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Title: Fragments of an Autobiography
Author: Moscheles, Felix, 1833-1917
Language: English
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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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Fragments of an Autobiography


[Illustration: Charlotte Moscheles]

of an



At the Ballantyne Press


I have often found it hard to read a preface; much harder do I find it
to-day to write one. If I do so, it is because it gives me an
opportunity of owning that I have strung these my reminiscences together
most unceremoniously and unsystematically. They are to be taken only as
"Fragments of an Autobiography," very much on the same lines as the
first volume which recorded my adventures in Bohemia with Du Maurier. If
the reader, thus duly forewarned, elects to follow me over the uneven
road, he will, I trust, not mind a little jolting. If, however, he
judges that the gaps and omissions in my life-story are unjustifiable,
he must not be surprised should I attempt to set things right in a third
volume. I should be all the more inclined to do so as there are some
other fragments and segments waiting to be pieced together which are
connected with the brightest days of my life.

The writing of the present chapters has often been a source of genuine
pleasure to me, for I say with Bolingbroke in _Richard II_.: "I count
myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good

And now that I have come to a full stop, I am left in that pleasant
frame of mind in which I would fain believe in the proverbial kindness
of the reader--that deity from times immemorial appealed to by the
preface-writer,--a frame of mind unduly optimistic perhaps, but which
emboldens me to hope that I may find some new friends amongst those who
will care to read what I have to say about the old ones.

F. M.

LONDON, _February 1899_.




EARLY IMPRESSIONS                                                 1


WILL YOU SIT FOR ME, FRIDA?                                      58


LEIPSIC IN 1847 AND 1848--MENDELSSOHN'S DEATH                    92


MY FIRST COMMISSION                                             110


CLAUDE RAOUL DUPONT                                             116


A TRIP TO AMERICA IN 1883                                       208


GROVER CLEVELAND "VIEWED"                                       234


GIUSEPPE MAZZINI                                                246


ROSSINI                                                         271


PARIS AFTER THE COMMUNE                                         300






I well remember the terrors of a certain night when the wind was howling
and the rain was beating down in torrents over the arid plains of the
Lüneburger Haide; between them they had blown or blotted out the
flickering lights of a heavy, lumbering travelling carriage such as one
used to hire in the so-called good old times. The horses were plunging
in the mire, the postillion was swearing, and a very small boy was
howling. That boy was I, and the incident marks my first entrance into
that conscious life which registers events in our memories. Not that I
exactly remember what happened, and how we got out of the ankle-deep
mud, and finally reached our destination; but I have no doubt that my
father and the "brother-in-law," as the German postillion was addressed
in those days, had to get the wheels out of the ruts as best they could
without assistance, for there was no traveller, weary or otherwise, of
the regulation first-chapter pattern, to come to the rescue.

No--I remember but little of it, but I have lived it all over again
every time I have heard the dramatic strains of Schubert's Erl-king.
Great artists, gifted with the power of song, have depicted the whole
scene to me in thrilling accents; dear old Rubinstein, the friend, alas,
I lost all too soon--grand old Rubinstein, the master whose magic touch
swept the keyboard as the hurricane sweeps the plain--could conjure up
visions of a misty past in my mind. "My father, my father," I could have
cried, as the Erl-king of Pianists pursued the doomed child with his
giant strides and unrelenting touch, alternately letting loose the
elements to rage in maddening tumult, and drawing uncanny whispers from
his weird instrument.

Whatever I may have been prompted to cry when under the spell of
Rubinstein's art, I do not think I invoked my father's aid on that night
upon the heath; it was more likely "My mother, my mother," I called, and
she just protected me, and so, fortunately for me, it all ended happily,
and: "In her arms the child was _not_ dead," but cried itself to sleep,
and was put back into the little hammock that was slung across from side
to side of our old-fashioned vehicle, and that temporarily replaced my
cradle in 3 Chester Place, Regent's Park, London, the house I was born

My father was on a concert tour in Germany, reaping laurels and golden
harvests, such as were rarely heard of in those days. From his wife he
never parted if he could help it, even for a short time, and by way of
an encumbrance he had on this occasion taken, besides the necessary
luggage, us children--I think there were three of us then--and a little
dumb keyboard on which he used to exercise his fingers to keep them up
to concert pitch when pianos were out of reach. I hadn't seen any of
those little finger-trainers for years, when I came across one on Robert
Browning's writing-table; he always kept it by his side, and I wondered
whether he used it to stimulate the fingers that had to keep pace with
the poet's ever-flowing thoughts. But my earliest recollections are
connected, not with dumb keyboards, but with very full-sounding and
eloquent ones. My father was ever happiest when at the piano or
composing. He was interested, oh yes, much interested in the sister
arts, in science and politics, but he had a way of disappearing after a
while when such matters were being discussed, or of getting lost when we
had set out conscientiously to do museums or churches in Venice or
Antwerp, or to visit crypts, shrines, bones of ancestors, and other
historical relics above and below ground. We knew we should find him at
home at the piano, or pen in hand composing, that is, if he had not
perchance been stopped on the way by the sounds of music in some
attractive shape. It was quite enough for him to hear such sounds
proceeding from an open window, to make for the door, ring the bell, and
ask for the "Maestro" or the "Herr Kapellmeister." He would introduce
himself, and presently be making friends on a sound musical basis with
his colleague. It would sometimes lead to a continental hug of the
warmest description, when the surprised native would discover that his
visitor was _the_ pianist.

Sometimes my father did not wait for that finishing touch, as when on
one occasion he invaded the room of an ill-fated lover of music. It was
at Tetschen, on a journey through Saxony and Bohemia; we arrived one
evening at the little hotel of that place, tired and hungry, and
thinking only of supper and a good night's rest. Scarcely had we settled
down to the former, when, separated from us only by a wooden partition,
a neighbour commenced operations on the piano, slowly and carefully
unwinding one bar after the other of that most brilliant of pieces,
Weber's "Invitation à la Valse." "Dass dich das Mäuserle beisse!"
exclaims my father, in terrible earnest. "May the little mouse bite
you!" That was a favourite expression of his, when he found himself
suddenly impelled to denounce somebody or something, and, as he
accentuated it, it always seemed amply to replace those naughty words
which are not admissible in daily life, and may only be used--and that,
to be sure, for our benefit--on Sundays by the exponents of the
Christian dogma.

The servant-girl was summoned, and she explained that the neighbour
usually began at that time, and was in the habit of playing several
hours. "Dass dich das Mäuserle" muttered my father with suppressed rage;
"Dass dich" ... and with that he rushed out of the room. What would
happen? We were about to tremble, when a meek, respectful knock at the
neighbour's door happily reassured us. "Herein"--Come in. Enter my
father suavely apologising for the interruption--we hear it all through
the thin partition. He, too, is a lover of music; may he as such be
allowed to listen for a while. Much pleased, the other offers him a
chair and resumes his performance; my father listens patiently, and
waits till the last bars are reached. "Delightful!" we hear him say, "a
beautiful piece, is it not? I once learnt it too; may I try your piano?"
And with that he pounces on the shaky old instrument, galvanising it
into new life, as he starts off at a furious rate, and gives vent to his
pent-up feelings in cascades of octaves and breakneck passages; never
had he played that most brilliant of pieces more brilliantly.
"Good-night," he said as he struck the last chord; "allow me once more
to apologise." "Ach! thus I shall never be able to play it," answered
the neighbour with a deep sigh, and he closed the piano, and spent the
rest of the evening a sadder but a quieter man.

But it was not often my father was allowed an opportunity of watching
over his own comforts. That was a duty my mother would not willingly
share with him or with anybody else; quite apart from the affection she
lavished on the husband, there was the tribute of respect she paid to
the artist. His was a privileged position, she held, and his path should
be kept clear of all annoyance. Petty troubles, at any rate, should not
approach him, nor the serious ones either if it was within her power to
shield him from them; if not, she would contrive to take the larger
share of the burden upon herself.

From our earliest days, we children were trained to be on our best
behaviour when our father came home, whatever our next best might have
been previously. We were mostly happy little listeners when he was at
the piano, and if he stopped too long for our juvenile faculties of
enjoyment, why, our happiness gradually took the shape of respect for
the musical function. It even turned into something akin to awe when he
was composing. At such times I would not have whistled within his
hearing to save my life. A wholesome fear of the Mäuserles that would
assuredly sweep down upon me, if I disturbed the peace, would, I
daresay, in a great measure account for my praiseworthy attitude, but,
apart from any such practical considerations, it was the mystery
connected with the evolution of the beautiful in art, which, from the
first, held me in subjection.

The whooping-cough with which one of us children started, rapidly
communicating it to the others, was also regulated in its outbursts with
due regard to my father's peace. Whilst the fit was on us, it was a
source of particular enjoyment to my sisters and myself, but we never
freely indulged in it when my father was near. At other times we would
come together, and wait for one another till the spirit moved us to
whoop. Then I would wield the bâton in imitation of my betters at the
conductor's desk, and we would have our solos and ensemble-pieces, our
ritardandos and prestissimos, producing unexpected effects, and with
the limited means at our disposal, making what I recollect as a very
attractive and interesting performance. Edifying as it should have been
to a parent, my mother could at first not see it in that light, but she
had finally to give in, and to acknowledge that it was a bad cough that
whooped no good.

I was an only son--an elder brother died some years before I was
born--and it was but natural that my mother should look with indulgence
on my delinquencies. I must sometimes have tried her and those around me
sorely, as, for instance, when I hanged my little sister's favourite
doll Anna Maria, from a knob of the chest of drawers, there to remain
until she be dead.

Clara--that was my sister's name--was of a warm temperament, and fought
for the release of her wax baby with all the passionate energy of the
maternal instinct. I had to give way and cut down the victim, and then,
all other means to pacify her having failed, I appealed to her
imagination, and persuaded her to play at my having killed her in the
battle we had just fought; it would be such a surprise for mamma. Ever
sharp and quick as she was, she at once saw the far-reaching
possibilities of my scheme, and allowed herself to be wrapped up in a
bedsheet, as in a shroud, and to be laid out stiff and rigid as a
corpse. I pulled down the blinds and shut the shutters; then I lit a
candle which I placed by her side; when all was ready, I hid in a
cupboard and set up a dismal wail that soon brought my mother to the
spot. The effect upon her was all I could have desired, perhaps more
so, for the first surprise once over, she expressed her disapproval of
my conduct in terms suitable to the occasion, and thus quite spoilt the
pleasure I had taken in the whole thing.

My mother was a remarkable woman,--a "lovely" woman, to use the word as
the Americans do when they want a single epithet to describe alike the
beauty of the body and the beauty of the soul, a word that shall tell of
the brightness of the intellect and suggest the qualities of the heart.

There are those who think that when it comes to the selection of
epithets applicable to a mother, however distinguished or worthy she may
have been, the son is not the person to entrust with that selection.
Perhaps they are right, and if in this case they care to do so, they
must look round for corroborative evidence in her books. It is just
their fault if they have never read them, or if they have never heard of
her as Felix Mendelssohn's grandmother, a character in which she
appeared with great advantage to the grandson when she was twenty-four,
and he as a young man of nineteen paid his first visit to England. And
it is just their loss if they never saw the jet-black plaits as she wore
them coiled around her head when she was young, or the mass of silky,
snow-white hair of her later days that, when set free, would cascade
over and far below the shoulders that bore the weight of fourscore
years. On her face Time had left its mark. Every line, every wrinkle
gave character and expression to her features, and bore testimony to the
truly beautiful life she had led. The picture reproduced on the first
page of these reminiscences I painted when she was in her 83rd year.

But the story of my mother's life must be written in another volume. For
the present I return to earlier recollections.

When I was ten years old, I was dubbed a big boy, too big to be tied to
his mother's apron-strings, and I was sent to King's College to rough it
with other boys. Opportunities were not wanting for the roughing it. On
one occasion a boy called me a German sausage, and I retorted by
punching his head; and on another I met a University College boy, called
him a stinkermalee, and got my head punched in return. What the
appellation precisely meant, I didn't know, nor do I now, but it was
then the particular term, opprobrious and insulting, we King's College
boys had adopted to express our unbounded contempt for the hated rivals
in Gower Street.

I was generally allowed to walk to school and back by myself, for it
formed part of the scheme of education mapped out for me by my parents,
that I should start fair and see life for myself. My way lay through St.
Giles's and the Seven Dials, and there I did see life and did hear
English too, English as she was spoke in those parts, perhaps as she is
to this day; but as I pass that way now, I don't come across it; the
hand of Time has been moving across the Seven Dials, and all the old
landmarks are gone. Where in these degenerate times can a schoolboy hope
to see a bear, a real big brown bear, in a cage just in front of a
barber's shop? only a penny-shave place to be sure, but bold in its
advertisement, a notice in sprawling big characters proclaiming the
superiority of the establishment's bear's grease over any other grease,
whatever its kind might be. Where is the schoolboy to-day who can
realise the pleasurable excitement of approaching such a caged bear in a
public thoroughfare close enough to test the beast's good nature under
circumstances of provocation, and his own adroitness in making good his
retreat in case of retaliation?

In the streets and alleys of St. Giles's I was first initiated into the
horrors of warfare, especially into the kind of warfare considered quite
legitimate in those days. A quarrel first;--passions roused--words
leading to blows. Coats off, fists clenched, and there, whilst two
savages were trying the issue as to which could knock the other into a
jelly, or, if luck would have it, into a coffin, we, the enlightened
public, formed a ring and stood round, nominally to see fair-play, but
virtually to back one or the other of the combatants, goading both on to
fight like devils, and finally rejoicing over the survival of the

That kind of thing has been stopped in St. Giles's, but the devil
doesn't mind; there is so much legitimate warfare, slaughter and
massacre nowadays on a larger scale, that he is said to admit himself
that he gets over and above the share he originally claimed; and as for
the ring, why, that has grown apace; thanks to scientific progress, it
is iron-bound now with telegraphic wires, and is known by the euphonious
name of "the Concert of Europe."

How good man is, and how tender in his concern for his brother! More
than once I saw him pick up the battered jelly and carry it with
fraternal solicitude to the neighbouring chemist. How good we all are,
stitching at Red Cross badges, chartering ambulances, and sending the
hat round at the Mansion House and elsewhere to save the surviving
fittest from starvation!

The question of woman's rights--and wrongs--was also occasionally raised
and illustrated for my benefit in one or the other of the Seven Dials,
the object lesson sometimes delaying me and getting me into trouble for
being late at the _hic-hæc-hoc_ business in the Strand. I particularly
recollect a female fiend rushing after her wretched husband, who fled
down the street from her, and from the blood-stained poker she savagely

But there were quieter corners too, not far from the lairs of the
vicious, a dear old printshop for one, just by St. Giles' Church. The
most tempting pictures were displayed in the windows: coloured prints of
stage-coaches, cockatoos, prize-fighters, and racehorses; lovely female
types, as originally published in Heath's Book of Beauty; there were
fashion-plates next to Bartolozzi's, not in fashion, and I daresay many
an undiscovered treasure besides. I used to spend my pennies on views of
London, little steel-plate engravings, printed on a sort of shiny
cardboard. Was it my innate love for London that made them so
attractive, or my equally innate love of architecture? Probably both. I
always was, and am still a cockney at heart, and as for the building
craze, that has been on me from that day to this. Certainly no boy ever
had such a collection of bricks as I had, and such a table to build on,
specially constructed with drawers and divisions for all sizes and forms
of my materials.

"I'm going to be an architect," I informed the old Duke of Cambridge on
a gala occasion when he rode up to our house. "Right you are, my boy,"
said the Duke. "You'll be too late to build me a house, but you can
build me a mausoleum." I've been planning mausoleums ever since, but
unfortunately, not being an architect, I never have had a commission in
that line. The Duke, who was an enthusiastic lover of music, had come on
that occasion specially interested to hear Bach's Concerto in G minor,
which my father played from a copy of the original manuscript he had
received from his friend Professor Fischhof, of Vienna.

But to return from Royalty to the plebeian quarter of St. Giles, I must
state that whatever of my pocket-money may have been invested in views
of London, it was not that printshop, but the Lowther Arcade, which
usually wrecked my finances. I could not resist the temptation which
that short cut from the Strand to Catherine Street offered; my money
went to the purchase of most fascinating articles, unfortunately at best
of a twopenny-halfpenny character, things of beauty irresistibly
suggesting themselves as presents for my sisters, things no girl should
be without, wax angels under glass globes, bottle imps, china
shepherdesses, or jumping frogs, the latter to be sprung upon the
recipient unexpectedly. I brought them home and confided to my mother
what bargains I had got. Unhappily the angels, frogs, imps, and the
rest, however effective at first, were not long lived, or they proved
themselves otherwise disappointing; so they were soon forgotten. Not so
their cost.

My mother had carefully kept account of my wasteful expenditure for some
weeks, and one day she confronted me with the sum total it had reached.
It actually came within measurable distance of half-a-crown, an amount I
had as yet never been able to call my own. I was overwhelmed by such
proofs of my recklessness, and henceforth resisted the wiles of the
Lowther Arcade. So the lesson was not lost on me; it sank deep into my
heart, whence I have on more than one occasion been able to bring it to
the surface. But I am bound to confess that I never was radically cured.
I have periodical relapses when the old craving comes upon me, and the
taste for beautifully fashioned angels, for china and for glass, and I
revel in a bargain, and exult when I have picked up something every girl
ought to have. Whilst the glorious fit is on, I am privileged to forget
all I learnt in the sum-total lesson.

My experiences in the Lowther Arcade were soon to be suddenly
interrupted, and for a long time it was even doubtful whether I should
ever again be able to put in an appearance in that place or anywhere
else. I caught the scarlet fever, not in the slums as it might be
thought, but at school, where a regular epidemic had broken out. Our
class-rooms in King's College were down in the basement, and those who
knew said that the outbreak was due to the fact that the filth-laden
river came right up to the feet of the grand old building, and washed
them dirty day and night; other wiseacres contended that it was more
likely to be the churchyard of St. Mary-le-Grand just opposite which had
done the mischief. As far as I can remember, nobody mentioned the
drains, which in those days had not yet come into notice and fashion,
and could do their level best for the multiplication of bacilli without
being hampered by meddlesome sanitary inspectors. Well, whatever may
have been the malignant source which poisoned me, it had done its work
thoroughly, and developed my scarlet fever in its most virulent form. It
was a terrible time I went through. I was at death's door, but
fortunately that sombre portal remained closed, and I was not bidden to
cross the grim threshold.

No, I was destined to live and to fight the battle of life with whatever
fighting powers I might possess. Later on I was to wrestle more than
once with the grim immortal who only spares each of us mortals till his
hour-glass tells him it is time to use his scythe. And if I wrestled
well and am here to tell the tale, it is because by my side watched day
and night that best of nurses, my mother.

I was never what is called a good patient, and to this day I am very
much averse to sending for the doctor. I quite feel he indeed is a
friend in need, and I do not wish to disparage his power for good, or to
underrate his skill and judgment, but as a rule I make a point of not
calling him in till I know what I want him to say. I think that doctors
nowadays are more agreeable than they were formerly; the great and
fashionable doctors, I mean. A man, to be up to date, had to be brief,
brusque, and bumptious. He seemed to have learnt his stronger English
from Dr. Johnson, and generally to have been trained in a Johnsonian
atmosphere. He had to say smart things that could be quoted and hawked
about, and to enunciate wise saws in imitation of the master whose
sayings are so unmercifully inflicted on us to this day. He was in a
hurry; he drove up in a big yellow carriage, and before the horses could
pull up, his tiger had sprung from the footboard, and was giving the
most tremendous double-knock, one evidently meant to awaken the dead, in
case medical assistance had come too late.

To pass muster, the doctor's natural kindness had to be concealed
beneath an outer coating of apparent roughness. Sometimes it was the
roughness that was concealed only by a transparent veneer of amiability.
Certain it is that in those days no doctor could look at a boy's tongue
without at once declaring that he stood in immediate need of a black
dose, and if that vile compound did not exceed every other mixture in
nastiness, he did not believe it would be efficacious. He revelled in
blue pills, and was happiest when he could pull out a little lancet and
bleed you, or send round a man with a complete set of sharp blades, to
do the thing wholesale, jerking them into some part of your precious
self, and pumping a given number of ounces out of it and into his

All this is very ungrateful of me, for Dr. Stone was the best and
kindest of men--and very undutiful, for he was my godfather (Felix Stone
is my full name). To be sure he had a big yellow carriage, and a tiger
whose main ambition in life it seemed to be to knock his master's
patients up. To be sure Dr. Stone came coated with a veneer of
roughness, but it was skin-deep; true, he gave me as many black doses
and blue pills as he thought my robust constitution could stand, but in
addition to these he made me many beautiful presents--a silver mug
emblazoned with our family crest and the motto "Labore," a splendid
family Bible of about my own weight and size, a costly edition of
Byron's "Childe Harold" and ditto of Milton's "Paradise Lost and
Regained," and a number of other things doubly delightful and gratifying
to my juvenile mind, because they always came at least three or four
years before I knew how to use them.

My good godfather had ushered me into this world, from which
unfortunately he was himself called away before he had had many
opportunities of performing the duties he had undertaken when he pledged
himself to see to it that I should "renounce the devil and all his

When after many weeks of hard fighting with the scarlet enemy, and after
having passed through various relapses and complications, I emerged from
the sick-room, I was taken to Brighton for a complete change of air.
There I soon found new life and strength. Dear old Brighton! I was to
find new life and strength there once more, thirty years later, when I
met the young lady who said she would--when I asked her to marry me.

My next station was Hamburg. I was sent there to get the benefit of a
thorough change of air, and to improve my German. It was shortly after
the terrible conflagration which had laid low a great part of the city.

The jagged walls, springing in fantastic forms from immense piles of
crumbling masonry and charred timber, had a weird fascination for me. I
was deeply in sympathy with my beloved friend Architecture, and deplored
the fate that had overtaken some of the best buildings, but at the same
time I was lost in admiration of the beauties, now picturesque, now
awe-inspiring, which the caprice of the destructive element had stamped
on crazy walls and tangled masses of wreckage.

I have since been similarly impressed; in Pompeii first, and again in
Paris, after the Commune; only to be sure the former scene of
devastation I saw neatly put in order and made presentable for the
visitor, whereas the latter was yet smoking and all besmirched with the
blood of the sorely visited Parisians.

My father had given a concert for the benefit of the sufferers in
Hamburg, and was able to contribute a sum of £643 to the relief fund

On my arrival I was received with open arms by my relatives. My
grandfather, Adolf Embden, had been staying with us more than once, and
he was particularly partial to his grandson, because he had a marked
predilection for England and everything that was English. He knew more
about British politics than most men born and bred in the country; he
read all the big speeches delivered in Parliament, identified himself
with the Whigs, and was a fervent disciple of Cobden and Bright. He did
his best to train me in the way I should go, and his methods were quite
congenial to my taste. We often took long walks together, and his
peripatetic teachings are pleasantly blended in my mind with the
half-way house at the corner of the Jungfernsteg and the Alster Bassin,
then occupied by Giosti Giovanoli, the confectioner. He trained me just
once too often, but that was in London, in a shop near Oxford Circus,
and it was a Bath bun that made me restless. That shop was painted green
and gold, and to this day I would not eat on green and gold premises if
I were starving.

In Hamburg I was welcomed, too, by uncles and aunts, first and second
cousins, male and female, and by a strong contingent of grandaunts. I am
aware that most people have quite as many relatives of their own as they
need for home consumption, and that being so, they are not pleasantly
disposed towards the family history of their friends. So I mean to use
my relatives sparingly, and only to bring them in where they are
associated with things I well remember. My mother has penned most
characteristic sketches of many of those worthy personalities in a MS.
she has entitled "Early Recollections," and the grandaunts hold a
prominent place in those papers; but for the reason just given, I
refrain from transcribing her graphic descriptions of their doings. I
would, however, record my own boyish impressions, to the effect that
one or two of my grandaunts were a caution to rattle-snakes. I have
learned since to see that they were nothing of the kind, but just old
ladies of marked originality. It took some time before I could get to
like being loved by them; I preferred making faces behind their backs, a
pastime which I was joined in by a cousin about my own age. Cousin Carl
got into trouble oftener than I did, and had more reason to regret it,
for in one of the drawers of an old-fashioned mahogany secretary his
father kept an orthodox cane which he would produce on special
occasions--such were the unchallenged methods of training in those days.
My uncle was the best of men, anxious only to chastise for the good of
the young delinquent, whom he tenderly loved, but he might have saved
himself the trouble, for poor Cousin Carl was never to reap the benefit
of his training. He had at no time been robust, and was not to live
long. That winter of 1842 was looking about for victims. The fearful
mornings, when we had to get up in the dark, and wash by the flicker of
a tallow candle--wash, that is if we succeeded in hacking up the ice in
the jug, and in finding some water at the bottom of it--those fearful
mornings proved too much for him. Poor Carl's faces, as he made them
behind people's backs, grew longer and longer, his cough grew hollower
and hollower, and he soon went to rest where there are no canes and no
tallow dips, and all is peace, and even one's grandaunts are seraphs.

The sad event did not, however, take place during my stay in Hamburg. I
spent some six or eight months with my uncle and aunt. She, my Tante
Jaques, was my mother's only sister, and was deeply attached to her; on
me she lavished unvarying kindness and affection. My cousins, all older
than myself, were delighted to have the "little Englishman" in the
house, and the friendship we struck up then has lasted through life.

One of the grandaunts was a sister of Heinrich Heine, the poet. She had
married into the Embden family, and so Heinrich was a sort of cousin of
my mother's. They saw a good deal of one another when my mother was in
her teens, and he was a dreamy youth whom she and the other girls of the
family circle delighted to chaff. His frequent headaches they not
incorrectly ascribed to his mode of living; to be sure, they said, he
looked pale and interesting, but that was only because he had eaten too
much at yesterday's dinner party. "Now, what is the matter with you
again to-day?" said my mother as he sat down opposite her one morning
and watched her shelling peas. "How pale you are! it's that head again,
I suppose?" "Yes, Lottchen, I am ill; it is the head again." "That is
what you are always saying, but I'm sure it is not as bad as you make it
out to be. Come now, am I not right?" "O Lottchen," he said, "you do not
know how I suffer;" and as he sat there musing, she had not the heart
further to chaff him. When the next volume of his poems appeared shortly
afterwards, she knew what had passed through his mind on that occasion,
and perhaps on others when she had shown him friendly sympathy.

He writes:--

    "When past thy house at morning
      I take my way, to see
    Thy face, child, at the window
      Is deep delight to me.

    Thy dark-brown eyes seem asking
      As my sad, pale looks they scan,
    Who art thou, and what ails thee,
      Thou strange and woe-worn man!

    'I am a German poet,
      Through Germany widely known;
    When they name the names that are famous,
      With them they will name my own.

    'And what I ail, oh many,
      Dear little one, ail the same.
    When they name the worst of sorrows,
      Mine, too, they are sure to name.'"

Sometimes he was in livelier moods, as one day, when he, my grandfather,
and my mother were walking through the fields together, and were joined
by a remarkably dull doctor of philology, whose company was particularly
distasteful to Heine. Pointing to half-a-dozen cows and oxen that were
grazing close by, he said in an undertone: "I say, Lottchen, now there
are seven doctors on the meadow."

Salomon Heine, the poet's uncle, was a millionaire who spent his money
right royally and philanthropically; a man who owed his fortune to his
own exertions, and who, when he had made a million of marks for each of
his children--I forget how many he had--devoted the next million he
amassed to the foundation of a hospital. He was a delightful specimen
of an uncle, too, for he would spend his money philonepotically as well
as philanthropically. The nephew was ever ready to dive into the uncle's
purse; equally ready to make literary capital out of him and his
friends. Gumpel, another rich banker--we know him as Gumpelino--was his
pet aversion, and specially suggestive to him as a butt for his satire.
Gumpel, too, was a self-made man, a fact of which, however, he did not
like to be reminded, quite unlike old Heine, who loved to bring up the
subject to the annoyance of his friend, shouting across the table
stories of the early days when they came to Hamburg with their bundles
slung across their shoulders. To his nephew he was ever indulgent; he
was proud of his rising popularity, and as a rule was not appealed to in
vain when the young genius had got into money troubles. On one occasion,
though, he lost patience when he had given him a round sum wherewith to
defray the expenses of a journey to Norderney, a summer resort on the
coast of the North Sea. Instead of devoting the money to the purpose of
improving his health, he managed in one night to roll the round sum into
other people's pockets at the gaming tables. This time the uncle was
indignant, and Heinrich would probably never have gone to Norderney, and
consequently never have written the "Nordsee-Lieder," had not the
well-known firm of Hoffman & Campe come to the rescue with the necessary
funds, in consideration of which they stipulated he should write a
volume of songs for them.

In Hamburg I was sent to the Johanneum, a large public school. It was
rather hard, after having been called a German sausage in England, to be
derided as an English "Rossbiff" or "Shonebool," which was meant for
John Bull. The whole class roared with laughter when I rose for the
first time to decline ἡ Μοὑσα, pronouncing the defunct Greek
language as it was spoken in King's College, and the jeers of that whole
class so galled and stung me that I wished I could kill all German boys
at a stroke, or at least maim those despicable ones within my reach for
life. It was well I could not act upon the impulse, for many a German
boy of that day was to be a staunch friend to me in after life. I had my
troubles in those Teutonic school-days, and I thought the proceedings
monotonous, but still there was pleasurable excitement to be had
occasionally, as when old Hummel came along--a half-witted water-carrier
whom every bad boy in Hamburg knew and hooted. Three words we would
shout in his face, three words that meant absolutely nothing, but that
sounded worse than any bad language I had ever heard. He was a shaky old
man, and the water-pails suspended from his shoulders prevented his
running after us, and so we could indulge with impunity in the
exhilarating sport of mocking him to the fullest extent our wicked
little human hearts desired.

I have also a pleasant recollection of caterpillar-hunting; we were
spending the summer near Hamburg in a rustic retreat, and a regular
plague of these insects made life a burden to some members of the
family. They were larger than ordinary caterpillars and more hairy, and
they were so numerous that much thought and care had to be bestowed on
the methods of protecting ourselves against them; for they did not
confine themselves to the garden, they made no difference between
vegetable produce and grand-aunts, and would mistake the best bonnets of
those worthies for cabbage leaves. There was even a rumour that one of
these slimy crawlers had been crushed out of existence by my
grandest-aunt, who chanced to be the heaviest one too. How that
caterpillar found its way between that lady's bed-sheets, and whether it
did so with or without assistance, was fortunately never ascertained,
and as discreet silence has been maintained on the subject for years, it
is not for me to solve the mystery to-day.

After an absence of some six or eight months I returned to London, to
that 3 Chester Place so full of memories, personal and artistic.

There were quite as many infant prodigies in those days as there are
now; little exotic plants, forced in artistic hothouses, artificially
developed, and prematurely produced in drawing-rooms and concert halls;
glittering little shooting-stars, nine-days' wonders, to be soon
forgotten, and ere long to be buried.

But then, there were also wonder-children, as the Germans call them, who
thrived and lived, and who seemed to combine in themselves all the
qualities that had belonged to the little victims of forced training.
Such a one was Joachim. He first appeared in public when he was seven;
five years later be played in Leipsic at Madame Viardot's concert; and
when he was not yet fourteen he gathered his first laurels in London at
the Philharmonic. That year--it was 1844--Mendelssohn was in England,
and mightily interested in the young violinist. One evening, after
singing at our house, Mendelssohn wanted to take him to a musical party;
a pair of gloves were deemed necessary to make him presentable, and we
two boys were sent out to get them; we had a walk, and a talk besides,
and I remember thinking what a nice sort of sensible boy he was; no
nonsense about him and no affectation; not like the other clever ones I
knew. The gloves we bought in a little shop in Albany Street, Regent's
Park, and as these were the first pair of English gloves that Joseph
wore, I duly record the historical fact for the benefit of all those who
have at one time or the other been under the spell of the fingers we
fitted that evening.

When two years later we met in Leipsic, it so happened that I was
suddenly fired with the desire to play the violin too. My friend Joseph
was quite ready to teach me, and we started operations, but two or three
lessons were sufficient to convince him and me, that mine was an unholy
desire, which, if gratified, would give me the power of inflicting much
suffering on my fellow-creatures, and which therefore was calculated to
lead me into trouble. So we gave it up, and Joachim has had to rely on
other pupils for his reputation as a teacher.

Liszt too had been a juvenile phenomenon, but had long arrived at full
maturity at the time I first remember him. I was then about ten, and he
some twenty years older. I think I never knew anybody so calculated to
fascinate man, woman, or child. He generally spoke in French, which I
did not understand, but I had to listen to every word. His voice alone
held me spell-bound; it rose and fell like a big wave, and I could tell
that something unusual was going on; that voice was evidently scattering
thought as the big wave scatters spray, and those clear-cut features of
his were each in turn accentuating and emphasising his words. His grand
leonine mane fascinated me as it started from the lofty forehead, and
bounded Niagara-like with one leap to the nape of the neck.

My early recollections of his playing are rather limited. As a boy I was
mainly impressed by his long chord-grasping fingers, contrasting as they
did with my father's small, velvety hand. To _see_ him play was quite as
much as I could do, without particularly attending to what he played, to
watch his hands fly up from one set of notes and pounce down on another,
and generally to lie in wait for the outward manifestations of his
genius. Later on I grew accustomed to the grand young man's ways, and
just knelt at his shrine as everybody else did.

My father was not the least outspoken of his admirers. In the early days
he mentions him as "that rare art-phenomenon," and tells how "he played
Hummel's Septet with the most perfect execution, storming occasionally
like a Titan, but still in the main free from extravagance." Later on,
at the Musical Festival held in Bonn, he describes him as "the absolute
monarch, by virtue of his princely gifts, outshining all else."

Half a century ago playing _à quatre mains_ was much more popular than
it is now; more pieces were written and more pianoforte arrangements
were made for two performers. The full-fledged pianist of to-day thinks
he is quite able to do the work of two, and sees no reason why he should
share the keyboard with another; so he prefers to keep the whole
function in his own hands. Formerly he was satisfied to give a concert;
the very word implied concerted action of several artists; now he
announces the one-man show called a Recital, in which he stars and
shines by himself. He scorns assistance, for he wishes it to be
understood that he can get through the most formidable programme without
breaking down, and that he can rely on his ironclad instrument to hold
out with him and lead him triumphantly to the finale.

Well, the great virtuosi of my early days certainly loved playing
together, and many are the instances of such joint performances, both in
private and in public, which I recollect. How my father enjoyed playing
with Liszt he records when he says: "It was a genuine treat to draw
sparks from the piano as we dashed along together. When we are harnessed
together in a duet we make a very good pair; Apollo drives us without a

If, as my father assumes, Apollo was really the driver on occasions of
that kind, I feel sure that his favourite team must have been
Mendelssohn and Moscheles; they certainly enjoyed being in harness
together, sometimes playing, and sometimes improvising. Occasionally the
humour of the moment would lead them to compose together, as when one
evening they planned a piece for two performers to be played by them
three days later at a concert my father had announced. The Gipsies'
March from Weber's "Preziosa" being chosen as a subject for variations,
a general scheme was agreed upon, and the parts were distributed. "I
will write a variation in minor and growl in the bass," said
Mendelssohn. "Will you do a brilliant one in major in the treble?" It
was settled that the Introduction and first and second variations should
fall to Mendelssohn's lot, the third and fourth to my father's. The
finale they shared in, Mendelssohn starting with an allegro movement,
and my father following with a "più-lento." Two days later they had a
hurried rehearsal, and on the following day they played the concertante
variations, "composed expressly for this occasion," as the programme had
it, "and performed on Erard's new patent-action grand pianoforte."
Nobody noticed that the piece had been only sketched, and that each of
the performers was allowed to improvise in his own solo, till at certain
passages agreed upon, both met again in due harmony. The _Morning Post_
of the day tells us that "the subject was treated in the most profound
and effective manner by each, and executed so brilliantly that the most
rapturous plaudits were elicited from the delighted company."

Mendelssohn himself in a letter gives a graphic account of a rehearsal
held at Clementi's pianoforte factory, when the two friends played his
"Double Concerto in E."

"It was great fun," he says; "no one can have an idea how Moscheles and
I coquetted together on the piano--how the one constantly imitated the
other, and how sweet we were. Moscheles plays the last movement with
wonderful brilliancy; the runs drop from his fingers like magic. When it
was over, all said it was a pity that we had made no cadenza; so I at
once hit upon a passage in the first part of the last Tutti, where the
orchestra has a pause, and Moscheles had, _nolens volens_, to comply,
and compose a grand cadenza. We now deliberated amid a thousand jokes
whether the small last solo should remain in its place, since, of
course, the people would applaud the cadenza. 'We must have a bit of
Tutti between the cadenza and the solo,' said I. 'How long are they to
clap their hands?' asked Moscheles. 'Ten minutes, I daresay,' said I.
Moscheles beat me down to five. I promised to supply a Tutti; and so we
took the measure, embroidered, turned and padded, put in sleeves _à la_
Mameluke, and at last, with our tailoring, produced a brilliant
concerto. We shall have another rehearsal to-day; it will be quite a
picnic, for Moscheles brings the cadenza and I the Tutti."

That golden thread of "great fun," as he calls it, goes through the
history of Mendelssohn's life. It intertwined itself with the sensitive
fibres of his nature, thus becoming an element of strength, a factor
that illuminated his path and spread bright sunshine wherever he went.
In fact I always thought one of the most delightful traits of his
character was a certain naïveté, which enabled him to appreciate the
humour of a situation, and thoroughly to enjoy it with his friends. He
would turn some trivial incident to the happiest account, and in his own
peculiarly genial way, make it the starting-point for a standing joke,
or a winged word, to be handed down from generation to generation in the
families of his friends.

Amongst the many drawings of his we treasure in the family is one
humorously illustrating my father's works. It takes the shape of an
arabesque, artistically framing some lines written for the occasion of
his birthday by Klingemann. A second verse was composed for a subsequent

When in later years, and with a view to publication, I ventured to ask
Robert Browning for an English version of those lines, he, with his
usual kindness, sent me the following letter:--


      _Nov. 30, '87_.

     "MY DEAR MOSCHELES,--Pray forgive my delay in doing the little
     piece of business with which you entrusted me: an unexpected claim
     on my mornings interfered with it till just now. Will this answer
     your purpose anyhow?--

    "'Hail to the man who upwards strives
      Ever in happy unconcern:
    Whom neither blame nor praise contrives
      From his own nature's path to turn.

    On, and still on, the journey went,
      Yet has he kept us all in view,
    Working in age with youth's intent,
      In living--fresh, in loving--true.'

     "Were my version but as true to the original as your father's life
     was to his noble ideal, it would be good indeed. As it is, accept
     the best of yours truly ever,


Having started on my recollections of Mendelssohn, I am somewhat
perplexed to know how many or how few of them I should record here. So
much has been published about him, first by my mother in "The Life of
Moscheles,"[1] where she has used my father's diaries and
correspondence, and then by myself, when I translated and edited
Mendelssohn's letters to my parents,[2] that perhaps I ought not to run
the risk of telling what is already known. But, on the other hand,
Mendelssohn plays so prominent a part in my early recollections, that I
cannot write these without attempting to portray the principal figure,
my father's most intimate friend and my very dear godfather.

I shall, at any rate, have to exercise due discretion and care, for
Mendelssohn, and what he said and did, was such a constant theme of
conversation in our family, that I grew up knowing my parents' friend
nearly as well as they did themselves, and I may consider myself
fortunate if, in recording my earliest impressions, I do not find myself
remembering things that happened before I was born.

The very first letter which connects me with Mendelssohn is the one in
which he congratulates my parents on the arrival of a son and heir. He
heads it with a pen-and-ink drawing, representing a diminutive baby in a
cradle, surrounded by all the instruments of the orchestra.

"Here they are, dear Moscheles," he says, "wind instruments and fiddles,
for the son and heir must not be kept waiting till I come--he must have
a cradle song, with drums and trumpets and janissary music; fiddles
alone are not nearly lively enough. May every happiness and joy and
blessing attend the little stranger; may he be prosperous, may he do
well whatever he does, and may it fare well with him in the world!

"So he is to be called Felix, is he? How nice and kind of you to make
him my godchild, _in formâ_! The first present his godfather makes him
is the above entire orchestra; it is to accompany him through life--the
trumpets when he wishes to become famous, the flutes when he falls in
love, the cymbals when he grows a beard; the pianoforte explains itself,
and should people ever play him false, as will happen to the best of us,
there stand the kettle-drums and the big-drum in the background.

"Dear me! I am ever so happy when I think of your happiness, and of the
time when I shall have my full share of it. By the end of April, at the
latest, I intend to be in London, and then we will duly name the boy,
and introduce him to the world at large. It will be grand!"

In a later letter he announces himself as arriving in June, "ready to
act as a godfather, to play, conduct, and even to be a genius."

He came, and I was duly christened Felix Stone Moscheles in St. Pancras
Church. Barry Cornwall wrote some lines commemorative of the occasion.
Alluding to the date of my birth, he begins:--

    1. (_February_).

    Speak low! the days are dear,
      Sing load! _A child is born!_
    Music, the maid, is watching near,
    To hide him in her bosom dear,
      From sights and sounds forlorn.
            Happy be his infant days!
            Happy be his after ways!
            Happy manhood! Happy age!
            Happy all his pilgrimage.

    2. (_June_).

    Breathe soft! the days grow mild,
      _The child hath gained a name!_
    Now sweet maid, Music! whisper wild
    Thy blessings on the new-named child,
      And lead him straight to fame.
            "_Felix_" should be "_happy_" ever,
            And his life be like a river,
            Sweetness, freshness, always bringing,
            And ever, ever, ever singing!

Well, the "sweet maid, Music" never led the new-named one "straight to
fame," nor did the child ever get there by any circuitous route, but
Felix was certainly "happy ever."

In this, my case, there certainly must have been something in a name,
for my good godfather endowed me with my full share of happiness.

In later years Berlioz wrote that well-known line of Horace's in my

    "Donec eris Felix, multos numerabis amicos."

(As long as you are happy you will number many friends.) And when I
reflect how much friendship I have enjoyed from the day of my
christening to the present hour, I feel certain that the name was of
good augury, and that Horace and Mendelssohn were right.

If the complete orchestra was the first godfather's present, the little
album was the second. It measures only six inches by four, but that
small compass holds much that is of interest. The book is full now; it
required about half a century to cover its pages, for they contain only
the autographs of such celebrities as were my personal friends.
Mendelssohn had appropriately inaugurated it with a composition, the
"Wiegenlied" (slumber-song), now so popular.

There are also two drawings by him, one of 3 Chester Place, Regent's
Park, and another of the Park close at hand. Mendelssohn must have sat
out of doors to make these very faithful transcripts of nature, and I
sometimes wonder how the street-boys of those days took it. Looking at
those contributions, one cannot help being struck by the care which he
bestowed on everything he did. His handwriting was always neat and
clear, with just enough of flourish and swing to give it originality.
His musical manuscripts vie in precision with the products of the
engraver's art, and again there is a marked analogy between his style of
drawing and the way in which he forms the letters of the alphabet, or
the notes of the scales. As one peruses his manuscripts, one finds
oneself admiring the artistic aspect of his well-balanced bars, and on
the other hand, the harmonious treatment of his drawings recalls the
appearance his pen gives to his scores. In the view he took of the
Regent's Park, the leaves, so delicately and yet so firmly pencilled,
seem to sway and rustle in unison with the sprightly melody of the
scherzo in the "Midsummer-Night's Dream," and just as that melody is
discreetly accompanied by the orchestra, so in the drawing, the houses,
the old Colosseum in the background, and the trees in the
middle-distance, are, one and all, made to keep their places, and
deferentially to play second fiddle to the rustling leaves.

In due course of time, and after full enjoyment of the Slumber Song, I
got out of my cradle and on to my legs, and it is from that stage in my
development that I really date my recollections of my godfather. Some
are hazy, others distinct. I am often surprised when I realise that he
was short of stature; to me, the small boy, he appeared very tall. I
looked upon him as my own special godfather, in whom I had a sort of
vested interest, and I showed my annoyance when I was not allowed to
monopolise him, or at least to remain near him. Being put to bed was at
best a hateful process; how much more so, then, when I was just happily
installed on my godfather's knee; occasions of that kind are connected
in my mind with vociferous protests, followed by ignominious expulsion.

There were, however, happier times soon to follow, times which recall to
me our exploits in the Park. He could throw my ball farther than anybody
else; and he could run faster too, but then, to be sure, for all that,
_I_ could catch him. There were pitched battles with snowballs, and
there was that memorable occasion when I got my first black eye. I
remember it came straight from the bat, but--to tell the truth--I was
never quite sure that Mendelssohn was in any way connected with that
historical event, correctly located though it is, in the Regent's Park.

Our indoor sports must have been pretty lively too, for on one occasion
my mother records how "in the evening Felix junior had such a tremendous
romp with his godfather, that the whole house shook." And she adds: "One
can scarcely realise that the man who would presently be improvising in
his grandest style, was the Felix senior, the king of games and romps."

One of my achievements, when I was a little boy in a black velvet
blouse, was the impersonation of what we called "the dead man"; the
dying man would have been more correct. From my earliest days I
evidently pitied the soldier dying a violent death on the battlefield.
Since then I have learnt to extend my commiseration to the tax-payer,
and to the many innocent victims of a barbarous and iniquitous system.
Well, the dying man in the blouse was stretched full length--say some
three feet--on the Brussels carpet. Mendelssohn or my father were at
the piano improvising a running accompaniment to my performance, and
between us we illustrated musically and dramatically the throes and
spasms of the expiring hero. I was much offended once, because they told
me I acted just like a little monkey; I did not know then, but I am
quite sure now, that behind my back they said in a very different tone,
admiring and affectionate: "He is _such_ a little monkey."

That black velvet blouse I particularly remember, because John Horsley,
now the veteran R. A., then but a rising artist, painted me in it; and
also because Hensel, Mendelssohn's brother-in-law, made a sketch of it
in my album, at my particular request, representing me on horseback.

What honours that garment might not further have attained I do not know,
had I not once for all checked its career by climbing over some freshly
painted green railings in the Park, and thus irreparably spoiling it.

The dead-man improvisations remind me of the marvellous way in which my
father and godfather would improvise together, playing _à quatre mains_,
or alternately, and pouring forth a never-failing stream of musical
ideas. I have spoken of it before, but it was in a preface, and who
reads a preface? So I may perhaps once more be allowed to describe it. A
subject started, it was caught up as if it were a shuttlecock; now one
of the players would seem to toss it up on high, or to keep it balanced
in mid-octaves with delicate touch. Then the other would take it in
hand, start it on classical lines, and develop it with profound
erudition, until perhaps the two joining together in new and brilliant
forms, would triumphantly carry it off to other spheres of sound. Four
hands there might be, but only one soul, so it seemed, as they would
catch with lightning speed at each other's ideas, each trying to
introduce subjects from the works of the other.

It was exciting to watch how the amicable contest would wax hot,
culminating occasionally in an outburst of merriment, when some
conflicting harmonies met in terrible collision. I see Mendelssohn's air
of triumph when he had succeeded in twisting a subject from a
composition of his own into a Moscheles theme, while the latter was
obliged to second him in the bass. But not for long. "Stop a minute,"
said the next few chords that my father struck. "There I have you, you
have taken the bait." Soon they would be again fraternising in perfect
harmonies, gradually leading up to the brilliant finale that sounded as
if it had been so written, revised and corrected, and were now being
interpreted from the score by two masters.

Besides my godfather there were many of my father's friends who were
kindly disposed towards me. Malibran is one of those I associate with my
earliest days. Perhaps I remember her, perhaps I but fancy I do, for I
was only three or four years old when she died. But I have impressions
of her sitting on the floor and painting pretty pictures for us
children; a certain black silk bag, from the depths of which she
produced paint-box, brushes, and other beautiful and mysterious things,
had an irresistible charm for us, as had also her big dark eyes, and
that wonderful mouth of hers, which she showed us could easily hold an
orange. And then she would sing to us Spanish songs by her father,
Manuel Garcia, and other celebrities. In my album she wrote, "Nei giorni
tuoi felici ricordati di Marie de Beriot," and the flourish appended to
the signature takes the shape of an apocryphal bird. For my father's
album, one of the completest of its kind, she composed an Allegretto, a
song which I believe has never been published.

The words, probably by herself, run thus:--

    "Il est parti sans voir sa fiancée
    Lorsque le bal était prêt à s'ouvrir;
    Si pour une autre il m'avait délaissée,
    Malheur à moi, je n'ai plus qu'à mourir."

It is dated July 16, 1836: she died on the 23rd of September following.

Thalberg was also a children's man. He was not much of a romp, but
always full of jokes, musical and otherwise. Interested as I was in the
outward appearance of my home pianists, I was duly impressed by
Thalberg's rigid appearance at the piano, contrasting as it did with the
lively ways of Liszt and others. He had trained himself to this truly
military bearing by practising his most difficult passages whilst he
smoked a long Turkish chibouk, the cup of which rested on the ground.

Another source of wonder, not unmixed with awe, was the bulky frame of
Lablache, the great singer. It was indeed a basso profondo which emerged
from the depths of his ponderous figure. The beauty of his voice, the
perfection of his style, and his unconventional deportment on the stage,
I learnt to appreciate in later years. I particularly recollect him as
Bartolo in Rossini's "Barbiere," on an occasion when Sontag and Mario
took the other leading parts. As a small boy I just liked to walk round
him, and thought the hackney-coach driver, as they called the cabby
then, was not far wrong when he inquired whether his fare expected to be
conveyed in one lot.

One of the friends of those early days was Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His
father was giving my elder sisters Italian lessons, and that led to most
friendly intercourse with him and his two sons. I mention Gabriel's name
with a twinge of regret, for the chief records of that intercourse, a
number of drawings by his hand, are irretrievably lost. There were--I
see them still--knights in armour, fair ladies, and graceful pages, bold
pen-and-ink drawings, illustrating a story that ran through several
numbers of our own special paper the "Weekly Critic." What, or by whom
the story was, I do not recollect, probably by Chorley, who was a
frequent contributor to that weekly publication of ours. The drawings in
no way foreshadowed Gabriel's later manner; they were just what an
imaginative young fellow of seventeen or eighteen would draw, but I feel
sure there were no beautiful peculiarities or other poetical deviations
from the natural in this his early work. I often wonder where the
"Weekly Critic" is in hiding. If this should meet the eye of anybody who
knows, I trust he will come forward and receive my blessing in exchange
for the drawings which we will give to an expectant world.

When I was about twelve I made my first appearance on the stage under
peculiar circumstances. My father had announced a concert in Baden,
where we were spending the summer, he the centre of a musical circle, I
a schoolboy enjoying my holidays, and specially devoted to the climbing
of trees and the picking of blackberries. The impresario of the Court
Theatre in Carlsruhe (he seemed to me a sort of Grand Mogul) had
graciously permitted the stars of his Opera to sing at that concert of
my father's. At the eleventh hour, however, there was a hitch, and the
stars were needed to shine on their own Grand-Ducal boards. In the hope
that matters might yet be settled in his favour, my father sent me to
him with urgent messages. On my arrival I made straight for the theatre,
and entering by an unguarded back door, I soon found myself in a maze of
dark passages. The sounds of music guided me to the stage, where a
rehearsal of the "Vier Haymons-Kinder" was going on, and from the wings
I found my way into a rustic arbour destined for the trysting-place of
the lovers in the particular scene which was being rehearsed; there I
was biding my time when I was discovered by the lady who had come to
meet the tenor. The performance was abruptly stopped; the lady was no
other than the great prima donna and our old friend Madame Haizinger.
Rushing at me with a cry of dramatic exultation, she seized me and
carried me triumphantly on to the middle of the stage. "Here," she
cried, holding me up to the assembled company, my arms and legs
dangling in mid-air--"here, ladies and gentlemen, you see Felix, the son
of my old friend Moscheles." The Grand Mogul sat at a table covered with
papers to my left, and happily looked upon the interruption and the
rapturous outburst as nothing uncommon. As soon as I was replaced on my
feet, I delivered my messages, but my influence as a diplomatic agent
was not proof against untoward circumstances, and I failed in my

That same Court Theatre was destined soon to become the prey of flames;
it was the scene of a terrible catastrophe when many lives were lost.

I was soon to see more of Carlsruhe. Chiefly with a view to improving my
German, I was put to school there. Now Carlsruhe was in those days one
of the dullest places rational man ever condescended to inhabit. I think
it was Heine who said that the dogs came up to you in the street and
begged as a favour that you would tread on their toes, just to relieve
them of the intolerable monotony of their lives. How it is to-day I
don't know; probably they now have music-halls and motor cars, jingoes
and pickpockets, but in my time all was slow, sure, and safe. The
Grand-Duke sat in his palace like a royal spider in his web; all the
streets radiated fan-like from the centre he occupied. In the forest, at
the back of the palace, the avenues were cut out so as to form a
counterpart to the city, one and all converging towards the abode of the
Ruler. A fine spacious market-place there was, however, with a town-hall
and a church and a monument to a departed Markgraf, round which
clustered on certain days quaint old apple-women whom we school-boys
patronised to the fullest extent of our limited means. We were close at
hand, for the "Gymnasium" was happily situated in this most attractive
part of the town. For all that, it took me some time before I could get
accustomed to my new home.

Professor Schummelig, to whose care I was entrusted, was good in his
way; I give him a fictitious name, as I have to record that he could
also be bad in his way. I don't think he made my lessons more tedious or
my tasks more irksome than any other ordinary German professor would
have done; but he was pedantic and I was imaginative, so we did not
always give one another satisfaction. We had one or two grand rows, in
which the wrongs cannot have been all on my side, for, as soon as
convenient, he granted me a free pardon, in consideration of which I was
required not to mention the unpleasant incident in my letters to my
parents (my father paid a hundred florins per quarter). I acquiesced,
and so we were soon on good terms again.

But I always felt he was an egoist. He would carve the daily little
piece of boiled beef just so as to give himself the particular portion
which I coveted. The bread, too, was under his control: he would never
take much of it at a time, but he would just cut himself little titbits,
crisp corners, and knotty excrescences, until the loaf took the
appearance of a dismantled wreck. He also squinted, not with that broad
outside squint, ever ready to see both sides, to embrace all things,
but with a narrow selfish inside squint which slid down his nose, and
from there watched the focussing and absorption of the titbits with keen
interest and an irritating show of gratified tastes.

And not only was the professor's field of vision thus distressingly
limited, but there was also some moral obliquity in his composition. He
mistook certain piles of fire-logs, which had been stocked for the use
of the public school, for his own private property. When this was
discovered, the authorities, happily for the professor, winked at his
delinquencies with an eye to avoiding a scandal--a course they might be
well justified in taking, as Justice herself is admitted to be blind.

There were two female servants to minister to our wants--two female
drudges, I should say. In lieu of their real names they had been dubbed
"Die grosse Biene" and "Die kleine Biene"--the great bee and the little
bee--with a view, I suppose, to encouraging them in the delusion that
they were not born white slaves, one large and the other small, but busy
bees whose nature it was to improve the shining hour, whether it shone
by the light of the day or the oil of the night.

The German language, as spoken in the Fatherland, its irregularities,
vagaries, and varieties, gave me much trouble. In Hamburg I had learnt
to pronounce the words "stehen" and "stossen" with a sharp and incisive
_st_; in the south, all the stiffness and stubbornness was taken out of
it, and I had to say "schtehe" and "schtosse." Then the words
themselves changed, and "laufen" stood for "gehen," "springen" for
"laufen." This surprised me, as I did not know then that the Southerner
generally calls running what the Northerner calls walking.

Titles, too, puzzled me, especially when applied to ladies. The first
time I heard the "Frau Professorin" mentioned, I looked so blank, not to
say shocked, that I evoked general mirth. (It is surprising how well one
remembers the occasions when one was laughed at.) But the "Frau
Professorin" seemed a strange creature to me in those days, and I little
thought that for many a year I was to hear my own mother called by that

I had my first skirmishes with the French language too, and I certainly
thought I was being made a fool of when I was told there was no word in
French for our verb, "to stand." I had learnt the German "stehen" and
the ditto "schtehe," and I had conjugated every tense of the Latin
"stare," and now I refused to believe that the French language could
have a _locus standi_ amongst civilised nations without an equivalent
for those words. I did not know then how much civilisation can put up
with, and it took me a long while to overcome my mistrust of a language
so evidently unsound at its base.

We all know to what wearisome length an average schoolmaster can draw
out a single hour, and my teachers were no exception to the rule. Time
went slowly, as did all things fifty years ago in Carlsruhe.

What a blessed relief it was then when a holiday came round! Perhaps it
was when we were liberated in honour of our glorious Grand-Duke's
birthday, perhaps when we were to join in the commemoration of some
great deed or greater misdeed of one of his ancestors, or perhaps--best
of all--when once or twice Mother Earth was clad in so much loveliness,
that it was just impossible to keep masters and boys indoors, dissecting
dead languages and putting historical bones together. Nature herself
seemed to proclaim a free pardon for us prisoners and for our warders:
off we went all together to the woods.

How we ran and shouted when we got into those avenues of trees behind
the Grand-Ducal Palace, how madly we raced, how heroically we fought the
boys we hated, and how solemnly we swore eternal friendship with the
ones we loved! We climbed trees, cut sticks, and did what little harm we
could to exuberant prolific Nature; we chased butterflies and deprived
spiders of their legitimate prey, and then--selfish little lords of
creation that we were--we settled down where the grass grew thickest, to
discuss large haunches of bread and red-cheeked apples, and to crack
nuts and jokes in true schoolboy fashion.

The masters forgot for the while that they were German professors, with
spectacles on their noses and Latin quotations on their lips. They were
just human, and felt themselves as much at home in the woods as we did,
gratefully inhaling the same balmy air, and greedily swallowing the same
glittering dust. They knew something, too, to tell us about God's
creation, and in those blessed hours taught us wonderful and beautiful
things that stirred our little souls, and made us glad to live and
wonder and worship.

Oscar--I have forgotten his surname--was not a professor, and did not
even wear spectacles, but he was a sort of monitor, had long silky
eyelashes, and he certainly was in love. He never told me so, but I am
sure he was, and remembering him and his eyelashes as I do, I can easily
reconstruct the simple story of his love. She was a Gretchen, a sweet
German maiden, blue-eyed and golden-haired. They first met at a
Kränzchen where their feet waltzed to the same step and their hearts
beat to the same tune. Then on two ever-to-be-remembered Sunday
afternoons they took coffee together in the "Restauration zum blauen
Stern," and on the second occasion, as they were going home through the
pine-woods, he said something to her she had never heard before; her
answer was inaudible, but I know she left her hand where he wanted it to
remain, and the good old moon did the rest. They soon received the
paternal and maternal blessings, and now they were happy in the
knowledge that in six or eight years nothing would stand between them
and their fondest hopes, when he probably would have passed his
examinations and have secured his first appointment.

I must have caught the loving mood from Oscar, or else some wood-nymphs
or sprites must have been trying their hands on me, or perhaps I was
only tired and lagged behind. Certain it is that a new sort of feeling
came over me, a semi-conscious yearning for an unknown quantity that was
waiting for me somewhere; and as I lay on my back under the trees, my
imagination shot upwards, starting from the gnarled roots by my side,
along the mast-like perpendiculars the pines, past jolly little
squirrels, patches of moss and garlands of creepers, right to the top
where the sky's blue eyes were winking at me. Nature was whispering some
secret and I was dreaming my first Midsummer-Day's Dream.

All around there was humming and buzzing, piping and singing; mysterious
sounds, joyous notes, and pensive ditties. Some bird with a flute-like
voice sang a pretty little musical phrase, just a bar of five or six
notes, and kept on repeating it at intervals. Another little bird, deep
down in the forest, answered it--birds of a feather flirt together--only
there were so many chirping chatterboxes about, enjoying themselves in
their way, that the warbling flirtation was carried on under
difficulties. For all that, the flute-like voice never tired of saying
its say, and putting its question, pleased as it evidently was with its
mate's reply. I dare say it knew a good deal better than I did at the
time what it was all about, and what was the grand and glorious answer
inexhaustible Nature held in store for it.

For my part, I gazed upward at the patches of ultramarine, and longed
for them, but it was not till years afterwards that they vouchsafed to
come down. Then, when they took the shape of a pair of real blue eyes,
it all dawned upon me, and I knew what Nature had been whispering, and
understood that stately pine-forests, jolly little squirrels, and
loving little birds, were only created to guide and direct good little
boys to realms of joy and happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whilst I was sitting on school-forms puzzling over nouns and verbs, or
lying on the grass communing with the birds, things were happening in my
London home that were once more to lead to a change in my surroundings.

Another pleasant day-dream, one that my father and his friend
Mendelssohn had for some time past been indulging in, was about to be
realised. The frequent correspondence between them, delightful as it
was, the exchange of views, musical and personal, and the occasional
meetings in England or Germany, had only more saliently brought out the
points in favour of a long-cherished scheme which should enable them to
live and work together in the same town.

Mendelssohn had for some time been planning the formation of a School of
Music in Leipsic, and his letters of this period are full of the warmest
and most eloquent appeals to my father to give up his position in
England, and to take up his residence in Leipsic. The outcome of it was,
that the Conservatorio in that city was founded, and that my father was
offered a professorship. In answer to his assumption that Mendelssohn
would act as director, the latter answers: "I am not, and never shall be
the director of the school. I stand in precisely the same kind of
position that it is hoped you may occupy. The duties of my department
are the reading of compositions, &c., and as I was one of the founders
of the school, and am acquainted with its weak points, I lend a hand
here and there until we are more firmly established."

In the summer of 1846 my father migrated to Leipsic. He gave up his
brilliant position in London, and, actuated by the love of his art and
his desire to be in daily touch with Mendelssohn, he had no hesitation
in accepting a salary of 800 thalers (£120) per annum. In a letter to a
relative he speaks of the dear and kind friends he leaves behind.
"Parting from them individually," he says, "and indeed from the English
nation generally, will cost us a bitter pang, for twenty-four years of
unswerving kindness have laid upon us obligations which we can only pay
with life-long gratitude."

And Mendelssohn wrote: "How could I tell you what it is to me, when I
think you are really coming, that you are going to live here for good,
you and yours, and that what seemed a castle in the air is about to
become a tangible reality; that we shall be together, not merely to run
through the dissipations of a season, but to enjoy an intimate and
uninterrupted intercourse! I shall have a few houses painted rose-colour
as soon as you really are within our walls. But it needs not that; your
arrival alone will give the whole place a new complexion."

Not by such words only, but most practically did Mendelssohn show his
friendship. With the precision of a courier and the foresight of a
brother, he goes into the minutest details of the cost of living in the
German city: "A flat, consisting of seven or eight rooms, with kitchen
and appurtenances, varies from 300 to 350 thalers (£45 to £50). For that
sum it should be cheerful; and, as regards the situation, should leave
nothing to be desired. Servants would cost 100 to 110 thalers per annum
(£15 to £16, 10s.), all depending, to be sure, on what you would
require. Male servants are not much in demand here, their wages varying
from 3 to 12 thalers per month (9s. to £1, 16s.). A good cook gets 40
thalers a year (£6), a housemaid 32 (£5). If you add to these a
lady's-maid who could sew and make dresses, you would reach about the
above-mentioned figure. Wood--that is fuel for kitchen, stoves, &c.--is
dear, and may amount to 150 or 200 thalers (£22, 10s. to £18) for a
family of five with servants. Rates and taxes are next to nothing; eight
or ten thalers a year would cover all."

Those were indeed the good old times, when the Fatherland was not yet
weighed down by blood-and-iron taxes. The most gifted member of the
International Arbitration and Peace Association could not speak more
eloquently than do those figures. A family of five with servants; 24s.
to 30s. a year would cover all rates and taxes!

Soon, then, the suitable flat was found and my father migrated to
Leipsic, entered on his new duties at the Conservatorio, and became a
good citizen and ratepayer. The "intimate and uninterrupted intercourse"
became a reality, and there was scarcely a day when the Mendelssohns and
Moscheles did not meet. They could not do without me, however (remember
I was an only son, and a well-beloved godson), so I was recalled and
soon left Carlsruhe, I am afraid, with a wicked sense of ingratitude for
all the care bestowed on me by Professor Schummelig and my other

It was terribly cold that winter, and travelling was fraught with
difficulties, if not with dangers. Our diligence was a heavy one, and
when it got stuck fast in the drifting snow, as it did more than once,
the passengers had to get out, whether it was by day or by night, and
literally put their shoulders to the wheel. It was only thanks to a very
kind and provident "conducteur," that my much-tried little spark of
vitality was preserved. He kept a never-to-be-forgotten straw-plaited
brandy flask suspended from his neck by a green cord, and when my
spirits flagged, his did good office.

It was midnight a day or two before Christmas when we arrived at the
"Post" in Leipsic. My luggage was put on a diminutive sledge and dragged
along the snow-bound street, I running by its side to keep body and soul
together. Nobody knows till he has tried it how hot a run in the bitter
cold can make one, particularly when one's heart beats at the thought of
a welcome, and one's mind is all ablaze with the brilliant images of
those one loves. There I was at last in the new home and folded in the
old embrace.

Once settled, the question soon arose what was to be done with me next,
and a decision was come to, to send me for a short time to the Bau
Schule (School of Architecture). Those wooden bricks of my early
boyhood, and the table with the many compartments, had gone the way of
all good bricks and tables, but my love for architecture remained, and I
now sometimes regret that I was not to continue my studies in that
direction till I had had the regular classical education; but so it was.
By the time I had learnt how to stretch a sheet of paper on a
drawing-board, and how to handle the compasses and T-square, and just
when I was getting to know something about the price of tiles and the
mixing of mortar, I left the Bau Schule, and was entered at the Thomas
Schule. That was a famous old institution. The whole upper storey of the
school was occupied by a number of free pupils, the "Thomaner"
choir-boys. They were celebrated throughout Germany as the best singers
of sacred music, trained as they had originally been by no less a master
than Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous "Cantor." His rooms in that
building were now occupied by his successor, Hauptmann, who knew how to
maintain the highest standard of excellence in his pupils. He was a man
of learning and an erudite musician, and as such, one of the pillars of
strength on which rested Leipsic's reputation, that city standing quite
unrivalled as the centre towards which all musical aspirants gravitated.

He spoke little; but when he did, it was to say much. His criticisms
could be severe, as when a new orchestral piece was being rehearsed, he
said, "That sounds quite Mendelssohnian, it must be by Sterndale

His boys sang on many occasions--at church, at weddings, funerals, or
birthdays. I made great friends with some of them, and formed a regular
class to teach them English; but although they were very willing pupils,
I did not obtain as brilliant results in my line, as my predecessor,
Johann Sebastian Bach, had achieved in his.

Herr Magister Hohlfeld, the Professor of Mathematics, was a wonderful
old man--how old no one knew. He was a figure that belonged to the
middle of the last century. Clad in a long grey cloth coat, which
reached to his feet, he looked a curious relic of bygone times; cares
and calculations, worldly and scientific, had worked deep furrows all
over his lofty forehead, and had left their impress on every feature. A
rich crop of white hair fell over his shoulders; his hands on his back,
and his head slightly bent down, he would solemnly address the boards he
was treading, as he paced up and down between the two lines of
school-benches; it was given to few of us to catch the words of
mathematical wisdom that fell from his lips.

"The Frenchman" was another figure I look back to with interest. Not
that there was anything remarkable in his appearance, but that, when
judiciously roused to anger, he would never fail to make a fool of
himself. He was not a Frenchman, but a German born and bred, who taught
French, and happily for us he was so constituted, that it was a real
pleasure, unchecked by any fear of possible consequences, to take
advantage of his weaknesses. We did so, exercising our indiscretion
whenever we had a chance. A good opportunity presented itself during the
cherry season. We paved the particular part of the class-room he was in
the habit of promenading, with bad intentions in the shape of
cherry-stones. After the first few steps he had taken, he stopped short,
indignantly apostrophising us. "I tell you, boys, it's just a piece of
impudence when the master treads on cherry-stones." We thought so, too,
and howled with delight. At that time I had a beautiful big dog named
Hector, and one afternoon I thought it might prove effective if I
entered the class-room with him when the French lesson had begun. I did
so, to the terror of "the Frenchman," on whom Hector had at once made a
friendly rush. The dog was expelled, and then I was severely taken to
task. "Ah," said the Professor, "you think you can take liberties with
me, but I tell you, sir, you can't take liberties with such a big dog."

But it must not be thought that I was always worrying poor innocent
Magisters, and rejoicing in their discomfiture; some of my teachers I
think of with gratitude. There was Stallbaum, the rector himself a great
man of learning: he took great pains to cram us with our full share of
Latin and Greek, and to make us periodically contribute to the wealth of
the classical literature handed down to us, by writing essays and
composing verses in the dead languages.

The love of fighting was early instilled into us by the works of Homer,
Herodotus, Julius Cæsar, and other historians; and if, as some think, my
pugnacious instincts have not been satisfactorily developed, it was not
the fault of the Rector. But he taught me to revere that grandest and
most powerful of tragedians, Sophocles.

Nor must I forget to mention the lasting impression that Ovid's
"Metamorphoses" made on me. The gods of mythology have ever remained
dear to me; they are so accessible, so free and easy as they come down
from Olympus quite unceremoniously, to roam about and make love; you
meet them in the woods and on the waters, above ground and below ground,
sometimes enjoying themselves at your expense, but mostly showing you,
by their example, how you should enjoy life. To be sure the methods of a
Jupiter or a Venus are quite inapplicable to the social restrictions,
and generally to the changed conditions of the present day, but they
were dear old gods and goddesses all the same, who condescended to be
human, and sanctified our frailties. I, for one, am grateful to them,
for they taught me the love of poetry and the poetry of love.

My first drawing-master, Herr Brauer, was a good old soul too: I owe him
one of the foremost pleasures of my life, the exercise of my profession
as a painter. His own work, although very clever in its way, was
niggling and minute, but his ideas and teachings were broad, and whilst
encouraging a taste for form which had made the study of architecture so
attractive to me, he knew how to awaken a love of colour, that was
eventually to lead me to the sister art.

The old masters, too, had their full share in making me long to paint.
There was a certain picture by Murillo, a Madonna and Child, in the
Schletter Collection which afterwards formed the nucleus of the Leipsic
Picture Gallery; that picture so filled my imagination that I was fired
by the desire to go forth and do likewise.

I have since frequently found that that kind of _auch'io_ feeling is by
no means confined to those in whom it would be justifiable. In a
masterpiece the artist betrays no effort; all looks so easy that one
fancies it _is_ easy. The lines of the composition flow so naturally,
the colours strike so complete a chord, that one is deluded into the
belief that it could not be otherwise, and that it is just what one
would have done oneself had one been in the painter's place. So I was
gradually settling in my mind that, as soon as I had passed my
Abiturienten Examen (equivalent to our matriculation), I would, without
much delay, begin to paint like the old masters.

Of Mendelssohn and the many friends, musical and otherwise, who made my
stay, and later on my visits to Leipsic, interesting, I must speak
afterwards. But an incident which has left a lasting impression on my
mind, finds its place here, as being connected partly with my
school-days and partly with my art studies.



I well remember, and I shall ever remember with gratitude, the man who
in my German school-days helped me along the thorny paths of the Latin
and Greek grammar, Herr Magister Dr. Traumann. I suppose I got into
trouble, as much as any boy of sixteen, with the so-called regular, and
those disgracefully irregular, verbs the old Greeks tolerated. But Dr.
Traumann was always kind and helpful; in fact, he was not only a
first-rate teacher but a lovable man. I had, soon after my arrival in
Leipsic, been put under his care, and thanks to his coaching, I got so
well ahead of myself, that although my scholastic antecedents would
really have fitted me more for the "Tertia" class, I could be
pitchforked into "Secunda."

During a temporary absence of my parents from Leipsic I was for some
months staying in the Magister's house; three flights of stairs brought
one to his door. I usually bounded up those stairs with the elastic step
that leads to a happy home, but to-day--a certain to-day that seems but
yesterday--my tread was slow and diffident. How could I face the
Magister, the man above all others whom I had treated with
disrespect--I had libelled! What reception awaited me? Whether I took
two steps at a time or one at half-time, the result was much the same; I
got upstairs, rang the bell, and went in.

This is what had happened during the morning's lesson at the
Thomas-Schule. The learned doctor was expounding the subtle meaning of
some lines in Virgil's "Æneid." I found that the top layer of the poet's
meaning would do for me, but, as is the way with the erudite, Dr.
Traumann went down very deep, backed by an army of commentators; in fact
so deep that I did not care to follow. So I took to a more congenial
occupation, and, under the cover of a friendly desk, I began to compose
what seemed to me an interesting subject. How long I was about it, I do
not know. The Doctor had walked up and down dozens of times between the
forms, when suddenly a hand reached behind the desk and quietly annexed
and pocketed the composition. The hand was the Doctor's. He walked on
quite unconcernedly, prodding and probing old Virgil's defunct thoughts
as before. And all the while he had that wicked caricature of himself in
his breast-pocket, and presently he would see it and read the legend
that relegated him and the commentators to the Dantesque depths of their
own seeking.

I was eating a green apple, to give myself courage, when the Magister
came in. What would he say? How would he take it? Well--he took it just
as if nothing had happened, and smiling pleasantly, he said, "Look
here, Felix, I have got a splendid specimen to show you," and with that,
he fumbled in his pocket and produced a small piece of quartz. "I have
got another piece, so you can have this for your collection."

"Oh, thank you, Herr Magister," I said; "I am sure you are too kind.
I--I don't deserve it."

He cut me short with: "Not at all, my boy; we are just on a footing of
exchange. 'Eine Hand wäscht die andere,' as the proverb says."

What has become of my minerals I don't know, but to this day I often
think, soap in hand, of the proverb that says, "One hand washes the
other." As for the caricature, he never said anything about it, but I
know now he treasured it and loved me all the more for being a bad one.

If he was kind, she was still kinder; she, the Frau Magisterin. I had by
this time got initiated into the mysteries of German usage as regards
the participation of the wife in her husband's titular advantages.
Without an effort I could address Frau Schmidt as Mrs. Lettercarrieress,
or Frau Müller as Madame Chimneysweeperess. So the "Frau Magisterin"
came quite naturally to me. She called me "Mein Lixchen," a tender
variation on my name. In fact, tenderness prevailed between her and me
from first to last, maternal on her side, filial on mine. She was under
middle size and of slight build; her bright little eyes, beaming with
benevolence, attracted you so much that you saw but little else in her
face. Everything was small about her. A tight-fitting cap hid the best
part of her hair, and the plain dress without puffs or ruffles, or any
of the other digressions dictated by the fashions of the day, seemed to
make everything else subordinate to the love-beaming eyes. She was then
in the prime of life. When I last saw her she was an old lady of
fourscore years, and her dear little face had become so very small,
that, although I am sure I did not mean to be irreverent in my thoughts,
I could not help being reminded of the immortal Cheshire cat, that
vanished leaving naught behind but a smile. Time, I felt, might deal
with her as is its wont, contract here and pinch there, lay out in folds
and wrinkles what were round and smooth surfaces; but that particular
twinkle that goes straight to the heart, the smile of the eye, would
ever remain intact.

The Magister and his wife were a truly happy and devoted couple, and
closely wound around their hearts were Bella and Frida, their two
daughters; one was about sixteen, the other fourteen, at the time I was
staying with them, good girls and pretty, with brown hair inclined to
curl on Bella's head, very smooth and Priscilla-like on Frida's. With a
view to securing for them the best possible education under the maternal
eye, classes had been formed at their home, and consequently a bevy of
young girls came up and went down those three flights of stairs on
certain days and at given hours. I was always interested in curious
coincidences, and so, to bring them about, I frequently found myself in
the way at the given hours. On such occasions I tried to look
unconcerned, or surprised at the meeting, but unfortunately I was yet
too honest and truthful, so I signally failed and blushed like a girl.
Not like those girls though; they didn't seem to blush, the little
fiends. With the exception of just one, they tittered right over the
banisters, whispered, and shook locks and dangled satchels until I was
quite discomfited. I suppose they thought it rich fun, for they knew,
long before I was aware of it myself, that I was desperately in love
with Helene. It was the tittering, I am sure, that finally put me on the
track, and the whispering that opened my eyes to the blindness I was
stricken with. That was one day when those rosy, mischievous, young
amorettes must have said something particularly unkind to their sister,
for she bounded past me and her tormentors, like a deer, to get rid of
the lot of us. After this I felt an ever-growing desire to see Helene,
but took a dislike to the staircase as a meeting-place.

About this time, as luck would have it, I came across her two brothers,
fair chubby boys about my age. We struck up a sort of friendship, and I
took care the sort should be improved upon, interested as I was in
securing their good-will. It was, above all, important to get reliable
information as to where and when _she_ could be met out skating, and my
new friends, I found, were particularly sympathetic and communicative
when under the influence of a certain kind of "apfelkuchen," an open
apple tart, dispensed on most advantageous terms in the Barfussgässchen.
There the Frau Bakermistress often had to open for me a little shutter
in a shutter and hand out, on a piece of newspaper, large segments of
the Kuchen, bidding it God-speed with a parting jerk of the perforated
tin sugar-box. Perhaps to show that there was no bribery or corruption
in my standing treat, and, perhaps too, as one's appetite at the age of
sixteen is rather stimulated than blunted by love, I took my fair share
of the segments. These symposia led, in the most natural of ways, to our
making appointments to meet on this or that frozen pond or river, and I
was sure to be punctual, knowing as I did, from information received,
that Helene would be there. More than once I skated along that narrow
river, the Pleisse, for miles, pushing before me the "Stuhlschlitten,"
with its precious many-locked burden. Helene was comfortably ensconced
in that elementary specimen of a sledge, a sort of easy-chair on skates,
and was wrapped up in furs and covers, every inch of her carefully
protected, excepting her little nose and lips, which would get linked to
her veil by cobweb threads of ice, as King Frost welcomed her cherished
breath. And didn't his Majesty just rule supreme that year!

I may have been a fair example of a boy lover, but I fear a diary which
I kept and have preserved goes far to prove that I was a most
precocious--you might call it priggish--young meteorologist, making his
observations with pedantic regularity, morn, noon, and night, on
thermometer and ombrometer, and publishing the results in his own name
with the proud prefix of "Herr Gymnasiast." We often hear of exceptional
winters, but the one I speak of beats the record. Siberian cold visited
us all through January; on the 21st of that month I find noted:

            8 A. M.    12.M.           10.P. M.
           -19.       -14.2           -21.4 Réaumur;
    equal to 35,       26,    and      39 degrees Fahrenheit below

A bitter cruel time to many;--a very Godsend to hardy skaters. I was of
the latter. Off with overcoat and on we went--left, right--left,
right--in long curved lines, the sledge flying ahead on the frozen
waters of that puny river that had swallowed up thousands of Napoleon's
followers on their retreat after the lost battle of Leipsic. On we went
till we landed on the very spot where one of the last decisive
encounters took place, and there we, some dozens of us, fought bravely
for an adequate supply of coffee and Kaffeekuchen (you know by this time
that "Kuchen" means cake, and that it meant a good deal to us in those
days). In the meanwhile the girls of our fancies had time to thaw, and
usually came in a melting mood to the little tables at which they would
graciously accept the chivalrous attentions dear to the bread-and-butter

As for Helene, to be sure she was of the ripe age of seventeen, and I
had a sort of feeling that she would expect me to speak to her parents
if I had anything definite to say. Till then the indefinite would do,
and she made it quite easy to me to say all I wanted in that deliciously
tentative way that marks our first attempts at disguising our feelings,
whilst we are burning to proclaim them. It was all smooth sailing as
long as I only had to minister to her creature wants, and I got as far

"O Fräulein, you must come out every Sunday; I do hope you will."

But when I wanted to explain that this my wish was mainly owing to the
fact that her hair started in most fascinating wavelets from her
temples, there was a kind of barrier that arose to stop me, a halo that
came in the way to form a magic circle into which I could not penetrate.
I wanted to say something about Helen of Troy, but I did not know what
conclusion to draw from her history, and besides it would sound so
foolish and priggish. So I said nothing about her, and by the time we
got up to return home, I had not done much to improve the opportunity.

Our skates were once more firmly secured to our feet, and our young
ladies comfortably settled in their Stuhlschlitten. We all started
together, but soon we broke the ranks, each one taking his own time. I
was in a mood to go ahead and struck out at full speed. In fact it was
not long before I was dashing past another sledge at such a
close-shaving pace that Helene gave a start and a little cry of "Ach,
don't, Herr Felix, please don't." But I was reckless and only went at a
madder pace. She was in my grip; I had her to myself right away from the
other boys. How I triumphed over them all! What did they know about
love? With them it was all giggling and window parade, and meeting on
the Promenade, and doffing caps, and then taking a short cut, to meet
again and have another chance of capdoffing. To be sure I had done all
that kind of thing myself, but I was much too full of the present to
think of the past.

She was mine; I held her in my--or at least my sledge held her in
its--arms; it was the most glorious consummation of my wishes. I had
carried her off into some new atmosphere, that did all the propelling
automatically, some new element where weight counted for nothing. So on
I went. Danger! Nonsense, there was none. I had got my treasure well in
hand. Never mind if she fancied there was danger and was nervous; all
the better if she was right. Was not I there to save and to protect her?

Such a swing round to get out of the way of that lumbering skater,
hanging on to a sledge with a woman and two children. No, I certainly
wouldn't dig my heel into the ice and pull up.

"Ach, don't, please don't, Herr Felix," she cried; "I'm sure there'll be
an accident."

"Don't be afraid, please don't, Fräulein Helene," I rejoined; "can't you
trust yourself to me?"

"Oh yes, yes, but really, please, do stop, _dear_ Herr Felix."

I slackened a little as I said, "Why _do_ you always call me Herr? It
does sound so formal."

"Well, isn't that the right thing?" she answered. "You only call
children by their Christian names. Don't grown-up people always call one
another Herr, or Frau, or Fräulein?"

"Not always; you don't call Julius, Herr Julius."

"To be sure not, you silly; who is Julius? He is only my cousin."

"That's just so unfair. He's a benighted ass, who, I'll be bound,
doesn't know the colour of your eyes, or which side the dimple is, and
you treat him better than those who do--(a pause)--yes, who do--who do
quite well."

"Oh, I hate my dimple; my brothers are always worrying me about it."

"I'll stop that, but you must drop the Herr."

"No, I certainly _won't_. Do you want to be a child?"

"No, Helene, you are the child and I am the man; that I will show

And with that I started off again viciously.

"Ach, Herr Felix--no, I mean Felix, I didn't say I wouldn't."

Another diabolic spurt that made the sledge twist and quiver. She
clutched its wooden sides for safety, and cried out to the young fiend

"I never said I wouldn't, Felix; do please stop--Felix--dear Felix."

This time my heel went deep into the ice, grinding out its order to pull
up. In a moment I was round to the front, on my knees to pick up one of
the rugs that had got loose and was dragging. The footstool was half
off, and poor Helene's little feet were exposed to the biting frost.
They were just lumps of ice, and I felt very guilty, for it was all my
zig-zagging and swinging about that had done it. "Wait a minute, I know
what will warm them in no time. My fur gloves are the very thing."

And with that I popped one foot into each glove, and gave her the cord
to hold that connected both, and that was usually slung round my neck.

"Oh, that is glorious!" she said, as the heat from _my_ gloves, my heat,
passed into her veins. "You are too kind, dear Mr.... I mean, my dear
Felix. But you will want them yourself. You must take them back."

"Nonsense," I answered, as I tightened the gloves round her feet and
tucked her up with the rug that had kindly played truant.

"But I am sure you will get your fingers frost-bitten."

"Not likely; you just look out they don't set the back of your sledge on

And with that we started at a moderate pace. I was in no hurry to get
home, and in fact we had to give the rest of the party time to come up
with us.

Fancy having to sit down and prepare for to-morrow's mathematics and
Virgil after that! This time I was one of the commentators, and marginal
notes in the shape of initials and scribbled profiles got in where they

But on the whole I did not find that the new development interfered with
my studies. It was rather the other way, for I felt it would be
positively ignominious to be snubbed by a professor, a schoolmaster. I
was filled with overweening self-confidence, and fired with ambition.
The things I thought and planned! Just the things you would laugh at now
that you know so much about love and love-making. You shouldn't laugh!
Is not the boy's first budding love the very best bit of the Creator's
work, the tenderest shoot He grafts on the old tree of life? Nature
likes to hear her own voice as it comes truly and purely from the boy's
lips, tired as she is of man's false vows. The boy's heart holds the
divine spark of love, the same that will light the flame of his later
days, only it is minus the bacilli that threaten to creep in, sooner or
later, and crowd it with doubt and disappointment, or poison it with
selfishness and passion. Nature, consistent as she is, repeats her
processes wherever she is at work. For a while the rosebud remains
closed, and is safe; then it opens its unsuspecting leaves, and in walks
a wary worm and says, "This is just the place for me." The snow falls
white, even in grimy cities--how soon to mingle with soot and dirt! The
world changes, but the fountain source of all things remains pure; we
can return to it, recuperate and restore ourselves in its waters; there
alone we may find the mythical baths that, in olden days, promised
health and youth. Harking back, we shall hear voices that once touched
us, and may yet guide us.

But whilst my aspirations were soaring higher and higher, the fates were
taking me and my lady-love into their old meddlesome hands, and just
shaping our course at the dictates of their irresponsible caprice.

A grand sledge-party had been organised for the following Sunday,--a big
affair, with a band to start us and torches to light us home. It was a
glorious prospect, and I for one was duly excited. On Friday, at 10 P.
M., I went as usual to take the reading of my thermometer. The mercury
had risen by six degrees. I went out into the garden, consulted the wind
and sniffed the air, and my meteorological soul was filled with the
greatest misgivings. I felt it, I knew it; nothing could save us. The
thaw had set in; there would be no band, no torches, no Helene!

Such an opportunity I was never to have again. The river that had
befriended me had lost its strength, and was no more to carry her or me;
soon it would flow its natural course. Thoughts alone and words remained
icebound, and my hopes sank below zero. Henceforth I should meet her
only on _terra firma_, and--alas!--_terra firma_ was not as friendly an
element as _aqua firma_ had been.

The first time I saw her was about three weeks after the "My dear Felix"
day. She was walking with her mother along that beautiful promenade that
encircles the old city of Leipsic. On her other side was a middle-aged
man--he must have been at least twenty-five--and he--oh! I could see it
at a glance--was all smiles, doing the amiable. _He_ was not like
Julius; _he_ knew which was the dimple side and had taken it.

To be sure I had to pull off my cap and salute, what they call bow and
grin; but I felt like a bird with clipped wings, a string tied to its
leg and fastened to a bar of its cage.

After that I did not see her for a long time. I heard she had gone to
Dresden on a visit to friends. Once or twice I met her brothers, but,
although I quite intended to do so, I could not summon courage to ask
them who was the middle-aged man; nor did they seem inclined to talk
about him or about her. But the truth gradually leaked out. He was the
acknowledged suitor. Soon the news came. They were engaged. She was
going to Switzerland in the summer to meet his parents, and in the
autumn they were to be married. It was true, then: Helene had preferred
a man to a boy!

Once more I met her before she left. It was on the Neumarkt, close to
the old Gewandhaus. I bowed stiffly and was passing on, for I had
swallowed the poker of resentment, but she stopped short and stroked my
big dog Hector, and said to him: "_You_ wish me all happiness, I am
sure, don't you? We have been friends, and we shall always remain
friends, shan't we?"

And as the dog didn't answer, I had to say, "Yes, Helene, always."

And then the poker began to lose substance, and gradually it melted
away. But it was only gradually.

It is many years ago now, but I still adhere to my original proposition,
"Helene was of a lovable type," and I am sure Leonardo da Vinci, if no
one else, would say that I am right.

I must admit, though, that shortly after that interview on the Neumarkt,
I became painfully aware that I was not as unhappy as I should have
liked to be. This is such a world of compensations, and they do so flood
in upon one in the spring-tide of life! Not that I at once met with any
new and revised edition of Helene, handsomely bound; but true friendship
came to heal the wound, and sisterly affection to take the place of
love. Bella and Frida were my friends. Bella so restful and
soul-soothing, with her far-away look; Frida so sympathetic and
affectionate. They did not say much about Helene, as it was an awkward
subject to discuss, but through all their tact and reticence I could
plainly see that they disapproved of Helene's conduct, and thought her
worldly and heartless. At that time I was much with those kind sisters,
but I soon after left the Magister's house to live under the paternal
roof, my parents having returned to Leipsic after a prolonged absence.
But there was constant and pleasant intercourse between the two
families, and my friendship with Bella and Frida flowed on peacefully
and serenely, as if nothing could ever impede its progress through life.

All the while Time, in a quiet, unobtrusive way, was doing his wondrous
work, taking the school-girls in hand and making young ladies of them.
Pinafores had long since been relegated to the dust-hole or the
paper-mills, but there were frumpy aprons to be exchanged for dainty
ribbons, dresses to be elongated, and something dangling or jingling to
be added before the young ladies could be considered presentable in a
ball-room. And Time had done just the right thing, not scamping the
work, as he will sometimes, or hurrying it and putting in touches that
would come so much better a little later. So the result was that the
newly developed young ladies remained young girls still, natural and

And the schoolboy was being transformed too. It was noticeable that the
left-hand side of his right hand middle finger-nail now rarely showed
the inroads of an inky pen; a looking-glass, too, had evidently been
consulted in some important matters, and the hands were observed
frequently to twist and twirl some imaginary growth on the upper lip.

There is more in the eagerness with which the youth welcomes the advent
of a beard than is at first apparent; he feels intuitively that the time
is approaching when that mobile feature, the mouth, may possibly want a
little disguise. It is easier to control the eyes, where there is an
emotion to conceal, than the lips with their tell-tale quiver: they need
protection. Bold indeed is the man who dares to shave, and reveal, say
to a young and confiding wife, who has known him only with a beard, all
that underlies the hirsute mask, thus laying bare his true nature,
whatever that may be, good, bad, or indifferent. We may safely assume, I
think, that under the beard she will find a man she does not know.

But all those considerations are, at best, after-thoughts. When my time
came to twirl the first threads of my moustache, I suppose I did not
feel anything intuitively, but greeted the badge of manliness with
satisfaction. Then, to be sure, I was not going to be an actor, who
wants every square inch of his face for his work, nor a priest who has
nothing to conceal, nor a lawyer who is not worth his salt if he cannot
conceal anything or everything. I was going to be an artist, and as
such, I meant to look my part, at any rate as regards the beard.

My school-days had come to an end; some dreaded examinations were
satisfactorily passed, and I sallied forth, backed by a grandiloquent
Latin document describing me as "F. S. M. Londiniensis," an "honest
youth" who had never done anything "reprehensible," and who was now
"omnino" worthy to be admitted to the higher universities.

Instead of accepting the advantages thus offered to me, I disposed of
some of those old school-books I hated, and packed up others that I
loved, in a green carpet-bag, which was adorned with a worsted-work
presentment of a shepherdess tending her sheep under a very small tree.
This bag was of a style much admired in the Fatherland of those days,
and had been presented to me by a very dear friend. Another parting gift
I much prized was a woollen comforter knitted by Bella's own hands. Thus
equipped, I started for Paris. The Traumanns saw me off. They were
characteristic in their parting words. The Magister said--

"_Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas._ Never look at things
superficially, my boy, go deeper for the cause of things."

The Magisterin said--

"Remember, mine Lixchen, wear those woollen socks and keep your feet

Bella said--

"You will write, won't you? I shall be so anxious to know all about--I
mean something--about what you are doing."

Frida said--

"Ach, Felix, do see if you can't get me one of those lovely black cats
they have in Paris."

What a change from Leipsic to Paris, from home to the unknown,
supervision to independence! When I speak of Paris, it must be borne in
mind that it is the Paris of 1850-51, not the one we evoke when we think
of the Imperial capital of later days. It was the old city with its high
houses and crooked streets, with its nooks and rookeries, suggestive of
revolution and barricades; not the Paris we know with its gloriously
disciplined palaces, standing shoulder to shoulder, and with its
splendid military avenues that can carry conviction in the straightest
and most direct of lines from the mouth of the cannon to the heart of
the canaille.

The first restaurant I went into--it was a "Marchand de vins,
Traiteur"--I was addressed as "Citoyen," rather a startler for a newly
imported Leipsic schoolboy; but those were the days of the Republic that
had followed Louis Philippe's flight, and there was a great show of
"Liberté, Égalité', Fraternité," on walls, churches, and other public
buildings; whilst, as far as I could see, everybody seemed to be just as
anxious as before to be fraternally equal with his neighbour in the
matter of taking liberties, and whilst Prince Louis Napoleon and his
friends were looking round for a favourable opportunity to daub out the
foolish words and replace them with a capital "N," protected by an
imperial eagle with rather sharp claws.

The _coup d'état_ came. I saw it all; first the soldiers bivouacking on
the quais and in the streets, eating and drinking to their hearts'
content; then the Prince President riding across the Place de la
Concorde on a proudly prancing horse, followed at some distance by a
brilliant staff of officers on more modestly prancing horses (according
to the rules of etiquette), and I heard the troops shouting "Vive
Napoleon! À bas la République!" and the crowd hooting "À bas Napoleon!
Vive la République!" and saw the future emperor bowing impartially left
and right, to the loyal and to the disloyal, and fulfilling his destiny
with the imperturbable passiveness of the fatalist. He really looked the
picture of Fate in the uniform of a General, and adorned with a
moustache waxed to inordinate lengths and culminating in sharp points.

Then I was run in, not for shouting, but because I was with a friend who
carried a stick with a lead-weighted knob. At the police-station they
proceeded to "dresser procès verbal," as they call it, and we were
temporarily released; that process, however, within the next few hours,
got so mixed up with human blood, ashes, and brick-rubbish, for the
station had been fired, that when I called a few days later there was no
trace of it left. So I was never sent to Cayenne or any other penal

On the contrary, Prince Napoleon had saved France, and he could not do
without me to consolidate it. Achille Fould was his Chancellor of the
Exchequer, his right hand, and as Madame Achille and her sister were old
friends of my parents, and had been amongst the first to welcome me into
this big world, it was but natural they should now take me in hand and
wish to introduce me into their particular world. So wherever golden
dust was to be thrown into the eyes of the pleasure-seeking Parisian,
my presence was politely requested. On my side I accepted favours with
princely condescension, and got into the Tuileries, when there was a
ball or a fête on, hours before other poor mortals of inferior clay. The
coachman of our ministerial carriage holding a card with the injunction,
"Laisser passer, s'il n'y a pas empèchement de force majeure," we had
not to wait our turn in the interminable queue that stretched through
Paris for miles. I might be dancing at the Tuileries one night in the
same room with the Prince President, who would perhaps be walking a
quadrille with the wife of the British ambassador, and the next
night--there comes the other side of my life--I was accoutred in a
blouse and a workman's cap, and was diving into the haunts of
destitution and misery, into those privileged places where unpoetical
license reigns supreme. I learnt French argot, the thieves' language, at
the fountain-source, and studied political economy under
Communists--some of them philosophers, some firebrands. All that, to be
sure, I could not have done alone, but I had some trusty friends amongst
my studio comrades who initiated me and taught me French, as according
to them she should be spoke. I had to learn a poetical effusion by heart
of which I just recollect the two lines--

    "Le jour viendra où le père éclairé
     Donnera sa fille au forçat libéré."

One of the highest officials I met at the Tuileries, the type of a
perfect gentleman, was the biggest scoundrel I ever came across; whilst
on the other hand, the man who more than any other taught me to love
humanity, was a scoundrel whom I met in a low wineshop in the Belleville
quarter, the hotbed of irresponsible revolution.

Memories are rather troublesome friends to deal with. They will not form
into line after the example of the Parisian _queue_, but crowd around
the pen with the cry of "Laissez passer." One ought really to have one's
little brains divided into thought-tight compartments, so that one could
turn on perfect gentlemen, biggest scoundrels, or would-be Emperors,
without being flooded by the immortals of the Institute, or those gods
of the day representing the arts and sciences, whom it was one's good
fortune to have known. Some special bulkheads or barriers should be
provided to restrain the lovely types of womanhood that memories evoke.

I have to get back to Bella and Frida, and tell of heavy clouds that
arose to darken our path, and of how I came to draw a portrait that has
left a lasting impression in my mind. So I will but cursorily mention
that there were one or two of the above-named lovely types that
commiserated the unlicked cub, and set themselves the difficult task of
raising him, if not to their level, to within measurable distance of it.
It was rather an awkward position for the cub when one of them more than
usually warm-hearted and liberal, foreshadowed the bestowal of a first
prize if the unlicked one proved himself an apt pupil. Of this I said
something in a letter to Bella, for I occasionally remembered that she
had wished me to tell her "all about--I mean something about" what I
was doing. I gave the incident in a diluted form, merely hinting that
the lessons might be learnt in Paris, but could be better applied
elsewhere. Yes! When I come to think of it, I am sure Bella was my
guiding star, shedding a ray of light just when I particularly wanted it
to show me the right way.

It was now more than a twelvemonth since I had gone to Paris, and the
time was drawing near when, in accordance with the good old fashion, I
should spend Christmas at home. Notwithstanding all the attractions of
upper and lower Paris, I had been working hard, drawing from morning to
night, and sometimes from night to morning. Those were the days when a
humble student might still worship at the shrine of a Vandyke or a
Rembrandt, when the war-cry, "Nous avons changé tout cela," had not yet
sounded, and the Messiahs of modern art were not yet busy proclaiming
their newly-found truth from the house-tops, and painting there, too,
lest a particle of light should get lost. So I was still quite naïvely
addicted to drawing portraits by lamplight, putting in deep shadows and
deeper accents, and picking out high lights on the breadths of foreheads
or the tips of noses.

At last I was in the train and we were approaching Leipsic. I was
thinking of parents and friends, and as I mentally rehearsed our meeting
and greeting, I am sure my lips moved unconsciously, and the subtle
smile of anticipation must have played around them. It was 3.30 P. M., I
had travelled forty-five hours, but at last the old familiar landmarks
appeared. There was the row of poplars, the distant spire. Out came the
pocket-comb--a final touch, and in a few minutes I was in my mother's
arms. She had come upon the chance of my arriving by that train;
time-tables did not pretend to give much information in those days. It
is a long while ago, but I well remember that particular meeting and
embrace. The two separate parts of one whole were re-united and were
being welded together. Words had to wait. When they came--it does seem
absurd--they were the most trivial ones, and rushed out buzzing like
froth from the bottle. "Where's the green carpet-bag?" "I've got the
parcel;" "All right, here is my passport;" "And when did you leave? to
be sure, you must be hungry, poor boy;" and so on, till home was
reached, where other loving arms awaited me. As we sobered down, the
froth was brushed aside, the right words came, and we drank deep
draughts from the phial that contains the very essence of love.

My first visit was for the Traumanns. That tailor at the corner of the
Passage d'Orléans in the Palais Royal--he is there still--had made me a
waistcoat of blue velvet, dotted with little yellow spots; it was of the
very latest Paris fashion, and in it I went to make my call.

Once more a joyous meeting, a warm welcome. Herr Magister and the Frau
Magisterin were just the same as I had left them. Frida had grown, but
was little changed otherwise, just as bright and happy as ever; but
Bella I could not see; she was not well. That was disappointing; I kept
looking at her desk, just opposite me, with the glass inkstand on the
right, and the little bust of Mendelssohn I had given her, on the left.

"Well, good-bye, Frida," I said at the door, "tell Bella she must be
well by Friday; she's got to dance at least two waltzes and the cotillon
with me."

Now dancing at the Tuileries is a very good thing in its way; elbowing a
future emperor, and hobnobbing with a scoundrel disguised as a
gentleman, are things to brag of. But it is nothing to having a dance at
one's own home, with one's sisters, and one's sisters' friends, with
one's friends and one's friends' sisters.

I was surprised to find several "Impériales" on the programme of our
little dance, and was told that was the latest craze all over Paris. Now
nothing of the kind had ever been heard of in the terpsichorean circles
I had just left, so naturally I had no notion of what the step might be
like. When I attempted it, however, it mattered little whether I danced
it correctly or not, for, coming straight as I did from the French
capital, I was supposed to know all about it; so the good Leipsickers
soon adopted my rendering, and my step became the fashion.

I wanted those two waltzes and the cotillon because Bella was the best
dancer in Leipsic. She must have been born under the star of rhythm;
some fairy must have beaten time with a magic wand, pronouncing a
_One_-two-three, _One_-two-three blessing upon her. One would never have
imagined that that reserved girl, with the far-away look, was the queen
of the ballroom; true, her figure was perfect, but it was not till she
waltzed that its graceful and subtle lines revealed themselves.
Curiously the far-away look never left her when dancing; she seemed to
be undulating towards some distant goal, wherever that might be.

How few fairies there are to beat time at the baby's cradle! and is it
not curious how seldom they go to the little boys? Dancing humanity has
had to invent the valse à deux temps, that bids us close our ears to the
strains of the syren, Strauss, and take two steps where there should be
three. Perhaps there is some malignant fairy to visit the cradles of the
little boys. One would think so, to judge by the expressions on the
faces of many dancers, expressions varying from that of painful
uneasiness to that of abject misery. Poor souls! Some rushing wildly to
destruction, others doomed to crawl out their ballroom existence,
gravitating within the narrow circle of the chandelier!

       *       *       *       *       *

Friday came, and the ball.

But I have nothing to tell about it. Bella was not there. No, Bella
could not be there--she was ill.

Ill--then very ill--dangerously ill. Soon she was dead!

It all came so rapidly, it must be told rapidly, breathlessly.

When? How?--She died on Sunday night at eleven o'clock--It can't be
true!--It was true.

How incredulous we are when first called upon to realise the truth! how
slow to understand and believe that what was but yesterday a living
form must be accounted dead to-day! Anguish rises rebellious: It cannot
be.--It is a dream, a grievous mistake, to be explained away presently.
Love's giant strength would wrench its victim from death's grasp. Hope,
the very last to yield--or is it but an after-glow of hope?--will catch
at shadowy straws, ere it submits and sinks to rise no more.

None but the father, mother, and sister were at the bedside when the
young life ebbed away. Poor tortured souls! May they be strong enough to
bear the heavy trial. That night the father never shed a tear, nor the
next day, nor the next. It would have been better had grief found a
natural channel. He spoke but little, and mostly sat by the bed as if in
deep thought, until they carried her away.

The white wreaths had come,--and the black hearse; and graceful lilies,
their long stems bound together with white ribbons. Black crapes too,
and sable hues, to harmonise with a world of sorrow and darkness.

Then the blinds went up, and the world went on as before. I looked out
of the window; I recollect a boy's cap had got cast adrift on the branch
of a tree just opposite the house of sadness; a little crowd had
collected to do justice to the incident. "Would it get off, or gradually
perish where it hung?" was the question of paramount interest to that
particular little world.

But does the world really go on as before? Not quite. A fraction of our
globe has been disturbed, a balance lost. The blow that struck down one
brother or sister wounds many hearts, reverberates in circles small or
large, and it will take time to restore that fraction's equilibrium. It
is as when we break the peaceful surface of the water. First a thud, a
gash; next a circle, small, but broken and restless; then a larger one
and a larger, each and all gradually calming down to be at rest, with
the smooth untroubled waters beyond.

When a link in the chain of existences, near and dear to us, is snapped
asunder, we instinctively seek to close up the gap, to join hands and
succour one another. So Frida's heart went out to her father as he sat
brooding, with his eyes fixed on the desk with the little bust. It was
not till much later that I knew what she had suffered. She wished to
throw her arms round his neck and cry her little aching heart out, and
love him with her dead sister's love and her own, and let him cry too,
that love and sorrow could mingle. But he sat there, so forbidding, so
strange, that her arms fell, and her tears flowed back to the aching
heart. Then she went up to him and stood by his side. The word "father"
quivered on her lips; she knew not why, but she dared not pronounce it.
Her mother came in and stood waiting too, hoping he would turn round,
but he did not move. "Dearest mine," she said, "speak to Frida."

He lifted his head slowly, as if it were a great weight, his lips moved
with an effort, and looking vacantly at his poor love-seeking child, he
said, "Never, never!"

Days passed, and melancholy settled deeper and deeper on the sufferer.
He would occasionally show something of the old tenderness for his wife,
and sometimes a spark of gratitude would for moments light up the
darkness of his moods. But mostly he sat brooding, prostrate,
heart-stricken. If she spoke to him of Frida he would wave his hand as
if to beg her to forbear, and would keep on repeating to himself the
words, "Never, never!"

She had insisted one day; she had hoped to break the spell, when he rose
angrily, he the mildest of men. "Never, never mention her name to me
again," he said sternly, then, gradually recovering himself, he returned
to his seat and relapsed into silence.

The well-known physician and psychologist, Dr. Reclam, was in daily
attendance on the patient. He was an old friend of the Magister's, and
put heart and soul into the task of restoring him to health. He had
said, "No, she must not show herself for the present, it would be to no
purpose; but you must not let a day pass without mentioning her name in
some way or other; we must not allow the blight to settle upon him
undisturbed." Soon he advised change of air and surroundings. So the
Magister and his wife left for Sonnenthal, a place far away in the
country, where a cousin of his owned a large farm. He had spent part of
his childhood there, and it was hoped that early associations, and the
soothing influence of some old trusted servants who would be around him,
might go far to restore his mind to peace and rest.

Frida remained in Leipsic; she left the darkened home, and went to stay
with an uncle, a well-known lawyer. He was a good man at heart, but one
of those whose hearts lie so deeply hidden away that there is no getting
at them. He had a boy we all hated; his heart-strings must have been
hopelessly knotted and tangled, or he would never have tortured that
poor kitten as he did. With the assistance of his friend, the
carpenter's son, he--But no, I will not tell, for I am firmly convinced
that the very mention of evil begets evil. Such is man; moulded perhaps
after the Divine image in some respects, he has in his composition quite
as much of his brother beasts as of divinity. Curious lord of creation!
As if there were not enough misery in the world as it is, he must needs
go out of his way to torture kittens.

In this crisis of her life Frida found two friends, absolutely devoted
and sympathetic: Helene and her husband. They, more than anybody, helped
her through those first sad weeks. How mistaken the girls had been when
they thought Helene worldly and heartless. My little flirt was then, and
has proved herself through life, the most steadfast and reliable of us
all. Her two brothers, the chubby boys, were now students at the Leipsic
University, qualifying themselves for future town-councillorships and
civic honours, coupled, I presume, with some German substitute for
turtle soup.

Frida spent much of her time in the congenial atmosphere of my parents'
house. We had always been devoted to her; how much more now! She loved
music, and that, with us, was a sort of staple commodity to be found as
surely as the daily bread. It was not an easy task to divert her
thoughts from her trouble. All her girlish brightness had vanished, and
she seemed, without a warning, to have had womanhood, suffering
womanhood, thrust upon her. But she loved to be soothed by music, and
more than once I remember my father improvising strains of consolation
on his grand Erard, that seemed to go straight to her heart and
strengthen her.

"Will you sit for me, Frida?" I asked one evening. "I should like to
draw a portrait of you."

I had known Frida for four or five years, and had never asked her to
sit, so the question surprised her, and it startled my mother, who was
seated at the other end of the drawing-room on a little raised platform,
surrounded by palms and a variety of plants with curiously shaped and
fancifully speckled leaves. Her spinning-wheel, that had been going
round with the regularity of clockwork, suddenly stopped--perhaps the
thread had snapped. Catching my eye she reproachfully signalled behind
Frida's back: "How can you, my dear? Surely this is not the time to use
the poor girl as a model?" Frida evidently thought so too; she was at a
loss for an answer, and there was an awkward silence. For an instant I
wished I had not spoken; my request, I felt, was really ill timed; but,
once out, I adhered to it, insisting, "Do, Frida; if nothing else, it
will keep me out of mischief this evening."

She knew the thought of mischief was for from my mind, and she simply

"Very well, Felix, if you wish it, I will sit." And with that she gave
me an encouraging look.

I was anxious to get her to sit, for a picture of that girl in her
sadness had gradually been ripening in my mind; it was so complete that
it seemed only to want putting down, and no more difficult of
accomplishment than the writing out of any lines that I might have
learnt by heart. It was a case of "Don't begin till it's finished." That
I have often since found a good maxim, but one not so easily lived up
to. The picture, then, such as I had conceived it, I was wedded to, for
better or for worse. I must draw her all but full-face. The light from
above, and slightly from the left, will model and bring out the delicate
beauty of her features. It was all ready to be transcribed: the smooth
hair with the black ribbon tied in a large symmetrical bow on the top of
the head, the plain dress, the background, and, above all, that
expression, reflecting the yearnings of a poor chilled soul. On the
surface, bewilderment, helplessness; beneath, a substratum of trust, of
faith; and far below, hope, the spark of life that glimmers and glows
on, even under mountains of despair.

We got the lamp that had served my purpose more than once, and the two
candles, with the little special shades I had brought from Paris (I have
them still), and Frida sat. Not once, but often, for the more I drew the
more I was eager to pursue that will-o'-the-wisp, the realisation of an
idea. Many a time I had to point my crayons, Conté No. 2, and to blacken
the little paper stumps, the classical tortillons, before I could make
up my mind to admit that I had finished.

And what was the result? Perhaps it was very poor; probably it was;
certainly, if you like--but I don't want to know it if it was. I want to
think it was good and true, like the knight that serves the lady. If it
is an illusion, bear with me and let me keep it.

I had a grey mount put round it and a cheap little black frame; and
then--may the gods forgive my presumption!--I felt as if the crayons and
the humble tortillons might possibly have been working for the ends of
Providence; I packed up the picture and sent it with all my love to the

"Try it," I said; "he may like it." And she tried it, and--to that poor
little drawing of mine it was given to work a miracle--gradually, but
surely, it rent asunder the veil that obscured my dear Magister's mental

It was not till long afterwards that I learnt what had happened on that
critical day. The Magisterin told me all as we sat on a stone bench in
the garden at the back of their house. It was a hot day and the Magister
was in shirt-sleeves, pruning and tending his rose-trees, perhaps
removing the blight that had settled on some leaf to warp and waste it.
For once in the way the good Hausfrau vouchsafed to stop knitting, and
took my hand as she began:--

"Your drawing came in the morning, my Lixchen. It was as I had fancied
it, for Frida had well described it in her letters. It touched me
deeply, but I could not even give a stray thought to my own feelings.
'Try it,' you had said, and a wild rush of conflicting emotions quite
overcame me. How should I try it? I wished you were there, you or
Reclam, to tell me what would be best. Might it not give him a shock and
do him harm? I never felt as utterly helpless as all that morning. I
waited. At one o'clock he was lying on the sofa and resting; he seemed
to slumber more peacefully than usual. You know he had the desk with the
little Mendelssohn bust sent from Leipsic; it was the only thing he had
asked for. I stood the drawing up against it. He would be sure to see it
when he awoke.

"Then I sat down and prayed.

"He rose as usual and seated himself at the table. Hours passed. His
face was turned away from me, but I could see his hands as they lay
clasped before him. At last he got up and went to the bookcase. 'They
have changed everything,' I heard him say to himself. 'Where is my
Sophocles? Ah! to be sure, to be sure.'

"He sat down, but got up again directly, found paper and pen, and laid
out everything, just as he used to do at the old writing-table before
beginning work. He took up the pen, but he did not write; occasionally
he passed the quill over his forehead. I dared not move or speak. Oh,
how long the hours seemed!

"The daylight was fading. Martha came home with the cows, and old
Günther made his rounds and bolted the front gate. After that all was
quiet. Yes--all was quiet,--quite quiet for a while.

"Suddenly he rose. He turned round and stood still. He looked at me,--a
look I knew. My heart beat fast and the clock ticked so loud.

"He looked, and, ach, mein Lixchen, he smiled at me, just a little
feeble smile, and an instant afterwards he rushed up to me and he burst
into a flood of tears as he buried his face in my lap.

"'O Hannerl, my heart's treasure, tell me: Where is my Frida? Why is she
not with me?'"

The dear old Magisterin could say no more; tears of gratitude choked her
voice. I pressed her hand with my right, and with my left hand I brushed
away something that had got between my eyelashes.



I well remember that first year of my stay in Leipsic, when all our
interests seemed to centre in the friend we were to lose so soon.

At all times I was proud of my godfather, inordinately so, perhaps, when
conversation turned on the great kindness which Goethe had lavished on
his young friend Felix. To know a man who had known Goethe seemed to me
like knowing a man who had known Shakespeare, and I was accordingly
proud of my godfather. It is not surprising that Goethe, the great
dissector of human nature, should, with a few masterly touches, have
portrayed the boy of twelve, and forecast the character of the man. "You
know," he said to his friend Rellstab, "the doctrine of temperaments;
every one has four in his composition, only in different proportions.
Well, this boy, I should say, possesses the smallest possible modicum of
phlegm, and the maximum of the opposite quality." Whatever that
"opposite quality" was which Goethe had in his mind, it was one which
kept Mendelssohn on the alert; it was the very essence of life that he
was drawing on, alas! too prodigally.

Thus, of his own compositions he says in a letter to my father: "How I
am to set about writing a calm and quiet piece (as you advised me to do
last spring) I really do not know. All that passes through my head in
the shape of pianoforte music is about as calm and quiet as Cheapside;
and when I sit down to start improvising ever so quietly, it is of no
use--by degrees I fall back into the old ways."

But if Goethe noted the boy's extreme sensibility, he also appreciated
his sound intellect. "He is so clear-headed about his own subjects," he
says, "that I must learn a great deal from him." And Mendelssohn relates
how, seated at the piano, he familiarises the poet with the work of
Beethoven, how the grand old man is overwhelmed by the beauties and
mysteries revealed, and sits all the while in a dark corner, like a
Jupiter Tonans, with his eyes flashing fire. "I felt," he says, "that
this was the very Goethe of whom people will one day declare that he is
not at all one person, but is made up of several smaller Goethes."

The house we lived in stood in its own grounds, and very picturesque
they were; some parts delightfully kept, others still more delightfully
neglected. Wild tangles blocked disused paths; weeds and creepers
climbed up the legs of classical statues, and wound round their arms
when they had any. There was a Kiosk too, a little museum in which had
been collected relics of the great battle which had raged furiously in
those grounds. It was dedicated to Prince Poniatowski, who, during the
disastrous retreat of the French army, was drowned with scores of other
fugitives in that rapid little stream, the Elster, which flowed at the
bottom of what was in my days called "Gerhard's Garten," the same stream
in which I now used to take my daily swim.

There were only two houses in that "Garten." In one of them lived the
Herr Legationsrath Gerhard, our landlord, a personal friend of the great
Goethe, and himself a gifted poet, and so good a scholar, that he was
able to make an admirable translation of Burns's poems. The good people
of Leipsic appreciated his talents, but were very angry with him because
he was unmistakably a poet with an eye to business, and he charged five
neugroschen (sixpence) for admission to the historical site and to the
Poniatowski Kiosk.

In the other house we occupied the second floor, and on the first lived
Madame Mendelssohn's sister, Madame Schunck, and her family. The
ground-floor was the private residence of a wealthy wine merchant;
perhaps Schmidt was his name. The latter nearly got us into very serious
trouble in the days when the tide of revolution, set in motion by the
French rising in 1848, had swept all over Germany, and when even the
Leipsickers, usually so peaceful, were up in arms. The standard of
insurrection had been raised throughout the Fatherland, dynasties were
threatened, and thrones shaken. Some of the Saxon patriots had gone to
help their brothers in the Austrian capital, amongst others Robert Blum,
one of the most popular leaders of the democratic party. The barricade
he was defending was taken, and he was made a prisoner. Popular feeling
in Leipsic ran high, and when the news came that he had been tried by
court-martial and shot, it reached fever heat.

Interested as I always was in the doings of man, woman, or child,
especially when they had come together in the name of mischief, I was
naturally anxious to watch as closely as possible the process of
history-making they were about to engage in. So I was to be found where
the crowd was thickest and the mob most threatening.

An indignation meeting was improvised; the more rabid fire-eaters were
hoisted on some handy box, or took possession of a passing cart, from
which they addressed the rioters. The Austrian rule, its Kaiser, and its
leading statesmen, were held up to execration, and a shout was raised,
"To the Consulate!" Sticks and stones appeared on the scene, one knew
not whence, and soon we were on our way to the Consulate, where it did
not take long to smash every window in the house. The arms of Austria
were torn down and carried in triumph to the market-place, where they
were ignominiously strung up to a lamp-post amidst yells of exultation.
The mob had by this time worked itself into a frantic state of
excitement, and was thirsting for action. "What next?" was the cry. "To
Gerhard's Garten," shouted a voice; "let us hang Schmidt next. He
bragged that he would stand a dozen of his best champagne if it were
true that Blum had been shot. We'll drink it to the scoundrel's
health--to his perdition--hang the dog!"

"Save the dog," was naturally my first impulse, and I ran off at full
speed to give warning. I arrived in time to raise an alarm, and the
place was speedily prepared to resist at least a first assault; the
massive iron gates that protected us on the river-side were closed, and
the heavy wooden doors on the land-side were barred and bolted. The
rioters were soon on the spot, and threatened to make matchwood of them
if they were not opened. In true mediæval fashion the old Legationsrath
parleyed with the enemy through a grated opening in the door,
asseverating that the man wanted was not in the house or anywhere on the
premises. He was so successful in his diplomatic efforts that a
compromise was agreed to, and a few of the most clamorous were admitted
to satisfy themselves that the object of their search was not in hiding.
The wine merchant had plenty of time to escape, the crowd, baffled of
its prey, moved on to seek fresh fields of action, and our house escaped
with only a few panes of broken glass. As for myself, I was warmly
complimented on having acted the goose and saved the Capitol.

The next day matters wore a graver aspect, and attempts were made to
raise barricades. During the short conflict which ensued, a friend of
ours, Herr Gontard, was shot through the heart, as from his window he
was pointing a rifle at the insurgents. He was a prominent citizen, and
his death created a profound sensation. When a short time afterwards I
accompanied my father to the house, to inquire after the bereaved
family, we were shown by the servant into the room where his master lay
in the stillness of death, a service which we were expected to
acknowledge by handing him the customary "Trinkgeld," the tip which a
German servant considers his due, whenever his master practises
hospitality. On this occasion it was a weird entertainment we had been
bidden to.

In Dresden the insurrection was of a much more serious character. Civil
war raged fiercely in the streets of that capital, and the Saxon army
proving insufficient to subdue the people, the assistance of the
Prussians was invoked or had to be accepted.

Great was the excitement when the first batch of soldiers passed through
Leipsic, but it led to no demonstration. By this time the restless
spirits knew that the cause of liberty was lost. The new _Zündnadel
Gewehr_ just introduced into the Prussian army, a rifle that was shortly
to prove its superiority in the Danish campaign, seemed a very
strange-looking piece of mechanism to us. What would be the English for
_Zündnadel Gewehr_ I do not know, nor will I ascertain, for I object to
showing an interest in lethal weapons manufactured for fratricidal

Richard Wagner's active participation in the revolutionary movement was
at the time severely commented upon by many of his friends, for he had
every reason to be personally grateful to the king, who, it was said,
had acted very liberally towards him, and had generally distinguished
and befriended him. Accounts varied as to the actual part he took in the
fighting, but at any rate he had to flee the country, and took refuge
first in Paris and then in Zurich.

After a prolonged conflict the barricades were taken; from the front
they had been made all but impregnable, so the Prussian troops cut
themselves a road through the party walls of the adjoining houses, and
attacked them in the rear; they did terrible execution, and it was once
more crowned autocracy which scored a victory over struggling democracy.

When all was over, a deputation of so-called loyal subjects waited upon
the King of Prussia to do homage to the victor.

"I wish all my subjects were now here before me, to do justice to my
august sentiments," were the concluding words in his Majesty's answer.
And the royal utterance was suitably quoted beneath a drawing published
shortly afterwards, in which the king stands, fuse in hand, by the
cannon, ready to fire a well-directed charge of grape-shot into the
midst of his faithful subjects.

       *       *       *       *       *

All this happened some months after Mendelssohn's death, and it was well
he was spared experiences which would have made the most painful
impression on his sensitive nature. Indeed, so impressionable was he,
that even trifling incidents would sometimes visibly affect him, and
then he could make it very trying for those who had the misfortune to
incur his displeasure. He had strong likes and dislikes, and would not
always take the trouble to conceal them; as on one occasion, when he
very pointedly showed his dislike to Miss F., an Irish girl, who was
studying at the Conservatorio in Leipsic. I think he was prejudiced
against her because she had a mass of fluffy reddish hair, which would
break away from the rule of the hairpin and escape in a spirit of
rebellion; just the sort of thing we admire nowadays, but that was
thought positively improper then.

She once appealed to me, when my mother was reading her a homily on the
wicked ways of that hair. "Now, Felix, you who have an artist's eye; is
it really so dreadful?" she asked. To be sure I told her that I, for
one, thought it mighty fine, and she triumphed, but I was ever after
chaffed as the one who had "an artist's eye."

There were tears shed on the evening of the Pupils' concert at the
Gewandhaus. When Miss F.'s turn came, it was found she had forgotten her
music, and Mendelssohn, behind the scenes, was in a rage. There was an
awkward pause whilst the music was being fetched and the audience was
waiting, but my father called up the tuner to officiate and fill the
gap, and so appearances were saved. But Mendelssohn never forgave poor
Miss F.

A passage in a letter to my mother, dated September 3, 1832, I must
transcribe, if only because I think it my duty to quote it as a warning
to such bachelors as may be inclined to make rash vows of celibacy.
Mendelssohn, who was then twenty-three, wrote of his friend Klingemann:
"If Klingemann flirts, he is only doing the correct thing, and wisely
too; what else are we born for? But, if he gets married, I shall just
die with laughter; only fancy Klingemann a married man! But you predict
it, and I know you can always tell by people's faces what they are
going to say or to do. If I wanted bread at dinner, you used to say in
an undertone, 'Some bread for Mr. Mendelssohn;' and perhaps your
matrimonial forecast might be equally true. But on the other hand, I too
am a prophet in matrimonial matters, and maintain exactly the reverse.
Klingemann is, and will ever be, a Knight of the Order of Bachelors, and
so shall I. Who knows but we may both wish to marry thirty years hence!
But then, no girl will care to have us. Pray, cut this prophecy out of
the letter before you burn it, and keep it carefully; in thirty years we
shall know whether it proves correct or not."

Klingemann married in 1845, and Mendelssohn became engaged to Cécile
Jeanrenaud in September 1836, just four years after his prophecy.

He writes in a very different strain shortly after his marriage:--

"All that is good," he says, "has become doubly dear to me; all that is
bad, easier to put up with. Your wife must not visit my sins on Cécile;
on the contrary she must be ready to like her, and to love her a little
when she becomes acquainted with her. And truly my dear Cécile deserves
it, and I think I need not make any appeal to your wife, but simply
introduce her and say, 'This is Cécile'--the rest will follow
naturally." He was right; they met the same year and became friends.

Cécile was in many respects a contrast to her husband; she was calm and
reserved, where he was lively and excitable. Hers was a deeply
emotional nature, but she rarely showed outwardly what moved or
impressed her, whereas his emotions would ever rise to the surface,
generally to overflow and find expression in words.

My father, after first meeting her in Berlin, says: "Felix's wife is
very charming, very unassuming and childlike. Her mouth and nose are
like Sontag's. Her way of speaking is pleasing and simple; her German is
quite that of the Frankforter. She said naïvely at dinner, 'I speak too
slowly for my Felix, and he so quickly that I don't always understand

I remember thinking her exceedingly beautiful. Her appearance reminded
me of a certain picture of Germania by Kaulbach; but she was not the
typical fair-haired German; she was dark, and wore her hair not in
classical waves, but according to the fashion of the day, in many

The daily intercourse between the Mendelssohns and the Moscheles was a
source of real happiness to both. They were constantly meeting to make
or to discuss music, to take long walks together, or short ones along
the Grimmaische Strasse to the Conservatorio. The work there was
particularly congenial to my father's taste; after the many years of
feverish activity he had spent in London, Leipsic was truly a haven of
rest to him, and he could well say, "I am beginning to realise my dream
of emancipation from professional slavery."

Following the example of the parents, the children of the two families
soon fraternised too. I recollect a very lively children's party at our
house. Mendelssohn came in and joined in the games; then he went to the
piano and set us all a dancing as only the rhythm of his improvisation
could. When he ended, we clamoured for more. Give any child a
Mendelssohn finger and no wonder it wants the ten. We got another
splendid waltz that glided into a gallop, but when that too came to an
end, we insatiable little tyrants would not let him get up from the

"Well," he said, "if all the little girls will go down on their knees
and beg and pray of me, I may be induced to give you one more dance." A
circle was soon formed around him, and they had to beg hard, harder, and
hardest, before he allowed himself to be softened.

David, the violinist, also belonged to the intimate circle of our
friends. He had come to London in 1839 with a warm introduction from
Mendelssohn, and had soon endeared himself to all of us. He was a
musician of the good old kind, practising and loving music for its own
sake; he was a man of high culture, ever entertaining and genial, and
took special delight in smoking innumerable cigars with his friends. In
one respect he was much like my father and Mendelssohn. He could not
understand how anybody could get through twenty-four hours without
playing some Sonata or Trio. I recollect he was quite indignant on one
occasion when he was in London and was staying with Sterndale Bennett.
"Would you believe it?" he said. "I have been in the house now for more
than a week, and we have not once sat down to make music." Poor
Sterndale Bennett, who had probably been giving his eight or ten
lessons a day in London or Brighton!

Rietz, too, the conductor of the Gewandhaus Concerts, was a friend and a
_music-maker_ in the German sense--a musician of the highest order, and
a brilliant virtuoso on the violoncello.

For Mendelssohn's birthday, the 3rd of February, we had been getting up
theatricals, and great excitement prevailed amongst old and young, for
all were to take part in them. I feel pretty sure that my mother had
planned it all, for, amongst a good many other things, she was the
family poet and playwright. The performance began with a scene acted in
the Frankfort dialect by Madame Mendelssohn and her sister, Madame
Schunck; then followed a charade in four parts--"Gewandhaus," the name
of the famous concert hall, was the word to be illustrated.

For the first syllable, "Ge," Joachim, then sixteen years old, appeared
in an eccentric wig, and played a wild Fantasia _à la_ Paganini on the
Ge-Saite, the G string. Then the stirring scene from "A
Midsummer-Night's Dream," when Pyramus and Thisbe make love through the
chink in the wall, stood for "Wand," the German for wall. The lion, I
need not say, roared well.

To illustrate the third syllable "Haus," my mother had written a little
domestic scene, to be acted by herself and her husband. When the curtain
rose, she was discovered knitting a blue stocking, and soliloquising on
the foibles of female authoresses; whereupon enter the cook. The cook
was my father, and his bearing on this his first appearance in the
part, his female attire, as well as his realistic get-up, so tickled
Mendelssohn's fancy, that he broke into a fit of Homeric laughter;
Homeric, with this reserve, that that historical outburst was not
produced in a wickerwork chair, and therefore cannot have been as
effective as Mendelssohn's. Under his weight the chair rocked to and
fro, and creaked till one thought it must break its bonds. But it held
out, and gradually found its balance; it was not till then that the cook
was allowed to proceed with her part.

Finally "Gewandhaus," the complete word, was represented by all the
juvenile members of the company; each of us had to blow or play some
instrument of a primitive character. Joachim led with a toy violin, and
I wielded the bâton, and did my best to take off the characteristic ways
of my illustrious godfather. Some of my imitative faculty must have
survived the dead-man period of my early days, for the wickerwork once
more shook with the sympathetic laughter of its occupant, and it reached
a climax when Joachim made some pointed remarks in imitation of the

After the performance actors and public gathered round a festive board.
In the centre of the supper-table stood the birthday cake, around which
burned thirty-seven candles, one for each year, according to the good
old German fashion. My mother had written a few words descriptive of the
year each represented--from the cradle to the piano and the conductor's
desk--from his first attempt at composition, to "St. Paul," "Elijah,"
and the opera to come. In the centre stood the Light of Life, that,
alas! was so soon to fail. We little dreamt that it was his last
birthday we were celebrating.

The sounds of mirth, as the chords of harmony, were ere long to be
silenced. A few months later Mendelssohn's dearly beloved sister, Fanny
Hensel, suddenly died. It was a heavy blow from which he never quite
recovered, for the brother and sister were bound together by the closest
ties of affection, and the most striking artistic affinities. He spent
the summer in Switzerland, but returned enfeebled in health and
depressed in spirits. "His step is less elastic than before," says my
father, "but to see him at the piano, or to hear him talk about art and
artists, he is all life and fire."

The evening of the 8th of October was the last I was to spend at
Mendelssohn's house. He, my father, Rietz, and David had been playing
much classical music. In the course of an animated conversation which
followed, some knotty art question arose and led to a lively discussion.
Each of the authorities present was warmly defending his own opinion,
and there seemed little prospect of an immediate agreement, when
Mendelssohn, suddenly interrupting himself in the middle of a sentence,
turned on his heel and startled me with the unexpected question--

"What is the Aoristus primus of τυπτω, Felix?" I was at that
time a schoolboy in my fifteenth year, and so, quickly recovering from
my surprise, I gave the correct answer.

"Good," said he, and off we went to supper, the knotty point being thus
promptly settled.

       *       *       *       *       *

I well remember the 9th of October of that year. From our windows we saw
Mendelssohn walking slowly and languidly through the garden towards our
house. As he came in, my mother inquired after his health, and he
answered, "_Grau in grau_" (Grey on grey). My father suggested a walk in
the Rosenthal, that beautiful park, in those days scarcely touched by
the hand of the landscape gardener. Mendelssohn acquiesced listlessly.
"Will you take me too?" asked my mother. "What do you say? shall we take
her?" broke in Mendelssohn in his old genial manner. Well, she was
taken, and so was I, or, at any rate, I went. The walk seemed to do him
good; he brightened up, and was soon engaged in lively conversation. My
mother said, "You have not told us enough about your last stay in
London," and that started him talking of our mutual friends there. Then
he gave us a graphic account of his visit to the Queen.

It will be remembered how, on a previous occasion, he had spent a
delightful hour in Buckingham Palace, and was charmed with the Queen's
singing of some of his songs, and struck with Prince Albert's musical
talents. How, between them, the three had set to work to pick up the
sheets of music which the wind had blown all over the room, before they
settled down to the organ and the piano, and how Mendelssohn carried out
the parrot in his cage, to the amazement of the royal servants. The
pleasant incident of his last visit, which he related to us as we walked
along the Rosenthal, was this. He had been once more making music with
the Queen, and had been genuinely delighted with her rendering of his
songs. As he was about to leave, she said--

"Now, Dr. Mendelssohn, you have given me so much pleasure; is there
nothing I can do to give you pleasure?" To be sure, he answered, that he
was more than amply rewarded by her Majesty's gracious reception, and by
what would be a lasting remembrance of the interest she had shown in his
music; but when she insisted, he said--

"Well, to speak the truth, I have a wish, and one that only your Majesty
can grant."

"It is granted," she interposed.

And then he told her that nothing could give him greater pleasure than
to see the nurseries and all the domestic arrangements connected with
the royal children. The most consummate courtier could not have
expressed a wish better calculated to please the Queen. She most
cordially responded, and herself conducted him through the nurseries.
Nor was the matter treated lightly; she had to show him the contents of
the wardrobes and give him particulars of the service, and for the time
being the two were not in the relative position of gracious sovereign
and obedient servant, but rather of an experienced materfamilias and an
enlightened paterfamilias, comparing notes, and giving one another
points on the management of their respective children.

Mendelssohn left us about one o'clock in the most cheerful mood. The
same afternoon he was taken ill in Madame Frege's house. He had gone
there to persuade her to sing in his "Elijah," which had as yet only
been performed in England, and was now to be heard in Leipsic; he also
wanted her advice and help in putting together a new book of his songs.
I pass over the anxiety of the next weeks, the partial recovery, to be
followed only by relapse and aggravated symptoms.

From the 1st of November we knew that the worst was to be feared. My
parents were not often away from the house of sickness. In the morning
of the fatal day, at four o'clock, I went to the Königstrasse to get the
latest news; I had to return hopeless through the dark and foggy night.
Later in the day I was again for some hours in the house, but was not
allowed to see the dying man. From two o'clock in the afternoon, the
hour when another paralytic stroke was dreaded, he gradually began to
sink. Cécile, his brother Paul, David, Schleinitz, and my father were
present, when at twenty-four minutes past nine he expired with a deep

The next day Cécile wrote to my mother asking her to order the mourning
for the children; she would let her know when she could see her. Some
days elapsed, the funeral service had been held and the remains had been
transferred to Berlin, when she wrote again asking my mother to come and
to bring me. We went. Outwardly we found her calm and resigned, but one
could read in her countenance that she was mortally wounded. She talked
of him she had lost and showed us a deathbed drawing that his
brother-in-law Hensel had made. For a time his manuscripts remained
untouched; the door of his study she kept locked.

"Not a pin, not a paper," she wrote, "could I bring myself to move from
its place. That room must remain for a short time my sanctuary; those
things, that music, my secret treasure."

It was with feelings of deep emotion that I entered the room when,
shortly afterwards, she opened its door for me. I had asked and obtained
permission to make a water-colour drawing of that study, whilst all yet
stood as the master had left it. On the right was the little
old-fashioned piano on which he composed so many of his great works;
near the window the writing-desk he used to stand at. On the walls
water-colours by his own hand--Swiss landscapes and others. On the left
the busts of Goethe and Bach, placed on the bookcases which contained
his valuable musical library.

Whilst I was painting, Cécile came and went. Not a sigh, not a murmur
escaped her lips.

She died just four years after her husband.




I well remember how I got my first commission and earned the first money
in the exercise of my profession. It came about in this way.

I was down by the Quais of old Paris, close to the Pont des Aveugles,
drawing the Parisian workman as he took his midday rest. The Quais had
not yet got as strait-laced as they are now, and the river flowed its
pleasant course without much police supervision. There was the loveliest
of buildings, the Louvre, but it had not made more than a start towards
the Tuileries, with which it was in but a few years to join stones.

I was often down there sketching, and I always found willing models
amongst the friendly natives in blouses. The Parisian has an
ever-varying way of asking you to take his likeness. "Tirez ma binette,"
"Fixez moi cette frimousse," or, "Relevez moi le plan de mon image," are
amongst those I recollect. "Draw my mug," we might say, although
translation does not go far to render that sort of colloquialism.--"Fix
my phiz," and "Just you give me the map of my image."

I never accepted coppers on the occasions when I presented my models
with a sketch, but such ready-money payment was often proffered. It was
not till a man had insisted on my accompanying him to his home with a
view to artistic business, that I was led to accept my first commission.
He lived near the Temple, quite a little distance from the Quai
Voltaire, and as we went along, my companion became very communicative.
He began about himself, then gave me a bird's-eye view of the family
history, and soon came to "Ma mère," a theme he stuck to as only a
Frenchman can. "She was," he said, "une maîtresse femme," and he would
just like to see the man "qui pourrait lui tirer une carotte" (who could
extract a carrot from her). This was not an allusion to the fruit and
vegetable shop she kept, but meant that she was not an easy one to get
over in money matters. I found the old lady as my friend had described
her. She was stout and determined, and she kept her money jingling in
the two or three capacious pockets of her apron. She could see I was an
artist; why, _she_ could recognise one within a radius of a league; and
if I would draw her the portraits of her two granddaughters for five
francs, I might set to work at once; they both had the eyes of _her_
family, the Roufflards,--not a trace of the Tusserand look--an advantage
I was not to overlook. The girls were about fourteen or fifteen, and I
thought I could make rather a telling picture of the two heads together
in medallion shape. But the old lady was after me at once. She didn't
believe in pinching and cheeseparing, and didn't want the thing rounded
off in any of those circular frames. "No," she said. "_Allez-y
franchement_; you just draw them as they are, hands and feet and all,
_comme qui dirait_: there they are, those two girls, _les fillettes à la
mère Tusserand_."

To this I answered that we hadn't bargained for all that, and I was
right from a strictly professional point of view, but I wouldn't have
lost the five francs for the world, and I daresay she guessed as much,
and stuck to her guns. She, as an old materfamilias, knew that people
were not born in bust shape; then why should they be thus represented?
_She_ always gave good measure, and if she didn't, her customers would
soon keep her up to the mark; so why shouldn't she have her money's
worth? I felt that I ought to insist on better terms, if only for the
dignity of my profession, but I was no match for the old lady, so I
started work on her conditions, only, to save appearances, bargaining
for a plentiful supply of _reineclaudes_ during the sittings.

A sort of staircase, that had just missed being a ladder, led up in a
straight line to the room that was to serve as a studio. A bed of
imposing dimensions took up the greater part of the room; the bedstead
of polished mahogany was an old-fashioned structure, that you could see
at once had been handed down from one generation of fruiterers to
another; similarly suggestive was a queer old roccoco looking-glass, and
a faded portrait of a tomcat sitting on a middle-aged spinster's lap.
"Who are you, young man?" these worthy relics seemed to say; "have _you_
got a pedigree?"

The latest offshoots from the genealogical tree of the
Roufflard-Tusserand family had to be enthroned on the bed. I could
otherwise not get sufficiently far away from them to overlook my group.
It was desired that their arms should be interlaced with a view to
emphasising their sisterly affection, and this gave rise to a new
difficulty as to the presentment of one of the hands, which, being in
perspective, did not show the full complement of fingers. When Madame
Tusserand came to inspect my work, she particularly insisted that no
part of the thumb should be concealed. She had noticed such
imperfections in other pictures, and had always looked upon them as
instances of the artful way in which painters sought to scamp their
work. But here I struck. I swore by the holy Raphael that I could and
would not alter it, and gave the old lady a lecture on the glorious
Madonnas, who, even with incomplete thumbs, had been the means of
regenerating the world. She was so pleased with the mention of the
Madonna, and more especially with that part of my argument which she did
not understand, that she gave in, and so perspective scored a victory.

The two girls, my models, were neat little types of the bourgeois class.
I did not think much of them or the type; in fact I thought the
generality of Parisian girls plain; but experienced friends told me I
knew nothing about it, and taught me that if I wanted to judge of a
woman (that unripe fruit, a girl, to be sure was not worth mentioning),
I must study not her face or her figure, but her general appearance and
one or two essential parts of her toilette. "What is the use of
features," they asked, "to a woman who can't dress, or who is _gantée_
and _chaussée_ as if she _revenait de l'autre monde_." Which other world
they meant, and how they wear their gloves and shoes there, they didn't
explain. "And why should you give undue importance," they wound up, "to
beauty where there is the _tournure_ to observe and the _chic_. No, _mon
cher_, if you want to form a correct estimate of a woman, study her
ankles and her _bottines_."

Whilst I was taking stock of my models, and arriving at the conclusion
that they were plain, pert, and precocious, they had evidently lost no
time in deciding that I was green, and that it would take a good deal of
teaching to give me the more attractive tinges of ripeness. They told me
all about the Bouzibon, a familiar name by which they designated their
favourite Bal de Barrière. They took it for granted I couldn't dance,
but I might come and learn there next Sunday evening. It was a most
respectable place, and nothing was ever lost or stolen there. La mère
Bouze was a widow; to be sure I had noticed that elegant place in the
Faubourg St. Denis, the fried-fish shop; well, that had originally been
started by the late Monsieur Bouze years ago.

In return I told them my old yarn about Prince Poniatowski being drowned
in the river Pleisse, just at the bottom of our garden in Leipsic; but I
let out the point too quickly, and once they knew the Prince was
drowned, they did not care for the rest. They behaved very well on the
whole, and, as far as I am aware, did not make ugly faces at me when I
was looking the other way. I am sure they did not like me though; their
fancy men were two _garçons coiffeurs_ in a barber's shop close by, and
so I hadn't a fair start.

That was my first experience as a portrait-painter. From that day to
this I have truly loved my profession, undeterred by the fact that the
course of true love does not always run smooth. At any rate that
five-franc piece which Madame Roufflard-Tusserand took from the depths
of her apron pocket and handed to me, gave me more satisfaction than
many a "Pay to F. Moscheles, Esq.," that has since followed.

I wonder whether my drawing still exists, and, if so, whether it is
going down as an heirloom from generation to generation with the
bedstead, the looking-glass, and the middle-aged tomcat lady.




I well remember the first words of French that I mastered, and the
sensation I created when I, a very small boy, irrepressibly burst forth
with my declaration:

"O Madam, kay voos aite bell!"

This was addressed across the friendly supper table to Madame de R., who
with her husband, the well-known portrait-painter, was spending her
honeymoon at Boulogne.

To Boulogne we too had gone, as people went then when they wanted a
change of air, or as they go now to Africa or the antipodes.

On this occasion our party consisted of my parents, three sisters,
myself, and an English nurse, who, from first to last, was unutterably
shocked by what she called the outrageous proceedings of the foreigners,
and by the fearful language that parrot used, who always gathered a
little sympathetic crowd in front of the shell and wooden-spade shop.

My sisters had a French governess of the approved type.

"Maître Corbeau sur un arbre perché," she recited to me with
conventional emphasis and genuine affectation. On such occasions I
stood staring at her, surprised at the amount of mouth-twisting and
wriggling it took to talk French. Then I tried to do as much, and said:

"Mayter Korbow sure unn ahber per Shay."

"Perrrché," she interposed, and

"Pure Shay," I repeated.

"Mais non, mon petit chéri, perrrr--ché!" and so on, till we got to
"apeuprès ce langage," the "a pew pray" being, I recollect, a terrible

I was about eighteen when I met that handsome Madame de R. again in
Paris. She reminded me of my early appreciation of her beauty, and was
anxious to know whether I was still inclined to express my admiration as
warmly as I did formerly.

"To be sure," I said. "Yes. _Mais oui certainement, madame._" But, oh
dear! how little female French I must have understood in those days, and
how little male French I must have had at my command! for--I must
confess--I said no more.

The de R.'s became great people under the Empire: he and she--or perhaps
more correctly she and he--got into the inner Court circle, where she
soon distinguished herself as a leader of fashion, and he as a very
successful painter of life-size fashion-plates in oils. Both his works
and her personal charms were graciously smiled upon by the imperial
master himself.

Apropos of my French, I may say that I had every opportunity of
improving it. I soon entered the Atelier Gleyre, that studio we have
heard about in reference to Du Maurier, Whistler, Poynter, and others,
who there learnt to draw their first bonshommes, and to spoil their
first canvases.

I had made a sort of mental vow to speak nought but the language of the
country for the first year of my stay in Paris. In the beginning I found
it rather tough work, but a French studio is a good school. I plunged in
head foremost, and soon got on swimmingly. From the first I was
attracted by the brilliancy of Parisian slang, and by the terseness of
French argot (that is, the thieves' language). As for the genuine
article, real French, as spoken by real Frenchwomen in real salons on a
"_Madame reçoit_" day--nothing could exceed my admiration for it. But
the Quartier Latin, with its studios and garrets, its _crêmeries_ and
little restaurants, all bedecked with clever works from the brushes of
the _habitués_, was the high school in which I graduated and which in
due time turned me out a fair specimen of the classical _Rapin_--the art
student as Paris alone produces him. In a word, I soon felt quite at
home in that delightful haven of unrest we call Bohemia.

And the friends of those days! I made many and lost few. There is one
who stands out prominently from amongst the rest, and he is connected in
my mind with a thousand and one incidents of my Paris life. His name was
Claude; Claude Raoul Dupont.

At our first meeting I felt that I should like to make friends with him.
He was what the Italians call _sympatico_--not quite the same thing as
sympathetic; just the sort of man whom little girls would unhesitatingly
request to ring the bell they couldn't reach, or boys would call to
their assistance with a "Please, sir, lend us your stick to get down
that cap from up there," or "to fetch out that ball from inside them
railings;" the sort of man with whom you or I would at once have got
into conversation, if we had met him in a railway carriage.

My first acquaintance with him was in that Atelier Gleyre. We were just
fellow-students at the beginning, then chums, _bons camarades_, soon
friends, and finally we got linked together by the most lasting of ties,
that of brotherly love. So it comes that the story of his life is most
vividly impressed on my mind. It is uneventful, perhaps, and differs
little from any other story that pictures the artist's life, with its
hopes and aspirations, its sprinkling of love-making and its glorious
consummation of love-finding, but I must attempt to give an outline of
it, if but in memory of my friend.

To begin at the beginning, let me sketch our days of good comradeship,
and put in a wash of background here and there, and a few touches of
local colour in illustration of the life we led.

You could tell at a glance that Claude was a "Rapin," but that was not
surprising, for in those days it had not yet become the aim and end of
the young artist to conceal his profession and to walk through life
incognito, with a well-groomed chimney-pot implanted on the top of his
head. So you must fancy Claude with a soft felt hat of a species even
now not quite extinct, although, as we all know, superseded by the
boiled apple-pudding-shaped dome, ornamented with a gutter, which we
have universally adopted, and which we call a pot hat, a bowler, a
billycock hat, or as the coachman or groom says, a bridle.

It was quite appropriate that Claude should wear a wide-awake, as being
in keeping with an expression that showed him always on the _qui vive_.
He was tall, rather too much so for the breadth of his shoulders, but he
moved with great freedom and ease, and as he was mostly on the move, he
also mostly showed to advantage.

In the Atelier Gleyre he was the leading spirit. That studio was
situated in the Rue de l'Ouest, flanking the Luxembourg Gardens. It was
a large, high room with the regulation studio window, and was furnished
with one model table on wheels, one iron spitfire of a stove, and a lot
of three-legged easels and four-legged stools, not to forget a large
screen behind which the models undressed; all things bearing traces of
the perilous lives they led, and showing picturesque seams and scars
where they were begrimed with the scrapings from perennial palettes. The
professor very liberally gave his instruction gratis. For the working
expenses of the Atelier the students clubbed together, each contributing
ten francs per month to the "masse." At the time I entered, Claude was
"Massier," that is, a sort of secretary, treasurer, and boss combined.
He occupied that exalted position with much distinction, for he could be
alternately serious and absurd, weighty and trivial. Common sense on the
one hand; an uncommon amount of nonsense on the other. In fact his
character was a curious compound of elements seemingly opposed, but
working in harmony together. He was _facile princeps_ as a _blagueur_,
that is, he could chaff unmercifully, talk tall, make a fool imagine
himself wise, and a wise man feel foolish. It takes a double-distilled
Frenchman to make a full-blown _blagueur_, and such a man was Dupont.

We were a lively set, and the jokes that were bandied about, coupled
with the most unparliamentary, not to say vituperative language, at
first startled me. But the Rapin's bark is worse than his bite. "Il est
défendu de chahuter la religion et la famille" was an unwritten law,
that excluded those two delicate topics, the family and religion, from
the field of word-battle. Another law bade you keep your temper. We
might have hurled the most obnoxious of epithets at one another, but
when the available catalogue of abuse was exhausted, we would wind up
with some good-humoured trump card, like "C'est égal, je suis plus bête
que toi," which, freely translated, says, "Never mind, I am the bigger
fool of the two."

One of the first things that struck me in the atelier was a large felt
hat forming a sort of centre on the ceiling. That was Gobelot's hat. It
was there just because some of the boys had taken a dislike to it; in
fact it was a priggish hat, and as Gobelot had a twitchy sort of a face
that would work well under feelings of surprise and resentment, they
thought they would like to watch him, from the first moment when he
would miss his hat, to the last when he would discover its whereabouts.

It had got fixed on the ceiling with some difficulty, whilst its owner
had fallen asleep by the stove. The model table was placed in the centre
of the room, and the ladder held upright upon it by half-a-dozen sturdy
arms; a light-weight clambered to the top and did the nailing. The
result proved pre-eminently satisfactory to all except Gobelot, and even
he, I think, after the lapse of a few months, got to be rather proud of
the excelsiority accorded to his headgear.

This was by no means the first experience he had had of studio life. On
his entrance into the Atelier Gleyre, he had set himself to draw the
figure of Sinel, one of the leading models of the day, and had betrayed
more self-confidence than was compatible with his position as a
_nouveau_. He had been working for a couple of days, when Monsieur
Gleyre came to visit his students. The bear-garden was suddenly
transformed into a grave academy. Respectful silence and order
prevailed, as the master passed from easel to easel, criticising here
and encouraging there, and generally enunciating wise artistic saws for
the benefit of the students. When Gobelot's turn came, he paused a while
before he expressed an opinion on his work. At last he said kindly but
firmly: "Young man, you have come to study with me, and it is my duty to
advise you honestly and straight-forwardly. Believe me, devote all your
attention to the human foot; learn to draw that correctly,--and then
perhaps you may be successful as a bootmaker." Therewith he passed on to
the neighbour. Shortly afterwards the real Monsieur Gleyre came in, for
the whole thing was a plant, and Gobelot was officially introduced as
the _nouveau_ by the sham professor.

It is not a sinecure to be the _nouveau_. One is the butt of endless
jokes, and has to take them meekly; one is at everybody's beck and call,
to pick up a brush, or to run for a ha'porth of bread or a penn'orth of
fried potatoes. When I was the new boy, I knew resistance was useless,
so I served my time cheerfully, swallowing snakes, as the French call
it, with apparent relish.

But one day I was caught napping. I had joined in the general
conversation, and had so far forgotten myself as to make a joke, and,
what was worse, they said, not a bad one. This was adding insult to
injury; a storm of indignation broke forth, and the cry of "À l'échelle"
("To the ladder") was raised. I should then and there have suffered the
penalty of my rashness, had not Dupont interposed. He mounted the
rostrum, _i.e._ the model table, and made an eloquent appeal on my
behalf. I was an Englishman, he pleaded, and as such I had been reared
on raw beef and bran puddings; he would himself now see that I was kept
on lighter food (I suppose he meant frogs). Yes, I had presumed to
trespass on the domain of "esprit," the exclusive property of Frenchmen
in general, and of the duffers now before him in particular--he would
not offend them by calling them gentlemen. My joke, he admitted, was a
good one, but then, what could you expect from a benighted foreigner,
who did not know the value of a bad one. And so on. However feeble his
defence may appear to us as we read it in cold blood, it had the
desired effect, and I was saved from my impending fate. But I was not to
get off for long. Only a couple of days afterwards, an incident led to
my punishment. It was luncheon time and I was studying the greasy paper
that my potatoes had been wrapped up in, probably a leaf from some old
register, so many tons of which are issued daily by bureaucratic Paris.
I had got to my second course, roast chestnuts done to a T, when I had a
sort of secret forewarning that a certain long stick with a hook, one of
the studio properties, was stealthily approaching towards the stool I
was sitting on. A sudden jerk, and the stool was pulled from beneath me;
but being fully prepared, I failed to collapse, and remained as if
seated, continuing my meal as if nothing had occurred. Such independence
could not be tolerated. Stop, the well-known caricaturist, now formally
moved that I be "mis à l'échelle," and the resolution was unanimously
carried. So the ladder was laid on the floor, and I was bound to it
hands and feet; then it and I were hoisted up and placed against the
wall. Next Stop proceeded to bare my breast, and to paint thereon a
highly coloured picture representing several pigs and their doings. In
the meanwhile the poker was being made red-hot in the stove. The
occasion must be marked by a scar, I was given to understand, and I can
assure those who have never gone through a similar experience, that a
touch from a red-hot poker is very painful, even if the red is only
vermilion and the heat imaginary. I was informed that I should have to
preserve the pig picture for a fortnight, after which time I should be
called up for inspection.

When a _nouveau_ is entered at an atelier, he is expected to pay "la
bienvenue," his welcome. Gobelot had preceded me as the new boy, and as
we had both been pretty liberal, a sum of about fifty francs was in
readiness to be used for some sociable purpose. After some deliberation
it was decided to invest our capital in donkeys, to be hired in the Bois
de Boulogne. So one fine afternoon we found ourselves in full force,
selecting our mounts at Père Delaborde's well-known stables. His donkeys
were always the best fed and best kept, and to us, who had never been to
the East, and therefore did not know what a donkey was really like, they
seemed quite decent and cheerful specimens of their kind. Here and
there, to be sure, there was one who had not become resigned to his
fate, and who would stiffen his neck with an emphasis that showed that
he would have used strong language, had he been endowed with the power
of speech. But on the whole Monsieur Delaborde's donkeys were quite
docile and manageable, and accustomed to be ruled by the little shouting
savages known as donkey-boys.

There were two horses in the stables, and it was decided that Gobelot
and I should mount them and take command of the donkey brigade. The
responsibility of leadership soon, however, devolved on me alone, for
Gobelot's horse had, I suppose through long-standing habits of
companionship, taken to the ways of its mates; so it kept step with
them, and stretched its ears full length, and took all things
philosophically. My steed was made of very different metal. He started
off at a lively pace, giving me an opportunity of showing off my
horsemanship, acquired at the riding-school in Leipsic. I felt
pleasantly aware of my superiority over my donkey-mounted friends,
especially over Dupont, whose long legs were dangling very near the
ground, he having left his stirrups, or they him, and over Gobelot, who
was ineffectually trying to break into a canter.

Very suddenly and unexpectedly my horse stopped as if it had divined
that I thought it time to inspect my followers. It was my intention to
form them into column, and then to execute one or two strategical
movements that seemed well adapted to the occasion. As a first step
towards this, I wanted to wheel round and face my men, but my steed was
evidently in a meditative mood and would not be disturbed. I applied my
heels to its flanks, and pulled its head round, till its eye met mine,
but its body remained stationary. When it had thought out whatever it
may have had on its mind, it started off again as suddenly as it had
stopped, before I had had an opportunity of commencing operations. This
capricious starting and stopping, over which I had no control, was, I
need not say, a source of annoyance to me, and of hilarity to my
friends. It was to be more than this presently.

I had got pretty far ahead of the others, when my mount came to one of
its dead stops. I contented myself with hoping it would soon have done
staring vacantly. Looking round, I noticed some commotion in the distant
donkey group, and an opening in its ranks to let a carriage pass. As it
approached, it proved to be a well-appointed phaeton, and I recognised
Louis Napoleon, who was driving himself, accompanied by a gentleman and
by two servants in green and gold livery. I made every effort to get out
of the way, but in vain. The prince took in the situation at a glance
and considerately deviated from his course, seeing that I could not keep
it clear for him. A smile flitted across his face and enlivened his
rigidly waxed moustache, as he turned to his companion and made some
remark. I did not catch it, but my horse probably did, and must have
taken it as encouraging, for it started off in an uncontrollable fit of
loyalty, and whether I liked it or not, I had to ride by the side of the
phaeton, acting, for the time being, as equerry to the future emperor.
He took it kindly; the two green and gold ones were amazed and
indignant, but too well trained to lynch me, and so I galloped on till
once more my quadruped stopped and again became absorbed in thought.

When my companions came up, they gave expression to their unbounded
delight at my discomfiture, and generally treated me, their appointed
leader, with every mark of disrespect. This time the horse must have
mistaken their vociferous hooting for a signal to return home, for it
started off in that direction, and took me back without once indulging
in the usual hiatus.

I dismounted, and whilst, on the one hand, I was glad to be now able to
regulate my own movements, on the other I was smarting under the
recollection of my ignominious failure, and the jeering and hooting
still rang in my ears.

A couple of _sergents de ville_ were on duty close by, a circumstance
which suggested to me the opportunity of getting even with my
insubordinate men.

"Well, Messieurs," I said to the policemen, "I think there might be a
few more of you along the principal avenues. It is positively
disgraceful. I don't mind a bit of a joke myself, but in my country we
don't play practical jokes on royalty, as that young chap with the brown
felt hat did on your Prince President."

"What he did?"

"Why, ride alongside the prince's carriage, giving himself airs and
posing for _son Altesse's_ aide-de-camp. And, following him as fast as
they could get along, a band of asses on donkeys, braying like
_imbéciles_. Well, _bon jour_, Messieurs; after all, it's no business of
mine. I only thought you might care to know."

On the arrival of the band, I learnt afterwards, they were confronted by
four _sergents de ville_, the two original ones having been reinforced.
Gobelot, the man with the brown felt hat, was asked for his passport,
and, not being able to produce it, was looked upon with suspicion and
closely cross-questioned. Dupont rather entered into my joke and let
things go wrong, till it was high time to set them right. Then I was
denounced, and it was not without some difficulty made clear to the
authorities that the informer was the real culprit. So Gobelot the
innocent was only warned to be more careful another time, and my name
is probably inscribed on some black list at the _Préfecture_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Claude was a most indefatigable worker; as an artist ever severe and
uncompromising, studying on the lines of Ingres and Flandrin, loving a
bird, a stone, a woman for the sake of the outline they imprinted on his
mind, and ever seeking an ideal contour, whether he held the pencil or
the brush. His enthusiasm was quite catching; so under his influence I
soon began to love drawing for its own sake, and we spent many an
evening together studying Dante's stern features from the cast or
working from the living model.

He had inherited his classical predilections from his father, who
himself had started life as an artist, but had found that large
historical landscapes _à la_ Poussin were not easily convertible into
bread and butter, and had therefore wisely abandoned art as a
profession, and had embraced the administrative career, in which he rose
and prospered. His leisure hours he still spent at the easel, but his
canvases were not as large as formerly; in his productions he always
gave me the impression that he could use more emerald and olive greens,
to the exclusion of other colours, on a given space, than any man I had
ever known.

He was quite touching in his love for Claude.

"What I have dreamed of and struggled for in vain," he would say, "that
boy is going to realise. He is born with _du style_. Believe me, my
child, outside _le style_ there is no art. From the time of Raphael
down to the present day, nothing is worth recording, nothing remains or
will remain, that is not _de l'école_. _La grande école_, my child, _le
style, la ligne, voilà le salut_, believe me."

I winced, for I loved, above all the colourists, the Spaniards, the
Dutch; but he was so sincere, so convincing, that for the time being I
felt as if I could have sold my birthright for a line of beauty.

"He is quite right," Claude would afterwards say to me, "but he puts his
finger in his eye, if he thinks he can flatten your bump of colour.
Every man is born with his own bumps, and they are bound to grow with
him just as his hair does."

And with that we would plunge headlong into the famous discussion _sur
la forme et la couleur_, each doing battle for his god with the energy
of youthful fanaticism, and feeling all the while that we would have
given anything to be able to exchange bumps with one another. How much
further his bump would lead him, I thought, and how admirably he was
organised to use it in the service of high art! And he, on the other
hand, would say--

"What am I, my dear fellow, as compared to you, born in the purple of
art as you are? You hold the trump cards, and will," &c. &c.

Then there was an uncle of Claude's, _l'oncle Auguste_, whose views
clashed fearfully with the artistic aspirations of my friend and of his
father. He was a tanner, at the head of a large establishment which he
had founded--a self-made man, with a lot of cleverly-grabbed money. In
his social intercourse he had so carefully surrounded himself with
inferior intellects, that he could not but shine as a bright light
amongst them--a circumstance which led him to form a most exaggerated
estimate of his own wisdom and mental powers.

"My dear Jean," he would say to his brother, "I should really have
thought your own experiences with those blessed paints would have made a
wiser man of you. Surely one victim to the mania in the family should
have been enough, without dragging that poor boy into it; a splendid
fellow, sane and sound, if it weren't for the rubbish you put into his
head. He was cut out for the business; never happier than when he was
pottering about at the works. Why, when he was a mere child, he very
nearly got drowned in the tan vat." And turning to Claude: "What have
you to say to it, you young rascal? Ah well, I know you are hopelessly
lost, since you got out of those plaster casts and those bones and
muscles into that--What do you call that place, where able-bodied young
men, strong and fit for work, sit all day drawing mannikins! _Une vraie
fabrique de bonshommes! En voilà un métier!_"

The same evening l'oncle Auguste was holding forth to some friends he
had invited to sit at his feet and at his whist-table--

"Now mark my words, messieurs; we are going to make an artist of that
nephew of mine, and one who will surprise the world. He has been
received first on a list of I don't know how many hundreds of students
at the Life Class of the École des Beaux Arts. _Oui, messieurs_, art is
an heirloom in our family; we hand it down from generation to

But differences of opinion on the merits of the artistic career led to
no more than skirmishes; the real tug-of-war between the Duponts, father
and son on the one hand, and l'oncle Auguste on the other, came when
they exchanged their views on matrimonial alliances. The former to be
sure looked upon the tying of the nuptial knot from the ideal point of
view; the latter very strongly held the belief that a young man should
marry money, and should do so early in life.

"Suppose now," he would argue, "you mean to marry 100,000 francs, why
put it off till you are twenty-six or twenty-eight? Why lose the
interest of your money for so many years?"

"But perhaps, uncle, my lady-love is still in the nursery, and I must
wait awhile till I can declare my undying affection. Yes, I believe she
is only just beginning to play the piano, and I really cannot take her
till she has done practising her scales, you know. Besides, her father
has only lately started collecting the 100,000 francs, and I think he
has not got further than 3500."

"God forbid, unhappy boy, that you should be led away to paint one of
your classical haloes round the head of some such unfledged chicken,
blessed with a fond and shabby father. Remember, young man, you have two
things to look forward to that can set you up in this world--matrimony
and expectations; expectations and matrimony--and don't forget that in
my mind they are very closely connected."

"Don't be angry, my dear uncle, and don't worry till there is cause. As
for the 'dot,' I suppose I could do with 100,000 francs as well as any
other fellow who has got to take a _bel appartement orné de glaces_, and
to put himself into his furniture. But surely you, who know the value of
skins, you wouldn't want me to sell mine, with what is inside in the way
of body and soul, for that price!"

"See that you get 200,000 then, or three or four; you're worth all that.
Lady-love, indeed! _so_ beautiful, I suppose! Sentiment--romance--eternal
love! Eternal fudge! Remember this, Uncle Auguste's fortune was not made
to encourage tomfoolery."

Now there was really no reason why Uncle Auguste should deliver himself
of that speech. There was no lady-love, no classical halo, and no
centime-grabbing father. But the fact was, the uncle trembled lest he
should be disappointed in the boy he loved so well. He was already
scheming for him, and telling one or two friends of his confidentially,
that it was quite worth while treating Claude with respect, as he was
the nephew of a very rich uncle. It was not to be long before the uncle
was deemed well worthy of respect, as being able to boast of a very
clever nephew.

Whilst he was still painting studies at the Atelier Gleyre, and
attending classes and lectures at the École des Beaux Arts, Claude
started a picture in a queer little studio he had taken for the purpose,
at the top of a very tall house in the Rue de Seine, Quartier Latin.
Somebody, with an eye to artistic possibilities, must have converted
what was originally a garret into a studio by adding a big projecting
window. It had a top light into which all the prying cats of the
neighbourhood used to peer, whilst the less inquisitive ones merely made
the loose tiles rattle as they prowled along the roof.

There was a second studio of the same kind up there, which was occupied
by Giacomo Irmanno, an Italian boy of about seventeen years, with
jet-black curly hair. That peculiar underglow of rich bronze colour, so
characteristic of the Southern type, lit up Irmanno's perfectly
chiselled features. Dupont and I made great friends with him, and I
often enjoyed helping him with his work. He could be very morose and
look Italian daggers, but that was probably because in his desire to
become an artist he was waging war at fearful odds against poverty. He
was quite out of his element under northern skies, and spoke French in a
way that taught me much Italian.

His only means of support were derived from painting what is called "Les
Stations de la Croix." These pictures, destined to decorate the village
churches in France and generally in Catholic countries, are produced in
a more matter-of-fact than artistic way. The employer with an eye to the
advantages of division of labour, has the subjects printed on canvas.
Then a batch of Station No. 1, perhaps some six or eight canvases at a
time, are given out to artist No. 1, who puts in the landscape and
surroundings; from there they go to artist No. 2, who paints the
draperies, and finally to No. 3, who fills in heads, hands, and feet.
Irmanno was No. 2. We placed the pictures ready for treatment all round
the room. Then we started with one colour, say dark red, for the shade
of a certain drapery; when that had been repeated on all the canvases,
came the turn of the middle tint, and finally of the light red. Then
came the next colour--I need not say they were all prescribed--and when
we had made the round with that, the next, and so on until all the
draperies were satisfactorily disposed of.

The proceedings were only varied when Irmanno lay down on the red brick
floor and groaned, and pretended to have a sort of attack. I did not
mind, because when the evil spirit was upon him, he always looked
particularly interesting.

Next door, in the twin garret, Dupont was putting heart and soul into
the production of his first picture; it was still in its initial stages,
but studies small and large, in pencil and in chalks, were gradually
covering the walls. His subject was "The raising of the daughter of
Jairus," and he would never tire of talking to me about the grand
opportunities it afforded to the artist. He would question me too on
things connected with mesmerism (I was mesmerising in those days), and
would want to know all about the first symptoms of awaking from a
trance, of the action of the hand as it makes passes, and the dictates
of the eye as it bids the subject sleep or wake. "Christ, the God," he
wrote to me in a letter of a later date, "can never be depicted,
translated into human forms, but Christ the Healer, Christ the Helper,
and He, the lover of children, is perhaps approachable. Give me a
lifetime, and possibly I may decipher a little of what is to be read
between the lines of the New Testament."

The summer had set in early and rather savagely, as it will do sometimes
in Paris, and the heat in those ex-garrets of the Rue de Seine was

Rosa Bonheur Sinel did what she could to mitigate the evil. Rosa Sinel
was her real name, but somebody had nicknamed her Rosa Bonheur, and in
course of time her father had worked himself into the belief that the
great artist had been her godmother. She was a precocious little woman,
somewhere between the age of ten and fifteen--who can tell the real age
of a Parisian child? _Le père_ Sinel was one of the best known models in
Paris. He was a living _écorché_, a creature designed for the study of
anatomy, for he had a most extraordinary faculty of showing the action
of any and every muscle; in fact he could, if the circumstances
required, give himself the appearance of having been skinned, scalped,
or flayed alive. He was ever boasting of his participation in the great
pictorial and plastic works that had made a mark in his days, and always
claiming his full share of the laurels awarded to them.

"It is not so much my exceptional figure that has inspired my friends,
as it is my experience that has guided them," he told us. "Did not the
great Monsieur Delacroix say with his characteristic modesty, when his
plafond in the Galerie d'Apollon was uncovered: 'Where should I be
without the assistance of my friend Sinel?' _Oui_, messieurs, he was
right, and such a plafond is not produced in a day. 'Art is short and
sittings are long,' as the poet says; _Voyez_, Monsieur Ingres! Many an
hour was I nailed to the cross as a thief, before we could get the true
agony. I well remember his saying 'Sinel, _mon ami_, till I knew you, I
had no idea what the flexor of a third and fourth toe could do, nor did
I know what acting was till I heard you.'"

"Allons donc, blagueur"--from the students--"what do you know about

"Moderate your language if you please, messieurs. You would not laugh if
you knew the position I hold in the theatrical world--" With much
dignity--"I am of the Théâtre Français."

"Shut up, _tais toi_" cries one.

"To be sure you play the fool," shouts another.

"_Il n'y a pas de tais toi_, messieurs; but I must be off and study my
part. To-night I am on with Mademoiselle Rachel. I am cast for 'Le
peuple murmure.'"

To return to the daughter, I must say she was the most useful little
studio drudge I ever knew. Her appearance was against her, for she was
plain and generally unkempt and untidy; the cleanest parts of her apron
were the holes, but for all that she was an ever-handy little monkey of
all work. She would roast chestnuts on the stove according to her own
particular system, and would feed that stove with heterogeneous fuel
that it would not have taken from another hand. She would water the
garden--a sort of shelf suspended outside the window--would drench
unsuspecting but indiscreet cats, and was generally of an aquatic turn
of mind. One very hot day we came upon her unexpectedly, and found her
perched upon a high stool, her dress tucked up, and her bare feet on the
chair rail. She was contemplating with evident satisfaction what she
called _le réservoir_. It looked very much as if she had been utilising
it as a footbath, by way of refreshing herself, but that may or may not
have been the case. There was an empty pail that told the story of the
reservoir. She had sprinkled part of its contents over the studio floor,
forming a quantity of little quivering black pearls, as the water licked
up the dust; the rest she reserved to make a pool where the hand of
time, or the foot rather, had produced a deep hollow in the red brick
floor. The cement of time must have been at work too, to weld the bricks
into a compact mass, for the water did not seem to percolate through to
the neighbour's ceiling, but stood its ground to bear witness to Rosa
Bonheur's aquatic genius.

After this success she had visions of gold-fish and fountains and of
_les grandes eaux de Versailles_, and she wanted more snubbing than

But water or no water, the heat in the studio remained intolerable. It
soon began to tell on Claude, who was not of the most robust, and who
was simply overworking himself. He did not like being told so--artists
never do; he had got into difficulties with his picture, and now that it
was in distress he would not leave it.

It really needs as much patience and perseverance to mature a picture as
to rear a child. All goes smoothly for a while, and one's offspring,
picture or baby, is a source of happiness. Then comes a hitch, an
illness, and everything seems darkness. But just as a father does not
give in and say, "Oh, this baby is no use, pitch it aside," so a true
picture parent does not gash the canvas of his own painting with a
knife, or cast it away because it has the scarlet or yellow fever, or
because it tells of a crooked leg or a deformed limb. On the contrary,
he sets to work and tends the patient with soothing oils, and with the
whole arsenal of remedies his palette affords. Wonderful are the cures
that have been effected on canvas, and little does the public know, when
it admires the completed work, how desperately the artist has had to
struggle at times to preserve even a spark of vitality in it, and how
narrowly it escaped destruction at his hands.

Claude had got into a phase of despair. Several studies he had made
lately, especially some for the head of the daughter of Jairus, he
considered absolute failures.

"Those blessed models," he said, "drive me wild. The rubbish that girl
talks whilst I am trying to raise her from the dead, would make a saint

It took a good deal of persuasion to get him away from the studio and
the models, but luckily an opportunity for a rest came, when his father
had to make an official inspection of some works in the neighbourhood of
Lyons and wished Claude to accompany him.

The short holiday that he thus had to submit to would have proved rather
dull and uneventful, had it not been for an incident that made a great
impression on him. In his rambles through the city of Lyons he had come
across a fine old building, the gates of which stood hospitably open;
the door too, for, having crossed the picturesque courtyard, at one time
probably a cloister, there was nothing to prevent his entering the main
building, and he soon found himself wandering along the corridors of the
City Hospital. He seems at first to have chatted cheerfully with some of
the patients, amusing and encouraging them in his pleasant way; but
presently, as he passed from ward to ward, and witnessed the acute
sufferings of some of the sick, and the dull hopelessness of the
incurables, he gradually felt his strength failing him. The long rows of
beds began to revolve around him; he mechanically clutched hold of
something and--fainted.

So much of the incident he mentioned in a letter to me; as also that he
was going daily to the hospital to make some drawings, but the more
interesting features of his adventure I did not gather till a week or
two later, when we met in Orléans, which place was to be the
starting-point for a pedestrian tour we had planned. There he gave me
full particulars.

"I felt it coming," he said; "the rail of the bedstead nearest at hand
seemed to be going round like a wheel, and I had to wait till it was
within reach to catch it. What happened then I don't know. I suppose the
good sisters helped me to a seat and watered me till I came round. All I
can say is, that there must have been a long interval between getting
out of the faint and back to life. It was a curious experience, and one
I shall not easily forget. The first thing I became conscious of, was
that my eyes were riveted on the lifeless body of a girl laid out on a
bed, and covered with a spotless shroud; I thought it was of marble. I
saw no one else, and wondered that there was no relative or friend to
watch by the corpse; then it occurred to me that they must all have gone
to break the news to Jairus. I sat gazing at the girl's large eyelids
that lay heavily on the eyes but were not quite closed; at the wax-like
features, so beautifully chiselled; and the lock of brown hair, the only
living texture, in striking contrast with the cold sculptured pillow and
with the stiff rigid fingers that rested on the border of the shroud.

"I felt very tired and leant back, wondering what the colour of her eyes
might be. Then--was I dreaming?--I suddenly became aware that they were
violet, like the colour of a transparent amethyst. She had opened them,
and was looking quietly and unconcernedly at me.

"'J'ai bien dormi,' she said, and I, at one bound, leaped back to life
and its realities.

"'Tiens, oui,' I said, 'you look all the better for it. Now what have
you been dreaming about, if I may ask?'

"'Oh, about the bon Jésus: I love to dream of Him, it makes me so

"'And what is your name, mon enfant?'

"'Madeleine, monsieur.'

"I was truly glad to know, for I always regretted the apostle had not
told us the name of the daughter of Jairus. Well, I got Madeleine to
tell me a little of her history, and the good sisters gave me the rest.
Her father was a poor labourer, and she had been in the hospital for the
last nine months under treatment for hip disease. She was the sweetest
and most lovable of patients, they told me.

"When I went away I said:--

"'Is there anything you want? Shall I bring you a book when I come

"'No, not a book; bring me a rose, please, a red rose.'

"Well, you can fancy I thought of nothing else but the Jairus's daughter
I had found. The next morning I brought her three of the reddest roses I
could find, and she beamed with happiness as she fondled them.

"'Oh, _ma sœur_,' she said to the nurse, 'you will let me keep them
just here by my side; they smell so sweet, and they can't hurt me now
the windows are all open. I want to nurse them myself, and when they are
tired of living in a glass, I will keep them between the leaves of my
prayer-book,' and presently she added: 'I am going to read them all day.
You know, monsieur, I can't read really; that's why I didn't want you to
bring me a book.'"

Here I interrupted Claude with the question--

"How old is she?"

"How old? Well, really it never occurred to me to ask her age. I suppose
it's a sort of grown-up age, but then, to be sure, she is quite a child,
poor little thing."

And so on, and so on. Every morning he brought a fresh red rose for the
pale girl. _Sub rosa_, to be sure, was the sketch-book. Now that he had
found his long-sought model, he was glowing with the desire to make
studies from her, and so he spent the better part of a week by her
bedside, pencil in hand. The drawings I thought by far the best things I
had ever seen of his; especially one in which he had used a few coloured
chalks, and where the amethyst eyes gazed at you wonderingly. I have
since sometimes been reminded of those eyes in the work of Gabriel Max.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had met in Orleans as I have said, and started on our walking tour in
a southerly direction along the banks of the Loire. We were most
unconventionally equipped, wearing caps and blouses, and carrying only
the artist's knapsacks with a change of clothes and sketch-books.

What can be more glorious than walking, if you have the right boots to
tread along in, and the right friend by your side? It was perfect. The
river flowed with a will, the birds sang with a soul, and we could not
but catch the note and go forward in unison with stream and song. We
were in such high spirits that we found it hard to pass a man without
hurling a cordial _bon jour_ or a thundering bad joke at him. We helped
old women with their bundles, and pauperised small children by giving
them sous when they never dreamt of asking for such a thing.

Thus we pushed on, till we reached a town, not the first day, but
another. What town I have forgotten; nor do I remember what art
treasures may have been accumulated within its walls. I only know that
our sketch-books were out, and that we had found a corner of the
market-place, from which we could, without being too much noticed, catch
the characteristic figures that were buying and selling, sitting,
standing, or hanging about.

We had been working some time, when a friendly native of the fair sex,
who had evidently taken a discreet interest in our work, requested us,
with profuse apologies for the interruption, to give her a few minutes'
interview at her shop, as soon as we should have finished.

"It is just over the way," she said; "'Leroux, Smith and Carriage
Varnisher,' is written over the door."

In due time we went, and Madame Leroux asked us with some trepidation
what might be our charge for a portrait of her little girl. Dupont was
at once fully up to the situation, and said--

"Ah, madame, it is not quite easy to give you a direct answer. Charges,
you see, vary a good deal according to the style. There is the
guaranteed likeness at one price, and there is the family likeness at
another, considerably lower to be sure; that again fluctuating according
to the amount of chiaroscuro the client desires introduced. What shall
we say, my friend?" he asked, turning to me. I started a consultation on
the subject in gibberish, to which he readily responded in the same
tongue. She was much impressed by our mastery over the strange idiom,
and exclaimed admiringly--

"Ah, messieurs, anybody could see you were English."

Returning to business, Dupont further explained--

"It is, above all, the colouring, madame, that makes the difference in
price. We can do you a drawing--of the first-class quality to be
sure--for two francs twenty-five centimes; coloured, madame, it cannot
be produced for less than three francs seventy-five centimes."

It was her turn to consider and mentally to review the means at her
disposal for art purposes.

"Well, messieurs," she finally decided, "will you please do the drawing
part, and"--pointing to the pots and pans on the shelf--"my husband will
lay on the colours."

The little girl was pretty, and we had got our full enjoyment out of the
joke, so we set to, Dupont drawing her, and I doing the painting, and
finally we presented our joint work as a free gift to Madame Leroux. She
was deeply grateful, but looked just a trifle alarmed. Were we princes
in disguise, she was wondering, or had she been harbouring peripatetic
angels unawares? But she only pressed our hands and said--

"Believe me, Messieurs, I felt it, I knew it from the first, that you
were English."

I only hope that Monsieur Leroux, when he came home, was pleased with
our performance, and satisfied in his mind that I had given the full
amount of colour necessary to constitute a complete work of art.

Leaving the city, we shortly had an opportunity of testing our abilities
by the attractions they might possess for the rustic population of
France. It was in a charming little place, somewhere not far from Blois,
an idyllic spot and a very haven of rest, I should think, in times of
peace; but just now it was invaded by a large contingent of visitors,
attracted by the holding of the annual fair and of a cattle-market. In
ordinary times, I daresay the approaching traveller would have been
greeted by the silvery voice of the village church-bell, and the
peasants working in the fields would have doffed their caps _à la_ Jean
François Millet as the Angelus called them to prayer. But we only heard
the discordant voices of man and beast, as they rose from the market and
the fair, and the devout peasants had left the fields to bow their heads
reverently somewhere nearer the centre of festivities.

We found but poor accommodation at the crowded inn, but had learnt by
this time not to be particular, and to put up with a bundle of straw for
a mattress, and the back of a chair turned upside down for a pillow.

I had left Claude making some studies of oxen that might perhaps some
day, under his brush, figure as a background to a sacred subject, and I
had sauntered on to the fair. There, having pulled out my sketch-book, I
soon became a centre of attraction. An artist was evidently a strange
figure in this primitive place, and so a little crowd collected to watch
one of the species use his tools. It was on this occasion that I had an
opportunity of realising a truth which I have subsequently so often
found confirmed--viz., that there are occasions when I am wanted, and
others when I am not wanted. In that particular place I was not wanted.
So the boss of a theatrical show, close to whose booth I had taken my
stand, told me. He put it in the most courteous language. With me it did
not mean business, he could see that. With him it did, and his business
was suffering from the unwonted attraction I offered. I at once closed
my sketch-book, and he improved the occasion by announcing his
performance in stentorian voice to my crowd. It was something about the
Assassin's Coffin and the Haunted Wreck--grand drama in so many acts and
so many more tableaux, performed by his troupe in all the capitals of

"Entrez, messieurs! on va commencer. Deux sous l'entrée!" and he was up
on his platform, prodding a monkey with a long thin stick, and banging
on a drum with a short thick one.

I was moving on, when a lady, also gifted with an eye to business,
addressed me, this time to tell me that I _was_ wanted.

"You will be here this evening, will you not?" she said. "Would you mind
coming and doing some of your drawing in front of my booth; you would
attract the people, and once they are there, leave me alone for the
rest." I agreed, and in the evening Claude and I started operations. She
had placed a bench in front of her booth, which was well lit by a couple
of large lamps. Claude was in his element. He harangued the open-mouthed
villagers in his best manner. Our connection with the court, he
explained, generally made it impossible for us to accept any engagements
outside Paris, but, hearing that the good lady who presided over the
classical game of Loto had the misfortune to be a widow and an orphan,
we had felt it our duty to give her the advantage of our presence on
this occasion.

"Yes, gentlemen," he added, "not only has she put before you a most
remarkable collection of valuable articles, specimens of which the lucky
card-holder may carry home to the wife of his bosom or the child of his
headache, but the purchaser of the series of five cards is entitled to
have his portrait executed in the latest and most approved style, by
your humble servant, and his friend and colleague. Deux sous la carte,
messieurs; deux sous la carte!"

We did a good stroke of business for the enterprising widow, and at the
same time carried off some first-rate types in our sketch-books. For we
placed our models in the centre of the bench, and each of us drew a
profile from his side. Of the two sketches, we gave one away and kept
the other. The people were refreshingly ignorant; a scrap of
conversation between two old women was specially edifying. They were
comparing notes after having watched our work from both ends of the

"Well, you see," said one, "there are two of them--they each make half;
then they put it together, and that makes one."

"Sure enough, that's just the way it's done," answered the other.

It was on leaving this place that we unexpectedly found ourselves
"wanted" by the rural police.

We were trudging along, when we met two gensdarmes on horseback. They
pulled up and asked us rather gruffly for our passports. Dupont handed
them his, which was of the regulation pattern and therefore easily
passed muster; but mine was a British Foreign Office passport, neatly
bound in a leather case and signed by Lord Clarendon, and as I produced
it from beneath a time-worn French workman's blouse, it seemed, to say
the least of it, out of keeping with my appearance. It was very
explicit, setting forth that: "We, George William Frederick, Earl of
Clarendon, Baron Hyde of Hindon, Peer of &c. &c., request and require in
the name of Her Majesty, &c. &c. &c." But the gensdarmes looked in vain
for the signalement, the personal description of the bearer, which they
considered the very essence of a respectable passport; and so they
refused to "allow me to pass freely without let or hindrance." (You see
I have the old friend of a document still, and am quoting from it.) In
fact they invited us to follow them to the town we had started from in
the morning. To this we demurred, and it was not without some difficulty
that we persuaded them to run us in in the other direction, only
succeeding when Dupont said he had an uncle in the gensdarmerie, who had
often told him that the men were so badly paid, that they could not make
both ends meet, were it not for an occasional tip from those interested
in securing their good offices.

In due time we were marched into a pleasant little town--I forget its
name--our captors following close on our heels. We were taken to
headquarters and detained, as nobody there could make head or tail of
Baron Hyde of Hindon's rescript. It was taken to Monsieur le Maire,
before whom we were shortly summoned to appear. He received us

"I have no doubt, monsieur," he said to me, "that the passport is in
perfect order, but I should like to see your signature and any other
papers you may have about you that may establish your identity." I
produced a washing bill, and the last letter I had received from my
father. He looked at these and then selected a thick-set volume from the
bookcase. "Mo-sche-les," he said, as he turned over the pages, evidently
to assure himself whether my name figured in the register of criminals.
Then, turning an inquisitorial eye on me, he sat down to cross-question
me, his fingers all the while beating a little bureaucratic tattoo on
his knees. I felt as innocent as ever I had felt in my life, and strong
in my reliance on Baron Hyde and the British fleet.

"So you are an Englishman?" he asked. "And where was your father born?"
"In Prague," I answered. "Quite right," he said, with a glance at the
book; "in Prague, in 1794. You are the man;" and before I could say
anything, he had got up, and calling to a young lady in the next room,
he said, "Just come here, my dear, and look. This is Moscheles'
handwriting. Is it not a curious coincidence, just when you are studying
the Rondo brillant and the Sonata? This is Monsieur Felix Moscheles, his
son.--My daughter, Mademoiselle Julie, messieurs."

It was a very pleasant and timely coincidence. My blouse blushed, I
suppose, but Mademoiselle Julie was too polite to notice it. Monsieur le
Maire said--

"Well, as I have been officially called upon to find you a lodging, I
may as well walk with you to the Hôtel de la Poste, and see that you get
a comfortable one. When you have rested, you must come round and take a
little supper and music with us."

Our arrival, escorted by the gensdarmes, had caused considerable
excitement amongst the natives; our reappearance under the wing of
Monsieur le Maire, with whom we were evidently on terms of easy
familiarity, at once dispelled all doubts as to our character, and not
only were first impressions wiped out, but we took position as the
recognised heroes of the day. Besides thus rehabilitating us, Monsieur
le Maire profusely apologised for the gensdarmes' blunder.

"The fact is," he said, "they have instructions to look out for two
young men who are wanted, and who are supposed to be in the
neighbourhood, so they are all on the alert." To which Dupont added--

"Yes, I quite see; if they just weed out all the wrong ones, they can
then easily lay hands on the real culprits."

"Il y a de cela," said the Maire good-naturedly.

We spent a very pleasant evening with our friend and his family. The
daughter played me the Rondo brillant and the Sonata, both early works
of my father's that I was not quite as familiar with as I felt I must
pretend to be. Dupont did a little pretending too, I think, for he got
on splendidly with the mother by taking a lively interest in the
pedigrees of the leading families in the neighbourhood.

Neither of us fell in love with the daughter, as one of us, if not both,
should have done, to make a good story of it; nor, to the best of my
knowledge, did Mademoiselle Julie lose her heart to either of us.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just one more little incident of the road, to close the record of our
excursion. It would not be worth mentioning, had not the future given it

It was towards evening; the sun had gone down behind one set of heavy
clouds, and the wind was whipping up another set to join them. We were
anxious to get on, and if possible to find a short cut to our
destination, so we consulted a man who was mending the road. He had
evidently not been talked to for some time, and wanted to make the most
of his chance, for instead of a simple answer, he gave us a long yarn
about his father's road and his brother's road, and about how his was so
smooth we could play at billiards on it, but we couldn't on theirs. When
we replied that we didn't want to play, but to walk it, he said we were
only chaffing him. "I know you well," he added; "you are the two young
men who are staying with Monsieur le Docteur."

We should have done better not to take our cue from this specimen of a
billiard-table road-maker, for he misdirected us, and we must have got
on to the father's road when we should have been on the brother's, or
_vice versâ_. And the rain came on and drenched us, and soon there was a
good deal of big cloud-rolling above us, and enough of light-flashing to
show us there was nothing worth seeing--no house, no shelter of any
kind. But we didn't mind; we knew that in an orthodox thunderstorm a
friendly beacon of light shining from the window of a cottage is sure,
sooner or later, to come to the rescue of the belated traveller; and so
we pushed on till we discerned its twinkle. Then we made for it.

We were soon being hospitably received by the three inmates of the
friendly cottage--an old man, an old woman, and a dog in the prime of
life. The old man made up the fire on the brick hearth for us to dry our
clothes by, the woman stirred something that was simmering in the
caldron, and the dog sat down and stared at Dupont. He was a beautiful
shaggy creature, a sort of shepherd-dog, I think; they called him Rollo.
His pedigree might perhaps not have passed muster, but for all that, one
felt sure that his sire and his sire's spouse must have been good dogs.
I have never forgotten the deep mysterious look in that creature's eyes.

There were some pigs, too, somewhere in immediate proximity to us, but
more heard than seen, consigned as they were to a dark corner, where
they lustily grunted, whilst some of their relatives, already
dismembered, hung up inside the chimney-breast, to be gradually smoked
and cured. The old woman fetched a saucepan, and put something in it
that bubbled and fizzed, and presently one could see floating,
quivering particles come together and solidify, and finally emerge in
pancake form. Good solid pancakes they were, like counterpanes, not like
those flimsy kid-glove sort of pancakes we get in society. We fully
enjoyed them, and the coarse peasant's bread and the home-made cider.

Then we went to bed--to palliasse rather, for two big bags filled with
straw were laid down for us, and we turned in, or rather on. Our hosts
had made us as comfortable as they could, and we felt that all we could
do in return was to sleep well and to forget a few francs on the table
when we left. The old man was so kind; he knew from the first that we
were itinerant painters, and that no discredit attached to our calling.
"C'est un métier comme un autre de faire des images,"[3] he said
encouragingly. They were a cheerful couple, those two old people, and
looked as if they had not known much trouble or worry, and had just
collected their wrinkles, as time went on, for what they were worth.

One does sleep soundly on a bag of straw after a thunderstorm and a
rustic supper, and I should have done so till sunrise if, some time in
the middle of the night, Rollo had not poked his nose into my face. I
woke up with a start, and looking round, was surprised to see Dupont
standing at the window, gazing into space.

"What's the matter?" I said.

"Nothing," he answered. "It's a wonderful night."

I turned round to go to sleep again, but Rollo was very restless, and a
glorious full moon was flooding the kitchen with light, her silver rays
forming fantastic patterns on the stone floor, broken as they were by
the little lead divisions of the casement and by the flower-pots,
bottles, and various nondescript articles on the window-sill.

"I wish you would come to bed, and not stand there as if you were
moon-struck," I said at last.

"That's just what I am," he replied. "I wish you would come and be so

"As-tu fini?" I growled. "Va te coucher, imbécile,"[4] and with that I
dozed off.

But Rollo, I dreamed or I felt it, was sitting gravely by my side and
wondering how I could be so rude, his tail all the while beating the
ground at regular intervals. I roused myself once more; there stood
Dupont as before.

"Hang it all," I said, "I do wish that blessed dog and you would shut up
and turn in."

"I wish you'd open up and turn out," he answered. "Come along, don't be
an _épicier_;[5] get up and let's tramp it. It's a splendid night."

"What's the matter, messieurs?" here broke in the old man, whose head
and nightcap appeared at the glass door which separated his
sleeping-nook from the kitchen, and--"What's the matter?" echoed the
wife's voice. When he saw Claude, he simply said, "Oh, c'est ce jeune
homme qui souffre de la lune; c'est tout comme Rollo."[6]

I burst out laughing, and--I suppose lunacy is catching--I too felt that
I could not lie still, and that a moon that could make that pattern on
the floor was not the Philistine orb of the Boulevards, but a heavenly
body well worth getting up for.

Soon we were on the move. Every cloud had vanished; Nature was in her
most peaceful mood; all was at rest. We walked on, Dupont a little ahead
of me, whilst Rollo, who had come with us, never budged from his side.
We must have gone some miles when the moon, gradually descending towards
the horizon, went down behind a potato-field. We sat on the banks of a
ditch and watched it.

"A true circle," said Dupont, "a true circle!"

When it had quite disappeared, we went on. For a while Rollo stood
staring after Dupont, then he started off at a slow trot in the
direction of home, and was soon out of sight.

"Drole de chien cela,"[7] said I.

"C'est égal, il a du flaire,"[8] rejoined Dupont. Beyond that he was not
inclined for conversation, so I relapsed into silence.

And that is all. But I was to remember the moon of that night when once
more Dupont and I sat together and watched "the true circle."

       *       *       *       *       *

New-Year's Day in Paris is, as everybody knows, the most
soul-foot-and-purse-stirring day of the year. Everybody has to
conciliate everybody else. Emperors and kings move their oracular lips
to dispel any "black specks" that may be visible on the horizon, and to
proclaim the fact that, under their paternal guidance, everything is for
the best in the best of States--winding up in all humility, with a
filial appeal to the Father of all, and praying that He may devote
Himself specially to the interests of His chosen people.

The telegraph boys rush from the palace to the office, and soon the
high-priests of the Press trumpet forth the words of the mighty, and
explain their oracular utterances to the gaping crowd that stands ready,
all the world over, to be gulled, and is ever proud to wear some
master's livery and be crushed under the glorious weight of the fetters
he forges.

Sometimes the first day of God's new year is specially selected to
accentuate the Divine Right of Temporal power enthroned on earth. With
breathless expectation we await a sign--it comes--Jupiter has not
deigned to wink, or worse still, Jupiter has frowned; he should have
turned to the left, and he turned to the right, or--ye other gods
protect us!--he did not turn at all! Then suddenly there is a great
commotion in the human ant-hill. It is Neptune's ambassador who has been
slighted! The courtiers stand aghast, the High Press priests shriek
prophetically, and spill vicious inks all over their papers. Vulcan with
his big bellows fans the ever-glowing embers of distrust, just to oblige
his noble friend Mars, who looks forward to glorious work and fresh
laurels. A howling mob of human ants breaks out into rabid patriotism,
and calls upon the State to lead its armies, and on the Church to bless
its banners.

To be sure Neptune at once calls for an unlimited credit, to satisfy the
ever-neglected claims of the Panic Fund. Up go some things, by leaps and
bounds; down go others; bears and bulls hug and gore one another to
death, the dogs of war strain on their leashes, whilst the devout ant
sets to, and works with a will for six days in the week to fill the
arsenals, and then spends the seventh solemnly invoking the aid and the
blessings of the Prince of Peace.

How petty the little incidents I can record appear when compared to the
fratricidal aspirations of the faithful! Yet I must return to my own
little lambs. I had only mentioned New-Year's Day to speak of cards and
letters exchanged, and of the tribute of sweets to the sweet, and of
tips to the tipsters. All that to tell of a particular letter Claude
received on that day. The address was in his own handwriting on an
envelope which he had left the summer before with Madeleine.

"When you can write, you let me know," he had said. "The good Sisters
have promised me to teach you." And here was the letter:--

     "MONSIEUR,--I have learnt to write now, and I am so happy because I
     can write to you. I have prayed to the Bon Jésus to give you health
     and all happiness in the new year. And I am still in the hospital,
     and the sisters are so good to me.--Your grateful


To be sure he answered, and that most cordially and sympathetically, and
at the same time he wrote to the Économe, the Secretary of the Hospital,
asking for information concerning her health, and her prospects of
recovery. He received in return full particulars both from the secretary
and from the doctor who had been attending the case for the last fifteen
months. Her life had been despaired of, nor was she yet out of danger;
she would have to undergo another operation shortly. Further anxious
inquiries from Dupont elicited bulletins stating that the operation had
been successful, but that for some time afterwards the strength of the
patient had been at its lowest ebb. She was improving, and the only
thing that might eventually restore her to health would be to send her
into the country, where pure air and careful tending might possibly
effect a cure. Situated as she was, there seemed no prospect of her
securing that advantage, so Dupont volunteered to defray the cost of
placing her in a convalescent home, as soon as she could leave the
hospital. The country air worked wonders, and, one thing leading to
another, in due time he placed her in a school, a convent, where she was
in every respect well taken care of, and where she still enjoyed the
full benefit of healthy surroundings. Under these circumstances she made
rapid progress, both physically and intellectually.

In the meanwhile Claude was busy all through the winter. After our
return from the pedestrian tour he had set to work on the picture for
which he had accumulated so many studies. It was original in more than
one respect. He had selected a canvas of a peculiar shape, about twice
as wide as it was high, but his composition seemed to fill the space
allotted to it quite naturally and spontaneously.

His figures were half life-size; the main group, somewhat to the right,
was enveloped in the haze of a mysterious chiaroscuro. On the extreme
left, at the entrance to the primitive dwelling, the figures of three
children stood out dark against the bright sky, a beautiful silhouette
and true to nature, for he had taken it from life, noting it during a
halt in a peasant's cottage near Orléans. He knew the text tells us that
none but the apostles and the child's father and mother were allowed to
follow the Master; but children were children all the world over, he
said, and they might well have disregarded the command.

The picture was destined to remain on the easel for a long while, for
whilst devoting much of his time to it, Claude continued his studies
with unabated energy, attending lectures, making a series of elaborate
anatomical drawings, and I fear, generally burning the artistic candle
at both ends.

But towards the close of the winter, the picture, being very far
advanced, Claude showed it to some friends whose opinion he valued. They
were evidently much struck by his rendering of the subject.

Some very eulogistic remarks must have reached l'oncle Auguste, for, on
the strength of them, he resolved to visit the studio. He had hitherto
not condescended to show any interest in his nephew's work, but, as
others were speaking of it, he felt it desirable to be posted up to

It happened that when he called, Claude was out, but Rosa Bonheur Sinel
was there, and at once took it upon herself to do the honours of the
place and to expatiate on the beauties of the canvas.

"_I_ sat for the foot of the daughter," she said; "she is supposed to
have pushed off the drapery. You see, my big toe is fine; it is quite
apart from the one next to it; there is room for three pieces of twenty
sous between them. Sit down this side, so you don't get the varnish; now
if you look through your hand, like that, you will see a large
earthenware thing in the background. That's a big water-bottle; it's
what they used before they were Christians. It has _du style_, you know,
and keeps the water cool. Next week we shall get the frame, then you
will see it plainer; and look at the figures; they are just what is
wanted, and the draperies; monsieur never uses the mannequin, that's
what makes them so natural; that's just how people look when somebody
gets risen from the dead."

And so she went on, assisting Uncle Auguste in arriving at a due
appreciation of the picture, and giving him points he used afterwards
for the enlightenment of his friends. Looking round the studio, he said,
more to himself than to the young lady who had taken him in hand--

"What a garret! Never saw anything like it! Why, there isn't a creature
comfort in the place. I must really send him up some"----

"That you should," broke in Miss Rosa; "I know what he wants."

"And what may that be, Miss Saucebox?" he asked.

"Goldfish in a bowl, and a net with a handle," she said. "Four

"Bosh!" said the tanner; "fiddlesticks!"

But this remarkable young person knew her own mind and would not take
"Fiddlesticks" for an answer, and before many minutes had elapsed, she
was escorting l'oncle Auguste to a neighbouring shop, and superintending
the purchase of a long-coveted bowl resplendent with gold-fish.

"They're just right," she said; "he will like something live, I know;
he's tired of his models. They are all nowhere now, since he has had
that girl, that daughter of Jairus. Oh yes, monsieur, I know all about
it. She's a young person in Lyons, and he wants his father to send for
her, and do I don't know what besides. But I don't want her here with
her big staring eyes and her Sainte Nitouche airs."

L'oncle Auguste raised his eyebrows in a way peculiar to himself. Who
was this girl in Lyons? How was it that a man of his importance in the
family should be reduced to picking up his information in this stray

Rosa was quick to read his thoughts, and saw her opportunity. Tossing
her head so energetically, that the last hairpin gave way and those
obstreperous red locks of hers came tumbling over her eyes, she said--

"It's no business of mine. Besides, _I_ never speak of young ladies who
write letters," and another shake of the locks emphasised her meaning.

That was all. It would have been _infra dig._ for _l'oncle_ to have
cross-questioned her, so he said nothing, but his eyebrows went up a
little higher, and remained there quite a while after the little female
Iago had left the stage triumphantly minus hairpins, but plus goldfish.

I say stage advisedly, for Rosa was a consummate little actress, and as
the père Sinel of the Théâtre Français used to tell us, there was no
doubt her talent was inherited from him.

The uncle went home in a reflective frame of mind. He could see no
particular objection to some short-lived intrigue.

"A good-looking young fellow like Claude," he muttered to himself. "To
be sure. We all know what's what--but that's not that, or his father
would not know of it, or at least not be asked to bring her to Paris.
There must be something more serious at the bottom of this. _Petite
guenon va!_ (You little she-monkey!)" and he growled as his thoughts
reverted to Rosa; but being himself something of a bully, he rather
appreciated her impudence. So when he later on related the gold-fish
incident to some friends at his club, he wound up with his favourite

"Now mark my words, gentlemen" (he always insisted on having his words
marked at the club), "mark my words, that girl will go far; and when she
finds a comb to keep that crop of hair in order, she'll find a carriage
and pair too."

As I have said before, the subject of matrimony, applied to his nephew,
was of all others the one that the uncle was touchy about, and anything
that threatened to delay or obstruct the ambitious plans he had formed
for that nephew must be combated. He had more than once expounded the
true principles of worldly wisdom to him, but had always been nonplussed
by Claude's independent spirit and his ready wit, so he did not go
straight off and make a scene; he must get at the truth though, but he
must bide his time and watch his opportunity.

The facts of the case were simply these: There had been some question of
finding Madeleine occupation in Paris, for it had become desirable that
something should be done to give her the means of earning her own
livelihood, and Miss Rosa, who had caught scraps of conversation between
the father and son, had just put two and two together in her fanciful
way, and had jumped to her own conclusions not complimentary to the
Sainte Nitouche.

It so chanced that at the time Madeleine's future status was under
consideration, I was able to visit Lyons, so I had at last an
opportunity of seeing my friend's protégée. It had been arranged that I
should meet her at the hospital in the Économe's Office, and I was not a
little anxious to see what she would be like. In the office I found
Monsieur Tamiasse, a small man, seated at a disproportionately large
table. I was struck, too, by the size of the fine old room, and somewhat
overawed by its contents.

There was an air of systematic order and bureaucratic rule about it that
did not fail to impress a frail Bohemian like myself; there were many
books, boxes, and cases about, labelled, ticketed, and docketed, and I
felt sure I was going to be placed in safe custody somewhere in a
pigeon-hole, neatly linked to Claude, Madeleine, and the doctors. But
Monsieur Tamiasse soon put me at my ease. He was a bright, genial little
man, a first-class Économe, wearing a second-class wig, and probably in
receipt of a third-class salary. I was Monsieur Dupont's ambassador and
plenipotentiary, and as such I was received with a warm welcome, and
officially thanked for all that had been done for Madeleine. I could but
return the compliment, for Monsieur Tamiasse had quite constituted
himself her guardian, and had proved himself a most practical and useful
friend, ever ready to smooth any little difficulties that came in her
way. We soon got to the object of my visit, and talked over the next
step to take in Madeleine's interest.

An extensive business in ecclesiastical embroideries is carried on in
Lyons, and it had been suggested that she should enter an _atelier de
broderie_. Claude had already expressed his approval, so nothing
remained but to find a suitable opening for her. An excellent lady, who
was at the head of such an atelier, was a personal friend of the
Économe's, and so all could be soon satisfactorily settled.

When our little consultation was at an end, Madeleine was called in. I
was rather formally introduced to her, and to the Sister of Mercy who
accompanied her; the latter one of those excellent Sœurs de Charité
who devote their lives to the tending of the sick and helpless.

"You have been Madeleine's ministering angel, ma sœur," I said--"I am
sure we are deeply grateful to you. _N'est ce pas, mademoiselle?_" I
added, turning to Madeleine.

"_Ah oui, monsieur_," she answered.

"And you are the good fairy who taught her to read and write," I went
on, "and there again, I am sure we are very grateful to you. _N'est ce
pas, mademoiselle?_"

"_Ah oui, monsieur_," she once more answered.

She was decidedly shy, and only raised her eyes for a moment, by way of
seeing those three words safe on their way.

The eyes were the amethyst eyes of the picture. I had at once recognised
those, but in all else I found Madeleine quite different to what I had
expected. In fact, at this, our first meeting, I was rather
disappointed. Instead of the delicate poetical creature I had always
fancied her, I found a strong and hearty girl, with fresh red lips and
rather sunburnt cheeks, but without a suspicion of Biblical halo
encircling the several coils of brown hair that were loosely wound
around her head.

She, I think, was disappointed too in me. Whether, in her mind's eye,
she had also pictured me surrounded by some sort of halo or blazing
glory, I do not know. It is as likely as not, for Claude had mentioned
me in his letters to her, and he was never impartial in his judgment
when speaking or writing of his friends. And wisely too, I think, for
whom can a man look to for partiality, if not to a friend? David and
Jonathan, I feel sure, were not unbiassed in the estimate they formed
of one another. But however pleasant it may be to find one's merits
acknowledged and one's virtues extolled, it is decidedly a drawback when
one is called upon to live up to the reputation that has preceded one.
The Madeleines and others will seek in vain for the halo, and
undoubtedly be disappointed.

The good sister took her leave, and Monsieur Tamiasse left me to have a
_tête-à-tête_ with Claude's _protégée_, whilst he at once wrote off to
the lady embroideress who was to take charge of her. I had by this time
quite realised that Madeleine and the daughter of Jairus were two very
distinct persons, and that the former was none the less attractive for
never having been called upon to cross and to re-cross the Styx. I had
gone a step further, and looking at her with an artistic eye, I had even
noticed that her eyelashes had considerably grown since the days when
Claude drew the eyes _à la_ Gabriel Max.

So far I did not seem to have hit on a good conversational opening. To
be sure, if Madeleine had been an English girl, I might have made a
remark about the weather and had a fair start; as it was I went on at
random and said--

"I am so glad you liked that book I sent you." (It was Grimm's "Fairy
Tales.") "You did like it, didn't you?"

"Oh yes, monsieur; so much I can't tell you."

"But do try to tell me. I so want to know why you liked it."

"Who could help liking it? It's all about the fairies and fairyland."

"Yes, mademoiselle, that is quite a wonderful world to peep into."

"It _is_ wonderful. It's _my_ world. Things happen there just as they
happen to me."

"Well, I hope it was only the good fairies you had to do with."

"I don't know that, but they protected me from the bad ones. And they
wouldn't let the dragon devour me, but nursed and cured me, and taught
me to pray to the Sainte Vierge."

Here her ologies were becoming somewhat mixed, for she had evidently not
attempted to settle in her mind what of gratitude to give unto Theos and
what unto Mythos.

"It was one of the good ones, I suppose, that taught you to read and

"Yes, that was Sister Louise whom you saw just now; she's as good a
fairy as ever was. Ah, monsieur, you can't understand it, you can't
realise what a wonderful thing it is to be able to read and write. You
learnt it when you were a child and _couldn't_ know; but I was quite a
big girl and had made my first communion when I began to learn those
wonderful signs that you can say everything with--everything you can
possibly think of--and that make it possible to read anything anybody in
the whole world ever thought of."

"Well, I am quite glad you told me. Now I can report to Monsieur Dupont
that you are both well and happy."

"That you can; and tell Monsieur Claude that I am grateful to him for
bringing me those three fairies. It was that morning, the second time
he came---- But I am talking too much," she said, interrupting herself
suddenly, "and that is rude. I hope you will excuse, monsieur."

"Excuse! Why, my dear child, I love to hear you talk about all that--I
am devoted to Fairyland myself; it is quite the artist's home, you know,
and I must tell you my experience of it presently; but first I am
curious to know how he came to bring those good fairies to you. And
three too; just like in the tales; everything always goes by threes."

"I never thought of that," she said reflectively, and then continued,
once for all giving up the idea that talking much was rude. "I've got
them pressed between the leaves of my prayer-book. They were three
beautiful red roses when he brought them; I never saw such three roses
before. I turned them to the light and tried to make them happy whilst
they were with me, but to be sure I knew I could not keep them alive
long, so when they seemed ready to die, I put them in the book. They
were under my pillow when I was very, very ill. I must have been bad,
for one night the doctors thought I was going to die, and Sœur Louise
wouldn't let Sœur Amélie take her turn to sit by me. But I knew I was
not going to die; I even knew I was going to get quite well, because the
three good roses told me so--I hope you won't laugh at me, monsieur, for
calling a rose a fairy, but I----"

"Now really, mademoiselle, you couldn't for a moment imagine that I
should be so matter-of-fact and heartless as to laugh."

"Well, what do you think of her, monsieur?" broke in Monsieur Tamiasse.
"What does she look like now? There's her record in that third Division,
Casier G, No. 721. There we have her from the first day when she was
brought to us, to the day when we thought she was going to be carried
away from us, and so on up to date. She is not a bad specimen of the
sort we turn out at the Lyons City Hospital, is she? Not that we always
succeed. We are beaten more than once by the grim old gentleman with the
scythe. But we are always ready to fight him, and we manage sometimes to
get hold of his hour-glass and turn it upside down. Well, to-morrow we
hand this young lady over to my friend Mademoiselle Chevillard. She will
be here at twelve o'clock. Will you come and give your sanction to the

"Certainly," I said, and took my leave.

And as I went home I thought the world was not so bad after all, with
its Sisters of Charity, its bright, devoted little Économe, and its
Madeleine with her friends the fairies.

To-morrow came, and with it the transfer. I sanctioned it with all my
heart, for Mademoiselle Chevillard at once struck me as just the person
we could entrust our ward to. She and the Économe were settling the
business part of the transaction, and I turned to Madeleine and asked
her whether she was pleased to learn the art of embroidery.

"Pleased!" she said, "why, it's the very thing I have always been
longing for. That's just why I am going to get it. I told you that
things happened to me as they do in the fairy tales. So my wish is to
be fulfilled, and I'm going to paint pictures like the one Monsieur le
Curé showed me, all done with a needle."

I wanted to know more about Monsieur le Curé and the picture, and so she
told me he was her great friend and instructor at the convent. He had
one day taken her into the sacristy of his church, and there she had
seen the most lovely piece of embroidery one could imagine. It was under
glass and in a gold frame, and represented the Madonna surrounded by
little lambs with silky curls; one of them she was fondly petting. Over
her head two little angels were holding a large crown, all of
intertwined gold threads, and at her feet l'enfant Jésus was seated on
the grass amongst flowers, every one of which was a combination of
glossy silks and sparkling beads and spangles. I remember it all so
well, for I am sure that girl taught me, if not to admire, at least to
analyse the beauties of ecclesiastical embroidery.

By this time we had got quite confidential, and she said, "You were
going to tell me about your fairyland."

So I told her that I too was one of those privileged creatures to whom
all good things seemed to come without much waiting. I could not lay
claim to a fairy godmother, but my godfather was quite a match for any
good genius of either sex.

Yes, mademoiselle, every Thursday evening, as the clock struck half-past
six, he would appear in a hallowed place called the "House of Robes."[9]
There he stood, every inch a ruler, the centre figure in a group of
loyal vassals, waiting for a sign from his hand--I see him now--He
raises his magic wand; a great rite is about to be performed, and
spell-bound we listen for the coming sounds. Then onwards, upwards he
leads us, into realms of unfathomable mysteries, where Music rules

"Who was that, monsieur? I cannot follow you."

"A magician, Maddalena! He could conjure up to your vision the dream of
a Midsummer night, and his were the Songs that needed no words. Now, he
has left us for the very realms his fancy had created. When he arrived
there, the gate was opened wide to admit him, and Elijah the prophet
stood ready with St. Paul to receive him. No wonder you are mystified,
my dear. I'll explain it all to you another time. I really only meant to
tell you that his name was Felix, and that means happy, and with the
name my good godfather gave me happiness. Yes, good things seem to come
to me as they do to you. May it last! At any rate we will hold on to the
fairies as long as we can, and if ever the wicked dragon crosses our
paths, we will stand by one another, won't we?"

"Well, I can't do much," she said, "but I'll run a needle through him,
if he means mischief."

And the offensive and defensive alliance thus ratified, we parted, each
the richer for a new friend.

In my letters to Claude I gave very full particulars of my conversations
with Madeleine, and of the practical result of my visit; in fact it is
from these letters, now in my hands, that I have been largely quoting.
More than a twelvemonth was to elapse before we met again, for I had
left Paris to pursue my studies under Kaulbach in Munich. The numerous
letters Claude wrote to me during the interval, mostly treat of the two
subjects uppermost in his mind, art and love. As I once more read them
over after many years, I am aware that the history of his loves really
offers no very remarkable features, and I approach the subject with some
diffidence on that account. But on the other hand I remember that we all
like the old story that always assumes a new shape; we like it perhaps,
because, in this wicked world of ours, hatred and evil influences so
constantly cross our path, that we are always glad to turn aside when
the opportunity offers, and to listen to tales of love and devotion. And
there were gold and silver threads that ran through Claude's life, as
they do through most people's.

He was very impressionable, but he never treated love lightly; he often
would see beauty where I, for the life of me, saw no more than ordinary
good looks; in fact his artistic temperament would lead him to evolve a
perfect Venus or a paragon of virtue from very slender materials. But he
was too honest, and too much of an idealist, to indulge in the popular
pastime of flirtation. Love skirmishes he might be drawn into, but they
were not of his seeking, and he usually remained on the defensive. The
Venuses and Paragons might rule supreme for a while, but when--as would
soon happen--they were found wanting in some of the perfections his
imagination had endowed them with, his idol had to step off its
pedestal. Nor was he particularly humbled when he had to acknowledge his
mistake. He would often say that it was quite a different thing to be
"amoureux d'une femme," and to "aimer une femme"--to be in love with, or
to love a woman. And then, dear old mystic that he was at the bottom of
his heart, he would conjure up a "Vision of Love," as he called it, a
vision to be "divined, not defined." Was he ever to marry and be happy?
I often wondered.

When I arrived in Paris, I found Claude at the station, and we embraced
in true continental fashion. I had been invited to stay with him and his
father, and I was soon established under their hospitable roof.

The first twenty-four hours we slept little and talked much. I knew all
about the picture and all about a new star in his horizon, Mademoiselle
Jeanne, but what is _all_ when it is crammed into the few pages of a
letter? Very little as compared with what can be made of it in

Of the picture later on; first about the girl. Mademoiselle Jeanne was
the daughter of the _grand Roule_; so we had called her father, for no
better reason than that his charming residence was in the Faubourg du

He was one of the leading physicians in Paris, more particularly known
by his writings, which treated of some pathological speciality, I forget
which. Her mother was an Englishwoman. During a twenty years' residence
in Paris she had added to the sterling qualities of her race the
graceful attributes of a Parisian. She was not only a charming hostess,
but a woman of great literary attainments, and indeed she must have been
more than that, an erudite scholar, if, as the world said, some of the
best pages in the doctor's books came from her pen. He gave colour to
the assertion, for by word and deed he showed that he held her and her
judgment in the highest esteem. It was quite a pleasure to see this
united couple together, a pleasure I often enjoyed, for during my first
long stay in Paris I had been made quite at home in their house.

Jeanne, or, as her mother persisted in calling her, Jane, was about
sixteen when I first knew her. She was reserved and diffident; happiest
when allowed to remain unnoticed in the background, positively
distressed when dragged into broad daylight, or obliged to take her
share in gaieties. I soon discovered the cause of her shyness. She
suffered from the consciousness that she had red hair; in fact that
consciousness seemed to have sunk deep into her heart and mind, and to
have made her morbidly sensitive.

In those days red hair evoked nothing but a pointed reference to
carrots--that from the ill-natured; the good-natured would feel
compassion for the poor girls who were thus afflicted. I wonder
sometimes whether the red of those days was the same we admire now,
whether those carrots of my youth can have been transformed into the
lusciously lustrous locks of to-day. Were they formerly only under a
cloud and crushed under the weight of unanimous condemnation? Could the
molten gold have been hidden away, and the deep-toned brass notes
silenced, and were they only waiting to be combed and coaxed to the
front?--Well, the trials of the sandy-hair phase are over, and I, for
one, am grateful to live in the Renaissance period, and to witness the
triumph of woman's loveliest crown.

Poor Mademoiselle Jeanne did what she could to conceal the luxuriant
crop Nature had given her. She wound it in tight coils round the back of
her head, where at least she could not see it if she chanced to come
across a looking-glass. She brushed it off her forehead with a
determination to show as little as possible of it in front, and if a few
spiteful stray hairs would not lie down with the rest, she cut them off,
much to my distress, for, when talking to her, my eyes were always
wandering to the little border of reddish stubble that remained, and I
saw her see me seeing, and that made it awkward for both.

Her extreme sensitiveness no doubt originated in the unkind comments
made upon her in her childhood. As she grew up, it seemed impossible to
efface these early impressions. She had got it into her head that she
was the ugly duckling, and neither parents nor friends could persuade
her to the contrary. But she gradually accepted what she considered the
inevitable, and at the time Claude appeared on the scene (I introduced
him to the family) she had sufficiently overcome her shyness, to perform
the duties of a young lady of eighteen in her mother's salon, without
betraying how much she would have preferred keeping in the background.
It was very characteristic of that young lady that, when she did emerge
from the background, she would do so with a rush; whether she offered
you a chair or a cup of tea, she came upon you unexpectedly, firing as
it were, at close quarters, and retreating before you could capture her.

"I know I'm a coward," she said to me one day when we were talking of
heroes, "and it's just because I'm a coward that there is no virtue I
admire more than courage. If I were a man, I would, I could"----

There she stopped short, and left me to guess the rest. I often noticed
that when her thoughts were about to come to the surface, she would get
alarmed at her own boldness, and take refuge in some commonplace remark,
or relapse into silence, leaving your curiosity ungratified as to what
was really going on in her mind.

With Claude she was more at her ease than with any of the other young
men that came to the house. This was not to be wondered at, for Claude,
as I have said, was the sort of man who would inspire even little street
girls with confidence. I don't think he ever made any comments on her
hair, but perhaps his eye too sometimes rested unconsciously on the
stubbles, and thus exercised its influence; certain it is that an
influence was at work. The little refractory hairs that had been a
source of so much trouble, were allowed to follow their natural bent,
and began to wave and frizz. That was a symptom: others were to follow.
One evening conversation had turned on skulls and brains, and the doctor
had given us some interesting facts relating to the comparative sizes
of the brains in man and in the inferior animals. Claude, who had made
quite a special study of anatomy, took up the subject from the artistic
point of view, and showed the relationship between brains and beauty.

"The great artists," he said, "have ever given due predominance to the
cranium over the eyes, nose, and mouth. The receptacle of the brains
must lord it over the representatives of the senses. That is, too, why
they have made so much of the hair, using it to give full development to
the upper part of the head. It's a most fascinating art, that of the
hairdresser," he wound up, "and I sometimes feel that _Anch'io_ might
have been _Parruchiere_! I think I missed my vocation!"

These observations of Claude's had a remarkable effect. The coils were
loosened, a little at first, then by degrees more; and the material at
hand, one could not help noticing, was being reconstructed after the
style adopted by the immortal Venus of Milo. At that time Claude was but
moderately interested in Jeanne, but, much as a gardener looks with
satisfaction at the fresh shoots of a plant that seemed doomed, so he
looked with pleasure on the rising waves which he knew had come at his
bidding. His eyes had a way of indicating a little in advance what his
lips were going to say; it was a case of light travelling faster than
sound; so first came the twinkle and then the words. Jeanne got the full
benefit of the approving twinkle, and was relieved when she found that
it was not followed by a congratulatory speech. He only said--

"I see your brain is struggling for space," and then changed the

It is surprising how symptoms have a way of begetting symptoms, and what
striking effects they are apt to have on sensitive natures like
Claude's. He became more and more of a gardener, and brought beneficent
sunshine into the life of the budding flower.

On the 15th of August he and Jeanne were together at the Turkish
Embassy. They were amongst the guests invited to witness the grand
spectacle provided for the pleasure-seeking Parisian on that day, the
_Mi-Août_, as it is called. It was the great Napoleon's birthday,
henceforth to be consecrated as the National Holiday. The newly founded
Empire spared nothing to organise fêtes in general, and this one in
particular, on the grandest scale. All the resources of the decorator's
art had been brought to bear on the Champs Elysées, and with such
success that no fields could have looked more Elysian. The sculptor had
contributed colossal figures, the architect triumphal arches, and an
untold number of _lampions_ were suspended in festoons which reached in
gradually ascending curves from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de
Triomphe de l'Étoile.

A grand review, a military pageant, such as only a Napoleon could call
into existence, was once more to show an admiring universe the
unrivalled superiority of the French army, when marshalled by the
Emperor now representing the greatest of Cesarian dynasties.

The Parisian was overflowing with patriotic emotions; his heart beat
fast and vibrated with legitimate pride, as drums and bugles summoned
him to witness the glorious spectacle. From all sides the people were
streaming towards the Place de la Concorde. There, to your left, if you
turn your back on the Obelisk and the fountains, you see the garden of
what was then the Turkish Embassy (now a club). It is considerably
raised above the level of the Rue Boissy d'Anglais on the one side, and
the Avenue Gabrielle on the other. It was a point of vantage from which
it must have been quite pleasant for the privileged beau-monde to look
down on the struggling plebeian.

Jeanne and Claude had been walking up and down that garden absorbed in
earnest conversation. He was bitterly opposed to these military
pageants, and with the natural eloquence of conviction, he had been
inveighing against the delusions of mankind that culminate in
fratricidal warfare. He was particularly hard on Horace Vernet, that
panegyrist of the _piou-piou_, as he called him.

"How can a man lower his art to the level of tunics and red breeches?"
he asked. "He's at best a stump orator on canvas, using his brushes to
tickle the national pride of the Frenchman! 'L'Empire, c'est la Paix,'
indeed! Does it look like it?"

"Well, so far it does," said Mademoiselle Jeanne. "Surely this is a
peaceful fête. See how the people enjoy it."

"Yes, mademoiselle, poor blind deluded people! Look again, and fancy
that man shot through the heart with a bullet, and that boy on his
shoulders pinned to the wall with a bayonet."

"Oh, don't speak like that, Monsieur Claude; you know I'm an abject
coward. I should fly to the ends of the earth rather than face danger."

"You are right. I beg your pardon; I know I ought not to conjure up ugly
visions, least of all before your eyes, Mademoiselle Jeanne."

"I dare say you think me very foolish, Monsieur Claude, but----"

"Not foolish, mademoiselle; on the contrary, I am grateful to you for
pulling me up when I fly off at a tangent as I did just now."

"Yes, monsieur," she answered, "I know you are always indulgent. That
is, I suppose, why I venture to pull you up, as you call it. You see, I
can't always follow you, and I don't want to be left behind."

That was a long sentence for her.

Whilst the ambassador's guests had elbow-room and to spare, the crowd
below got more and more densely packed; it had so far surged hither and
thither to the accompaniment of good-natured jokes, banter and _blague_,
but suddenly a cry of alarm was raised:--

"_Nom d'un nom_, stand back! _Pour l'amour de Dieu_, don't push; you'll
crush the child! The woman is fainting. Keep her head up or she's lost!"

Those are terrible moments when a crowd first realises imminent danger,
and the instinct of self-preservation overrides all fellow-feeling,
shows no mercy, gives no quarter. Yes, indeed, keep your head up, or you
are lost. In the garden above, the festive gathering was suddenly
changed into a scene of confusion. The ladies shrieked, and one or two
of them swooned in sheer sympathetic terror. Men thundered words of
command to the crowd below, that were lost in a sea of noises. At the
first indication of danger, Jeanne had darted away like an arrow into
the house; Claude was to the front trying, but in vain, to reach the
child that was being held up by a pair of strong arms. A few instants
more and Jeanne was back, carrying a chair. Not a pin could drop to the
ground that crowd covered, but the chair did, and, with its aid, the
work of rescue began.

"Get another," she called to Claude, "that one will be broken up
directly," and off she was again. Another minute and she appeared at a
window overlooking the Rue Boissy d'Anglais, brandishing the first thing
she chanced to lay hands upon--a large Turkish sabre. The shy girl with
the red hair, the abject coward, was transformed into a modern Jeanne
d'Arc, mowing the air with the curved blade of the Saracens; a curious
picture, that arrested the attention of the crowd beneath, at a point
some two hundred yards in the rear of the dangerous corner of the Avenue
Gabrielle, thus holding in check for a moment the seething mass of
people who were pressing forward, unconscious of the danger to life and
limb they were creating.

"En arrière!" she cried. "On s'écrase la bas! Barrez la rue!" An officer
of the Gensdarmerie took in the situation. He backed his horse on the
advancing crowd, orders were given to stop the influx from the Rue du
Faubourg St. Honoré, and a catastrophe was averted.

The story of the timely relief of those besieged garden walls rapidly
spread amongst the guests, who were gradually recovering from their
fright. The ladies had ceased shrieking, and had completed the elaborate
process of swooning, and of being brought round by the polite attentions
of the gentlemen; they were now extolling Jeanne's presence of mind.

"My dear," said one old lady, "without you they would have stormed the
house, and with my wretched health, I should not have survived it."

"Yes," added her son-in-law, "single-handed she beat the rabble back.
She ought to have the Legion d'Honneur."

"Take me away," Jeanne said to Claude; "anywhere, into the house."

"Do you mind my stopping with you?" asked Claude, but not till they had
settled on a many-cushioned divan in the coolest and quietest room of
the Embassy.

"Do stop," she said, "to protect me from the rabble. I might not be able
to beat it back single-handed."

Claude thought he had never seen her hair so beautifully untidy before.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I am sure I said nothing; no, _nothing_. But I can't help fancying she
thinks I said _something_, and that's what makes me miserable."

So Claude assured me as I closely cross-questioned him on the subject of
that day's conversation. Something had happened since to make him revert
to the many-cushioned divan with uneasiness. He had gone, much against
his inclination, on a visit to his uncle's.

"I know it's a guet-apens, a trap," he had said to me. "The old story;
he wants to marry me to some money-bag. Anyway, he's too late now; I'm
not in the market. For all that I wish I had Jeanne down there to help
me beat off the enemy with her Turkish scimitar. Bother matrimony! Why
must we always be thinking of it? As if loving and being loved wasn't
heavenly enough by itself. And why must we always go a-hunting in
so-called society? Don't you think we ought to stick to our Quartier
Latin and take a spouse of our own Bohemian type, instead of pottering
about in swell salons and falling in love with some fine lady who will
expect a fellow to go about disguised as a gentleman for the rest of his
natural life?"

Such were his sentiments before he started. Four days afterwards he
returned in love with a beautiful woman, and quite disposed to make a
gentleman, or even a fool, of himself for her sake.

I happened to know her. Her name was Olga Rabachot. Her father was a
Pole, one of those ill-fated noblemen who died for their country, whose
estates were sequestrated, and whose fortune went to swell the coffers
of the Russian Treasury. The mother and daughter settled in Paris. I
suppose they lived in a garret, and gave music lessons, after the style
of good Polish refugees; but I really know nothing about it, and
probably only derive my impressions from the circumstance that the
mother sang and the daughter played one evening when I was introduced
to them at the house of Hittorff, the famous architect of the Place de
la Concorde. A short time afterwards it was rumoured that a Monsieur
Rabachot, an elderly gentleman who had made a fortune in business, had
become much attracted by the charms and graces of the mother, Madame
Somethingiska. This proved to be true, but only inasmuch as he saw in
her an eligible mother-in-law. We soon heard to our surprise that his
hand and his fortune had been accepted by the daughter, the younger

The curiously assorted couple enjoyed but a brief term of matrimonial
bliss, or whatever else it may have been. Before a year had gone by, the
wealthy manufacturer was suddenly struck down by heart disease, as he
stood by the open grave of a friend. The incident made quite a sensation
in Paris at the time.

It was the bereaved widow, then, that Claude met at his uncle's. The
late husband had been on terms of close friendship with the tanner, and
had appointed him one of the executors of his will. But all business
connected with this had been settled nearly a twelvemonth ago, and now
l'oncle Auguste thought it about time to put his abilities in the
matrimonial agency line to the test. So, as Claude had correctly
guessed, he had prepared his little guet-apens.

With Claude it was love at first sight--that is, if we may apply the
term love to what is begotten of intense admiration for the creature
beauties of woman. She had eyes, so it seemed to me at least, that might
rest when off duty, but would ever be on the alert where they could be
used to advantage. Her mouth, I must say, was most attractive. The lips
were carved, curved, and coloured to perfection, and I cannot recollect
ever having seen any of their kind better fitted to be met by other
lips. Her pallor was interesting, her hair jet black, and her manners
fascinating; but for all that I could never have worshipped at her
shrine. Not so Claude. He saw everything in her that a man sees when he
is struck blind by the God of love.

As we walked home together, on his return from that first meeting, we
talked it all over. When we got home we talked it all over again. First
it was daytime; then came the night; then the day broke again, and we
were still talking--always on that inexhaustible theme that, since
articulate sound was created, has used up more language than all other
themes put together.

It must have been thus, I feel confident, that Orestes and Pylades
talked by the hour when one of them or both were in love, and so too all
the O.'s and P.'s, and, for the matter of that, all the other initials
of the alphabet, ranging from the Alpha to the Omega.

At first I was not sympathetically inclined, and put spokes into the
wheels that were running away with Claude. After a while I merely tried
to apply the brake, lest he should rush down hill too rapidly, but I
finally found myself running and rolling along, doing my best to keep
pace with him.

The fact is his enthusiasm was catching. He described that woman so
vividly that, for the time being, I could not help seeing her as he
painted her. To be sure the thousand and one little details that made up
our conversation do not bear repetition. The facts that I elicited were
these: At his uncle's bidding Claude came, Claude saw, and Claude was
conquered. Was she conquered too? That was a question not easily
answered. During the four days they were together she sometimes accepted
his attentions very graciously; at other times she was anything but
encouraging, and even showed so marked a preference for the uncle that
it seemed as if the young widow had preserved a taste for elderly
husbands. He, l'oncle Auguste, inclined as he was under ordinary
circumstances to lord it over friend and foe alike, was unmistakably
cowed in the presence of the Polish fascinator. She not only showed
interest in the tanner's work, but also fearlessly indulged in
criticism; this more especially in reference to the ventilation of some
of the workshops. That she should have selected this particular subject
for her adverse comments rather surprised me, for I had been brought up
in the belief that the Poles might ventilate their grievances, but not
much else.

The subject led to a rather lively discussion between Madame Rabachot
and Claude's uncle, she being of the very advanced opinion that a man,
even if he only worked from ten to twelve hours a day in an enclosed
space, was entitled to a fair amount of pure air, whereas the
distinguished head of the concern, who was of the good old school,
maintained that in his experience of many years' standing he had always
gone by the golden rule that the amount of fresh air provided for the
workman should be in exact proportion to the wages he is paid. The fair
advocate of man's rights, however, stood her ground so well that the
unfortunate employer had to give way, and promise the desired reforms.

This episode made a great impression on Claude, as well it might.
Perhaps, though, he went a little far, when he said she was a noble
creature, the champion of the great cause of suffering humanity, and the
like. To be sure the chief factor of her strength was the splendid gift
she possessed of using her eyes.

I elicited that even whilst skirmishing with the uncle she always had at
least one eye on the nephew; that one was evidently enough to hold him
in subjection, for with it she had condescended to say many pleasant
things that she did not deem it desirable to entrust to the
indiscretions of the lips. Taking it all in all, I came to the
conclusion that she was, to say the least of it, very much interested in
Claude, but that, being of a kittenish disposition, she had coquetted
with the uncle in the playful way so frequently practised by women when
they look sweet upon one man with a view to quickening the pulses of
another, whose affections they aspire to secure.

If Claude said he was miserable, it was not so much because it was yet
an open question whether the young widow could reciprocate his feelings,
but because the image of Jeanne stood between him and his new love. He
knew that Jeanne was more than partial to him, and he felt that he had
been slowly but surely drawn towards her.

How much or how little had he really shown the interest he took in her
was the question that exercised his mind. Had he ever said anything that
she could have construed into an acknowledgment of a deeper feeling than
that of friendship, anything that would be at least morally binding? No,
certainly not in words; but then, to be sure, much can be said without
the use of spoken language. Of all the songs without words the love song
is the most legible. Besides, the most harmless of words can make
mischief if they are taken in connection with what has preceded. The
statement that twice two makes four is innocent enough in itself, but it
may, under given circumstances, be made to say that she has two eyes and
so have you, and that, if she could only vouchsafe to see with your eyes
as you see with hers, twice two in this particular case would make one.

Nor need you propound subtle solutions of arithmetical problems; you
need but admire the humble cottage as you go across fields with her, if
you want to commit yourself irrevocably, and so too, the mere mention of
the moon has been enough to dispose of a man for life.

Claude may not have strictly avoided every opening of this kind, but I
certainly do not think he had any cause for self-reproach. I felt sorry
for Jeanne, for it was evident that, for some time to come at least,
there was little prospect of her regaining whatever hold she might have
had on him. There was nothing to be done in that direction; so we
shelved Mademoiselle Jeanne _sine die,_ and talked of the other one.

That other one had been particularly sympathetic in her appreciation of
Claude's picture; it had at last been completed and sent to the Salon.
On the varnishing day it was sold to a dealer for two thousand francs.

"That goes to the Madeleine fund," said Dupont, who was always planning
great things for the girl's future.

"That goes to me," said the dealer, as he resold the picture and
pocketed a profit of fifteen hundred francs.

The "Daughter of Jairus" could not fail to attract much attention.
Original as it was in its composition, and independent in its conception
of a religious subject, it led to much heated controversy in the leading
papers of the day. In some of them the artist was lauded to the skies;
in others, roundly abused. Those three poor dear little innocents
standing at the open door of Jairus's house, more than any other
incident in the picture, gave rise to brilliant argument, vigorously
attacked as they were on the one hand, and heroically defended on the

Virtually the able art-critics were divided into two camps, from which
they issued grandiloquent manifestoes, and passed judgment on art and
artists, past, present, and future. I have not preserved cuttings from
the papers, but I think I can give a pretty correct idea of the opposite
views taken by those heaven-born wiseacres, the art-critics of the day,
only apologising to them for my poor rendering of their doctrines.

"Monsieur Claude Dupont," said one set, "is a young man of great
promise; he is a powerful draughtsman, and his gifts, if turned to
account, may prove him to be a worthy champion of that severe and chaste
school that gave us a Lesueur, an Ingres, and a Flandrin. Whilst
prognosticating so bright a future to Monsieur Dupont, we feel, however,
that we should not be doing our duty, if we did not warn him against the
perverse influence that the apostles of the so-called Realistic school
have already begun to exercise over his brush. We allude to the three
children most unseemingly intruding on the grand scene that is being
enacted in the house of sorrow. Let us hope that the danger that
threatens the young artist may yet be averted, and that so much talent
may be applied to perpetuate the traditions of a great past."

"Monsieur Claude Dupont," said the other camp, "has a great future
before him, if he wisely utilises his gifts. We welcome in him a painter
who, in his treatment of a religious subject, breaks with the traditions
of an effete school. The introduction of those three children, peering
with wondering eyes into the house of mysteries, we consider a stroke of
genius. But for all that, the fetters forged by the past are still
clinging to him. We heartily congratulate him on the step he has taken
towards emancipation, but we would have him fully realise, that if he is
to fulfil the brilliant promise of this his first picture, he must
abjure once for all the errors and conventionalities of a school
destined to perish at the hands of triumphant Realism."

These newspaper comments affected different people in different ways.
Rosa Bonheur Sinel resented anything short of unqualified praise, and
was simply indignant with one writer who had ventured to criticise the
drapery she had sat for. The article commenting on the masterly drawing
of her foot, she kept in a discarded hatbox with other treasures,
prominent amongst which was a defunct goldfish preserved in a glass

Madeleine was supremely happy. She had seen a very sympathetic notice in
the leading paper of Lyons.

     "I am proud of the picture," she wrote to Claude, "and I can think
     of nothing else. I am sure I am quite glad I was so ill, if that
     helped you at all. The man who wrote the article was kind enough to
     say he liked the way I opened my eyes so much, that he was glad I
     had come to life again. I thought that rather flippant. Don't you
     think so, too? But then he described the whole picture so
     beautifully, that I fancied I could see it; he seemed to like it
     all, only he wanted some more 'impasto.' What can that be? May I
     tell you about a dream I had? You know I am always having dreams;
     you won't mind, will you? It's quite short, and it is all about
     you. I saw you in a large looking-glass, but not all of you; only
     from your neck to your feet; I could not see your head. Besides, I
     should not have noticed it if it had been in the looking-glass; I
     could only look at your feet. You had those slippers on I
     embroidered for you last year, and I was so unhappy, because they
     were so ugly; so unhappy, that I woke up quite upset. And since
     then I've been thinking, how could I ever have sent you such a
     stupid flower pattern, all so hard and stiff? I do feel ashamed of
     it now.

     "Madame Chevillard is so kind. She says I am her daughter, and I
     feel as if I really were. In the evening I go up to her room, and
     she unlocks her treasure cupboard, and takes out something to show
     me and tell me about. She has got beautiful books, and she lets me
     read them to her; she sits in her big armchair and looks sweet, and
     she seems to know everything that is in the books. There is one
     that just tells all about the artists; there are lots of hard words
     in it, and one can only read a little of it at a time. Sometimes
     she laughs at me, because I say I should like to be an artist, too.
     I don't mean painting, but making some kind of thing beautifully.

     "And often, when I read to her, I begin to wonder again how the
     thoughts get into the book, and I can get them out again.

     "I ought to leave off writing, Madame Chevillard says, so adieu,
     Monsieur.--I am, your grateful friend,


     "_P.S._--Please throw away the slippers; do. I am making you a
     surprise, and madame says it is going to be a much better piece of
     work this time. I should so much like to tell you what it is, but
     then, to be sure, it would not be a surprise.

     "How nice you have Monsieur Felix staying with you; he is good.

     "I am glad your cough is better, but do take care of yourself."

Ah, yes! we all wished he would take care of himself; but, alas! that
is just the thing he could not be induced to do. One would think that to
be in love with one woman, and just out of love with another, would be
fairly enough to occupy one man's mind; but it was not so with Claude.
He was working in his studio, in museums and libraries, all day long,
and of an evening he would study anatomy, as if he bad been qualifying
for a doctor. Pictures seemed constantly coming to him, like so many
mocking Will-o'-the-wisps, flitting before his eyes when they were open,
and twitting his worried brain when they were closed.

Madeleine's letters were always particularly quieting and soothing to
him, and he used to say that, when he wanted a rest, he liked to sit
down and write to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not long after Claude's momentous visit to his uncle I had again to
leave Paris. It was a wrench to part with him just when he needed a
friend to help him through his joys and troubles, but duties of various
kinds called me back to Munich, so there was nothing for it but to say
good-bye. We felt it doubly, for we knew we were not to meet for some
time. Write we should, to be sure, we were always good correspondents;
and this time there was no need to assure one another that we should do
so often.

I started from the Gare du Nord.

"Good-bye then, old fellow! _Au revoir--adieu!_"--lightly said, deeply

I rolled on, thinking of Claude and Jeanne, the widow and Madeleine,
till I got to my destination, my queer little studio in that ramshackle
old house, Schützenstrause No. 5/3 links. The address is no use now, for
that abode of mine is pulled down, as are its dear decrepit brothers and
sisters, and the primitive old station opposite. All to make room for
new buildings more suitable to tenants with sensitive noses and
rectilinear tastes.

The first letter that reached me from Paris was not, as I expected, in
Claude's handwriting, but in his father's. It told me that Claude was
too ill to write. He was to have gone down to his uncle's on the
Saturday (I had left on the Tuesday), and he was looking forward to what
only a short time previously he had called a trap, a guet-apens, with
the greatest impatience, for amongst other guests would be Olga
Rabachot. But before the day came he caught a severe chill, and was
peremptorily ordered to bed.

The fascinating widow he was never to see again. Not only the old cough
had returned, but with it symptoms sufficiently grave to make it
desirable he should winter abroad.

I had foreseen, and so has doubtless any one who has cared so far to
follow Dupont on the love-path, that it was not he who would marry, the
fascinating widow, but the uncle, and so I may as well state that such
was the case. How it came about I either never knew or have forgotten,
and as I should only be getting out of my depth if I attempted to fill
the gap with scraps of fiction, I will confine myself to the simple
narrative based on my recollections, and will merely add that I trust
the uncle and the aunt lived happily ever after, and that the workmen at
the dyer's works got as much ventilation as was procurable at that time
and in that particular part of the world.

Claude soon left for Mentone. Then came my turn; was it sympathy or was
it coincidence? About the same time I too was taken ill, and that
seriously. The cause was not far to seek: a component part in the great
scheme of creation is a certain vicious north-east wind that seems to
live and thrive on annihilation. This Boreas is a kind of ogre who feeds
not only on fat babies, but on any mortal thing that he can turn into
dust. Not satisfied with his legitimate prey, the autumn leaves, he
explores every nook and corner seeking whom he may devour. He found me
out one evening after a day of unusual heat, as soon after sunset he
suddenly came sweeping across the mountains that lie to the north-east
of Munich. For months to come he laid me low, very low, and thus all the
fine plans that Claude and I had made for a regular correspondence, that
would keep us linked together at least mentally, came to naught. Letters
dictated to the kind and anxious watchers by our respective bedsides
were but poor substitutes for the minutely detailed accounts of our
doings that we usually exchanged, or for the heartfelt effusions that
our friendship prompted.

But to talk of one's illnesses is really a most unpardonable offence.
For all the purposes of description one can find quite enough of
weakness in man when he is strong and hearty, without going out of
one's way to ransack the sick-room for further evidence of his frailty.
So I will merely mention that I was and remained an invalid throughout
the greater part of the ensuing winter.

The truth concerning Claude's health was kept from me. I since knew that
he had passed through an alarming crisis; when the fever was at its
height, his mind had been wandering, and in his disconnected talk he had
alternately appealed to Olga in the tenderest language, and had shrunk
from her imaginary presence with aversion and terror. When calm returned
and comparative health, he would not speak of her. Something of the
shrinking remained.

     "With you I could talk about her," he said in the first letter he
     could write from Mentone, "but I must wait till I am stronger, and
     particularly till I hear better accounts of you. It was an
     unpleasant dream that--well--that Erlkönig dream. Again and again I
     cried out: 'Mein Vater, mein Vater!'--no help came--_her_ voice
     pursued me--On we dashed fever-spurred, till I lay dead in _her_

     "But, to be sure that is all 'such stuff as dreams are made of.' To
     you, my dear fellow, I should only send pleasant visions, like
     those I am revelling in here. A new world is every day unfolded
     before me, a world vibrating with light and glowing with colour. I
     have seen the woods and the hills and the waters before, but never
     in their gala uniform, and I am simply dazzled. Where are my
     beloved outlines? They seem merged in harmonies and swamped in
     colours so glorious, that even I lose sight of them. Do you know,
     my dear Felix, since I am here I feel there is in me the making of
     a colourist, a germ somewhere hidden away so far down, that perhaps
     it may never thrive and reach the surface, but a source of
     happiness it is to me all the same. When I get strong enough I am
     going to nurse the little stranger, and see whether I can coax him
     on to the canvas; but I shall do nothing till I have made careful
     drawings of a couple of hundred olive trees. Why, every trunk is a
     weird fantastic subject in itself, and every branch as it twists
     and writhes in titanic agonies. It is as if all the lines of the
     universe had taken the olive groves for their place of rendezvous.

     "Literally so; for there as I sat wool-gathering the other day, I
     descried approaching me the unmistakable lines of Gobelot's hat, a
     direct descendant of the one we punished in the glorious old Gleyre
     days; and under the hat was the man himself, walking through life
     as placidly as ever. He has evidently not yet learnt to draw a
     foot, so he has not fitted himself for a bootmaker. Nor need he,
     for his father, who died not long ago, left him quite a little
     fortune, _rien que cela_! Amongst other properties he inherits a
     villa in the best part of Mentone, with a beautiful view on to the
     sea, and so many acres of land; the very olive tree I was sitting
     under belongs to him. He has come down here to take possession, and
     was glad to find in me some one whom he could talk to. The fact is,
     he wanted to unburden himself of a secret. He is in love. He is
     engaged; you will never guess to whom. Wait; don't look to the
     end. She was a young girl whom you knew before she was beautiful,
     as he assures me she is now. She always loved the theatre, and one
     day, it appears, she was irresistibly attracted by the bills that
     announced the performance of that lovely opera of Cherubini's, 'The
     Water-Carrier.' That she must see. So she treated herself to a very
     good seat, and went off all by herself to witness for the first
     time in her life the performance of an opera. Then and there she
     was stage-struck, and swore by her illustrious godmother that she
     could and would be a singer. She asked some one to teach her, and
     wouldn't take 'No' for an answer. She next asked some one to bring
     her out, and made him do so, and got the public to applaud into the
     bargain. I'm not sure she didn't ask Gobelot to marry her; but so
     much is certain--he's going to, and we shall soon hear of Madame
     Gobelot, _née_ Rosa Bonheur Sinel. Qu'en dis tu? L'oncle Auguste
     was right. Didn't we one day have to mark his words, 'When she gets
     a comb to keep that mop of hers in order, she'll find a carriage
     and pair too.' Now she'll have it, and a good deal besides; and you
     can be sure she will be the Queen of the Regatta, and win all the

     "I wish I had you here to tell you more, but I must break off, I am
     so tired.


The generally cheerful tone of Claude's letters, as of some I received
from his father about this time, was, as I know now, only adopted
because I was considered far too unwell to be told the truth. In
reality, Claude's condition gave cause for grave anxiety.

I was not a little surprised to learn that Madeleine was installed as
Claude's nurse in Mentone. It was all the uncle's doing. He who had
always resented the mention of her name--and it was often on Claude's
lips--had been instrumental in bringing her to his side. The invalid was
told that Madame Chevillard and Madeleine were on their way to Genoa,
where the former had been appointed to superintend the formation of a
school of embroidery. There was no truth in the story; it had only been
concocted to explain their presence to Claude.

His uncle had himself gone to Lyons, and had induced Mademoiselle
Chevillard to bring her ward to Mentone. How matters stood there he told
them with tears in his eyes. They must come at once, and---- stop to the

A month had elapsed, and every day had brought Madeleine nearer to the
friend she tended. Her long enforced stay in a hospital had naturally
qualified her to nurse the sick; but it was not her experience alone,
but her devotion to Claude, deep-rooted and untiring, that came to
wrestle with the messenger of death. And the invalid who had been so
restless, even so querulous, before her arrival, was now soothed by the
mere sound of her voice, and as he looked into her amethyst eyes, an
unknown happiness dawned upon him.

Thus I found him and her when I arrived. I had set out for Mentone as
soon as I was strong enough to travel. It was in April; God's Nature
was bright, but sad was the journey, sadder the meeting.

I was fully prepared to find my friend much changed, but when we met I
had difficulty to conceal from him how shocked and distressed I was by
his appearance. I could not but see that he was rapidly wasting away, a
prey to that terrible disease, consumption. The matted hair clinging to
the moist forehead, the pulses on the temples beneath marking life's
ebb; the sunken cheek and the hollow soundless voice, all foreshadowed
the approaching end. As I sat by his side and held his emaciated hand, I
felt I had come none too soon.

Yet he sought to appear cheerful.

"Where are my birds, _ma petite_?" he asked Madeleine. "Give me the
'surprise.' Look here, Felix, isn't she an artist?" he said, holding up
the surprise; the same his _petite_ had announced as being in
preparation. It had taken the shape of an embroidered mat to put under
his lamp.

Yes, she was an artist. Her subject was simple enough. Four birds
representing the four seasons filled the corners of a grey silk square.
There was the crow, the swallow, the nightingale--the fourth I forget;
each beautifully modelled with many-shaded threads of silk, and linked
together by a cleverly-contrived garland of flowers, appropriate to the
seasons they were to illustrate. In the centre, entertwined with a bunch
of evergreen, a ribbon, on which were embroidered the words--

    "Les saisons qui changent
     L'amitié ne dérangent."

Yes, she was right. True friendship will not change with the seasons
that come and go. But had she thought, as she plied the needle, of the
friendship that ripens and grows, expanding till it is merged in
affection of a deeper nature?

       *       *       *       *       *

"Stop with me another ten minutes, then let me rest," Claude said, as we
sat by the window, waiting for the moon to rise. "Perhaps I shall see
it; or if not, I shall know it has risen."

"Where must I look for it?" I asked.

"Over those hills. It will hide behind the mists. Wait, to-morrow
perhaps; Thursday--Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Wait."

He was exhausted; I would not let him speak more, but left him to rest,
watched by the pale girl that was ever by his side.

The next day he seemed so much better that he surprised us all. Could it
be possible that a crisis was passed, that the illness had taken a
favourable turn? One dared not think so, but yet the balmy air of
Mentone had ere this worked wonders.

"O Felix," he said, "I feel happier than I have ever been. Every day
brings me new life and light. The world is more beautiful than I
thought; not all drawing; colour too, such colour!" After a pause, he

"I must tell you all, Felix. I was blind, and she--slowly,
gradually--led me out of the darkness. I thought I knew what love
was--Paris--you know--all passion, pain; love is peace, happiness. It is
she who taught me. I have peered into the deepest of all mysteries, too
great to be solved in this world." And he fell back on his cushions, and
gazed as if in a trance, murmuring "Ma petite."

High winds had been blowing for the last few days, whipping up the waves
of the blue sea and chasing the clouds across the path of the moon, but
now nature was returning to its pleasanter mood, and the clouds were
gradually dropping into line, and taking up positions just above the

Saturday had come.

"Good-night, father; good-night, uncle. I feel much better."

Madeleine and I remained. Vigils and anxiety had told upon her. The
bloom had left her cheeks, and her eyes were heavy. We wheeled his chair
to the window and propped him up with pillows.

"Over that hill," he said, "at 11.59;--curious--just a minute before
midnight--I watched it grow ever since it was a tender crescent."

The full moon rose, a red disc, blood red, emerging from this world of
strife; it ascended, taking its hues from man's yellow gold; then
on--freed from terrestrial mists, excelsior to purer skies.

"See," he said, "a true circle; no beginning and no end. The emblem of

Madeleine was resting her weary head on her arms as they lay folded on
the window-sill. Silvery rays fell through the window and played around
her hair.

"Hush! let her rest. Ma sainte! See now--that halo of light around her
head--a vision." He spoke with an effort, but on that early Sunday
morning he told me how deeply he loved Madeleine.

The sun rose once more on Claude; never again the moon. He was still
sitting on that chair when his head dropped to move no more. We were all
present. Madeleine knelt by his side and buried her face in the grey rug
she had so often laid across his knees. She held his lifeless hand and
wept in silent anguish until we led her away.

       *       *       *       *       *

Did she know, poor Madeleine, that she too had but a few years to live?
that the germs of the unrelenting disease which had carried off her
friend, her lover, were at work within her?

I was with her when she too closed her eyes,--so peacefully, serenely.
It was a vision of love that passed away from amongst us.

"I am quite happy. You will lay me by his side?"

"Yes, Madeleine,--yes."

       *       *       *       *       *

And now that I have said what I wanted to say about those friends of my
early days, and followed them to the closing chapters of their lives, I
ought perhaps at once to turn over a new leaf and record a fresh
impression. But it is hard to dismiss memories which one has evoked. Why
should one? Nothing in good old Nature is abrupt; the sun sets and day
fades into night; in the rainbow yellow merges into green, and green
into blue, and it seems but in keeping with the ways of Nature that
there should be something to read between the lines of a slightly
sketched life-story, and something to be thought out between
heterogeneous chapters. They cannot but be varying if they are to depict
the motley crowd of figures that go to make up one's own experiences.
Such chapters are like the various pieces on the programme of a musical
recital. There we are taken from a fugue to a notturno, from a grande
valse to a moonshine sonata; and the pianist, if by some chance he
happens to be a musician, leads us with a few improvised chords, from
one mood to another, from flats to sharps, major to minor.

So then my starting-point is once more Dupont, and before I think of
other friends, I find myself speculating as to what he might have
achieved, and to what honours he might have attained, had he lived. What
would he have thought of to-day, and what would to-day have thought of
him? To be sure he would be wearing a bit of red ribbon in his
button-hole, as all distinguished Frenchmen do; and who is not
distinguished? By this time he would have been an Academician, royal or
national, a Membre de l'Institut, perhaps even one of the forty
"Immortals," if he had taken to the pen, as we know painters will
sometimes do. In the eyes of the rising generation the Immortals mostly
take rank with any other old fogeys, and Dupont would have fared no
better than his contemporaries at the hands of the _Nous avons changé
tout cela's_ of the day.

It could not have been otherwise; for, alas! (and I have not sought to
disguise it) he had none of their distinctive qualities. He never loved
the un-beautiful for its own sake, nor was he a man of the
prominent-wart school. In his compositions elevated thought and subtle
expression had a fatal tendency to eclipse the non-essentials; his
luminary rays were painted without regard for the laws of decomposition,
and his atmospheric vibrations, if he attempted them at all, were not
worth speaking of. Besides, the least practised art-student of to-day
would not fail to notice that his careful drawing of hands, or the
graceful lines of his draperies, would monopolise attention, to the
detriment of the backgrounds, which had a way of receding, so that the
main interest of the picture could never be said to concentrate upon

The enchantress, Art, is ever making new victims. Just now she is wedded
to the new master, the variety painter, and is on her wedding-trip,
fully equipped with new fashions of tone and colour, rich too in new
values; and she travels along happily unconscious--some ignorance is
bliss--over the treacherous roads designed by the "new" perspective,
past tottering towers, over warped planes, and down steep inclines,
pluckily standing her ground where those fallen angels, the old masters,
would have feared to tread.

It's the old suit once more before us; young folks versus old fogeys,
the traditional battle-royal, to be fought to-day, as it will be fought
to the end of all time. I say, Hurrah for the young ones! Perhaps they
are leading us a step or two backwards, but I verily believe it is only
to _reculer pour mieux sauter_, to back, we should say, the better to
jump. So let us keep the line clear for youth and strength; we can't do
without their vigorous onslaughts. Where would the old tree of art be,
if it were not for the new shoots?




I well remember a chance remark of mine which led to my crossing the

"Well, if I can get a cabin in your boat, we'll go too, but I'm afraid
it's too late now, at the eleventh hour."

That was said to Irving and Ellen Terry, who were preparing to leave on
their first visit to the States in 1883.

I had never given a trip to America a serious thought; a consultation at
Cook's office and subsequent trunk-packing usually meant a flight to the
sunny South or the glorious East; but a new country, and a civilised one
into the bargain, had failed to attract me. I had heard over and over
again that the Americans were a practical people, and that, to be sure,
meant inartistic, and I knew they could talk, build, and make
money-piles bigger than we can, and that again did not predispose me in
their favour. In fact I may say, without boasting, that I cherished
about as many prejudices as does the average Englishman when he seeks to
form his opinion regarding those unhappily not included in the magic
circle to which he belongs, and I felt that, if ever I visited my young
American cousins, it would be to give them the benefit of my superior
old-world experience.

I may say at once that I had not been in the country long, before I
found it desirable to climb down, discovering that it was quite as much
as I could do to keep my footing at all on one or the other of the
scaling ladders I had tried to ascend. But for all my ups and downs, one
thing is certain: it was a happy thought that led me to take my passage
to New York, and a specially happy one to cross with Irving and Ellen

    "I count myself in nothing else so happy
     As in a soul remembering my good friends."

    --_Richard II._

So wrote Irving in my album, dating the lines from the "Atlantic Ocean,
20th October 1883."

It was indeed a time of good and friendly relations we had on that
Atlantic, meeting at a sort of poet's corner of the captain's table at
dinner-time, and later again, when we could discuss the merits of the
nocturnal Welsh rarebit, or of the comforting nightcap. Those expressive
legs of his, with which we are all so familiar, were a constant source
of delight to me. In the smoking saloon he would know how to stretch
them till they gave you a sense of absolute rest; and when he got up,
you felt they must originally have been designed for sea-legs. When
sometimes I paced the deck by their side, I felt I could now really
boast of being in the same boat with my illustrious friend, and of more
than that: for once in a way, I was actually treading the same boards
with him.

I think he thoroughly enjoyed what was to him an unknown experience, a
ten days' rest; but I doubt whether he took it as a holiday; he had
books and papers to keep him company that looked suspiciously like
business, and when he reclined full length on his steamer-chair,
contemplating the rolling sea through his eye-glasses, he looked as if
he were meditating a revival of "The Tempest," and consulting with
Neptune and Æolus as to the best way of producing it.

As for Ellen Terry, she was _facile princeps_ on our floating city,
fascinating everybody, from captain and crew, _viâ_ first and second
class passengers, down to the emigrant's crowing baby. There had been a
grand gathering to see her and Irving off. Friends had come, laden with
parting gifts; golden-haired children were there, bringing baskets full
of flowers that should intertwine themselves with their dear Ellen's
existence, till others could be gathered to greet her on her arrival.

When the bell sounded, recalling the visitors to the tender that had
brought them, the process of leave-taking went through its acutest
stage; there were the cordial grips and moist eyes, the crisp, resonant
kisses, and the long, silent embraces. "Good-bye; take care of him, take
care of her, till I come back! Good-bye, again!"

Ay! some of us had taken return tickets, some had not. Which of us would

We got sorted at last; all the good clothes on our side; the new suits,
ulsters, and dresses to be bodily introduced into the country that
produces the like only at ruinous prices. We all looked brand new, as
if we were equipped for our respective honeymoons. Soon we were passing
the last outstretched arm of land, that seemed to bid us one more
farewell; but the greeting only came from Cinderella, the Emerald Isle,
and we, I suppose being an English vessel, refused to hug the coast, and
made for the open sea, whence for some time we could see her knowingly
wink her revolving Cyclopean eye at us.

The moon had risen majestically; it could not do otherwise with those
Lyceists on board. We had achieved something like order in our cabins,
and were reappearing above to have a look at one another. Ellen was
leaning over the bulwarks with one of those flowers in her hand, which
by any other name would smell as sweet. She was still gazing shorewards,
as if she would keep on saying Good-bye until to-morrow; a living
picture, long lines of beauty flowing from her shoulders to her feet,
such as natural grace will evolve even from the slender material of a
travelling dress.

But for all that, she must not be imagined as addicted to mooning or
posing; just the reverse, she was the most practical soul on board, ever
active and thoughtful. Before the first twenty-four hours had passed,
all those hothouse grapes the old friends had brought had found their
way to the new friends, the steerage passengers; so, too, what of shawls
and wraps she could lay her hands on. "I have hidden away one or two
warm things," said her maid, "or there would be nothing of the kind left
for her."

For a day or two we had very rough weather, and the attendance at poet's
corner was small; our first night in particular set many of us wishing
that Columbus had minded his own business and not gone out of his way to
discover a new continent. If a ship would only roll and pitch, an
average land-lubber might have a chance, but it has a nasty trick of
seceding from beneath you when you are lying on your back, and leaving
that back to follow as best it can. This particular hiatus was not new
to me, but such a multiplicity of noises as made that night hideous I
had never encountered before. The wiseacres said that a cargo of
pig-iron had been badly stowed in the ship's entrails, and was trying to
knock a hole in its side, and so it sounded. The drillings of the screw
I could recognise as it doggedly worked its way, occasionally writhing
in impotent rage as it was lifted out of the water; but all the other
squeaking, grating, bond-bursting sounds I could not analyse. As for my
cabin, it soon presented the appearance of a Pandemonium. There was no
provision for securing anything, so portmanteaux were colliding with one
another, and with various articles of furniture and crockery that had
put in an appearance; my dressing-case was sliding along the floor like
a schoolboy on the ice, and in fact every mortal thing was on the alert,
trying to find its ever-shifting centre of gravity. For all that I went
to sleep, to dream of alligators and lifebelts, and of the list of the
saved, amongst whom I could not find my name.

That chivalrous White Star Company had constructed a special state-room
on deck for their guest, the histrionic star, and had furnished it
comfortably, as I know full well, for when, after the demoralising
experiences of that night, I had crawled to the surface limp and
crushed, a ministering angel at once took me in hand, laid me out in
full state in that room of hers, propped me with cushions, tended me
with creature comforts, and finally willed me to sleep. When after some
hours I came out vivified and refreshed, I found her squatting on the
deck in true schoolgirl fashion, writing letters in her big handwriting.
Later on what on _terra firma_ I call my better half had also emerged
from below, and was organising a personally conducted five-o'clock tea,
made attractive by certain canisters in her private possession. Full
justice was done to the popular meal by the small but select circle of
friends come together on that occasion.

As we proceeded, many an incident occurred, partly connected with the
vagaries of the Atlantic, partly with the thousand and one social and
humanitarian interests awakened on board a floating city. They seemed
noteworthy then, but to-day, and to make a long voyage short, I will
only say that it's an ill wind that can't leave off blowing, and it's a
long water-course that has no landing-stage, and that consequently,
after a good deal of boisterous weather, the sea calmed down and we
arrived safely in New York harbour. On the morning when the pilot came
on board, we were most of us still in our berths; but Ellen was up and
on deck, and the first to shake hands with him, and greet him with a
hearty "Good-morning, Mr. Pilot!"

The first thing that happened to me on arriving in the free country,
was that I was most courteously but resolutely deprived of my liberty by
the interviewers. Hobnobbing as I was with Irving and Ellen Terry, they
had evidently taken me for somebody, and, under that mistaken
impression, at once proceeded to extract copy from me.

What a splendid institution that interviewing is! The stranger has from
the first a unique opportunity of showing himself just as he wishes to
appear. He can drape himself in dignity, or pose for the free and easy;
he can borrow good works from his friends and virtues from good books,
and throw in as much soft-soap and blarney as he thinks the natives can
stand. What I may have said I don't know; but I am quite sure I missed
my chance. I was much too innocent then, and probably told the truth.

On Ellen the interviewers must have doted from the first; she was so
charmingly impulsive, so spontaneous and overflowing with copy. I dare
say she gave them points about Art and the Drama, from Sophocles _viâ_
Shakespeare down to the last thing out; but I only remember the
delightful insight into her personal habits and tastes she let them have
when she chose to take the world into her confidence.

"What do I drink?" she said on one occasion. "Very little wine, I am so
nervous. The doctor restricts me to milk, but restrictions and doctors
combined will never come between me and my tea. I must have tea--tea or
death--three times a day, and, as Johnson said about Mrs. Woffington and
her tea, 'It is strong, and red as blood.' I take English tea, which I
buy by the caddy, and wherever I am, there are my caddy and my
dog--Fussy and caddy. Without them 'Othello's occupation's gone.'"

At the custom-house I gave the customary tip, for I had been
confidentially informed that no official on the landing-stage, calling
himself a gentleman, would misinterpret my courtesy, or allow himself to
be unfairly influenced by it. I had fully expected that, by some
ingenious mechanical device, my luggage would be landed simultaneously
with myself, and placed on certain square yards of the American
Continent set apart for our temporary use. I had imagined the
custom-house a many-storied edifice in keeping with the high tariff it
enforced. Instead, however, of any such expectations being realised, I
found myself in a large open shed, from which I could watch the luggage
as it was being ejected in a most primitive way from our ship, with a
good riddance shove from above, and a "look out" shout from below.

An army of porters made a rush for it, and began strewing it all over
the place, getting everybody's belongings thoroughly mixed, and
generally acting as if they were shuffling a pack of cards before
commencing a new game.

The new game took the shape of a free fight, which was waged with
varying fortunes for two or three hours. By dint of displaying much
energy in the attainment of my own ends, to the detriment of everybody
else's, I succeeded in regrouping the greater part of my effects; not
without sorrow can I look back, however, to that field-day, and the sad
losses I sustained, the latter conclusively proving to me that within
the carefully guarded precincts of the custom-house no thieves are
admitted except on business.

The process of clearing and of being cleared out once terminated, I
drove to the "Brevoort," that most respectable of hotels, founded, I
believe, by a party that came over in the _Mayflower_, a house second
only in antiquity to some "Noah's Ark Hotel" in Philadelphia. I went
there because the last, not least, of the Henrys had selected it for his
headquarters. As soon as the rescued trunks reached me I unpacked my
writing materials, and, following illustrious examples, at once sat down
to write a book about America, and the manners and customs of its
inhabitants. But, unlike the illustrious ones, I thought better of it,
and got up again. The fact that I have now once more taken up the pen,
evidently with the same purpose, somewhat recalls Jean Paul Richter's
story of the tippler, who, for once resisting temptation, passes the
door of the public-house, and then, proud of his achievement, turns back
that he may reward himself for so much self-denial. So, too, do I appear
to be tardily, but none the less surely, succumbing to temptation; and
the parallel goes even further, for, as the tippler in all probability
did not rest satisfied with one glass, so I feel a morbid craving to
write as many volumes on America, as there are kinds of drinks at the
bar of a big New York hotel. If such volumes, full of pleasant memories,
are destined never to appear, it will only be because publishers are,
perhaps providentially, placed as protecting buffers between the public
and the author. A few chapters may, however, possibly be allowed to
pass, so I let them take their chance.

"Dis moi qui tu hantes, et je te dirai qui tu es," says the French
proverb, which, freely translated, might be made to say: "Tell me whom
you knew in America, and I will tell you what you thought of the
country." Well, I think I knew just the right people, and from that you
can gather what my impressions were. I certainly started fair, equipped
as I was with a batch of letters of introduction. These, according to
American usage, I posted to their addresses, and then sat in state at a
given time, waiting for the friends of my friends to come and make
friends with me. One letter, however, I carefully kept, and only showed
to those who I thought would appreciate it. It was that best and kindest
of men, Robert Browning, who had given it me, and to this day, when I
read it, it seems more like music than like epistolary prose to me. It
ran thus:--


       _11th August 1884_.

     "To whomsoever it may concern.

     "I have received such extraordinary kindness from Americans, and
     number so many of them among my friends, that it would seem
     invidious if I selected those whom I ventured to believe would
     oblige me were it possible. I shall therefore say, in the simplest
     of words, that should my dear friend, the Painter Moscheles, meet
     with any individual whose sympathy I have been privileged to
     obtain, whatever favour and assistance may be rendered to him, or
     his charming wife, will constitute one more claim to the gratitude


One of my first visitors was Dr. Fordyce Barker, the eminent physician,
and more particularly the idol of the fair sex, which owes him so large
a debt of gratitude. He ignored the given time above mentioned, and,
calling at some unearthly hour before I was fairly presentable, he was
away again before I could find my boots.

"What have you come to America for?" was his first shot. The question
coming suddenly upon me, I found no better answer to it than, "Well,
just to have a look round--wanted to see the latest thing out in the way
of civilisation."

"But you are a portrait-painter, I understand?"

"Yes, I am."

"Then you have come here to paint portraits?"

"Well--certainly," I hummed and hawed--"in case the opportunity should
present itself--and if I should find that"--but he cut me short (beating
about the bush is not popular in the States).

"How much do you charge?" he asked bluntly, and without the least regard
for the sensitive nature of a British artist, so I had to make a plunge
and tell him; so much for head-size and so much for a three-quarter

"All right," he said, and was off.

Later on I painted him, and he was ever a good friend to me.

It took me some time to get accustomed to the outspoken ways of the
American. With us the artist is a privileged being, unlike any other
producer or vendor, but there everybody takes it for granted that he is
quite ready to accept dollars in exchange for his work. The waiter in
the café, the artist who shampooed me, or the clerk in the hotel, wanted
to know my charges, and it once or twice happened that they turned their
knowledge to good account.

"Now, sir," said a clerk in the Hôtel Richelieu, Chicago, where I was
staying, to a wealthy senator, also a guest at the hotel--"now, sir,
this is Mr. Felix Moscheles, the celebrated English artist, and I guess
you had better have your portrait and your wife's portrait painted,
whilst he is here to fix them up." That introduction led to commissions
as acceptable from the artistic point of view as they were remunerative,
and to the most cordial relations between client and artist.

But I am drifting away from New York, where I want to remain for a
while. I had not been there many hours before I went for a ramble on
Broadway (the American walks _on_ the street, not _in_ it, as we do). I
always loved to explore the busy, bustling thoroughfares of a big city;
it is there you can feel the throbbing feverish pulse of an active
community; in the Park or on the Corso you only get that languid
fashionable-doctor sort of pulse, which takes its airing in a landau or
a victoria, a correct and well-regulated pulse that knows its duty to
itself and to the society it is privileged to beat in.

With such predilection for high-pressure and a rattling pace, I soon
found myself making friends with the Broadway. I always had a weakness,
too, for shops, and there were miles of them; stores they call them, and
every mortal thing is stored behind their immense panes of plate-glass,
or in those outposts of business, the show-cases, that go dodging about
the footpath, and look as if they were on their way to some
international exhibition. Anything and everything man can desire to
smooth the thorny path from the cradle to cremation, he will find in the

Talking of the thorny path, I was much struck by the liberty, not to say
licence, accorded to the paving stones, each of which acted quite
independently of his neighbour. The noise, as the vehicles ploughed
their way along the road, and as it was echoed by the massive stone
buildings, was really appalling. Infernal, I should say, but that
adjective is too good in this case, for the Inferno was at least paved
with good intentions, whereas that road meant mischief and strife, and
revelled in the purity of its own cussedness.

I could not help speculating as to what dear old mother Regent Street
would think of it all; how she would be shocked at the way in which that
transatlantic upstart hands up his goods from the basement, and pushes
them just under your nose, or piles them up sky-high and block deep,
before he consents to put a roof on them. Father Oxford Street, too,
would be scandalised, and so would his time-honoured brother-streets,
that fancy themselves arteries, as they wind their crooked way from the
fashionable brick piles of the west to the golden-calf temples of the
east. They do their best, suffering as they are from chronic congestion,
and I have loved them since the days of my boyhood. No, I certainly mean
no disrespect to the British lion and his partner the unicorn, nor to
the griffin at Temple Bar, nor to the bulls and bears farther on, nor to
the turtles and plovers' eggs at the Mansion House; least of all to the
bank-notes opposite, good company as they always are.

America is a country of contradictions; that is a safe way of putting
it, as the same can be said of all countries. Wherever he goes, the
stranger sees with his own eyes, feels with his own heart, and above
all, judges according to the state of his own liver. One man practises
his bump of veneration on all he meets; another travels on the _nil
admirari_ principle. Golden threads traverse the road of either, and so
do rotten threads. The first man seizes the golden ones and is happy;
the second picks up the rotten ones and makes himself equally happy with
those. Both come home triumphantly to show their threads, and to say,
"Behold, that is what I found!" It must be difficult for the same hand
to pick up both sorts of thread, and to present them impartially,
weighing one set against the other and judging dispassionately. There
are some strong men who can do it, and there would be more of them, I
believe, if it were not for that liver. In my case, that organ may have
been in a satisfactory condition, and have prompted me to be sociable.
So I was rather disappointed when I found that there was more formality
in the great Republic than under the old Monarchy, and that if I wanted
to talk to somebody, I had to be introduced first.

Day after day I have sat with my wife in various hotels at some little
table laid for four, sharing it with some other Mr. and Mrs., without
exchanging a word. Elsewhere we should soon have been playing that
stimulating parlour-game of inter-social hide-and-seek, or we might for
the time being have formed a pleasant little _partie carrée_. Sometimes
my heart went out to my neighbours, I think in a true Christian spirit,
but I could have seen them starve, and yet not have dared to hand them
the mustard or pass them the butter. I knew they would have looked upon
me with suspicion; yet I flatter myself that, with a little discernment,
they could have seen that I was not a shady character, and that neither
I nor that most artless and guileless partner of mine was capable of
playing off the confidence trick on the clergyman opposite, or on the
charming elderly lady with the white hair and the two golden-locked

We English are often reproached with our respect for caste. We emphasise
the difference of position in the social scale, whereas the
American--unless, to be sure, he be a Bostonian--takes every opportunity
to emphasise his indifference for such distinction. We think we know a
gentleman when we see him; he rather mistrusts his judgment, perhaps
because he has seen fewer generations of the species than we have; so he
sometimes mistakes a sheep for a wolf in disguise, and only recognises
his error when the sheep is formally introduced, and thus guaranteed as
the genuine article. Perhaps it is that, by dint of proclaiming that one
man is as good as another, the citizen of the Great Republic finds
himself arriving at the conclusion that one man is as bad as another,
and so it is for the stranger to show cause why he should be allowed to
pass the hotel mustard or butter.

All that, I must admit, applies, as far as I know, only to the few
cities I visited; I had much too good a time in each of them, painting
and lecturing, studying and learning, to go away in a hurry; so I cannot
speak of the boys on the ranches or the girls in California; nor can I
say whether the fifty or sixty odd millions of Americans to whom I was
not introduced would have taken kindly to me or I to them, had we met.

My first visit to the United States was not the mere excursion I had
expected it to be. I remained six months, mostly in New York. First I
made myself a temporary studio at the Park Avenue Hotel, but soon
finding that I wanted more easel and elbow-room, I took a flat and a
studio in "The Chelsea," furnished and decorated it _right-away_, and
settled down to a winter's work. When the spring came, I just locked my
door, told the clerk in the office to set the burglar alarm, and went
off to the other Chelsea, my home in London. So, for three years, I
divided my time pretty equally between the two countries.

I look back with pleasure to many an incident connected with the
portraits I painted in America. So, too, to my experiences on the
platform. Not only was I allowed to lecture, but I was even listened
to. To be sure, my lectures were only announced as "Studio-talks," and I
took care they should be very much varied according to my audiences. The
inexhaustible subject of Art had to be presented in one way when
addressing the students in Philadelphia or Chicago, in another when
speaking to the select circle of the Thursday Evening Club in New York.
Considerations that would be appropriate to put before a large gathering
of beautiful and gifted young ladies at one of their great colleges,
were not the same that would appeal to upwards of a thousand Negroes and
Indians, students at the famous Hampton Schools in Virginia. In each
case, however, I illustrated my lecture by painting a life-size head
from nature, my subject being mostly selected from the audience.

I cannot refrain from mentioning one instance of the warmth with which
my efforts were occasionally rewarded. "Thanks!" said one of the
gentlemen officially connected with the Hampton Schools, at the close of
my lecture, "a thousand thanks! You cannot realise what pleasure you
have given to those young men and women.--Understood it? I should think
so. Why, I can assure you, they have enjoyed it as much as if they had
been to a circus."

I have often wondered where I found the courage to undertake what I had
never attempted before, and whence came the capacity which saved me from
discomfiture. I can only imagine that I took my colour from my
surroundings, and that where everybody was going ahead, I could not lag
behind. I certainly never knew what I really was, till I had been to
America. The gentleman at the schools was right; it was clear to me: I
was a circus-horse, and America the man with the whip in the middle of
the arena. As he urged me on I could clear bars and barriers as never
before; the people all around, I knew, were keen judges of horseflesh,
and could not be hoodwinked. I must do my best. And then, when
sympathetic friends applauded, it was an easy matter to march boldly
along on two legs and to hold up my head with the best; my nostrils
dilated, and I felt as proud as a man. And when, to reward me, some of
the loveliest women of the great Republic patted me on the back and fed
me with sweets and kind words, I reciprocated with all my heart, and
felt as if I could once for all shake off the yoke of the slow-coaches
in the old countries, and start afresh on life's big race in the new

       *       *       *       *       *

I was, from the first, much struck by the cordiality with which a
stranger is received. Hospitality is a virtue inherited by the American
from his ancestors, a tradition handed down to him. It has not yet had
time to become blunted, as it has with us much visited Europeans. One
can quite fancy how delighted the first settlers must have been to
welcome friends from the old country and to get the latest news, to say
nothing of the latest fashions, from home. Now, to be sure, messages get
from house to house before they are cabled (as the clocks go); and as
for the fashions, it takes a fleet to convey them across the seas. Who
can tell how much horse-power is annually needed to convey the creations
of a Worth or a Virot to those I would call the loveliest women in the
world, were I not afraid of being misunderstood by other sets of
loveliest women nearer home. Anyway I do not hesitate to assert that the
best productions of the great Parisians become worthier of the fair sex
for which they are conceived, by being subjected to the chastening
influence of the American lady's taste, and to the subtle touches which
she knows how to add.

But however up-to-date the hyper-civilisation imported in dress-baskets
and handboxes may be, and however high the hothouse temperature under
which the New Englanders force the growths they receive from foreign
soil, their good old times are still within easy reach, and many an
ancient custom has survived, foremost amongst which, the practice of

One of the most practical forms in which it is dispensed is called a
Reception, and I most gratefully remember the pleasure and the
advantages derived from such gatherings. Introductions are there dealt
out wholesale to the individual in whose honour they are held. When a
stranger to Chicago, I had delivered a letter to a prominent citizen and
his wife from a mutual friend in New York. They knew everybody worth
knowing, and kindly offered to introduce me to their circle of friends.
On the evening appointed, I stood next to the hostess, and as one after
the other of the guests arrived, each was introduced to me by name. "Mr.
So-and-so," she said, "Mr. Felix Moscheles." Whereupon I had to shake
hands and say blandly, "Mr. So-and-so," whilst he had to repeat "Mr.
Felix Moscheles." If he had not caught my name, or had any doubt about
its pronunciation, he would make a stand and inquire: "_How_ was that?
How do you spell it?" and when once enlightened on those points they
would be fixed once for all in his mind. It was there he had the
advantage over me, for after a short interval I was sure to have
forgotten whether Mr. So-and-so's name spelt Homer D. V. Smith or Plato
V. D. Brown, and whether Homer and Plato were men at all, or ought to
have been connected in my mind with a Mrs. or a Miss.

But notwithstanding such imperfections of my memory, I had no difficulty
in retaining the names of many good friends I made in Chicago. Foremost
amongst these is Robert Morse.

I had got very busy in the studio I had taken in Chicago, where I was
spending the winter of 1887, when a very pleasantly-worded letter
reached me, inviting me to transfer my studio to Omaha, two days'
journey farther west. I could not accept the invitation, and so it was
arranged that at least one of my intending models should be brought to
me, to be dealt with according to the severe laws of the
portrait-painter's art. Robert Morse was four years of age, and had a
distinct objection to be thus dealt with, and out of that circumstance
arose a series of difficulties. But, oh, how beautiful he was! I see him
now as he was handed out of the carriage on his arrival at the Hôtel
Richelieu, his golden curls escaping from beneath his Phrygian cap of
liberty, and cascading over his shoulders. We were in the depth of
winter, and his sturdy little figure was warmly clad in the ample folds
of the toboggan costume--a sort of ulster made of a deep-toned red
flannel; collar and cuffs of the same material, but dark blue, and the
cap to match. His mother led him upstairs--or I should more correctly
say, speaking of this typical American child, was led upstairs by him.
After forty-eight hours' travelling, that lady stepped out of the train
much as if it were one of those boxes marked "Worth--Paris." She was a
lovely woman, as I soon learnt; lovely not only in outward appearance,
but in that moral and intellectual sense which the American language
connects with the word.

My stay in Chicago was limited, and I had written to say that I could
only undertake to paint one picture--that to be a head of the boy. When
we met, however, I at once felt I _must_ paint him full-length,
life-size, toboggan costume, cap, snowscape, and all; and as for the
mother, to be sure, as she wished it, we must find time for a
head-portrait of her too. There was that in her that seemed to call for
a picture from the artist's brush, and so I soon enthusiastically set to
work, painting on the two canvases alternately.

But it was not long ere troubles came thick and fast, growing out of
Robert's determination not to sit for his portrait if he could in any
way help it, and further, on no account to leave the studio when I was
painting his mother. I tried various subtle devices to make work
possible. With a piece of white chalk I designed a most scientific
frontier, separating his territory from mine, and that was capital fun
as long as I joined in the game and we repulsed one another's attacks,
but it fell flat as soon as I returned to the easel. I fed him from an
unlimited supply of "candy," and succeeded after a while in bringing
about indisposition of a marked character; but he speedily recovered,
his animal spirits rising with returning vitality. I sometimes flatter
myself that I possess a faculty of inducing docility in my sitters. More
especially in the treatment of children I pride myself on a series of
minor accomplishments, mainly connected with a free transcription of
Nature's noises, pleasant and unpleasant, such as the animal kingdom
furnishes to the observant ear. But such talents were of little avail.
That infinite source of assistance which I usually speak of as "a lady
attached to the establishment," also failed on this occasion. She who
accompanies me through life for better and for worse, and whose
blandishments European children have ever acknowledged to be
irresistible, could gain but momentary influence over this American
child. But--well, I could not help it--I loved that boy; I admired his
spirit. How should he, at his tender age, know that an artist is a
superior, privileged being, to be treated accordingly? At all hours of
the day Robert was delightfully bright, but his _'cuteness_ seemed
sharpened as bedtime approached. Not that he objected, as most children
do, to going to bed, but, however sleepy he was, his spirit of
resistance seemed somehow to revive when the moment came to recite his
simple prayer. On one occasion all went smoothly as long as he prayed
for his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, but when it came
to his uncles and aunts and to their numerous offspring, he made a
decided stand, putting it plainly to his mother, "I say, _māmma_, why
can't they pray for their own crowd?" Another time, there had been in
the course of the day a distinct difference of opinion between Robert
and his mother on the advisability of his going out sleighing. He gave
in with unwonted docility, but when the evening came and the fond mother
folded her hands and knelt by his bedside, he shook his head, and said,
"No, _māmma_; no sleigh--no prayers!"

It was with some impatience that I expected the arrival of Mr. Morse,
for whenever Robert was particularly untractable during what, by
courtesy, was called the sitting, his mother would say, "Wait till his
father comes; he knows how to manage him." After a fortnight that father
came, and he and I at once struck up a friendship which promised to
last, and which ever since has kept its promise. He was a fine and
prepossessing specimen of the free-born American citizen. Six feet
something in height, strong and straight as they are reared under the
guiding brightness and the protecting shadow of the Stars and Stripes.
Under his eye I was to put the final touches to Robert's portrait. I
hopefully started work, but, alas! where was the paternal authority I
had relied upon to get a view of that hand that was dragging the
toboggan across the snow, and that foot on which rested the main action
of the figure? Robert _would_ perch on his father's shoulder, and thence
look down upon me and the world in general. Difficulties finally
reached a climax. I protested in the name of correct drawing and the
eternal laws of perspective, and, fairly roused by my pleading, the
father sternly motioned the son to follow him into the next room.... At
last, I thought, the "right of the strongest" will be vindicated, and
that child will be thrashed.

But if I expected howling and gnashing of teeth, I was to be
disappointed. Nothing broke the silence, until, after some time, the
door opened, and father and son reappeared. Robert took his place,
clutched the cord attached to the toboggan, and listened with rapt
attention to his father's words; these were spoken slowly and
impressively, giving me time to apply whatever faculty for correct
drawing I might possess. As he sought to spin out his words, so will I,
for obvious reasons, seek to curtail them, only adding that, to do them
justice, they should be read with the characteristic American
accentuation which seems to give importance to some words that we should
slide over.

"Sir," he began solemnly, "Robert wishes me to communicate to you what
has passed between us during our absence from this room. It did not take
me long to elicit from him the fact that he has no desire to see his
portrait finished. He has even assured me that, as far as he was
concerned, it need never have been painted at all. He further stated
that he at no time had formed a desire to visit Chicago, and that he
much preferred Omaha to that city. Also, he said--and, I think, with
some show of reason--that, having no playmates here, he would like to
return to those he has left behind, more especially to his brothers and
sisters. Now, sir, you are aware that I, on the other hand, wished him
to make it possible for you to finish that portrait, and I could see no
cause why I should recede from that position; so I politely but firmly
requested him to do as I desire. There are, no doubt, some boys who,
when thus thwarted and opposed, would not have hesitated to strike their
fathers, but Robert is not a boy of that description, he would at all
times respect his father's independence. Still, you see, we were at what
you might call loggerheads. We had gotten fixed like in a dark place
with no door behind us, the windows left out, and a stone wall in front.
Under these circumstances I cast about in my mind, and it occurred to me
we should do well to make straight for arbitration. Now Robert said he
did not know the precise meaning of the word arbitration, so I explained
to him that when two parties could not agree it was usual to call in a
third to decide which way things were to be settled. I wanted to
nominate you, sir, but Robert put in his opinion that you might not be
the right person for our purpose; he said that I myself should do
better, so, after giving the matter careful consideration, I decided
that Robert should come in and take friendly to that toboggan and that
cord, and that he should make himself generally portraitable; I further
decided that, as long as it lasted, I should sit here patiently and
wait; but that, as soon as you had finished, I might go and procure a
horse to have a ride on the road to Omaha, and that I should also hire
a pony, so that Robert might accompany me on that ride."

Robert listened intently. I painted ditto.

They say in Omaha, where the portrait hangs, that it is good. So, "All's
well that ends well."

Of that I am glad, and, as I recall the incident, I am once more lost in
admiration of the American child that, from its earliest days, is ever
ready to elicit the noblest qualities of patience and forbearance in the
parent it is training. And what a training, too, for the boy! Will not
Robert, who is now growing into manhood, be a staunch supporter of
International Arbitration, and help us, if need be, to rescue the
Anglo-American treaty from destruction, or, should that be achieved, to
uphold and to strengthen it?

       *       *       *       *       *

But the mightiest advocate of International Arbitration, I found amongst
the friends I made in Albany. For him I must turn over a new page.




I well remember the Governor, as I made my way up into his bedroom,
paint-box in hand, and said: "Well, we must make the best of it, and
turn this into a studio. May I move the bed a few inches?" "All right,"
and between us we moved the bed.

The Governor was Grover Cleveland, and the State he governed the State
of New York. I had long since learnt that New York was not the capital,
but that Albany enjoyed that privilege. In Albany I was making a
prolonged stay, painting portraits of some very prominent people,
amongst others of Mrs. V. L. Pruyn and the Erastus Cornings, who were
notably amongst his warmest friends and supporters.

I was enjoying Mrs. Pruyn's hospitality, and in her house I had
exceptional opportunities of being initiated into the mysteries of
American politics. I was made very much at home, too, in surroundings
which bore testimony to the consummate taste and connoisseurship of my
hostess and her late husband. My wishes were not forestalled, or they
could never have been so correctly carried out. But, as soon as they
were expressed, some magic button would be touched, and some tutelary
genius would appear to take my instructions, or some man or woman I had
desired to know would be announced. So I made many pleasant
acquaintances, and in due time was introduced to Cleveland.

Election time had come with all its excitement and turmoil. Good
citizens wearing most picturesque uniforms were mustering by their
thousands, and were drilling as if war were imminent; but it was only
the true military step and swing they were practising, that they might
creditably march in procession with banners flying and bands playing,
and outdo the rival party in their show of enthusiasm. Sober,
steady-going individuals were transformed into stump orators and
agitators; the contagion spread, quickening pulse and heart-beat, till
the whole nation seemed delirious. Enthusiasm begot passion, and passion
frenzy. Then came the crisis. The returns were officially announced; the
President was elected, and--one, two, three, as if by the touch of a
magic wand, down went the pulse to its normal beat, the excitement
suddenly collapsed, and the electors settled down to a well-earned four
years' rest. But before that happy consummation, there was much to see
and note that was interesting to a stranger like myself.

Amid all the conflicting opinions and clamourings, there was one point
the whole nation seemed to agree upon. Everybody was going about,
Diogenes-like, seeking for an honest man. When found, he was to be made
a President of. To be sure either party claimed to have discovered that
one honest man, and thereupon commenced the main work on both sides,
that of vilifying the personal character of the opposing candidate. All
the dirtiest sediment at the bottom of the blackest inkstand was stirred
up, all the devilry stored in the arsenals of diabolical newspaper
offices was brought into action, to prove to the hilt that Mr. Blaine
and Mr. Cleveland were the two most dishonest men in the United States.
Under the guise of "plain truths" fanciful untruths were circulated, and
the mud raked up was used to make mud pies which were greedily devoured
by hungry partisans. There were curious war-cries too on either side,
the deep significance of which had to be fully explained to the
uninitiated, before he could appreciate their strength. In the Cleveland
camp they were constantly burning pieces of paper and shouting: "Burn
this letter, dearest Fisher." "Oh! you'd better, better, better burn
this letter," or up went the cry in rhythmical measure--

    "James Gould Blaine, James Gould Blaine,
     He's the continental liar from the State of Maine."

Outsiders got a little slap too, where the partisan saw his opportunity,
as when one of the Irish banners paraded the sentiment: "We love James
Blaine for the English enemies he has made."

I fully shared in the excitement, and wherever two or three thousand
people were blocking a space really only adapted to so many hundred, I
helped to make ugly rushes, and took my part in the chorus of yelling
and hissing. This was in New York, on the principal day of the election.
A day or two afterwards I had returned to Albany, and was calling on
Cleveland with Erastus Corning.

"No," said the future President in answer to Mr. Corning's proposal to
start the illuminations and torchlight procession that night, "don't
hurry; I know it's all right, but wait for to-morrow's returns." He was,
to all outward appearances, the one man least affected by the issue.

The next day the returns came, and the torch and other lights were
allowed to blaze. All doubts had been dispelled by a certain telegram
from Jay Gould. His enemies swore that that arch-grabber of millions had
manipulated the telegraph wires, withholding or forging the returns
expected from various parts of the States, and it was generally
understood that the earliest opportunity would be taken to burn down his
house and to lynch him. That morning a telegram of congratulation from
the great financier, happily unlynched, had just been handed to the
President-elect; he showed it to us, deliberating whether it should be
communicated to the representative of the _New York Herald_, who was
anxiously waiting to carry it away. He decided to do so, and then turned
to a dear old man who stood beaming in the doorway, with a little boy
clinging to his coat-tails, both looking round the big reception-room
with eyes of wonder and bewilderment. There were no servants or ushers
to introduce visitors; anybody could walk in unannounced, and the old
man, who had tramped up with his grandson from a great distance to see
the new Democratic President, found his way into the large hall of the
capital. Now he was evidently much puzzled to know which in our little
group of eight or ten persons was that President. He soon held the right
man's hand, and truly touching he was in his allegiance. He had waited
for many a weary year, he said, for the advent of the Democratic party,
and at last this happy day had dawned upon him and his beloved country.

I made a rapid sketch of him, for he was a type well worth recording;
Cleveland liked it, so I naturally gave it him.

All this was in the first days of November 1884. It was not till the
following February, when I again visited Albany, that I found myself
installed in the bedroom above mentioned. The President-elect was living
in a very small house in Willet Street, what we should call a bijou
residence. The people had nicknamed it the Casket, if I recollect right,
and it was certainly not much bigger than a receptacle of that

Cleveland had very kindly consented to let me paint a head of him. An
opportunity of doing so was only to be found in the little house, and we
entrenched ourselves in the bedroom against the intrusions of
office-seekers and office-bearers, enthusiastic supporters, cranks and
faddists, and, though last not least, young ladies with albums and

"Well, Mr. Cleveland," I said, as I started full speed to cover my
canvas, "I'm not going to apologise for troubling you; I'm sure you must
be quite pleased to have for once in the way a man come to view you, not
to interview you. It must be a relief too, to know that I'm not going
to rush off after the sitting, and send telegrams and cables all over
the place, to let an expectant public know what you said."

He answered, "I am glad that is so."

Then for a while our conversation ran on art and other peaceful pursuits
of man. Seeing a good opening I led up to the question ever uppermost in
my mind,--that of international arbitration as against the arbitrament
of the sword, and of the institution of a permanent tribunal between the
United States and England. And here let me say in parenthesis, it is a
glorious profession, that of the portrait-painter; he can button-hole
his man and keep him a fixture, whilst he indoctrinates and prods him
with truths, from which, under other circumstances, his victim would
seek to escape. Cleveland sat like a brick, and listened
sympathetically. Then, he said in a few sharp concise words, that he
fully agreed with me, and that he strongly felt it was high time for
civilised humanity to abandon the barbarous methods of settling
disputes. I told him I was sorely tempted to break my word, and to cable
that welcome "message" to my friends in Europe without further delay.
That temptation, however, I was not going to yield to. Finding that, as
a member serving on the Executives of various Peace Societies, I was
well posted up in matters relating to the subject, he began to question
and cross-question me like the lawyer that he is.

I had to give him information concerning the various proposals made in
Europe (which continent by the way he had never visited), for the
constitution of permanent courts of arbitration, and to explain any
views I might personally hold. This more especially in reference to my
suggestion, that we might take up arbitration where we left it and link
the present to the past; that we might do this by resuscitating the last
tribunal that had done good service--at that time it was the Court that
adjudicated on the Alabama claims--and declare it permanent, as
permanent as all national courts and constitutional parliaments.

He expressed no definite opinion on the merits of the scheme, but was
sufficiently interested in it to look at it from all sides. He wanted to
know how it was "going to be worked out practically," and I had to
particularise the provisions according to which the members of the last
tribunal were to be replaced in cases of death or retirement, or new
members were to be added, to suit the special case to be adjudicated
upon. There was a good deal more said about the Dis-united States of
Europe, as compared to the United States of America, but as I was the
talker, and he only the questioner, it need not be recorded.

Some weeks afterwards I met Mr. Love, Secretary of the Peace Union in
Philadelphia, and learnt from him that the President had requested him
to furnish particulars concerning the work of the Peace Societies in

Such seeking for information is particularly characteristic of the man.
I can fancy his saying to himself, "What that artist told me I've put in
a pigeon-hole. Now I'll just hear what one or two others have to say
about it. Later on, I'll decide what's worth keeping."

From that day to this he has certainly been a warm supporter of
arbitration. Which is the method he considers best suited to be worked
out practically we were only to learn twelve years later, when, under
his administration, the Treaty of Arbitration, unfortunately not
ratified by the Senate, was signed.

That chapter closed, we turned to more restful subjects than the peace
question. Talking of portrait-painting, I chanced to mention that I
liked to give my sitters some characteristic name, to keep before my
mind as a sort of password, whilst I proceeded with my work. By way of
illustration, I told him of a certain young lady I had been commissioned
to paint. She was very pretty, had a pair of twitting, soul-tormenting
eyes and moisture-sparkling lips. I added, that such arbitrarily coined
adjectives, and a good many more that suggested themselves, helped me
but little towards the composition of my picture. That only came when I
had found my formula; and my young lady, who had all along been waiting
for me to name the happy day of the first sitting, was much pleased when
I started with the motto, "Don't you wish you may get it?" I painted her
peeping out from behind a curtain, holding a lovely red rose in her
hand, which, the rose and the hand, you might or might not be destined
to get.

Mr. Cleveland listened with that interest which every good sitter is
expected to display whilst under treatment, and sympathetically agreed
with me that it was wise not to begin a thing till it was finished.
Then he said, "Have you given me a name, too; and if so, what is it?"

Now that was rather a poser, for I _had_ given him a name, and it at
once struck me that he might not like it. I admitted as much, and
prefacing that he must take one of the two words used in the good sense,
I said that I had labelled him "Solid and Stolid"; the "stolid," I
explained, meaning that he was a man who wasn't going to move unless he
saw good cause why. He seemed to think I wasn't far wrong there. As for
the "solid," that needed no apology. Physically, any weighing machine
would prove his substantial solidity; and intellectually, even a slight
acquaintance with him would show him to be a powerful man.

All this little by-play did not prevent my getting on with my picture;
nor was I much disturbed by the business that occasionally claimed the
President-elect's attention. He took things with characteristic
coolness, and gave his instructions without moving a muscle. Only once
he got up, more freely to indulge in his habit of thinking before
speaking. He was to decide where he would take up his quarters on his
visit to New York; that was a burning question, warmly discussed in the
press. Why, I don't quite recollect, but anyway his decision was eagerly
awaited by two contending groups of his followers. His Secretary had
handed him a telegram, and was waiting for instructions what to answer.
I thought it proper to be unmistakably minding my own business, and
became deeply interested in the background of my picture. But I could
not help hearing Cleveland's answer:--

"Say the governor has not decided; he seems inclined to select his own
hotel." This in a drowsy undertone. Then, turning to me with a sudden
outburst of energy he said:--

"They'll have to find it out sooner or later, and the sooner they find
it out the better, that I'm not a figure-head to be put in front of a
tobacconist's store."

After the second sitting my portrait was finished, and my kind model
asked me to stop and take luncheon with him. I accepted with pleasure,
and this little _tête-à-tête_ with Cleveland is one of my pleasantest
transatlantic recollections. Democratic simplicity ruled supreme. We
shared four cutlets and a dish of potatoes, and wound up with some
stewed fruit; with that we drank our bumpers of ice water in true
American fashion. It was quite a relief to get from Lucullus to
Cincinnatus. I had had ample opportunity of appreciating American
hospitality, fêted and "received" as I had been by my new friends, but
now, it was really refreshing to sit down for once in a way to a meal
without having constantly to say "No, thank you," to the bearers of dish
or bottle, and without being uncomfortably reminded that you were
feasting whilst others were starving within easy reach perhaps of your
table, laden with all the luxuries that wealth commands.

The servant disappeared, we helped ourselves, and in answer to a
question of mine, Cleveland chatted freely about himself and his

"I really do not know how it has all come about," he said. "I began in
the smallest of ways as clerk in a store; then I got into a law office"
(I think he said at four dollars a week), "and one thing leading up to
another, I set up as a lawyer myself. For a while I was Mayor of
Buffalo, and then an unexpected opportunity sent me as Governor to
Albany. I can hardly tell you why I am President; I was not anxious to
be Governor, and not ambitious to be President. When my term is ended, I
think, on the whole, that I should like best to be Mayor of Buffalo

I answered that I could well understand that desire, as he might not
find quite so much left to veto there as in other places. This in
allusion to the byname of "the vetoing Mayor of Buffalo" the people had
given him on account of his systematic opposition to all extravagant
expenditure when Governor of the State. It was said he had saved the
taxpayer a million dollars during the first year of his administration.

Then the conversation turned on the responsibilities of statesmen, and I
hazarded the remark that they must weigh heavily on them, especially in
cases where perhaps the fate of nations depended on their decision. What
were Mr. Gladstone's feelings, and how did he sleep, I wondered, after
he had signed the paper authorising the bombardment of Alexandria?

"Well," said the President, "I think he would have slept well. When a
man has fully and carefully considered all facts and arguments that can
help him to a conclusion, and when he has decided to do what he
considers right, according to the best of his judgment, there is no
reason why he should not sleep as soundly as ever he did before."

Such were the characteristic words meditatively and slowly spoken by the
man who was going to be inaugurated, a few days later, in Washington, as
President of the United States, and who henceforth was to take many a
momentous decision, that would affect the weal and woe of millions of
his compatriots--decisions, too, so weighty and far-reaching that on
them might depend the fate of nations, the peace of the world.




I well remember some great and good men whom it has been my privilege
and my good fortune to know, but none do I see so plainly before me as
Giuseppe Mazzini. His features, his expression, and his every gesture,
all are indelibly engraven on my memory. Is it because thirty-four years
ago I painted a portrait of him that hangs here just opposite me, and I
reverently look up at it as I am about to speak of him? Or is it not
rather that to have known Mazzini means ever to remember him--to hear
his voice, to feel his influence, and to recall his outward form?

The portrait was painted in the little studio of my bachelor days, which
measured about twenty feet by ten, and had no other appendage but a
good-sized cupboard, by courtesy called a bedroom. But it was situated
right in the middle of six or eight acres of ground in the heart of
London, which for many years went by the name of "Cadogan Gardens," till
one day it was "improved" away, and its good name was transferred to a
new row of Philistine stone houses. Such as it was in 1862, Mazzini
liked it, and would often look in on me and my brother-in-law,
Antonin Roche, the only other occupant of those Square gardens.

[Illustration: Portrait of Mazzini]

Roche, who is now of a ripe old age, and is enjoying a well-earned rest,
was an old friend of Mazzini. The two took very opposite views in
politics, for Roche was a "Légitimiste," warmly attached to the direct
line of the Bourbons, and true to their white flag; whilst in the eyes
of Mazzini, as we know, all kings were pretty equally black, and no flag
acceptable but the white, green, and red one of a united Italy. A long
experience had taught him to place no faith in princes, but to centre
his hopes in the people, and in the ultimate triumph of Republican
institutions. So he and Roche had right royal word-fights when they met,
and they were not badly matched; for Roche was quite a living
encyclopædia of knowledge, and had the history of mankind, from the days
of Adam up to date, at his fingers' ends. And he had every opportunity
of keeping his knowledge fresh, for during a period of forty-five years
he regularly held his French "cours" on history, literature, and a
variety of other subjects, and before he retired he had educated three
generations of England's fairest and most aristocratic daughters.

Mazzini and he, then, would often discuss politics and political economy
of the past, present, and future, and I sometimes ventured to join in
their conversation. To-day I see the presumption of my ways, but then I
was younger, and whilst reverencing the master-mind, and feeling
infinitesimally small next to the great man, I yet was bold enough to
advance where many besides angels would have feared to tread. I had
lived in France for some years under the second Empire, and had,
perhaps, more respect for the successful than I have now. I had
witnessed the rebuilding of Paris, the revival of art, and many
evidences of increasing prosperity, and--always allowing for the needs
of France and the French of that day--I looked upon Louis Napoleon as
rather the right man in the right place.

But Mazzini reviled him, and at the mention of his name would burst
forth into a passionate philippic, crushing "the adventurer, the
perjurer, the tyrant" with all the weight of his glowing indignation.
"But apart from all that," he would say, "we hate each other

He was certainly the most uncompromising enemy of royalty, disdaining
threats and blandishments alike, and preferring exile to the acceptance
of such favours as the amnesty which at a later period recalled him and
his friends to their native land. "He who can debase himself," he said,
"by accepting the royal clemency will some day stand in need of the
people's clemency."

If he was grand in his wrath, he was grand also in his ideal
aspirations; whether he thundered with the withering eloquence of a
Cicero, or pleaded for the Brotherhood of Man with the accents of love;
whether he bowed his head humbly before the power of one great God, or
rose fanatically to preach the new Gospel: "Dio e il popolo," God the
first cause, the People sole legitimate interpreter of His law of
eternal progress.

The conviction that spoke from that man's lips was so intense, that it
kindled conviction; his soul so stirred that one's soul could not but
vibrate responsively. To be sure, at the time I am speaking of, every
conversation seemed to lead up to the one all-absorbing topic, the
unification of Italy. She must be freed from the yoke of the Austrian or
the Frenchman; the dungeons of King Bomba must be opened and the fetters
forged at the Vatican shaken off. His eyes sparkled as he spoke, and
reflected the ever-glowing and illuminating fire within; he held you
magnetically. He would penetrate into some innermost recess of your
conscience and kindle a spark where all had been darkness. Whilst under
the influence of that eye, that voice, you felt as if you could leave
father and mother and follow him, the elect of Providence, who had come
to overthrow the whole wretched fabric of falsehoods holding mankind in
bondage. He gave you eyes to see, and ears to hear, and you too were
stirred to rise and go forth to propagate the new Gospel, "The Duties of

What he wrote, what he spoke, was something beyond revealed religion,
the outcome of a faith that looked upwards to gather a new revelation of
the eternal law that governs the universe. Gospel, Koran, Talmud, merged
in his mind in the new faith, rising over the horizon to illuminate

There was another side of his nature that many a time deeply impressed
me. The enthusiast, the conspirator, would give way to the poet, the
dreamer, as he would speak of God's nature, and of its loveliest
creation, Woman; of innocent childhood, of sunshine and flowers.

I have heard much said about Woman and Woman's Rights since the days of
Mazzini, from pulpit and platform, from easy-chair and office-stool. It
often seemed to me to be said in beautiful prose; but still in prose.
Mazzini spoke the language of poetry; not in hexameters or blank verse,
but still it was poetry. We of to-day look forward, create a new ideal,
a new woman; he looked backward to the days of his childhood, and
conjured up a vision of Maria Mazzini, his mother.

He loved children, too, and they him. There were boys and girls of all
ages in the Roche family, clever and active, and, consequently, what
wise and sapient parents call naughty. Some of these now ex-children
tell me they have a distinct recollection of having been on more than
one occasion turned out and sent to bed prematurely. "We often got into
trouble," they say, "when Louis Blanc was there, but we were always good
for Mazzini; that was because he was so kind, and never failed to
inquire after the dolls; and then we loved to sit and listen to him. To
be sure we sometimes didn't understand a word of the conversation going
on, but his voice was so beautiful that it fascinated us."

Overawed, I think, would frequently have been more correct, when I
remember how they must have heard him denouncing the Austrian rule, or
holding up to execration his crowned enemies. I always looked upon him,
as I certainly believe he did upon himself, as the ordained champion of
the oppressed, and as a menacing tool in the hands of an unflinching
Providence. He was as unflinching as the Fates themselves, and,
regarding himself as the embodiment of a good cause, he cared little for
the obloquy his opponents ever heaped upon his head. To name but one
instance: When Orsini attempted the life of Napoleon III., throwing a
bomb at the imperial carriage as it was approaching the Opera House in
the Rue Drouot, killing, not the object of his hatred, but so many
innocent people, a cry of horror went through the civilised world, and
Mazzini got his full share of execration. Nobody entertained a doubt
that he was at the bottom of the plot. It could only be he who had
organised it; he had supplied the bombs, and Orsini was but a tool sent
to the post of danger, whilst he himself remained on the safe side of
the water that separated hospitable England from the realm of the French
Emperor and his ever-watchful police.

The world was mistaken. Mazzini may have hatched plots and prepared
_coups_; indeed, to do so was his daily task, and sometimes when I asked
him: "Eh bien, comment ça va? Qu'est ce que vous faites?" he would
pleasantly answer: "Je conspire"; but in this case we knew that he could
not have had any communication with Orsini. What had happened between
them had led to an irreparable breach. During one of Mazzini's secret
visits to the Continent, his friend Sir James Stansfeld, then Mr.
Stansfeld, had undertaken to open his letters for him, and to forward
what he deemed desirable. Among others a letter from Orsini thus came
into his hands, which contained the vilest accusations against two most
deservedly respected ladies, friends both of Mr. Stansfeld and of
Mazzini. The indignant answer with which the former met the slander led
in true Continental fashion to a challenge from Orsini, which, it is
needless to say, was treated with contempt. Mazzini, to whom woman was
ever an ideal to be looked up to and revered, was deeply incensed. He
never met Orsini after the incident, and he never forgave him the libels
he had penned.

Alluding to these circumstances, I asked him why he did not publicly
contradict the reports that accused him of complicity; knowing, as I
did, that they were untrue, I wondered that he did not repudiate the
charge. To that he answered: "It matters nothing, or rather it is well
the world should believe me implicated. I never protest. Europe needs a
bugbear, a watchword that threatens, a name that makes itself feared.
The few syllables that go to make up my name will serve the purpose as
well as any others."

Mr. Stansfeld was one of his earliest friends. He has often told me how
great was the personal influence Mazzini exercised over him. "What could
be loftier," he writes, "than his conception of duty as the standard of
life for nations and individuals alike, and of right as a consequence of
duty fulfilled. His earnestness and eloquence fascinated me from the
first, and many young men of that time have had their after-lives
elevated by his living example."

There were two associations of which all the most active members were
young men, Mr. Stansfeld amongst the number: "The People's International
League," and "The Society of the Friends of Italy;" the latter
especially exercising considerable influence in accentuating and
bringing to the front the expression of British public opinion in favour
of the emancipation and unification of Italy. At the close of the
revolution that in 1848 shook the very foundations on which rested
European thrones, many of the most prominent leaders and revolutionary
personalities of the period sought shelter in the sanctuary of the
British Islands, and it was at this time that Mazzini's more intimate
friends found a hospitable and cordial reception at Mr. Stansfeld's
house. Mazzini himself had come to London when he was obliged to leave
Switzerland in 1841. One or two of the incidents that arose out of his
presence in England are worth recalling.

In 1844 a petition from Mazzini and others was presented to the House of
Commons, complaining that their letters had been opened in the Post
Office. Sir James Graham, under whose instructions as Secretary of State
this had been done, defended his action, and roundly abused Mazzini, as
did Lord Aberdeen in the House of Lords. They, however, afterwards
apologised for their words. A Bill was introduced to put a stop to the
power of opening letters by the Secretary of State, but was dropped. It
was on this occasion that Carlyle wrote to _The Times_ his famous
defence of Mazzini "I have had the honour to know Mr. Mazzini for a
series of years, and, whatever I may think of his practical insight and
skill in worldly affairs, I can with great freedom testify to all men
that he, if ever I have seen one such, is a man of genius and virtue, a
man of sterling veracity, humanity, and nobleness of mind, one of those
rare men, numerable unfortunately but as units in this world, who are
worthy to be called martyr souls."

Twenty years later the subject of Mazzini's letters once more led to
heated controversy in the House of Commons. At that time Mr. Stansfeld
was a Junior Lord of the Admiralty. His friendship for the champion of
Italy's rights had ripened as years went on, and he was ever ready to
serve him and the good cause. It happened that the French
Procureur-Impérial, while engaged in prosecuting a State conspiracy,
discovered that one of the accused persons had been found in possession
of a letter telling him to write for money to Mr. Flowers, at 35 Thurloe
Square, S.W. This was Mr. Stansfeld's address, and he did not hesitate
to admit that he had allowed Mazzini to have his letters addressed
there, under the name of M. Fiori (Anglicè, Flowers), to prevent those
letters from being opened, while at the same time he knew nothing of
their contents. The incident was used by Disraeli to make an attack on
the Palmerston Government, for containing in its ranks so dangerous a
man as Stansfeld--a man actually engaged in sheltering a conspirator,
and "the great promoter of assassination," as he was pleased to call
Mazzini. Bright made a strong speech, defending Stansfeld and Mazzini,
and declaring that Disraeli himself had justified regicide, as he had in
the "Revolutionary Epic." Stansfeld also spoke, saying that he was
proud of the intimate friendship of Mazzini, and denying that the great
patriot could be properly described in the scurrilous language Disraeli
had used.

It was in consequence of this incident that Mr. Stansfeld resigned
office, "perfectly satisfied," he says in a letter on the subject, "in
being able by so doing, to reconcile the duties of private friendship
with my obligations to the Government, of which I was the youngest
member." In his long and honourable career, whether as Mr. or Sir James,
Stansfeld was always a good knight and true, labouring with the zeal of
the reformer and the foresight of the statesman. In Mazzini he admired
not only the patriot who served his own country with passionate
devotion, but the teacher who, seeing far beyond the narrow limits of
each separate nation, could realise the ideal of international unity,
and foreshadow a future, in which the aim of statesmanship among free
nations would no longer be to perpetuate the weakness of others, but "to
secure the amelioration of all, and the progress of each, for the
benefit of all the others."

Thus impressed with the solidarity of nations, and the community of
their interests, Stansfeld at all times advocated the cause of
international unity and the establishment of tribunals of arbitration;
and, if a powerful figure-head was wanted to represent those causes, be
it to preside over a meeting or to introduce a deputation to the prime
minister, we looked to Sir James as the man round whom the best and most
influential politicians would rally, and whom they would cordially
support, confident as they were both of his strength and of his

From the arena of politics, national and international, to the four
walls of my little studio is an abrupt transition; but with the name of
Mazzini as a connecting link, it needs no apology. So I make straight
for Cadogan Gardens, in order to mention a pleasant recollection I have
of a certain October evening in 1862, when Mazzini unexpectedly dropped
in. My cousin, Ernst Jaques, and two friends, Felix Simon and Herr von
Keudell, had met there on a short visit to London to "make music."
Mazzini and myself formed an appreciative audience, as well we might,
for they played Mendelssohn's D Minor Trio in masterly fashion, von
Keudell at the piano, Simon taking the violin, and my cousin the
violoncello part. Mazzini loved music and was in full sympathy with the
performers, so naturally the conversation first turned on the beauties
of Mendelssohn's work and on the excellence of its interpretation; but
it soon gravitated to the subjects always uppermost in his mind. Herr
von Keudell was particularly successful in drawing him out, perhaps
because he held views opposed to those of the great patriot, and was
well prepared to discuss them. He was soon to become Bismarck's
confidential secretary, and as such to take an active and influential
part in the chapter of history that was ere long to be enacted. In later
years he rose to occupy the post of ambassador to Italy. There was much
in his aspirations that interested Mazzini, and when presently my cousin
asked him for his autograph, he wrote, "Ah, si l'Allemagne agissait
comme elle pense." Then it was on matters revolutionary that he talked,
on the organisation of secret societies, on his clandestine visits to
countries in which a price had been set upon his head, and finally, as
he got up to leave us, on the detectives he would not keep waiting any
longer. They had shadowed him as usual from his house, and would not
fail to shadow him back. Very sensational stories were current in
reference to those clandestine visits and the disguises under which
Mazzini was supposed to have travelled, but they were mere inventions,
he told us. To keep his counsel about the end of his journey and the
time of his leaving, to shave off his moustache, sometimes to wear
spectacles, and to travel quickly, were his sole precautions.

He always carried a certain walking-stick with a carved ivory handle, a
most innocent-looking thing, but in reality a scabbard holding a sharply
pointed blade. This is now in the possession of Mr. Joseph Stansfeld, to
whom it was given by Mr. Peter Taylor, the old and trusted friend of
Mazzini. He also preserves a volume of "The Duties of Man" with the
dedication in his godfather's hand: "To Joseph, in memoriam of Joseph
Mazzini." There is too a portrait of Maria Mazzini (Giuseppe's mother).
It is a very poor production, and whilst it may, perhaps, give us some
idea of her features, it certainly in no way reflects her lovable
nature. When I knew Mazzini he was living in the simplest of lodgings,
at 2 Onslow Terrace, Brompton. His room was littered with papers and
pamphlets. Birds were his constant companions; the room was their cage,
wire netting being stretched across the windows. They flew around and
hopped about most unceremoniously on the writing-table amongst the
conspirator's voluminous correspondence. He had a curious way of holding
his pen, the thumb not closing upon it as he wrote, a peculiarity which
accounts for the crabbed character of his handwriting. Being an
inveterate smoker, he and the birds were mostly enveloped in a cloud.
Smoking cheap, but many, Swiss cigars was the only luxury he allowed
himself. He was the austerest of Republicans, had few wants, and but
slender means with which to satisfy them. Whatever he may have possessed
in early life he had spent for the cause he was devoted to; afterwards
he lived on a small annuity which his mother had settled on him.

When he sat for me I always took good care to place a box of cigars, and
wherewith to light one after the other, on a little table by his side.
Thus equipped he proved an admirable model; he sat, or rather stood,
with untiring energy, dictating, as it were, the character of the
picture, and enabling me to put every touch from nature; posing for
those nervous, sensitive hands of his, for the coat and the black velvet
waistcoat buttoned up to the chin--he never showed a trace of white
collar or cuff--and for the long Venetian gold chain, the only slender
line of light I could introduce in the sombre figure. He was indeed, I
felt, a subject to stir up an artist, and to sharpen whatever of wits he
might have at the end of his brush.

From Mazzini I first heard of the new enterprise Garibaldi had embarked
on in August 1862. He had once more left Caprera, and had crossed over
to Calabria with the avowed intention of driving the French garrison
from Rome. Mazzini was most emphatic in his condemnation of the scheme,
and used strong and uncomplimentary language in censuring the action of
his colleague. "But the die is cast," he said, "and under the
circumstances I cannot do otherwise than give instructions to all our
groups and societies to support him."

How disastrously the expedition ended we all remember. It was denounced
as treasonable by the Italian Government in a royal proclamation, and
Garibaldi was wounded at Aspromonte in an encounter with troops sent to
stop his advance. Great and spontaneous was the outburst of sympathy in
England for the hero of Marsala. A small group of his friends arranged,
at a cost of £1000, to send out an English surgeon, Mr. Partridge, to
attend him. It was not by him, however, but by the eminent French
surgeon Nélaton that the bullet was found and extracted.

More than once Mazzini's impulsiveness, not to say naïveté, struck me.
Thus one day he rushed breathlessly into my studio, with the words,
"Have you heard the news? We are going to have Rome and Venice." I
forget what particular news he alluded to, but remember pulling him up
with unwarrantable audacity. "At what o'clock?" I asked. "Ah," he
answered, "go on, go on. I am too well accustomed to jeers and epigrams
to mind." I humbly apologised for my disrespectful retort, uttered on
the spur of the moment; but to do so seemed scarcely necessary, for the
lion evidently did not mind my taking liberties with his tail; and
presently, when I said, "Well, if not at what o'clock, tell me in how
much time you will have Rome and Venice," he answered, "Within a
twelvemonth. You will see." I made a note of this date, but never
reminded him of the incident. In his enthusiasm he had been
over-sanguine. "Id fere credunt quod volunt," says Cæsar in his "De
Bello Gallico" ("they readily believe what they wish"), and Mazzini was
the man of faith and aspirations. Four years were yet to elapse before
Venice was liberated, and eight before the Italians gained possession of

One of the subjects on which he felt strongly was that of compulsory
insurance. I cannot remember that he favoured any particular scheme, but
he was wedded to the principle that no man has a right to become a
pauper, and that he should be compelled by law to save a fraction of his
earnings, to be entrusted to the State. In old age he should be able to
draw upon a fund thus constituted, and in doing so he would be under no
greater obligation to the State than any man is to the banker with whom
he has opened an account.

Some little notes which I received from him mostly refer to the sittings
for his portrait. On one occasion I must have written that I was again
conspiring against his peace, and wanted him to make an appointment. In
allusion to this he answers, addressing me as "Mon cher conspirateur."
On another occasion I had put that I was one of the several tyrants who
were clamouring for his head, to which his answer commenced, "Mon cher
tyran." That autograph I always particularly prized, the juxtaposition
of the words "Dear" and "Tyrant" in Mazzini's handwriting being, I
believe, unique. In my album he quotes Goethe, "Im Ganzen, Guten, Wahren
resolut zu leben," words that strike one as the appropriate motto for
the man who ever sought to live resolutely for all that is good and
true. His quotation, however, was not quite correct, for he had
substituted, characteristically perhaps, the "True" for the "Beautiful."

Some letters addressed to his friend, Allessandro Cicognani, which have
recently come into my possession, are characteristic. He writes:--

     "FRATELLO MIO,--La vostra lettera mi è giunta carissima; ora tanto
     più che io sento il bisogno di riannodare intelligenze coi buoni
     della città di Romagna e stava cercandone i modi; dopo tre anni
     d'agitazione nelle quali abbiamo lasciato fare perchè l'esperimento
     fosse intero e i fatti parlassero, noi ci troviamo a un dipresso là
     donde eravamo partiti, colla Lombardia rioccupata, coi principi più
     o meno proclivi a retrocedere.

     "È tempo che ci dichiariamo in faccia all'Europa inetti a essere
     liberi, o che cominciamo ad agire da per noi. Noi vogliamo
     _cacciare lo straniero d' Italia_, e vogliamo _che il paese intero
     decida liberamente delle proprie sorti_. Guerra dunque e
     costituente. Se vi è chi dissenta da quegli due punti, merita
     condanna da ogni Italiano che ama il Paese. Non si tratta più di
     un partito o dell' altro, si tratta di esistere come nazione e di
     riconoscere nella nazione la sovranità. In questi limiti noi
     vogliamo stare, al di qua noi non diamo ormai più tregua ad alcuno.

     "Questa posizione che noi repubblicani abbiamo presa io la
     esprimerò nettamente in un opuscolo, che escirà fra cinque o sei
     giorni e che vorrei mandarvi; vogliate indicarmi il modo più
     conveniente e se io debba via via scrivere al vostro o ad altro
     indirizzo. Su quel terreno intanto è necessario che rapidamente ci
     organizziamo per l'azione concentrata a raggiungere il doppio
     intento. Io vi manderò tra due giorni una circolare della nostra
     Giunta centrale contenente appunto le norme d'organizzazione
     generale che dovremmo dare uniforme a quanti consentano in quella
     bandiera. Voi farete il meglio che potrete.

     "Vi suppongo in contatto con Malioni ed amici. Fra qualche giorno
     giungerà tra voi un amico mio, Lauri di Forli col quale desidero vi
     teniate in perfetto accordo.

     "Addio, possiam noi far davvero un ultimo sforzo che levi il Paese
     da questa vergognosissima via di ciarle di progetti impossibili e
     di transazione fra il fianciullesco ed il gesuitico, che ci fanno
     parere decrepiti all' Europa quando si tratta di ringiovanire ed
     iniziare una nuova era di vita!--Amate il vostro,



      _15 Novembre 1849_."


     "MY BROTHER,--Your letter received was most welcome, all the more
     so, as I feel the want of putting myself once more in communication
     with the good friends of the cities of the Romagna, and I was
     seeking for the best means of doing so. After three years of
     agitation, during which we have let things take their course in
     order to allow the experiment to be complete, and facts to speak
     for themselves, we find ourselves about at the point from which we
     started, with Lombardy re-occupied and the princes more or less
     inclined to retrogression. It is time that in the sight of Europe
     we should either openly avow ourselves incapable of being free, or
     that we should begin to act for ourselves. We are resolved to
     _drive the foreigner from Italy_, and to let the whole country be
     the free arbiter of its own destiny.

     "This means war. If there is any one who dissents from these two
     points he deserves the condemnation of every Italian who loves his
     country. It is no longer a question of one party or another; it is
     a question of existing as a nation, and of recognising the
     sovereignty of the nation. Within these limits we will stand;
     beyond them we will henceforth concede no truce to any one.

     "The position which we Republicans have thus taken I shall define
     in unequivocal terms in a pamphlet which will appear in five or six
     days, and which I should like to send you. Please let me know which
     is the best way of doing so, and whether I should for the present
     write to your address or to another. In the meanwhile it is,
     however, necessary that we should rapidly organise in order to
     attain by concentrated action the two objects in view. I shall send
     you in two days a circular issued by our Central Giunta, containing
     definite instructions for general organisation, which must be made
     uniform for all those who rally round this banner. You will do the
     best you can.

     "I take it that you are in touch with Melioni and friends. In a few
     days you will receive the visit of a friend of mine, Lauri di
     Forli, with whom I wish you to hold yourself in perfect agreement.

     "Good-bye. May we in full earnest make a final effort that shall
     lead the country out of that most disgraceful rut of useless
     chatter of impossible schemes and of compromises between the
     childish and the jesuitical, that make us appear decrepit in the
     eyes of Europe when we speak of regeneration and of the
     introduction of a new era in our lives. Love me.--Yours,



    _Nov. 15, 1849_."

I have two short letters written to the same friend and dated 1869 and
1871, not of general interest, but the latter concluding with the
characteristic sentence:

"Il meglio sarebbe che si aprisse la via cercata per lunghi anni da noi;
e s'aprirà; ma siamo corrotti e privi di coraggio morale.

"Persisto nondimeno e persisterò finchè vivo."

"The best would be, that the road should open which we have sought for
many years, and open it will; but we are corrupt and devoid of moral
courage. I persist nevertheless, and shall persist as long as I live."

The epistles he received he sometimes showed me as curiosities. Some
came from his admirers, other from his detractors, either frequently
total strangers to him. There were letters couched in terms of most
eccentric adulation, others that unceremoniously relegated him to the
regions of perdition. One merely requested him to go to the antipodes,
in order that he might be well out of the way of regenerated Italy.
Another, less urbane, addressed him as "Uomo aborrito!" ("abhorred
man"), and continued in a similar strain of abuse. Mazzini took it all
pleasantly; the lion's tail was once for all proof against any amount of

The patriotic dreams of Mazzini were gradually to be realised, in a
measure, at least; for although his ideal--a Republic in place of a
Monarchy--seemed hopeless of attainment, the hated foreigner was
expelled, or had retired from Italian soil, and a united people joined
hands from the Alps to the Adriatic.

He had returned to his native land, and there, active and uncompromising
to the last, he died at Pisa, on March 10, 1872, in the Casa Rosselli. A
private letter in the possession of Mr. Stansfeld gives some particulars
of his last hours. He was perfectly tranquil, and free from suffering,
but sank into a gradual stupor. During the day, at times, his hands
moved mechanically, as if he were holding and smoking a cigar. Madame
Rosselli asked him why he did that; but his mind was wandering, he did
not understand her, and answered an imaginary question. He roused
himself, and looking straight at her, he said, with great animation and
intenseness, "Believe in God? Yes, indeed I do believe in God." These
were his last words of consciousness.

A friend of his, writing a few days after the fatal 10th of March, tells
how the mystery which surrounded him all his life continued to envelop
him to the moment when death broke the seals of secrecy. Then, for the
first time, the good people of Pisa learnt that the mild and retiring
Mr. Francis Braun, who had long lived within their walls, was no other
than the redoubtable Mazzini. He had come to their city in the February
of the preceding year, and had remained till August, returning from
Switzerland with the first frosts of November. The authorities doubtless
knew perfectly well who the supposed Englishman was, who spent all his
days in study and all his evenings in the company of the self-same small
family circle. But they were to let him alone. It was not for the first
time that they wisely ignored his presence. The chief difficulty of the
Italian Government had been, not to find him and seize him, but to find
and not to molest him. On one occasion the Neapolitan police put the
Government into much perturbation by telegraphing that it was
"impossible to avoid arresting Mazzini."

On another occasion--it was in 1857--the house of the Marchese Pareto,
where Mazzini was staying, was surrounded by the police, and a large
military force in attendance made a portentous show. The Quæstor, an
old schoolfellow of Mazzini, formally demands admittance in the King's
name, when the door is opened by Mazzini himself, disguised as a
servant. The Quæstor asks to speak to the Marquis, and is forthwith
introduced by the obsequious flunkey. Did the Quæstor recognise his old
friend? Our informant believes he did. He tells us that diligent search
was made throughout the house; that nothing was found but a stove full
of ashes, the remains of papers just burnt; that the Marquis was carried
off by the police in his carriage, to make certain depositions, which
meant nothing; and that the servant was left behind.

In like manner Mazzini was suffered to remain undisturbed in Pisa.
Dangerous though some timorous officials deemed him to be, the
Government knew full well that he would be far more dangerous as a
captive than as a free man.

To the citizens of Pisa his _incognito_ was so complete, that even the
doctor who attended him in his last illness did not know his patient.

On the Wednesday before his death he wrote an article for the _Unità
Italiana_ on Renan's book, "La Réforme Intellectuelle et Morale de la
France." He talked rarely about politics even to his intimate friends.
Occasionally he would, however, break out into anathemas against the
"International"; his eyes would then flash fire, and he would use strong
language against Ledru Rollin, Quinet, "e tutti quanti," who, he would
say, "might have saved France, but who, by mere inaction, had abandoned
her to the most pernicious of impossible delusions."

The news that his remains had been embalmed by Professor Zorini and
placed in a metal coffin, into which a glass had been inserted, with a
view to exhibiting them on the anniversary of his death, raised an
indignant protest from some of his nearest friends in England. They
wrote warmly denouncing what they declared would most have wounded and
outraged him. "His whole life," says Madame Venturi, in a letter to an
Italian friend, "was one long protest against materialism, and they make
of his sacred corpse a lasting statue of materialism, and of his
monument an altar to the idolatry of matter. Write to the people and
tell them that he expressed a wish to lie by the side of his mother."

The truth concerning the matter which led to so warm a protest, is this:
Mazzini was only partially embalmed, and lay in state in a small room on
the ground floor of the Casa Rosselli. A tricolour flag covered his
breast, and a laurel wreath crowned his head. A plaster cast and a
photograph had been taken by Alinari. On the birthday of the King of
Italy and of his son the remains of their potent adversary were carried
on a simple car to the railway station outside the Porta Nuova. The
pall-bearers were six of his nearest friends, besides a student and a
working-man; deputations from neighbouring cities, and crowds of
sympathisers, formed a procession and lined the streets. Conspicuous on
the coffin was a wreath with the inscription, "The Americans to
Mazzini"; it had been placed there by the consular representatives of
the United States. On its arrival in Genoa, the remains lay in state
again, but for one day only. Then better counsels, more in harmony with
the patriot's wishes, prevailed, and his body was placed in the
sepulchre, where no human eye has seen it since. His burial-place was
selected next to that of his mother, and now her tomb is enclosed with

It was after his death only that the great agitator's life-work began to
be fully recognised by his countrymen. A reaction set in in his favour;
the Parliament of Rome passed a resolution expressing the grief of the
nation at the death of "The Apostle of Italian Unity"; public meetings
were held, and many were the marks of respect paid to him throughout

This seemed to me an opportune moment to add my small tribute to his
memory, so I called on the Marquis d'Azeglio, then Italian ambassador to
England, and offered to present my portrait of Mazzini to the Italian
nation, that it might be placed in one of their public galleries. But I
was to be disappointed, for the marquis bowed me out, very politely, I
must say, but fully giving me to understand that it was one thing to
tolerate the demonstrations in favour of Mazzini, and another to do
honour to him and his portrait. The picture has since gone through one
or two similar experiences. What will become of it eventually I do not
know, but I am happy to have it with me still.

On the second of November, some ten years ago, I happened to be in
Genoa. It was the day of "Tutti Morti" (All Souls' Day), the great
holiday, tearful and cheerful, on which all good Catholics make their
pilgrimage to the cemeteries where rest their departed friends. A steady
stream of visitors was flowing towards the "Cimetéro di Staglieno." I
joined it, and was soon wandering through arcades filled with marble
tributes to the memory of the dead, some of the sculptors' work being
very beautiful. Then, across the Campo Santo--the consecrated field--all
bedecked with flowers and garlands, I came to where the path winds
upwards to the graves and monuments that dot the hills above. There
stands Mazzini's tomb, a mausoleum worthy of the man, severe and solemn.
Two short, thick-set columns mark the entrance and carry a massive
stone, on which is inscribed in plain large characters the name
"Giuseppe Mazzini." That day the monument and the surroundings seemed
doubly impressive, for a guard of honour had been placed to hold watch
by the great liberator's tomb. It was here, then, that the exile and the
outlaw had at last found rest in the land he loved so well--in Genoa,
the city of his birth.

I sought out a place from which I could make a water-colour sketch, and,
as I sat painting, my thoughts reverted with reverence and with love to
the master and to the friend.




I well remember my first introduction to Madame Rossini in April 1854. I
was sitting with the Maestro in his study one morning whilst he was
finishing his toilet; his valet had selected one of two brown wigs, and
adjusted it on his illustrious master's head, leaving the other, placed
on a little stand, to ornament the mantelpiece. Next he brought him a
silver bowl full of milk and one or two of those cunningly-twisted rolls
or crescents, the very thought of which conveys to the appetite's memory
a whiff of dainty Paris.

Rossini liked to be informed of the latest news, meaning the up-to-date
incidents in Paris society, and to be told what the wicked world was
saying, and what _bons-mots_ the clever ones had made; so we young
fellows were expected to drop in occasionally at an early hour in the
morning and keep him posted up. His comments on our news were always
much more _spirituels_ than the best of _bons-mots_ we could impart, and
frequently a good deal more spicy than our versions of Parisian doings.
I dare say then I was carrying coals to Newcastle, and he was making
them blaze, when the door was abruptly thrust open, and a bejewelled
hand--it was Madame Rossini's--triumphantly appeared, flourishing a ham
of unusual dimensions, that she had brought for the master to see and to
rejoice over.

A pair of piercing dark eyes next swept the room to see who might be
there. Finding there was nobody--a young man like myself not
counting--the hand and the eyes were followed by the rest of her. She
struck me as every inch a queen--a tragedy queen, off duty. Her black
hair hung dishevelled over her shoulders, and she was clad in the style
the French call "neglected." The upper part of her classical figure was
more or less concealed beneath a loose white garment, which I have since
learnt to associate with hair-combing. Her lower limbs showed off to
great advantage under a heavy striped petticoat; that at least I think
it must have been; if it was meant for a dress, it was certainly cut
several inches too short.

Whilst I was contemplating her, she and her husband were examining the
ham, and commenting upon it _en amateurs_. I was called upon to admire
it, and incidentally introduced to Madame. Disgracefully ignorant as I
was of pork-flesh, and being of those honest youths who call a pig a
pig, I found nothing better to say than, "Voilà ce que j'appelle un
cochon." That seemed about as much as they expected, and I was allowed
to pat it on the hip.

And here I cannot help leaping at a bound from 1854 to 1896, and from
Paris to Venice. Just as I was sitting, pen in hand, and trying to
conjure up a correct image of Madame Rossini, a living biographical
dictionary, in the shape of an elderly lady, walked in, who had been
sent round to show me some valuable old lace she had to dispose of. The
grand race of the _decaduti_ (the come-down in the world) is by no means
extinct, and Signora Baldazzi was a pleasant representative of it. I
welcomed her, and, having made the acquisition of some of her lace, I
chanced to elicit, in further friendly conversation, that she was a
teacher of music, and had studied for years at the Liceo Bologna, when
Rossini was director there.

She had plenty of "I well remembers" to start with, so she was soon
telling me how good and kind he was, and how brusque and rude, and how
he spared neither teachers nor pupils. Even _il maestro Cappeletti, il
professore di timpani_, she said, speaking of him with the greatest
respect, came in for his share, when, in a rehearsal under Rossini, he
made some blunder. "Asino," cried Rossini, "That sort of thing was not
unusual," added my informant; "one always expected something hot from
him." "Do I remember Madame Rossini, la Pelissier? Ma che! I see her now
in her red corsage and many-coloured petticoat, leading her dog by a
string. I knew la Collbran, too; his first wife, you know. They had been
married a good many years, when he got tired of her; he told her so, and
said he wanted a change. She did not mind the change, but she would not
leave the house for him or for anybody else; so she lived in one
apartment whilst la Pelissier and Rossini occupied another; but they all
took their meals together, and la Collbran did the housekeeping." This
lady, it will be remembered, was the famous singer who created some of
the principal parts in Rossini's opera. I thought the story of the joint
_ménage_ so peculiar, that I subjected the good lady, my informant, to a
severe cross-examination, but I did not succeed in shaking her evidence.
Future biographers may further look into the matter if they care.

I return to that corner house of the Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin, where
the maestro lived. One morning I was there with my cousin, Ernst Jaques,
when Rossini's old friend Scitivaux came in.

"There," said Rossini, "there is what I promised you, and I have written
all you want to know inside." With that he handed a copy of the
"Barbiere" to Scitivaux, who, at the sight of the gift and its precious
dedication, broke into raptures of gratitude; I am not sure whether he
wept or laughed on the other's shoulder; but I distinctly recollect he
was immediately turned out. "Take it, but go," he was ordered; "I don't
want you here. Mr. Jaques is just going to play to me. No; you can read
that afterwards." A final continental hug, and he and the book were
outside. So was I, for I thought it prudent not to await definite
instructions, and I was dying to know what was the purport of the
exciting inscription.

So we stood in the hall reading it, and I was treated to the after-glow
of Monsieur Scitivaux's raptures.

The dedication was in Italian, and related how Rossini had composed the
"Barbiere" for the Duke Cesarini, the director of the Teatro Argentina
in Rome, to retrieve for him the fortunes of a bad season. Rossini went
on to say that he had written to Paisiello, who had previously treated
the same subject, to assure him that he in no way sought to compete with
that master, well aware as he was of his own inferiority, and that he
had avoided as much as possible to use the same incidents in his
libretto. "I thought," he worded it, "that, having taken this
precaution, I might consider myself safe from the censure of his friends
and his legitimate admirers. I was mistaken! On the appearance of my
opera, they precipitated themselves like wild beasts upon the beardless
maestrino, and the first performance was a most stormy one. I, however,
remained unconcerned; and, whilst the public hissed, I applauded my
performers. Once the storm blown over, at the second performance, my
'Barbiere' had an excellent razor, and shaved the Romans so well that,
to use theatrical language, I was carried home in triumph. There, my
good friend, I have done what you desired. Be happy, and believe me,
yours affectionately,


"PARIS, _22 Apr. 1860_."

       *       *       *       *       *

The facts related were well known, but here they were confirmed by the
master's own narrative, and the recipient's happiness was unbounded.

The Jaques who was going to play to Rossini was my cousin, a partner in
one of the old banking firms of Hamburg, and, besides, a thorough artist
and virtuoso on that soul-stirring instrument, the violoncello. But it
was not to have his soul stirred that Rossini gathered young musicians
around him at that early hour of the day. They came to play his last
compositions to him, and they remained to practise them at his house.
You could often hear the sounds of various instruments proceeding from
as many various rooms. The piano predominated, for at that time of his
life Rossini was most assiduously composing for that instrument,
labouring, as it seemed to me, under the fond delusion that he had
discovered a new vein in the old mine which had produced such a fund of
musical wealth. Sometimes he reminded one of Hummel's style, sometimes I
thought I traced a Weber idea as it would be if filtered through the pen
of a Mendelssohn. He would on no account allow his MSS. to leave the
house. "Jamais," he said when my cousin expressed the wish to give the
violoncello piece a day's practising at home, "Jamais; je ne veux pas
dépendre du public." So the performers had to go to the Chaussée
d'Antin, and prepare themselves there for the Saturday evenings at which
the latest works of the master were produced.

Amongst those privileged young musicians was the pianist, Georges
Pfeiffer, who has since become so popular a composer. Rossini would give
him such curiously named productions to study as "Cornichons," "Radis,"
and the like. There was also a "Boléro tartare," and a certain Rondo in
the style of Offenbach, the famous composer of "La belle Hélène," "Orfée
aux Enfers," and other operettas that for years drew all Paris to the
"Bouffes." He was universally credited with exercising the baneful
influence of the evil eye, and Rossini, being superstitious, had headed
his manuscript with a drawing of a _gettatura_, which should act as a
charm to protect him. Georges Pfeiffer, no less superstitious--he always
asserted he had good reason to be so--had managed to play the opening
theme of the Rondo with the two fingers which in the _gettatura_ are
supposed to lay the evil spirit; and Rossini so fully entered into this
serio-comic solution of the difficulty, that he expressed his warm
approval, and added Pfeiffer's fingering to the manuscript.

Henri Wieniawski, the violinist, and his brother Joseph, the pianist,
were also great friends of Rossini's. He was present at Henri's wedding.
The bride, Miss Hampton, was lovely, the guests distinguished, and the
wedding breakfast sumptuous, and all would have gone well if the best
man--or the next best--had not unfortunately made an eloquent speech to
propose the health of a near and dear relative of the bride's who had
been buried not so very long ago.

On those famous Saturday evenings I was a frequent visitor and attentive
listener, but my own performances were reserved for those occasions when
I was alone with the master.

He knew me to be the unworthy bearer of an honoured musical name, but he
had by chance discovered that, however great my deficiencies, there was
a little musical vein in me which he thought I might exploit. It is
regrettable that one cannot write one's reminiscences without mentioning
one's self. Things go so smoothly as long as one records the doings of
others, but become so puzzling when one has to introduce the _Ego_.
Between self-laudation and mock modesty there is not much to choose, and
if you try to steer clear of the one, you are sure to fall into the
other. I must take my chance though, and say that that vein of music,
encouraged by the kind maestro, has many a time been a source of
infinite delight to me, and to my friends too, or they would not have
dragged me to the piano whenever they felt that they had had enough good
music and now wanted the other thing. I would show them how easy it is
to compose a masterpiece if you only know the secrets of the trade, and
I would notably convince them that, if they would follow some very
simple directions of mine, they could then and there write an Italian

Singing-masters, it is well known, never agree as to the best way of
cultivating a voice entrusted to their care. One will work a
mezzo-soprano downwards to a contralto, the other upwards to a high
soprano. With me the wiseacres never could settle which of my voices I
ought to have developed--my bass voice, my tenor, or my soprano. In the
meanwhile I alternately used each, distributing them according to the
dramatic needs of the situation created, the story, to be sure, being
made up to suit the madness of the hour. In the front line came the love
duets between tenor and soprano, with moon-light accompaniment; then
peasants' dances interrupted by thunder-storms, and drinking songs for
the baritone, backed by an approving chorus. And so on and on till the
tragedy business was reached: "Ye padre furioso e figlia infelice," as
Du Maurier calls them, when he relates his performance at Blankenberghe
"in imitation of his illustrious friend, Felix Bobtailo."

I must have been endowed with an extraordinary amount of boldness and
recklessness in those days, or I never could have given the great
maestro an insight into these my accomplishments. It came about in this

Conversation had turned on the curious practice which prevailed
formerly, to write the principal men's part in opera for an artificial
male soprano, and that led to my remarking that Rossini and his
contemporaries had done good service in banishing that incongruous
personage from the stage, but that they had still left undisturbed some
puzzling anomalies in the distribution of parts. There remained the fact
that a man has a tenor voice as long as he is a bachelor and a lover,
but, when he becomes a father, he develops into a basso profundo; and,
by way of pointing to another anomaly, I wanted to know why, when the
prim'uomo and the primadonna, with whose affections we so warmly
sympathised, have clandestinely met and resolved to fly from a tyrannic
parent, they should compromise their safety by singing a duet of
inordinate length: first warbling tender melodies, then shouting stern
resolves, practising scales, shakes, and dangerous runs to illustrate
the course of true love, and finally proclaiming their immutable
determination to live and die together, in strains so wild and so
powerfully backed by all the brass instruments of the orchestra, that
the irate father is invariably brought on to the stage, naturally to
wreck the lovers' fondest hopes.

By way of illustrating my meaning, I struck a chord or two, and did my
worst in imitation of the lovers' cadenza, and more specially of the
effect produced by overpowering brass instruments. That led to further
developments, my brass gained me the maestro's sympathies, and of these
he gave me a tangible proof in the shape of a composition.

I never much cared to make a collection of autographs, but I treasure
the album I have previously spoken of, which Mendelssohn gave me as a
godfather's first present. It took me upwards of fifty years to fill the
little book, its pages being devoted only to those celebrities who were
also personal friends of mine. So I had not asked Rossini for his
autograph, as most people did on first acquaintance, and I had no reason
to regret the delay. "I must compose something for your horn," he said
one day; "I will write the notes; that is easy enough, but I can't draw
the staves, you must do that." I answered that I was proud to
collaborate, and so two pages of my album were filled. He composed an
allegretto-moderato of about thirty bars for the "Cor en mi," heading
it: "Thème de Rossini, suivi de deux Variations et Coda par Moscheles
père," and signing it "Offert à mon jeune ami Felix Moscheles, G.
Rossini, Passy, ce 20 Aôut 1860."

He sat down to the piano and spared no pains to teach me how to perform
it on the imaginary French horn--my vibrating lips. I introduced one of
those little hitches, not infrequent when moisture accumulates in the
tubes of the real instrument, a hiatus which the master graciously
approved of. "But," he said, "stand so that the audience cannot see how
it is done; you must keep up the illusion, and besides, remember this,
you must never show yourself at a disadvantage to the ladies." I have
never blown that horn of mine without thinking of his advice, however
little I have succeeded in acting up to it.

My father, responding to Rossini's invitation, wrote two brilliant
variations and coda of considerable length, which it cost me not a
little trouble to learn. Once that I had mastered their difficulties,
the piece became my _cheval de bataille_, and whenever I performed it,
accompanied by one of the two composers, I invariably made a.... But
enough! Happily this is not a place where I am expected to blow my own

I called one day to take leave of Rossini, when I was about to leave
Paris for a short time on a visit to my parents in Leipsic. This was
before Rossini had become personally acquainted with my father, and he
enjoined me to deliver a message to him. "Tell him," he said, "that I am
a pianist. I daresay he knows that I have written operas, but I
particularly want him to understand that I am a pianist too, not, to be
sure, of the first class as he is, but of the fourth."

"Très bien, Maestro," I answered. "Je ne manquerai pas."

"Yes; but mind you deliver my message correctly," he insisted. "My ear
is exceptionally good, and I manage to hear what is said at a
considerable distance. I was not at all satisfied with the way Rosenhain
delivered a similar message I had entrusted him with."

I promised that I would scrupulously repeat what he had said, but I
added that I could not take the responsibility of stating that he really
was a fourth-rate one; he might be a third or a fifth rate pianist for
aught I knew.

"Oh, if that is all," he said, "I will play you something, and you can
judge for yourself." And with that he opened the small upright piano in
his study and began improvising, whilst I settled down comfortably to
listen to my own special fourth-class pianist. It was indeed
interesting. His plump little hands moved over the keys with a delicate
touch, suitable to the simple melodious vein in which he began. When
presently he broke into a rapid movement, and the pianoforte player
asserted himself, it was still with the touch of the good old legato
school. His execution was masterly, but not brilliant; whenever he
introduced passages or figures for the pianist as such, these seemed
commonplace and hackneyed. But when, on the other hand, the musical
thought sought expression, it flowed as from an inexhaustible store, and
took the dramatic shape, reminding one of his best operatic style and
his most brilliant orchestral effects.

His manner throughout was simple and unaffected. There was nothing showy
or self-conscious about him, no by-play of any kind, no sudden pouncing
on some _ben marcato_ note, or triumphant rebounding from it. In fact,
there was nothing to see but a benignant old gentleman playing the
piano; one wouldn't have been surprised if he had worn a pigtail like
those pianists his predecessors, who were not in a hurry, and treated
their little set of crowquills with loving care.

Rossini came into the world three months after Mozart's death, a fact
perhaps worthy to be considered by those who believe in re-incarnation.
It would be interesting to learn what may have been the temporary abode
of Mozart's spirit during those intervening three months. Perhaps it
crossed the Alps and found its way to Rossini, for the Maestro, imbued
as he certainly was with the spirit of his great predecessor, never lost
an opportunity of acknowledging his indebtedness to him, and was always
ready to talk of his favourite master.

"Beethoven," he said to me one day when conversation had turned on
German music, "I take twice a week, Haydn four times, but Mozart I take
every day of the week. Beethoven, to be sure, is a Colossus, and one who
often gives you a tremendous dig in the ribs. Mozart is always adorable.
But then he had the good fortune to go to Italy at a time when singers
still knew how to sing."

In answer to my question what he thought of Weber, he said, "Oh, il a du
talent à revendre celui là!" ("He has talent enough and to spare"). And
then he went on to tell me that when the part of Tancred was sung in
Berlin by a bass voice, Weber had written some violent articles, not
only against the management, but against the composer, and that
consequently Weber, when he came to Paris, did not venture to call on
the Maestro; he, however, let him know that he bore him no grudge, and
that led to their soon becoming acquainted.

I asked if he had met Byron in Venice. "Only in a restaurant," he said,
"where I was introduced to him; our acquaintance, therefore, was very
slight; it seems he has spoken of me, but I don't know what he says." I
translated in a somewhat milder form Byron's words, which happened to be
fresh in my memory: "They have been crucifying 'Othello' into an opera;
the music good but lugubrious, but, as for the words, all the real
scenes with Iago cut out, and the greatest nonsense put in instead; the
handkerchief turned into a _billet doux_, and the first singer would not
black his face. Singing, music, and dresses very good."

The Maestro regretted his ignorance of the English language. He had been
in London in his early days, had given concerts there, and had even
taught aristocratic ladies, but nothing, he said, would ever induce him
to cross the Channel again, and, for the matter of that, to trust
himself to a railway. When he migrated from Italy to Paris, he made the
journey in his carriage. He told me he had given much time to the study
of Italian literature in his day. Dante was the man he owed most to; he
had taught him more music than all his music-masters put together; and
when he wrote his "Otello" he insisted on introducing the song of the
Gondolier. His librettist would have it that gondoliers never sang
Dante, but he would not give in.

"I know that better than you," he said, "for I have lived in Venice, and
you haven't. Dante I must and will have."

A companion picture to the crucified "Othello" was the performance of
"Fidelio," which all Paris was talking about at that time. One Sunday
morning I spent an hour alone with Rossini, and I had to give him full
particulars of the proceedings at the opera. These were characteristic
of the taste of the day. The libretto of Beethoven's opera was
completely changed, Florestan being replaced by Jean Galéas, Pizarro by
Duke Sforza. The Minister becomes Charles VIII., and Fidelio the
Countess Isabelle; the whole story turned into a political intrigue, and
Fidelio, the devoted wife, changed into a plotting and ambitious spouse.

A story in which a woman, actuated by her affection alone, nobly worked
for her husband's deliverance, must have been thought too tame to put
before a Parisian public, and so the stronger motives were introduced.

The press was unanimous in its condemnation of the work itself, not of
the garbled version. "Cette musique est très ennuyeuse," said one;
"Enfin c'est symphonique!" wrote another. "Si Beethoven n'avait pas
senti la faiblesse de sa production, il aurait écrit un deuxième opéra."

"Yes," said Rossini, remarking on the press and the public, "that is
just what I should have expected. Do you know what I owe my success to?
To my crescendos. Ah, my crescendos! What an impression they made on
them. Afterwards, to be sure, when I thought it well to give up that
little trick, they said, 'He's no longer what he was; he's beginning to

"You know what happened to my friend T---- i, the tenor. He went to
F---- o, and asked him how much he would take for a good notice in his

"'Un billet de mille,'[11] said F.

"'Ah! I'm afraid I can't afford that,' sighed T.; 'couldn't you do it
for 500 frcs.?'

"'Impossible, mon cher monsieur,' replied F. 'J'y perdrais!'"[12]

Who was responsible for the irreverent production of "Fidelio"? I am
afraid it was, to a great extent, Berlioz and Madame Viardot. That I say
with bated breath, for nothing could exceed my respect for those
heaven-born musicians. But I wonder to-day, as I wondered then, why they
should ever have planned this adaptation of "Fidelio" to the French
stage. It was an unfortunate selection, if only because many numbers of
the chief part had to be transposed to suit Madame Viardot's voice. She
had but lately achieved one of her greatest triumphs in the character of
Orpheus. A grander or a more beautiful rendering of Gluck's masterpiece
cannot be imagined; the grave full-toned quality of her voice seemed to
suit the part of the bereaved husband, who goes forth, lute in hand, to
seek his spouse in the shades of Hades. From the first scenes, where she
laments and implores, to the last, where she succumbs to despair, she
held her audience spell-bound. How she had fitted herself for her task I
well remember. Classical scholar as she was, she read her Orpheus in the
Greek original, and the costume she wore was of her own designing.

I was much at her house in the Rue de Douai in those days, and it was
made doubly attractive to me by Monsieur Viardot, who himself was a man
of great artistic and literary attainments. His book on the "Galeries de
l'Europe" is a standard work; he had formed a collection of pictures by
the best Dutch masters, and he was devoted to them as only the true
connoisseur can be. Amongst the many celebrities that I met there were
Ary Scheffer, Tourgenieff, Saint Saens, and, on one occasion, Richard
Wagner. He had come with his manuscript score of "Tristan and Isolde."
Madame Viardot was at the piano reading it at sight, and mastering its
intricacies with the grasp of the true musician; whilst Wagner stood by
her side, turning the leaves and occasionally breaking in with a word or

"N'est ce pas, Ma_t_ame," he said, carried away by the grandeur of his
own creation. "N'est ce pas, Ma_t_ame, que c'est su_p_lime?"

I chanced to be the only one privileged to be present on that occasion.
Close at hand stood a casket in which a treasure was preserved, the
original score of "Don Giovanni." No wonder I was fully impressed by the
situation, actually in touch as I felt myself with the master of the
past and the master of the present. If what I was listening to was well
named the Music of the Future, might not the score enshrined in that
casket be called the Music of Eternity?

An event that was looked forward to with the greatest interest by the
privileged group which enjoyed Rossini's hospitality, was the
performance of the "Stabat Mater" at his own house. Those who wanted to
be on the list of the invited did well to conciliate Madame; but that
was not always an easy matter. She knew her own mind, and would give one
a piece of it when she felt so inclined. The following is characteristic
of her little ways:--I called one day to introduce a Mr. Mertke, a young
musician just arrived from Leipsic, to Rossini. The master was busy
conducting a rehearsal of that "Stabat," and so, remembering it was
Madame's reception day, I thought I would improve the occasion by paying
my respects to her and introducing my friend. She received us politely,
but I noticed at once that she was not in the best of tempers and that a
squall might be expected at any moment.

My friend and I seated ourselves cautiously on the edges of our chairs
and awaited further developments. Happily the clouds gathering round her
dark brow were not to burst over our heads; the danger was averted by
the appearance of a very handsome and elegant woman. She was a
well-known operatic star, and swept into the room with all the assurance
that success and an up-to-date Parisian toilette can give. With charming
grace and affability she greeted Madame Rossini and beamed kindly on one
or two friends. "I have come, chère amie," she said, "to offer my
services to the Maestro. I hear he is going to perform his 'Stabat
Mater,' and, if he wants a good voice to join in the chorus, I am at his

"There you are," answered Madame Rossini in her sternest manner; "we
have refused more than one of that kind. It's an age one hasn't seen
anything of you, and now there's something going on, and you want to be
in it, you vouchsafe to reappear."

"Mais chère amie," answered the other, "you don't for a moment believe
what you say; you know what has prevented my seeing my dearest friends.
Empêchement de force majeure, n'est ce pas?" And therewith she proceeded
to give us some interesting details connected with her first experiences
as a mother, and with her consequent inability to make afternoon
calls--details so minute that they did not fail to convince everybody
present excepting the obdurate Madame Rossini, who was about to retort,
when the primadonna managed, with marvellous skill, to change the
conversation. We soon found ourselves talking of the latest scandal; of
a phaeton which a certain lady had no business to show herself in at the
Bois, so soon after a certain duel which that particular phaeton had led
to. From that we got quite naturally to the chapter of _robes et
chiffons_, and all went so smoothly that my friend and I soon made
ourselves more at home on our chairs. But there was to be another brush
between the ladies. As the brilliant one rose to leave, she said with a
winning smile, "Adieu, très-chère; vous êtes bien la plus excellente des
créatures, but really," she added sadly, "just now you were not

"I did not mean to be," answered madame, "and I did mean every word of
what I said." That was her parting shaft. But for all that the operatic
star was not to be frozen out. She managed to get an invitation to the
Easter performance, or came without, for aught I know; she told that
chère Madame Rossini that she positively adored her, and that she was
captivated by her _franchise_ and her _verve intarissable_ (her plain
speaking and her inexhaustible verve), sentiments which presently she
translated for my benefit with the words: "Ah mais, cette chère Madame
Rossini, elle est vraiment impossible" (That dear Madame Rossini, she is
really impossible).

The "Stabat Mater," as we heard it on that evening, was the revised and
remodelled work, very different from the one Rossini had written in his
early days. The score of this he had given to a friend, a monk, after
whose death it passed into the hands of some musician, who published it
much to Rossini's annoyance. "On ne saute pas d'un coup du théâtre à
l'église" (One does not bound at a leap from the theatre to the church),
he said one day to Kuhe the gifted musician and impresario, as he was
alluding to the shortcomings of that early version and the necessity of
revising it.

Madame Rossini could, when she chose, be an excellent hostess, and she
was usually at her best on those Saturday evenings when she and the
Maestro received, and when naturally all that was prominent in the
musical world gravitated towards the salons of the veteran composer. On
one of these occasions, I nearly got into trouble with her. A lamp was
slowly but surely going out, and any one else in my place, just by the
tail of the grand piano, would have been prompted, as I was, to remove
it. I looked across the room at my hostess, my eyes respectfully putting
the question, "Hadn't I better take that lamp out?" From beneath her
dark Italian eyebrows shot an annihilating glance that made me tremble
in my dress shoes, and that plainly said, "Move if you dare, young
man--but if you do, you will repent it." I did _not_ dare, but the
situation was painful. The select circle of friends gathered around that
grand piano were one and all listening in religious silence, impressed
by the music and the presence of the Maestro; that irreverent lamp alone
showed unmistakable signs of collapse, and soon attracted general
attention. Would it or would it not hold out to the end? It would not;
Madame Rossini had to get up, cross the room and carry out the offender.
She did it defiantly, majestically; I should have done it meekly,

But, to be fair, I must add in conclusion that she could be very
friendly too, and playful in her way. It would be ungrateful of me not
to record how she greeted me with "Bon soir, cher amour," one evening.
But that was at Wieniawski's wedding, and I suppose the darts of Cupid
were flying about.

As far as I could judge, she made that illustrious husband of hers an
excellent wife; she knew what he liked, and she took care that he had
it, whether it was a favourite dish or a favoured visitor; and, what was
more, she knew whom to keep at a distance, a valuable quality in the
wife of a man whom every musician, good or bad, professional or
amateur, wanted to know, and who was besieged by autograph-hunters,
interviewers, and the host of nondescripts who are ever anxious to cling
to the tail of Pegasus.

I have known more than one wife of that most useful genus, and have not
always quite liked their methods; as when, on one occasion, I had run
over to Paris, I called on an old friend, also a great composer. His
better half, who always jealously guarded the approaches, espied me from
the top of a high staircase. "Ah, c'est vous, Monsieur Félix," she cried
with genuine delight. "Comme cela se trouve bien; justement j'ai un
paquet à envoyer à Londres." I had a long and interesting chat with the
master, in exchange for which I gladly took Madame's most undesirable

In the summer of 1860 my father made a short stay in Paris. He was most
cordially welcomed by friends and colleagues, amongst these the Erards,
Viardots, Crémieux, Auber, Ambroise Thomas, and Rossini. The Maestro was
at that time staying at his villa in Passy. Referring to his first visit
there, my father writes:--

"Felix had been made quite at home in the villa on former occasions. To
me the Salon on the ground floor with its rich furniture was new, and,
before the Maestro himself appeared, we looked at his photograph in a
circular porcelain frame, on the sides of which were inscribed the names
of his works. The ceiling is covered with pictures illustrating scenes
in the lives of Palestrina and Mozart; in the middle of the room stands
a Pleyel piano.

"When Rossini came in, he gave me the orthodox Italian kiss, and was
effusive in expressing his delight at my reappearance, and very
complimentary on the subject of Felix. In the course of our conversation
he was full of hard-hitting truths and brilliant satire on the present
study and method of vocalisation. 'I don't want to hear any more of
their screaming,' he said; 'I want a resonant voice, full-toned, not
screeching; I care not whether it be for speaking or singing, everything
ought to sound melodious.'

"He then spoke of the pleasure he felt in studying the piano. 'And, if
it were not presumption,' he added, 'in composing for that instrument. I
find it hard, however, to make my fourth and fifth fingers do their duty

"Talking of the present style of playing, he said: 'How they maltreat
the piano! Ils enfoncent non seulement le piano, mais encore le fauteuil
et même le plancher!' (They smash not only the piano, but the chair and
the very floor).

"Every instrument, he went on to say, should be treated according to its
special character. Sor, the guitarist, and Vimercati proved the
possibility of obtaining great artistic results with slender means. I
happened to have heard both these artists, and could quite endorse his
views. He told me that, arriving late one evening at a small Italian
town, he had already retired to rest, when Vimercati, the resident
Kapellmeister, sent him an invitation to be present at a performance of
one of his operas. In those days he was not yet as hard-hearted as he
is now, when he once for all refuses to be present at the performance
of any work of his; so he not only went to the theatre, but played the
double-bass as a substitute for the right man, who was not forthcoming.
This reminded me of what I once experienced to the cost of my nerves at
York, when the part of the viola in Mozart's D Minor Symphony was
missing, and the bassoon was flat. I showed Rossini on the piano what
the effect was like, and he laughed heartily. Then he wanted a little
serious music. I improvised, and he said, 'Cela est il gravé? C'est de
la musique qui coule de source; il-y-a l'eau de réservoir et l'eau de
source; l'une ne coule que quand vous tournez le robinet, elle sent la
vase, l'autre, fraiche et limpide, coule toujours. Aujourd'hui on
confond le simple et le trivial; un motif de Mozart on l'appellerait
trivial si on osait!' (Has that been published? That is music which
flows spontaneously. There is tank-water and spring-water; one runs only
when you turn on the tap, and always savours of mud, the other ever
flows fresh and clear. But nowadays people do not know the difference
between the trivial and the simple; they would call a melody of Mozart's
trivial if they dared.)

"He was delighted to hear that encouragement was given to the serious
study of the organ at the Leipsic Conservatorio, and he regretted the
decay of church music in Italy. On the subject of Marcello's and
Palestrina's 'sublime creations' he was quite eloquent. When we parted
he made me promise to call on him once more before the day fixed upon to
dine with him. I was happy to do so, and, when I next came, Rossini,
yielding to my request, but not without modestly expressing diffidence
in his own powers, played an Andante of his in B flat, beginning
somewhat in this style:

[Illustration: musical notation]

in which, after the first eight bars, the following interesting
modulation is introduced:

[Illustration: musical notation]

"The piece is what we Germans would call tame. He also showed me two
manuscript compositions, an Introduction and Fugue in C major, and a
sort of pastoral Fantasia with a brilliant Rondo in A major, which I had
to play to him, and, when I added a missing [natural music symbol] to
the MS., he declared it was 'worth gold' to him. Clara, who was with me,
and had already mustered up sufficient courage to sing my
'Frühlingslied' and 'Botschaft' to Rossini's satisfaction, was obliged
to repeat both songs before the singers, Ponchard and Levasseur, who had
just come in. I accompanied, and, in answer to the Maestro's remark that
I had enough flow of melody to write an opera, I said: 'What a pity that
I am not young enough to become your pupil!' and when, referring to my
playing from his manuscripts, he dubbed me 'King of Pianists,' I told
him that whatever I was, I owed to the old school and the old master
Clementi. At the mention of that name he went to the piano and played
parts of his sonatas by heart.

"On another occasion he would have it there were barricades in my
'Humoristische Variationen,' so boldly did they seem to assail time-worn
traditions; and as for the 'Grande Valse,' he found the title too
unassuming. 'Surely,' he insisted, 'a waltz with some angelic creature
must have inspired you, and _that_ the title ought to express. Titles,
in fact, should pique the curiosity of the public.' That is a view
uncongenial to me; however, I did not discuss it."

At the dinner my father spoke of, the conversation turned on Meyerbeer
and on macaroni. He seemed much attached to both, more though to the
latter, I thought, and to other productions of the Italian chef, than to
the chef-d'œuvres of his Franco-German colleague. He would speak in
very appreciative terms of Meyerbeer, but he did not seem displeased
when disparaging remarks on the works of his rival were made.

One of the stories current concerning the two masters was this:--

Rossini was going along the Boulevards with a friend, when they met
Meyerbeer, and exchanged cordial greetings.

"And how is your health, my dear Maestro?" asks Meyerbeer.

"Shaky, cher maître, very shaky. My digestion, you know, my poor head.
Alas! I'm afraid I am going down hill."

They pass on. "How could you tell such stories?" asks the friend; "you
were never in better health, and you talk of going down hill."

"Ah, well," answered Rossini, "to be sure--but why shouldn't I put it
that way? It gives him so much pleasure."

Another time the following short dialogue:--

"Eh bien, cher maître, que faites-vous maintenant?"

Meyerbeer: "Je me corrige toujours."

Rossini: "Moi je m'efface."

Whatever may have been the relative merits of the two masters in matters
musical, it is certain that Rossini was acknowledged _facile princeps_
in all concerning the cuisine, and we used to listen with due respect to
his remarks on the mysteries of the culinary art.

Crémieux, the eminent lawyer, who was a guest at that dinner, had the
reputation of being the plainest man in France, a sort of missing link.
A story is told of him and Alexandre Dumas. The great novelist was
unmistakably of the mulatto type, and Crémieux, who must have been
addicted to making personal remarks, indiscreetly questioned him as to
his descent. "Was your father a mulatto?" he asked. "Yes," answered
Dumas, "my father was a mulatto, my grandfather a negro, and my
great-grandfather a monkey; my family began where yours ends."

Quick at repartee as Dumas was, he did not always have the last word, as
on an occasion when he received a letter from some playwright--I have
forgotten his name--offering to collaborate with him in the writing of
a play. "It is not usual," replied Dumas, "to yoke a horse and an ass
together." "Comment done!" retorted the other. "How dare you, sir,
insinuate that I am a horse?"

       *       *       *       *       *

That Villa Rossini I visited ten years later under very different
circumstances. It was in May 1871, after the terrible events that marked
the reign of the Commune. I had not witnessed these, but had crossed
over from London shortly after the Versailles troops had succeeded in
making themselves masters of Paris.

The villa stood in its own grounds. The municipality had desired to
present Rossini with the site; he would not, however, accept the
gracious offer unreservedly, and so it was arranged that he should
occupy it on very advantageous terms.

As I passed the gates that led to the grounds I knew so well, the first
thing that struck me was a notice posted up and signed by the military
authorities, to the effect that all unexploded bombs and other
projectiles should be buried underground, awaiting the time when they
would be collected by competent artillerymen.

I left others to do the burying, and made for the house. There was no
Madame Rossini on the look-out, as she used to be in former days, ready
to guard the approaches to her husband's study with Cerberus-like
fidelity. It was some time before I could find anybody at all. A
man-servant finally emerged from the basement; he was the only soul on
the premises, and evidently much shaken by recent events. It needed
nobody to open the door, for one could walk in through large gaps in the
walls, where the shells had done their work. Part of the staircase had
been blown away, but enough of it stood to take me to the upper floor,
to the room in which, three years ago, Rossini had died. The house until
lately had been occupied by his widow; now all the furniture had been
removed; but a large iron safe stood in the middle of the music-room,
like a solid island, surrounded by a sea of brick and mortar rubbish.

I had looked round in vain for something worth preserving as a memento
of this my last visit to the great Maestro's house, and had found
nothing better than fragments of wall-paper and pieces of a shattered
looking-glass. As I gave a final look at the scene of destruction, I
descried a black-bordered paper all but buried in a thick layer of
débris. Where all else was destroyed, that paper seemed a living thing.
I brought it to the surface, and found it was an old copy of _The
Musical World_, containing the obituary notice of Giacomo Rossini. When
I returned to London I gave it to J. W. Davison, the editor of the
journal in which it was published, so that it might be preserved to
record the incidents of the master's life, and to attest the grievous
disasters that befell the villa he loved so well.



I well remember Paris emerging from her trials. It is difficult to-day
to realise the magnitude of the disaster which laid low the beautiful
capital of France. When I arrived within its shattered walls, the
monster conflagration that would have destroyed the whole city, had it
not been for the timely arrival of the Versailles troops, was all but
subdued. The firemen, however, were still kept busily engaged, for
clouds of smoke and tongues of fire would at intervals burst forth from
the smouldering ruins. Tottering walls on the one hand, huge _façades_
of masonry on the other, marked the places where but yesterday glorious
specimens of architecture, ancient and modern, had stood. There was the
shell of what had been the Tuileries, that palace built in the 16th
century, which had seen so much of the history of France. Mobs had
pillaged and sacked it; within its state-rooms one crowned head had been
forced to wear the cap of liberty, a humiliation which did not save it
from the knife of the guillotine. Some fifty years later a bourgeois
king had to fly for his life from the palace; and last, it was an
unfortunate Empress who had to make good her escape, and seek refuge on
the shores of England.

There would be no more pillaging and sacking now; the venerable specimen
of the Renaissance style was destroyed. To-day the stranger is just
shown the place where the Tuileries stood; then, as the walls crashed
down, burying treasures and relics of bygone days in their fall, one was
appalled by the tragedy enacted before one's eyes. I had my little
personal recollections too. I had danced there more than once with some
of the fairest Parisians; I had drunk the future Emperor's champagne
with a conviction that it was quite the best of its kind, and was
evidently intended to make us understand that our host meant business,
imperial business, pretty sure to be settled ere long, whether we liked
it or not.

Well, one fine old building is gone, I thought, as I turned away from
the ruins, but at least the Louvre is saved. That marvel of architecture
was intact. The principal works of art it contained had been taken to
places of supposed safety, and the whereabouts of the Venus of Milo were
said to be known only to some few persons, who had dug a hole and
therein buried her. Much else had been providentially saved; there were
large gaps in the Rue de Rivoli, but the unique old Tour St. Jacques had
escaped unscathed. At the Palais de Justice the fire had stopped short
on the threshold of the exquisite Sainte Chapelle, one of the most
perfect works of the thirteenth century. I had with some difficulty
obtained permission to roam over the ruins of that Palais de Justice and
the Préfecture de Police, and whilst the firemen were working to subdue
the flames wherever they broke out afresh, I used my brush to make a
sketch of the huge maze before me. There were bundles of official papers
at my feet; _Actes de Naissance_ and _Actes de Décès_, charred only, and
quite easy to decipher, but as I touched them, they crumbled to ashes.
Some seemingly well-preserved parchments I consigned to my pocket, but a
few hours later I found little more than dust in their place. The Hôtel
de Ville, too, which had fallen a prey to the flames, had many an
association for me. Henri Lehmann, during the time I was studying under
him, had been commissioned to decorate the great hall with a series of
pictures. I had lent an apprentice's hand, and had seen them grow under
his brush, as, in an incredibly short space of time, he produced what
was thought to be the best work of his life--work destined to hand down
his name to posterity as one of the most fertile and distinguished
painters of the second empire. Ingres, too, who in those days was
considered the greatest draughtsman since the time of Raphael, had
contributed a masterpiece to the decoration of the hall, a _plafond_,
"The Apotheosis of Napoleon I." This work I had also seen in progress.
On the occasion of a visit to his studio I recollect a lady asking him,
in effusive language, where he had found the models for the ideally
classical horses attached to the triumphant car of the great conqueror.
Ingres led her straight to the window. "There are my models, madam," he
said bluntly, pointing to the cab-stand.

I wandered through Paris day after day, and everywhere the ghastly
traces of war, as it really is, confronted me; blood-stained flagstones,
broken-down gun-carriages, barricades that had been stormed, and homes
that had been wrecked. Everywhere the iron shutters of the shops were
riddled with shot or broken open. One climbed as best one could over a
heterogeneous mass of _impedimenta_, collected for attack or defence, or
thrown away in precipitate flight. Every effort had been made to prevent
petroleum being poured into the basement of the houses. The gratings in
the streets had been boarded over and otherwise secured against those
female fiends the Pétroleuses. Some of the wealthiest quarters of Paris
were known to be undermined, and it was only in the nick of time that
the Versailles troops arrived to prevent the execution of such written
orders as, "Faites sauter le quartier de la Bourse."

The fashionable quarters and the suburbs of Paris had suffered terribly
from the bombardment. I wandered for days over fragments of every mortal
thing that had once been whole, past dismantled batteries, along the
barren wastes of the Bois de Boulogne, and through avenues of wrecked
villas. Costly furniture and works of art had been shattered to atoms by
the enemy's bombs. In one place I came across a Louis Quinze sofa and
chairs that had evidently been carried out for removal, and stood
waiting so placidly, that they seemed to invite you to sit down and
rest; and in one of the gardens there was a cottage piano, which
appeared none the worse for its adventures; two coffee-cups stood
unharmed upon it, showing that some two persons had taken their
demie-tasse by the side of that piano.

The most striking effects of shot and shell showed themselves on the
ornamental ironwork which had once enclosed those suburban villas. It
seemed as if they had vented their fiercest passions on those
beautifully designed gates and railings French art excels in producing.
One could not suppress a feeling of pity as one saw them writhing in
anguish and stretching out their weird iron arms as if in supplication.
Here they were unhinged and started from their sockets; there their
limbs, once so perfectly poised, were twisted into unsightly shapes, and
stood out amongst the wreckage in fantastic and uncanny figures.

I had wended my way one afternoon to the revolutionary quarter of
Belleville, and had got into conversation with a workman of more than
average intelligence. Not feeling at our ease within earshot of the
"Mouchards," as the growling, spying, myrmidons of the police are
termed, and not liking the looks of the _gensdarmes à cheval_ with their
revolvers at half-cock, we had adjourned to one of the numerous
establishments kept by the _Marchand de Vins, Traiteur_, which take the
place of our public-houses. There my workman became confidential and
declared himself a Communist to the backbone. He scorned the idea that
the German was his enemy.

"If I'm to fight at all," he said, "let me find an enemy for myself. Let
me shoot the _richard en face_, the capitalist who has been exploiting
me and mine. We'll make him and the like of him disgorge his plunder,
and then we'll start a fresh deal. As for the Germans, my dear sir, I
dare say there are a lot of jolly good fellows amongst them, and plenty
who would take a bumper, a _canon de vin_, with us, if they were here
now, and drink to the perdition of the bourgeois."

"That is all very well," I answered, "but I'm pretty sure you were just
like the rest, and went tearing along the boulevards and shouting 'A
Berlin!' And you would have been only too jolly glad to get the Rhine,
if you had had a----"

"The Rhine, monsieur!" he interrupted me, "the Rhine! Do you think I
know what the blessed thing is; and, supposing we had got it, do you
think they'd have given me any of it?"

That was twenty-eight years ago, and since then many a workman has
learnt that he does not get his share of the "blessed thing" he has to
fight for. I wonder whether he will give up fighting, or whether he will
see to it that he gets his share.

It was an impressive sight that met the eye in the Place Vendôme. There
was the famous column lying prostrate in huge fragments like so many
mill-stones, with the bronze legends commemorating the conqueror's
march, battered and crushed out of all seeming in their fall. Those
gigantic vertebræ of the mighty pillar made one ponder on the
vicissitudes of greatness, and on the ups and downs of heroic symbols.
One could not help marvelling at the audacity of the men who had
ruptured that spinal cord of patriotic self-glorification.

It was an artist, and a great one too, who planned and directed the
destruction of the work of art, Courbet, the most uncompromising of
painters and of demagogues. I was living in Paris at the time his first
great works were exhibited, and I recollect what a storm of abuse they
raised. His "Enterrement à Ornans," a large and striking picture,
crudely realistic, depicting, as it did, mourners at the open grave,
with reddened noses and swollen eyes, was considered a deliberate insult
offered to all idealists, romanticists, and mannerists. His picture, "La
Baigneuse," was simply derided by the critics; there was no drawing, no
modelling. "C'est un sac de noix!" A bag of nuts, not a woman of flesh
and blood.

Well, Courbet's work has outlived criticism; history remembers him as a
_chef d'école_.

The only time I recollect meeting him was on the occasion of an
international gathering of artists in Antwerp in 1861. He was quite a
boon companion, and had a marked objection to retiring to rest before
daylight. He would sing us jolly songs, one of which, "C'est l'amour qui
nous mène,"[13] was a favourite of his.

The Commune went to work very systematically to bring down the huge
column. An incision was made at the base in the shape of a notch; a
double pulley was attached to the balustrade at the top, and another
fixed to the ground in the Rue de la Paix, a rope passing through both
to a capstan. When this was set in motion, after some preliminary
difficulties had been overcome, the column oscillated for a moment, and
then came crashing down in three colossal sections on to a bed of sand,
fascines, and straw prepared for it, there to break up into a thousand
smaller fragments. The statue of the great Emperor had lost its head and
one arm.

An act of vandalism, we say. Yes, but of vandalism with a purpose. We
can fancy Courbet declaring: "The work of art must be sacrificed as a
warning to those who would honour and perpetuate the memory of selfish

It was History herself he meant to drag from her pedestal--History, ever
crowning herself with wreaths of laurel and halos of virtue. It was Art
too he waged war upon, that Art which he deemed had too long served to
glorify the rule of Force: sometimes in a picture or in a legion of
pictures, as at Versailles, exalting Imperialism and inciting us to go
forth and emulate the deeds and misdeeds of our ancestors; sometimes in
a statue of some clever organiser of wholesale slaughter, appropriately
cast in the bronze of cannon taken from the enemy; or, again, in a
barbarous trophy, a triumphal arch--in fact, in a scalp of some kind,
that, from generation to generation, we are taught to gloat over.

This was the wording of the decree which condemned the column to


     "Considering that the Imperial Column of the Place Vendôme is a
     monument of barbarism, a symbol of brute force, of false glory, an
     encouragement of military spirit, a denial of international
     rights, a permanent insult offered by the conquerors to the
     conquered, a perpetual conspiracy against one of the great
     principles of the French Republic, namely fraternity,


     "_Sole article_--The Vendôme Column is to be demolished."

One day--it was a wretched day, the rain pouring in torrents--I went to
see the ruins of Saint Cloud. People were discussing the question as to
who had really done the work of destruction there--the Germans, the
Versaillais, or the Communards. To the poor victims who had come forth
from their hiding-places, returning only to find their homes and hearths
ruined, it could really matter little whether the grim work was done by
the six of one or the half-a-dozen of the other.

Wandering along the streets in ruins, I was struck by one piece of high
wall left standing out against the grey sky to bear witness to the
strange caprices of the destructive element; a large red umbrella hung
in its place on that wall, and a striped petticoat bedrizzled with rain
was being blown about by the wind. The fireplace had kept its every-day
appearance, whilst the floor beneath it had gone; on the mantelpiece
stood some little household gods, bits of china, a clock, and various
nick-nacks one could not distinguish at a distance. Close to me was a
touching little group of victims. A woman with three girls, their ages
ranging from eight to twelve years, stood gazing at that wall which had
once been part of their home. They did not give vent to their feelings
in tears or loud lamentations, as so many around me did; the mother was
simply dazed, the children overawed. They had come back to Saint Cloud
from I know not where, and were carrying their little belongings tied up
in cotton handkerchiefs. I think they would scarcely have been able to
identify their home, if it had not been for the red umbrella and the
striped petticoat.

After a while I spoke to the woman and elicited with some difficulty
that her husband had been killed early in the campaign, one son was
maimed for life, and the other had not been heard of for two months.
When I gave her a few francs she put them in her pocket mechanically;
her thoughts were elsewhere. I passed on to witness more destruction and
distress. When I returned, some half-an-hour later, to where the high
wall stood, I found the mother and the three girls just where I had left
them, still hopelessly gazing at the household gods that were mocking
their misery from on high.

It was not till that day that I quite realised what we mean when we
speak of blank despair.

       *       *       *       *       *

The recuperative power of the French people is truly extraordinary, and,
from the first day and hour of his deliverance, the Parisian gave
striking evidence of it. Endowed as he is with indomitable pluck,
infinite resources, and inexhaustible light-heartedness, he could set to
work with a will, or dance and fiddle with a vengeance, whilst the ashes
of his city were still glowing. It came quite natural to him to
repossess himself of that city, and to drop unconcernedly into his old
ways of life.

There he was once more, the typical Parisian who must have his daily
stroll along the Boulevards; he must sit somewhere where he can sip
something and see somebody else sipping or strolling. He must watch his
opportunity of saying something polite to somebody, and, at a given
hour, he must call for an _absinthe_ and concentrate his thoughts on the
importance of an approaching meal.

And there he was again, the expert diner we all know, devoutly pinning
his napkin under his chin, and thanking the gods that at last the sacred
rites of the dinner-table could be duly performed.

One of the characteristics of the Parisian, I always thought, is that
exquisite politeness of his. What a lesson to us, who won't even make
room for a fellow-creature in a 'bus if we can help it!

In former days I used to say that I could always tell, if I wanted, to
what nationality any particular man in the motley crowd of loungers on
the Boulevards belonged. I need but tread on his toes, and he would use
strong language in his mother-tongue. The German would invoke the "holy
thunder-weather," the Dutchman would be still more sacrilegious, the
Englishman would damn something--probably the eyes I should have made
use of; and so on--each would fling his pet wicked word at me. Only the
Frenchman would raise his hat and say, "Pardon, monsieur."

Knowing and loving the amiable city as I did--I had spent altogether
about six years there--I was deeply interested in her fortunes and
misfortunes, and now warmly welcomed the first signs of returning

       *       *       *       *       *

The cannon's roar had ceased, people were coming from their cellars or
other hiding-places, looking for their friends and congratulating one
another on being alive. Crowds of sightseers filled the streets and
stood gaping at the ruins or commenting on the unique spectacle before
them. Barricades were being demolished, and squads of men and women were
set to work to clear the roads of broken glass, splintered wood, and
other accumulations of nondescript rubbish. Shops were being opened, and
the _Dames de Comptoir_, as correct and business-like as ever, were
getting out their books. Goods and wares that had been hidden away, were
being brought to light. Shopkeepers were counting up their losses and
discounting their prospects.

Matters political were in abeyance. Whenever I asked, "What is to come
next? What Government would you vote for?" I got the answer: "Cela nous
est bien égal, monsieur, pourvu qu'il-y-ait du travail."[14] One lived
in a sort of interregnum, a period of transition from lawlessness to
order. War had ceased, but peace had only just begun to strike roots.
There was no bragging, no cheap oratory--nobody seemed to think himself
particularly "_trahi_."[15] There was no show of military rule. Even
the sentries chatted freely with the bourgeois, and there were no
ominous cries of "_Passez au large_," coupled with the significant
thrust of the fixed bayonet, as one used to hear in the days of the
_Coup d'État_. On the contrary, thousands of soldiers, with their
_Chassepots_ slung carelessly across their shoulders, were sauntering
along the streets, most of them evidently provincials, amazed at the
grandeur of the capital they were visiting for the first time.

Cabs were about, and even the heavy three-horse omnibuses were resuming
their well-regulated course; but no private carriages were to be seen.
In fact, the upper ten as well as the submerged tenth seemed to have
disappeared, and the odd million about was made up of the _bourgeois_,
the _piou-piou_,[16] the _badaud de province_, and other sightseers.

I scorned conveyances of any kind, and tramped along on foot from
morning to night, for it was only thus I felt I was my own master. I
could pull up, stumble, or climb as circumstances required, or I could
turn in, stand, drink, talk, listen, and argue--or, better still, hold
my tongue.

In the evening darkness reigned, except in the neighbourhood of the
cafés. There people were congregating as usual, seeking the light like
so many moths, and settling like flies on the sugar that was to sweeten
their _demie-tasse_ or to be pocketed for home consumption. At eleven
o'clock the cafés were closed, and nothing remained to do but to go home
in the dark. The moths, by the way, must have had a dull time of it,
for the graceful lamp-posts had suffered so severely that very few of
them were fit for service.

The Commune had naturally produced a great quantity of scurrilous
literature and vile caricatures, some quite unmentionable; but they are
interesting historically, throwing, as they do, a lurid light on the
events of those days and the passions they evoked. I bought whatever I
could find of such papers and drawings, as also a few of the more
respectable publications, and the collection is a pretty complete one,
including, as it does, copies of the Père Duchêne, La Lanterne, Le
National, La Vérité, &c., and some sixty caricatures of the Emperor, the
Empress, Thiers, Jules Favre, and many other leading men, all furnishing
abundant material for recording and illustrating the politics,
hysterics, and erotics of those troublesome times.

Towards the end of my stay I went to Saint Denis. Peace and its
blessings were really coming, and welcome signs of their approach were
not wanting; even little twigs of olive branches were being held out
where I least expected to see them.

Saint Denis was still in the hands of the Germans, and was not to be
evacuated till a stipulated sum, forming part of the war indemnity, had
been paid. Officers and men quartered there had made themselves very
much at home, and some did not seem to be on bad terms with the
inhabitants, as in one case, when a bright young fellow on the German
side seemed on particularly good terms with an attractive young lady on
the French side. He and I had got into conversation; he was evidently
pleased to meet a countryman of his (I can be a German occasionally),
and was disposed to be friendly and confidential. "Come with me," he
said; "I will show you the prettiest girl in Saint Denis." I went to see
"the prettiest girl," who, it seemed to me, had been watching for him at
the window, and now came down to the door.

He was a non-commissioned officer in I forget which regiment. When not
in uniform he was a lawyer--for aught I know, a rising young
_Rechtsanwalt_, with plenty of clients. I hope so, for the sake of the
young lady, who was charming, and was as much smitten with him as he was
with her. He had taught her a few German words, which she could not
pronounce without laughing and showing her pretty teeth; she again had
lent him some books from her little library. He spoke French fluently,
and was happy to be put through a course of French literature by his
fair friend.

Love being thicker than blood, I feel sure they eventually got married;
and after so romantic an opening, their story cannot but have proved
interesting. Should anybody care to write it, I think the line to be
taken should be this: They married, and lived "happy ever after"--as
happily as their children would let them. They had four, differing
widely in their tastes and convictions. One son enlisted in the German
army; the other in the French. Both were deeply grieved to have fallen
on evil times, when emperors and presidents were ever proclaiming the
blessings of peace, and when even the people were beginning to question
the desirability of attacking their neighbours.

Of the daughters, one loved the Germans, and was unhappy because she was
to marry a Frenchman her parents had selected; the other hated the
Germans, and was broken-hearted because she was not to marry the
Frenchman she loved.

It must all end happily, however, for it is essential that the moral
should be pointed: Love your neighbour, if only to show you are
unshackled by prejudice. Marry him or her, whether he or she is your
hereditary foe or not, and settle down to a life of peace and happiness,
that you may inaugurate, by your noble example, the blessed era, when
the lion and the lamb shall no longer hesitate to go and do likewise.

But not often was it my good fortune to spend a pleasant hour as at
Saint Denis and to imagine little romances built on slight foundations.
The tragedy being enacted around me forced itself on my view more than
once, when I met batches of miserable prisoners marched off, some to be
judged by court-martial, others already sentenced to be shot. The
Parisian looked on without exhibiting much interest in their fate. He
had seen so much of bloodshed in every form lately that he had grown
callous. The day of settlement had come, the murder of the hostages must
be avenged, and the _canaille_ must be cleared away, just as the broken
glass and the wrecked barricades had to be.

The reign of terror continued; it had only changed its name. Now it was
called Justice. Shocking specimens of depraved humanity were those
ill-fated prisoners, dragged from their haunts to be tried by the
military authorities in Versailles.

I saw types such as only come to the surface when conflicting passions
of the worst kind stir up the very dregs of society: dishevelled
viragos, brutalised men, female fiends, men devils--hyænas, ready to
spring and fasten their claws on you, were they not chained. I heard
their howl of despair and their laugh of defiance, as they were led off
to be shot.

And thus, whilst the beautiful city was smoothing her ruffled feathers
and taking out a new lease of life, the poor wretches met their doom at
the foot of the blood-spattered wall.

Wild beasts if you like--but men and women--our brothers and our
sisters--alas! born in squalor, bred in vice, and tainted with
hereditary ugliness of body and mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Who made them what they are? Let us try to find out, and, if we can, let
us stand the guilty ones up against that wall, and clear them away with
the other human wreckage. But no! neither you nor I would be left to do
the clearing away.


[Illustration: Portrait of Robert Browning]



I well remember, and it is often a source of infinite enjoyment to me to
recall, many a trifling incident connected with the name of Robert
Browning. He was the kindest and most indulgent of friends, and, as
such, I remember him with gratitude and devotion; and he was the most
honourable and lovable of men, and so it was but natural I should honour
and love him.

What I can record about him is mostly of a personal character, and I
only trust that, if any member of a Browning Society happens to come
across these pages, he will not resent my inability to add more than a
few descriptive touches to what is already known of the poet.

He was well aware that I had never really studied his works, in fact
that I had only read a small portion of them; but he made allowances for
that, as for my other shortcomings. He also knew that when, by dint of
perseverance, I did master some difficult pages of his writing, none
could more warmly appreciate the subtle beauties they contained than his
humble friend.

"Last night I read Bishop Blougram," I told him on one occasion. "I
went as far below the surface as I could get, but I need not tell you I
did not reach the bottom."

"Try again," was all he answered; and when I asked who had been his
models, he said that Cardinal Wiseman was his Bishop, and that Gigadibs
was not sketched from any one particular person. The Cardinal, he told
me, had himself reviewed the poem favourably.

I first met Browning at my cousins the Bensons. They occupied one of
those unique houses in that finest of avenues, Kensington Palace
Gardens. Notwithstanding the name, the houses really have gardens, and
command an unlimited view over the grounds which extend from Kensington
to Hyde Park. Inside the hospitable mansion all that was best in the
world of art and literature would assemble, and men and women of note
felt so much at home there, that they would just lay down their laurel
wreaths and wipe off their war-paint, before they came in, and move
about as if they were ordinary mortals. They ate and drank too, as if
anxious to show their appreciation of Mrs. Benson's table; she certainly
made a point of placing the best of nectar and ambrosia before the gods,
her guests. And the chef saw to it, that the menus should be worded with
due regard to historical truth. I recollect one occasion when he had
introduced "Cotelettes à la Charles Dickens" on the programme.

"You had better change that," said Mrs. Benson, "and put 'à la
Thackeray'; he is dining with us to-night."

"Oh, madam," protested the chef, "surely you don't mean that; everybody
would at once recognise them as 'Cotelettes à la Dickens.'"

Dinner was usually followed by the most perfect music, for the gods
loved to play to one another, and it needed no pressure to induce a
Joachim to open his violin-case, or to lead the pianist of the day
straight to the piano. But on one occasion, I forget why, there was some
difficulty with Madame Schumann; she had certainly not taken one or two
broad hints to the effect that she was wanted. I was, to be sure
erroneously, supposed to be devoid of all shyness, and was therefore
deputed to get her to the piano. I had known her years ago when, as a
girl, she came to Leipsic with her father, and I remember exchanging
knowing winks with my sisters behind old Wieck's back, when he held
forth about his unique and incomparable method of teaching, as
exemplified in his daughters Clara and Marie. He had a queer way of
putting it, but he was certainly not far wrong in his estimate of the
method and its results.

When I asked Madame Schumann whether she was inclined to play, I was
very badly received. She was "particularly disinclined," so I changed
the conversation. But presently--quite by chance to be sure--I mentioned
her husband's "Carnaval." "There is one part," I said, "which I
particularly love: the 'March of the Davidsbündler,' you know. If I
could only hear you play just that page or two!"

"Page or two indeed," she said, boiling over with indignation. "Wenn man
den Carnaval spielt, spielt man ihn ganz!" (If you play the "Carnival,"
you play it from beginning to end.)

And an instant afterwards she was at the piano, throwing her whole soul
into that wonderful piece of tone-painting.

Elizabeth Benson was one of the many gifted members of the Lehmann
family; the two eminent painters Henri and Rudolf Lehmann were her
brothers; so too Frederick, her husband's partner in the well-known firm
of ironmasters, Naylor, Vickers & Co. And he, Mr. Benson, was a shrewd
German-American who had amassed a fortune in business and lived in
perfect style. Being a man of culture and refined tastes, he had a
remarkably well selected library and had surrounded himself with many
choice works of art.

Browning's son--he had but one child--was also a welcome guest at 10
Kensington Palace Gardens. He was equally gifted as a musician and as a
painter, so much so, that for a time he seemed inclined to sit down
between two stools and await events. This caused his father some
anxiety, and it was evidently with a feeling of relief, that he came to
tell me one day, that Pen had got up and made his choice of stools in
favour of the one marked Painting. The decision was due to Millais. Pen
had accompanied him on a visit to Scotland, and whilst Millais was
painting his picture of "Scotch Firs," his young friend made a study of
the same subject, which gave evidence of so much talent that Millais
unhesitatingly advised him to devote himself to art. When Browning came
to tell me of the very satisfactory incident, he asked my advice as to
the best opportunity for study open to him. In those days, very
different from the days we can boast of now, the best advice to give was
that he should go abroad. I suggested Antwerp, and further recommended
my friend Heyermans as the best teacher I knew. My advice was taken, and
it led to so excellent a result that Browning never tired of expressing
his gratitude to me for having found the right man and having put his
son in the right place. Under the guidance of that right man Pen made
rapid progress and soon produced very striking work.

When he began to exhibit, no father could be more anxious about a son's
reputation or prouder of his successes, than was Browning. Praise such
as came from the lips or pens of Leighton, Millais, and other friends,
warmed his heart, confirming, as it did, his belief in Pen's powers. He
could be very sensitive too, when full justice was not done to that son,
as when his statue of Driope was refused at the Royal Academy. Young
Browning, not content with using the brush to give shape to his artistic
conceptions, had taken to the sculptor's tools. These he had learned to
handle when, after a prolonged stay in Antwerp, he went to Paris and
studied sculpture under Rodin, an advantage of which to this day he is
particularly proud. This life-size figure of Driope was the outcome of
much study and thought, and had been so warmly appreciated on all sides,
that it was deemed worthy of being cast in bronze. When it was rejected
at the Royal Academy, Browning was indignant, eloquently indignant, and
well he might be, for the work was a remarkable one, and as it now
stands in the vast Entrance Hall of the Palazzo Rezzonico, many think as
I do, that it can challenge comparison with some of the great
masterpieces in Venice.

I need scarcely say that the adverse verdict of the rulers at Burlington
House did not shake his confidence in Pen or in his first teacher. The
poet's gratitude to the latter was expressed in ever-varying forms. He
writes to him: "I have to repeat--what I never can be tired of
repeating, however inadequately I make my words correspond with my
feelings--how deeply grateful I am to you for your instrumentality in
the success of my son, which I am sure he will have attributed to the
admirable master whose true 'son' in art he is bound to consider
himself." When, some years later, Heyermans settled in London, Browning
never lost an opportunity of smoothing the artist's path among
strangers, in the country which has since become the country of his

As I may presently allow myself to speak of some of my pictures which
Browning liked, it may not be inappropriate to record here that there
were others which he disliked. Such were some Japanese subjects, which
my love of the newly imported art had impelled me to paint. At the time
I am speaking of--in the early seventies--the work of the Japanese was
only just coming to the front; there was no shop to display it in all
London or Paris. The first things of the kind I can remember here were
some of those cheap paper fans on sale at a very popular little shop in
the Brompton Road, Harrod's, now developed into one of London's monster
emporiums. In Holland I had previously come across some wonderful
specimens of Japanese painting and weaving, and when I next saw a unique
collection of such work in the Paris Exhibition, my admiration was
fairly kindled into enthusiasm. Shortly afterwards the same exhibits
found their way into the hands of those syrens with the ivory hammer,
known as Christie & Manson's, and on that occasion my savings found
_their_ way into the same hands. I was equally fascinated by Japanese
art at Farmer & Rogers', where I soon made friends with one of their
staff, a promising young connoisseur, Mr. Liberty, the same who now
rules supreme in Regent Street.

Now Browning worshipped--I thought rather exclusively--at the shrine of
old Italian art, and I do not think he ever really appreciated the
Japanese. Certain it is that he disliked the pictures I painted when my
Japano-mania was at its height; notably one entitled "On the Banks of
the Kanagawa," which he condemned, perhaps not without good reason, for
I had never been on the banks of that or any other Jap river, and my
figures, although clad in the beautiful dresses I had bought, were more
or less evolved from my inner consciousness. In fact I would not
hesitate to say that the picture was bad, were I not afraid of being
thought wanting in respect to the august body of Royal Academicians, who
gave it a very excellent place on their walls. As their judgment is
known to be infallible, Browning, for once in the way, must have been
labouring under a misconception.

If so, he but too generously made up for it in later years when, on many
occasions, he showed the greatest interest in my work. He became a
frequent visitor at the studio, and the hours he spent with me are
amongst the happiest in my artistic experience. To him it was a
never-failing source of pleasure to visit his artist friends, and with
more than one of them did he make himself thoroughly at home. He had the
gift of putting everybody at his ease, sometimes exchanging a few
pleasant words with the servant who came to answer the door, sometimes
chatting with the models; he was quite unconventional, and would just as
soon say, "He don't" as "He doesn't." A great friend of his was Jack
Turner, a charming specimen of the London waif, a perfect little angel
in his tenth year, but an angel, as it unfortunately proved, with a
stumble and a fall, in consequence of which he had to do his growing up
in a reformatory, and who asks for the price of a glass of beer when I
meet him now. "Good morning, Mr. Browning." "Thank you, Mr. Browning,"
the little angel would say, for he had quickly realised that the name
had a good sound, and the poet would stroke his curly hair and press the
price of an ounce of sweets into his innocent little hand.

Then there was Laura, a model, who had one of the most sculptural
figures I have ever seen. She had come to me in the regular course of
business to get work, accompanied by another young girl; her features
were not regular, but mobile and expressive, her eyes restless, and her
hair rebellious as it hung in brown wavelets over her forehead. Her
friend was a contrast--the regular blue-eyed maiden, fair-haired and
fair-skinned. I took their names and addresses, putting them down as
head models, for, in answer to my question whether they sat for the
figure, Laura had replied, "No; certainly not." It was the close of the
season, and I had much work to finish before I could leave town. I told
my visitors so, and returned to my easel, but they were evidently
disinclined to go; they looked around as if fascinated by the artistic
surroundings, and after a whispered consultation, they hinted, carefully
veiling their words, that they had no insuperable objection to
unveiling. It was evident that they were fired with lofty ambitions of
"the altogether" kind. (Immortal creation of my friend Du Maurier, that
word, _the altogether_, which lulls suspicion and alarm in the breast of
the Philistine, and checks the blush that would rise to the cheek of the
British matron.) I bluntly told my would-be models that I was working
against time, and that for some months to come I should not be able to
use them, whether in sections or as a whole. But they were not to be
dissuaded, once having made up their minds to qualify for _the

Befittingly coy and shy, Laura's friend emerged from the dressing-room,
the type of the English maiden, the rosebud of sweet seventeen. The milk
of human beauty flowed in her veins, tinting her with creamy whites from
head to foot; one only wanted some dove-coloured greys to model her
forms, till at the extremities one would put in a few touches of pink
madder or of Laque de garance rose dorée. It is a beautiful little type,
"rosed from top to toe in flush of youth." Greuze could paint it, and
others too; but whenever I attempted it, I have found that I was not
good at rendering the girlish forms and the strawberry-and-cream colour.

Very different was Laura. She came into the room as if to the manner
born, freely and easily. She had seemed rather short of stature and
awkward in her movements. Now she was tall and graceful, and so
sculptural in form that at first you would scarcely notice her colour.
You could not render her dull bronze-like tints without mixing your
light-reds with cobalt blue or with real ultramarine at a guinea an
ounce, if you could afford it.

I did not break out into Pygmalionic enthusiasm, but I felt that I must
leave all else and study the line that started from the neck, and went
straight down to the heel, unimpeded by petty details or any of those
non-essentials which just mark the difference between the real in Nature
and the ideal in Art. The next day I began a picture of her which has
since found its way to America. My friend Legros chancing to look in
when she was sitting, so warmly appreciated her that I invited him to
come and make studies from her at my studio occasionally; of those I
have a very beautiful one drawn for his _bas-relief_ "_La Fontaine_,"
which many will remember having seen at one of the early exhibitions in
the Grosvenor Gallery.

Couldn't Browning be indignant when the British matron presumed to
misinterpret the artist's glow of enthusiasm! Doubly indignant, when the
matron took the shape of a patron or the title of a Royal Academician
with a vote on the Council of selection, or a hand on the Hanging

"The impropriety lies in the objection," he would say, "and I have put
what I think of it in my Furini."[17]

Browning had a marked predilection for a certain chair in my studio. It
is a cross-breed between what the French call a _crapaud_ and we an
easy-chair. In this he was installed one afternoon, when Laura was
perched on the model-table, artificially supported, as best she could
be, to give me a flying position. I was at work on one of two companion
pictures which, for want of a better title, I had called "The
Cloud-Compeller" and "The Cloud-Dispeller." In the first a deep-toned
figure gathers the rolling clouds together; in the second, a brighter
child of the skies peeps out from behind them.

"You might take some lines from Shelley's 'Cloud' for those pictures,"
suggested Browning.

"Yes--Shelley's Cloud," I answered. "To be sure--Let me see--Oh yes, it
is one of those beautiful poems I know, but can't remember."

"Oh," he began, leaning back in the easy-chair--"Don't you remember?

    "'I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers
      From the seas and the streams;
    I bring light shades----'"

And once started, he recited the whole poem. Recited is scarcely the
word. He simply told us all about "The daughter of the earth and the
nursling of the sky," and he conjured up, with the slightest of
emphasis, pictures of "the whirlwinds unfurled, the stars that reel and
swim," and

    "That orbed maiden with white fire laden
       Whom mortals call the moon."

I went on painting--and listened. Laura kept on flying--and listened.
She was an educated girl, and knew as well as I did that we might
consider ourselves privileged listeners.

Laura had had quite a long spell of work, considering that the office of
a cloud-compeller is not a sinecure, and she was well entitled to a
rest. Browning said something to that effect as he rose to go, and,
adding that she was a brave and conscientious model, he slipped
half-a-crown into her hand. When I laid down my palette to go to the
door with him, the usual little word-squabble had to be gone through. No
argument of mine would ever persuade him that I had a right to see him
to the door, but I often did so, heedless of his protest. On the other
hand, no argument of his could ever persuade me that _he_ was justified
in seeing me to _his_ door, but he always managed to do so, whether I
was persuaded or not. He had stairs to go down and up again; I had not,
so it was most unfair, but that was Browning all over--always afraid to
give trouble, ever ready to take it.

When I got back to the studio, a new picture met my eye. I found Laura
giving vent to her feelings in a wild dance of jubilation, the
half-crown sparkling above her head as she held it up triumphantly with
both hands, whilst clusters of brown hair which had been carefully
pinned up out of the way, for I was painting her back, now cascaded over
her shoulders and down to her waist, suggesting new and original shapes
for fashionable capes or opera-cloaks. When Nature's mantle had once
more been pinned up and a drapery substituted for it, she settled down
in the chair the master had just vacated, and proceeded to discuss the
grave question as to what should be done with the half-crown. She
scorned my suggestion that she should spend it on a pair of gloves, and
then and there decided to have it made into a brooch as a memento of the
memorable afternoon.

The next day I received a letter from Browning indicating the particular
passages from Shelley's poem which he thought would be suitable to my

That Laura was a queer girl; it was not till months after her first
visit to me that I chanced to find out she was a good pianist and had a
pretty voice, and only when she had got quite acclimatised in the studio
did I elicit the truth about that first visit. She had always put me off
with the evasive answer that "a friend" had given her my address, but at
last she confided to me that there was no friend in the case.

"We were walking down Sloane Street," she said, "Amy Stewart and I, when
we saw your board up with 'The Studio, Cadogan Gardens' on it. Your dog
was at the gate wagging his tail, and seemed like asking us in. I
patted him, and said to Amy, 'Let's go in for a lark and say we are
models.' And she said, 'Yes; you go first.' So we rang the bell and
asked for the artist. You said you were busy and hadn't much time to
look at us, and you didn't seem to want us--so we stopped." Her father,
I then found out, was a well-to-do builder, much absorbed in his
business. No, she said, in answer to my question, he was not aware that
she was sitting; her mother was, but had never asked for particulars.
Let well alone, I thought, anxious as I was not to lose my model. But
not long afterwards I was much startled by Laura's announcement that the
sittings must henceforth be given up. She was very sorry, but she was
forbidden to come any more.

"What has happened?" I asked in dismay; "your father? your mother?" "Oh
no." "Well, do have it out; nobody else surely has a right to
interfere." "Well, yes," she said; "Father O'Brien has." I saw it all;
she was a good Roman Catholic, and her father confessor had become
alarmed, and had put in his veto. "Is that all?" I broke in, much
relieved. "Well, Laura, you did startle me--thank goodness, it is only a
priest; he of all people couldn't have meant it seriously. He wouldn't
be so ungrateful after all we artists have done for the Church. Think of
the old masters, Laura; you must go to Father O'Brien and remind him of
Raphael and all the saints and Madonnas he painted. Why, to be sure, he
must know that even the divine Raphael could not have given us their
souls without their bodies, and that even he would never have draped
his models till he had made a careful study of those respected bodies.
Oh no, there is nothing to be feared from a good priest; you must go at
once, Laura, and speak to him."

Whether she went or not, and whether, having duly weighed my argument,
Father O'Brien was struck with remorse, I do not know, but certain it is
that Laura came, sat, and helped me conquer the difficulties yet to be
grappled with in two pictures I had begun from her.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was travelling from the sunny South back to the cheerless North. It
was in January, and I was returning from Italy, where I had spent some
months, to my own home and hearth; back to the chimney that I knew would
smoke, to the pipes that would probably burst, and the blacks that would
certainly fly. Serpentining along the coast of the Riviera, I awoke in
the early morning and peeped through the window just by my side in the
sleeping-car. Farewell to the sea and to the sparkle on the playful
little waves that were gently breaking against the shrub-covered rocks;
farewell to the middle distance and to the distance, and generally to
anything worthy to be termed a horizon. Presently all that will be
replaced by somebody's stone wall opposite my own stone wall, or by a
growler or a Piccadilly lamp-post in a fog. And I shall wear a thick
overcoat out of doors, and sit peacefully installed at my own
writing-table in-doors. And the organ-grinder will come to grind under
my windows, and to remind me of the country I love so well--and he will
keep on grinding till it is time to get up and conduct him to the
nearest police-station.

Then, too, I shall meet my friends, and they will ask me where I have
been, and tell me where they have been; and, one and all, they will want
to know what I am painting for the Royal Academy, and not have the
slightest notion how insulting the question is, particularly if--_il n'y
a que la vérité qui blesse_--I _have_ been painting _for_ the Royal

That is what I was thinking as we popped into tunnels and out again into
the bright sunshine. Then--I don't know whether I fell asleep or whether
I kept awake--but I certainly dreamt the most beautiful pictures ever
painted. I could not put them on canvas to save my life, any more than I
could put them on paper; but there they were, just across borderland,
and I saw them with my own eyes, and not as one usually sees them,
cramped by ugly gold mouldings at so much a foot.

There was one creature of extraordinary beauty--a goddess she must have
been--with tresses of molten gold; she had got into a big shell which I
had bought in Naples (they call it _terebra_), and, stretching herself
full length in it, she had fallen asleep. Then other shells I had left
behind in those stalls that line Santa Lucia came up from the deep, and
a little lithe-limbed urchin--I felt sure I had seen him
before--ensconced himself in one of them as in an arm-chair; and
next--such are dreams--two darling little nieces of mine came toddling
along from Tedworth Square, S.W. London, stark naked, and straightway
condensed themselves into one meditative water-baby, that loved the
shells as I did, and cuddled them as I couldn't.

Dreams to be sure--fancies, mocking visions of beauty, not to be
realised, I know it well, but to the artist life would not be worth
living if it were not for the glorious excitement of hunting the

So I began what I called the shell-picture shortly after my return to
London. Browning was in sympathy with my subject, and often came when I
was tackling it. In the afternoons he was a man of leisure, his mornings
being devoted to his own work, which he would take up when he had read
the _Times_ and answered his letters. After luncheon he very rarely
returned to his study. He would go out about two o'clock, perhaps to
walk down to the Athenæum Club, where on Saturdays he was to be seen
very regularly, reading the weekly papers, or he would visit his
friends. Amongst those his artist friends were the most favoured, and
more than one of them, I am sure, would be better qualified than I am to
fill a chapter of reminiscences, headed "Browning at the Studio." He
himself often speaks in his letters of the pleasure it gives him to
associate with them.

"I scribble this," he writes on one occasion, "in case I should be
unable to look in to-morrow afternoon--as I will, if I can, however:
always enjoying, as I do, the sight of creation by another process than
that of the head, with only pen and paper to help. How expeditiously the
brush works!"

And another time he says--

     "As for the visits to your studio, be assured they are truly a
     delight to me, for the old aspirations come thickly back to memory
     when I see you at work as--who knows but I myself might have worked
     once? Only it was not to be; but these are consolations--seeing
     that I am anyhow

     "Yours sympathisingly,


The aspirations he speaks of he had in former years sought to satisfy.
When living in Florence he had arranged the large corner room on the
first floor of the Casa Guidi as a studio. There he used to make
life-size drawings of the human figure from casts, working on a
specially prepared canvas, which enabled him to rub out his studies and
to replace them by others. He never painted; form had more attraction
for him than colour. When in Rome he worked several hours daily in
Storey's studio, and when he returned to England he intended taking up
modelling seriously. He did indeed begin in Warwick Crescent, but he
eventually abandoned the attempt, carried away by mightier impulses. The
regret that he had not been able to cultivate his taste for the plastic
art, would however often find expression in words.

What he might have done as an artist is a matter of speculation, but he
certainly made a most obliging and excellent sitter, as I can vouch for,
having been one of those who had the privilege of painting him. He sat
for me in 1884, and my portrait has found a permanent place in the
Armour Institute in Chicago.

As my shell-picture advanced, I became ambitious to find a better name
than the one I had given it temporarily, and as usual Browning was
consulted. Isaac Henderson, the novelist of "Agatha Page" fame, happened
to be at the Studio, and between them the matter was at first
facetiously discussed. On this occasion my name had the proud
distinction of drawing from Browning the only pun I ever heard him make.
"Why not call it _more shells_ by _Moschels?_" he said.

Later on he quoted various passages from poems that seemed to fit my
subject, but he felt himself that they were only partially suited to it.
In the evening, recalling our conversation, I wrote to him that, knowing
as I did exactly what I was trying to express on canvas, I felt sure it
would be difficult to find lines quite adaptable to my meaning. "Why
not," I asked, "in default of a real poet, sign an imaginary name,
Grelice di Napoli, for instance?" Grelice was meant for an Italian
version of the name which I had composed when I first met the _Gre_-te
who was to link her name to that of Fe-_lix_. The pseudonym was adopted,
and we are best known to our friends in every part of the world as "The

I suggested then that Grelice di Napoli should have said something of
this kind:--

     "And as I walked along those lovely shores, and breathed the air of
     balmy climes, I waking dreamt of living forms that wedded
     opalescent shells; of peace, and rest, and blissful harmonies."

I was at work the next day when the post brought Browning's answer, and
as I read it I broke into a hearty fit of laughter. _He_ had written
five lines of poetry, and signed them: _Felix Moscheles_. They ran

    "And as I wandered by the happy shores
     And breathed the sunset air of balmy climes,
     I waking dreamt of some transcendent shape,
     A woman's--framed by opalescent shells,
     Peacefully lulled by Nature's harmonies."

A day or two later he came to bring me another version which, he
explained, he thought I should "like better." This was adopted, and the
picture was christened, "The Isle's Enchantress," and described by the
following lines:--

    "Wind-wafted from the sunset, o'er the swell
       Of summer's slumb'rous sea, herself asleep,
     Came shoreward, in her iridescent shell
       Cradled, the isle's enchantress. You who keep
     A drowsy watch beside her--watch her well!"

The day was approaching when, with other work, I was to show that
"Isle's Enchantress." Picture show-day they call it. Soft-soap day would
be more correct, for every artist expects his friends to give him as
much of flattery as they can find it in their consciences to give. And
as a rule consciences are elastic; a little encouragement from the
artist goes a long way, and, once he satisfies his friends that he is of
an unsuspecting nature, they will lay it on thick in the pleasantest of

To be sure the day brings its little trials too, but of those another

       *       *       *       *       *

It had occurred to me that some of the friends I had invited to meet my
Enchantress, might like to have a copy of Browning's lines; so I went
round one evening to 29 De Vere Gardens to ask whether he had any
objection to their being printed.

"None whatever," he said, in answer to my question.

I thanked him and added, "To be sure I want to put your name to them."

"Oh, you can't do that," he said; "they are not mine, they are yours."

"Mine! Why, you know, _I_ couldn't write verse to save my life."

"Ah, but you did; you sent me the substance and put it into blank

"Blank verse!"--Blank was my astonishment, and I felt like the man in
Molière when he was told he had been speaking prose all his life.

Well, we sat by the fireside in that drawing-room of his and discussed
the matter, and he would have it that I was the author and that he had
only put my idea into shape.

"If I had suggested alterations in your picture," he said, "or if I had
advised you to introduce a coral-reef here and a dolphin there, would
that have justified me in signing _your_ picture?"

"No, perhaps not," I agreed, "but if you had laid on the last coat of
paint, the one the public was to see, you certainly could have done so."

And so the skirmishing went on with varying fortunes, till, by some
happy fluke, I hit upon an argument which settled the matter in my

"Well," I said, "I can't give you a reason for it--in fact I have never
been able to understand why it is so--but it is an undeniable fact that
the public _will_ make a marked difference between your style and mine,
and if your version is to be adopted, it must stand in your name."

"Very well, then," he said, "have it your own way. I am sure you are
welcome to anything I can do for you."

"Truly kind you are, and truly grateful am I, and plucky too I beg you
to believe, for I don't care a pin if people do say: 'There goes
Moscheles hanging on to the tail of Pegasus!'"

I meant it then, and I mean it to-day. You may laugh if you like, but I
have the best of it; it isn't everybody who can boast of having written
five lines of poetry _together with Robert Browning_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The picture I have now. It just fits a recess in my dining-room,
measuring about five feet by seven. I daily sit opposite it at meals,
and when I watch the golden rays of the sun as they come pouring through
the garden-window, and steal across the canvas, I see a beautiful
picture which I certainly never painted.

First the light plays on the flowing hair where it dips into the water,
and gives it just the aureate tints I tried in vain to mix; then
steadily creeping on, it illuminates, first the closed eyes and the
parted lips, then the body and the seaweed straggling across it, and
presently it reaches the urchin in the Concha, and would fain make me
imagine that I could paint an iridescent shell and a child of flesh and

Those are moments of happy delusions and I acknowledge it gratefully,
for it is not vouchsafed to every one to paint his pictures together
with the blessed sun, any more than it is to write his poems together
with Robert Browning, or indeed to sit down daily to a square meal, and
to have before him a canvas into which he can weave pleasant memories of
the Past.

       *       *       *       *       *

A portrait I was painting of Sir James Ingham, the Bow Street
magistrate, led to the following incident. I was telling my sitter how
great were the difficulties I had to contend with as a host and an
impresario when I had a musical At home at the Studio.

Which of one's talented friends should be asked first? Should Signora
Cantilena come before or after Madame Pianota? Singers to be sure are
entitled to most consideration. They are invariably affected by the
weather, whilst the pianists are only out of practice. If I want la
Signora to sing at about eleven o'clock, I begin asking her to favour us
at a quarter-past ten, allowing her from forty to fifty minutes to get
over the insurmountable difficulties which, just to-day, stand in the
way of her acceding to my request. But then, in the kindness of her
heart, when once she begins, she is inclined to go on till she has
successfully illustrated the wonderful variety of her talent. And there
is Heir Thumpen Krasch, who is waiting all the while to get to the
piano, and when he is there, he is naturally disinclined to play his
best pieces first, and reserves his Monster-Rhapsody on Wagner's
Trilogy, the success of the season, for what I call the after-end. As
for myself, I forget my duties and go into raptures, delighted as I am
to think that my friends sing and play their best in the genial
atmosphere of the Studio. But oh, the other virtuosi who are waiting to
be heard! "_Ote-toi, que je m'y mette_" is the motto of every true
artist, and my friends are all true artists.

"Yes," said Sir James, "those troubles are as old as the hills. Don't
you recollect the lines Horace wrote two thousand years ago?" and he
quoted them.

"Splendid! I wish you would write them down for me; my Latin is rather
rusty, and I should like to remember them."

So he wrote:--


    "Omnibus hoc vitium
     Est cantoribus, inter amicos
     Ut nunquam inducant
     Animum cantare
     Injussi nunquam

The same day Browning came in, and seeing the lines, he took up a pen
and wrote without pausing to think--

    "All sorts of singers have this common vice:
     To sing 'mid friends you have to ask them twice!
     If you don't ask them, that's another thing:
     Until the judgment-day be sure they'll sing!

    --_Impromptu Translation_, July 10, '83."

How rapidly his mind worked I had occasional opportunities of
witnessing. He would let us give him a number of rhymes, perhaps twenty
or thirty, to be embodied in an impromptu poem. This he would read to us
just once, and, as he spoke the last words, he would ruthlessly tear it
up into small fragments and scatter them to the winds. Nothing would
induce him to stay his iconoclastic hand, and on such occasions it only
remained for me to regret that I was not some sensitive plate, some
uncanny Edisonian Poetophone, to preserve the spontaneous creation of
his mind.

"Do you ever listen to Reciters?" my wife asked him one day; "I mean to
Reciters of Browning's poems?"

"Oh, I do the Reciting myself," he said, "when I am amongst a few
sympathetic friends. I will read to you with pleasure. What have you

The few sympathetic ones were not wanting that Sunday afternoon; I gave
him the volume of "Selections" from his poems, and turning over the
pages he said, "As we are in an artist's studio, I will read 'Andrea del

There was not a shadow of declamation in his reading. For the time being
he was just Andrea talking to his wife, the "Faultless Painter" as they
called him, who knew his own faults but had not the strength to battle
with them. It was Andrea himself we were in touch with, his dreamy
sadness that we shared. His yearnings for requited love, his longings
for the unattainable in art, drew us to him, and we would have helped
him had we been able. That sorry business with the King of France was
disgraceful--there was no denying it. He admitted himself that he had
abused the king's friendship and misused his moneys, but surely for such
a man as was Del Sarto, something could be done to settle matters, and
once more to turn his genius to account.

And that Lucretia, his wife! his "serpentining beauty, rounds on
rounds!" Why _will_ she not answer? The right words from her spoken now
might yet make of him the good man and the great artist that a God may
create, but that a woman must consecrate. One just felt as if one could
give her a good shaking, if only to make her break the aggravating
silence she so imperturbably maintains whilst he so pathetically pleads.
As for the cousin, one would have liked to go out and give him a sound
thrashing to stop his whistling once for all.

We were so impressed at the close of his reading that for a moment we
remained hushed in a silence which none of us cared to break. He looked
round at us, anxious lest he should not have brought home his meaning,
and said, "Have I made it clear?"

       *       *       *       *       *

It is rather a sudden transition from Del Sarto to myself, and from
"sober pleasant Fiesole" in the background, to the Royal Academy in
Piccadilly; but all artists of all times, the little ones as well as the
great ones, have their grievous disappointments, and one place is as
good or as bad as another to crush some of their fondest hopes.

Annually then, towards the end of April, when the judges at Burlington
House had spoken, Browning had his visits of condolence to pay. How
helpful and encouraging he would be, none of as, I am sure, could
forget. I thanked him on one occasion, telling him that I valued his
good opinion more than any other man's, and reminding him of his own

    "And that's no way of holding up the soul,
     Which nobler, needs men's praise perhaps, yet knows
     One wise man's verdict outweighs all the fools."

The one wise man always found a word of encouragement--

"Beware of despairing thoughts," he answered. "The darkest days, wait
but till to-morrow, will have passed away."

In his ever simple, unassuming way he compared himself to me, recalling
his failures, and telling me how for many years not a poem of his was
read or could boast of a publisher willing to take it, and how now 3500
copies of the new edition of his works had been sold in a month. "To be
sure, one must live long enough," he added, and quoted Philip von
Artevelde's first speech, in which he says so many die before they've
had a chance, and--

    "Then comes the man who has the luck to live,
                            And he's a miracle."

Unvarying kindness too he showed me when, as he put it, I "entrusted him
with a piece of business." Such a piece was my preface to the
Mendelssohn Letters. In this he made six or eight corrections,
suggestions he insisted on calling them, when he brought the paper back
himself that he might explain verbally why he had substituted a word
here and added another there. At the end he had pencilled: "Excellent.
R. B.," and I felt as proud as a peacock and as happy as a schoolboy.

When the book finally came out he was in Italy, and I sent him a copy of

It was characteristic of him that his kind heart prompting him, and his
unlimited powers of expression aiding him, he would, even on the most
trivial occasions, write in the warmest and the most affectionate terms.
So he did when he answered acknowledging the receipt of the book, and
mentioning the photo of a picture which I had painted for A. P.
Rockwell, a dear friend of mine and a great fur-merchant in New York. It
showed a life-size female figure stretched on a tiger-skin and frankly
nude, but for the white Mongolian and other furs thrown around and about

He dates from Casa Alvisi, Canal Grande, Venezia, October, 29, '88, and
after a few introductory sentences, he says:--

"I concluded that on leaving Scotland you would proceed elsewhere than
homewards, and it seemed best to wait till I was sure of finding you.
Even now--I am sorry exceedingly to be still far from sure that this
will go to you safely housed within the old easy reach of De Vere
Gardens--for there shall I live and probably die--not in the Rezzonico,
which is not mine but Pen's: I am staying here only as the guest of a
dearest of friends, Mrs. Bronson, who has cared for the comfort of my
sister and myself this many a year. No; once missing my prize of the
superlatively beautiful Manzoni Palazzo, I have not been tempted to try
a fresh spring unbaulked by rascality. So much for the causes of my
tardiness in thanking you most heartily for the charming Lady of the
Furs: why not give her that title? Everybody here paid the due tribute
to her beauty and your skill. You promised I should witness the
beginning and ending of such another picture--and it is not to be--if
things are as I apprehend. Wherever you go, may all good go with you and
your delightful wife; my two precious friends!

"And now here is a second occasion of sincere thanksgiving. Your letter
arrived yesterday--and I supposed that the gift referred to had been
consigned to the Kensington house: whereas, while I sat preparing the
paper whereon to write, came the very book itself--the dearest of boons
just now. The best way will be to thank you at once, and be certain of
finding plenty more to thank you for when I have read what will interest
me more than anything else I can imagine in the way of biography. Let me
squeeze your hand in spirit, over the many miles, this glorious day--a
sun floods the room from the open window, while an autumnal freshness
makes it more than enjoyable, almost intoxicating. In half-an-hour I
shall be on the Lido--perhaps in a month I may cower by the fireside in
Kensington. Meanwhile and ever, my dear Moscheles, believe me,
gratefully and affectionately yours,


He was with me one day when a distinguished German officer, Graf D.,
unexpectedly came in. The count was in London to attend some grand
military pageant organised for the benefit of the German Emperor. His
Majesty, on a visit to his royal grandmother, was being entertained with
a right royal show of death-dealing ships and other instruments of
warfare. He seems to have enjoyed it thoroughly, and in return for
attentions shown him, he was graciously pleased to raise the aforesaid
grandmother to the dignity of "Colonel of the First Regiment of
Dragoons, stationed in Berlin." As a specimen of the officers to serve
under her, Graf D. was ordered to London. He told us that he had dined
twice at the royal table, and that he had found the ceremonial on such
occasions rather less exacting than in Germany; the Queen herself was
somewhat reserved, but the rest of the company were pretty free to talk
or to laugh as they liked.

I had questioned him on the subject, recollecting how indignant
Rubinstein was at the hushed silence prevailing in the presence of her
Majesty. He could not and would not stand it, he said, and spoke out as
he would have done elsewhere.

When D. had gone, I told Browning that the count was not only a gallant
soldier, but a man to be held in great esteem, on account of his moral
courage. It was a bold thing for a man in his position to side with the
Jews at a time when the antisemitic movement was at its height. That an
officer and a scion of a noble family should associate with bourgeois of
the Jewish persuasion as he unhesitatingly did, was an unheard-of
thing. No wonder it should be commented upon amongst his brother
officers. Whatever their prejudices may have been, he had once for all
checked their utterance by stating in unmistakable language that he
would tolerate no disparaging remarks on any one of those whose houses
he frequented.

Browning was naturally in sympathy with the count's broader views and
his chivalrous conduct. "Is it possible," he said, "that men should seek
to sever themselves from those who are as _they_ are--all made of mortal

When I alluded to the difference in appearance, and especially in
manners, so marked in Germany between the Christians and the Jews of a
certain class, and sought thereby to explain the repugnance these so
often inspire, he said--

"Naturally; their characteristics would become more intensified through
long exclusion from other groups of men; their manners would be unlike
those of others with whom they were not allowed to mix. No wonder if,
hedged in as they were, those peculiarities took offensive shapes. Does
not every development, to become normal, require space? Why, our very
foot, if you restrict and hedge it in, throws out a corn in

On the 7th of May, it was in 1889, Browning came in after luncheon. "It
is my birthday to-day," he said, "and so I came to sit with you and your
wife for a while, if you'll let me."

I rejoiced, and at once thought of work in his presence, always a source
of double pleasure to me. My wife thought of the pleasure it would give
her to offer him some little present by way of marking the happy day.

"I have been out model-hunting this morning," I told him, "and have
caught the very specimen I wanted for the boy lolling against the door
of the public-house in the 'Drink' picture. I was in luck; for I went to
Victoria Station with the definite purpose of finding a typical
'Cheeky,' and I found him. He is just having a square meal as an
introduction to business, and I am burning to paint him and his cheek.
Will you come in with me and let me start?"

"The very thing I should like to see you do," said Browning, and we
adjourned to the Studio. Little Cheeky, the veriest young vagabond,
uncombed and untamed, cap over ear and cigarette-stump in mouth, was
happily transferred to canvas in an hour or two, and his effigy has ever
since remained with me in memory of the friend who sat by me on that
day. In the meanwhile my wife had bethought herself of a little piece of
antique embroidery framed and under glass, which, but lately, we had
picked up in Rome; that seemed worthy to be offered to Browning, and she
pressed him to accept it, but in vain. Warmly she persisted, firmly he
resisted. At last, and lest he should displease or pain her, he said--

"Well, my dear friend, let us make a compromise. You keep it for me for
a year and give it to me on my next birthday."

We have it still! He was never to see that next birthday!

He died on the 12th of December in the Palazzo Rezzonico in Venice.

When Pen's telegram with the fatal news reached me I was standing by
another deathbed.

On the last day of the year 1889 he was buried in Westminster Abbey. It
had been proposed to transfer the remains of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
from Florence to be laid by the side of her husband, but the idea was
abandoned as not being likely to meet with the approval of the
municipality and the English colony of that city. Browning himself had
never expressed any wish on the subject of his resting-place, further
than mentioning on one occasion the Norwood Cemetery as a fitting place,
and saying that, if he died in Paris, he wished to be buried near his

Shortly after his death I painted a water-colour of his study in De Vere
Gardens. Everything had remained intact. "All here--only our poet's
away," as he says in "Asolando." The empty chair by the writing-table
which bears his initials, the desk which he looked upon as a relic. His
father had used it when a lad, and had taken it with him on his voyage
to the West Indies. The poet possessed it from his earliest boyhood, and
used it all his life; everything he wrote in England, so his sister told
me, was written on that desk. The little dumb keyboard I have already
mentioned in the first of these pages; it had five notes over which he
would mechanically run his fingers. He had a way too of beating a tattoo
on his knee, or he would just for a few seconds mark time, moving his
arm backwards and forwards. Sometimes he would squeeze up his eyes and
look out of the window, or he would take up some little object and
scrutinise it closely, whilst his thoughts were busy elsewhere.

On his table lay a book he had shown me as one he treasured: a little
Greek Bible. On the last leaf was written: "My wife's book and mine."
Pictures by his son hung on the walls; so too a portrait of his wife
when a little girl, by Hayter; one of Hope End, the house in which she
lived, and one of the tomb in the English Cemetery in Florence where she
lies buried. Another reminiscence of her is the low chair to the right
of the table; she at all times liked low seats, and this chair was a
favourite with her.

Among the things on the walls was a pen-and-ink drawing of Tennyson by
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. On the back of it Browning wrote--

     "Tennyson read his poem of 'Maud' to E. B. B., R. B., Arabella, and
     Rossetti on the evening of September 27, 1855, at 13 Dorset Street,
     Manchester Square. Rossetti made this sketch of Tennyson as he sat
     reading to E. B. B., who occupied the other end of the sofa.--R.
     B., March 6, 1874, 19 Warwick Crescent."


On the drawing is written in Mrs. Browning's hand--

    "I hate the dreadful hollow
     Behind the little wood."

The larger bookcase which made up the background for my drawing, he
designed himself. The fine old oak-carvings he had bought many years ago
in Florence, where they had adorned the refectory of some old
monastery; when he got them home, he put them together, with the
assistance of an ordinary carpenter, according to his own design,
chalked out on the carpet, and ever after he took great pride in the
result. The bookcase held to the end of his days the many rare and
beautiful volumes he prized so highly.

Another bookcase he wanted to accommodate piles of books he had brought
from Warwick Crescent when he moved to De Vere Gardens. I suggested a
certain one that had belonged to Sheridan and was now for sale at Joshua
Binns's, then the king of dilapidators. But he preferred a severely
useful piece of furniture in mahogany which we found close to my studio
at Taylor's Depository. Books he would always handle very carefully. He
would never leave a book open or place it face downwards--or, worst of
all in his eyes, deface it by turning the corner of a page. His strong
dislike of the imperfect was characteristic. Anything mended he objected
to, and he would rather a thing he valued were broken outright than
chipped or cracked.

The manuscript of "Aurora Leigh" was a treasure he guarded lovingly. It
had been lost with other things in a trunk forwarded from Italy to
England, but, when search already seemed hopeless, it was found in
Marseilles. I have heard him say, referring to the incident: "She
thought more of Pen's laces and collars than of that book." He wanted to
have the manuscript bound, but could not make up his mind to part with
it even for that purpose. Three times he replaced it on the shelf
before he let it go. It is now in Pen's possession, as is the MS. of
"Asolando," both eventually to be left to Balliol College, Oxford, as
others already bequeathed to that institution.

After his wife's death, Browning took the house in Warwick Crescent,
originally to find a place for the furniture which he had had forwarded
from Florence; the neighbourhood was selected because a sister of Mrs.
Browning's, Arabella Moulton Barrett, lived in Delamere Terrace, but he
strongly disliked the house, and always had a wish finally to settle in
the Kensington district. It was, however, only towards the close of his
life that he left Warwick Crescent and made his home in De Vere Gardens.

Stiff staircases such as he found there he never objected to; in fact,
whether at home or when travelling, he had a marked preference for being
located in one of the upper storeys. So it was on the second floor he
had established his library and study.

His sister, Miss Browning, to whom so frequent reference is made in his
letters as Sarianna, lived with him and ever devoted herself to the task
of securing his comfort and happiness. She would write out his poems and
otherwise make herself useful as his amanuensis; frequent too were the
opportunities the brother and sister took to travel together, and when
abroad, they would enjoy nothing better than a walk of several hours.

The last time I saw him at the Studio, he had come to tell me that he
was shortly leaving for Italy. He spoke with enthusiasm of Asolo,
describing its beauties in glowing colours, and he told me how, some
forty years ago, as a young man, he had reached it when on a walking
tour through the Venetian province.

    "How many a year, my Asolo,
     Since--one step just from sea to land--
     I found you!"

It was the old tower crowning the hills, the Rocca, at that time
tenanted by hawks, that had made the most lasting impression on his
mind. He had been there again in later years with his sister, and now he
was elated at the prospect of once more revisiting it and the
picturesque old city he loved so well. He went, and it was there he
wrote his last work, "Asolando."

Prompted by the desire to ramble over the ground he had so lately
trodden, and to gather what evidence I could of his passage, I went to
Venice and Asolo in the following year, and painted a series of
water-colours (some fourteen or fifteen) in illustration of notes I took
during my stay in these places. Some of those notes may not be out of
place here to complete my sketch of Browning.[18]

       *       *       *       *       *

A couple of hours' ride by rail took me from Venice to Cornuda, two more
by diligence to my destination. Leaving the plain an excellent road, cut
into the flanks of the hill on which the town is built, soon brought me
to the summit. I had only risen six or seven hundred feet, but a
magnificent view greeted me on all sides. "In clear weather you can see
Venice," the driver told me; but I was anxious to look forward, not
backward, and alighting at the entrance to a narrow street, I walked
along the _Sotto-portici_, formed by a series of quaint thick-set arches
supporting the upper storeys. A few steps brought me to the house in
which, as the tablet on the wall says, had lived the "Somma Poeta."

"What a curious place to select!" was my first thought as I stood at the
door of the old house. I walked up twelve or fifteen hard stone steps,
grasping the banister to guide myself in the dark, and was soon warmly
welcomed by Signora Nina Tabacchi, as, passing through the kitchen, I
was ushered into the sitting-room. "Scrupulously clean and neat," was my
next impression, but how plain! The room was only a piece of the kitchen
partitioned off, a glass door and window separating the two. The thin
cotton curtain might possibly screen the mysteries of the culinary
process from the poet's eye, but his ear must have been caught by
occasional sounds of hacking and chopping, and certainly no kettle could
have boiled, no wood could crackle, or incense arise from that adjacent
hearth without making itself distinctly noticeable. Such was his study
and his drawing-room, a _multum in parvo_ about twelve feet square.

I had ample time to study my surroundings, for I spent some weeks in the
rooms vacated by the poet. The furniture was of the good old
lodging-house type. In the centre of the little sitting-room was a
round pedestal table, half of which was devoted to Browning's papers; on
the other half, luncheon was served for himself and his sister. A
full-length sofa, uncompromisingly hard, took up the greater part of one
wall, and a kind of sideboard stood opposite. On the chiffonnier,
between the two windows, rested the looking-glass, and half-a-dozen
mahogany chairs, cane-bottomed and severe backed, completed the
arrangements. On the flesh-coloured walls hung a series of prints,
illustrating the history of Venice. Doges disporting themselves in most
conventional attitudes, the vanquished kneeling before the victors, gave
one the impression that history involves a great amount of bowing and
scraping. In pleasant contrast with such triumphs were the domestic joys
as depicted by the photographer. Looking up from his papers, Browning's
eye must have rested on that shell-adorned frame which encircled the
usual specimens of family portraits. There were the inevitable aunts and
uncles, the young man pressing into the focus, to meet the clever dog
seated on the table by his side, and a typical presentment of the mother
and child as conceived by the lens.

To Luigi, the landlady's son, Browning was from the first very friendly;
but how this lad, ever on the alert to make himself useful, could have
kept any length of time in his good graces, is a mystery to me. He owns
that on one or two occasions the sturdy master sent him flying, when he
would imprudently insist on opening the door for him, or on lighting him
down the dark staircase.

On his arrival Browning had bought a plain glass inkstand and a few
wooden penholders; they were still there, on a blue-patterned china
plate, just as he had left them. I reverently put them aside, but I
might as well have used them; for just as he would never allow me to
make the slightest fuss of him, the living friend, so he would not have
expected me to stand on ceremony with the inanimate objects that
survived him. A pen was just a pen, as "A flower is just a flower."

Asolo boasted of a theatre, and the performances must have been none of
the worst, for, out of twenty, Browning only missed three. He would sit
in his friend Mrs. Bronson's box, and follow the actors as they told the
story of Hamlet, Othello, or Mary Queen of Scots, or as they played
Goldoni's popular comedies. The performance usually wound up with a
short farce. From that he would escape, leaving Gigi (that is Luigi),
who was his frequent companion, to do the screaming laughter. About
half-past eleven or twelve he got home, and by five or six in the
morning he was up again. His bedroom was about 16 feet by 9, and 10 feet
high. A really good rococo design, speaking of an artistic past,
embossed and picked out in grey, decorated the whitewashed walls.
Rafters brought out the irregularities of the ceiling, and bricks, very
much wrinkled and worn with age, paved the floor. Signora Tabacchi had
offered to procure a carpet, but had met with an energetic refusal.
There was a funny little looking-glass, and a wash-hand stand with a
diminutive basin, and over the glass door a towel was neatly tacked to
insure privacy.

And what in this land of vistas greeted the poet's eye as he opened his
shutters? A blank wall and another set of shutters. They would be opened
presently to be sure when the sun left the neighbour's wall, and then a
flood of light would burst into the centre corridor of his house, and
the reflections from the marble floor would carry the quivering rays
along to another window beyond, through which you caught a lovely
glimpse of the hills on the other side of the valley. In that particular
glimpse Browning delighted. When his son came to Asolo, he was struck,
as I was later, by the uncongenial outlook.

"Wait, Pen, till they open those shutters," Browning had said. Pen
waited and was duly impressed and pleased. It was well so, for had it
been otherwise, his father's pleasure would have been incomplete.

The people of Asolo are of the kindliest nature; simple, peaceful folk,
hard-working and contented. Perched on high in their picturesque
dwellings, they seem raised above at least some of our terrestrial
troubles. They live sheltered by solid masses of mediæval stone, and
surrounded by the gardens they cultivate; the vine is here, there, and
everywhere, zig-zagging along rough stone terraces and gliding down the
slopes, or creeping into the windows. A tangle of massive foliage
springs from one knows not where, large leaves that dwarf all else elbow
their way to the front, and here and there in their midst a big yellow
gourd comfortably rests on a stone cornice or on an artificial prop.

The fig leaves, though certainly overshadowed by their bulky neighbours,
hold their own in the universal struggle for air and space. And
somewhere in the distance is a little graceful figure stretching upward
to train the vine in the way it should go, and right or wrong you
straightway jump to the conclusion, if you are an artist, that that
figure belongs to a beautiful girl.

The children are out of doors; so are the pigs. Whilst the latter always
seem grumbling and dissatisfied, the former are as happy as sunshine and
_polenta_ can make a child. The sight of an approaching stranger
carrying the artist's paraphernalia, at once suggests to a sturdy urchin
the idea that he should rush for a chair, and to the woman at her door,
that she should offer you a hearty welcome. No wonder if some of these
good people were destined to entertain an angel or a poet unawares.
Browning might not have manifested himself as such, but there was
something about him that endeared him to all he met. Faces brightened as
I spoke of him; voices deepened as they answered, "_Ah poveretto!_ how
kind he was--_proprio buono!_ Here he used to sit and chat with us;" or,
"I showed him the way to the Rocca eleven years ago." This last remark
came from the postmaster, who took the deepest interest in everything
concerning Browning. He was very anxious that I should paint a picture
of the post-office, as being the historical place the poet had many a
time visited. "It was over that counter of mine," he said, "that his
last work, the immortal 'Asolando,' was handed. On me he relied to
transmit it with the greatest care, for he assured me he had kept no
copy of it. Yes, it went per book-post, registered and addressed, I well
recollect, to the publisher Mr. Smith, of London, and he was surprised
it should cost so little--only seventy centimes; it weighed 450 grammes,
you see, and so that was the postage."

I may add that the manuscript thus sent, and since returned to the
poet's son, is written in Browning's neatest and distinctest hand. There
are but few corrections or erasures. Of these one has perhaps a special
interest, as applying to the last line he ever published. The "Epilogue"
he first ended thus:--

    "'Strive and thrive' cry 'God to speed,
     Fight ever there as here.'"

This he changed to--

    "'Strive and thrive' cry 'Speed fight-on,
     Fare ever there as here.'"

On hearing that the manuscript had safely reached its destination,
Browning's kind thoughts at once reverted to the postmaster, good and
true, and he went to thank him for his share in the transaction.

Little can have changed at the Rocca since Browning visited it. The
stones roll down the narrow path from under your feet, as you ascend
through vineyards and orchards, past stray poultry and groups of
sleeping ducks. In a few minutes you reach the crest of the hill, and
find the old strong-hold, turret-flanked and loopholed, that had for
generations frowned upon the valley below, as was the way of citadels in
the bad old times. Now it is all smiles, garland-wreathed and happy in
its green old age.

During his stay in Asolo Browning and his sister spent much time in the
house of Mrs. Bronson, the Mrs. Arthur Bronson to whom the poet
dedicated his last book of verses, and whom he thanked in his preface
for "yet another experience of the gracious hospitality bestowed on me
for so many years." In the afternoon they would all take long drives

It was on one of these occasions that Browning hit upon the title he
would give his volume of poems. His son suggesting that it should in
some way be connected with the name of Asolo, he bethought himself of
the verb _asolare_. "Have you a good dictionary?" he asked his hostess.
"I feel sure it was Cardinal Bembo who used the word, but I must look it
up." He did, the well-known result being the adoption of the title and
the explanation given in the introductory lines.

At Mrs. Bronson's it was quite understood that he should come and go as
he liked, and that he should consider "La Mura" as much his home as he
would his own house. A spacious loggia had recently been added to the
old building, virtually forming a new room, roofed in, but open to the
air on three sides. Here Browning spent many hours walking up and down
or reading, or he would sit in the arm-chair and "drink in the air," as
he used to say.

From that point of vantage he would watch Nature's ever-varying moods,
and muse over the historical recollections evoked by Caterina Cornaro's
palace and the other old buildings on the hills opposite. Often he would
hurry back to the house, anxious lest he should miss the sunset as
viewed from that loggia.

A constant source of enjoyment to him was an old spinet, marked and
dated, "Ferdinando Ferrari, Ravenna, 1522." Knowing how much pleasure
this little instrument had given him during former stays at her house in
Venice, his hostess had had it brought to Asolo, and, here as there, he
delighted in playing upon it of an evening, simple, restful melodies
that had been familiar to him for years, or quaint scraps of early
German or Italian music.

From the spinet he would go to the books. "What have you got?" he asked
on the first evening of his stay. "What shall I read to you?
Shakespeare? What! You don't mean to say you haven't brought your
Shakespeare! I am shocked."

On this, as on other occasions, he was always most deprecatory when
asked to read something of his own. But the new edition of his works
which he had presented to his friend, being at hand, he would take down
a volume and relate, in his own words, and with his unaffected
intonation, the story of a Paracelsus or a Strafford. And that would
afterwards lead him to speak with ever fresh enthusiasm of the
historical associations connected with such names. In the course of the
exhaustive studies that always preceded the composition of any work of
his, he made himself intimately acquainted with every fact concerning
the lives of those whom he was about to pourtray. Whatever detail
history had preserved he made his own, and what his mind had once
assimilated, his memory ever retained.

The pilgrim to Asolo would naturally look about for some clue to the
poems written there. He would hope to meet with some of the models,
animate or inanimate, that might have suggested one or the other of the
"Facts and Fancies." But, reticent as Browning always was concerning his
work, even with those nearest to him, he has left no trace to guide us.

It was quite exceptional when, one day returning from a drive, he said,
"I've composed a poem since we've been out; it is all in my head, and
when I get home I will write it down."

"What is it about?" very naturally asked his companions.

"No, no, no; that I won't say. You know I never can speak of what I am

"Ah, but now you have told us so much, you must tell us all," pleaded
Mrs. Bronson; and as she resolutely declared she would not take No for
an answer, he gave way, and said--

"Very well then, I will tell you. It is all about the ladies wearing
birds in their hats. I've put it pretty strong, and I don't know how
they'll take it."

       *       *       *       *       *

The proof-sheets of his book of poems he had given to Mrs. Bronson. "Did
you understand them all?" he asked. "Did you understand the flute
music? Ah, not quite. Well, some day I'll tell you all about it." But
the day never came! He little knew that he was postponing it for ever;
on the contrary, he was planning pleasant things for the future.

"If I were only ten years younger," he said, "I should like to have a
place here in Asolo. Now the Asilo Infantile; if I could get that, I
would complete it and call it Pippa's tower. It is more for Pen. I may
not enjoy it long; but after all, I do think I am good for another ten

The Asilo Infantile he spoke of was a large unfinished building,
originally intended to do service as a schoolhouse. It stood opposite
the loggia on the ridge of the hills that push forward into the valley.

Pippa and her sister-weavers were often uppermost in the poet's mind,
and he would tell how formerly the girls used to sit at their work in
the doorways all along the _Sotto-portici_ and weave cheerful songs into
their web. Now the trade had gone to Cornuda and elsewhere. He had
visions of what he would like to do for the poor girls thus
dispossessed, should he come to live among them--visions that were in a
great measure to be realised by those who bear his name, and who have
inherited his world-wide sympathies.

Negotiations were opened with the Town Council with the view of
acquiring the building and grounds to be dedicated to Pippa. It was the
first time that municipal property was to be sold, so the matter had
carefully to be considered by those in authority. The negotiations took
their due course; but alas! they came to a close too late. The intending
tenant was never to obtain possession.

The day and hour that a favourable decision was arrived at, was also the
day and hour of the poet's death.


Edinburgh & London


[1] "Life of Moscheles," by his wife. (Hurst & Blackett, 1873.)

[2] "Letters of Felix Mendelssohn to Ignaz and Charlotte Moscheles."
Translated and edited by Felix Moscheles. (Houghton & Mifflin, Boston,

[3] It's as good a trade as another, that of making-up pictures.

[4] "Shut up," I growled, "and get to bed, you idiot."

[5] Philistine.

[6] Oh, it's that young man who is upset by the moon; just like Rollo.

[7] Queer dog that.

[8] That's all very well, but he knows what's what.

[9] The Gewandhaus in Leipsic.

[10] Reprinted from "Cosmopolis."

[11] A 1000-franc note.

[12] I should be the loser by it.

[13] 'Tis love that leads us.

[14] We don't care a pin, sir, as long as we can get work.

[15] Betrayed.

[16] The French Tommy Atkins and the country cousin.

[17] "Parleying with certain people."--FRANCIS FURINI.

[18] The following notes formed part of an article published in
_Scribner's Magazine_ in 1891.

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