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Title: Original Letters and Biographic Epitomes
Author: Slater, J. Atwood
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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[Transcriber's note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original have been
retained in this etext.]












_From the_ WESTERN DAILY PRESS, _Feb. 20th_, 1901.


_To the Editor of the Western Daily Press_.

Sir,--First impressions forced upon me by an inspection of the
picture, "Ecce Homo," by Mons. de Munkacsy, would be succinctly
expressed in few words. It is haply, although not highly, inspired. It
constitutes a work of laborious but of average ability, and descends
to a lower technical state of imaginative eclecticism and expression
than I had indeed expected to encounter in so lavishly-applauded a
work. Let it be granted in the first instance that the theme is an
onerous one; the problem afforded by the venture should have been
met in a manner skilful in art, commensurate with its righteous
obligations and its lofty demands by the artist. The one fine
attribute conspicuously lacking in the work is its illumination,
generally too yellow; the fine quality of light, naturally directing
the hearts with the intelligences of the beholder to the central fact
of the subject theme, "I am the Light of the World." The broad use and
disposition of whitish pigment; I mean whitish, snowy light flecked,
pimpled, dimpled with tints of orange and purple, like snow about to
thaw, here and there, honeycombed or stippled to mark the intensity of
its native regard for its own divine, suffering, martyred Lord, would
have attracted the attention and won the curiosity, the sympathy, of
many finer sensibilities. A dramatic and subtle sense of distance,
such a powerful agent of spiritual injection in the hands of real
artists is in this work absent; never skilfully employed either for
negative or positive reflections of emotion. Linear perspective there
is, and employed to much scenic advantage; but aerial perspective,
utilised towards expressing overlapping figures, there is not, save
in meagre degree. The canvas is too crowded, the sense of vision
and admiration is nowhere at all lulled by repose. We may point
to successful juxtaposition of individual figures, to masses of
harmonious tones, but not to masterly composition. The mind of the
artist is intent upon the bitterness of turmoil; it does not reach us
directly by imperishably revealing or extolling the divine nature of
"The Man," "Homo;" and is throughout the field of interest usually
recognised in overstrained partiality for attitude and outline.
Hence the title of the picture is almost sought for, expected in the
multitude on the left, which should have been isolated. "Ecce Homo,"
briefly and emphatically, is not so suitable a title as I would
suggest, with the utmost regard for reverence, might be described, as
the interval between the two cries: "Away with Him," "Crucify Him,"
such intensely dramatic particles of time finding expression and vent
throughout the work in coarse silhouetting.

The crowding of the lawless throng against the front of the tribune,
on which the chief characters of the scene are portrayed, though not
in a material sense wrong, must be open to much æsthetic dispute;
must mar the success and the action of reflex thought, the spiritual
contest waging and recoiling between the Divine, meek victim and the
surging rabble. At all events, it is sad to trace no direct or secret
hint at new or transcendental methods conspicuous or even dimly
apparent in the painter's art. Little there is in the effort to draw
our finer instincts to spiritual truths. The utmost mechanical skill
of the diligent artist is discernible, labouring incessantly without
extraordinary or transcendental light to the appointed end, the goal
accomplished. It should be understood that as spiritual Art of its own
property and nature is beset, environed on all impinging sides with a
multifold range, a series of difficult corners around which the
sense cannot immediately travel, but would for the fructification or
sustentation's sake of its etherealism, a process of counter argument
may deduce this aphorism, that in works of art in which the eye
travels quickly round all the corners of thought, motive, and
expression, the priceless, highest crown of spirituality cannot be
awarded to it. The painter, honestly striving with his subject, and
on lines of intimate understanding, has none of his physical reasons
thrown into shade, either be it for the nobility of his art, or for
urgency's sake, or for the softer assuaging of sensitiveness in the
breasts of his academic audience, having no inclination to be stung
when in the precincts, the hands of Art; for to whom else is the
pictorial homily directed? The group of figures upon the raised
tribune is classically adjusted to its position of prominence. The
spare figure of Christ, "The Man of Sorrows," is well conceived; the
face is wan, haggard, the attitude tastefully depicted. A palpable and
perilous digression is made by the artist in ignoring the text of
Holy Writ, "Wearing the purple robe," electing to substitute for the
purpose of his science a scarlet "toga." But the "torso"! This is
essentially lacking in consummate understanding, skilful address.
In all that assists most to mature a native work of this immense
importance it is sound sense, equivalent to the gravest optimism, to
express this opinion, that the highest powers of science ought humbly,
intelligently to co-operate towards achieving a grand and triumphant
finale, perfect, harmonious in all its parts, and responsible to the
academic dictates of its sacred title. Such a figure Raphael, Leonardo
da Vinci, Titian, or Rubens would have painted and blessed our reasons
with, for a certainty: bountifully inspiring us at once and for
time with their divine interpretation of the great, the majestic

Any failure in Art cannot rouse us to this pitch; our sensitive,
appreciative spirits would assuredly flag unless some keynote of
resonant power were sounded.

The figure of Pontius Pilate is realistically depicted; it has not the
aristocratic air of a Roman Governor, yet the face, not caring to
meet the gaze of the people, is a work exhibiting some power. It
sardonically, satirically suggests the thought, "I find in Him no
fault at all," possessing a semblance of three meanings. The people,
deputy officers, and supernumeraries assembled upon this elevation
are somewhat stiffly grouped, and the architectonic embellishments--no
unimportant feature--well conceived, as they form the framework of the
drama, and must be considered well painted. Let it be observed that
the basket capital of the arch is out of perspective; a like error is
to be observed in the roof of certain of the houses on the left;
the blue of the distance, although luminous and atmospheric, is too
opaque. The arches forming the left-hand middle distance are finely
depicted; correct as far as local traditional art will inform us,
and of considerable value in such a work as ballast, substance, in
steadying the erratic fancies or emotions of the painter. Criticism
must justly deal with the figures of the Jewish rabble. The attitudes
are telling, but over angular and rather vulgar. The populace, I
may remark, are too excited; such sustained, extravagant attitudes,
whether in a picture of large or small scale, but particularly in the
former, are upon canvas rarely satisfactory; they mock with littleness
at a Providence that made Art, and become puppets in the hands of
artists. The heads of not a few of the spectators are too large,
coarse, and expressionless. Here and there, in the distance for
instance, amongst the living panorama, there appears a figure hinting
at a better type of gesture, with a human heart, suggesting an
acquaintance with refinement, but the breadth of awe, the girdle
of salvatory redemption, even in coarse brutality is not even here
apparent. The work is a mute exposition of gesture. The higher, the
acute, the really more intense connection of poetry is absent.


4, Hill Side, Cotham Hill, Bristol.

_From the_ WESTERN DAILY PRESS, _Feb. 25th, 1901_


_To the Editor of the Western Daily Press._

Sir,--A correspondent whose letter is to-day published, calling
attention to my remarks upon the celebrated picture "Ecce Homo," of
February 20th, cannot, I suppose have understood that the motive which
impelled me in my previous letter was that the enlightenment of the
public having the interest of art might follow; next to whom, as
derivees of fresher, newer light, the spectators of the painting
"Ecce Homo," impersonally and politely apostrophised as "his academic
audience," may now be mentioned. Neither fault nor question was found
with any of such for so being; your correspondent introduced this side
view, I believe, irrelevantly--but with the picture alone.

The mission of art royal should, I hold, be understood to elevate,
to raise the public taste, to cultivate or correct a wrong line of
popular impression; that of pictures of the like of "Ecce Homo," being
to enlighten the current interest for whose delight moreover art,
from a social point of view, is justified in its mission, having a yet
higher motive, the kindling of rapture in the heart of the creative

Pictures since earlier times have been vehicles as well as ventilators
of popular belief. It is for this cause, and in instances where it is
proven, painful to touch or shake the constitutive elements of other
people's faith; an acute sense of this compunction on the whole
restraining the weight of my recent remarks. But, conjecturally
speaking, in a world wherein all things are so public, it must be
conceded that strong light should at stated times fuse the impinging
points of understanding, that truth and common sense may scrutinise
their sound bearings; moreover, also, that academic science may
arraign itself with dignity.

Your correspondent's remarks with reference to the colour of the
robe are, upon the whole, useful, purple and scarlet being synonymous
terms; preponderance of mention, rests though with the former.

Pictures cannot be considered too much as books; such truth, Art, by
the concurrence of testimony, has manifested in its destiny from time
immemorial, confirming afresh benefits on man. Open discussion will
not only add to, magnify, or deduct from their lustre, but cause their
aims, in short, to redound to the public weal. Such being so, it is
rational to expect an expression of opinion thereupon. They are not,
universally, to be regarded as graven tablets, to be gazed at, nor to
be received as infallible oracles of law. They are--at the same time,
barometers, charts, and weather-glasses--chronicles towards the fine
ends of justice, peace and mercy.

Your correspondent has stated that my remarks are ambiguous. They may
have been technical and recondite, but, as such, are excusable, and,
in their sphere, just.


4, Hill Side, Cotham Hill, Bristol.


_From the_ WESTERN DAILY PRESS, _Aug. 1st_, 1901.


_To the Editor of the Western Daily Press_.

Sir,--It is essential, and, according to my instincts of decorum,
necessary, to call the attention of those charged with authority in
such matters, and the public generally, to the growing misuse, in the
hands of engineers, of the locomotive steam whistle, the employment
thereof having especially in town districts, grown to be out of all
dimensions of private service, injurious to those whether officially
called, or who, pending the pleasure of mercantile circumstance, are
publicly obliged to pursue abstruse mental occupation, necessitating
labour and much concentration of though[t]. A reasonable use of this
means, or instrument, of signal and alarm, must be conceded to
those in whose hands resides its use, but at the same time a firm
directorship or jurisdiction ought to repress its extravagant or
wanton employment.

To warn passengers of the starting and of the approach of trains
only a moderate application of the whistle is needed, whilst for the
diplomatic the discreet purpose of practical manoeuvre, namely, to
draw the attention of signalmen to the passing of points by trains,
extra power is requisite; but the gruesome display, I maintain, of
vocative sounds tuned to an intellectual point of mood is needless.

Those daily engaged upon manual work only are not in a like manner
affected, though for all reasons of civil and common honour the
supercilious cry referred to should be deprecated. Rather tune and
sound the whistle to two simultaneous notes in sharp, brief accent
than that the chambers of the minds of the hearers of those sounds
should be so continuously, remorselessly entered. Anything lengthy
aggravates the auditory crisis. The stream of daily occupation with
the set purpose of sedentary exploit is competent to regulate itself
without an articulate "voice" from the railway companies.

I am, Sir, faithfully yours,


4, Hill Side, Cotham Hill, Bristol,

_July 29th_, 1901.


_From the_ WESTERN DAILY PRESS, _Nov. 16th_, 1901.



Sir,--I send you with the thought that you may wish to publish them
the precise substance of my remarks verbally delivered at the meeting
of the Bristol Society of Architects, November 11th, on which occasion
a refreshing paper upon the works of Alfred Stevens was delivered, a
man of high artistic repute, whose fame in this district is but dimly
recognised, being of another parent soil.

Yours faithfully,


4, Hill Side, Cotham Hill, Bristol,

_Nov. 12th_, 1901.

Mr. Slater spoke as follows:--The importance of the moment bids me
hasten with all seriousness to support the special retribution of
plausible justice, amounting to adulation, which has been lavished
on the labours of the distinguished English sculptor. Had it been
necessary I should have travelled a greater distance to have paid with
my testimony homage to the words of this evening's lecturer. It is not
saying more than the truth will allow me, or admitting more than my
own poignant feelings may to such expression give justification,
when I confirm with my lips the belief that I have for much time
dispassionately held that Alfred Stevens, with Turner, were the first
artists that England produced from the middle of the eighteenth to
that of the nineteenth centuries; and that, compared with the great
oracles of the past, he reasonably approaches Michael Angelo, who he
unquestionably touches and sometimes surpasses. To state my views,
having received elementary drawing instructions from a friend of
Stevens, I think that there is evidence, in carefully examining
the figures upon the Wellington Monument and the Dorchester House
chimney-piece a finer knowledge of line in Stevens's work. Michael
Angelo's Medici figures, and indeed, his other famous works, are not
so unequivocably good; the effigies superimposing the sarcophagi are,
for brief instance, "pillowy," though they may be more anatomic. The
suavity of nature's hypo-refined grace is not traceable in their easy
posture. The fact is, that they pose for something; generally their
own animal idiosyncrasy, if not respectable vanity. Stevens's figures,
on the contrary, always for their own decency, which throws into the
core, the heart of the monument such an expression of beauty, giving
rise to the word innate, quenching the sense of frivolity, which
unrestrained, disordered state of things oozes out somewhere, or is at
any rate felt "in the air" in Michael Angelo's works. Stevens's head
was wonderfully poised on his own "torso" to know and feel this with
such thrilling, vital, consistent certainty. You catch awhile his
lovely idea in the strong fragrant symmetry permeating his work. The
iron soul of the man implants his lines of strength far inside
the actual bounds of the visible crust, and the mind of the idea,
naturally expanding is caught at the salient "processes" in curves
and features, betokening nothing--that touches--but grace. I should
mention that there is one fact which describes minutely my veneration
for Stevens's work at its best, perhaps the fullest; whereby I mean
that inspection of his intellectual labour has always restored to me
the time so wisely occupied in regarding it, proving that there is
goodness, virtue, essence in it, past all fellowship with ephemeral
things. There is a true, not a laconic, logical, and prophetic
inference in it that is apropriately styled, "time"; the finest
embodiment of musical equipoise; felt to a "tick"; no faltering,
barbaric, or false quantities, but a sustained and equable, uniform
tone of chromatic measure, meted out as by a mind imbued by but
sacrificing the scale of colour to its own actual, achieved end. One
misses the heated passion of Watts's best pictures, which flow through
the ordered channel of recognisable expression and make one adore
them as poetry. But there, of a truth, invidious comparison ends,
and reticence shall ever guard the space that intervenes betwixt the
grounds sacred to the exposition of the embodiment of these master


_From the_ BATH CHRONICLE, _January 30th,_ 1902.


_To the Editor of the Bath Chronicle._

Sir,--Personally it occurs to me that in a public sense it may not
appear to be out of due place nor uninstructive to the readers of the
pages of the "Bath Chronicle," if they were allowed to pursue quietly
the "meditation" which I have thought fit, with, some amount of
feasible excuse, to set in fair order, concerning the apotheosis of
an evening service in musical form, from the versatile pen of Mr.
Berthold Tours, in the key of D, which, with no inconsiderable _éclat_
was in the sequence of events, produced at St. Raphael's Church,
Bristol, on Sunday, the 12th inst. A companion to the graceful evening
service or setting of the appointed Canticles in F major, which be
it observed, is the most popular, and from a purely suitable point of
view, most successful of modern evening services, it marks a phase
of expression, at once ethereal and predilectious. Produced at a
more mature period, and under certainly different circumstances, it
confirms, honours indeed, the fecundity of the age of its inception,
namely, the era of British Æstheticism.

Commenting upon its attributes discursively, it was at the period of
its original initiation in London my privilege to be present; nor
must I omit to graphically allude to my belief, not choosing to be
otherwise than candid with my first impressions, that I had never
listened to anything which so rapturously illustrated the spirit of
those soul-elevating times; even to experiencing a passing pang, since
the perplexing principles or established secrets of decorative or
Æsthetic art, as understood by me, had so curiously been cajoled or
interwoven into the very sanctuary of Classic Music. Every phrase
appeared eloquently to illustrate and tell aloud the great burst
of passionate fervour, felt to be with serious activity glistening,
sparkling around, in painting and in decorative device. It was, as
it were the unition, the brazing together of these serious impinging
forces, and re-fusing them with fresher melody, newer vital ecstasy.
(Sir) Edward Burne Jones, Oscar Wilde and W.S. Gilbert had all not
dubiously striven nor for shallow effect. They had, though labouring
incessantly apart, built up a ghost which was in no fear of glimmering
or dissolution; and now Berthold Tours, spright of another element of
sentimental, I should say continental mythical music, upon the scene
springs with his amazing apparatus of staves and octaves, aiding the
_chef-de-musique_ and his trained voices to make sound within the
very presence chamber of Divine Worship this phantasmagoria of Teuton

Be it understood that this Classic exercise is not to be ceremoniously
regarded, nor classified, nor by me upheld as an example of Creative
Art, but as the brightest pledge of homage æsthetically offered to a
vital movement, essentially fundamental and wise; furthermore, must
be allowed to occupy a position subsidiary to the works of the artists
enumerated who evidently inspired it; unique and decidedly without an
exact parallel in the inspired annals of modern phonetic literature;
prefering at a more intimate examination to classify with it Professor
C. Villiers Stanford's setting of the Te Deum and Jubilate in
B flat--works, easily gracing the "Summus Mons" of co-spiritual
achievement; that impulse which selects, confirms, and then unites all
the fair fibres of Art.

Berthold Tours personally possessed the evident characteristics of a
musician. No doubt could be entertained whatsoever, by any who once
saw him or his large meditative form, that music was his calling. The
duties inherent to the post of "music taster" to the house of Novello,
Ewer, & Co., he hopefully acquitted for many years, succeeding to
that office on the retirement of my once, in a choral sense, esteemed
conductor, Sir Joseph Barnby. The pianoforte accompaniment to many
of the classical works of continental composers he transcribed and
carefully arranged for his employers, whose confidence he completely
enjoyed, whether in addressing them on matters relative to prospective
treaties with contemporary composers, or in regard to works tendered
to them for publication, or on recommending them upon the pianoforte
arrangement of orchestral scores. Personally, I participated in the
satisfaction of frequently dining in his company. Amongst the
personal memories which I might in passing allude to, being my
entire deferential attitude towards him of reverence, ere ever being
acquainted with his patronymics, although already largely conversant
with, and a sincere admirer of his music. To have been spoken amiably
to by this distinguished "virtuoso" is a not unnoteworthy reminiscence
to be recorded. He evinced much concern in the early rehearsals of
his choral works; being individually present at the moment of their
preparation; but it not infrequently appeared to me ambiguous, that
unless accounted for by the responsibility of vast calls, he with
frequency turned his back upon the musical conservatories wherein
his choral works were performed; a custom due evidently to his innate
modesty, and perhaps to his susceptibilities as a foreigner. Berthold
Tours was a famous violinist of the first class, besides being a
recognised composer of music, and edited with Natalia Macfarren a
superb edition of the Italian, the German, and the French Operas.


4, Hill Side, Cotham, Bristol.



_April 18th_, 1902.


The Annual General Meeting of this society was held in the Fine
Arts Academy, Queen's Road, Clifton, on Monday, Mr. Frank W. Wills
(President) in the chair. After the confirmation of the minutes of the
last Annual General Meeting, the annual report of the council was then
read by the Hon. Secretary, and the audited accounts presented, and,
upon the motion of the PRESIDENT, were adopted.

A highly interesting lecture devoted to architectural research was
delivered by Mr. J. ATWOOD SLATER, first silver medallist and premium
holder in design in the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and Sharpe
Prizeman of the Royal Institute of British Architects, London,
describing an architectural tour undertaken in 1880, and detailing
picturesquely the architecture and incidents of personal concern
dependent on travel met with in the departments of Seine Inférieure,
Seine and Oise, and Seine, penetrating into the heart of France as far
as Auxerre. The course of the Seine, with its diverse monuments, was
topographically followed from Harfleur to Paris, and subsequently
in its considerable ramification the stately River Yonne, Melun,
Fountainebleau, Sens, and finally the rich town of Auxerre coming
under consideration. The lecturer also drew special attention to the
advantage derived from travelling alone for the purpose of observing
better the archæological wealth, and the customs of the French, having
a distinct and definite line of study and object lesson ever in view;
to his wide sympathy with the French people, to their sumptuous care
for their ancient monuments, their courtesy and reverential manner of
hospitality towards English speaking students; and also in particular
to the unsuspicious, deferential manner in which they are entertained
and regarded by the Ministerial authorities: detailing in precise
biographical manner his experience with bourgeoisie and peasant,
ecclesiastic and soldier. He recorded also minutely the incidents and
popular events associated with travel, as study and the tide of time
goaded him onward, the wave of diurnal events lying upon the open page
of history, here dishevelled, here streaked with adverse episode,
and here becalmed. The hour being late, a hearty vote of thanks was
accorded the lecturer, and the hearing of the conclusion of a most
interesting tour was adjourned to another meeting.


_From the_ CORNISHMAN, _August 2nd_, 1902.


On Wednesday, a visitor to Marazion, Mr. J. ATWOOD.SLATER, from
Bristol, in a sea for tranquility suited for the saline venture, swam
completely round St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall. Accompanied by a local
boatman the swimmer rowed out from the mainland, quitting his boat,
and entering ten fathoms in depth of water at two o'clock. A mean
distance of a hundred yards from the coast was, whilst the circuit was
made, preserved. No inconvenience of any sort--excepting, towards
the conclusion,--the chilliness of the water, was encountered; the
distance of one mile and a half being accomplished in the space and
record time of three-quarters of an hour. The swimmer at the finish
expressed himself entirely satisfied with the nerve and capacity of
his boatman (Ivey) and accorded a tribute to the romantic style in
which the Mount and Castle proper are kept. The view from the watery
verge being replete with quaint interest and delightsome variety. The
previous occasion to this feat being performed was three summers ago,
when Lady Agnes Townshend, and six years since, when Colonel Townshend
swam the same distance; but no other authentic instance is credited,
or preserved on record. The swimmer on this latest occasion is a
Royal Academy exhibitor, and the designer of the subject panels in the
reredos in the neighbouring Cathedral of Truro; having moreover aided
the architect, now deceased, of the Cathedral of Cornwall in other
departments of Architectural service.

_From the_ CORNISHMAN, _September 4th,_ 1902.




On Thursday, August 14th, Mr. J. Atwood Slater, then staying at
Marazion, who, as recorded in a recent issue, swam completely round
St. Michael's Mount, made an attempt to swim from St. Michael's Mount
to Newlyn. With his boatman (Ivey), he started from Marazion, entering
the water at S.W. corner of the Mount.

Whilst engaged in the preliminaries of the start a moment of suspense
was passed, the distance appearing sufficient (when out of water) to
unnerve all but the most intrepid of swimmers. Striking out in the
direction of Newlyn, and using the breast stroke, the shore and
beetling Mount were gradually left behind, but when a full distance of
a mile and a half was covered, a swell got up from the S.W. and blew
a quantity of water into the face of the swimmer. At each impulse
progress becoming extremely difficult; nevertheless a yet further
interval of half a mile was placed to the swimmer's credit; when,
deeming it impracticable to continue further, and having covered
relatively more than half the distance, in a mood of chagrin, he
re-entered his boat.

Then seizing the oars, and murmuring an ejaculatory note to the ocean
which had sent him not a few malign caresses, he pulled, boatman,
craft and all to Marazion; the time exactly occupied in the exploit,
of two miles and an eighth, being forty-five minutes.

On Saturday, August 23rd, Mr. Slater again, taking with him E. John,
swam in deep water, from close to the pier head St. Michael's Mount
to a point contiguous to Longrock; a distance of a mile and an eighth.
Progress was without hap or hindrance, though in a grey misty light.
At length, whilst the disappearing sun sank to rest behind a belt of
clouds, parted asunder over Penzance, the boatman was called upon to
draw in his boat, the swimmer thereupon going on board.

Experience gained upon these occasions teaches that it emphatically
requires greater nerve to swim in the open sea, always going straight
in deep water, than is called for when propelling oneself round the

Again, on Tuesday, at ten minutes to two, the swimmer, to confirm his
past exploits and as a climax to his stay in Mount's Bay, swam from
Venton cove to St. Michael's Mount, rather in excess of a mile,
in thirty-one minutes, Ivey, his boatman merely steering his boat

It is the swimmer's opinion, that the timing of mid, or half stroke,
is the most elegant, most difficult, and to conceal, yet fully make
use of this "break," constitutes the criterion as to whether the
swimmer, be he amateur or professional, is first-class or not.

_From the_ EXMOUTH JOURNAL, _Sept. 6th_, 1902


A long swim from Exmouth to half-a-mile beyond the pier of Starcross,
was on Thursday evening undertaken and accomplished by Mr. J.
ATWOOD.SLATER, an Exmouth visitor. Starting from opposite the pier
head, the swimmer, piloted by Mr. H. Tupman, in the _Ernest_, swam
round the Bight on the west side of the Warren, passing the ships
anchored therein, and hugging the west shore of the Exe, paused
finally under the lodge at the further end of Starcross at 5.45 p.m.,
having, in logic swum the distance of two-and-a-quarter miles in
twenty-three minutes. The aid the swimmer derived from choosing the
flood tide he admitted was considerable, and served him for nearly
half the distance; when out of the influence of this, the water
suddenly became very choppy, the waves being too small for the swimmer
to time, yet with annoying frequency throwing their crests above the
surface of the water. Subsequently a great stillness was encountered,
until Starcross was neared and passed; the boat, swimmer and pilot
lying finally becalmed at the point aforesaid.--J.A.S.

_From the_ WESTERN DAILY PRESS, _Sept. 15th_, 1903.


Sir,--On August 22nd, at 5 p.m., on August 28th, at 9 a.m., and on
August 29th, at 10 a.m., I achieved in a more successful measure than
had hitherto been accomplished the problem of swimming round Mont
St. Michael, Normandy, at high water. Previously acquainted with the
certainty that an adverse current would at one point or another be
met, I pre-arranged, and made three bold attempts, and by going in a
certain direction, met with the greatest success at the first essay.
The tides that rise and flow against the base of the mount are more
insidious and taxing to strike against than those which encircle the
Mount of St. Michael, in Cornwall; but then the quality of the sea
must be more pure and far more buoyant off the Cornish coast, and
freshens to a greater extent the elastic movements of the swimmer. The
sea, speaking from experience, does not harass one, swimming in the
bay of St. Michael, Normandy, until the "retirage" is met; when all
the force that can be exerted is necessarily called forth to prevent
being seaward swept.

Yours faithfully,


Albi, Tarn, France,

_September 7th_, 1903.


_From the_ PATRIOTE ALBIGEOIS, _Sept. 29th,_ 1903.

Albigeois, vous qui passez fréquemment dans les rues adjacentes à
votre cathédrale, n'avez-vous pas remarqué la figure d'un artiste
récemment installé, avec son chevalet, auprès du gigantesque monument
et mettant toute la science technique de son art à le reproduire

C'est M. John ATWOOD.SLATER qui avait visité notre cité, il y a
quelques années, il avait alors dessiné une belle perspective de
Sainte-Cécile qu'il a exposée à l'Académie Royale de Londres. Il a
admiré la plupart des cathédrales gothiques de notre pays et, en fin
connaisseur, il nous informe que nous possédons un des plus recherchés
specimens d'architecture qui existent en France. Quelques-unes de ces
cathédrales sont à peine plus merveilleuses, mais il n'en est guère
qui se prêtent favorablement comme elle à l'esprit tranquille de

Maintenant pour le profit de ceux a qui cela pourrait faire plaisir
M. John ATWOOD.SLATER, cet artist nous communique bénévolement ce
renseignegnement très spécial: Il est encore fort nageur! C'est
lui qui aux dates de 22, 28 et 29 août a été signalé par la Normandie
pour avoir fait à la nage le tour du Mont St. Michel: ce que personne
jusqu'ici n'avait osé prétendre faire à cause des marées qui sont
toujours très contraires.--J.A.S.



_To the Editor of The Times, London._

Sir,--Whilst admitting the all-importance and the austere role of
circumstance weighted with interest, and fused to an all-volatile
point sufficient to write to you concerning, and always entering,
freed from _schism_, the moot point, I beg leave to advance the
suggestion that (with correct apposition of sentiment, already said)
the moment has arrived for an improvement to be effected in the
Hymnal, in the public offices of St. Paul's Cathedral employed.

For the furtherance of this important item of diocesan and divine
service, "Hymns, Ancient and Modern," be it well known, has stood
the crucial test of a number of years; while its mechanical
characteristics have been demonstrated all the way along the metronome
number of decades it has served to mollify and assuage the griefs
and passions, and inspire the consciences of congregations using it
habitually as a _vade mecum_.

While believing in the sedate grandeur of its stereotyped orthodoxy,
I powerfully plead, and in a tone of restraint, this prerogative: that
the edition of hymns known as "The Hymnary," should upon examination
be found to contain more agreeable, versatile value and fecundity
of literary nutrition: honourably and scholastically capable of
out-classing the rival for whose displacement I plead; and competent
at once to put yet better light with wholesomer sustenance and rarer
spiritual food into the minds of its privileged students.

The ideas and principles conceived by the once editors and publishers
of the volume whose richly bestraught merits I champion, and whose
solemn rights I plead, (in the year 1871), was to place in society
at once, all electrified, au prémier coup canonized (armed at
all points), a work which should at a moment be complete in law;
self-contained and academically referable to the stringent junctures
of an ecclesiastical, a national, and a polyphonetic tribunal: a
work which should loyally attract the acclaim of co-existing literary
hymnals, and ever would, it was reverently hoped--a sentiment which I,
for one, favourably concur in--remain, the key-symbol of the Reformed,
Anglican faith, with its near, true, and ever new ally--a note as
high, silvery and jurisprudential; purified domestic co-partnership!

To further substantiate and enhance my devoutly expressed remarks, I
confidently state that the compilation of "Hymns Ancient and Modern"
was not originally in fact the outcome of an individual movement, or
yet of a moment. At periods diverse, and at stages various, it matured
its conditional purpose by repeated acts of regeneration and reform,
by keeping generally within the radius of a stereotyped policy of
pruning and paring; which consolidated by degrees and swept it on to
the confines and the platform of its national respectability.

Be it even tacitly acknowledged, in surveying the genesis of Hymnology
that the function of revision has once been, a fact, applied to the
"Hymns Ancient and Modern" since the appearance of "The Hymnary,"
in my estimation under a less searching eye than that which all
impartially discriminated and directed, at one and at one time only,
the laying together and the consolidating of the "particles predelix"
of this frankincense offering of the National Church; a work of
classic intent and æsthetic outcome. Personal labour designed it
_purposely_ for the hearts of men, but not for their _faces_; a
character which, Christian-like, it inseparably wears, like French
martial music.

Herein exemplified to noble British hearts is a bulwark that at once
completely puts to rout no inconsiderable amount of the mildew mould
of "Hymns Ancient and Modern," while never so much as tarnishing or
jeopardizing the aroma of its native asceticism.

Interested bibliophiles may peruse pleasantly the trenchant remarks
launched by the editors, (of the work upheld) literary and musical;
and examine for their predilection by turning its pages the analytical
merit of its composer's names; all serious-minded men; capable
lamp-bearers in the wide arcana of classic music.

Stoical people do not know the wealth of chaste language stored up
within the covers of "The Hymnary." A rare musician-poet is needed
to resolve its pulpy flavour and discipline to the polemics of common
life; whilst one, a connoisseur, would readily congratulate the
sanguine, sensible, and all-seeing management, as regards to authors
of words, indices of composers, indices of metres, metronome marks,
which heralds and places it, in respect of completeness, ahead of all
contemporaneous editions.


_Medallist & Premium Holder of the Royal Academy of Arts, London._

4, Hill Side, Cotham Hill, Bristol,

_Epiphany, 1903._



_March_, 1903.

Sir,--Touched by a virtuous sense that a noble writer has passed from
the central and celestial sphere of his vocation, and discharging the
offices of respect voluntarily admitted as a literary admirer, with
sympathy in a bruised state of liquefaction, I maintain that the
season for uttering a few words is clearly at hand, and should be
turned to the advantage of retrospect.

Being bred of a generation which has read, with a spirit attuned
to the pleasant influences of an Academic and a Saracenic art, the
writings of John Henry Shorthouse, and ever discovering them to
contain philosophic importance and pyschologic expression decidedly
above the astuteness and ability of average writers; and having
usually in them remarked wisdom, council and knowledge reminiscent
of the inspired logicial writers and divines of the law-given
Testaments; in point of enquiry, I am summarily induced to champion
the belief that the psychologic, emphatic style adopted by the writer,
with the success in high quarters attendant the disposal of his
works, has not, convincingness being the indicator, been reached, nor
surpassed. The Warwickshire alchemist invariably throws across his
scenes and to the centre, a glare, a strong ray, which burns to the
water-line the barque of Agnosticism. This is tacitly recognised,
concurrently and alternately traced in the selection of the phrases,
and in the subtle or dramatic sense of the scene photographed; the
second inspiration springing into immediate co-operation, linking to
the first the thought by a magnetised hyphen, causes his symbolistic
pictures to thrive gloriously, rapturously; the first touch of
sensitized matter at times appearing grotesque, dimly lit, although
never flimsy. This pedantic, pictorial, even scholarly system by our
revered writer adopted, is bent, applied to meet extreme passes of
imaginative perfection and delicacy. The picture is naïvely introduced
and obscurely, somewhat trenchantly elaborated, allows itself to be
apologetically understood; whilst in succession the lower taste
for animal sentiment is sorcerized by vivid flashes of captivating
contrast, forked, as lightning, and left, as embers smouldering to
glow in the crucible of memory's recesses. Specious instances of irony
playing the manliest part: flashes of meteoric, mesmeric eloquence,
fitfully flecking the embossed page, as one tier or set of ideas,
in rhetoric orchestration, symphonizes with or eclipses another.
Connection, an element of robust mesmeric cohesion with this prized
author being the adamantine hyphen, the articulating link, which
compacts the roll. John Henry Shorthouse, the templar, the confessor
of music, was, and concurrently, the apologist of philosophic light.
Engaged to a powerful mechanism of romantic dogma, the nett article of
its creed; the neochromatic acoustic regalia of stage eloquence,
the key, or longest recurrent note; the van or middle the next, the
sinuous lever of stage discipline. After all, concurrently may it
not, be said that this colour instinct aspect of cosmically conceived
romanticism is never wilfully vulgarized. For its incomparable,
iconographical purpose it exists, and is as intrinsically useful and
serviceable to the scheme as the figures which admirably illustrate
the pictures of Hogarth and Holman Hunt. When introduced, music is
rarely intended to edge itself into the important place of "first
study." This in alchemy or personification being occupied by the
circumstantial cruxes of life, philosophic morality, vested usually
in courtly attire; I would not say abstract attire, for the clean-cut
character it bears is too strictly defined (for the sake of that
Artist's art) for such an impression to be born, or even to lurk by
sentiment, there beneath.

The mould employed at all times is minutely fashioned, as a sculptor
would, by investing his model with a code of spirituality, inspired
with fire, which epicureanly endows fleeting emotion with a voice, and
vitality lends also to distant-reaching invisible ends: hinting that
the picturesque alchemy of music is potential too in reaching and
touching the lower chords of animal passion, where movement is rapid
and light redundant. The breast of the thoughtful writer heaved ever
to animal instincts without measure in extolling the complex phases
of court, ecclesiastic, and domestic oligarchy. Statesmanship and
subjunction rise and peacefully sink together, and in his magnetic
touch, are made to harmoniously coalesce in the political balance.
Shorthouse the author, a believer in, a champion was of two-fold or
dual cosmos: his colour sense being susceptible to and wrought upon in
singular consular consistence with the effulgent dogmas of its
creed, and in alliance with the spirit of the _cinque cento_ Italian
Renaissance Schools of Painting and Architecture. Practically
speaking, he conceived a train of adept ideas, at times fanciful, and
at times morbid, transforming them adroitly by adept excursions of
cross-lit introspection, accentuation, and by dint of manual caress,
as the first of players upon stringed instruments.

Music, I would apologetically infer, being the middle, the rallying
feature, of Mr. J.H. Shorthouse's verbose apology. If fictionizing in
prose, he writes with brief orange-hued flashes of liquid ether; each
of short, all but, brief span. Characteristically, he belongs to the
same school and unapproachable law as the French organist-composer,
C.M. Widor: stringent, petulant observance of free uncurbed metronome
time, allied to picturesque handling; punctuality of tidal consort
rigidly regarding, when each, the one to the other, linked; less a
care, by virtuous intuition displaying for lyric measure. The writings
of Nathaniel Hawthorne more forcibly and piquantly evince cylindrical
flow, and strike at the object lesson with less artificial, _cadavre_,
fastidious touch; but Mr. Shorthouse, speaking strictly, as to temper
and _tempo_ is a trifle more rugged; and never a shadow of suspense
suffered he to stir a hand's breadth, that is, rest 'twixt poetic
certainty and doubt, lest the ultimate end should all-attainable be
or not. For freedom from this, and other literary ambiguity, yet never
manifesting anxiety of freeing himself in prose from its insidious and
arbitrary restraint, I attribute his tragical, subtle, gentle power of
"connection," _liaison_; feeling for time; planetary time, be it lunar
time, sometimes unmistakably, solar time; disallowing, by potency of
sentimental touch, a sense of rupture, to linger. A noble stream by
mute comparison, pursuing its course unwavering; interrupted but now
and again, to the vast expansive ocean of shapeliness, of unity.


_Premium Holder & Medallist
of the Royal Academy of Arts,

Hill Side, Cotham Hill, Bristol.

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