow Book_ means to others--to those others
who buy it now in the thirteen volumes of the new edition and prize it
as a strange record of a strange period, from which they feel as far
removed as we felt from the Sixties. But to me, the bright yellow-bound
volumes mean youth, gay, irresponsible, credulous, hopeful youth, and
Thursday night at Buckingham Street in full swing. To be sure the
_Yellow Book_ was never so young as it was planned to be. It did not
represent only _les Jeunes_, who would have kept it all to themselves in
their first mad, exuberant, reckless springtime. But they were not
strong enough to stand alone, as _les Jeunes_ seldom are, or have been
through the ages. It was more original in its art than in its
literature. Some of the youngest writers were "discoveries" of Henley's,
while some who actually were "discovered" by the _Yellow Book_ have
faded out of sight. Many were men of name and fame well established.
Hamerton, almost at the end of his career, Henry James in the full
splendour of his maturity, Edmund Gosse with his reputation already
assured, were as welcome as the youngest of the young men and women who
had never printed a line before. So identified with "this passage of
literary history"--in his words--was Henry James that he has recorded
the preliminary visit of "a young friend [Harland of course], a
Kensington neighbour and an ardent man of letters," with "a young friend
of his own," in whom there is no mistaking Beardsley, "to bespeak my
interest for a periodical about to take birth in his hands, on the most
original 'lines' and with the happiest omen." But there was youth in
this readiness for hero-worship--youth in this tribute to the older men
whose years could not dim the brilliance nor lessen the power of their
work in the eyes of the new generation--the fragrance of youth exudes
from the pages of the _Yellow Book_ as I turn them over again, in
places the fragrance of infancy, the young contributors so young as to
seem scarcely out of their swaddling clothes. At the time the energy and
zest put into it had an equal savour of youth. And altogether it gave us
all a great deal to talk about, so that I see in it now a sort of link
to join on Thursday nights the different groups from their opposing
corners, supplying to writers and artists one subject of the same
interest to both. It even opened the door to the architects, one of whom
went so far as to neglect architecture and to emulate Ibsen in a play.

The last thing I foresaw for the _Yellow Book_ was a speedy end or, for
the matter of that, any end at all, so overflowing was it with the
spirit of youth and energy, war and enthusiasm. But the end came
surprisingly soon. To remind me, were I in danger of forgetting, another
book stands on our shelves close to the First Volume of the _Yellow
Book_:--the First Volume of the _Savoy_, on its fly-leaf again
Beardsley's inscription simple as himself, "Mrs. Pennell, with kindest
regards from Aubrey Beardsley," and only a little less than two years
between the dates of the two. And the beginning of the _Savoy_ meant the
end of the _Yellow Book_, whose life was short after Beardsley left it.
Why he left it has nothing to do with the story of our Thursday nights,
when no obstacle, great or small, would have been put in its way by us
who held youth and energy, war and enthusiasm above most things in
demand and honour. But I question if the time has come for the full
telling of the story, wherever or with whom the blame may lie. That an
objection was raised to Beardsley's presence in the _Yellow Book_,
though without Beardsley there would have been no _Yellow Book_, is
known and has been told in print, the reason being that Victorian sham
prudery and respectability had not been totally wiped out for all the
hard fighting of the Fighting Nineties. Beardsley was not slain, he was
not defeated, at once he reappeared on the battle-field with the
_Savoy_, Arthur Symons his fellow editor. But by now the enemy never yet
conquered on this earth held him in deadly grip, and the fight he had to
fight sent him from London to Bournemouth, to Saint-Germain, to Dieppe,
to Mentone in search of health. He was the youngest of that old Thursday
night crowd and he was the first to go, and the _Savoy_ went with him,
and before he had gone our Thursday nights were already but a landmark
in memory, so quickly does the flame of youth burn out.


VII

By another of our happy chances Phil May came as assiduously on our
Thursday nights as Beardsley, and they were two of the artists, though
their art was as the poles apart, who had most influence on the
black-and-white of the Nineties--it will be seen from this that I
refrain from saying what I think of J. and his influence, but it is
considered almost as indiscreet, almost as bad form, to admit the
excellence or importance of one's husband's work as to pretend to any in
one's own.

If no drawings could have been less like Beardsley's than Phil May's
neither could two men have been more utterly unlike. Some friends of
Beardsley's believe that he was happiest where there was most noise,
most people, most show, which, however, was not my impression. But when
there was the noise of people about him, he might be relied upon to
contribute his share and to take part in whatever show was going. I
question if Phil May was happy at all unless in the midst of many people
and much noise, whether at home or abroad, but to their noise, anyway,
he had not the least desire to add. Beardsley was fond of talk, always
had something to say, was always eager to say it. All Phil May asked
was not to be expected to say anything, to be allowed to smile amiably
his dissent or approval. Had the rest of our company been of his mind in
the matter, it would not have been so much easier for us to start the
talk at once than to stop it at a reasonable hour, our Thursday nights
would not have been so deafening with talk that I do not yet understand
why the other tenants in the house did not unite in an indignant protest
to the landlord.

It was not laziness that kept him silent. He had not a touch of laziness
in his composition. His drawings look so simple that people thought they
were dashed off at odd moments. But over them he took the infinite pains
and time considered by the wise to be the true secret of genius. It may
be he expressed himself so well in lines he had no use for words. The
one indisputable fact is that he would do anything to escape talking. I
recall a night--not a Thursday night though he finished it in our
rooms--when he had been invited to lecture to a Woman's Club at the
Society of Arts. He appeared on the platform with a formidable-looking
MS. in his hand, but he put it down at once and spent his appointed hour
in making drawings on big sheets of paper arranged for an occasional
illustration. He had more to say than I ever heard him say anywhere,
when we got back to Buckingham Street. The MS. was all right, he assured
us, a capital lecture written for him by a friend, but it began "Far be
it from me" something or other, he didn't wait to see what, for, as far
as he got, it did not sound like him, did it? and we could honestly
agree that it did not.

[Illustration: Drawing by Himself
PHIL MAY IN CAP AND BELLS]

He could talk. I must not give the idea that he could not. I know some
of his friends who do not share or accept unqualified my memory of him
as a silent man. But he talked most and best when he had but a single
companion, and nothing could persuade me that he was not always
relieved, when the chance came, to let others do the talking for him.

I do not know what the attraction was that made everybody like him, not
merely the riffraff and the loafers who hung about his studio and
waylaid him in the street for what they could get out of him, but all
sorts of people who asked for nothing save his company--I could never
define the attraction to myself. It was not his looks. Even before his
last years, when he was the image of J.J. Shannon's portrait of him, his
appearance was not prepossessing. He dressed well according to his
ideals. Beardsley was not more of a dandy; but Beardsley was the dandy
of Piccadilly or the Boulevards, Phil May was the dandy of the
race-course. He brought with him that inevitable, indescribable look
that the companionship of horses gives and that in those days broke out
largely in short, wide-spreading covert coats and big pearl buttons. I
have always been grateful to the man who enlivens the monotony of dress
by a special fashion of his own, provided it belongs to him. The horsy
costume did belong to May, for he rode and hunted and was a good deal
with horses, but it was borrowed by some of his admirers until it
degenerated into almost as great an affectation as the artist's velvet
jacket and long hair, or the high stock and baggy corduroys of the Latin
Quarter imported into Chelsea. When the Beggarstaff Brothers, as Pryde
and Nicholson called themselves in those old days, would wander casually
into our rooms at the end of six or eight feet of poster that they had
brought to show J. and that needed a great deal of manipulation to bring
in at all, they looked as if the stable, not the studio, was their
workshop. And one young genius of an illustrator, who could not afford
to ride, and who I do not believe had ever been on a horse in his life,
could not mount the bus in his near suburb without putting on riding
breeches. But Phil May's dress was as essentially his as his silence.

Neither his looks nor his silence, however original and personal, could
have been the cause of the charm he undeniably possessed. I think he was
one of the people whom one feels are nice instinctively, without any
reason. He was sympathetic and responsive, serious when the occasion
called for it, foolish when folly was in order. It wasn't only in his
drawings that he was ready to wear the cap and bells. I know an artist,
one of whose cherished memories of Phil May is of the Christmas Eve when
they both rang Lord Leighton's door-bell and ran away and back to Phil
May's studio on the other side of the road, and Phil May was as pleased
as if it had been a masterpiece for _Punch_. He was naturally
kind,--amiable perhaps because it was the simplest thing to be. In his
own house his amiability forced him to break his silence, but his
remarks then, as far as I heard them, were usually confined to the
monotonous offer "Have a cigar!" "Have a whiskey-and-soda!" or "Have a
drawing!" if anyone happened to express admiration for his work. Had we
accepted this last offer every time it was made to us, we would have a
fine collection of Phil May's, while, as it is, we do not own as much
as a single sketch given to us by him. Visitors who did not share our
scruples have found their steady attendance at his Sunday nights one of
the best investments they ever made.

Away from his own house, on our Thursday nights, relieved of the
necessity to offer anything, this being now our business, his
conversation was more limited than in his own place. My memory of him is
of an ugly, delightful, smiling, silent man, sitting astride a chair,
his arms resting on the back, a big cigar in his mouth, and around him a
band of devoted admirers as fully prepared and equipped to do the
talking for him as he was to let them do it. He held his court as
royally among illustrators as Henley among his Young Men, and if nobody
contributed so little to the talk as Phil May, around nobody else,
except Henley, did so much of the talk centre.

In my recollections of Phil May astride his chair on Thursday nights,
Hartrick and Sullivan are never very long absent. Nobody knew better
than they the beauty of his work--to hear them talk about his line was
to be convinced that the supreme interest in life was the expressive
quality of a line made with pen in black ink on a piece of white paper.
The appearance of _The_ _Parson and the Painter_ was one of the events
of the Nineties--though it was not boomed into notoriety as were the
performances of some other illustrators of the period as ingenious as
Barnum in the art of advertisement--and there was not an artist who did
not hail May as a master. But Hartrick and Sullivan went further. They
were not only such good artists themselves that they could appreciate
genius in others, they were young enough not to be afraid of their
enthusiasms. They gave the effect of being with May, with whom they
often arrived and stayed until the deplorably early hour of the morning
at which he started for home, in order that they might watch over him,
and, indeed, he needed watching. He was not readier in offering than in
giving anything he was asked for, which was one reason why there was
always a procession of waiters and actors and jockeys out of work at his
front door--why his pockets were always empty. They even discovered the
same genius in May's talk as in his drawing, though the mystery was when
they heard the talk. To this day they will quote Phil May while I wonder
how it is that while for me Henley's talk has not lost its thunder, nor
Bob Stevenson's its brilliant flashes of imbecility, nor Harland's its
whimsical twist, nor Beardsley's its fresh gaiety, nothing of Phil
May's remains save the familiar refrain "Have a cigar!" "Have a
whiskey-and-soda!" "Have a drawing!"

Obsessed by my old-fashioned notion as hostess that people could not
enjoy themselves unless they were kept moving, persisting in my vain
efforts to break up the groups into which the company invariably fell,
again and again I would lure Hartrick and Sullivan away from Phil May.
But it was no use. What they all wanted was to talk not only about their
shop but their own particular counter in it, and no sooner was my back
turned than there they were in the same groups again, Hartrick and
Sullivan watching over Phil May, supported by Raven Hill and Edgar
Wilson, both then deeply involved in youth's game of shocking the
_bourgeois_ by showing on the pages of _Pick-Me-Up_ how the matter of
illustration was ordered in France, and presently starting a magazine of
their own to show it the better, and to do their share as ardent rebels
in the big fight of the Nineties. On my shelves, close by the first
number of _The Yellow Book_ and of the _Savoy_ is the first volume of
_The Butterfly_ and on its fly-leaf is the inscription: "To Elizabeth
Robins Pennell with L. Raven Hill's kind regards," no more startlingly
original than Beardsley's inscriptions, but to me full of meaning and
memories. I cannot look at it without seeing myself fluttering from one
to another of the old Buckingham Street rooms, heavy with the smell of
smoke and powder, thunderous not only with the knocking--naturally I
quote the Ibsen phrase everybody was quoting in the Nineties--but the
banging, the battering, the bombarding of the younger generation at the
Victorian door against which it was desperate work to make any
impression at all.


VIII

In my less responsible intervals it amused me to find the painters
running their own shop, or their own little counter, quite apart from
the illustrators, and carrying on all by themselves their own special
campaign against that obdurate Victorian door. Their campaign, as they
ran it, required less talk than most, for they were chiefly men of the
New English Art Club--the men who gave the shows where Felix Buhot smelt
the powder--the men who were considered apostles of defiance when the
inner group held their once-famous exhibition as "London
Impressionists"--the men about whom the critics for a while did nothing
save talk--but men who had the reputation of talking so little
themselves that, when a man came up for election in their Club, his
talent for silence was said to be as important a consideration with them
as his talent for art. Not that the silence of any one of them could
rival Phil May's in eloquence--they never learned to say nothing with
his charm. Often the poverty of their conversation had the effect of
being involuntary, as if they might have had plenty to say had they
known how to say it. More than one struggled to rid himself of his
talent with at least an air of success.

The big booming voice of Charles W. Furse was frequently heard, but in
it a suspicion of an Academic note unfamiliar in our midst, so that,
young as he was, combative, enthusiastic, "a good fellow" as they say in
England, still in his Whistler and rebel period, his friends predicted
for him the Presidency of the Royal Academy. The first time I ever saw
him was the year he was showing at the New English two large upright,
full-length portraits of women, highly reminiscent of Whistler, and, on
press day, was being turned out of the gallery by the critics who, in
revolutionizing criticism, were fighting against the old-fashioned
Victorian idea of press views with the artists busy log-rolling and an
elaborate lunch, or at least whiskey and cigars behind a screen. The
New English men compromised by staying away, but they clung to the
lunch, a feast chiefly for their commissionaire and their salesman and
the grey-haired critic, a survival, who could not reconcile himself to
change and whom I heard once, in another gallery, pronounce the show
admirable, "perfect really, your show, but for one thing missing--a
decanter and cigars on the table." Furse, who had not heard the critic's
cry for reform and could not understand his banishment, lingered in the
passage, button-holing everybody who came out, trying to pick up a hint
as to what we were all going to say about him. He considered himself a
red-hot rebel and the prophetic picture of him scaling Academic heights
annoyed him extremely, though he so soon became an Associate of the
Academy that I think, had he lived, time would have proved the prophets
right.

Walter Sickert's voice, too, was frequently heard at the beginning of a
Thursday night, but his promise of brilliancy never struck me as leading
anywhere in particular, my personal impression being that with his talk,
as with his art, the fulfilment scarcely justified the promise.

D.S. MacColl, young arch-rebel at the time little as the formal official
of to-day suggests it, his bombarding of the Victorian door directed
chiefly from the sober columns of the _Spectator_, and later of the
_Saturday Review_, was always well armed with words for the Thursday
night battle, conscientious in distributing his blows and shaping them
in strict deference to his sense of style, just a touch of the preacher
perhaps in his voice and in his fight for art and freedom, as he was the
first to acknowledge; more than once I have heard him explain
apologetically that his right place was the pulpit for which he had been
designed.

Arthur Tomson, one of the best friends in the world, was a spirited
revolutionary who went to the length of founding and editing a paper of
his own to promote revolution--the _Art Weekly_, which, not being able
to afford illustrations, conducted its warfare solely by its articles,
and strong, fearless, knock-you-down articles they were since we all
wrote for the paper while it lasted. It did not last long, however, but
shared the fate of most revolutionary sheets with more brains than
capital. Arthur Tomson himself, out of print, was a quiet, if staunch
fighter, another of the old Thursday night group who knew that his years
on this earth were to be short. He was not the gayer for it as Harland
and Beardsley were, but the sadder, it may be because he foresaw the
end long before it came, and he was given to the melancholy that found
expression in so many of his paintings.

Wilson Steer, Tonks, Professor Brown passed, and no more, across the
stage of our Thursday nights, all three, as I remember them, scrupulous
in upholding the reputation for silence of their Club. Conder flitted in
and out of our rooms, always agreeable but not the man to lift up his
voice in a crowd.

Occasionally, a visitor from abroad appeared--Felix Buhot every Thursday
that one winter, or, more rarely Paul Renouard, in London for the
_Graphic_, his appearance an event for the illustrators who already
reverenced him as a veteran. Or else it was a representative, a
publisher, of _les Jeunes_ over there, bringing fresh stimulus, fresh
incentive, especially if his coming meant fresh orders and fresh
opportunity to say what had to be said freely and without restraint.
Once it was Jules Roque from Paris, of the _Courrier Français_ in which
he published the drawings of Louis Legrand and Forain and other artists
accepted as models by the young men of our Thursday nights who believed
in themselves the more defiantly when asked to figure in such good
company. Once it was Meier Graefe from Berlin, big, handsome,
enterprising, not yet encumbered with Post-Impressionism and its
outshoots, seeking American and British contributors to the German
_Pan_, a magazine as big and enterprising as himself if not always as
handsome, and the younger generation of London had the comfort of
knowing that if the Victorian door in England held firm, the door of
Europe had opened to them.

Occasionally one of the older, the very much older generation came in to
make us feel the younger for his presence--none more imposing than
Sandys, most distinguished in his old age, wearing the white waistcoat
that was the life-long symbol of his dandyism, full of Pre-Raphaelite
reminiscences, and reminiscences of the Italian Primitives could not
have seemed more remote. J. sometimes met Holman Hunt in other
haunts--at dinners of the Society of Illustrators and elsewhere--and
reported him to me as a talker who could, in the quantity and
aggressiveness of his talk, have given points to Henley and Henley's
Young Men, so I regret that he never was with us to talk over
Pre-Raphaelite days with Sandys. The only other possible representative
of Pre-Raphaelitism who came was Walter Crane, if so he can be called,
for the tradition fell lightly on his shoulders, was a mere re-echo in
his work; the only one of Sandys's contemporaries was Whistler, and
their meeting of which J. and I have written in another place, does not
belong to the story of our Thursday nights, for they were a thing of the
past when Whistler returned from Paris, where he had gone to live almost
as they began.

Nor did Sandys often appear on Thursdays. He seemed to prefer the
evenings when we were alone, to my surprise, for the homage he received
when he did come on Thursday must have been pleasant. Drawings of his
hung prominently in our rooms, J. then haunting the salesrooms for the
originals of the Sixties as industriously as the barrows and shops for
their reproductions. And to the man who prefers fame to reach him during
his lifetime, surely it should have been an agreeable experience to sit,
or to be enthroned as it were, in so friendly an atmosphere, with some
of his own finest work on the wall behind him for background, and
surrounded by a worshipping group asking nothing better than to be
allowed to sit at his feet and listen to his every word--which was a
sacrifice for his worshippers in Buckingham Street who rejoiced in the
sound of their own voices as did most of the company. But the Nineties
are not more wonderful and stimulating to the young men of to-day who
look back to them so admiringly, than the Sixties were to us whom they
kept up into the small hours of many a Friday morning, inexhaustible as
a subject of our talk, and Sandys, standing for the Sixties and all we
found in them so admirable, could command any sacrifice. The respect for
the Sixties was an article of faith, a dogma of dogmas in the Nineties.
If the now younger generation write articles and books about the
Nineties--those amazing documents in which I scarcely recognise an age I
thought I knew by heart--we were still more zealous in writing books
about the Sixties. And we collected the drawings and publications of the
Sixties. When J. and I now allowed ourselves an afternoon out, it was to
wander from Holywell Street to Mile End Road, from Piccadilly to
Holborn, searching the booksellers' barrows and shops for the unsightly,
gaudy, badly-bound volumes that contained the illustrations of the
Sixties--illustrations ranked amongst the finest ever made. Our
bookshelves that are still filled with them represent one of the most
animated phases of the Nineties. And we looked upon the "men of the
Sixties" as masters, among them giving to Sandys a leading place.

If he was not any longer doing the work for which we took off our hat to
him, he certainly looked the leader--tall, handsome, dignified, just
enough of a stoop in his shoulders to become his age, his dress
irreproachable, the white waistcoat immaculate, pale yellow hair parted
in the middle and beautifully brushed, beard not patriarchal exactly but
eminently correct and well cared for, manners princely. It was clear
that he liked the rôle of master and his voice was in keeping with the
part. But he was a master who presided at his best over a small
audience, and, no doubt knowing it, he avoided our Thursdays.

He was also a master given to small gossip. We heard from him less of
art, its aims and ideals, its mediums and methods, than of the sayings
and doings of the Pre-Raphaelites who were his friends and
contemporaries. The name of "Gabriel" was ever in his mouth. It was
Rossetti whom he most loved--or love is not the word, less of affection
revealed in his memories than a sense of injury, as if it had somehow
been the fault of "Gabriel" and the others that he had not come off as
well as they, though of all "Gabriel" had been most active in seeing
him through the tight places he so successfully got himself into. This,
no doubt, was the reason Rossetti felt entitled to a little laugh now
and then over Sandys's difficulties. Sandys was a man who needed to be
seen through tight places until the end, as we had occasion to know by
the urgent note he sent us on a Saturday night, more than once, from the
_Café Royal_, his favourite haunt in his later years, where a variety of
unavoidable accidents, with a curious faculty for repeating themselves,
would keep him prisoner until his friends came to his relief.

He was full of anecdote, which was quite in the order of things, the
Sixties having supplied anecdote for a whole library of books and
magazines. Could I tell Sandys's stories with Sandys's voice I should be
tempted to repeat them yet once again, though many were told us also by
Whistler, and these J. and I have recorded in the Life. Whistler told
them better, with more truth because with more gaiety and joy in their
absurdity. And yet, the solemnity of Sandys added a personal flavour,
gave them a character nobody else could give. I have not forgotten how
he turned into a parable the tale of the cross-eyed maid in the Morris
Shop in Red Lion Square, whose eyes were knocked straight by a shock
the company of Morris, Marshall, and Faulkner administered deliberately,
and then were knocked crooked again by a shock they had not provided for
or against. And, as Sandys recalled them, the strange beasts in
"Gabriel's" house and garden might have been let loose from out of the
Apocalypse. But Sandys's voice has been stilled forever and the
anecdotes have been published oftener, I do believe, than any others in
the world's rich store of _clichés_. The great of his day had all the
Boswells they wanted--a retinue of admirers and cuffs ready--at their
head William Michael Rossetti to pour out book after book about his
brother, to leave little untold about the group that revolved round
"Gabriel." Even the third generation, with Ford Madox Hueffer to lead,
has taken up the task. The anecdotes have grown familiar, but it is
something to have heard them from the men who were their heroes.


IX

Well--our Thursdays were pleasant, an inspiration while they lasted, and
for a time I thought they must last as long as we did. But nothing
pleasant endures forever, the bravest inspiration flickers and dies
almost before we realize its flaring. The stern duty of Friday morning
always haunted me in anticipation, for I have never been able to take
lightly the work I do with so much difficulty, and Friday morning itself
often brought even J. up with a sharp turn to face the fact that man was
born into the world to labour in the sweat of his brow, and not simply
to talk all night until no work was left in him.

That may have been one reason for our giving up so agreeable a custom.
Another perhaps came from the discovery that the freedom of our Thursday
nights was sometimes abused. A certain type of Englishman would travel a
mile and more for anything he did not have to pay for, even if it was
for nothing more substantial than a cigarette, a sandwich, a
whiskey-and-soda. There were evenings when, looking round the packed
dining-room, it would occur to me that I did not recognise half the
people in it. Friends introduced friends and they introduced other
friends until, in bewilderment, I asked myself if our Thursday night was
ours or somebody else's. And I fancied a tendency to treat it as if it
were somebody else's,--to take an ell when we meant to give no more than
an inch, and J. was as little inclined as I to furnish a new proof of
the wise old proverb. One day a would-be wit who was regular in his
attendance and his talk, and who should have known better, asked J.,
"Are you still running your Thursday Club?" and so helped to precipitate
the end. We were not running a Club for anybody, and if the fame of our
Thursday night filled our rooms with people who behaved as if we were,
the sooner we got rid of them the better.

Besides, as the weeks and the months and the years went on, many who had
come and talked and fought our Thursday night through ceased to come
altogether. Where I failed in breaking up the groups Time, with its
cruel thoroughness, succeeded and began to scatter them far and wide.
Death stilled voices that had been loudest. The _National Observer_
passed out of Henley's hands and Henley himself into the Valley of the
Shadow. Bob Stevenson said his last good-night to us. Beardsley,
Harland, Arthur Tomson, George Steevens, Phil May, Furse,
Iwan-Müller--one after another of our old friends, one after another of
those old masters of talk set out on the journey into the Great Silence.
It is hard to believe they have gone. I remember how, when they were
with us and the talk was at its maddest and somebody would suddenly take
breath long enough to look out of our windows, whose curtains were
never drawn upon the one spectacle we could offer--the river with the
boats trailing their lights down its shadowy reaches, and the Embankment
with the lights of the hansoms flying to and fro, and the bridges with
the procession of lights from the omnibuses and cabs and the trails of
burning cloud from the trains--Henley would say, "How it lives, how it
throbs with life out there!" and I would think to myself, "And how it
lives, how it throbs with life in here!"--with a life too intense, it
seemed, ever to wear itself out. And yet now only two or three of the
old friends of the old Thursday nights are left to look down with us
upon the river where it flows below our windows--upon the moving lights
of London's great traffic, upon London's great life and great beauty,
and great movement without end.

It is not only the dead we have lost. Time has made other changes as sad
as any wrought by Death. The young have grown old,--have thrown off
youth's "proud livery" for the sombre garment of age. The years have
turned the rebel of yesterday into the Royal Academician of to-day. The
inspired young prophet who protested week by week against mediocrity in
paint, settled down to keeping the mediocre paintings against which his
protests were loudest. He who thundered against the degeneracy of
journalism accepted the patronage of the titled promoter of the
half-penny press. Architects carried their respectability to the
professional chair it adorns, and illustrators rested in the comfortable
berths provided by _Punch_. Friendships cooled, and friends who never
missed a Thursday look the other way when they meet us in the street.

Close to me, as I write, is a bookcase on whose shelves Henley and
Henley's Young Men--Marriott Watson, George Steevens, Charles Whibley,
Leonard Whibley, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Morrison, G.S.
Street--jostle each other in the big and little volumes that were to
create the world anew. The small green-bound Henleys stand in a row.
_Salome_, _The Rape of the Lock_, _Volpone_, with Beardsley's
illustrations, are flanked by the more pretentious performances of the
Kelmscott Press and the Vale Press and the other Presses aspiring with
much advertisement to do what the Constables of Edinburgh did so much
better as a matter of course, and, as a reminder of this truth, the
_Montaigne_ of the _Tudor Series_ is there and the _Apuleius_ and the
_Heliodorus_, each with its inscription. And the little slim volume,
neatly bound by Zaehnsdorf, called _Allahakbarries_--now a prize for
the collector I am told--immortalizes one recreation at least of
Henley's Young Men. For it is Barrie's report of the Cricket Team
largely made up of these Young Men, of whom he was Captain and who used
to play at Shere on the never-to-be-forgotten summer days when beautiful
Graham Tomson and I were graciously invited as Patronesses, and little
Madge Henley--her death shortly afterwards proving Henley's own death
blow--figured as "Captain's Girl" and the _National Observer_ office as
"Practice Ground." And if Henley did not drag himself down with us to
the pretty Surrey village, he seemed to preside over us all, so much so
that when J. and I had the little book bound and added the photographs
Harold Frederic--"Photographer" in the report--made of the Team, we
included one of Henley, and altogether the tiny volume is as eloquent a
document of the Nineties and of Henley and Henley's Young Men as we
have, and I wonder what the collector of those snares for the American
now catalogued by the bookseller as "Association Books" would not give
to own it. And close by our _Allahakbarries_, Henry Harland's
_Mademoiselle Miss_ meets in the old friendly companionship Steevens's
_Land of the Dollar_ and Graham Tomson's _Poems_ and Bob Stevenson's
_Velasquez_ and Harold Frédéric's _Return of the O'Mahoney_ and Bernard
Shaw's _Cashel Byron's Profession_ in its rare paper cover, and George
Moore's _Strike_ at _Arlingford_, and Marriott Watson's _Diogenes of
London_, and--but of what use to go through the list, the long
catalogue, to the end? Ghosts greet me from those shelves, ghosts from
the old Thursdays, from the radiant days when youth was merging into
middle age--surely the best period in one's existence--days into which
the breath of life never can be breathed again. We could not revive the
old nights if we would. I suppose nobody now reads Zola, but we read him
in the Nineties and I have always been haunted by his description in
_L'Oeuvre_ of the last reunion of the friends who, in their eager youth,
had meant to conquer Paris and who used to meet to plan their campaign
over a dinner as meagre as their income and gay as their hopes. But
when, after years during which money and fame had been heaped up by more
than one and disappointment and despair lavished in equal measure upon
others, they ventured to dine together again, and the dinner was good
and well served as it never had been of old, it turned to dust and ashes
in their mouths--a funeral feast. Dust and ashes would be our fare were
we so foolish as again to open our doors on the Thursday night
consecrated to youth and its battles long ago.


X

If we have had no more Thursday nights, it does not follow that we have
had no other nights. The habit of years is not so easily broken, and our
habit was, and is, at night to gather people about us and to talk. Only,
after the Nineties, or rather before the end of the Nineties, we never
settled again with weekly regularity upon one special night out of the
seven for the purpose--on the contrary, we took, and we now take, our
nights as they came and come.

They have not been, for that, the less interesting and amusing, not less
loud with the sound of battle, not less fragrant with the smell of
smoke. It was just after our Thursday nights, for instance, that we
began what I might call our Whistler nights, and a more stimulating
talker than Whistler never talked, a more stimulating fighter never
fought. I do not mean in the impossible way meant by those whose
judgment of him rests solely on _The Gentle Art_. They think he fought
for no other end than to make enemies when, really, he enjoyed far more
the good give-and-take argument that preserved to him his friends,
provided those friends fought fair and did not play the coward, or the
toady, to escape the combat.

J. and I have written his Life in vain if everybody who cares to know
anything about him does not know that from 1895 and 1896, the greater
part of his time was spent in London and that many of his nights were
then given to us, more particularly towards the end of the amazing
decade. We paid for the privilege by the loss of some of our friends
who, for one reason or another, cultivated a wholesome fear of Whistler.
Men who had been most constant in dropping in, dropped in no
longer--nor, in many cases, have they ever begun to drop in again. More
than one would have run miles to escape the chance encounter, trembling
with apprehension when in a desperate visit they seemed to court it, and
often the several doors opening into our little hall served as important
a part in preventing a meeting between Whistler and the enemy as the
doors in the old-fashioned farce played in the husband and wife game of
hide-and-seek.

It was not too big a price to pay. Whistler's talk was worth a great
deal, and the twelve years that have passed since we lost it forever
have not lessened its value for us. Ours is a sadder world since we have
ceased to hear the memorable and unmistakable knock and ring at our
front door, the prelude to the talk, rousing the whole house until every
tenant in the other chambers and the housekeeper in her rooms below knew
when Whistler came to see us. Our nights, since those he animated and
made as "joyous" as he liked to be in his hours of play and battle, have
lost their savour. We are perpetually referring to them, quoting,
regretting them. Even Augustine looks back to them as making a pleasant
epoch in her life. Often she will remind me of this night or that,
declaring we have grown dull without him--but do I remember the night
when M. Whistlaire argued so hard and with such violence that the print
of the rabbit fell from the wall in its frame, the glass shivering in a
thousand pieces, just when M. Kennedy was so angry we thought he was
going to walk away forever, and how after that there could be no more
arguing, and M. Whistlaire laughed as she swept up the pieces, and M.
Kennedy did not walk away alone, but later they both walked away
together, arm-in-arm, to the hotel where they always stayed?--and do I
remember how, during the Boer War, he would come and dine with me alone,
his pockets stuffed with newspaper clippings, and how he would put them
by his plate, and how long we would sit at table because he would read
every one of them to me, with that gay laugh nobody laughs
nowadays?--and do I remember that other evening when he and Monsieur
disputed and disputed she didn't know about what, and how excited they
got, and how he kept banging the table with his knife, the sharp edge
down, until he cut a long slit in the cloth, and it was our best
tablecloth too?--and do I remember the long stories he would tell us
some evenings and his little mocking laugh when she, who could not
understand a word, knew he was saying something malicious about
somebody?--and do I remember how he liked a good dinner and her cooking
because it was French, and how he would never refuse when she promised
him her _pot-au-feu_ or one of her salads--and do I remember one after
another of those old nights the like of which we shall never see again?
Do I remember indeed? They fill too big a space in memory, they
overshadow too well the lesser nights with lesser men, they were too
joyous an episode in our thirty long years of talk for me ever to
forget them. The three classical knocks of the _Théâtre Français_ could
not announce more certainly a night of beauty or wit or fun or romance
than the violent ring and the resounding knock at the old battered door
of the Buckingham Street chambers where, for Whistler, the oak was never
sported.

But of our Whistler nights we have already made the record--this is
another tale that is already told. I think Whistler knew their value as
well as we did, knew what they cost us in the loss of friends, knew what
he had given us in return, knew what he had revealed to us of himself in
all friendliness, and that this was the reason he looked to us for the
record not only of his nights with us, but of his life. Once he had
confided that charge to us, the old Buckingham Street nights grew more
marvellous still, full of reminiscences, of comment, of criticism, of
friendliness, his talk none the less stimulating and splendid because,
at his request, the cuff or note-book was always ready. And they
continued until the long tragic weeks and months when he was first
afraid to go out at night and then unable to, and when the talks were by
day instead--not quite the same in the last, the saddest months of all,
for weakness and thoughts of the work yet to be done and the feebleness
that kept him from doing it fell like a black cloud over all our
meetings, even those where the old gaiety asserted itself for a moment
and the old light of battle gleamed again in his eyes. To the end he
liked the talk no less than we, for to the end he sent for us, to the
end he would see us when few besides were admitted. There, for those who
would like to question his friendship with us, for those who believe
that Whistler never could keep a friend because he never wanted to, is
the proof dear to us of the good friend he could be when his friendship
was not abused or taken advantage of behind his back.

Many other nights besides there have been--long series of American
nights--John Van Dyke nights I might say, Timothy Cole nights,--but no,
I am not going to name names and make a catalogue, I am not going to
write their story, I am not going to run the risks of the folly I have
protested against. I have confessed my safe belief that of the living
only good should be spoken, and good only when it is within the bounds
of discretion. It is not my ambition to rival at home the unpopularity
of N.P. Willis in England after the first of his indiscretions, which
seem discretion itself now in the light of to-day's yellow and society
journalism.

And there have been English nights--many--nights with old friends who
are faithful and new friends who are devoted--nights of late so like the
old Thursday nights that both Hartrick and Sullivan, now twenty years
older and with no Phil May to revolve round, asked why those old
memorable gay nights could not be revived? But would they be gay? Would
they not turn out the dust and ashes, the worse than Lenten fare, from
which I shrink? Would they not, as I have said, prove as mournful as
that banquet of Zola's Conquerors of Paris?

Recently there have been Belgian nights--nights with those Belgian
artists whose habit was never to travel at all until they started on
their journey as exiles to London--a journey to which the end in a
return journey seems to them so tediously long in coming. And there have
been War nights when the clash of our battle, in the grim consciousness
of that other battle not so far away, is less cheerful. And there have
been nights with the great search-lights over the Thames that tell us as
much as those young insistent voices in Buckingham Street could tell,
but only of things so tragic and so sombre that I am the more eager to
finish the story of our London nights with our Thursdays, in the years
when we were burdened by no more serious fighting than the endless fight
of friend with friend, of fellow worker with fellow worker, fought in
the good cause of work and play, faith and doubt, fear and hope--a
stirring fight, but one in which words are the weapons, one which can
never be won or lost, since no two can ever be found to agree when they
talk for pleasure, nor any one man forced to agree with himself for all
time.



V

NIGHTS

IN PARIS



IN PARIS

I


I still go to Paris every year in May when the _Salons_ open, but now I
go alone. The lilacs and horse-chestnuts, that J. used to reproach me
for never keeping out of the articles it was my business to write there,
still bloom in the _Champs-Elysées_ and the _Bois_, but now I am no
longer tempted to drag them into my MS. The spring nights still are
beautiful on the _Boulevards_ and _Quais_ but only ghosts walk with me
along the old familiar ways, only ghosts sit with me at table in
restaurants where once I always ate in company. Paris has lost half its
charm since the days when, as regularly as spring came round, I was one
of the little group of critics and artists and friends from London who
met in it for a week among the pictures.

It was much the same group, if smaller, that met on our Thursday nights
in London. Some of us went for work, to "do" the _Salons_ after we had
"done" the Royal Academy and the New Gallery, then the Academy's only
London rival: Bob Stevenson for the _Pall Mall_, D.S. MacColl for the
_Spectator_, Charles Whibley for the _National Observer_. J., during
several years, spared the time from more important things to fight as
critic the empty criticism of the moment, the old-fashioned criticism
that recognised no masterpiece outside of Burlington House and saw
nothing in a picture or a drawing save a story: a thankless task, for
already the old-fashioned criticism threatens to become the
new-fashioned again. I, for my part, was kept as busy as I knew how to
be, and busier, for the _Nation_ and my London papers. Others went
because they were artists and wanted to see what Paris was doing and May
was the season when Paris was doing most and was most liberal in letting
everybody see it. Beardsley and Furse seldom failed, and I do not
suppose a year passed that we did not chance upon one or more unexpected
friends in a gallery or a _café_ and add them to our party. Sometimes a
Publisher was with us, his affairs an excuse for a holiday, or sometimes
an Architect to show the poor foreigner how respectable British
respectability can be and, incidentally, to make his a guarantee of ours
that we could have dispensed with. Harland and Mrs. Harland were always
there, I do believe for sheer love of Paris in the May-time, and I
rather think theirs was the wisest reason of all.

During no week throughout my hard-working year did I have to work
harder than during that May week spent in Paris. I am inclined now, in
the more leisurely period of life at which I have arrived, to admire
myself when I recall how many articles I had to write, how many prints
and drawings, statues and pictures, I had to look at in order to write
them, and my success in never leaving my editors in the lurch. My
admiration is the greater because nobody could know as well as I how
slow I have always been with my work and also, to do myself justice, how
conscientious, as I do not mind saying, though to be called
conscientious by anybody else would seem to me only less offensive than
to be called good-natured or amiable. As a critic I never could get to
the point of writing round the pictures and saying nothing about them
like many I knew for whom five minutes in a gallery sufficed, nor, to be
frank, did I try to. Neither could I hang an article on one picture. I
might envy George Moore, for an interval the critic of the _Speaker_,
now the London _Nation_, because he could and did. I can remember him at
an Academy Press View making the interminable round with a business-like
briskness until, perhaps in the first hour and the last room, he would
come upon the painting that gave him the peg for his eloquence, make an
elaborate study of it, tell us his task was finished, and hurry off
exultant. But envy him as I might, I couldn't borrow his briskness. I
had to plod on all morning and again all afternoon until the Academy
closed, to look at every picture before I could be sure which was the
right peg or whether there might not be a dozen pegs and more. And I had
to collect elaborate notes, not daring to trust to my memory alone, and
after that to re-write pages that did not satisfy me. Just to see the
Academy meant an honest day's labour and in Paris there were two
_Salons_, each immeasurably bigger, and innumerable smaller shows into
the bargain. And yet, that laborious May week never seemed to me so much
toil as pleasure.

There was a great deal about Paris the toil left me no chance to find
out. I should not like to say how many of its sights I have failed
regularly to see during the visit I have paid to it every year now for
over a quarter of a century. But at least I have learned the best thing
worth knowing about it, which is that in no other town can toil look so
uncommonly like pleasure, in no other town is it so easy to play hard
and to work hard at the same time: precisely the truth the Baedeker
student has a knack of missing, the truth the special kind of foreigner,
for whom Paris would not be Paris if he could not believe it the
abomination of desolation, goes out of his way to miss. I have met some
of my own countrymen who have seen everything in Paris but never Paris
itself--the old story of not seeing the wood for the trees--and who are
absolutely convinced that it is a town in which all the people think of
is amusement and that a more frivolous creature than the Parisian never
existed. From their comfortable seat of judgment in the correct hotels
and the correct show places, they cannot look as far as the schools and
factories that make Paris the centre of learning for the world and of
industry for France, and they are in their way every bit as dense as the
English who take their pleasure so seriously they cannot understand the
French who take their work gaily. "_Des blagueurs même au feu_," a
Belgian officer the other day described to me the French soldiers who
had been fighting at his side, and I think it rather finer to face
Death--or Work--laughing than in tears. If Paris were not so gay on the
surface I am sure I should not find it so stimulating, though how it
would be if I lived there I have never dared put to the test, unwilling
to run whatever risk there might be if I did. I prefer to keep Paris in
reserve for a working holiday or, indeed, any sort of holiday, a
preference which, if Heine is to be trusted, I share with _le bon Dieu_
of the old French proverb who, when he is bored in Heaven, opens a
window and looks down upon the _Boulevards_ of Paris.

At the first sight, the first sound, the first smell of Paris, the
holiday feeling stirred within us. The minute we arrived we began to
play at our work as we never did in London, as it never would have
occurred to us there that we could.

The Academy, only the week before, had given us the same chance to meet,
the same chance to talk, the same chance to lunch together, and of the
lunch it had got to be our habit to make a Press Day function. Nowadays
at the Academy Press View, when I am hungry, I run up to Stewart's at
the corner of Bond Street for a couple of sandwiches, and excellent they
are, but, as I eat them in my solitary corner, no flight of my sluggish
imagination can make them seem to me more than a stern necessity. There
was, however, a festive air about the old Press Day lunch when, towards
one o'clock, some six or eight of us adjourned to Solferino's, another
vanished landmark of my younger days in London. It was in Rupert Street,
the street of Prince Florizel's Divan, which was appropriate, for Bob
Stevenson was always with us and but for Bob Prince Florizel might never
have existed to run a Divan in Rupert or any other street. Solferino's
had a Barsac that Bob liked to order, chiefly I fancy for all it
represented to him of Paris and Lavenue's and Barbizon and student days,
and the old memories warming him over it as lunch went on, he would
unfold one theory of art after another until suddenly a critic, more
nervous than the rest, would take out his watch, and the hour he saw
there would send us post-haste back to Piccadilly and the Academy, which
at that time thought one Press Day sufficient.

But the lunch that seemed a festivity at Solferino's never gave us the
holiday sense Paris filled us with from the early hour in the morning
when, after our little breakfast, we met downstairs in the unpretentious
hotel in the Rue St. Roch where most of us stayed--if we did not stay
instead at the Hotel de l'Univers et Portugal for the sake of the name.
The Rue St. Roch was convenient and if we were willing to climb to the
top of the narrow house, where the smell of dinner hung heavy on the
stairs all through the afternoon and evening, we could have our room for
the next to nothing at all that suited our purse, and the
dining-room--the Coffee Room in gilt letters on its door would have
frightened us from it in any case--was so tiny it was a kindness to the
_patron_ not to come back for the midday breakfast or the dinner that we
could not have been induced to eat in the hotel, under any
circumstances, for half the big price he charged. The day's talk was
already in full swing as we steamed down the Seine, or walked under the
arcade of the _Rue de Rivoli_ and along the _Quais_, in the cool of the
May morning, to the new _Salon_ which was then in the _Champ-de-Mars_.
And one morning at the _Salon_ made it clear to me, as years at the
Academy could not, why French criticism permits itself to speak of art
as a "game" and of the artist's work as "amusing" and "gay." There were
words that got into my article as persistently as the lilacs and the
horse-chestnuts.


II

If we brought to Paris a talent for talk and youth for enjoyment, Paris
at the moment was providing liberally more than we could talk about or
had time to enjoy. London may have been wide awake--for London--in the
Nineties, but it was half asleep compared to Paris and would not have
been awake at all if it had not gone to Paris for the "new" it
bragged of so loud in art and every excitement it cultivated, and for
the "_fin-de-siécle,_" that chance phrase passed lightly from mouth to
mouth in Paris of which it made a serious classification.

[Illustration: Etching by Joseph Pennell
IN THE CHAMPS-ELYSÉES]

I have watched with sympathetic amusement these late years one new
movement, one new revolt after another, started and led by little men
who have not the strength to move anything or the independence to revolt
against anything, except in their boast of it, and who would be
frightened by the bigness of a movement and revolt like the Secession
from the old _Salon_ that followed the International Exposition of 1889.
I feel how long ago the Nineties were when I hear the young people in
Paris to-day talk of the two _Salons_ as the _Artistes-Français_ and the
_Beaux-Arts_. In the Nineties we, who watched the parting of the ways,
knew them only as the Old _Salon_ and the New _Salon_ because that is
what we saw in them and what they really were--unless we distinguished
them as the _Champ-de-Mars Salon_ and the _Champs-Elysées Salon_, for
another ten years were to pass before there was a _Grand Palais_ for
both to move into. We could not write about either without a reminder of
the age of the one and the youth of the other, the Old _Salon_
remaining the home of the tradition that has become hide-bound
convention, and the new _Salon_ offering headquarters to the tradition
that is being "carried on," as we were forever pointing out, borrowing
the phrase from Whistler. We were given in the Nineties to borrowing the
things Whistler said and wrote, for we knew, if it is not every critic
who does to-day, that he was as great a master of art criticism as of
art.

What the men who undertook to carry on tradition did for us was to
arrange a good show. They had to, if it meant taking off their coats and
rolling up their sleeves and putting themselves down to it in grim
earnest, for it was the only way they could justify their action and the
existence of their Society, and their choice of a President, the very
name of Meissonier seeming to stand for anything rather than secession
and experiment and revolt. For the first few exhibitions many of the
older men got together small collections of their earlier work that had
not been shown publicly for years, and the new _Salon's_ way of
arranging each man's work in a separate group or panel made it tell with
all the more effect. And then there was the excitement of coming upon
paintings or statues long familiar, but only by reputation or
reproduction. I cannot forget how we thrilled in front of Whistler's
_Rosa Corder_, which we were none of us, except Bob Stevenson, old
enough to have seen when Whistler first exhibited it in London and Paris
to a public unwilling to leave him in any doubt as to its indifference,
how we talked and talked and talked until we had not time that morning
to look at one other painting in the gallery, how it was not the fault
of our articles if everybody did not squander upon it the attention
refused not much more than a decade before. And the younger men of the
moment had to summon up every scrap of individuality they possessed to
be admitted, and not to be admitted meant too much conservatism or too
much independence. And credentials of fine work had to be presented by
the artists from all over the world--Americans, Scandinavians, Dutchmen,
Belgians, Russians, Italians, Germans, Austrians, Spaniards,--who
couldn't believe they had come off if the New _Salon_ did not let them
in, and half the time they hadn't. And with all it was just for the
pride of being there, they were not out for medals, since the New
_Salon_ gave no awards. And altogether there was about as wide a gulf of
principle and performance as could be between the two _Salons_ that are
now separated by not much more than the turnstiles in the one building
that shelters them both.

And sparks of originality gleamed here and there; the passion for
adventure had not flickered out--at every step through the galleries
some subject for the discussion we exulted in stopped us short. It might
be Impressionism, Sisley still showing if Monet did not, and Vibrism and
Pointillism and all the other _isms_ springing up and out of it. It
might be Rosicrucianism and Symbolism which had just come in, and Sar
Péladan--does anybody to-day read the Sar's long tedious books, bought
by us with such zeal and promptly left to grow dusty on our
shelves?--and Huysmans and their fellow teachers of Magic and members of
the _Rose-Croix_ were being interpreted in paint and in black-and-white,
and if the interpretations did not interpret to so prosaic a mind as
mine, it mattered the less because they were often excuse for a fine
design. And the square brush mark lingered, and much was heard of the
broken brush mark, and values had not ceased to be absorbing, nor _la
peinture au premier coup_ and _la peinture en plein air_ to be wrangled
over. And a religious wave from nobody knew where swept artists to the
Scriptures for motives and sent them for a background, not with Holman
Hunt to Palestine, but to their own surroundings, their own country, to
the light and atmosphere each knew best--Lhermitte's Christ suffered
little children to come unto Him in a French peasant's cottage;
Edelfelt's Christ walked in the sunlight of the North; Jean Béraud's
Christ found Simon the Pharisee at home in a Parisian club; and no
landscape, realistic, impressionistic, decorative, was complete unless a
familiar figure or group came straying into it from out the Bible. Much
that was done perished with the group or the fad that gave it birth,
much when suddenly come upon now on the walls of the provincial gallery
looks disconcertingly old-fashioned. But nevertheless, the movement, the
energy, the life of the Nineties was a healthy enemy to that stagnation
which is a death trap for art.

And Black-and-White was a section to be visited in the freshness of the
morning, not to be put off, like the dull, shockingly over-crowded
little room at the Academy, to the last hurried moments of fatigue--a
section to devote the day to and then to leave only for the bookstall or
bookshop where we could invest the money we had not to spare in the
books and magazines and papers illustrated by Carlos Schwabe and Khnopf
and Steinlen and Willette and Caran D'Ache and Louis Legrand and Forain
and the men whose work in the original we had been studying and laying
down the law about for hours. And the artist's new invention, his new
experiment, came as surely as the spring--now the original wood block
and now the colour print, one year the draughtsman's Holbein-inspired
portrait and another the poster that excited us into collecting Chéret
and Toulouse-Lautrec at a feverish rate and facing afterwards, as best
we could, the problem of what in the world to do with a collection that
nothing smaller than a railroad station or the hoardings could
accommodate.

And the Sculpture court was not the accustomed chill waste, dreary as
the yard crowded with marble tombstones. If nobody else had been in
it--and many were--Rodin was there to heat the atmosphere, his name
kindling a flame of criticism long before his work was reached. Beyond
his name he was barely known in London, where I remember then seeing no
work of his except his bust of Henley, who, during a visit to Paris, I
believe his only one, had sat to Rodin and then, ever after, with the
splendid enthusiasm he lavished on his friends, had preached Rodin. But
in Paris at the New _Salon_ there was always plenty of the work to
explain why the name was such a firebrand--disturbing, exciting,
faction-making--as I look back, culminating in the melodramatic Balzac
that would have kept us in hot debate for all eternity had there not
been innumerable things to interest us as much and more.

The critic has simply to take his task as we took ours and not another
occupation in life can prove so brimming over with excitement. In the
early Nineties I had not a doubt that it could always be taken like
that. I would not have believed the most accredited prophet who
prophesied that we would outlive our interest in the New _Salon_. And
yet, a year came when, of the old group, only D.S. MacColl and I met in
the _Champ-de-Mars_ and he, with boredom in his face and voice, assured
me he had found nothing in it from end to end except a silk panel
decorated by Conder, and so helped to kill any belief I still cherished
in the emotion that does not wear itself out with time.

However, this melancholy meeting was not until the Nineties were nearing
their end, and up till then our days were an orgy of art criticism and
excitement in it. In Paris, as in Rome, as in Venice, as in London,
only night set me free for the pleasure that was apart from work. As a
rule, none of us dared at the _Salons_ to interrupt our work there even
to make a function of the midday breakfast, as we did of lunch at the
Academy, the days in Paris being so remarkably short for all we had to
do in them. We were forced to treat it as a mere halt, regrettable but
unavoidable, in the day's appointed task, whether we ate it at the
_Salon_ to save time or in some near little restaurant to save money.
Often we were tempted, and few temptations are more difficult to resist
than the unfolding of the big, soft French napkin at noon and the
arrival of the radishes and butter and the long crisp French bread. When
I was alone I escaped by going to one of the little tables in that
gloomy corner of the _Salon_ restaurant where there was no napkin to be
unfolded, no radishes and butter to lead to indiscretion, and nothing
more elaborate was served than a sandwich or a _brioche_, a cup of
coffee or the glass of Madeira which sentiment makes it a duty for the
good Philadelphian to drink whenever and wherever it comes his way. The
temptation being so strong, it is useless to pretend that we never fell.
If we had not, I should not have memories of breakfasts in the _Salon_,
under the trees at Ledoyen's, on the _Tour Eiffel_, in the classic shade
of the Palais Royal from which all the old houses had not been swept
away, and as far from the scene of work as the close neighborhood of the
_Bourse_ where we could scarcely have got by accident. But the thought
of the work waiting was for me the disquieting mummy served with every
course of the feast. Not until the _Salon_ door closed upon my drooping
back and weary feet, turning me out whether I would or no, in the late
hours of the afternoon, was I at liberty to remember how many other
things there are in life besides work.


III

The hour when all Paris had settled down to the business of pleasure--to
proving itself the abomination of desolation to those who were already
too sure to be in need of a proof--was an enchanting hour to find one's
self at liberty. The heat of the day was over, the air was cool, the
light golden, the important question of dining could be considered in
comfort on enticing little chairs in the shady alleys of the
_Champs-Elysées_ or, better still, on little chairs no less enticing
with little tables in front of them at the nearest _café_, where an
_apéritif_ was to be sipped even if it were no more deadly than a
_groseille_ or a _grenadine_. What the _apéritif_ was did not matter;
what did, was the reason it gave for half an hour's loafing before
dinner with all the loafing town.

[Illustration: Etching by Joseph Pennell
THE HALF HOUR BEFORE DINNER]

Had we lived in Paris, no doubt we would have done as we did in Rome and
Venice and have gone every night to the same restaurant where the same
greeting from the same smiling _patron_ and the same table in the same
corner awaited us. But change and experiment and a good deal of
preliminary discussion over an _apéritif_ were more in the order of a
week's visit. As a rule, we preferred the small restaurant that was
cheap, as we were most of us impecunious, also the restaurant that was
out-of-doors, out-of-doors turning the simplest dinner into a feast.
However, nobody yet was really ever young who was never reckless.
Occasionally we dined joyously beyond our means, and one memorable year
we devoted our nights to giving each other dinners where the best
dinners were to be had. Those alone who are blest with little money and
the obligation of making that little can appreciate the splendour of our
recklessness, just as those alone who work all day and eat sparingly can
have the proper regard for a good dinner. I do not regret the
recklessness, I am not much the poorer for it to-day whatever I was at
the time, and I should have missed something out of life had I not once
dined recklessly in Paris. Moreover, our special business was the study
of art and in Paris dining and art are one, though the foolish man in
less civilized countries preaches that to eat for any other purpose than
to live is gluttony. The clear intellect of the French saves them from
that mistake, and I have entertained hopes for the future of my own
country ever since one wise American,--Henry T. Finck,--discovering the
truth that the French have always had the common sense to know,
proclaimed it in a book which I have honoured by placing it in my
Collection of Cookery Books with Grimod de la Reynière, Brillat-Savarin
and Dumas.

At the time we were more concerned with the dinner than the philosophy
of dining. Our one aim was to dine well, whether it was the right thing
or the wrong, even whether or no it sent us back to London bankrupt. We
did not flinch before the price we paid, and if we were too wise to
measure the value of the dinner by its cost, we were proud of the
bigness of the bill as the "visible sign," the guarantee of success. It
was a tremendous triumph for J. when he paid the biggest of all, which
he did, not so much because he set out to deliberately as because, by
the choice of chance, he had invited us to Voisin's in the Rue St.
Honoré, where the red-cushioned seats, the mirrors, the white paint, the
discreet gilding, the air of retirement, the few elderly, rotund,
meditative diners, each dining with himself, were all typical of the old
classical Paris restaurant, and assured us beforehand of a good dinner
and a price in keeping. That we ate asparagus from Argenteuil and
_petites fraises des bois_ I know because the season was spring; that
the wine was good I also know because the reputation of Voisin's cellar
permitted of no other. And I am as sure that the _menu_ was so short
that ours would have seemed the dinner of an anchorite in the City of
London, for if we could not dine often we were masters of the art of
dining when we did, and we understood, as the Lord Mayor and the City
Companies of London, celebrated for their dinners, do not, that dining
is not an art when the last course cannot be enjoyed as much as the
first. As I keep the family accounts, I was obliged to pay in another
way for J.'s triumph at Voisin's when I got back to London and faced a
deficit that had to be balanced somehow in my weekly bills for the rest
of the month. But, at least, if abstaining has to be done, London is
the easiest place to abstain in as Paris is the best to dine in.

The Publisher who was with us that year gave his dinner at the LaPérouse
on the _Quai des Grands-Augustins_, and it was not his fault if he fell
short of J.'s triumph by a few francs. The giver of a dinner at the
LaPérouse in the happy past enjoyed the fearful pleasure of not knowing
how much he was spending until he called for his bill, price being too
trivial a detail for a place in the _menu_, and usually when the bill
came it exceeded his most ambitious hopes. The Publisher must have hit
upon Friday, for the perfume of _Bouillabaisse_ mingles with my memories
of the dinner in the little low _entresol_ where, by stooping down and
craning our necks, we could see the towers of _Notre-Dame_ from the
window, and where the big, tall, handsome, black-bearded _patron_,
alarmingly out of scale with the room, came to make sure of our pleasure
in his dishes--he would rather the bill had gone unpaid than have seen
the dinner neglected. I think there was a bottle of some special
Burgundy in its cradle, for rarely in his life, I fancy, has the
Publisher felt so in need of being fortified. Early in the day he had
been guilty of the astonishing indiscretion, as it then seemed, of
buying three Van Goghs. For this happened years before anybody had begun
to buy Van Gogh--years before anybody had begun to hear of Van
Gogh--years before Post-Impressionism had been invented and had launched
its crop of Cubists and Futurists and Vorticists as direct descendants
of Van Gogh and Cézanne who would assuredly have been the first to
repudiate them. The Publisher had gone unsuspectingly, confidingly, with
J. to _Montmartre_ and there, among other haunts, into the now
celebrated little shop where the paintings Van Gogh used to give in
exchange for paints littered the whole place, and where the dealer
thought it a bargain if, for a few francs, he could get rid of canvases
that now fetch their hundreds and thousands of pounds. J. would have
invested had he had the few francs. Not having them, he persuaded the
Publisher to, and to buy three of the best into the bargain, and never
did his own empty pockets stand in the way of a more profitable
investment, for had he bought not all but only a few in this wilderness
of Van Goghs, and had he sold them again as he would never have done, we
might now, if we chose, dine every night at the LaPérouse or Voisin's
and prepare for the reckoning without a tremor. If I write of the
buying of these pictures as if they were stocks and shares, it is
because that is the way the creators of the "Van Gogh-Cézanne-Gauguin
boom" have appraised them, appealing to the modern collector who
collects for the money in art, not the beauty. That night at the
LaPérouse the Publisher was dazed by his unexpected rashness as art
patron; to-day, when he points to the one of the three paintings still
hanging on his walls, he flatters himself that he discovered Van Gogh
before the multitude.

Bob Stevenson took us to dine at Lavenue's in Montparnasse, and if he
had not of his own free will we should have compelled him to. He
belonged there. At Lavenue's he and Louis Stevenson dined when they were
young in Paris, it was always cropping up in Bob's talk of the old days,
it plays its part--"the restaurant where no one need be ashamed to
entertain the master"--in the opening chapters of _The Wrecker_, which I
think as entertaining as any chapters Louis Stevenson ever wrote in that
or any other book. The dinner, of which I recall nothing in particular,
did not interest me as much as the place itself. To see Bob Stevenson at
Lavenue's was like seeing Manet at the _Nouvelle Athènes_ or Dr. Johnson
at the Cheshire Cheese, and to make the background complete Alexander
Harrison, with two or three American painters of his generation, was
dining at a near table.

He shall be nameless who gave the dinner at Marguery's. The dinner was
all it should have been, for we ate the sole called after the house. It
was the provider of it who proved wanting. I was brought up to believe
that the host, when there is a host, should pay his bill. A large part
of my life has been spent in getting rid of the things I was brought up
to believe, but this particular belief I have never been able to shed
and I confess I was taken aback--let me put it at that--when the white
paper neatly folded in a plate, served at the end of dinner, was passed
on to one of the guests. If the debt then run into was not paid does not
much matter after all these years, or perhaps if it was not it has the
more interest for the curious observer of modes and moods. In this case,
the whole incident could be reduced to a kindness on the part of the
debtor, sacrificing himself to show how right Bob Stevenson was when he
said, as Robert Louis Stevenson repeated after him in print, that while
the Anglo-Saxon can and does boast that he is not as Frenchmen in
certain matters of morals, it is his misfortune to be as little like
them in their vigorous definition of honesty and the obligation of
paying their debts.

That the fifth dinner was at the _Tour d'Argent_ is not an achievement
to be particularly proud of. On the contrary, it appears to me a trifle
banal as I look back to it, for fashion was at the time sending
Americans and English to the _Tour d'Argent_ just as it was driving them
on beautiful spring days into that horribly crowded afternoon tea place
in the _Rue Daunou_--wasn't it?--or to order their new gowns at the new
dressmakers in the _Rue de la Paix_, or to do any of the hundred and one
other things that proved them up to the times, at home in Paris,
initiated into _le dernier cri_ or whatever new phrase they thought set
the seal upon Parisian smartness. Frédéric's face was as well known as
Ibsen's which it so resembled, his sanded floor was the talk of the
tourists, the distinguished foreigner struggled to have his name on
Frédéric's _menu_, and as for Frédéric's pressed duck it had degenerated
into as everyday a commonplace as an oyster stew in New York or a chop
from the grill in London. The bill at the end of the evening might be
all that the occasion demanded of the man who was giving the dinner, but
his choice of restaurant could not convict him of originality, or of
sentiment either. But I do not know why I grumble when the dinner was so
good. The _Tour d'Argent_ had not fallen as most restaurants fall when
they attract patrons from across the Channel. Frédéric's cooking was
beyond reproach. Even the theatrical ceremony over his pressed duck
could not spoil its flavour.

The sixth evening saw us at _Prunier's_, eating the oysters that it
would have been useless to go to _Prunier's_ and not to eat (we must
have been in Paris unusually early in May that year), and if it was not
the season to eat the snails for which _Prunier's_ is equally renowned,
my heart was not broken. It may give me away to confess that I do not
like them, since snails are one of the unconsidered trifles that no
Autolycus posing as _gourmet_ should turn a disdainful back upon. But
what can I do? It is a case of Dr. Fell, and that is the beginning and
end of it. And if it wasn't the season for snails, and if I wouldn't
have eaten them if it had been, in _Prunier's_ gilded halls other
delicacies are served, and when I summon up remembrance of those dinners
past, _Prunier's_ does not exactly take a back seat.

But naturally, the most important dinner in my opinion was mine at the
_Cabaret Lyonnais_ in the _Rue de Port-Mahon_, where never again can I
invite my friends, for the _Cabaret_ has gone into the land of shadows
with so many of the group who sat round my table. At the time, there was
no looking back, no sad straying into a dead past to spoil a good
dinner--at the worst, a fleeting moment of discomfort when we selected
the tench swimming in the tank close to our table and saw them carried
off to the kitchen to be cooked for us. It was the custom of the house,
intended to be a pleasing assurance that our fish was fresh, but a
custom with just a savour in it of cannibalism. I have never cared to be
on speaking terms with the creatures I am about to eat. I squirm when I
see the lobster for my salad squirming, though I know the risk if it
should not squirm at all. Had I lived in the country among my own
chickens and pigs and lambs, I should have been long since a confirmed
vegetarian. But to go to the _Cabaret Lyonnais_ unwilling to swallow my
scruples with my fish would have been as useless as to go to Simpson's
in London and object to a cut from the joint, as I do object, which is
why I seldom go. Anyway, we did not have to see the beef killed for the
_filet_ which at the _Cabaret_ we were expected to eat after the tench
and with the potatoes to which the city of Lyons also gives its name, so
associating itself forever with the perfume of the onion. And, as in
the Provinces, the wine was the _petit vin gris_ which I never can drink
without a vision of the straight, white, poplar-lined roads of France,
sunshine, a tandem tricycle or two bicycles, J. and myself perched upon
them, and by the way friendly little inns with a good breakfast or
dinner waiting, and a big carafe of the pale light wine served with it.
That my dinner was comparatively cheap would at normal times have been
for me delightfully in its favour. But that it was the cheapest of all
in that week of dinners meant that I came out last in the race when, by
every law of justice, I should have been first. In Paris as in London my
"greedy column," as my friends called it with the straightforwardness
peculiar to friends, had to be written every week for the _Pall Mall_
and mine was the enviable position of finding my copy in eating good
dinners no less than in going to the _Salons_. If any one had an
irreproachable excuse for extravagant living, it was I.

But even I, with the excuse, could not afford the extravagance--one
weekly article did not pay for one cheap dinner for eight--at the
_Cabaret Lyonnais_. And as the rest of the party were without the excuse
and no better equipped for the extravagance, we never again gave each
other dinners on the same lavish scale and rarely on any scale,
henceforward ordering them on the principle of what Philadelphia in my
youth called "a Jersey treat." I do not say that economy was invariably
our rule. We could be, on occasions, so rash that before our week was up
we had to begin to count our francs, put by for the boat sandwich and
the reluctant tips of the return journey, and eat the last meals of all
in the Duval, which, if admirable as a place to economize in, is no more
conducive to gaiety than a London A.B.C. shop or Childs's in New York.
Once we were so reduced that at noon I was left to a lonely _brioche_ at
the _Salon_, and the men went to breakfast at the nearest cabman's
eating-house, where they made the sensation of their lives, without
meaning to and without finding in it any special compensation. The most
respectable of the respectable architectural group of our Thursday
nights was of the party and where he went the top hat and frock coat, in
which I used to think he must have been born, went too. If his
fashion-plate correctness--men wore frock coats then--made him
conspicuous at our Thursday nights it can be imagined what he was
sitting with his coat tails in the gutter at the cabman's table where
the glazed hat and the three-caped coat of the Paris _cocher_ set the
fashion. He had the grace to be ashamed of himself, often apologizing
for his clothes and assuring us that he could not help himself, which
was his reason, I fancy, for accepting at an early age the professorial
chair where the decorum of his hat and coat was in need of no apology.


IV

I have said we were young. It seems superfluous to add that now and
then, in the sunshine of the perfect May day, with the call of the
lilacs and the horse-chestnuts getting into our heads as well as into my
copy, the _Salon_ grew stuffy beyond endurance, work became a crime, and
we put up our catalogues and note-books before the closing hour and
hurried anywhere just to be out-of-doors, as if our sole profession in
life was to idle it away. After all, only the prig can be in Paris when
May is there and not play truant sometimes.

The year Paris chose our week to show how hot it can be in May when it
has a mind to, was the year I got to learn something of the Paris
suburbs. The joyous expedition which ended our every day that year was
so in the spirit of Harland that I should be inclined to look upon him
as the tempter, had we not, with the usual amiability of the tempted,
met him more than half way. Still, he excelled us all in the knack of
collecting us from our work, no matter how it had scattered us or in
what quarter of the town we might be, and carrying us off suddenly out
of it in directions we none of us had dreamed of the minute before, just
as he would collect and carry us off suddenly in London. Only, he was
more resourceful in Paris because in Paris more resources were made to
his hand. There are as beautiful places round London--that is, beautiful
in the English way--as round Paris, but they do not invite to a holiday
with the charm no sensible man can resist. The loveliness of Hampton
Court and Richmond and Hampstead Heath and the River is not to be denied
and yet, gay as the English playing there manage to look, the only
genuine gaiety is the Bank Holiday maker's. Tradition consecrates the
loveliness bordering upon Paris to the gaiety to which Gavarni and
Mürger are the most sympathetic guides, and none could have been more to
Harland's fancy. He was very like his own favourite heroes, or I ought
to say his own favourite heroes were very like him. For it is Harland
who talks through his own pages with his own charming fantastic blend of
philosophy and nonsense, Harland who refuses to believe in an age of
prose and prudence, Harland who is determined to see the romance, the
squalor, the pageantry, the humour of this jumble-show of a world, not
merely at ease from the stalls, but struggling with the principal _rôle_
on the stage, or prompting from behind the scenes. When he was bent upon
leading us to the same near, inside, part in the spectacle, it was
extraordinary how, as if by inspiration, he always hit upon the right
expedition for the time of the year and the mood of the moment.

I remember the afternoon he said St. Cloud it seemed as inevitable that
we must go there as if St. Cloud had been our one thought all day long,
the evening reward promised for our day's labour; just as on the boat
steaming down the Seine and in the park wandering under the trees and
among the ruins, I felt that the afternoon was the one of all others
predestined for our delight there. The beauty provided by St. Cloud and
the mood we brought for its enjoyment met at the hour appointed from all
eternity.

Artists, it is supposed, and not without reason, are trained to see
beauty more clearly and therefore to feel it more acutely than other
people. But my long experience has taught me that it is the lover of
beauty who can dare to be flippant in the face of it, just as it is the
devout who can afford to talk familiarly of holy things. Besides,
artists work so hard that they have the sense to know how important it
is to be foolish at the right time. That is the secret of all the
delicious absurdities of what the French called the _Vie de Bohème_
until the outsider who did not understand made a tiresome _cliché_ of
it. The right time for our folly we felt was the golden May evening and
the right place a beautiful Paris suburb, time and place consecrated to
folly by generations of artists and students. Below us, at St. Cloud,
stretched the wide beautiful French landscape, with its classical
symmetry and its note of sadness, in the pure clear light of France, the
Seine winding through it towards Paris; round us was the park as
classical in its lines and masses, and with its note of sadness the
stronger because of the tragic memories that haunt it; in the foreground
were my companions agreeably playing the fool and posing as living
statues on the broken columns: he whose solemnity of demeanour accorded
with his belief that his real sphere was the pulpit, throwing out an
unaccustomed leg as Mercury on one column, and on another the Architect,
an apologetic Apollo in frock coat with silk hat for lyre. In my
lightheartedness, and accustomed to the ways of the English, I thought
them absurd but funny. A French family, however, who passed by chance
looked as if they wondered, as the French have wondered for centuries,
at the sadness with which the Englishman takes his pleasures.

Beardsley was one of the party. It was the first time he was with us in
Paris, the first time, for that matter, he had ever been there. He had
clutched beforehand, like the youth he was, at the pleasure the visit
promised, and I remember his joy in coming to tell me of it one morning
in Buckingham Street. I remember too how amazing I thought it that, when
he got there, he seemed at once to know Paris in the mysterious way he
knew everything.

We had not heard of his arrival until we ran across him at the
_Vernissage_ in the New _Salon_. I think he had planned the dramatic
effect of the chance meeting, counting upon the impression he would make
as we met. I have said he was always a good deal of a dandy and I could
see at what pains he had been to invent the costume he thought Paris and
art demanded of him. He was in grey, a harmony carefully and quite
exquisitely carried out, grey coat, grey waistcoat, grey trousers, grey
Suède gloves, grey soft felt hat, grey tie which, in compliment to the
French, was large and loose. An impression of this grey elegance is in
the portrait of him by Blanche, painted, I think, the same year. As he
came through the galleries towards us with the tripping step that was
characteristic of him, a little light cane swinging in his hand, he was
the most striking figure in them, dividing the stares of the staring
_Vernissage_ crowd with the _clou_ of the year's New _Salon_: that
portrait by Aman-Jean of his wife, with her hair parted in the middle
and brought simply down over her ears, which set a mode copied before
the season was over by women it disfigured, heroines who could dare the
unbecoming if fashion decreed it. Beardsley knew he was being stared at
and of course liked it, and probably would not have exchanged places
with anybody there, not even with Carolus-Duran when, splendidly
barbered, in gorgeous waistcoat, and with an air of casualness, the
_cher maître et président_ strolled into the restaurant at the supreme
moment, carefully chosen, all the crowd there before him, their
breakfast ordered, their first pangs of hunger stilled, and their
attention and enthusiasm at liberty for the greeting he counted upon,
and got.

It may be that this scene of the older generation's triumph and the
power of officialism in art told on Beardsley's nerves, or it may be it
was simply because he was still young enough to believe nobody had ever
been young before, but certainly by evening he had worked himself up
into a fine frenzy of revolt. When we had got through our foolish game
of living statues, and had settled down to dinner in a little
restaurant, where a parrot's greeting of "_Après vous, madame! Après
vous, monsieur!_" had vouched for the excellence of its manners, and
where we could look across the river and see for ourselves how true were
the effects that Cazin used to paint and that seemed so false to those
who knew nothing of French twilight, and when Beardsley had finished his
first glass of very ordinary wine well watered, he let us know what he
thought about _les vieux_ and their stultifying observance of worn-out
laws and principles.

That started Bob Stevenson, who saw an argument and, for the sake of it,
became ponderously patriarchal, hoary with convention. In point of
years, it is true, he was older than any of us, but no matter what his
age according to the Family Bible he was to the end, and would have
been had he lived to be a hundred, the youngest in spirit of any company
into which he ever strayed or could stray. His way, however, was, as
Louis Stevenson described it, "to trans-migrate" himself into the
character or pose he assumed for the moment and no Heavy Father was ever
heavier than he that night at St. Cloud. He spoke with the air of
superior knowledge calculated to aggravate youth. With years, he assured
Beardsley, men learned to value law and order in art, as in the state,
at their worth; and, more and more inspired by his theme, as was his
way, he grew preposterously wise and irritating, and he talked himself
so successfully into every exasperating virtue of age that I could not
wonder at the fierceness with which Beardsley turned upon him and
denounced him roundly as conventional and academic and prejudiced and
old-fashioned and all that to youth is most odious and that to Bob, when
not playing a part, was most impossible. In harmony with his new _rôle_,
he showed himself a miracle of forbearance under Beardsley's reproaches
and sententious beyond endurance, actually called Beardsley young, his
cardinal offence, for the young hate nothing so much as to be reminded
of the youth for which the old envy them. Bob's almost every sentence
began with the unendurable "at my age," which irritated Beardsley the
more, while we roared at the farce of it in the mouth of one to whom
years never made or could make a particle of difference. He wound up by
the warning in soothing tones that Beardsley, in his turn burdened with
years, would understand, would be able to make allowances, as all must
as they grow older, or life would be an endless battle for the
individual as for the race. Beardsley, luckily for himself, did not live
to lose his illusions, and I fancy that to not one of us who listened to
their talk did it occur that we were in danger of losing ours with age,
so immortal does youth seem while it lasts.

The adventure of other afternoons worked out so surprisingly in
Harland's vein that he might have invented it for his books or we might
have borrowed it from them. The encounter with a peacock at a _café_ in
the _Bois_, to which he swept us off at the end of the hottest of those
hot May days, was one of many that he afterwards made use of. Had he
not, I might hesitate to recall it, knowing as I do that its wit must be
lost upon the younger generation of to-day who face life and work with a
severity, a solemnity, that alarms me. Their inability to take
themselves with gaiety is what makes the young men of the Twentieth
Century so hopelessly different from the young men of the
Eighteen-Nineties. Their high moral ideal and concern with social
problems would not permit them to see anything to laugh at in the
experiment of feeding a peacock on cake steeped in absinthe, but it
struck us, in our deplorable frivolity, as humorous at the time, our
consciences the less disturbed because the bird was led into temptation
in the manner of one to whom it was no new thing to yield. Harland, when
he wrote the story with the mock seriousness he was master of, suggested
that the crime was in its having been committed by an irreproachable
British author, the sober father of a family. More momentous to us,
accessories to the crime, was the fact that the cake stuck, a
conspicuous lump, in the peacock's conspicuous throat. For what seemed
hours we waited in tense agitation, torn between our desire to make sure
the lump would disappear and our fears of discovery before it did. But
the peacock was a gentleman in his cups and reeled away to swallow the
lump and, I hope, to sleep off his debauch, in some more secluded spot
where, if he were discovered, we should not be suspected.

There was another afternoon I wonder Harland did not make use of which,
had I been in a pedantic mood, I might have taken as an object-lesson in
the art and occupation of shocking the _bourgeois_. We had been tempted
and had yielded as unreservedly as the peacock, with the difference that
our temptation took the form of the sunshine and the convenience of the
train service at St. Lazare. No sane person with such sunshine
out-of-doors could stay shut up in the _Salon_ and a train was ready at
St. Lazare, whenever we chose to catch it, to carry us off to
Versailles. We were on our way at once after our midday breakfast.

Versailles was too beautiful on that beautiful day to ask anything of us
except to live in the beauty, to make it ours for the moment; too
beautiful to spare us time for bothering about those who had been there
before us; too beautiful to allow the guide-book's fine print and maps
and diagrams to blind our eyes to the one essential fact that the sun
was shining, that the trees were in the greenest growth of their
May-time, that the flowers were radiant with the fulfilment of spring
and the promise of summer. As a place full of history we must have known
it, had we never heard its name. History stared at us from the grey
palace walls, history waylaid us in the formal alleys, lurked in the
formal waters, haunted the formal gardens, overshadowed all the leafy
pleasant places. There is no getting very far from history at Versailles
no matter how hard one may try to. But we had no intention to let the
dead past blot out the new life rekindling--to give its chill to the
young spring day and its sadness to the foolish young people out for a
holiday--to wither the fresh beauty that makes it good just to be alive,
just to have eyes to see and freedom to use them.

I can write this now, but I would not have dared to say it then. Not
only I, but every one of us, would have been as ashamed to be caught
indulging in sentiment, or "bleating," as the _National Observer_. The
chances are we were talking as much nonsense as could be talked to the
minute, for there was nothing we liked to talk better, nothing that
served us so well to disguise the emotion we thought out of place in the
world in which so obviously the self-respecting man's business was to
fight. But if I had not felt the beauty it would not now, so many years
after, remain as my most vivid impression of the day.

We had Versailles to ourselves at first. We were alone in the park,
alone in the alleys and avenues, alone in the gardens,--and the palace
and its paintings could not tempt us in out of the sunshine. But such
good luck naturally did not last and while we were loitering near the
great fountain we saw a party of women with the eager, harassed,
conscientious look that marks the personally-conducted school-ma'am on
tour, bearing briskly down upon us, each with a red book in one hand, a
pencil in the other, all engrossed in the personally-conducted
school-ma'am's holiday task of checking off the sight disposed of,
pigeon-holing the last guide-book fact verified. Their methodical
progress was an offence to us in the mood we were in, would be an
offence on a May day to the right-minded in any mood. I admit they could
have turned upon us and asked what we were, anyway, but tourists as,
after a fashion, no doubt we were. But they could not have accused us of
the horrible conscientiousness, the deadly determination to see the
correct things and to think the correct thoughts about them that dulls
the personally-conducted to the world's real beauty and its meaning--the
same tendency of the multitude to follow like sheep the accepted leader
and never venture to explore fresh fields for themselves, that drove
Hugo to writing his _Hernani_, and Gautier to wearing his red
waistcoat, and all the other Romanticists to their favourite pastime of
shocking the _bourgeois_. Versailles was so wonderful on the face of it
that we resented the presence of people who needed a book to tell them
so and to explain why; and we made our protest against the _bourgeois_
in our own fashion or, to be exact, in Furse's fashion. He was then
blessedly young, fresh from the schools and not yet sobered by Academic
honours, though already a youthful member of the New English Art Club,
from whom an attitude of general defiance was required. He raged and
raved in his big booming voice, declared that tourists ought to be wiped
off the face of the earth, that the women were a hideous blot on the
landscape, that the guide-books were disgracefully out of tone, that it
was unbearable and he wasn't going to bear it, and by his sudden
satisfied smile I saw he had found out how not to. As the school-ma'ams
came within earshot:

"It's beastly hot," he boomed to us, "what do you say to a swim?"

And he took off his coat, he took off his waistcoat, he took off his
necktie, he unbuttoned his collar,--but already the school-ma'ams had
scuttled away, the more daring glancing back once or twice as they
went, their dismay tempered by curiosity.

Furse was pleased as a child over his success, vowed he was ready for
all the tourists impudent enough to think they had a right to share
Versailles with us, and, when a group of Germans talked their guttural
way towards us, he had us all down on our knees, before we knew it,
nibbling at the grass like so many Nebuchadnezzars escaped from
Charenton--an amazing sight that brought the chorus of "Colossals" to an
abrupt stop, and sent the Germans flying.

It may be objected that we were behaving in a fashion that children
would be sent to bed without any supper for, that it was worse than
childish to take pleasure in shocking innocent tourists much better
behaved than ourselves. But there wasn't any pleasure in it. If we set
out to shock them, it was to get rid of them, that was all we wanted,
and it made me see that the succession of young rebels who have loved to
_épater le bourgeois_ never wanted anything more either--except the
self-conscious young rebels who play at rebellion because they fancy it
the surest and quickest way "to arrive."

It is less easy to say why a beautiful day at Versailles should have
sent us back to Paris singing American songs--or to give credit, if
credit is due, it was the rest of the party who returned to the music of
their own voices; I, who to my sorrow cannot as much as turn a tune,
never am so imprudent as to raise my voice in song and so add my discord
to any singing in public or in private. Had they been heard above the
noise of the train, the explanation of those who saw us when we got to
St. Lazare probably would have been that we were a company of nigger
minstrels. By accident, or sheer inattention, when we climbed upstairs
on the double-decked suburban train, we chose the car just behind the
locomotive and memory has not cleaned away the black that covered our
faces when we climbed down again.

It was all very foolish--and no less foolish were the afternoons in the
depths of Fontainebleau or the sunlit green thickets of
Saint-Germain--no less foolish any of those afternoons in the forest or
the park to which a long drive by train, or tram, had carried us. And I
am prepared to admit the folly to-day as I sit at my elderly desk and
look out to the London sky, grey and drear as if the spring had gone
with my youth. But if I never again can be so foolish, at least I am
thankful that once I could, that once long ago I was young in Paris,
"the enchanted city with its charming smile for youth,"--that once I
believed in folly and, in so believing, had learned more of the true
philosophy of life than the most industrious student can ever dig out of
his books.


V

The afternoon at Versailles was the rare exception. We were too keen
about our work, or too dependent on it, to play truant often, however
gay the sunshine and convenient the trains. Nor was it any great
hardship not to, especially after we had broken loose once or twice so
successfully as to make sure we had not forgotten how. If we did stay in
the _Salon_ until we were turned out, the last to leave, Paris was
neither so dull nor so ugly at night that we need sigh for the suburbs.
It was an amusement simply to drink our coffee in front of a _café_, to
go on with the talk that must have had a beginning sometime somewhere,
but that never got anywhere near an end, and to watch the life of the
Paris streets.

I had got my initiation into _café_ life that first year in Italy and
had finished my education by cycle on French roads, where every evening
taught me the difference between the country where there is a _café_ to
pass an hour in over a glass of coffee after dinner, and England where
choice in the small town then lay between immediate bed or the
intolerable gloom of the Coffee Room. It is the real democrat like the
Frenchman or the Italian who knows how to take his ease in a _café_; the
Englishman, who hasn't an inkling of what the democracy he boasts of
means, fights shy of it. He does not mind making use of it when he is
away from home, but he is likely to be thanking his stars all the time
that in his part of the world nothing so promiscuous is possible. I
tried to point out its advantages once to an English University man.

"Aoh!" he said, "you know at Oxford we had our wines and we weren't
bothered by people."

But it is just the people part of it that is amusing, the more so if the
background is the Street of a French or an Italian town.

Some nights we went to the _Café de la Paix_ on the _Rive Droite_; other
nights, to the _Café d'Harcourt_ on the _Rive Gauche_; and occasionally
to the _Café de la Régence_ where many artists went, especially foreign
artists, and more especially Scandinavians. I seem to retain a vision of
Thaulow, a blond giant more than fitting in the corner of the little
raised enclosure in the front of the _café_. My one other recollection
is of a story I heard there, though of the painter who told it I can
recall only that he was a Belgian. If I recall the story so well, it
must be because it struck me at the time as characteristic and in memory
became forever after associated with the little open space I was looking
over to as I listened, amused and interested, while the flower women
pushed past their barrows piled high with the big round bunches of
budding lilies-of-the-valley you see nowhere save in Paris. It is
impossible for me to think of the _café_ without thinking of the little
_Place_, nor of the little _Place_ without at once hearing again the
artist's voice lingering joyfully over the adventures of his youth.

The story was one of a kind I had often listened to at the _Nazionale_
in Rome and the _Orientale_ in Venice--a story of student days--a story
of two young painters coming to Paris in their first ripe enthusiasm,
with devotion to squander upon the masters, upon none more lavishly than
upon Jules Breton, which explains what ages ago it was and how young
they must have been. They were at the _Salon_, standing in silent
worship before Breton's peasant woman with a scythe against a garish
sunset, when they heard behind them an adoring voice saying the things
they were thinking to one they knew must be the _cher maître_ himself,
and they felt if they could once shake his hand life could hold no
higher happiness. The worship of the young is pleasant to the old.
Breton let them shake his hand and, more, he kept them at his side until
his visit to the _Salon_ was finished, and then sent them away walking
on air. They were leaving the next day. In the morning they went to the
_Rue de Rivoli_ to buy toys to take home to their little brothers and
sisters, and one selected a dog and the other a mill, and when wound up
the dog played the drum and cymbals and the mill turned its wheel and,
children themselves, they were ravished and would not have the toys
wrapped up but carried them back in their arms to the hotel, stopping in
the _Avenue de l'Opéra_ to wind up the mill and see the wheel go round
again. And as they stood enchanted, the mill wheel turning and turning,
who should come towards them but the _cher Maître_. It was too late to
run, too late to hide the mill with its turning wheel and the dog with
its foolish drum. They longed to sink through the ground in their
mortification--they, the serious students of yesterday, to be caught
to-day playing like silly children in the open street. But how
ineffable is the condescension of the great! The master joined them.

"_Tiens_," he said, "and the wheel, it goes round? But it works
beautifully. Let us wind it up again!"

Cannot you see the little comedy,--the fine old prophet with the red
ribbon in his button-hole, the two trembling, adoring students, the toy
with its revolving wheel, all in the gay sunlight of the _Avenue de
l'Opéra_, and not a passer-by troubling to look because it was Paris
where men are not ashamed to be themselves. The two painters preserved
this impression of the kindness of the master long after they ceased to
worship at the shrine of the peasant with her scythe posed against the
sunset.

One duty the Boulevards of the Left Bank imposed upon us in the Nineties
was the search for Verlaine and Bibi-la-Purée, and many another poet for
all time and celebrity for the day, in the _cafés_ where they waited to
be found and I do not doubt were deeply disappointed if nobody came to
find them. The fame of these great men, who were easily accessible when
the _café_ they went to happened to be known, had crossed to London with
so much else London was labelling _fin-de-siècle_. To have met them, to
be able to speak of them in intimate terms, to be authorities on the
special vice of each, was the ambition of the yearning young decadents
on the British side of the Channel, who imagined in the intimacy a proof
of their own emancipation from it would have been hard to say what,
their own genius for revolution if it was not clear what reason they had
to revolt. We, who cultivated a withering scorn for decadence and the
affectation of it, were moved by nothing more serious or ambitious than
youth's natural desire to see and to know everything that is going on,
and we could not have been very ardent in our search, for I never
remember once, on the nights we devoted to the hunt, tracking these
lions to their lair. However, at least one of our party had better luck
when he started on the hunt without us. According to a rumour at the
time, the respectable British author, sober father of a family, who fed
the peacock on cake steeped in absinthe, was once seen in broad daylight
with the _Reine de Golconde_ on his arm, walking down the _Boul' Mich'_
at the head of a band of poets.

Verlaine I did meet, but it was in London, where admiring, or
philanthropic, young Englishmen brought him one winter to lecture and
the subject as announced was "Contemporary French Poetry," and through
all these years I have managed to preserve the small sheet of
announcement with Arthur Symons's name and "kind regards" written below,
a personal little document, for it was Symons who got up the show, and
he and Herbert P. Horne who sold the tickets. Instead of lecturing,
Verlaine read his verses to the scanty audience, all of whom knew each
other, in the dim light of Barnard's Inn Hall, and the music of their
rhythm was in his voice so that I was not conscious of the satyr-like
repulsiveness of his face and head so long as he was reading. When he
was not reading, the repulsiveness was to me overpowering and I shrank
from his very presence. Nor was the shrinking less when I talked with
him the night after his lecture, at a dinner where my place was next to
his. He was like a loathsome animal with his decadent face, his yellow
skin, and his little bestial eyes lighting up obscenely as he told me of
the two women who would fight for the money in his pockets when he got
back to Paris. Beyond this I have no recollection of his talk. The
prospect before him apparently absorbed his interest, was the only good
he had got out of his visit to London. The beauty of his own beautiful
poems, I felt in disgust, should have made such vicious sordidness
impossible. It revolted me that a man so degraded and hideous physically
could write the verse I had loved ever since his _Romances sans Paroles_
first fell into my hands, or, writing it, could be content to remain
what he was. To be sure, the genius is rare whom it is not a
disappointment to meet, and the hero-worshipper may be thankful when his
great man is guilty of nothing worse than the famous writer in
Tchekhof's play--so famous as to have his name daily in the papers and
his photograph in shop windows--whose crime was to condescend to fish
and to be pleased when he caught something.


VI

The Nineties would not let us off from another entertainment as
characteristic--as _fin-de-siècle_, the Englishman under the impression
that he knew his Paris would have classified it--nor did we want to be
let off, though it lured us indoors.

The big theatres had no attraction: to sit out a long play in a hot
playhouse was not our idea of what spring nights were made for. Neither
had the "Hells" and "Heavens," the fatuous, vulgar, indecent
performances with catchpenny names, run for the foreigner who went to
Paris so that he might for the rest of his life throw up hands of
horror and say what an immoral place it was.

Once or twice we tried the out-door _Café-Chantant_, and we heard Paulus
in the days when all Paris went to hear him, and Yvette Guilbert when
she was still slim and wore the V-shaped bodice and the long black
gloves, as you may see her in Toulouse-Lautrec's lithographs.

Once or twice we tried the big stuffy music-halls, also adapted to
supply the travelling student of morals with the specimens he was in
search of, but not dropping all local character in the effort. We seemed
to owe it to the memory of Manet to go to the _Folies-Bergère_ which
cannot be forgotten so long as his extraordinary painting of the barmaid
in the ugly fashions of the late Seventies is saved to the world. That
natural desire of youth just to see and to know, that had carried us up
and down the _Boulevards_ of the _Rive Gauche_ in pursuit of its poets,
sent us to the _Casino de Paris_ and the _Moulin Rouge_. But a first
visit did not inspire us with a desire for a second, though I would not
have missed the _Casino_ if only for the imperishable memory of the most
solemn of our critics dancing there with a patroness of the house and
looking about as cheerful as a martyr at the stake, nor the _Moulin_
_Rouge_ for another memory as imperishable of the most socially
pretentious leaving his partner, after his dance, with the "thanks
awfully" of the provincial ball-room. I thought both dull places which
nothing save their reputation could have recommended, even to those
determined young decadents in London who were no prouder of their
friendship with Bibi and Verlaine than of their freedom of the French
music-halls, and who wrote of them with a pretence of profound knowledge
calculated to _épater le bourgeois_ at home, referring by name with easy
familiarity to the dancers in the _Quadrille Naturaliste_, as celebrated
in its way as Bibi in his, and explaining solemnly the _chahut_ and the
_grand écart_ and _le port d'armes_ and every evolution in that
unpleasant dance. How it brought it all back to me the other day when I
found in _The Gypsy_--the direct but belated offspring of _The Savoy_--a
poem to _Nini-patte-en-l'air_. And does anybody now know or care who
Nini-patte-en-l'air was? Or who _La Goulue_ and the rest? Would anybody
now go a step to see the _Quadrille_ were any graceless acrobats left to
dance it? These things belonged to the lightest of light fashions that
passed with the Nineties, and the _Moulin Rouge_ itself could burn down
to the ground a few months ago and hardly a voice be heard in lament or
reminiscence. Upon such rapidly shifting sands did the young would-be
revolutionaries of London build their House of Decadence.

The entertainment worth the exchange of the pure May night for a
smoke-laden, stuffy interior was in none of these places. Where we
looked for it--and found it--was in the little _café_ or _cabaret_--the
_cabaret artistique_ as it was then known in Paris--with a flair for the
genius the world is so long in discovering, where the young poet read
his verses, the young musician interpreted his music, the young artist
showed his work in any manner the chance was given him to, to say
nothing of the posters he sometimes designed for it and decorated Paris
with: theatre and performance and advertisement impossible in any other
town or any other atmosphere. London is too clumsy. Berlin is too
ponderous, New York has not the right material home-grown, and the
spirit of the original dies in the self-conscious imitation. Even in
Paris a Baedeker star is its death-blow, the private guide's attention
spells immediate ruin, nor can it survive more legitimate honours at
home when they come. Like most good things it has its times and its
seasons, and it was in the Nineties it gave forth its finest blossoms.
We knew it was a pleasure to be snatched this year, for next who could
say where it might be, and we set out to snatch it with the same
diligence we had devoted one spring to eating dinners and another to
playing in the suburbs, though we could make no pretence in a week to
exhaust it.

Night after night we dined, we drank our coffee at the nearest _café_,
we scrambled to the top of the big omnibus with the three white horses,
now as dead as the performance it was taking us to, we journeyed across
Paris to see or to hear the work of the young genius on the threshold of
fame or oblivion. And if in an access of conscientiousness we had felt
the need--as we never did--of a reason for our eagerness, we might have
had it in the way our evening's entertainment invariably turned out to
be the legitimate sequel of our day's work. For there wasn't a _cabaret_
of them all that did not reflect somehow the things we had been busy
studying and wrangling over ever since our arrival in Paris, the merit
they shared in common being their pre-occupation with the art and
literature of the day to which they belonged. The tiresome performance
known as a _Revue_, which is all the vogue just now in the London
music-halls, undertakes to do something of the same kind: to be, that
is, a reflection of the events and interests and popular excitements of
the day. But the wide gulf between the music-hall _Revue_ and the old
_Cabaret_ performance is that art and literature could not, by hook or
by crook, be dragged into the average Englishman's scheme of life.

If one night the end of the journey was the _Tréteau de Tabarin_--the
hot and uncomfortable little room rigged up as a theatre, with hard
rough wooden benches for the audience, and vague lights, and bare and
dingy stage where men and women whose names I have forgotten read and
recited and sang the _chansons rosses_ that "all Paris" flocked there to
hear--it was to have the argument from which we had freshly come
continued and settled by one of the inspired young poets. For my chief
remembrance is of the irreverent youth who summed up our daily dispute
over Rodin's great melodramatic Balzac, with frowning brows and goitrous
throat, wrapped in shapeless dressing-gown, that stood that spring in
the centre of the sculpture court at the New _Salon_, and the summing up
was in verse only a Frenchman could write, the satire the more bitter
because the wit was so fine.

A second night when we climbed the lumbering omnibus, we were bound for
the _Chat Noir_. It had already moved from its first primitive quarters
but had not yet degenerated into a regular show place, advertised in
Paris and taken by Salis on tour through the provinces. Here, our
justification was to find that everything, from the sign of the Black
Cat, then hanging at the door and now hanging, a national possession, in
the Carnavalet Museum, and the cat-decorations in the _café_ and the
drawings and paintings on the wall, to the performance in the big room
upstairs, was by the men over whose work we had been arguing all day at
the _Salon_ and buying in the reproductions at the bookstalls and
bookshops on the way back.

To see that performance upstairs we had each to pay five francs at the
door, and we paid them as willingly as if they did not represent
breakfast and dinner for the next day, and so many other people paid
them with equal willingness that the room was crowded, though the show
was of a kind that the same public in any town except Paris would have
paid twice that sum to stay away from. Imagine Poe attracting customers
for a New York saloon-keeper by reciting his poems! Imagine Keene or
Beardsley making the fortunes of a London public-house by decorating
its walls and showing his pictures on a screen! Or imagine the public of
to-day, debauched by the "movies" and the music-hall "sketch," knowing
that there is such a thing as poetry or art to listen to and look at!

But Salis,--the great Salis, inventor, proprietor, director of the _Chat
Noir_, dealt only in poetry and art and music, and this is sufficient to
give him a place in the history of the period, even if he were the mere
exploiter filling his pockets by pilfering other people's brains that he
was accused of being by his enemies. He crowded his _café_ by letting
poets whom nobody had heard of and whose destiny--some of them, Maurice
Donnay for one--as staid Academicians nobody could have foreseen, try
their verses for the first time in public; by giving the same splendid
opportunity to musicians as obscure then, whatever heights at least
two--Charpentier and Debussy--were afterwards to reach; and by allowing
the artist, while the poet was the interpreter in beautiful words and
the musician in beautiful sound, to show his wonderful little dramas in
black-and-white, the _Ombres Chinoises_ that were the crowning glory of
the night's performance. From days in the _Salons_, from the illustrated
papers and magazines and books we filled our bags with to take back to
London, we could not measure the full powers of men like Willette and
Caran d'Ache and Rivière and Louis Morin until we had seen also _The
Prodigal Son_, _The March of the Stars_, and all the stories they told
in those dramatic silhouettes--those marvellous little black figures,
cut in tin, only a few inches high, moving across a white space small in
due proportion, but so designed and posed and grouped by the artist as
to give the swing and the movement and the passing of great armies until
one could almost fancy one heard the drums beat and the trumpets call,
or to suggest the grandeur and solemnity of the desert, the vastness of
the sky, the mystery of the night. They have been imitated. Only a few
months ago I saw an imitation in a London music-hall, with all that late
inventions in photography and electric light could do for it. But no
touch of genius was in the little figures and the elaboration was no
more than clever stagecraft. The simplicity of the _Chat Noir_ was gone,
and gone the gaiety of the performers, and the pretence of gaiety is
sadder than tragedy. Salis knew how to catch his poet, his musician, his
artist, young,--that is where he scored.

It is possible that I was the more impressed by the beauty of the show
because it was not of that side of the _Chat Noir_ I had heard most. Its
British admirers or critics, when they got back to London, had far more
to say of it as a haunt of vice, if not as decadents to parade their
wide and experienced knowledge of Paris, then as students who had gone
there very likely to gather further confirmation of the popular British
belief in Paris as the headquarters of vice and frivolity. To this day
the hero or heroine of the British novel who is led astray is apt to
cross the Channel for the purpose. It was a delicate matter to
accomplish this in the Nineties when the novelist happened to be a
woman, for even the "New Woman" cry, if it armed her with her own
front-door key, could not draw all the bolts and bars of convention for
her. I can remember the plight of the highly correct Englishwoman, upon
whom British fiction depended for its respectability, who wanted to send
her young hero from the English provinces to the _Chat Noir_ in the
course of a rake's progress, and who avoided facing the contamination
herself by shifting to her husband the task of collecting the necessary
local colour on the spot. She did well, for had she gone she could not
have been so scandalized as the young Briton in her book was obliged to
be for the sake of the story. Those who had eyes and ears for it could
see and hear all the license they wanted, those who had eyes and ears
for the beauty could rest content with that, and as far as my impression
of the place goes, Salis, if he allowed license at the _Chat Noir_,
refused to put up with either the affectation or the advertisement of
it. I cannot forget the night when a young American woman took her
cigarette case from her pocket and lit a cigarette. It would not have
seemed a desperate deed in proper England where every other woman had
begun to smoke in public, probably more in public than in private, for
with many smoking was part of the "New Woman" crusade--"I never liked
smoking," an ardent leader in the cause told me once, "but I smoked
until we won the right to." France, or Salis, however, still drew a
rigid line that refused women the same right in France, and with the
American's first whiff he was bidding her good-night and politely, but
firmly, showing her the door.

A third night, and I do not know that it was not the most amusing, the
end of our journey was Bruant's _Cabaret du Mirliton_, in the remote
_Boulevard Rochechouart_. I daresay there was not one of us who did not
own a copy of Bruant's _Dans la Rue_, but we had bought it less because
of his verses--some of us had not read a line of them--than because of
Steinlen's illustrations, and I can still hear Harland upbraiding us for
our literary indifference and urging it as a duty that we should not
only read Bruant's songs, but go at once to hear him sing them. Harland
had the provoking talent of looking as if his stories were the last
thing he was bothering about, as if he was too busy enjoying the
spectacle of life to think of work, when he was really working as hard
as the hardest-working of us all. And as it was not very long after that
his _Mademoiselle Miss_ appeared, I have an idea that he hurried us off
to Bruant's not solely to improve our literary taste, but quite as much
to collect incidents for that gay little tale.

[Illustration: Poster by Toulouse-Lautrec
ARISTIDE BRUANT OF THE CABARET DU MIRLITON]

Bruant ran the _Mirliton_ on the principle that the less easily pleasure
is come by, the more it will be prized. There was no walking in as at
the ordinary _café_, no paying for admission as upstairs at the _Chat
Noir_. Instead, it amused him to keep people who wanted to get in
standing outside his door while he examined them through a little
grille, an amusement which, in our case, he prolonged until I was sure
he did not like our looks and would send us away, and that the reason
was the responsibility he laid upon us all for the frock coat and top
hat which the Architect could never manage to keep out of sight, skulk
as he might in the background. But, of course, Bruant had no intention
of sending us away and he kept up his little farce only to the point
where our disappointment was on the verge of turning into impatience. It
simply meant that he did not hold to the hail-fellow-well-met
free-and-easiness which was the pose of Salis at the _Chat Noir_, but,
at the _Mirliton_, was all for ceremony and dramatic effect. At the
psychological moment he opened the door himself, a splendid creature,
half brigand, half Breton peasant, in brown corduroy jacket and
knee-breeches, high boots, red silk handkerchief tied loosely round his
neck, big wide-brimmed hat on the back of his head, the passing pose of
a poet who, I am told, rejoiced to give it up for a costume fitted to
the more congenial pastime of raising potatoes. To have seen
Toulouse-Lautrec's poster of him and his _Cabaret_ was to recognize him
at a glance.

To the noise of a strident chorus in choice _argot_, which I was
told I should be thankful I did not understand, Bruant showed us
into his _café_. It was more like an amateur museum, with its big
Fifteenth Century fireplace, and its brasses and tapestries on the
walls, and if the huge _Mirliton_ hanging from the ceiling was not
remarkable as a work of art, it should now, as historic symbol of
the Nineties, have a place at the _Carnavalet_ by the side of the
sign of the _Chat Noir_. When we had time to look round, we saw that
the severe ordeal through which we had passed had admitted us into
the company of a few youths in the high stocks and long hair of the
_Quartier Latin_, a _petit piou-piou_ or so, two or three stray
workmen, women whom perhaps it would be more discreet not to attempt
to classify, all seated at little tables and harmlessly occupied in
drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. The place was free from
tourists, we were the only foreigners, the handsome Aristide
evidently sang his songs for the pleasure of himself and the people.

It was after we had sat down at our little table and given the order
required of us that the incidents of the evening began to play so neatly
and effectively into Harland's plot. A scowl was on Bruant's handsome
face as he strode up and down his _café_-museum, for the striding, it
seemed, was only part of the regular performance. He should at the same
time have been singing the songs we had come to hear, and he could not
without the pianist who accompanied him, and the pianist had chosen
this night of all others to be late. The scowl deepened, I felt
something like a stir of uneasiness through the room, and I did not
wonder, for Bruant looked as if he had a temper it might be dangerous to
trifle with. And then the strange thing happened and, to our surprise
and his, our party whom he had met with such disdain saved the
situation. How we did it may be read, with the variations necessary to
fit his tale, in Harland's book. We had our own musician--her name was
not Mademoiselle Miss--and when she discovered what was the matter, and
why Bruant was scowling so abominably, she was moved by the sympathy of
one artist for another and offered her services. Bruant led her to the
piano, she accompanied him as best she could, the music being new to
her, he sang us his _St. Lazare_ and _La Soularde_, all the while
striding up and down with magnificent swagger, and was about to begin a
third of his most famous songs when the pianist arrived, his
unmistakable fright quickly lost in his bewilderment at being received
with an amiability he had not any right to expect, and allowed to slip
into his place at the piano unrebuked. Bruant, with the manners, the
courteous dignity, of a prince, led our Mademoiselle Miss back to us,
ordered bocks for her, for me--the only other woman at our table--and
for himself, touched his with his lips, bowed, was gone and singing
again before we could show that we had not yet learned to drain our
glasses in the fashion approved of at the _Mirliton_.

So far Harland used this little episode much as it happened and made the
most of it--I hope the curious who consult his story will be able to
distinguish between his realism and his romance. But being mere man he
missed the sequel which to the original of his Mademoiselle Miss and to
me was the most dramatic and disturbing event of the evening. Gradually,
as we sat at our table, watching Bruant and the company, it dawned upon
us that Bruant did not exhaust the formalities of his entertainment upon
the coming guest but reserved one for the parting guest which in our
judgment was scarcely so amusing. For to every woman who left his
_café_, Bruant's goodbye was a hearty kiss on both cheeks. We had the
sense to know that, as we had come to the _Mirliton_ of our own free
will, we had no more right to quarrel with its rules than to refuse to
show our press ticket at the _Salon_ turnstile, or to give up our
umbrellas at the door of the _Louvre_, or to question the regulations of
any other place in Paris we chose to go to. If we insisted upon being
made the exceptions to the farewell ceremony, and if Bruant would not
let us off, could we resent it? And if the men of our party resented it
for us, and if Bruant resented their resentment, how would that improve
matters?

It was about as unpleasant a predicament as I have ever found myself in.
We talked it over, but could see no way out of it, and in our discomfort
kept urging the men to stay for just one more song and then just one
more, greatly to their amazement, for they were accustomed to not
wanting to go and having to beg us to stay. The evil moment, however,
could not be put off indefinitely, and, with our hearts in our boots, we
at last got up from the table. We might have spared ourselves our agony.
Bruant, with the instinct and intelligence of the Frenchman, realized
our embarrassment and I hope I am right in thinking he had his laugh
over us all to himself, so much more than a laugh did we owe him. For
what he did when we got to the door was to shake hands with us
ceremoniously, each in turn, to repeat his thanks for our visit and his
gratitude to the musician for her services, to take off his wide-brimmed
hat--the only time that night--and to bow us out into the darkness of
the _Boulevard Rochechouart_.

Following the example of Mademoiselle Miss in the story, unless it was
she who was following ours, we finished the evening which had begun at
the _Mirliton_ by eating supper at the _Rat Mort_. It was an experience
I cared less to repeat even than the visits to the _Casino de Paris_ and
the _Moulin Rouge_. As light and satisfying a supper could have been
eaten in many other places, late as was the hour. Neither wit nor art
entered into the entertainment as at the _Chat Noir_ and Bruant's. Vice
was at no trouble to disguise itself. On the contrary, it made rather a
cynical display, I thought, and cynicism in vice is never agreeable. I
give my impressions. I may be wrong. I have not forgotten that the
harmless portrait by Degas of Desboutin at the _Nouvelle Athènes_
scandalized all London in the Nineties. Everything depends on the point
of view.

Anyway, another adventure I liked better was still to come before that
long Paris night was at an end. It was so characteristic of Harland and
his joy in the humorous and the absurd that I do not quite see why he
did not let his Mademoiselle Miss share it. Outside the _Rat Mort_, in
the early hours of the next morning, we picked up an old-fashioned
one-horse, closed cab, built to hold two people, and of a type almost as
extinct in Paris as the three-horse omnibus. It was the only cab in
sight and we packed into and outside of it, not two but eight. As it
crawled down one of the steep streets from _Montmartre_ there was a
creak, the horse stopped and, as quickly as I tell it, the bottom was
out of the cab and we were in the street. Harland, as if prepared all
along for just such a disaster, whisked the top hat so conspicuous in
everything we did from the astonished Architect's head, handed it round,
made a pitiful tale of _le pauvr' cocher_ and his hungry wife and
children, and implored us to show, now or never, the charitable stuff we
were made of. Considering it was the end of a long evening, he collected
a fairly decent number of francs and presented them to the _cocher_ with
an eloquent speech, which it was a pity someone could not have taken
down in shorthand for him to use in his next story. The _cocher_, the
least concerned of the group, thanked us with a broad grin, drew up his
broken cab close to the sidewalk, took the horse from the shaft,
clambered on its back, rode as fast as he could go down the street, and
disappeared into the night. A _sergent-de-ville_, who had been looking
on, shrugged his shoulders; in his opinion, _cet animal là_ was in luck
and probably would like nothing better than the same accident every
night, provided at the time he was driving ladies and gentlemen of such
generosity. _Allez!_ Didn't we know the cab was heavily insured, all
Paris cabs were, we had made him a handsome present--_Voilà tout!_

And so wonderful is it to be young and in Paris that we laughed our way
back as we trudged on foot through the now dark and empty and silent
streets between _Montmartre_ and our rooms. I doubt if I could laugh now
at the fatigue of it. Of all the many ghosts that walk with me along the
old familiar ways, the one keeping most obstinately at my side is that
of my own youth, reminding me of the prosaic, elderly woman I am, who,
even if the zest for adventure remained, would be ashamed to be caught
plunging into follies like those of the old foolish nights in Paris that
never can be again, or who, if not ashamed, would be without the energy
to see them through to the end.


VII

In Paris, as in London, a further ramble down those crowded, haunted,
resounding Corridors of Time would lead me to many other nights of
gaiety and friendliness and loud persistent talk.

Again, I would have my Whistler nights, the background now not our
chambers, but the memorable apartment in the Rue du Bac
_rez-de-chaussée_ opening upon the spacious garden where, in the
twilight, often we lingered to listen to the Missionary Monks in their
spacious garden on the other side of the wall, singing the canticles for
the Month of Mary so dear to me from my convent days--nights in the
dining-room with its beautiful blue-and-white china, the long table and
the Japanese "something like a birdcage" hanging over it in the centre,
many once-friendly faces all about me, Whistler presiding in his place
or filling the glasses of his guests as he passed from one to the other,
always talking, saying things as nobody else could have said them,
witty, serious, exasperating, delightful things, laughing the gay laugh
or the laugh of malice that said as much as his words;--nights in the
blue and white drawing-room, with the painting of Venus over the mantel,
and the stately Empire chairs, and the table a litter of papers among
which was always the last correspondence to be read, interrupted by his
own comments that to those who heard were the best part of it--nights
that will never perish as long as even one man, or woman, who shared in
them lives to remember;--Whistler nights even after Whistler had left us
for the land where there is neither night nor day: nights these with the
old friends who had loved him, with the painter Oulevey and the sculptor
Drouet who had been his fellow students, with Théodore Duret who had
been faithful during his years of greatest trial, friends who rejoiced
in talking of Whistler and of all that had gone to make him the great
personality and the greater artist; but of the Whistler nights in Paris,
as in London, I have already made the record with J. The story of them
is told.

And along the same rich Corridors, I would come to nights only less
worth preserving in the studios of artists, American and English, who
studied and worked and lived in Paris--nights that have bequeathed to me
the impression of great space, and lofty ceilings, and many canvases,
and big easels, and bits of tapestry, and the gleam of old brass and
pottery, and excellent dinners, and, of course, vehement talk, and a
friendly war of words--nights with men irrevocably in the movement,
whose work was conspicuous on the walls of the New _Salon_ and had
probably, a few hours earlier, kept us busy arguing in front of it and
writing voluminous notes in our note-books--nights not the least
stirring and tempestuous of the many I have spent in Paris, but nights
of which my safe rule of silence where the living are concerned forbids
me to tell the tale.

And one special year stands out when the little hotel in the Rue St.
Roch was deserted for the Grand Hotel, and when all the nights seemed
swallowed up in the International Society's business--not the
International Society of Anarchists, but the International Society of
Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers in London, which, in those terribly
enterprising Nineties, sent its deputation--J. included in it--to
collect all that was most individual and distinguished in the _Salons_
for its next Exhibition. It was a year of many wanderings in many
directions to many studios of French artists, or foreign artists working
in Paris--a year of many meetings of many artists night after night. But
this clearly is not a story for me to tell, since the International was
J.'s concern, not mine. In the hours away from my work I looked on, an
outsider, but an amused outsider, marvelling as I have never ceased to
marvel since the faraway nights in Rome, at the inexhaustible wealth of
art as a subject of talk wherever artists are gathered together.

And rambling still further into that past, I would stumble into
American nights--nights with old friends, established there or passing
through and run across by chance--nights of joy in being with my own
people again, of hearing not English, but my native tongue and having
life readjusted to the American point of view. Nobody knows how good it
is to be with one's fellow-countrymen who has not been years away from
them. But these also are nights that come within the forbidden zone--the
zone where Silence is Golden.


VIII

I have put down these memories of Paris nights and my yearly visit to
Paris in the year when, for the first time since I began my work in its
galleries, no _Salon_ has opened to take me there in the springtime.
With the coming of May the lilacs and horse-chestnuts bloomed with the
old beauty and fragrance along the _Champs-Elysées_ outside the _Grand
Palais_, but inside no prints and paintings were on the walls, no
statues in the great courts. To those admitted, the only exhibition was
of the wounded, the maimed, the dying. Does it mean, I wonder, the end
of all old days and nights for me in Paris, as the war that has shut
fast the _Salon_ door means the end of the old order of things in the
Europe I have known? Shall I never go to Paris again in the season of
lilacs and horse-chestnuts? Already I have ceased to meet my old friends
by day in front of the picture of the year and to quarrel with them over
it by night at a _café_ table, or in the peaceful twilight of the
suburban town and park and garden. Am I to lose as well the link with
the past I had in the _Salon_, am I to lose perhaps Paris? Who can say
at the moment of my writing, when the echo of shells and bullets is
thundering in my ears? The pleasure of what has been becomes the dearer
possession in the mad upheaval that threatens to sweep all trace of it
away, and so I cling to the remembrance of my Paris nights the more
tenderly and even with the hope, if far-fetched, that others may
understand the tenderness. Youth sees little beyond youth, but as the
years go on I begin to believe youth exists for no other end than to
supply the incidents that age transforms into memories to warm itself
by. If I have reached the time for looking back, I have my compensation
in the invigorating glow, for all its sadness, that I get from my new
occupation.



INDEX


  Abbey, Edwin A., 54

  Addiscombe, Henley's house at, 137, 145, 149

  "Admiral Guinea," by Henley, 147

  Albano, 66

  Albergo del Sole, Pompeii, 67

  "Allahakbarries," 214, 215

  Aman-Jean, E., 261

  American Consul at Venice, 86

  American tourists, 91

  American visitors, 221

  Anthony, Venice, 97

  Antica Panada, 76

  "Arabian Nights' Entertainment," by Henley, 132

  Arnold, at Venice, 86, 87

  "Arrangement in Trousers," 96

  Arrested, 29

  Art critics in Paris, 227-229

  Artists in Rome, 44-64

  "Art Journal," London, 129

  "Art Weekly," London, 202

  "Association Books," 214

  Astor, William Waldorf, 152, 153

  "Atlantic Monthly," 83, 96

  Augustine (Mme. Bertin), 218

  Austen, Louis, 174


  Ballantyne & Co., 125

  Barnes, Henley's house at, 149

  Barrie, J.M., 148, 214

  Baseball, 87, 88

  Bauer's, at Venice, 107

  Beardsley, Aubrey, 138, 177-191, 197, 211, 228, 260-264

  Beardsley's illness, 190

  Beaux-Arts, Paris, 47

  Beerbohm, Max, 185, 187

  Befana Night, 66

  Beggarstaff Brothers, 194

  Belgian exiles, 222

  Belgium, 17

  Béraud, Jean, 239

  Bibi-la-Purée, 276, 281

  Bicycle, 17, 32, 254

  Bisbing, Henry S., 102

  Black magic, 89

  Black and white at the Salons, 239

  Blackburn, Vernon, 152

  Blakie, W.B., 148

  Blanche, J.E., 261

  "Blast, The," 176

  "Bodley Head," 187

  Boer War, 219

  Borghese, The, 29

  "Boys, The," at Venice, 84, 88, 93, 95, 96, 102

  Breton, Jules, 274

  Bridge of Sighs, Venice, 75

  Brillat-Savarin, 245

  British Museum, 65

  Bronsons, the, at Venice, 98

  Brown, Horatio, at Venice, 98

  Brown, Professor Fred, 203

  Bruant, Aristide, 289-295

  Buckingham Street, our rooms in, 117, 121, 125, 126, 129-223, 142, 158,
                                   161, 172, 174, 179, 199, 220, 260

  Buhot, Felix, 120, 199, 203

  Bunney at Venice, 92

  Burano, 111

  Burlington House, 228

  Burly, Stevenson's, 134

  Burne-Jones, Sir Edward, 178

  Bussy, Simon, 127

  "Butterfly," the, 177, 198


  Cabaret du Mirliton, Paris, 289, 295
    Lyonnais, Paris, 252, 254

  Café d'Harcourt, Paris, 273
    de la Paix, Paris, 273
    de la Régence, Paris, 273
    de Venise, Rome, 41
    Nazionale Aragno, Rome, 41, 43, 49, 52, 67, 121, 274
    Orientale, Venice, 76, 82-97, 107, 113, 121, 274
    Royal, London, 121, 176, 208

  Cafés at Rome, 34, 40-44 at Venice, 76-113

  Calcino, Venice, 77

  Campagna, the, 33, 35, 65

  Campanile, the, Venice, 75

  Canaletto, 100

  "Captain's Girl," 214

  Carlyle, Thomas, 54

  Carnavalet Museum, 285, 292

  Carolus-Duran, 261

  Carpaccio, 94

  Casa Kirsch, Venice, 73, 74, 75,77

  Casino de Paris, 280, 296

  Cavour, the, Rome, 38, 43

  Cazin, C., 262

  Cézanne, Paul, 248, 249

  Chamberlain, Dr., 62

  Champ de Mars, 234

  Champs-Elysées, 227, 243, 302

  Chantrey bequest, 119

  Charles V ball, at Munich, 105

  Charpentier, E., 286

  Chat Noir, the, Paris, 285-291

  Chéret, Jules, 240

  Cheshire Cheese, the, London, 38

  Chioggia, 111

  "Chronicle of Friendships," by Will Low, 165

  Church of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice, 94

  Cleopatra's Needle, 147

  Clothes, 31-32, 44, 57, 76, 98, 123, 185, 193-194, 207, 255, 260, 261

  Cole, Timothy, 221

  Coleman at Rome, 61

  Conder, Charles, 203, 241

  Coney Island, 110

  Constable, T. and A., 213

  Cook, Clarence, 63

  Cookery, the Author's articles on, 142, 149, 158, 186

  Cooking books, 245

  Corder, Rosa, 237

  Cornford, Cope, 128

  "Courrier Français," Paris, 203

  Covent Garden, 125

  Crane, Walter, 138, 204

  Crawford, Marion, 60

  Crockett, S.R., 157

  Cubists, the, 248

  Cust, Henry, 153


  D'Ache, Caran, 240, 287

  "Daily Chronicle," the, London, 170, 173, 174

  "Daily News," London, 41

  Davies, 59, 112

  Dayrolles, Adrienne (Mrs. W.J. Fisher), 174

  Debussy, Achille Claude, 286

  Degas, H.G.E., 119, 296

  Desboutin, 296

  "Dial, The," London, 177

  Dinners in Paris, 244-247

  "Diogenes of London," 215

  Discussions over art, 46-65

  Dodge, Miss Louise, 65, 159

  "Dome," the, London, 177

  Donnay, Maurice, 286

  Donoghue the sculptor, 48-49, 50, 53

  Dowie, Ménie Muriel, 185

  Drouet, C., 300

  Ducal Palace, Venice, 75, 100

  Duclaux, Madame, 129

  Dumas's Dictionnaire de la Cuisine, 149, 245

  Duret, Théodore, 300

  Duveneck, Frank, 76-108


  Edelfelt, 239

  Eighteen-eighties, 27-114

  Eighteen-nineties, 115-304
    Their so-called decadence, 118

  English tourists, 92

  Etty, William, 123

  "Evergreen," the, London, 177


  Falcone, the, Rome, 37, 38, 43

  Fig-Tree House, 130

  Fighting nineties, 118

  Finck, Henry T., 245

  "Finsbury, Michael," 131, 132

  Fisher, W.J., 174

  Fitzgerald, Edward, 62

  Flaubert, Gustave, 173

  Florence, 29, 74, 84, 97

  Florian's, Venice, 77, 82, 99

  Florizel, Prince, 163, 168, 173, 232

  Folies-Bergère, Paris, 280

  Fontainebleau, Forest of, 271

  Forain, 203, 240

  "Forepaugh," 52-56, 89

  Frederic, Harold, 156, 214, 215

  Furse, Charles W., 200, 201, 211, 228, 269, 270

  Futurists, the, 248


  Garnett, Dr. Edward, 65

  Gauguin, 249

  Gautier, Theophile, 268

  Gavarni, 257

  "Gazette, Pall Mall," 153

  "Gentle Art of Making Enemies, The," 85, 217

  "Germ, The," 176

  German tourists, 77, 270

  Germany, 17

  Ghetto, Rome, 30

  Gigi, 53

  Gosse, Edmund, 174, 188

  Goupil Gallery, London, 119

  Graefe, Meier, 204

  Grahame, Kenneth, 148, 185, 213

  Grand Palais, Paris, 302

  "Graphic," the, London, 203

  Great College Street office, Henley's, 130-137, 139, 149

  "Greedy Autolycus," 186, 254

  Guardi, 100

  Guilbert, Yvette, 280

  "Gypsy, The," 176, 281


  Hamerton, Philip Gilbert, 188

  Hamilton, Lord Frederick, 153

  Harland, Henry, 160, 172-177, 197, 211, 228, 257, 258, 264, 265, 266,
                  290-294, 297

  Harrison, Alexander, 250

  Harte, Bret, 51

  Hartrick and Sullivan, 196, 198, 222

  Henley, Madge, 214

  Henley, William Ernest, 118, 125-149, 163, 166, 196, 197, 211, 213, 240

  Henley's "Young Men," 125, 133, 134, 142, 145, 149, 150, 176, 179, 196,
                        213, 214

  Hill, L. Raven, 198

  Hobbes, John Oliver (Mrs. Cragie), 185

  "Hobby-horse," the, 176

  Horne, Herbert P., 278

  "Hospital Verses," 126, 147

  Hostess, author as, 126, 198

  Hotel de l'Univers et Portugal, Paris, 233
      d'Italie, London, 185, 187

  Howells, William Dean, 83, 109

  Hueffer, Ford Madox, 209

  Hugo, Victor, 268

  Hunt, Holman, 204, 239

  Hunt, Violet, 158

  Huysmans, Joris Karl, 89, 238


  Ibsen, 199, 251

  Impressionism, 238

  Indolence, 22, 60, 84, 86, 108, 112, 122

  "Inland Voyage, An," 165

  International Exhibitions, 19

  International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers, 301

  Italian Primitives, 204

  Italy, 17, 29

  Iwan-Müller, 154, 211


  "J--" (Joseph Pennell), 13, 20, 24, 29, 40, 44, 45, 53, 73, 81, 85, 91,
                          98, 108, 113, 117, 120, 121, 122, 129, 130, 137,
                          154, 161, 174, 178, 179, 184, 204, 205, 210, 214,
                          217, 227, 228, 245, 254, 301

  James, Henry, 188

  Japanese art, 178

  Jobbins, 90, 95, 111

  Journalism, 19, 117, 228-229

  Journeyings in Europe, 15-19


  Kelly, FitzMaurice, 148

  Kelmscott Press, 178, 213

  Kennedy, E.G., 218, 219

  Kensington Gardens, London, 52, 176

  Khayyam, Omar, 62, 63

  Khnopf, 240

  Kipling, Rudyard, 148, 213

  Kitchener, Lord, 155


  La Pérouse, Paris, 247

  Lagoon, the, Venice, 77, 107, 111, 112

  Lamb, Charles, 22

  "Land of the Dollar," 215

  Lane, John, 185, 187

  Lang, Andrew, 41, 63

  "Lantern Bearers, The," 165, 173

  Latin Quarter, 194

  Lavenue's, Paris, 249

  Le Puy, 18

  Legge, James G., 159

  Legrand, Louis, 203, 240

  Leighton, Lord, 195

  Leland, Charles Godfrey, 20, 56

  Lhermitte, 239

  Lido, the, 76, 88, 112

  London, 38, 115-223, 253

  "London Impressionists," 199

  "London Voluntaries," by Henley, 147

  Low, Will, 165

  Lucca, 74

  Luska, Sydney (Henry Harland), 173

  Luxembourg, Paris, 103


  MacColl, D.S., 201, 227, 241

  "Mademoiselle Miss," 290, 294, 296

  "Magazine of Art," London, 129

  Manet, Edouard, 249, 280

  Margherita, Queen, 66

  Marguery's, Paris, 250

  Marino, 66

  Marriott-Watson, Rosamund, 157

  Martin, at Venice, 86

  May, Phil, 191-199, 211, 222

  McFarlane, Venice, 97, 98, 100, 106, 107

  Meissonier, J.L.E., 236

  Merceria, the, Venice, 99

  Meynell, Mrs. Alice, 158, 159

  Millet, F.D., 54

  Mistral, 65

  Mitchell, Dr. S. Weir, 142

  Monet, Claude, 238

  Montepulciano, 42

  Montmartre, 297

  Moore, George, 159, 185, 215, 229

  Morelli, 46

  Morin, Louis, 287

  Morris, William, 209

  Morrison, Arthur, 148, 213

  "Morte d'Arthur," illustrated by Beardsley, 178

  Moulin Rouge, 280, 281, 296

  Munich, 84, 97, 98, 102
    Accident at ball, 105

  Murano, 111

  Mürger, Henri, 257

  Music of "Carmen," the, 106


  Naples, 66, 67, 74, 110

  "Nation," the, London, 228, 229

  "National Observer," London, 125, 128, 130, 135, 136, 137, 138, 141,
                               151, 155, 157, 211, 214, 229, 267

  New English Art Club, London, 119, 199, 200, 201, 269

  New Gallery, 227

  New York "Times," 156

  Nicholson, William, 127, 128, 194

  Norman, Henry, 159

  Norwegian at Rome, the, 60

  Nouvelle Athènes, the, Paris, 249


  "Observations in Philistia," by Harold Frederic, 156

  Orvieto, 74

  Ostia, 66

  Oulevey, H., 300


  "Pageant," the, London, 177

  Palais Royal, 243

  Pall-Mall, the, "Budget," "Gazette" and "Magazine," 142, 149, 152, 155,
                                                      161, 186, 227, 254

  "Pan," London, 204.

  Panada, the, Venice, 78-82

  Paris, 19, 227-303
    Studios, 102-103

  "Parson and the Painter, The," 197

  Parsons, Harold, 152

  Paulus, 280

  "Penn, William," 123, 157, 185

  Philadelphia, 13, 23, 34, 37, 40, 50, 64, 137, 242, 255

  Piazza Navona, Rome, 66

  "Pick-me-up," 198

  Pincian, the, Rome, 33, 59

  Pisa, 74

  Pistoia, 74

  Pointillism, 238

  Pollock, Wilfred, 152

  Pompeii, 67

  Porta del Popolo, Rome, 29

  "Portfolio, The," 59

  Posta, the, Rome, 43

  Post-impressionism, 204, 248

  Pre-Raphaelitism, 204, 207

  Preston, Miss Harriet Waters, 65, 159

  "Private Life of the Romans," 65

  Prunier's, Paris, 252

  Pryde, James, 194

  Pulcinello, 67-69

  "Punch," 213


  "Rape of the Lock," illustrated by Beardsley, 182, 213

  Rat Mort, Paris, 296

  Renouard, Paul, 203

  "Return of the O'Mahoney," 215

  Reynière, Grimod de la, 245

  Rico, 100

  Rivière, 287

  Robinson, Miss Mary, 129

  Rocca di Papa, 66

  Rodin, Auguste, 128, 240, 271, 284

  Rome, 27-69, 121

  Rooms at Rome, 33-34, 64

  Roque, Jules, 203

  Rosicrucianism, 238

  Ross, Robert, 182

  Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 207, 209

  Rossetti, William Michael, 209

  Royal Academy, 77, 119, 200, 212, 227, 232

  Rubaiyat, illustrated by Vedder, 62

  Rubens, 101, 108

  Ruskin, John, 46, 73, 77, 92, 94, 99, 100, 102, 110

  Ruskin, never quoted by artists, 92


  Sailing for Europe, 14

  Salis, 285, 286, 287, 289, 291

  Salisbury, Lord, 165

  "Salome," illustrated by Beardsley, 213

  Salons, the, Paris, 103

  Sandro, 42, 43

  Sandys, Frederick, 121, 204-208

  San Francisco Exposition, 84, 97

  San Giorgio, Venice, 75, 82

  San Péladan, 238

  "Saturday Review," London, 202

  "Savoy, The," 189, 190, 198, 281

  Schwabe, Carlos, 239

  "Scots Observer," Edinburgh, 129

  Shannon, J.J., 193

  Shaw, George Bernard, 159, 215

  Shinn, at Venice, 86

  Sickert, Walter, 201

  Simpson's, London, 253

  Sisley, Alfred, 238

  Sixties, illustrations of the, 205, 206, 208

  Societies in the nineties, 134

  Solferino's, London, 232, 233

  South Kensington, London, 58, 90

  "Speaker, The," London, 229

  "Spectator," London, 202, 227

  "Spring-heeled Jack," 160, 164

  Spring in Venice, 108

  "Standard," London, 83, 98

  St. Cloud, Paris, 258, 259, 263

  Steer, Wilson, 203

  Steevens, George W., 154, 211, 213, 215

  Steinlen, 240, 290

  Stennis Brothers, 165

  Stevenson, "Bob" (Robert Alan Mowbray), 160, 162, 170, 173, 197, 211,
                                          227, 233, 237, 249, 250, 262

  Stevenson, Robert Louis, 127, 128, 136, 146, 160, 163, 164, 167, 181,
                           249, 250, 263

  Stewarts, London, 232

  St. Mark's, Venice, 75, 86, 100, 109

  St. Paul's, London, 147

  Street, George S., 148, 213

  "Strike at Arlingford, The," 215

  Stuart, Jack, 152

  "Studio, The," 178

  Symbolism, 238

  Symonds, John Addington, 77

  Symons, Arthur, 183, 190, 278


  "Talk and Talkers," 160

  Talk on Thursday nights, 124-125

  Thaulow, Fritz, 273

  Théâtre Français, 220

  Theosophy, 55

  Thompson, Venice, 97

  Thursday nights, our, 117, 122-125, 129, 142, 168, 177, 223, 255

  "Times," London, 43

  Tintoretto, 94, 108

  Tivoli, 66

  Tomson, Arthur, 202, 211

  Tomson, Graham R., 157, 158, 214, 215

  Tonks, 203

  Torcello, 111

  Toulouse-Lautrec, H. de, 240, 280, 291

  Tour d'Argent, Paris, 251, 252

  Trattoria Cavour, Rome, 38, 43
    Falcone, 37-38, 43
    Posta, Rome, 36-39, 43

  "Treasure Island," 127

  Tréteau de Tabarin, Paris, 284

  Tricycle, 15, 16, 29, 254

  Tudor classics, the, 214


  Val di Chiana, 42

  Vale Press, 213

  Vance, the painter, 80

  Van Dyke, John, 221

  Van Gogh, 248, 249

  Vedder, Elihu, 56-64

  Velasquez, 132, 169, 173, 215

  "Venetian Life," by W.D. Howells, 109

  Venetian painting, 101

  Venice, 66, 71-113

  Verlaine, Paul, 276-277, 281

  Versailles, 266, 267, 269, 270, 272

  Vesuvius, 67, 69

  Vibrism, 238

  Victoria, Queen, 62

  Victorian prejudice, 190, 199, 202, 204

  "Views and Reviews," by Henley, 141

  Voisin's, Paris, 246

  "Volpone," illustrated by Beardsley, 182, 213

  Vorticists, 248


  "Wares of Autolycus," 158

  Watson, Marriott, 151, 213-215

  Wells, H.G., 148

  Whibley, Charles, 128, 130, 151, 213, 227

  Whibley, Leonard, 213

  Whistler, James McNeill, 20, 91, 93, 94, 95, 100, 102, 119, 128, 139,
                           140, 142, 163, 200, 205, 208, 216, 218, 220,
                           221, 236, 237, 299, 300

  Wilde, Oscar, 49

  Willes, Adrian, 172

  Willette, 240, 287

  Willis, N.P., 222

  Wilson, Edgar, 198

  Worthing, Henley at, 126

  "Wounded Titan, The," 126

  "Wrecker, The," 165, 249

  "Wrong Box, The," 131


  "Yellow Book, The," 177,184, 185-190, 198


  Zaehnsdorf, 214

  Zola, Emile, 47, 215, 222



      *      *      *      *      *



Transcribers Note

The following changes were made to the text:
   Hobby-Horse to Hobby-horse. London--V--paragraph 6
   Murger to Mürger. Paris--IV--paragraph 2
   Index--(Church of San Giorgio degli) Schiaroni to Schiavoni.
   Index--(Courrier) Francais to Français





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