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Title: An Autobiography
Author: Butler, Elizabeth, 1846-1933
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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produced from images available at The Internet Archive)

[Illustration: “GOT IT. BRAVO!”]



AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

BY

ELIZABETH BUTLER

_With Illustrations from Sketches by
THE AUTHOR._

CONSTABLE & CO. LTD.
LONDON BOMBAY SYDNEY
1922

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY THE WHITEFRIARS PRESS, LTD.,
LONDON AND TONBRIDGE.


To
MY CHILDREN



FOREWORD


The memoirs of a great artist must inevitably evoke the interest and
appreciation of the initiated. But this book makes a wider appeal,
written as it is by a woman whose career, apart from her art, has been
varied and adventurous, who has travelled widely and associated, not
only with the masters of her own craft, but with the great and eminent
in many fields. It is, moreover, the revelation of a personality apart,
at once feminine and virile, endued with the force engendered by
unswerving adherence to lofty aims.

In this age of insistent ugliness, when the term “realism” is used to
cloak every form of grossness and degeneracy, it is a privilege to
commune with one who speaks of her “experiences of the world’s
loveliness” and describes herself as “full of interest in mankind.”
These two phrases, taken at random from the opening pages of “From
Sketch Book and Diary,” seem to me eminently characteristic of Lady
Butler and her work. She is a worshipper of Beauty in its spiritual as
well as its concrete form, and all her life she has envisaged mankind in
its nobler aspect.

At seven years old little Elizabeth Thompson was already drawing
miniature battles, at seventeen she was lamenting that as yet she had
achieved nothing great, and a very few years later the world was ringing
with the fame of the painter of “The Roll Call.”

Through the accumulated interests of changeful years, charged for her
with intense joy and sorrow, she has kept her valiant standard flying,
in her art as in her life remaining faithful to her belief in humanity,
using her power and insight for its uplifting. Not only has she depicted
for us great events and strenuous action, with a sureness all her own,
she has caught and materialised the qualities which inspire heroic
deeds--courage, endurance, fidelity to a life’s ideal even in the moment
of death. And all without shirking the dreadful details of the
battlefield; amid blood and grime and misery, in loneliness and neglect,
in the desperate steadfastness of a lost cause, her figures stand out
true to themselves and to the highest traditions of their country.

During the recent world-upheaval Lady Butler devoted herself in
characteristic fashion to the pursuance of her aims. Many of the
subjects painted and exhibited during those terrible years still
preached her gospel. She worked, moreover, with a twofold motive. Widow
of a great soldier, she devoted the proceeds of her labours to her less
fortunate sisters left impoverished, and even destitute, by the War.

“_L’artiste donne de soi_,” said M. Paderewski once.

Lady Butler has always given generously of her best, and perhaps this
book of memories, intimate and characteristic, this record of wide
interests and high endeavour, full of picturesque incident and touched
with delicate humour, is as valuable a gift as any that she has yet
bestowed.

M. E. FRANCIS.



CONTENTS


CHAP.                                                               PAGE

I. FIRST IMPRESSIONS                                                   1

II. EARLY YOUTH                                                       10

III. MORE TRAVEL                                                      19

IV. IN THE ART SCHOOLS                                                38

V. STUDY IN FLORENCE                                                  54

VI. ROME                                                              69

VII. WAR. BATTLE PAINTINGS                                            96

VIII. “THE ROLL CALL”                                                101

IX. ECHOES OF “THE ROLL CALL”                                        115

X. MORE WORK AND PLAY                                                130

XI. TO FLORENCE AND BACK                                             147

XII. AGAIN IN ITALY                                                  159

XIII. A SOLDIER’S WIFE                                               167

XIV. QUEEN VICTORIA                                                  183

XV. OFFICIAL LIFE--THE EAST                                          191

XVI. TO THE EAST                                                     196

XVII. MORE OF THE EAST                                               211

XVIII. THE LAST OF EGYPT                                             224

XIX. ALDERSHOT                                                       234

XX. ITALY AGAIN                                                      252

XXI. THE DOVER COMMAND                                               260

XXII.  THE CAPE AND DEVONPORT                                        275

XXIII. A NEW REIGN                                                   284

XXIV. MOSTLY A ROMAN DIARY                                           311

XXV. THE GREAT WAR                                                   320

INDEX                                                                333



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE

“GOT IT, BRAVO!”                                           _Frontispiece_

A LEAF FROM A VERY EARLY SKETCH-BOOK                                  12

FLYING SHOTS IN BELGIUM AND RHINELAND IN 1865                         19

IN FLORENCE DURING MY STUDIES IN 1869                                 58

THE LAST OF THE RIDERLESS HORSE-RACES, AND A WET TRUDGE
TO THE VATICAN COUNCIL                                                80

CRIMEAN IDEAS                                                        103

PRACTISING FOR “QUATRE BRAS”                                         130

ONE OF THE BALACLAVA SIX HUNDRED                                     151

IN WESTERN IRELAND: A “JARVEY” AND “BIDDY”                           174

THE EGYPTIAN CAMEL CORPS AND THE BERSAGLIERI                         230

ALDERSHOT MANŒUVRES: THE ENEMY IN SIGHT                              234

A DESPATCH BEARER, BOER WAR, AND THE HORSE GUNNERS                   284

NOTES ON THE EVE OF THE GREAT WAR                                    323

THE SHIRE HORSES: WHEELERS OF A 4·7. A HUSSAR SCOUT OF 1917          327

A POSTCARD, FOUND ON A GERMAN PRISONER, WITH “SCOTLAND
FOR EVER” TURNED INTO PRUSSIAN CAVALRY, TYPIFYING
THE VICTORIOUS ONRUSH OF THE GERMAN ARMY IN THE
NEW YEAR, 1915                                                       332



AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

ELIZABETH BUTLER


MY FRIENDS: You must write your memoirs.

I: Every one writes his or her memoirs nowadays. Rather a plethora,
don’t you think? An exceedingly difficult thing to do without too much
of the Ego.

MY FRIENDS: Oh! but yours has been such an interesting life, so varied,
and you can bring in much outside yourself. Besides, you have kept a
diary, you say, ever since you were twelve, and you have such an
unusually long memory. A pity to waste all that. You simply _must_!

I: Very well, but remember that I am writing while the world is still
knocked off its balance by the Great War, and few minds will care to
attune themselves to the Victorian and Edwardian stability of my time.

MY FRIENDS: There will come a reaction.



CHAPTER I

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


I was born at the pretty “Villa Claremont,” just outside Lausanne and
overlooking Lake Leman. I made a good start with the parents Providence
gave me. My father, cultured, good, patient, after he left Cambridge set
out on the “Grand Tour,” and after his unsuccessful attempt to enter
Parliament devoted his leisure to my and my younger sister’s education.
Yes, he began with our first strokes, our “pot-hooks and hangers,” our
two-and-two make four; nor did his tuition really cease till, entering
on matrimony, we left the paternal roof. He adopted, in giving us our
lessons, the principle of “a little and often,” so that we had two
hours in the morning and no lessons in the afternoon, only bits of
history, poetry, the collect for the Sunday and dialogues in divers
languages to learn overnight by heart to be repeated to him next
morning. We had no regular holidays: a day off occasionally, especially
when travelling; and we travelled much. He believed that intelligent
travel was a great educator. He brought us up tremendous English
patriots, but our deepest contentment lay in our Italian life, because
we loved the sun--all of us.

So we oscillated between our Ligurian Riviera and the home counties of
Kent and Surrey, but were never long at a time in any resting place. Our
father’s daughter by his first wife had married, at seventeen, an
Italian officer whose family we met at Nervi, and she settled in Italy,
becoming one of our attractions to the beloved Land. That officer later
on joined Garibaldi, and was killed at the Battle of the Volturno. She
never left the country of her adoption, and that bright lure for us
remained.

Although we were very strictly ruled during lessons, we ran rather wild
after, and, looking back, I only wonder that no illness or accident ever
befell us. Our dear Swiss nurse was often scandalised at our escapades,
but our mother, bright and beautiful, loving music and landscape
painting, and practising both with an amateur’s enthusiasm, allowed us
what she considered very salutary freedom after study. Still, I don’t
think she would have liked some of our wild doings and our consortings
with Genoese peasant children and Surrey ploughboys, had she known of
them. But, careful as she was of our physical and spiritual health, she
trusted us and thought us unique.

My memory goes back to the time when I was just able to walk and we
dwelt in a typically English village near Cheltenham. I see myself
pretending to mind two big cart-horses during hay-making, while the fun
of the rake and the pitchfork was engaging others not so interested in
horses as I already was myself. Then I see the _Albergo_, with
vine-covered porch, at Ruta, on the “saddle” of Porto Fino, that
promontory which has been called the “Queen of the Mediterranean,” where
we began our lessons, and, I may say, our worship of Italy.

Then comes Villa de’ Franchi for two exquisite years, a little nearer
Genoa, at Sori, a _palazzo_ of rose-coloured plaster and white stucco,
with flights of stone steps through the vineyards right down to the sea.
That sea was a joy to me in all its moods. We had our lessons in the
balcony in the summer, and our mother’s piano sent bright melody out of
the open windows of the drawing-room when she wasn’t painting the
mountains, the sea, the flowers. She had the “semi-grand” piano brought
out into the balcony one fullmoon night and played Beethoven’s
“Moonlight Sonata” under those silver beams, while the sea, her
audience, in its reflected glory, murmured its applause.

Often, after the babes were in bed, I cried my heart out when, through
the open windows, I could hear my mother’s light soprano drowned by the
strong tenor of some Italian friend in a duet, during those musical
evenings so dear to the music-loving children of the South. It seemed
typical of her extinction, and I felt a rage against that tenor. Our
dear nurse, Amélie, would come to me with lemonade, and mamma, when
apprised of the state of things, would also come to the rescue, her
face, still bright from the singing, becoming sad and puckered.

A stay at Edenbridge, in Kent, found me very happy riding in big waggons
during hay-making and hanging about the farm stables belonging to the
house, making friends with those splendid cart-horses which contrasted
with the mules of Genoa in so interesting a way. How the cuckoos sang
that summer; a note never heard in Italy. I began writing verse about
that time. Thus:

    The gates of Heaven open to the lovely season,
    And all the meadows sweet they lie in peace.

We children loved the Kentish beauty of our dear England. Poetry
filtered into our two little hearts wherever we abode, to blossom forth
in my little large-eyed, thoughtful sister in the process of time. To
Nervi we went again, taking Switzerland on the way this time, into Italy
by the Simplon and the Lago Maggiore.

A nice couple of children we were sometimes! At this same Nervi, one
day, we little girls found the village people celebrating a _festa_ at
Sant’ Ilario, high up on the foothills of the mountains behind our
house. We mixed in the crowd outside, as the church emptied, and armed
ourselves with branches. Rounding up the children, who were in swarms,
we gave chase. Down, down, through the zone of chestnut trees, down
through the olive woods, down through the vineyards, down to the little
town the throng fled, till, landing them in the street, we went home,
remarking on the evident superior power of the Anglo-Saxon race over the
Latin.

As time went on my drawing-books began to show some promise, so that my
father gave me great historical subjects for treatment, but warning me,
in that amused way he had, that an artist must never get spoilt by
celebrity, keeping in mind the fluctuations of popularity. I took all
this seriously. I think that, having no boys to bring up, he tried to
put all the tuition suitable to both boys and girls into us. One result
was that as a child I had the ambition to be a writer as well as a
painter. We children were fanatically devoted to the worship of
Charlotte Brontë, since our father had read us “Jane Eyre” (with
omissions). Rather strong meat for babes! We began sending poetry and
prose to divers periodicals and cut our teeth on rejected MSS.

We went back to Genoa, _viâ_ Jersey (as a little _détour_!) Poor old
Agostino, our inevitable cook, saw us as we drove from the station, on
our arrival, through the Via Carlo Felice. Worse luck, for he had become
too blind for his work. In days gone by he had done very well and we had
not the heart to cast him off. He ran after our carriage, kissing our
hands as he capered sideways alongside, at the peril of being run over.
So we were in for him again, but it was the last time. On our next visit
a friend told us, “Agostino is dead, thank goodness!” He and our dear
nurse, Amélie, used to have the most desperate rows, principally over
religion, he a devout Catholic and she a Protestant of the true Swiss
fibre. They always ended by wrangling themselves at the highest pitch of
their voices into papa’s presence for judgment. But he never gave it,
only begging them to be quiet. She declared to Agostino that if he got
no wages at all he would still make a fortune out of us by his
perquisites; and, indeed, considering we left all purchases in his
hands, I don’t think she exaggerated. The war against Austria had been
won. Magenta, Solferino, Montebello--dear me, how those names resounded!
One day as we were running along the road in our pinafores near the
Zerbino palace, above Genoa, along came Victor Emmanuel in an open
carriage looking very red and blotchy in the heat, with big, ungloved
hands, one of which he raised to his hat in saluting us little imps who
were shouting “Long live the King of Italy!” in English with all our
might. We were only a _little_ previous (!) Then the next year came the
Garibaldi enthusiasm, and we, like all the children about us, became
highly exalted _Garibaldians_. I saw the Liberator the day before he
sailed from Quarto for his historical landing in Sicily, at the Villa
Spinola, in the grounds of which we were, on a visit at the English
consul’s. He was sitting in a little arbour overlooking the sea, talking
to the gardener. In the following autumn, when his fame had increased a
thousandfold, I made a pen and ink memory sketch of him which my father
told me to keep for future times. I vividly remember, though at the time
not able to understand the extraordinary meaning of the words, hearing
one of Garibaldi’s adoring comrades (one Colonel Vecchii) a year or two
later on exclaim to my father, with hands raised to heaven,
“_Garibaldi!! C’est le Christ le revolver à la main!_”

Our life at old Albaro was resumed, and I recall the pleasant English
colony at Genoa in those days, headed by the very popular consul,
“Monty” Brown, and the nice Church of England chaplain, the Rev. Alfred
Strettell. Ah! those primitive picnics on Porto Fino, when Mr. Strettell
and our father used to read aloud to the little company, including our
precocious selves, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, under the
vines and olives, between whose branches, far below the cultivated
terraces which we chose for our repose, appeared the deep blue waters of
the Sea of seas. My early sketch books are full of incidents in Genoese
peasant life: carnival revels in the streets, so suited to the child’s
idea of fun; charges of Garibaldian cavalry on discomfited Neapolitan
troops (the despised _Borbonici_), and waving of tricolours by bellicose
patriots. I was taken to the Carlo Felice Theatre to see Ristori in
“Maria Stuarda,” and became overwhelmed with adoration of that mighty
creature. One night she came on the stage waving a great red, white, and
green tricolour, and recited to a delirious audience a fine patriotic
poem to united Italy ending in the words “_E sii Regina Ancor!_” I see
her now in an immense crinoline.

A charming autumn sojourn on the lakes of Orta and Maggiore filled our
young minds with beauty. Early autumn is the time for the Italian lakes,
while the vintage is “on” and the golden Indian corn is stored in the
open loggias of the farms, hanging in rich bunches in sun and luminous
shade amongst the flower pots and all the homely odds and ends of these
picturesque dwellings. The following spring was clouded by our return to
England and London in particularly cold and foggy weather, dark with the
London smoke, and our temporary installation in a dismal abode hastily
hired for us by our mother’s father, where we could be close to his
pretty little dwelling at Fulham. My Diary was begun there. Poor little
“Mimi” (as I was called), the pages descriptive of our leaving Albaro at
that time are spotted with the mementos of her tears. The journey
itself was a distraction, for we returned by the long Cornice Route
which then was followed by the _Malle Poste_ and Diligence, the railway
being only in course of construction. It was very interesting to go in
that fashion, especially to me, who loved the horses and watched the
changing of our teams at the end of the “stages” with the intensest
zest. I made little sketches whenever halts allowed, and, as usual, my
irrepressible head was out of the Diligence window most of the time. The
Riviera is now known to everybody, and very delightful in its way. I
have not long returned from a very pleasant visit there; everything very
luxurious and up-to-date, but the local sentiment is lessened. The
reason is obvious, and has been laboured enough. One can still go off
the beaten paths and find the true Italy. I have found one funny little
sketch showing our _Malle Poste_ stopping to pick up the mail bag at a
village (San Remo, perhaps), which bag is being handed out of a top
window, at night, by the old postmistress. The _Malle Poste_ evidently
went “like the wind,” for I invariably show the horses at a gallop all
along the route.

My misery at the view of our approach to London through that wilderness
of slums that ushers us into the Great Metropolis is all chronicled,
and, what with one thing and another, the Diary sinks for a while into
despondency. But not for long. I cheer up soon.

In London I took in all the amusing details of the London streets, so
new to me, coming from Italy. I seem, by my entries in the Diary, to
have been particularly diverted by the colour of those Dundreary
whiskers that the English “swell” of the period affected. I constantly
come upon “Saw no end of red whiskers.” Then I read, “Mamma and I paid
calls, one on Dickens (_sic_)--out, thank goodness.” Charles Dickens,
whom I dismiss in this offhand manner, had been a close friend of my
father’s, and it was he who introduced my father to the beautiful Miss
Weller (amusing coincidence in names!) at an amateur concert where she
played. The result was rapid. My vivid memory can just recall Charles
Dickens’s laugh. I never heard it echoed by any other man’s till I heard
Lord Wolseley’s. The volunteer movement was in full swing, and I became
even more enthusiastic over the citizen soldiers than I had been over
the _Garibaldini_. Then there are pages and pages filled with
descriptions of the pictures at the Royal Academy; of the Zoological
Gardens, describing nearly every bird, beast, reptile and fish. Laments
over the fogs and the cold of that dreadful London April and May, and
untiring outbursts in verse of regret for my lost Italy. But I stuffed
my sketch books with British volunteers in every conceivable uniform,
each corps dressed after its own taste. There was a very short-lived
corps called the Six-foot Guards! I sent a design for a uniform to the
_Illustrated London News_, which was returned with thanks. I felt hurt.
Grandpapa attached himself to the St. George’s Rifles, and went, later
on, through storm and rain and sun in several sham fights. Well, _Punch_
made fun of those good men and true, but I have lived to know that the
“Territorials,” as they came to be called, were destined in the
following century to lend their strong arm in saving the nation. We next
had a breezy and refreshing experience of Hastings and the joy of rides
on the downs with the riding master. London fog and smoke were blown off
us by the briny breezes.



CHAPTER II

EARLY YOUTH


In December we migrated back to London, and shortly before Christmas our
dear, faithful nurse died. That was Alice’s and my first sense of
sorrow, and, even now, I can’t bear to go over those dreadful days. Our
father told us we would never forgive ourselves if we did not take our
last look at her. He said we were very young for looking on death, but
“go, my children,” he said, “it is right.” I cannot read those
heartbroken words with which I fill page after page of my Diary even now
without tears. She had at first intended to remain at home at Lausanne
when my parents were leaving for England, shortly after my birth, but as
she was going I smiled at her from my cradle. “_Ah! Mademoiselle Mimi,
ce sourire!_” brought her back irresistibly, and with us she remained to
the end.

As we girls grew apace we had a Parisian mistress to try and parisianise
our Swiss French and an Italian master to try and tuscanise our Genoese
Italian, and every Saturday a certain Mr. Standish gave me two hours’
drill in oil painting. How grand I felt! He gave me his own copies of
Landseer’s horses’ heads and dogs as models. This wasn’t very much, but
it was a beginning. My lessons in the elementary class at the S.
Kensington School of Art are not worth mentioning. The masters gave me
hateful scrolls and patterns to copy, and I relieved my feelings by
ornamenting the margins of my drawing paper with angry scribblings of
horses and soldiers in every variety of fury. That did not last long.
This entry in the Diary speaks for itself:--

“_Sunday, March 16th, 1862._--We went to Mr. Lane’s house preparatory to
going to see Millais in his studio. Mr. Richard Lane is an old friend of
papa’s. The middle Miss Lane is a favourite model of Millais’ and very
pretty. We entered his studio, which is hung with rich pre-Raphaelite
tapestry and pre-Raphaelite everything. The smell of cigar smoke
prepared me for what was to come. Millais, a tall, strapping, careless,
blunt, frank, young Englishman, was smoking with two villainous friends,
both with beards--red, of course. Instead of coming to be introduced
they sat looking at Millais’ graceful drawings calling them ‘jolly’ and
‘stunning,’ the creatures! Millais would be handsome but for his eyes,
which are too small, and his hair is colourless and stands up in curls
over his large head but not encroaching upon his splendid forehead. He
seems to know what a universal favourite he is.” I naturally did not
record in this precious piece of writing a rather humiliating little
detail. I wanted the company to see that I was a bit of a judge of
painting, ahem! In fact, a painter myself, and, approaching very near to
the wet picture of “The Ransom” (I think), I began to scrutinise. Mr.
Lane took me gently, but firmly, by the shoulders and placed me in a
distant chair. Had I been told by a seer that in 1875--the year I
painted “Quatre Bras”--this same Millais, after entertaining me at
dinner in that very house, would escort me down those very steps, and,
in shaking hands, was to say, “Good night, Miss Thompson, I shall soon
have the pleasure of congratulating you on your election to the
Academy, an honour which you will _t’oroughly_ deserve”--had I been told
this!

Our next halt was in the Isle of Wight, at Ventnor, and then at
Bonchurch, and our house was “The Dell.” Bonchurch was a beautiful
dwelling-place. But, alas! for what I may call the Oxford primness of
the society! It took long to get ourselves attuned to it. However, we
got to be fond of this society when the ice thawed. The Miss Sewells
were especially charming, sisters of the then Warden of New College.
Each family took a pride in the beauty of its house and gardens, the
result being a rivalry in loveliness, enriching Bonchurch with flowers,
woods and ornamental waters that filled us with delight. Mamma had “The
Dell” further beautified to come up to the high level of the others. She
made a little garden herself at the highest point of the grounds, with
grass steps, bordered with tall white lilies, and called it “the
Celestial Garden.” The cherry trees she planted up there for the use of
the blackbirds came to nothing. The water-colours she painted at “The
Dell” are amongst her loveliest.

[Illustration: A LEAF FROM A VERY EARLY SKETCH-BOOK.]

Ventnor was fond of dances, At Homes, and diversions generally, but I
shall never forget my poor mother’s initial trials at the musical
parties where the conversation raged during her playing, rising and
sinking with the _crescendos_ and _diminuendos_ (and this after the
worship of her playing in Italy!), and once she actually stopped dead in
the middle of a Mozart and silence reigned. She then tried the catching
“Saltarello,” with the same result exactly. “The English appreciate
painting with their ears and music with their eyes,” said Benjamin West
(if I am not mistaken), the American painter, who became President of
our Royal Academy. This hard saying had much truth in it, at least in
his day. Even in ours they had to be _told_ of the merits of a picture,
and the _sight_ of a pianist crossing his hands when performing was the
signal for exchanges of knowing smiles and nods amongst the audience,
who, talking, hadn’t heard a note. For vocal music, however, silence was
the convention. How we used inwardly to laugh when, after a song piped
by some timid damsel, the music was handed round so that the words and
music might be seen in black and white by the guests assembled. I
thankfully record the fact that as time went on my mother’s playing
seemed at last to command attention, and it being whispered that silence
was better suited to such music, it became quite the thing to stop
talking.

Though Bonchurch was inclined to a moderate High Church tone, its rector
was of a pungent Low-Churchism, and he wrote us and the other girls who
sang in his choir a very severe letter one day ordering us to
discontinue turning to the east in the Creed. We all liked the much more
genial and very beautiful services at Holy Trinity Church, midway to
Ventnor, where we used to go for evensong. The Rev. Mr. G., of
Bonchurch, gave us very long sermons in the mornings, prophesying dismal
and alarming things to come, and we took refuge finally in the Rev. A.
L. B. Peile’s more heartening discourses.

The Ventnor dances were thoroughly enjoyable, and the croquet parties
and the rides with friends, and all the rest of it. Yes, it was a nice
life, but the morning lessons never broke off. No doubt we were
precocious, but we like to dwell on the fact of the shortness of our
childhood and the consequent length of our youth. I now and then come
upon funny juvenile sketch books where I find my Ventnor partners at
these dances clashing with charges of Garibaldian cavalry. There they
are, the desirable ones and the undesirable; the drawling “heavy swell”
and the raw stripling; the handsome and the ugly. The girls, too, are
there; the flirt and the wallflower. They all went in.

These festive Ventnor doings were all very well, but it became more and
more borne in upon me that, if I intended to be a “great artist” (oh!
seductive words), my young ’teens were the right time for study. “Very
well, then--attention!--miss!” No sooner did my father perceive that I
meant business than he got me books on anatomy, architecture, costume,
arms and armour, Ruskin’s inspiring writings, and everything he thought
the most appropriate for my training. But I longed for regular training
in some academy. I chafed, as my Diaries show. For some time yet I was
to learn in this irregular way, petitioning for real severe study till
my dear parents satisfied me at last. “You will be entering into a
tremendous ruck of painters, though, my child,” my father said one day,
with a shake of his head. I answered, “I will single myself out of it.”

So, then, the lovely “Dell” was given up, and soon there began the
happiest period of my girlhood--my life as an art student at South
Kensington; _not_ in the elementary class of unpleasant memory, but in
the “antique” and the “life.”

But our father wanted first to show us Bruges and the Rhine, so we were
off again on our travels in the summer. Two new countries for us girls,
hurrah! and a little glimpse of a part of our own by the way. I find an
entry made at Henley.

“_Henley, May 31st._--Before to-day I could not boast with justice of
knowing more than a fraction of England! This afternoon I saw her in one
of her loveliest phases on a row to Medmenham Abbey. Skies of the most
telling effects, ever changing as we rowed on, every reach we came to
revealing fresh beauties of a kind so new to me. The banks of long grass
full of flowers, the farmsteads gliding by, the willows allowed to grow
according to Nature’s intention into exquisitely graceful trees, the
garden lawns sloping to the water’s edge as a delicious contrast to the
predominating rural loveliness, and then that unruffled river! I have
seen the Thames! At Medmenham Abbey we had tea, and one of the most
beautiful parts of the river and meadowland, flowery to overflowing, was
seen before us through the arcades, the sky just there being of the most
delicious dappled warm greys, and further on the storm clouds towered,
red in the low sun. What pictures wherever you turn; and turn and turn
and turn we did, until my eyes ached, on our smooth row back. The
evening effects put the afternoon ones out of my head. I imagined a
score of pictures, peopling the rich, sweet banks with men and women of
the olden time. The skies received double glory and poetry from the
perfectly motionless water, which reflected all things as in a
mirror--as if it wasn’t enough to see that overwhelming beauty without
seeing it doubled! At last I could look no more at the effects nor hear
the blackbirds and thrushes that sang all the way, and, to Mamma’s
sympathetic amusement, I covered my eyes and ears with a shawl. Alas!
for the artist, there is no peace for him. He cannot gaze and
peacefully admire; he frets because he cannot ‘get the thing down’ in
paint. Having finished my row in that Paradise, let me also descend from
the poetic heights, and record the victory of the Frenchman. Yes,
‘Gladiateur’ has carried off the blue ribbon of the turf. Upon my word,
these Frenchmen!” It was the first time a French horse had won the
Derby.

Bruges was after my own heart. Mediæval without being mouldy, kept
bright and clean by loving restorations done with care and knowledge. No
beautiful old building allowed to crumble away or be demolished to make
room for some dreary hideosity, but kept whole and wholesome for modern
use in all its own beauty. Would that the Italians possessed that same
spirit. My Diary records our daily walks through the beautiful, bright
streets with their curious signs named in Flemish and French, and the
charm of a certain _place_ planted with trees and surrounded by gabled
houses. Above every building or tree, go where you would, you always saw
rising up either the wondrous tower of the Halle (the _Beffroi_), dark
against the bright sky, or the beautiful red spire on the top of the
enormous grey brick tower of Notre Dame, a spire, I should say,
unequalled in the world not only for its lovely shape and proportions,
but for its exquisite style and colour: a delicious red for its upper
part, most refined and delicate, with white lines across, and as
delicate a yellow lower down. Or else you had the grey tower of the
cathedral, plain and imposing, made of small bricks like that of Notre
Dame, having a massive effect one would not expect from the material.
Over the little river, which runs nearly round the town, are
oft-recurring draw-bridges with ponderous grey gates, flanked by two
strong, round, tower-like wings. Most effective. On this river glided
barges pulled painfully by men, who trudged along like animals. I record
with horror that one barge was pulled by a woman! “It was quite painful
to see her bent forward doing an English horse’s work, with the band
across her chest, casting sullen upward glances at us as we passed, and
the perspiration running down her face. From the river diverge canals
into the town, and nothing can describe the beauty of those water
streets reflecting the picturesque houses whose bases those waters wash,
as at Venice. When it comes to seeing two towers of the Halle, two
spires of Notre Dame, two towers of the cathedral, etc., etc., the
duplicate slightly quivering downwards in the calm water! Here and
there, as we crossed some canal or other, one special bit would come
upon us and startle us with its beauty. Such combinations of gables and
corner turrets and figures of saints and little water-side gardens with
trees, and always two or more of the towers and spires rising up, hazy
in the golden flood of the evening sun!”

In our month at Bruges I made the most of every hour. It is one of the
few towns one loves with a personal love. I don’t know what it looks
like to-day, after the blight of war that passed over Belgium, but I
trust not much harm was done there. How one trembled for the old
_beffroi_, which one heard was mined by the Huns when they were in
possession.

“_August 24th._--Dear, exquisite, lovely, sunny, smiling Bruges,
good-bye! Good-bye, fair city of happy, ever happy, recollections.
Bright, gabled Bruges, we shall not look upon thy like again.”

I will make extracts from my German Diary, as Germany in those days was
still a land of kindly people whom we liked much before they became
spoilt by the Prussianism only then beginning to assert itself over the
civil population. The Rhine, too, was still unspoilt. That part of
Germany was agricultural; not yet industrialised out of its charm. I
also think these extracts, though so crude and “green,” may show young
readers how we can enjoy travel by being interested in all we see. I may
become tiresome to older ones who have passed the Golden Gates, and for
some of whom Rhine or Nile or Seine or Loire has run somewhat dry.

[Illustration: FLYING SHOTS IN BELGIUM AND RHINELAND IN /65.]



CHAPTER III

MORE TRAVEL


“Alas! for railway travellers one approach to a place is like another.
Fancy arriving at Cologne through ragged factory outskirts and being
deposited under a glazed shed from which nothing but the railway objects
can be seen! We made a dash to the cathedral, I on the way remarking the
badly-dressed Düppel heroes (!) with their cook’s caps and tight
trousers; and oh dear! the officers are of a very different mould here
from what they are in Belgium. Big-whiskered fellows with waists enough
to make the Belgians faint. But I am trifling. We went into the
cathedral by a most glorious old portal covered with rich Gothic
mouldings. Happy am I to be able to say I have seen Cologne Cathedral.
Now, hurrah for the Rhine! that river I have so longed, for years, to
see.”

We don’t seem to have cared much for Bonn, though I intensely enjoyed
watching the swift river from the hotel garden and the Seven Mountains
beyond. The people, too, amused and interested me very much, and the
long porcelain pipe dangling from every male mouth gave me much matter
for sketching.

My Diary on board the _Germania_: “Koenigswinter at the foot of the
Dragenfels began that series of exquisite towns at the foot of ruined
castles of which we have had more than a sufficient feast--that is, to
be able to do them all the justice which their excessive beauty calls
loudly for. We rounded the Dragenfels and saw it ‘frowning’ more
Byronically than on the Bonn side, and altogether more impressive. And
soon began the vines in all their sweet abundance on the smiling hill
slopes. Romantic Rolandsec expanded on our right as we neared it, and
there stood the fragment of the ruined castle peering down, as its
builder is said to have done, upon the Convent amidst the trees on its
island below. And then how fine looked the Seven Mountains as we looked
back upon them, closing in the river as though it were a lake, and away
we sped from them and left them growing mistier, and passed russet roofs
and white-walled houses with black beams across, and passed lovely
Unkel, picturesque to the core, bordering the water, and containing a
most delicious old church. Opposite rose curious hills, wild and round,
half vine-clad, half bare, and so on to Apollinarisberg on our right,
with its new four-pinnacled church on the hill, above Remagen and its
old church below. The last sight of the Dragenfels was a very happy one,
in misty sunlight, as it finally disappeared behind the near hills. On,
on we went, and passed the dark Erpeler Lei and the round, blasted and
dismal ruin of Okenfels; and Ling, with a cloud-capped mountain frowning
over it. As we glided by the fine restored _château_ of Argenfels and
the village of Hönningen the sky was red with the reflection of the
sunset which we could not see, and was reflected in the swirling river.
We did our Rhine pretty conscientiously by going first aft, then
forward, and then to starboard, and then to port, and glories were
always before us, look which way we would. So the Rhine has _not_ been
too much cried up, say what you will, Messrs. Blasé and Bore. The views
were constantly interrupted by the heads of the lack-lustre people on
board, who, just like the visitors at the R.A., hide the beauties they
can’t appreciate from those who long to see them. But it soon began to
grow dark.

“As we glided by Neuwied and stopped to take and discharge passengers a
band was playing the ‘Düppel March,’ so called because the Prussians
played it before Düppel. They are so blatantly proud of having beaten
the Danes and getting Schleswig-Holstein. Fireworks were spluttering,
and, altogether, a great deal of festivity was going on. It was quite
black on the afterdeck by this time, _minus_ lanterns. To go below to
the stuffy, lighted cabin was not to be thought of, so we walked up and
down, sometimes coming in contact with our fellow-man, or, rather,
woman, for the men carried lights at the fore (_i.e._, at the ends of
their cigars). At last, by the number of lights ahead, we knew we were
approaching Coblenz. We went to the “Giant” Hotel, close to the landing.
It was most tantalising to know that Ehrenbreitstein was towering
opposite, invisible, and that such masses of picturesqueness must be all
around. Papa and I had supper in the _Speise-saal_, and then I gladly
sought my couch, in my sweet room which looked on the front, after a
very enjoyable day.

“Most glorious of glorious days! The theory held so drearily by Messrs.
Blasé and Bore about the mist and rain of the Rhine is knocked on the
head. We were off to Bingen, to my regret, for it was hard to leave such
a place as Coblenz, although greater beauties awaited us further up,
perhaps, than we had yet seen. But I must begin with the morning and
record the glorious sight before us as we looked out of our windows.
Strong Ehrenbreitstein against the pearly, hot, morning sky, the
furrowed rock laid bare in many places, and precipitous, sun-tinted and
shadow-stained; the bright little town just opposite, the hill behind
thickly clothed in rich vines athwart which the sun shone deliciously.
The green of the river, too, was beautifully soft. After breakfast we
took that charming invention, an open carriage, and went up to the
Chartreuse, the proper thing to do, as this hill overlooks one of _the_
views of the world. We went first through part of the town, by the large
and rather ugly King’s Palace, passing much picturesqueness. The women
have very pleasing headdresses about here of various patterns. Of
course, the place is full of soldiers and everything seems fortified. On
our ascent we passed great forts of immense strength, hard nuts for the
French to crack, if they ever have the wickedness (_sic_) to put their
pet notion of the Rhine being France’s boundary into execution. What a
view we had all the way up; to our left, the winding Rhine disappearing
in the distance into the gorge, its beautiful valley smiling below, and
the vine-clad hills rising on either side, with their exquisite
surfaces. Purple shadows, and golden vines, and walnut trees, that
contrast which so often has enchanted my eyes on the Genoese Riviera,
the Italian lakes, and my own dear Lake Leman, gladdened them once more.
And then the really clear sky (no factory chimneys here) and those
intense white clouds casting shadows on the hills of lovely purple. We
went across the wide plateau on the top, a magnificent exercise ground
for the soldiers, health itself, and then we beheld, winding below us in
its sweet valley and by two picturesque villages, the little Moselle, by
no means ‘blue,’ as the song says, but of a pinky brown and apparently
very shallow. We were at a great height, and having got out of the
carriage we stood on the very verge of a sheer precipice, at the
far-down base of which wound the high road. Sweet little Moselle! I was
so loth to leave that view behind. It really does seem such a shame to
say so little of it. The air up there was full of the scent of wild
thyme, and mountain flowers grew thick in that hot sun, and the short
mountain grass was brown.

“We descended by another road and were taken right through the town to
the old Moselle bridge which crosses that river near its confluence with
the green Rhine. What turreted corners, what gable ends, what exquisite
David Roberts ‘bits’ at every turn! The bridge and its old gate were a
picture in themselves, and the view from the middle of the bridge of the
walls, the old buildings, church towers and spires, and boats and rafts
moored below, was the essence of the picturesque. Market women and
_pelotons_ of soldiers with glittering helmets and bayonets make
excellent foreground groups. How unlike nearly-deserted Bruges is this
busy, thronged city! Oxen are as much used about here as horses, and add
much to the artist’s joy. But I must hurry on; there is all the glorious
Rhine to Bingen to ascend. What a feast of beauty we have been partaking
of since leaving Failure Bonn!

“Lots of people at 1 o’clock _table d’hôte_: staring Prooshan officers
in ‘wings’ and whiskers, more or less tightly clad, talking loud and
clattering their swords unnecessarily; swarms of English and a great
many honeymoon couples of all nations. It was very hot when we left to
dive into that glorious region we had seen from the Chartreuse. Those
were golden hours on board the _Lorelei_. But more ‘spoons’; more
English; more Ya-ing natives and small boys always in the way, and so we
paddled away from beautiful Coblenz, and very fine did the ‘Broadstone
of Honour’ look as we left it gradually behind. And now we began again
the castles and the villages, the former more numerous than below
stream. Happy Mr. Moriarty to possess such a castle as Lahneck; and then
the beautiful town below, and the gorgeous wooded steep hills and the
beautiful tints on the water. Golden walnut trees on the banks and old
church towers--such rich loveliness gliding by perpetually. The towns
are certainly half the battle; they add immensely to the scene. Rhense
was the oldest town we had yet seen, and the old dark walls are
crumbling down. Such bits of archways, such corner bits, such old
age-tinted roofs! I _must_ not pass over Marksburg, the most perfect old
castle on the Rhine, quite unaltered and not quite ruinous, as it is
garrisoned by a corps of Invalides. It therefore looks stronger and
grander than the others. Below the cone which it crowns nestled the
inevitable picturesque town (Braubach) upon the shore.

“Soon after passing this beautiful part we rounded another old village
and church on our right, for the river takes a great bend here. Of
course, new beauties appeared ahead as we swept round, soft purple
mountains, one behind the other, and hillsides golden with vines and
walnut trees. And then we came to Boppart, in the midst of the gorge,
one of the most enchanting old walled towns we had yet seen, with a
large water-cure establishment above it upon the orchard slopes of the
hill. Then the old castle called ‘The Mouse’ drew our attention to the
left again, and then to the right appeared, after we had passed the twin
castles of Sternberg and Liebenstein, or the ‘Brothers,’ the magnificent
ruin of Rheinfels above the town of St. Goar in the shadow of the steep
hill. How splendidly those blasted arches come out against the sunny
sky! Then ‘The Cat’ appeared on our left, supposed to be watching ‘The
Mouse’ round the corner; then, with the last gleam of the sun upon it,
appeared the castle of ‘Schönberg’ after we had passed the Lorelei rock,
tunnelled through by the railway, and hills glowing in autumn tints.
Sunset colour began to add new charm to mountains, hills, and river. Two
guns were fired in this part of the gorge for the echo. It rolled away
like thunder very satisfactorily. Gutenfels on its rock was splendid in
the sunset, with the town of Caub at its feet, and the curious old tower
called the Pfalz in mid-stream, where poor Louis le Débonnaire came to
die. I can hardly individualise the towns and their over-looking castles
that followed. There was Bacharach, with its curious three-sided towers
and church of St. Werner; then more castles, getting dimmer and dimmer
in the deepening twilight. The last was swallowed up in the night.”

I need not dwell on Bingen. I see us, happy wanderers, dropping down to
Boppart, to halt there for very fondly-remembered days at the water-cure
of “Marienberg,” which we made our habitation for want of an hotel.
Being there I did the “cure” for nothing in particular, but was none the
worse for it. At any rate it passed me as “sound” after the ordeal by
water. The ordeal was severe, and so was the Spartan food. To any one
who wasn’t going through the water ordeal the Spartan food ordeal
seemed impossible. But soon one got to like the whole thing and delight
in the freshness of that life in the warm sunny weather. We both
accepted the “Grape Cure” with unmixed feelings--2 lbs. each of grapes a
day; and even the cold, deep plate of sour milk (_dicke milch_),
sprinkled with brown breadcrumbs, and that _kraut_ preserve which so
dashed us at our first breakfast, became rather fascinating. We took our
pre-breakfast walk on four glasses of cold water, though, to _wet_ our
appetites. I see now, in memory, the swimming baths, with the blue water
rushing through them from the hills, and feel the exhilaration of the
six-in-the-morning plunge. Oh! _la jeunesse! La joie de vivre!_

They had dancing every Thursday evening in what was the great vaulted
refectory of the monks before that monastery was secularised. One gala
evening many people came in from outside. The young ladies were in
muslin frocks, which they, no doubt, had washed themselves, and the
ballroom was redolent of soap. The gentlemen went into the drawing-room
after each dance and combed their blond hair and beards at the
looking-glass over the mantelpiece, having brought brush and comb with
them. The next morning I was very elaborately saluted by a man in a
blouse, driving oxen, and I recognised in him one of my partners of the
evening before who had worn the correct _frac_ and white tie. What a
strange amalgamation of democracy and aristocracy we found in Germany!
The Diary tells of the music we had every evening till 10 o’clock and
“lights out.” My mother and one or two typical German musical
geniuses--women patients--kept the piano in constant request, and the
evenings were really very bright and the tone so homely and kind.
Kindness was the prevailing spirit which we noticed amongst the Germans
in those far-away days. How they complimented us all on our halting
German; how the women admired our frocks, especially the buttons! I hope
they didn’t expect us to go into equal ecstasies over their own
costumes. We sang and were in great voice, perhaps on account of the
“plunge baths,” or was it the “sour milk”?

A big Saxon cavalry officer who was doing the cure for a kick from a
horse and, being in mufti, had put off his “jack-boot” manners, was full
of enthusiasm about our voices. He expressed himself in graceful
pantomime after each of my songs by pointing to his ear and running his
finger down to his heart, for he spoke neither English nor French, and
worshipfully paid homage to Mamma’s pianoforte playing. She played
indeed superbly. He was a big man. We called him “the Athlete.” We had
nicknames for all the patients. There was “the _Sauer-kraut_,” there was
the “Flighty,” the funniest little shrivelled creature, a truly
wonderful musical genius, who, having heard me practising one morning,
flew to Mamma, telling her she had heard me go up to _Si_ and that I
must make my name as a _prima donna_--no less. That Mendelssohn had
proposed to her was a treasured memory. Her mother, with true German
pride of birth, forbade the union. There was a very great dame doing the
cure, the “_Incog_,” who confided her card to Mamma with an Imperial
embrace before leaving, which revealed her as Marie, Prinzessin zu
Hohenzollern Hechingen. Then there was a most interesting and ugly
duellist, who a short time previously had killed a prince. His wife wore
blue spectacles, having cried herself blind over the regrettable
incident. And so on, and so on.

The vintage began, and we visited many a vineyard on both banks of the
rapid, eddying river, watching the peasants at their wholesome work in
the mellowing sunlight. Whenever we bought grapes of these pleasant
people, they insisted on giving us extra bunches _gratis_ in that
old-fashioned way so prevalent in Italy. I record in the Diary one
classic-looking youth, with the sunset gold behind his serious, handsome
face, bent slightly over the vine he was picking, on the hillside where
we sat. He seemed the personification of the sanctity of labour. All
this sounds very sentimental to us war-weary ones of the twentieth
century, but we need refreshment in the pleasures of memory; memory of
more secure times. The Diary says:--

“When we left Boppart, Mamma and we two girls were half hidden in
bouquets, and our Marienberg friends clustered at the railway carriage
door and on the step--the ‘_Sauer-kraut_,’ the ‘Flighty,’ the ‘Athlete’
and all, and, as we started, the salutations were repeated for the
twentieth time, the ‘Athlete’ taking a long sniff of my bouquet, then
quickly blocking his nose hard to keep the scent in, after going through
the pantomime of the ear, the finger, and the heart. As Papa said, ‘One
gets quite reconciled to the two-legged creature when meeting such
people as these.’ Good-bye, lovely Boppart, of ever sweet
recollections!”

We tarried at Cologne on our way to England. I see, together with
admiring and elaborate descriptions of the cathedral, a note on the
kindly manners of the Germans, so curiously at variance with the
impression left on the present generation by the episodes of the late
war. At the _table d’hôte_ one evening the two guests who happened to
sit opposite our parents, on opening their champagne at dessert, first
insisted on filling the two glasses of their English _vis-à-vis_ before
proceeding to fill their own. German manners then! The military class
kept, however, very much aloof, and were very irritating to us with
their wilfully offensive attitude. That unfortunate spirit had already
taken a further step forward after the conquest of Schleswig-Holstein,
and was to go further still after the knock-down blow to Austria; then
in 1870 comes more arrogance, and so on to its own undoing in our time.

“_Aix la Chapelle._--Good-bye, Cologne, ever to remain bright by the
remembrance of its cathedral and that museum containing pictures which
have so inspired my mind. And so good-bye, dear, familiar Rhine; not the
Rhine of the hurried tourist and his John Murray Red Book, but the
glorious river about whose banks we have so often wandered at our
leisure.

“And now ‘_Vorwärts_, _marsch_!’ Northwards, to the Land of Roast Beef
plus Rinderpest.[1] But first, Aachen. Ineffable poetry surrounds this
evening of our arrival, for from the three churches which stand out
sharp against the bright moonlight sky in front of the hotel there peal
forth many mellow bells, filling my mind with that sort of sadness so
familiar to me. This is All Hallows’ Eve.

“_November 1st._--We saw the magnificent frescoes in the long, low,
arched hall of the Rathhaus, which is being magnificently restored, as
is the case with all the fine things of the Prussia we have seen. We
only just skimmed these great works of art, for the horses were waiting
in the pelting rain.... The first four frescoes we saw were by Rethel,
the first representing the finding of the body of Charlemagne sitting in
his tomb on his throne, crowned and robed, holding the ball and sceptre;
a very impressive subject, treated with all its requisite poetry and
feeling. The next fresco represents in a forcible manner Charlemagne
ordering a Saxon idol to be broken; the third is a superb episode from
the Battle of Cordova, where Charlemagne is wresting the standard from
the Infidel. The horses are all blindfolded, not to be frightened by the
masks which the enemy had prepared to frighten them with. The great
white bulls which draw the chariot are magnificently conceived. The
fourth fresco represents the entry of the great emperor--whose face, by
the by, lends itself well to the grand style of art--into Pavia; a
superb composition, as, indeed, they all are. After painting this the
artist lost his senses. No doubt such efforts as these may have caused
his mind to fail at last. He had supplied the compositions for the other
four frescoes which Kehren has painted, without the genius of the
originator. We were shown the narrow little old stone staircase up which
all those many German emperors came to the hall. I could almost fancy I
saw an emperor’s head coming bobbing up round the bend, and a figure in
Imperial purple appear. Strange that such a steep little winding
staircase should be the only approach to such a splendid hall. The new
staircase, up which a different sort of monarch from the old German
emperors came a few days ago, in tight blue and silver uniform, is
indeed in keeping with the hall, and should have been trodden by the
emperors, whereas this old cad of a king[2] (_sic_) would get his due
were he to descend the little old worn stair head foremost.”

At Brussels my entry runs: “_November 3rd._--My birthday. I feel too
much buoyed up with the promise of doing something this year to feel as
wretched as I might have felt at the thought of my precious ‘teens
dribbling away. Never say die; never, never, never! This birthday is
ever to be marked by our visit to Waterloo, which has impressed me so
deeply. The day was most enjoyable, but what an inexpressibly sad
feeling was mixed with my pleasure; what thoughts came crowding into my
mind on that awful field, smiling in the sunshine, and how, even now, my
whole mind is overshadowed with sadness as I think of those slaughtered
legions, dead half a century ago, lying in heaps of mouldering bones
under that undulating plain. We had not driven far out of Brussels when
a fine old man with a long white beard, and having a stout stick for
scarcely-needed support, and from whose waistcoat dangled a blue and red
ribbon with a silver medal attached bearing the words ‘Wellington’ and
‘Waterloo,’ stopped the carriage and asked whether we were not going to
the Field and offering his services as guide, which we readily accepted,
and he mounted the box. This was Sergeant-Major Mundy of the 7th
Hussars, who was twenty-seven when he fought on that memorable 18th
June, 1815. In time we got into the old road, that road which the
British trod on their way to Quatre Bras, ten miles beyond Waterloo, on
the 16th. We passed the forest of Soignies, which is fast being cleared,
and at no very distant period, I suppose, merely the name will remain.
What a road was this, bearing a history of thousands of sad incidents!
We visited the church at Waterloo where are the many tablets on the
walls to the memory of British officers and men who died in the great
fight. Touching inscriptions are on them. An old woman of eighty-eight
told us that she had tended the wounded after the battle. Is it
possible! There she was, she who at thirty-eight had beheld those men
just half a century ago! It was overpowering to my young mind. The old
lady seems steadier than the serjeant-major, eleven years her junior,
and wears a brown wig. Thanks to the old sergeant, we had no bothering
vendors of ‘relics.’ He says they have sold enough bullets to supply a
dozen battles.

“We then resumed our way, now upon more historic ground than ever, the
field of the battle proper. The Lion Mound soon appeared, that much
abused monument. Certainly, as a monument to mark where the Prince of
Orange was wounded in the left shoulder it is much to be censured,
particularly with that Belgian lion on the top with its paw on Belgium,
looking defiance towards France, whose soldiers, as the truthful old
sergeant expressed himself, ‘could any day, before breakfast, come and
make short work of the Belgians’ (_sic_). But I look upon this pyramid
as marking the field of the fifteenth decisive battle of the world. In a
hundred years the original field may have been changed or built upon,
and then the mound will be more useful than ever as marking the centre
of the battlefield that was. To make it much ground has been cut away
and the surface of one part of the field materially lowered. On being
shown the plan for this ‘Lion Mound,’ Wellington exclaimed, ‘Well, if
they make it, I shall never come here again,’ or something to that
effect, and, as old Mundy said, ‘the Duke was not one to break his word,
and he never did come again.’ Do you know that, Sir Edwin Landseer, who
have it in the background of your picture of Wellington revisiting the
field? We drove up to the little Hotel du Musée, kept by the sergeant’s
daughter, a dejected sort of person with a glib tongue and herself
rather grey. We just looked over Sergeant Cotton’s museum, a collection
of the most pathetic old shakos and casques and blundering muskets, with
pans and flints, belonging to friend and foe; rusty bullets and cannon
balls, mouldering bits of accoutrements of men and horses, evil-smelling
bits of uniforms and even hair, under glass cases; skulls perforated
with balls, leg and arm bones in a heap in a wooden box; extracts from
newspapers of that sensational time, most interesting; rusty swords and
breastplates; medals and crosses, etc., etc., a dismal collection of
relics of the dead and gone. Those mouldy relics! Let us get out into
the sunshine. Not until, however, the positive old soldier had
marshalled us around him and explained to us, map in hand, the ground
and the leading features of the battle he was going to show us.

“We then went, first, a short way up the mound, and the old warrior in
our midst began his most interesting talk, full of stirring and touching
anecdotes. What a story was that he was telling us, with the scenes of
that story before our eyes! I, all eagerness to learn from the lips of
one who took part in the fight, the story of that great victory of my
country, was always throughout that long day by the side of the old
hussar, and drank in the stirring narrative with avidity. There lay
before us the farm of La Haie Sainte--‘lerhigh saint’ as he called
it--restored to what it was before the battle, where the gallant Germans
held out so bravely, fighting only with the bayonet, for when they came
to load their firearms, oh, horror! the ammunition was found to be too
large for the muskets, and was, therefore, useless. There the great Life
Guard charge took place, there is the grave of the mighty Shaw, and on
the skyline the several hedges and knolls that mark this and that, and
where Napoleon took up his first position. And there lies La Belle
Alliance where Wellington and Blücher did _not_ meet--oh, Mr.
Maclise!--and a hundred other landmarks, all pointed out by the notched
stick of old Mundy. The stories attached to them were all clearly
related to us. After standing a long time on the mound until the man of
discipline had quite done his regulation story, with its stirring and
amusing touches and its minute details, we descended and set off on our
way to Hougoumont. What a walk was that! On that space raged most of the
battle; it was a walk through ghosts with agonised faces and distorted
bodies, crying noiselessly.

“Our guide stopped us very often as we reached certain spots of leading
interest, one of them--the most important of all--being the place where
the last fearful tussle was made and the Old Guard broke and ran. There
was the field, planted with turnips, where our Guards lay down, and I
could not believe that the seemingly insignificant little bank of the
road, which sloped down to it, could have served to hide all those men
until I went down and stooped, and then I understood, for only just the
blades of the grass near me could I see against the sky. Our Guards
must indeed have seemed to start out of the ground to the bewildered
French, who were, by the by, just then deploying. That dreadful V formed
by our soldiers, with its two sides and point pouring in volley after
volley into the deploying Imperial Guard, must have indeed been a
‘staggerer,’ and so Napoleon’s best soldiers turned tail, yelling
‘_Sauve qui peut!_’ and ran down that now peaceful undulation on the
other side of the road.

“Many another spot with its grim story attached did I gaze at, and my
thoughts became more and more overpowering. And there stood a survivor
before us, relating this tale of a battle which, to me, seems to belong
to the olden time. But what made the deepest impression on my mind was
the sergeant’s pointing out to us the place where he lay all night after
the battle, wounded, ‘just a few yards from that hedge, there.’ I repeat
this to myself often, and always wonder. We then left that historic
rutted road and, following a little path, soon came, after many more
stoppages, to the outer orchard of Hougoumont. Victor Hugo’s thoughts
upon this awful place came crowding into my mind also. Yet the place did
look so sweet and happy: the sun shining on the rich, velvety grass,
chequered with the shade of the bare apple trees, and the contented cows
grazing on the grass which, on the fearful day fifty years ago, was not
_green_ between the heaps of dead and dying wretches.

“Ah! the wall with the loopholes. I knew all about it and hastened to
look at it. Again all the wonderful stratagems and deeds of valour,
etc., etc., were related, and I have learnt the importance, not only of
a little hedge, but of the slightest depression on a battlefield.
Riddled with shot is this old brick wall and the walls of the farm, too.
Oh! this place of slaughter, of burning, of burying alive, this place of
concentrated horror! It was there that I most felt the sickening terror
of war, and that I looked upon it from the dark side, a thing I have
seldom had so strong an impulse to do before. The farm is peaceful again
and the pigs and poultry grunt and cluck amongst the straw, but there
are ruins inside. There’s the door so bravely defended by that British
officer and sergeant, hanging on its hinges; there’s the well which
served as a grave for living as well as dead, where Sergeant Mundy was
the last to fill his canteen; and there’s the little chapel which served
as an oven to roast a lot of poor fellows who were pent up there by the
fire raging outside. We went into the terror-fraught inner orchard,
heard more interesting and saddening talk from the old soldier who says
there is nothing so nice as fighting one’s battles over again, and then
we went out and returned to the inn and dined. After that we streamed
after our mentor to the Charleroi road, just to glance at the left part
of the field which the sergeant said he always liked going over the
best. ‘Oh!’ he said, looking lovingly at his pet, ‘this was the
strongest position, except Hougoumont.’ It was in this region that
Wellington was moved to tears at the loss of so many of his friends as
he rode off the field. Papa told me his memorable words on that
occasion: ‘A defeat is the only thing sadder than a victory.’ What a
scene of carnage it was! We looked at poor Gordon’s monument and then
got into our carriage and left that great, immortal place, with the sun
shedding its last gleams upon it. I feel virtuous in having written this
much, seeing what I have done since. We drove back, in the clear night,
I a wiser and a sadder girl.”

About this same Battle of Waterloo. Before the Great War it always
loomed large to me, as it were from the very summit of military history,
indeed of all history. During the terrible years of the late War I
thought my Waterloo would diminish in grandeur by comparison, and that
the awful glamour so peculiar to it would be obliterated in the fumes of
a later terror. But no, there it remains, that lurid glamour glows
around it as before, and for the writer and for the painter its colour,
its great form, its deep tones, remain. We see through its blood-red
veil of smoke Napoleon fall. There never will be a fall like that again:
it is he who makes Waterloo colossal.



CHAPTER IV

IN THE ART SCHOOLS


After tarrying in Brussels, doing the galleries thoroughly, we went to
Dover. I had been anything but in love with the exuberant Rubenses
gathered together in one surfeited room, but imbibed enthusiastic
stimulus from some of the moderns. I write: “Oh! that I had time to tell
of my admiration of Ambroise Thomas’ ‘Judas Iscariot,’ of Charles
Verlat’s wonderful ‘Siege of Jerusalem by Godfrey of Bouillon,’ with its
strikingly terrible incidents, given with wonderful vividness, so free
from coarseness; of Tshaggeny’s ‘Malle Poste,’ with its capital horses.
There was not much study to be done in the time, but enthusiasm to be
caught, and I caught it.”

At Dover I find myself saying: “Still at my drawing of the soldiers
working at the new fort on the cliff, just outside the castle, which
forms the background of the scene. I am sending it to the _Illustrated
London News_.” Then, a few days later: “Woe is me! my drawing is
returned with the usual apologies. Well, never mind, the world will hear
of me yet.” And there, above my “diminished head,” right over No. 2,
Sydney Villas, our temporary resting-place, stood that very castle,
biding its time when it should receive me as its official _châtelaine_,
and all through that art which I was so bent on.

At Brompton I said “good-bye” to a year to me very bright and full of
adventure; a year rich in changes, full of varied scenes and emotions.
I say: “Enter, 1866, bearing for me happy promise for my future, for
to-day I had the interview with Mr. Burchett, the Headmaster of the
South Kensington School of Art, and everything proved satisfactory and
sunny. First, Papa and I trotted off to Mr. Burchett’s office and saw
him, a bearded, velvet-skull-capped and cold-searching-eyed man. After a
little talk, we galloped off home, packed the drawings and the oil,
then, Mamma with us, we returned, and came into The Presence once more.
The office being at the end of the passage of the male schools, I could
see, and envy, the students going about. So the drawings were
scrutinised by _that Eye_, and I must say I never expected things to go
so well. Of course, this austere, rigid master is not one to say much,
but, on the contrary, to dwell upon the shortcomings and weaknesses; to
have no pity. He looked longer at my soldiers at work at Dover Castle
and some hands that I had done yesterday, saying they showed much
feeling. He said he did not know whether I only wished to make my
studies superficial, but strongly advised me to become an artist. I
scarcely needed such advice, I think, but it was very gratifying. I told
him I wished for severe study, and that I did _not_ wish to begin at the
wrong end. We were a long time talking, and he was very kind, and told
me off to the Life School after preliminary work in the Antique. I join
to-morrow. I now really feel as though fairly launched. Ah! they shall
hear of me some day. But, believe me, my ambition is of the right sort.

“_January 2nd._--A very pleasant day for me. At ten marched off, with
board, paper, chalk, etc., etc., to the schools, and signed my name and
went through all the rest of the formalities, and was put to do a huge
eye in chalk. I felt very raw indeed, never having drawn from a cast
before. Everything was strange to me. I worked away until twenty minutes
to two, when I sped home to have my lunch. Five hours’ work would be too
long were I not to break the time by this charming spin home and back in
the open air, which makes me set to work again with redoubled energy and
spirits sky-high. A man comes round at a certain time to the rooms to
see by the thermometer whether the temperature is according to rule,
which is a very excellent precaution; 65° seems to be the fixed degree.
Of course, I did not make any friends to-day; besides, we sit far apart,
on our own hooks, and not on forms. Much twining about of arms and
_darling-ing_, etc., went on, however, but we all seem to work here so
much more in earnest than over those dreary scrolls in the Elementary.
One girl in our room was a capital hit, short hair brushed back from a
clever forehead and a double eyeglass on an out-thrust nose. Then there
is a dear little pale girl, with a pretty head and large eyes, who is
struggling with that tremendous ‘Fighting Gladiator.’ She and he make a
charming _motif_ for a sketch. But I am too intent on my work to notice
much. The skeleton behind me seems, with outstretched arm, to encourage
me in my work, and smiles (we won’t say _grins_) upon me, whilst behind
him--it?--the _écorché_ man seems to be digging his grave, for he is in
the attitude of using a spade. But enough for to-day. I was very much
excited all day afterwards. And no wonder, seeing that my prayer for a
beginning of my real study has now been granted and that I am at length
on the high road. Oh, joy, joy!

“_January 15th._--Did very well at the schools. Upon my word, I am
getting on very smoothly. I peeped into the Life room for the first time
whilst work was going on, and beheld a splendid halberdier standing
above the girls’ heads and looking very uncomfortable. He had a steel
headpiece and his hands were crossed upon the hilt of his sword in
front, and his face, excessively picturesque with its grizzly moustache,
was a tantalising sight for me!

“_January 16th._--Oh, how I am getting on! I can’t bear to look at my
old things. Was much encouraged by Mr. Burchett, who talked to me a good
deal, the mistress standing deferentially and smilingly by. He said,
‘Ah! you seem to get over your difficulties very well,’ and said with
what immense satisfaction I shall look back upon this work I’m doing.
Altogether it was very encouraging, and he said this last thing of mine
was excellent. He remarked that my early education in those matters had
been neglected, but I console myself with the thought that I have not
wasted my time so utterly, for all the travel I have had all my life has
put crowds of ideas into my head, and now I am learning how to bring
those ideas to good account.

“_January 24th._--I shall soon have done the big head and shall soon
reach a full-length statue, and I shall go in for anatomy rather than
give so much time to this shading which the students waste so much time
over. I don’t believe in carrying it so far. The little pale girl I
like, on the completion of her gladiator, has been promoted to the Life
class. A girl made friends with me, a big grenadier of a girl, who says
she wants to know ‘all about the joints and muscles’ and seems a
‘thoroughgoer’ like myself.”

This is how I write of dear Miss Vyvyan, a fine, rosy specimen of a
well-bred English girl, who became one of my dearest fellow
students--and drew well. In writing of me after I had come out in the
art world, she records this meeting in words all the more deserving of
remembrance for being those of a voice that is still. Of my other
fellow-students the Diary will have more to say, left to its own
diction.

“_February 13th._--It is very pleasant at the schools--oh, charming! In
coming home at the end of my work I fell in with Mr. Lane, my friend in
the truest sense of the word. He was coming over to us. His first
inquiry was about me and my work. He was very much disappointed that I
was not in the Life class, fully expecting that I should be there,
seeing how highly Mr. Burchett twice spoke of my drawings to Mr. Lane,
and that I was quite ready for the Life. But, of course, Mr. B. is
desirous of putting me as much through the regular course as possible.
Mr. Lane shares Millais’ opinion that ‘the antique is all very well, but
that there is nothing like the living model, and that they are too fond
of black and white at the Museum.’ I was enrolled as a member of the
Sketching Club this morning, and have only a week to do ‘On the Watch’
in, the title they have given us to illustrate. _Only_ a week, Mimi?
That’s an age to do a sketch in! Ah! yes, my dear, but I shall have five
hours in the schools every day except Saturdays. I have chosen for
subject a freebooter in a morion and cloak upon a bony horse, watching
the plain below him as night comes on, with his blunderbus ready
cocked. Wind is blowing, and makes the horse’s mane and tail to stream
out.”

There follow pages and pages describing the daily doings at the schools:
the commotion amongst girls at the drawings I used to bring to show them
of battle scenes; the Sketching Club competitions, and all the work and
the play of an art school. At last I was promoted to the Life class.

“_March 19th._--Oh, joyous day! oh, white! oh, snowy Monday! or should I
say _golden_ Monday? I entered the Life this joyous morn, and, what’s
more, acquitted myself there not only to my satisfaction (for how could
I be satisfied if the masters weren’t?), but to Mr. Denby’s and the oil
master’s _par excellence_, Mr. Collinson’s. I own I was rather
diffident, feeling such a greenhorn in that room, but I may joyfully say
‘So far, so good,’ and do my very best of bests, and I can’t fail to
progress. How willingly I would write down all the pleasant incidents
that occur every day, and those, above all, of to-day, which make this
delightful student life I am leading so bright and happy and amusing.
However, I shall write down all that my spare moments will allow me.
Little ‘Pale Face’ took me in hand and got me a nice position quite near
the sitter, as I am only to do his head. There was a good deal of
struggling as the number of girls increased, and late comers tried
amicably to badger me out of my good position. We waited more than half
an hour for the sitter, and beguiled the time as we are wont. Three
semi-circles surround the sitter and his platform. The inner and smaller
circle is for us who do his head only, and is formed by desks and low
chairs; the next is formed by small fixed easels, and the outer one by
the loose-easel brigade, so there are lots of us at work. At length the
martyr issued from the curtained closet where Messrs. Burchett, Denby
and Collinson had been helping the unhappy victim to make a lobster of
his upper self with heavy plates of armour. He became sadly modern below
the waist, for his nether part was not wanted. To see Mr. Denby pinning
on the man’s refractory Puritan starched collar was rich. The model is a
small man, perfectly clean shaven with a most picturesque face; quite a
study. Very finely-chiselled mouth, with thin lips and well-marked chin
and jaw. The poor fellow was dreadfully nervous. He was posed standing,
morion on head, with a book in one hand, the other raised as though he
were discoursing to some fellow soldiers--may-be Covenanters--in a camp.
I never saw a man in such agony as he evinced, his nervousness seeming
at times to overpower him, and the weight of the armour and of the huge
morion (too big for him) told upon him in a painfully evident manner. He
was, consequently, allowed frequent rests, when down his trembling arm
would clatter and the instrument of torture on his heated forehead come
down with a great thump on the table. Mr. Denby was much pleased with my
drawing in, and Mr. Collinson commended my carefulness. This pleases me
more than anything else, for I know that carefulness is the most
essential quality in a student.

“_March 27th._--Mr. Burchett showed me how to proceed with the finishing
of the face. He liked the way I had done the morion, which astonished
me, as I had done it all unaided. I am now a friend of more girls than I
can individualise, and they seem all to like me. ‘Little Pale Face’ is
very charming with me indeed. One girl told me a dream she had had of
me, and Mrs. C., wife of the _Athenæum_ art critic, clapped me on the
back very cordially.”

I give these extracts just to launch the Memoirs into that student life
which was of such importance to me. Till the Easter vacation I did all I
could to retrieve what I considered a good deal of leeway in my art
training. There were Sketching Club competitions of intense effort on my
part, and how joyful I felt at such events as my illustrations to
Thackeray’s “Newcomes” coming through marked “Best” by the judges.

“_May 9th._--_Veni_, _vidi_, _vici_! My re-entry into the schools after
the vacation has been a triumphal one, for my ‘Newcomes’ have been
returned ‘The Best.’ The girls were so glad to see me back. I have
chosen, as there is not to be a model till next Monday week, a beautiful
headpiece of elaborate design on whose surface the red drapery near it
is reflected. Some time after lunch Mrs. C. came running to me from the
Antique triumphantly waving a bunch of lilac above her head and crying
out that my ‘Newcomes’ had won! I jumped up, overjoyed, and went to see
the sketches, around which a crowd of students was buzzing. Mr. Denby,
who couldn’t help knowing whose the ‘Best’ were, gave me a nod of
approbation. I was very happy. Returning to Fulham, I told the glad
tidings to Papa, Mamma, Grandpapa and Grandmamma as they each came in.
So this has been a charming day indeed.”

Page after page, closely written, describes the student life, than which
there cannot be a happier one for a boy or girl; thorough searchings
through the Royal Academy rooms for everything I could find for
instruction, admiration and criticism. I joined a class in Bolsover
Street for the study of the “undraped” female model, and worked very
hard there on alternate days. This necessitated long omnibus rides to
that dismal locality, but I always managed to post myself near the
omnibus door, so as to study the horses in motion in the crowded streets
from that coign of vantage. I also joined a painting class in Conduit
Street, but that venture was not a success. I went in about the same
time for very thorough artistic anatomy at the schools. I gave sketches
to nearly all my fellow students--fights round standards, cavalry
charges, thundering guns. I wonder where they are all now! I had always
had a great liking for the representation of movement, but at the same
time a deep well of melancholy existed in my nature, and caused me to
draw from its depths some very sad subjects for my sketches and plans
for future pictures. How strange it seems that I should have been so
impregnated, if I may use the word, with the warrior spirit in art,
seeing that we had had no soldiers in either my father’s or mother’s
family! My father had a deep admiration for the great captains of war,
but my mother detested war, though respecting deeply the heroism of the
soldier. Though she and I had much in common, yet, as regards the
military idea, we were somewhat far asunder; my dear and devoted mother
wished to see me lean towards other phases of art as well, especially
the religious phase, and my Italian studies in days to come very much
inclined me to sacred subjects. But as time went on circumstances
conducted me to the _genre militaire_, and there I have remained, as
regards my principal oil paintings, with few exceptions. My own reading
of war--that mysteriously inevitable recurrence throughout the
sorrowful history of our world--is that it calls forth the noblest and
the basest impulses of human nature. The painter should be careful to
keep himself at a distance, lest the ignoble and vile details under his
eyes should blind him irretrievably to the noble things that rise
beyond. To see the mountain tops we must not approach the base, where
the foot-hills mask the summits. Wellington’s answer to enthusiastic
artists and writers seeking information concerning the details of his
crowning victory was full of meaning: “The best thing you can do for the
Battle of Waterloo is to leave it alone.” He had passed along the
dreadful foot-hills which blocked his vision of the Alps.

I worked hard at the schools and in the country throughout 1867, and,
with many ups and downs, progressed in the Life class. My fellow
students were a great delight to me, so enthusiastically did they watch
my progress and foretell great things for me. We formed a little club of
four or five students--kindred spirits--for mutual help and all sorts of
good deeds, the badge being a red cross and the motto “Thorough.” I
remember a money-box into which we were, by the rules, to drop what
coins we could spare for the Poor. We were to read a chapter of the New
Testament every day, and a chapter of Thomas à Kempis, and all our works
were to be signed with the red cross and the club monogram. Seeing this
little sign in the corner of “The Roll Call” over my name set one of
those absurd stories circulating in the Press with which the public was
amused in 1874, namely, that I had been a Red Cross nurse in the Crimea.
As a counterpoise to this more “copy” was obtained for the papers by
paragraphs representing me as an infant prodigy, which I thank my stars
I was _not_!

One day in this year 1867 I had, with great trepidation, asked Mr.
Burchett to accept two pen and ink illustrations I had made to Morris’s
poem, “Riding together.” Great commotion amongst the students. Some
preferred the drawing for the gay and happy first verse:

    Our spears stood bright and thick together,
    Straight out the banners streamed behind,
    As we galloped on in the sunny weather,
    With our faces turned towards the wind.

and others the tragic sequel:

    They bound my blood-stained hands together,
    They bound his corpse to nod by my side,
    Then on we rode in the bright March weather,
    With clash of cymbal did we ride.

The Diary says: “Mr. Burchett, surrounded by my dear fellow red crosses,
Va., B., and Vy., talked about the drawings in a way which pleased me
very much. When he was gone, Va. and B. disappeared and soon reappeared,
Va. with a crown of leaves to crown me with and B. with a comb and some
paper on which to play ‘See the Conquering Hero comes’ whilst Va. and
Vy. should carry me along the great corridor in a dandy chair. They had
great trouble to crown me, and then to get me to mount. It was a most
uncomfortable triumphal progress, Vy. being nearly six foot and Va.
rather short. They just put me down in time, for, had we gone an inch
further on, we should have confronted Miss Truelock,[3] who swooped
round the corner. I cannot describe the homage these three pay me, Va.’s
in particular--Vy.’s is measured, and not humble like Va.’s or
radiantly enthusiastic like B.’s. I am glad that I stand proof against
all this, but it is hard to do so, as I know it is so thoroughly
sincere, and that they say even more out of my hearing than to my face.”

The Sultan Abdul Aziz and the Khedive Ismail paid a visit to London that
year. We were in the midst of the festivities; and such church-bell
ringing, fireworks, musical uproar, especially at the Crystal Palace,
where the “Hallelujah,” “Moses in Egypt,” and other Biblical choruses
vied with the cheering of the crowds in expressions of exultation,
seldom had London known. This fills pages and pages of the Diary. As we
looked on from Willis and Sotheran’s shop window, out of which all the
books had been cleared for us, in Trafalgar Square, at the arrival of
the “Father of the Faithful,” it seemed a strange thing for the bells of
our churches to be pealing forth their joyous welcome. But how vain all
these political doings appear as time goes by! What sort of reception
would we give the present Sultan I wonder? We have even _abolished_
Khedives. Much more reasonable and sane was the mob’s welcome to the
Belgian volunteers, who were also England’s guests that year. We English
were very courteous to the Belgians. Papa took us to the great Belgian
ball, where we appeared wearing red, black, and yellow sashes. He
offered to hold a Belgian officer’s sword for him while he (the Belgian)
waltzed me round the hall. A silver medal was struck to commemorate this
visit, and every Belgian was presented with this decoration. On it were
engraved the words “_Vive La Belge_.” No one could tell who the lady
was.

This year saw my meek beginning in the showing of an oil picture
(“Horses in Sunshine”) at the Women Artists’ Exhibition, and then
followed a water colour, “Bavarian Artillery going into Action,” at the
Dudley Gallery--that delightful gallery which is now no more and which
_The Times_ designated the “nursery of young reputations.” I continued
exhibiting water colours and black-and-whites for some years there. I
had the rare sensation of walking on air when my father, meeting me on
parting with Tom Taylor, the critic of _The Times_, told me the latter
had just come from the Dudley’s press view and seen my “Bavarian
Artillery” on its walls. I had begun!

In the latter part of this year’s work at South Kensington Mr. Burchett
stirred us up by giving us “time” and “memory” drawing to do from the
antique, and many things which required quickness, imagination and
concentration, all of which suited me well. Charcoal studies on tinted
paper delighted me. I was always at home in such things. We often had
“time” drawings to do on very rough paper, using charcoal with the hog’s
hair paint brush. What a good change from the dawdling chalk work
formerly in vogue when I joined. I had by this time painted my way in
oils through many models, male and female, with all the ups and downs
recorded elaborately, the encouragements and depressions, and the happy,
though slow, progress in the management of the brush. I had won a medal
for two life-size female heads in oils, and through all the ups and
downs the devotion of my dear “Red Cross” fellow students never
fluctuated.

The year 1868 saw me steadily working away at the Schools and doing a
great many drawings for sketching clubs and various competitions during
this period, till we were off once more to Italy in October. On March
19th of that year I wrote in the Diary: “Ruskin has invited himself to
tea here on Monday!!!” Then: “Memorable Monday. On thee I was introduced
to Ruskin! Punctually at six came the great man. If I had been disposed
to be nervous with him, his cold formal bow and closing of the eyes, his
somewhat supercilious under-lip and sensitive nostrils would not have
put me at my ease. But, fortunately, I felt quite normal--unlike Mamma
and Alice, the latter of whom had reason for quaking, seeing that one of
her young poems, sent him by a friend, had been scanned by that eye and
pondered by that greatest of living minds.

“He sat talking a little, not commonplaces at all; on the contrary, he
immediately began on great topics, Mamma and he coinciding all through,
particularly on the subject of modern ugliness, railways, factory
chimneys, backs of English houses, sash windows, etc., etc. Then he
directed his talk to me, and we sat talking together about art, of
course, and I showed him two life studies, which he expressed himself as
exceedingly pleased with in a very emphatic manner. But here we went
down to tea. After tea I showed him my imaginative drawings, which he
criticised a good deal. He said there was no reason why I should not
become a great artist (!), that I was ‘destined to do great things.’ But
he remarked, after this too kindly beginning, that it was evident I had
not studied enough from nature in those drawings, the light and shade
being incorrect and the relations of tones, etc., etc. He told me to
beware of sensational subjects, as yet, _à propos_ of the Lancelot and
Guinevere drawing; that such were dangerous, leading me to think I had
quite succeeded by virtue of the strength of my subject and to overlook
the consideration of minor points. He said, ‘Do fewer of these things,
but what you do _do right_ and never mind the subject.’ I did not like
that; my great idea is that an artist should choose a worthy subject and
concentrate his attention on the chief point. But Ruskin is a lover of
landscape art and loves to see every blade of grass in a foreground
lovingly dwelt upon. I cannot write down all he said as he and I leant
over the piano where my drawings were. But it was with my artillery
water colour, ‘The Crest of the Hill,’ that he was most pleased. He
knelt down before it where it hung low down and held a candle before it
the better to see it, and exclaimed ‘Wonderful!’ two or three times, and
said it had ‘immense power.’ Thank you, Dudley Gallery, for not hanging
it where Ruskin would never have seen it!

“He listened to Mamma’s playing and Alice’s singing of Mamma’s ‘Ave
Maria’ with perfectly absorbed attention, and seemed to enjoy the lovely
sounds. He had many kind things to say to Alice about her poem, saying
that he knew she was forced to write it; but was she always obliged to
write so sadly? Then he spied out Mamma’s pictures, and insisted on
seeing lots of her water colours, which I know he must have enjoyed more
than my imaginative things, seeing with what humble lovingness Mamma
paints her landscapes. In fact, we showed him our paces all the evening.
Papa says he (P.) was like the circus man, standing in the middle with
the long whip, touching us up as we were trotted out before the great
man. He seems, by the by, to have a great contempt for the modern French
school, as I expected.”

Daily records follow of steady work, much more to the purpose than in
the humdrum old days. Mr. Burchett continued the new system with
increasing energy. He seemed to have taken it up in our Life class with
real pleasure latterly. In July the session ended, and I was not to
re-enter the schools till after my Italian art training had brought me a
long way forward.



CHAPTER V

STUDY IN FLORENCE


Italy once more! Again the old palazzo at Albaro and the old friends
surrounding us! My work never relaxed, for I set up a little studio and
went in for life-size heads, and got more and more facility with the
brush. The kindly peasants let me paint them, and I victimised my
obliging friends and had professional models out from Genoa. That was a
very greatly enjoyed autumn, winter and spring, and the gaieties of the
English Colony, the private theatricals, the concerts at Villa
Novello--all those things did me good. The childish carnival revels had
still power over me--yea, _more_--though I _was_ grown up, and, to tell
the truth, I got all the fun out of them that was possible within
bounds. “The Red Cross Sketch Book,” which I filled with illustrations
of our journey out and of life at Genoa, I dedicated to the club and
sent to them when we left for Florence.

We found Genoa just as we had left it, still the brilliantly picturesque
city of the sea, its populace brightly clad in their Ligurian national
dress, the women still wearing the pezzotto, and the men the red cap I
loved; the port all delightful with oriental character, its shouting
muleteers and _facchini_, its fruit and flower sellers in the narrow
streets and entrances to the palaces--all the old local colour. Alas! I
was there only the other day, and found all the local charm had
gone--modernised away!

When we left Genoa in April my father tried to get a _vetturino_ to take
us as far as Pisa by road on our way to Florence, for auld lang syne,
but Antonio--he who used to drive us into Genoa in the old days--said
that was now impossible on account of the railway--“_Non ci conviene,
signore_!”--but he would take us as far as Spezzia. So, to our delight,
we were able once more to experience the pleasures of the road and avoid
that truly horrible series of suffocating tunnels that tries us so much
on that portion of the coastline. At Sestri Levante I wrote: “I sit down
at this pleasant hotel, with the silent sea glimmering in the early
night before me outside the open window, to note down our journey thus
far. The day has been truly glorious, the sea without even the thinnest
rim of white along the coast, and such exquisite combinations of clouds.
We left Villa Quartara at ten, with Madame Vittorina and the servants in
tears. Majolina comes with us; she is such a good little maid. We had
three good horses, but for the Bracco Pass we shall have an extra one.
There is no way of travelling like this, in an open carriage; it is so
placid; there is no hurrying to catch trains and struggling in crowds,
no waiting in dismal _salles d’attente_. And then compare the entry into
the towns by the high road and through the principal streets, perhaps
through a city gate, the horse’s hoofs clattering and the whip cracking
so merrily and the people standing about in groups watching us pass, to
sneaking into a station, one of which is just like the other, which
hasn’t the slightest _couleur locale_ about it, and is sure to have
unsightly surroundings.

“Away we went merrily, I feeling very jolly. The colour all along was
ravishing, as may be imagined, seeing what a perfect day it was and
that this is the loveliest season of the year. We dined at dear old
Ruta, where also the horses had a good rest and where I was able to
sketch something down. From Ruta to Sestri I rode by Majolina on the
box, by far the best position of all, and didn’t I enjoy it! The horses’
bells jingled so cheerily and those three sturdy horses took us along so
well. Rapallo and Chiavari! Dear old friends, what delicious
picturesqueness they had, what lovely approaches to them by roads
bordered with trees! The views were simply distracting. Sestri is a gem.
Why don’t water-colour painters come here in shoals? What colouring the
mountains had at sunset, and I had only a pencil and wretched little
sketch book.

“_Spezzia, April 28th, 1869._--A repetition of yesterday in point of
weather. I feel as though I had been steeped all day in some balmy
liquid of gold, purple, and blue. I have a Titianesque feeling hovering
about me produced by the style of landscape we have passed through and
the faces of the people who are working in the patches of cultivation
under the mulberries and vines, and that intense, deep blue sky with
massive white clouds floating over it. We exclaimed as much at the
beauty of the women as at the purple of the mountains and the green of
the budding mulberries and poplars. And the men and boys; what perfect
types; such fine figures and handsome faces, such healthy colour! We
left the hotel at Sestri, with its avenue of orange trees in flower, at
ten o’clock, and, of course, crossed the Bracco to-day. We dined at a
little place called Bogliasco, in whose street, under our windows,
handsome youths with bare legs and arms were playing at a game of ball
which called forth fine action. I did not know at first whether to look
well at them all or sketch them down one by one, but did both, and I
hope to make a regular drawing of the group from the sketch I took and
from memory. We stopped at the top of the hill, from which is seen La
Spezzia lying below, with its beautiful bay and the Carara Mountains
beyond. Here ends our drive, for to-morrow we take the train for
Florence.

“_Florence, April 29th._--Magnificent, cloudless weather. But, oh! what
a wearisome journey we had, the train crawling from one station to
another and stopping at each such a time, whilst we baked in the
cushioned carriage and couldn’t even have lovely things to look at,
surrounded by the usual railway eyesores. We passed close by the Pisan
Campo Santo, and had a very good view of the Leaning Tower and the
Duomo. Such hurrying and struggling at the Pisa station to get into the
train for Florence, having, of course, to carry all our small baggage
ourselves. Railway travelling in Italy is odious. It was very lovely to
see Florence in the distance, with those domes and towers I know so well
by heart from pictures, but we were very limp indeed, the wearisome
train having taken all our enthusiasm away. Everything as we arrived
struck us as small, and I am still so dazzled by the splendour of Genoa
that my eyes cannot, as it were, comprehend the brown, grey and white
tones of this quiet-coloured little city. I must _Florentine_ myself as
fast as I can. This hotel is on the Lung’ Arno, and charming was it to
look out of the windows in the lovely evening and see the river below
and the dome of the Carmine and tower of Santo Spirito against the clear
sky with, further off, the hills with their convents (alas! empty now)
and clusters of cypresses. No greater contrast to Genoa could be than
Florence in every way. Oh! may this city of the arts see me begin (and
finish) my first regular picture. _April 30th._--I and Papa strolled
about the streets to get a general impression of ‘_Firenze la gentile_,’
and looked into the Duomo, which is indeed bare and sad-coloured inside
except in its delicious painted windows over the altars, the harmonious
richness of which I should think could not be exceeded by any earthly
means. The outside is very gay and cheerful, but some of the marble has
browned itself into an appearance of wood. Oh! dear Giotto’s Tower,
could elegance go beyond this? Is not this an example of the complete
_savoir faire_ of those true-born artists of old? And the ‘Gates of
Paradise’! The delight of seeing these from the street is great, instead
of in a museum. But Michael Angelo’s enthusiastic exclamation in their
praise rather makes one smile, for we know that it must have been in
admiration of their purely technical beauties, as the gates are by no
means large and grand _as_ gates, and the bronze is rather dark for an
entrance into Paradise! I reverently saluted the Palazzo Vecchio, and am
quite ready to get very much attached to the brown stone of Florence in
time.

“_Villa Lamporecchi, May 1st._--We two and Papa had a good spell at the
Uffizi in the morning, and in the afternoon we took possession of this
pleasing house, which is so cool and has far-spreading views, one of
Florence from a terrace leading out of what I shall make my studio. A
garden and vineyards sloping down to the valley where Brunelleschi’s
brown dome shows above the olives.”

[Illustration: IN FLORENCE DURING MY STUDIES IN /69.]

Our mother did many lovely water colours, one especially exquisite
one of Fiesole seen in a shimmering blue midsummer light. That, and one
done on the Lung’ Arno, to which Shelley’s line

    “The purple noon’s transparent might”

could justly be applied, are treasured by me. She understood sunshine
and how to paint it.

“_May 3rd._--I already feel Florence growing upon me. I begin to
understand the love English people of culture and taste get for this
most interesting and gentle city. The ground one treads on is all
historic, but it is in the artistic side of its history that I naturally
feel the greatest interest, and it is a delightful thing to go about
those streets and be reminded at every turn of the great Painters,
Architects, Sculptors I have read so much of. Here a palace designed by
Raphael, there a glorious row of windows carved by Michael Angelo, there
some exquisite ironwork wrought by some other born genius. I think the
style of architecture of the Strozzi Palace, the Ricardi, and others, is
perfection in its way, though at first, with the brilliant whites,
yellows and pinks of Genoa still in my eye, I felt rather depressed by
the uniform brown of the huge stones of which they are built. No wonder
I haunt the well-known gallery which runs over the Ponte Vecchio, lined
with the sketches, studies, and first thoughts of most of the great
masters. One delights almost more in these than in many of the finished
pictures. They bring one much more in contact, as it were, with the
great dead, and make one familiar with their methods of work. One sees
what little slips they made, how they modified their first thoughts,
over and over again, before finally fixing their choice. Very
encouraging to the struggling beginner to see these evidences of their
troubles!

“I have never, before I came here where so many of them have lived,
realised the old masters as our comrades; I have never been so near them
and felt them to be mortals exactly like ourselves. This city and its
environs are so little changed, the greater part of them not at all,
since those grand old Michael Angelesque days that one feels brought
quite close to the old painters, seeing what they saw and walking on the
very same old pavement as they walked on, passing the houses where they
lived, and so forth.”

I was at that time bent on achieving my first “great picture,” to be
taken from Keats’s poem “The Pot of Basil”; Lorenzo riding to his death
between the two brothers:

    So the two brothers and their murdered man
    Rode past fair Florence,

but, fortunately, I resolved instead to put in further training before
attacking such a canvas, and I became the pupil of a very fine academic
draughtsman, though no great colourist, Giuseppe Bellucci. On alternate
days to those spent in his studio I copied in careful pencil some of the
exquisite figures in Andrea del Sarto’s frescoes in the cloisters of the
SS. Annunziata.

The heat was so great that, as it became more intense, I had to be at
Bellucci’s, in the Via Santa Reparata, at eight o’clock instead of 8.30,
getting there in the comparative cool of the morning, after a salutary
walk into Florence, accompanied by little Majolina, no _signorina_ being
at liberty to walk alone. What heat! The sound of the ceaseless hiss of
the _cicale_ gave one the impression of the country’s undergoing the
ordeal of being _frizzled_ by the sun. I record the appearance of my
first fire-fly on the night of May 6th. What more pleasing rest could
one have, after the heat and work of the day, than by a stroll through
the vineyards in the early night escorted by these little creatures with
their golden lamps?

The cloisters were always cool, and I enjoyed my lonely hours there, but
the Bellucci studio became at last too much of a furnace. My master had
already several times suggested a rest, mopping his brow, when I also
began to doze over my work at last, and the model wouldn’t keep his eyes
open. I record mine as “rolling in my head.”

I see in memory the blinding street outside, and hear the fretful
stamping of some tethered mule teased with the flies. The very Members
of Parliament in the Palazzo Vecchio had departed out of the impossible
Chamber, and, all things considered, I allowed Bellucci to persuade me
to take a little month of rest--“_un mesetto di riposo_”--at home during
part of July and August. That little month of rest was very nice. I did
a water colour of the white oxen ploughing in our _podere_; I helped (?)
the _contadini_ to cut the wheat with my sickle, and sketched them while
they went through the elaborate process of threshing, enlivened with
that rough innocent romping peculiar to young peasants, which gave me
delightful groups in movement. I love and respect the Italian peasant.
He has high ideas of religion, simplicity of living, honour. I can’t say
I feel the same towards his _betters_ (?) in the Italian social scale.

The grapes ripened. The scorched _cicale_ became silent, having, as the
country people declared, returned to the earth whence they sprang. The
heat had passed even _cicala_ pitch. I went back to the studio when the
“little month” had run out and the heat had sensibly cooled, and worked
very well there. I find this record of a birthday expedition:

“I suggested a visit to the convent of San Salvi out at the Porta alla
Croce, where is to be seen Andrea del Sarto’s ‘Cenacolo.’ This we did in
the forenoon, and in the afternoon visited Careggi. Enough isn’t said
about Andrea. What volumes of praise have been written, what endless
talk goes on, about Raphael, and how little do people seem to appreciate
the quiet truth and soberness and subtlety of Andrea. This great fresco
is very striking as one enters the vaulted whitewashed refectory and
sees it facing the entrance at the further end. The great point in this
composition is the wonderful way in which this master has disposed the
hands of all those figures as they sit at the long table. In the row of
heads Andrea has revelled in his love of variety, and each is stamped,
as usual, with strong individuality. This beautifully coloured fresco
has impressed me with another great fact, viz., the wonderful value of
_bright yellow_ as well as white in a composition to light it up. The
second Apostle on our Saviour’s left, who is slightly leaning forward on
his elbow and loosely clasping one hand in the other, has his shoulders
wrapped round with yellow drapery, the horizontally disposed folds of
which are the _ne plus ultra_ of artistic arrangement. There is
something very realistic in these figures and their attitudes. Some
people are down on me when they hear me going on about the rendering of
individual character being the most admirable of artistic qualities.

“At 3.30 we went for such a drive to Careggi, once Lorenzo de’ Medici’s
villa--where, indeed, he died--and now belonging to Mr. Sloane, a
‘bloated capitalist’ of distant England. The ‘keepsake’ beauty of the
views thence was perfect. A combination of garden kept in English order
and lovely Italian landscape is indeed a rich feast for the eye. I was
in ecstasies all along. We made a great _détour_ on our return and
reached home in the after-glow, which cast a light on the houses as of a
second sun.

“_October 18th._--Went with Papa and Alice to see Raphael’s ‘Last
Supper’ at the Egyptian Museum, long ago a convent. It is not perfectly
sure that Raphael painted it, but, be that as it may, its excellence is
there, evident to all true artists. It seems to me, considering that it
is an early work, that none but one of the first-class men could have
painted it. It offers a very instructive contrast with del Sarto’s at
San Salvi. The latter immediately strikes the spectator with its effect,
and makes him exclaim with admiration at the very first moment--at
least, I am speaking for myself. The former (Raphael’s) grew upon me in
an extraordinary way after I had come close up to it and dwelt long on
the heads, separately; but on entering the room the rigidity and
formality of the figures, whose aureoles of solid metal are all on one
level, the want of connection of these figures one with the other, and
the uniform light over them all had an unprepossessing effect.
Artistically considered this fresco is not to be mentioned with
Andrea’s, but then del Sarto was a ripe and experienced artist when he
painted the San Salvi fresco, whereas they conjecture Raphael to have
been only twenty-two when he painted this. There is more spiritual
feeling in Raphael’s, more dignity and ideality altogether; no doubt a
higher conception, and some feel more satisfied with it than with
Andrea’s. The refinement and melancholy look of St. Matthew is a thing
to be thought of through life. St. Andrew’s face, with the long,
double-peaked white beard, is glorious, and is a contrast to the other
old man’s head next to it, St. Peter’s, which is of a harder kind, but
not less wonderful. St. Bartholomew, with his dark complexion and black
beard, is strongly marked from the others, who are either fair or
grey-headed. The profile of St. Philip, with a pointed white beard, gave
me great delight, and I wish I could have been left an hour there to
solitary contemplation. St. James Major, a beardless youth, is a true
Perugino type, a very familiar face. Judas is a miserable little figure,
smaller than the others, though on the spectator’s side of the table in
the foreground. He seems not to have been taken from life at all.

“On one of the walls of the room are hung some little chalk studies of
hands, etc., for the fresco, most exquisitely drawn, and seeming, some
of them, better modelled than in the finished work; notably St. Peter’s
hand which holds the knife. Is there no Modern who can give us a ‘Last
Supper’ to rank with this, Andrea’s and Leonardo’s?”

This entry in my Diary of student days leads my thoughts to poor
Leonardo da Vinci. A painter must sympathise with him through his
recorded struggles to accomplish, in his “Cenacolo,” what may be called
the almost superhuman achievement of worthily representing the Saviour’s
face. Had he but been content to use the study which we see in the Brera
gallery! But, no! he must try to do better at Santa Maria delle
Grazie--and fails. How many sleepless nights and nerve-racking days he
must have suffered during this supreme attempt, ending in complete
discouragement. I think the Brera study one of the very few satisfactory
representations of the divine Countenance left us in art. To me it is
supreme in its infinite pathos. But it is always the way with the truly
great geniuses; they never feel that they have reached the heights they
hoped to win.

Ruskin tells us that Albert Dürer, on finishing one of his own works,
felt absolutely satisfied. “It could not be done better,” was the
complacent German’s verdict. Ruskin praises him for this, because the
verdict was true. So it was, as regarding a piece of mere handicraft.
But to return to the Diary.

“We went then to pay a call on Michael Angelo at his apartment in the
Via Ghibellina. I do not put it in those words as a silly joke, but
because it expresses the feeling I had at the moment. To go to his
house, up his staircase to his flat, and ring at his door produced in my
mind a vivid impression that he was alive and, living there, would
receive us in his drawing-room. Everything is well nigh as it was in his
time, but restored and made to look like new, the place being far more
as he saw it than if it were half ruinous and going to decay. Even the
furniture is the same, but new velveted and varnished. It is a pretty
apartment, such as one can see any day in nice modern houses. I touched
his little slippers, which are preserved, together with his two walking
sticks, in a tiny cabinet where he used to write, and where I wondered
how he found space to stretch his legs. The slippers are very small and
of a peculiar, rather Eastern, shape, and very little worn. Altogether,
I could not realise the lapse of time between his date and ours. The
little sketches round the walls of the room, which is furnished with
yellow satin chairs and sofa, are very admirable and free. The Titian
hung here is a very splendid bit of colour. This was a very impressive
visit. The bronze bust of M. A. by Giovanni da Bologna is magnificent;
it gives immense character, and must be the image of the man.”

On October 21st I bade good-bye to Bellucci. His system forbade praise
for the pupil, which was rather depressing, but he relaxed sufficiently
to tell my father at parting that I would do things (_Farà delle cose_)
and that I was untiring (_istancabile_), taking study seriously, not
like the others (_le altre_). With this I had to be content. He had
drilled me in drawing more severely than I could have been drilled in
England. For that purpose he had kept me a good deal to painting in
monochrome, so as to have my attention absorbed by the drawing and
modelling and _chiaroscuro_ of an object without the distraction of
colour. He also said to me I could now walk alone (_può camminare da
sè_), and with this valedictory good-bye we parted. Being free, I spent
the remaining time at Florence in visits to the churches and galleries
with my father and sister, seeing works I had not had time to study up
till then.

“_October 22nd._--We first went to see the Ghirlandajos at Santa
Trinità, which I had not yet seen. They are fading, as, indeed, most of
the grand old frescoes are doing, but the heads are full of character,
and the grand old costumes are still plainly visible. From thence we
went to the small cloister called _dello Scalzo_, where are the
exquisite monochromes of Andrea del Sarto. Would that this cloister had
been roofed in long ago, for the weather has made sad havoc of these
precious things. Being in monochrome and much washed out, they have a
faded look indeed; but how the drawing tells! What a master of anatomy
was he, and yet how unexaggerated, how true: he was content to limit
himself to Nature; _knew where to draw the line_, had, in fact, the
reticence which Michael Angelo couldn’t recognise; could stop at the
limit of truth and good taste through which the great sculptor burst
with coarse violence. There are some backs of legs in those frescoes
which are simply perfect. These works illustrate the events in the life
of John the Baptist. Here, again, how marvellous and admirable are all
the hands, not only in drawing, but in action, how touching the heads,
how grand and thoroughly artistic the draperies and the poses of the
figures. A splendid lesson in the management of drapery is, especially,
the fresco to the right of the entrance, the ‘Vision of Zacharias.’
There are four figures, two immediately in the foreground and at either
extremity of the composition; the two others, seen between them, further
off. The nearest ones are in draperies of the grandest and largest
folds, with such masses of light and dark, of the most satisfying
breadth; and the two more distant ones have folds of a slightly more
complex nature, if such a word can be used with regard to such a
thoroughly broadly treated work. This gives such contrast and relief
between the near and distant figures, and the absence of the aid of
colour makes the science of art all the more simply perceived. Most
beautiful is the fresco representing the birth of St. John, though the
lower part is quite lost. What consummate drapery arrangements! The nude
figure _vue de dos_ in the fresco of St. John baptising his disciples is
a masterly bit of drawing. Though the paint has fallen off many parts of
these frescoes, one can trace the drawing by the incision which was
made on the wet plaster to mark all the outlines preparatory to
beginning the painting.”

These are but a few of my art student’s impressions of this
fondly-remembered Florentine epoch, which are recorded at great length
in the Diary for my own study. And now away to Rome!



CHAPTER VI

ROME


That was a memorable journey to Rome by Perugia. I have travelled more
than once by that line, and the more direct one as well, since then, and
I feel as though I could never have enough of either, though to be on
the road again, as we now can be by motor, would be still greater bliss.
But the original journey took place so long ago that it has positively
an old-world glamour about it, and a certain roughness in the flavour,
so difficult to enjoy in these times of Pulman cars and Palace Hotels,
which make all places taste so much alike. The old towns on the
foothills of the Apennines drew me to the left, and the great sunlit
plains to the right, of the carriage in an _embarras de choix_ as we
sped along. Cortona, Arezzo, Castiglione--Fiorentin--each little old
city putting out its predecessor, as it seemed to me, as more perfect in
its picturesque effect than the one last seen. It was the story of the
Rhine castles and villages over again. The Lake of Trasimene appeared on
our right towards sundown, a sheet of still water so tender in its tints
and so lonely; no town on its malaria-stricken banks; a boat or two,
water-fowl among the rushes and, as we proceeded, the great, magnified
globe of the sun sinking behind the rim of the lake. We were going deep
into the Umbrian Hills, deep into old Italy; the deeper the better. We
neared Perugia, where we passed the night, before dark, and saw the old
brown city tinged faintly with the after-glow, afar off on its hill. A
massive castle stood there in those days which I have not regretted
since, as it symbolised the old time of foreign tyranny. It is gone now,
but how mediæval it looked, frowning on the world that darkening
evening. Hills stood behind the city in deep blue masses against a sky
singularly red, where a great planet was shining. There was a Perugino
picture come to life for us! Even the little spindly trees tracing their
slender branches on the red sky were in the true _naïf_ Perugino spirit!
How pleased we were! We rumbled in the four-horse station ’bus under two
echoing gateways piercing the massive outer and inner city walls and
along the silent streets, lit with rare oil lamps. Not a gas jet, aha!
But we were to feel still more deeply mediæval, whether we liked it or
not, for on reaching the Hotel de la Poste we found it was full, and had
to wander off to seek what hostel could take us in through very dark,
ancient streets. I will let the Diary speak:

“The _facchino_ of the hotel conducted us to a place little better than
a _cabaret_, belonging, no doubt, to a chum. I wouldn’t have minded
putting up there, but Mamma knew better, and, rewarding the woman of the
_cabaret_ with two francs, much against her protestations, we went off
up the steep street again and made for the ‘Corona,’ a shade better,
close to the market place. My bedroom was as though it had once been a
dungeon, so massive were the walls and deep the vaulting of the low
ceiling. We went to bed almost immediately after our dinner, which was
enlivened by the conversation of men who were eating at a neighbouring
table, all, except a priest, with their hats on. One was very
loquacious, shouting politics. He held forth about ‘_Il Mastai_,’ as he
called His Holiness Pope Pius the Ninth, and flourished renegade _Padre
Giacinto_ in the priest’s face, the courteous and laconic priest’s
eyebrows remaining at high-water mark all the time. The shouter went on
to say that English was ‘_una lingua povera e meschina_’ (‘Poor and
mean’!)”

The next morning before leaving we saw all that time allowed us of
Perugia, the bronze statue of Pope Julius III. impressing me deeply.
Indeed, there is no statue more eloquent than this one. Alas! the
Italians have removed it from its right place, and when I revisited the
city in 1900 I found the tram terminus in place of the Pope.

“_October 27th._--After the morning’s doings in sunshine the day became
sad, and from Foligno, where we had a long wait, the story is but of
rain and dusk and night. We became more and more apathetic and bored,
though we were roused up at the frontier station, where I saw the Papal
_gendarmes_ and gave the alarm. Mamma went on her knees in the carriage
and cried, ‘_Viva Il Papa Rè!_’ We all joined in, drinking his health in
some very flat ‘red _grignolino_’ we had with us. I became more and more
excited as we neared the centre of the earth, the capital of
Christendom, the highest city in the world. In the rainy darkness we ran
into the Roman station, which might have been that of Brighton for aught
we could see. I strained my eyes right and left for Papal uniforms, and
was rewarded by Zouaves and others, and lots of French (of the Legion)
into the bargain.

Then a long wait, in the ’bus of the Anglo-American Hotel, for our
luggage; and at last we rattled over the pavement, which, with its
cobble stones, was a great contrast to the large flat flags of
Florence, along very dark and gloomy streets. An apartment all crimson
damask was ready prepared for us, which looked cheery and revived us.

“_October 28th_, 56, _Via del Babuino._--The day began rather
dismally--looking for apartments in the rain! The coming of the
Œcumenical Council has greatly inflated the prices; Rome is crammed.
At last we took this attractive one for six months, ‘_esposto a
mezzogiorno_.’ Facing due south, fortunately.

“The sun came out then, and all things were bright and joyous as we
rattled off in a little victoria to feast our eyes (we two for the first
time) on St. Peter’s. Papa, knowing Rome already, knew what to do and
how best to give us our first impressions. An epoch in my life, never to
be forgotten, a moment in my existence too solemn and beyond my power of
writing to allow of my describing it! I have seen St. Peter’s. No,
indeed, no descriptions have ever given me an adequate idea of what I
have just seen. The sensation of seeing the real thing one has gazed at
in pictures and photographs with longing is one of peculiar delight.

“To find myself really on the Ponte Sant’ Angelo! No dream this. There
is the huge castle and the angel with outstretched wings, and there is
St. Peter’s in very truth. The sight of it made the tears rise and my
throat tighten, so greatly was I overcome by that soul-moving sight. The
dome is perfect; the whole, with its great piazza and colonnade, is
perfect; I am utterly overpowered and, as to writing, it is too
inadequate, and I do so merely because I must do my duty by this
journal.

“What a state I was in, though exteriorly so quiet. And all around us
other beauties--the yellow Tiber, the old houses, the great
fortress-tomb--oh, Mimi, the artist, is not all the enthusiasm in you at
full power? We got out of the carriage at the bottom of the piazza and
walked up to the basilica on foot. The two familiar fountains--so
familiar, yet seen for the first time in reality--were sending up their
spray in such magnificent abundance, which the wind took and sent in
cascade-like forms far out over the reflecting pavement. The interior of
St. Peter’s, which impresses different people in such various ways, was
a radiant revelation to me. We had but a preliminary taste to-day. We
drove thence to the Piazza del Popolo, and then had an entrancing walk
on Monte Pincio. We came down by the French Academy, with its row of
clipped ilexes, under which you see one of the most exquisite views of
silvery Rome, St. Peter’s in the middle. We dipped down by the steps of
the Trinità, where the models congregate, flecking the wide grey steps
with all the colours of the rainbow.

“_October 29th._--Papa would not let us linger in the Colosseum too
long, for to-day he wanted us to have only a general idea of things.
Those bits of distance seen through triumphal arches, between old
pillars, through gaps in ancient walls, how they please! As we were
climbing the Palatine hill a Black Franciscan came up to us for alms,
and in return offered us his snuff-box, out of which Alice and I took a
pinch, and we went sneezing over the ruins. On to the Capitol, and down
thence homeward through streets full of priests, monks and soldiers. All
the afternoon given to being tossed about, with poor Papa, by the Dogana
from the railway station to the custom-house in the Baths of Diocletian,
and from there to the artist commissioned by the Government to examine
incoming works of art. They would not let me have my box of studies,
calling them ‘modern pictures’ on which we must pay duty.”

Rome under the Temporal Power was so unlike Rome, capital of Italy, as
we see it to-day, that I think it just as well to draw largely from the
Diary, which is crammed with descriptions of men and things belonging to
the old order which can never be seen again. I love to recall it all. We
were in Rome just in time. We left it in May and the Italians entered it
in September. Though I was not a Catholic then, and found delight in
Rome almost entirely as an artist, the power and vitality of the Church
could not but impress me there.

“_October 30th._--This has been one of the most perfectly enjoyable days
of my life. Papa and I drove to the Vatican through that bright light
air which gives one such energy. The Vatican! What a place wherein to
revel. We climbed one of the mighty staircases guarded by the
interesting Papal Guards, halberd on shoulder, until we got to the top
loggia and went into the picture gallery, I to enchant my eyes with the
grandest pictures that men have conceived. But I will not touch on them
till I go there to study. And so on from one glory to another. We turned
into St. Peter’s and there strolled a long time. Before we went in, and
as we were standing at the bottom of the Scala Regia enjoying the
clearness of the sunshine on the city, we saw the _gendarmes_, the
Zouaves and others standing at attention, and, looking back, we saw the
red, black, and yellow Swiss running with operatic effect to seize their
halberds, and Cardinal Antonelli came down to get into his carriage,
almost stumbling over me, who didn’t know he was so near. Before he got
into his great old-fashioned coach, harnessed to those heavy black
horses with the trailing scarlet traces, a picturesque incident
occurred. A girl-faced young priest tremulously accosted the Cardinal,
hat in hand, no doubt begging some favour of the great man. The Cardinal
spoke a little time to him with grand kindness, and then the priest fell
on one knee, kissed the Cardinal’s ring, and got up blushing pink all
over his beautiful young face, and passed on, gracefully and modestly,
as he had done the rest. Then off rattled the carriage, the Zouaves
presented arms, salutes were made, hats lifted, and Antonelli was gone.

“In St. Peter’s were crowds of priests in different colours, forming
masses of black, purple, and scarlet of great beauty. Two Oriental
bishops were making the round, one, a Dominican, having with him a sort
of Malay for a chaplain in turban and robe. Two others had Chinamen with
pigtails in attendance, these two emaciated prelates bearing signs of
recent torture endured in China, living martyrs out of Florentine
frescoes. Yonder comes a bearded Oriental with mild, beautiful face, and
following him a scarlet-clad German with yellow hair, projecting ears,
coarse mouth, and spectacles over his little eyes; and then a
sharp-visaged Jesuit, or a spiritual, wan Franciscan and a burly Roman
secular. No end of types. One very young Italian monk had the face of a
saint, all ready made for a fresco. I looked at him in unspeakable
admiration as he stood looking up at some inscription, probably
translating it in his own mind. On our way home, to crown all, we met
the Pope. His outrider in cocked hat and feathers came clattering along
the narrow street in advance, then a red-and-gold coach, black prancing
horses--all shadowy to me, as I was intent only on catching a view of
the Holy Father. We got out of the carriage, as in duty bound, and bent
the knee like the rest as he passed by. I saw his profile well, with
that well-known smile on his kind face. As we looked after the carriages
and horsemen the effect was touching of the people kneeling in masses
along the way. The sight of Italian men kneeling is novel to me in the
extreme.

“_October 31st._--I went first, with Mamma and Alice, to St. Peter’s,
where I studied types, attitudes and costumes. The sight of a Zouave
officer kneeling, booted and spurred, his sword by his side, and his
face shaded with his hand, is indeed striking, and one knows all those
have enrolled themselves for a sacred cause they have at heart--higher
even than for love of any particular country. The difference of types
among these Zouaves is most interesting. The Belgian and Dutch decidedly
predominate. Papa and I went thence for a fascinating stroll of many
hours, finding it hard to turn back. We went up to Sant’ Onofrio and
then round by the great Farnese Palace. The view from Sant’ Onofrio over
Rome is--well, my language is utterly annihilated here. How invigorated
I felt, and not a bit tired.”

I have never been able to call up enthusiasm over the Pantheon,
low-lying, black and pagan in every line. Why does Byron lash himself
into calling it “Pride of Rome”? For the same reason, I suppose, that he
laments and sighs over the disappearance of Dodona’s “aged grove and
oracle divine.” As if any one cares! The view of Rome from Monte Mario,
being _the_ view, should have a place here as we saw it one of those
richly-coloured days.

“_November 3rd._--My birthday, marked by the customary birthday
expedition, this time to Monte Mario. Nothing could be more splendid
than looked the Capital of the World as it lay below us when we reached
the top of that commanding height. The Campagna lay beyond it, ending in
that direction with the Sabine and Alban Mountains, the furthest all
white with snow. Buildings, cypresses, pines, formed foreground groups
to the silver city as they only can do to such perfection in these
parts. In another direction we could see the Campagna with its straight
horizon like a calm rosy-brown sea meeting the limpid sky. We drove a
long way on the high road across the Campagna Florence-wards. No high
walls as in the Florentine drives were here to shut out the views, which
unfolded themselves on all sides as we trotted on. We got out of the
carriage on the Campagna and strolled about on the brown grass, enjoying
the sweet free breeze and the great sweep of country stretching away to
the luminous horizon towards the sun, and to the lilac mountains in the
other direction. These mountains became tender pink as we went
Romewards, and when the city again appeared it was in a richly-coloured
light, the Campagna beyond in warm shadow from large chocolate-coloured
clouds which were rising heaped up into the sky. A superb effect.”

Here follow many days chiefly given up to studio hunting and “property”
seeking for my work, soon to be set up. Models there were in plenty, of
course, as Rome was then still the artists’ headquarters. How things
have changed!

I began with a _ciociara_ spinning with a distaff in the well-known and
very much used-up costume, just for practice, and another peasant girl.
Then I painted, at my dear mother’s earnest desire, “The
Magnificat”--Mary’s visit to Elizabeth--and on off days my father and I
“did” all the pictures contained in various palaces, the Vatican, and
the Villa Borghese, filling pages and pages of notes in the old Diary. I
felt the value of every day in Rome. Many people might think I ought not
to have worked so much in a studio, but I think I divided the time well.
I felt I must keep my hand in, and practise with the brush, though how
often I was tempted to join the others on some fascinating ramble may be
imagined. Soon, however, the rains of a Roman December set in, and Rome
became very wet indeed. Our father read us Roman history every evening
when there were no visitors. We had a good many, our mother and her
music and brightness soon attracting all that was nice in the English
and American colonies. Dear old Mr. Severn, he in whose arms Keats died,
often took tea with us (we kept our way of having dinner early and tea
in the evening), and there was an antiquarian who took interest in
nothing whatever except the old Roman walls, and he used to come and
hold forth about the “Agger of Servius Tullius” till my head went round.
He kept his own on, it seemed to me, by pressing his hand on the bald
top of it as he explained to us about that bit of “agger” which he had
discovered, and the herring-bone brick of which it was built. Often as I
have revisited Rome, I cannot become enthusiastic over the discovery of
some old Roman sewer, or bit of hot-water pipe, or horrible stone basin
with a hole in the bottom for draining off the blood of sacrificial
oxen. I always long to get back into the sunshine and fresh air from the
mouldy depths of Pagan Rome when I get caught in a party to whom the
antiquarian enthusiasts like to hold forth below the surface of the
earth. Alice listens, deferential and controlled, while I fidget,
supporting myself on my umbrella, with such a face! Here is a little bit
of Papal Rome impossible to-day:

“_November 29th._--In the course of our long ramble after my work Papa
and I, in the soft evening, came upon a scene which I shall not forget,
made by a young priest preaching to a little crowd in the street before
the side door of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a Rembrandtesque effect
being produced by the two lamps held by a priest at either side of the
platform on which the preacher stood. One of these held the large
crucifix to which the preacher turned at times, with gestures of rapture
such as only an Italian could use in so natural a way. To see him,
lighted from below, in his black habit and hear his impassioned voice!
All the men were bareheaded, and such as passed by took their hats off.
Penetrating as the priest’s voice was, it was now and then quite drowned
by the street noises, especially the rattling of wheels on the rough
stones.”

The days that follow are filled with my work on “The Visitation,” with
few intervals of sight-seeing. Then comes the great ecclesiastical event
to be marked in history, which brought all the world to Rome.

“_Opening of the Œcumenical Council, December 8th._--A memorable day,
this! We got up by candlelight, as at a quarter past seven we were to
drive to St. Peter’s. The dreary raining dawn was announced, just as it
broke, by the heavy cannon of Castel Sant’ Angelo, the flash of which
was reflected in the blue-grey sky long before the sound reached us, and
the cannon on the Aventine echoed those of the Castel. How dreary it
felt, yet how imposing for any one who has got into the right feeling
about this solemn event. On our way we overtook scores of priests on
foot, trying to walk clear of the puddles in those thin, buckled shoes
of theirs. It must have been trying for the old ones. There were bishops
amongst them, too poor to afford a cab. We have seen them day after day
thus going to the Vatican meetings. One great blessing the rain brought:
it kept hundreds of people from coming to the church, and thus saved
many crushings to death, for it is terrible to contemplate, seeing what
a crowd there actually was, what it might have been had the building
been crammed. Entrance and egress were both at one end of the church.
That thought must console me for the terrible toning down and darkening
of what, otherwise, would have been a great pageant. So many thousands
of wet feet brought something like a lake half way up the floor; so
slippery was it that, had the crowd swayed in a panic, it wouldn’t have
been very nice.

“Papa and I insinuated ourselves into the hedge of people kept back by
Zouaves and Palatine Guards, as we came opposite the statue of St.
Peter, and I eventually got fixed three rows back from the soldiers, and
was lucky to get in so far. I was jammed between a monk and a short
youth of the ‘horsey’ kind. The atmosphere in that warm, wet crowd was
trying. I could see into the Council Hall opposite.

[Illustration: ROMAN IMPRESSIONS IN 1870.

THE LAST OF THE RIDERLESS HORSE-RACES, AND A WET TRUDGE

TO THE VATICAN COUNCIL.]

“The passage kept clear for the great procession was very wide. On the
other side I could see rows of English and American girls and elderly
females in the best places, as usual, right to the front, as bold as
brass, and didn’t they eye the bishops over through their
_pince-nez!_ We must have been waiting two hours before the procession
entered the church. I ought to have mentioned that the sacred dark
bronze statue of St. Peter was robed in gorgeous golden vestments with a
splendid triple crown on its head, making it look like a black Pope, and
very life-like from where I saw it. It seemed very strange.

“At last there was a buzz as people perceived the slowly-moving
_silhouette_ of the procession as it passed along in a far-off gallery,
veiled from us by pink curtains, against the light and very high up,
over the entrance. We could see the prelates had all vested by the
outlines of the mitres and the high-shouldered look of the figures in
stiff copes. As the procession entered the church the ‘Veni Creator’
swelled up majestically and floated through the immense space. The
effect of the procession to me was _nil_; all I could do was to catch a
glimpse of each bishop as he passed between the bobbing heads of the men
in front of me. All the European and United States Bishops were in white
and silver, but now and then there passed Oriental Patriarchs in rich
vestments, their picturesque dark faces (two were quite brown) telling
so strikingly amongst the pale or rosy Europeans. Each had his solemn
secretary, with imperturbable Eastern face, bearing his jewelled crown,
something in shape like the dome of a mosque. One Oriental wore a jewel
on his dusky forehead, another a black cowl over his head, shading his
keen, dark face, the coarse cowl contrasting in a startling way with the
delicate splendour of the gold and pink and amber vestments worn over
the rough monk’s habit. Still, all this could not be imposing to me,
having to squint and crane as I did, seldom being able to see with both
eyes at once. I could at intervals see the silvery prelates, most of
them with snowy heads, and the dark Easterns mount into their seats in
the Council Chamber, our Archbishop Manning amongst them. I had a quite
good glimpse of Cardinal Bonaparte, very like the great Napoleon. Of the
Pope I saw nothing. He was closely surrounded, as he walked past, by the
high-helmeted Noble Guard, and, of course, at that supreme moment every
one in front of me strove to get a better sight of him. Then Papa and I
gladly struggled our way out of the great crowd and went to seek Mamma,
who, very wisely, had not attempted to get a place, but was meekly
sitting on the steps of a confessional in a quiet chapel. Mamma then
went home, and we went into the crowd again to try and see the Council
from a point opposite. We saw it pretty well, the two white banks of
mitred bishops on each side and, far back, the little red Pope in the
middle. Mass was being sung, all Gregorian, but it was faintly heard
from our great distance.

“No council business was being done to-day; it was only the Mass to open
the meeting. The crowd was most interesting. Surely every nation was
represented in it. An officer of the 42nd Highlanders had an excellent
effect. What shall I do in London, with its dead level of monotony? Oh!
dear, oh! dear. I was quite loth to go home. And so the council is
opened. God speed!”

The Ghetto was in existence in those days, so I have even experienced
the sight of _that_. Very horrible, packed with “red-haired, blear-eyed
creatures, with loose lips and long, baggy noses.” Thus I describe them
in this warren, during our drive one day. What a “_sventramento_” that
must have been when the Italians cleared away and cleaned up all that
congested horror. Wide, wind-swept spaces and a shining, though hideous,
synagogue met my astonished gaze when next I went there and couldn’t
find the Ghetto.

At the end of the year La Signorina Elizabetta Thompson had to apply to
his Eminenza Riverendissima Cardinal Berardi, Minister of Public Works,
to announce her intention of sending the “Magnificat” to the Pope’s
international exhibition. At that picture I worked hard, my mother being
my model for Our Lady, and an old _ciociara_ from the Trinità steps for
St. Elizabeth. How it rained that December! But we had radiant sunshine
in between the days when the streets were all running with red-brown
rivulets, through which the horses splashed as if fording a stream.

“_January 25th, 1870._--I finished my ‘Magnificat’ to-day. Yet ought I
to say I ceased to paint at it, for ‘finish’ suggests something far
beyond what this picture is. Well, I shall enjoy being on the loose now.
To stroll about Rome after having passed through a picture is perfect
enjoyment. I should feel very uncomfortable at the present time if I
had, up till now, done nothing but lionise. I have no hope of my picture
being accepted now, but still it is pleasant to think that I have worked
hard.

“_February 3rd._--I took my picture to the Calcografia place, as warned
to do. There, in dusty horror, it awaits the selecting committee’s
review, which takes place to-morrow. Mamma and I held it manfully in the
little open carriage to keep it from tumbling out, our arms stretched to
their utmost. Lots of men were shuffling about in that dusty place with
pictures of all sizes. But, oh! what a scene of horror was that
collection of daubs. Oh! mercy on us.

“_February 5th._--My ‘Magnificat’ is accepted. First, off goes Mamma
with Celestina to the Calcografia to learn the fate of the picture, and
bring it back triumphant, she and the maid holding it steady in the
little open carriage. Soon after, off we go to the Palazzo Poli to see
nice Mr. Severn, who says he is so proud of me, and will do all he can
to help me in art matters, to see whether he could make the exhibition
people hang my picture well, as we were told the artists had to see to
that themselves if they wanted it well done. I, for my part, would leave
it to them and rather shirk a place on the line, for my picture is
depressingly unsatisfactory to me, but Mamma, for whom I have painted
it, loves it, and wants it well placed ‘so that the Pope may see it’!
From thence off we go to the abode of the Minister of Commerce, Cardinal
B., for my pass. We were there told, to our dismay, that we could not
take the picture ourselves to the exhibition, as it was held in the
cloisters of Sta. Maria degli Angeli, and no permission had yet been
given to admit women before the opening. But I knew that between Papa
and Mr. Severn the picture would be seen to inside the cloistered walls.
After lunch, off goes Papa with my pass, we following in the little open
carriage as before, holding the old picture before us with straining
arms and knitted brows, very much jolted and bumped. We are stopped at
the cloisters, and told to drive out again, and there we pull up, our
faces turned in the opposite direction. The hood of the carriage
suddenly collapses, and we are revealed, unable to let go the picture,
with the soldiers collected about the place grinning. Papa arrives, and
he and two _facchini_ come to the rescue, and then disappear with the
picture amongst the forbidden regions enclosed in the gloomy ruins of
Diocletian’s Baths. Papa, on returning home, told me how charmed old
Severn, who was there, was with the picture, and even Podesti, the
judge, after some criticisms, and in no way ready to give it a good
place, said to Severn he had expected the signorina’s picture to be
rubbish (_porcheria_). I suppose because it was a woman’s work. He
retracted, and said he would like to see me.

“_February 14th._--I began another picture to-day, after all my
resolutions to the contrary, the subject, two Roman shepherds playing at
‘_Morra_’, sitting on a fallen pillar, a third _contadino_, in a cloak,
looking on. I posed my first model, putting a light background to him,
the effect being capital, he coming rich and dusky against it. He soon
understood I wanted energy thrown into the action. I shall delight in
this subject, because the hands figure so conspicuously in the game.

“_February 15th._--I went up alone to the Trinità to choose the other
young man for my ‘Morra,’ and, after a little inspection of the group of
lolling Romagnoli, gave the apple to one with a finely-cut profile and
black hair, the other models, male and female, clustering round to hear,
and many bystanders and the Zouave sentry, hard by, looking on.”

On one evening in this eventful Roman period I had the opportunity of
seeing the famous race of the riderless horses (the _barberi_), which
closed the Carnival doings. The impression remains with me quite vividly
to this day. The colour, the movement; the fast-deepening twilight; the
historic associations of that vast Piazza del Popolo, where I see the
great obelisk retaining, on its upper part, the last flush from the
west; the impetuous waters of the fountains at its base in cool shadow;
St. Peter’s dome away to the left--this is the setting. Then I hear the
clatter of the dragoon’s horses as the detachment forms up for clearing
the course. The stands, at the foot of the obelisk, are full, some of
the crowd in carnival costume and with masks. A sharp word of command
rings out in the chilly air. Away go the dragoons, down the narrow Corso
and back, at full gallop, splitting the surging crowd with theatrical
effect. The line is clear. Now comes the moment of expectancy! At that
unique starting post, the obelisk upon which Moses in Egypt may have
looked as upon an interesting monument of antiquity in pre-Exodus days,
there appear eleven highly-nervous barbs, tricked out with plumes and
painted with white spots and stripes. The convicts who lead them in
(each man, one may say, carrying his life in his hand) are trying, with
iron grip, to keep their horses quiet, for the spiked balls and other
irritants are now unfastened and dangling loose from the horses’ backs.
But one terrified beast comes on “kicking against the pricks” already.
The whole pack become wild. The more they plunge, the more the balls
bang and prick. One furious creature, wrenching itself free, whirls
round in the wrong direction. But there is no time to lose; the
restraining rope must be cut. A gun booms; there is a shout and clapping
of hands. Ten of the horses, with heads down, get off in a bunch,
shooting straight as arrows for the Corso; the eleventh slips on the
cobbles, rolls over and, recovering itself, tears after its pals,
straining every nerve. I hear a voice shout “_E capace di vincere!_”
(“He is fit to win!”) and in an instant the lot are engulfed in that
dark, narrow street, the squibs on their backs going off like pistol
shots, and the crackling bits of metallic tinsel, getting detached, fly
back in a shower of light. The sparks from the iron heels splash out in
red fire through the dusk. The course is just one mile--the whole length
of the straight street. At the winning post a great sheet is stretched
across the way, through which some of the horses burst, to be captured
some days afterwards while roaming about the open spaces of the
Campagna. It is the dense crowd, forming two walls along the course,
that forces the horses to keep the centre. This was the last of the
_barberi_. They were more frightened than hurt, yet I am not sorry that
these races have been abolished.

Here follow records of expeditions in weather of spring freshness--to
catacombs, along the Via Appia, to the wild Campagna, and all the
delights of that Roman time when the lark inspires the poet. I got on
well with my “Morra” picture, which wasn’t bad, and which has a niche in
my art career, because it turned out to be the first picture I sold,
which joyful event happened in London.

“_March 25th_.--A brilliant day, full of colour. This is a great feast,
the Annunciation, and I gave up work to see the Pope come in grand
procession to the Church of the Minerva with his Cross Bearer on a white
mule, and all the cardinals, bishops, ambassadors and officials in
carriages of antique magnificence, a spectacle of great pomp, and
nowhere else to be seen. We did it in this wise. At nine we drove to the
Minerva, the sun very brilliant and the air very cold, and soon posted
ourselves on the steps of the church in the midst of a tight crowd, I
quite helpless in a knot of French soldiers of the Legion, who chaffed
each other good-humouredly over my head. The piazza, in the midst of
which rises the funny little obelisk on the elephant’s back, swarmed
with people, black being quite the exception in that motley crowd.
Zouaves and the Legion formed a square to keep the piazza open, and
dragoons pranced officiously about, as is their wont. Every balcony was
thronged with gay ladies and full-dressed officers (some most gallant
and smart Austrians were at a window near us), and crimson cloth and
brocade flapped from every window, here in powerful sunshine, there in
effective shadow. Some dark, Florentine-coloured houses opposite, mostly
in shade, as they were between us and the sun, had a strong effect
against the bright sky, their crimson cloths and gaily dressed ladies
relieving their dark masses, and their beautiful roofs and chimneys
making a lovely sky line.

“Presently the gilt and painted coaches of the cardinals began to
arrive, huge, high-swung vehicles drawn by very fat black horses dressed
out with gold and crimson trappings, but the servants and coachmen, in
spite of their extra full get-up, having that inimitable shabby-genteel
appearance which belongs exclusively to them. The Prior of the
Dominicans, to which order this church belongs, stood outside the
archway through which the Pope and all went into the church after
alighting from their coaches. He was there to welcome them, and, oh! the
number of bows he must have made, and his mouth must have ached again
with all those wide smiles. Near him also stood the Noble Guards and all
the general officers, plastered over with orders; and all these, too,
saluted and salaamed as each ecclesiastical bigwig grandly and
courteously swept by under the archway, glowing in his scarlet and
shining in his purple. The carriages pulled up at the spot of all others
best suited to us. Everything was filled with light, the cardinals
glowing like rubies inside their coaches, even their faces all aglow
with the red reflections thrown up from their ardent robes. But there
presently came a sight which I could hardly stand; it was eloquent of
the olden time and filled the mind with a strange feeling of awe and
solemnity, as though long ages had rolled back and by a miracle the dead
time had been revived and shown to us for a brief and precious moment.
On a sleek white mule came a prelate, all in pure lilac, his grey head
bare to the sunshine and carrying in his right hand the gold and
jewelled Cross. The trappings of the mule were black and gold, a large
black, square cloth thrown over its back in the mediæval fashion. The
Cross, which was large and must have weighed considerably, was very
conspicuous. The beauty of the colour of mule and rider, the black and
gold housings of that white beast, the lilac of the rider’s robes, and
the tender glory of the embossed Cross--how these things enchant me! An
attendant took the Cross as the priest dismounted. Then a flourish of
modern Zouave bugles and a sharp roll of the drum intruded the forgotten
present day on our notice, and soon on came the gallant _gendarmerie_
and dragoons, and then the coach of His Holiness, seeming to bubble over
with molten gold in the sunshine. Its six black horses ambled fatly
along, all but the wheelers trailing their long, red traces almost on
the ground, as seems to be the ecclesiastical fashion in harness (only
the wheelers really pull), and guided by bedizened postillions in wigs
decidedly like those worn by English Q.C.’s. Flowers were showered down
on this coach from the windows, and much cheering rang in the fresh,
clear air. I see now in my mind’s eye the out-thrust chins and long,
bare necks of a clump of enthusiastic Zouaves shouting with all their
hearts under the Pope’s carriage windows in divers tongues. But the
English ‘Long live the Pope King,’ though given with a will, did not
travel as far as the open ‘_Viva il Papa Rè_’ or ‘_Vive le Pape Roi_.’ I
put in my British ‘Hurrah!’ as did Papa, splendidly, just as three old
and very fat cardinals had painfully got down from His Holiness’s high
coach and he himself had begun to emerge. We could see him quite well in
the coach, because the sides were more glass than gilding, and very
assiduously did the kind-looking old man bless the people right and left
as he drove up. He had on his head, not the skull cap I have hitherto
seen him in, which allows his silver locks to be seen, but the
old-lady-like headgear so familiar to me from pictures, notably several
portraits of Leo X. at Florence, which covers the ears and is bound with
ermine. It makes the lower part of the face look very large, and is not
becoming. After getting down he stood a long time receiving homage from
many grandees, and smiled and beamed with kindness on everybody. Then we
all bundled into the church, but as every one there was standing on,
instead of sitting on, the chairs, we could see nothing of the
ceremonies. We struggled out, after listening a little to the singing,
and Papa and I strolled delightedly to St. Peter’s, on whose great
piazza we awaited the return of the procession. It was very beautiful,
winding along towards us, with my white mule and all, over that vast
space.”

Remember, Reader, that these things can never more be seen, and that is
why I give these extracts _in extenso_. Merely as history they are
precious. How we would like to have some word pictures of Rome in the
seventeenth, sixteenth and fifteenth centuries, but we don’t get them.
The chronicles tell us of magnificence, numbers, illustrious people,
dress, and so forth; but, somehow, we would like something more intimate
and descriptive of local colour--effects of weather, etc.--to help us to
realise life as it was in the olden time. I think in this age of
ugliness we prize the picturesque and the artistic all the more for
their rarer charm.

After “Morra” I did a life-size oil study of the head of the celebrated
model, Francesco, which was a great advance in freedom of brush work.
But the walks were not abandoned, and many a delightful round we made
with our father, who was very happy in Rome. The Colosseum was rich in
flowers and trees, which clothed with colour its hideous stages of
seats. The same abundant foliage beautified the brickwork of Caracalla’s
Baths, but those beautiful veils were, unfortunately, slowly helping
further to demolish the ruins, and had to be all cleared away later on.
I have several times managed to wander over those eerie ruins in later
years by full moon, but I have never again enjoyed the awe-inspiring
sensation produced by the first visit, when those trees waved and
sighed, and the owls hooted, as in Byron’s time. And then the loneliness
of the Colosseum was more impressive, and helped one to detach oneself
in thought from the present day more easily. Now the town is creeping
out that way.

“_April 3rd._--Our goal was Santa Croce to-day, beyond the Lateran, for
there the Pope was to come to bless the ‘Agnus Dei.’ This ceremony
takes place only once in seven years. Everything was _en petite tenue_,
the quietest carriages, the seediest servants, but oh! how glorious it
all was in that fervent sunlight. We stood outside the church, I greatly
enjoying the amusing crowd, full of such varied types. The effect of the
Pope’s two carriages and the horsemen coming trotting along the
straight, long road from St. John’s to this church, the luminous dust
rising in clouds in the wind, was very pretty. The shouting and cheering
and waving of handkerchiefs were quite frantic, more hearty even than at
the Minerva. People seemed to feel more easy and jolly here, with no
grandeur to awe them. His Holiness looked much more spry than when I
last saw him. We lost poor little Mamma and, in despair, returned
without her, and she didn’t turn up till 7 o’clock!”

The Roman Diary of 1870 must end with the last Easter Benediction given
under the temporal power, _Urbi et Orbi_.

“_Easter Sunday, April 17th_.--What a day, brimming over with rich
eye-feasts, with pomp and splendour! What can the eye see nowadays to
come anywhere near what I saw to-day, except on this anniversary here in
unique Rome? Of course, all the world knows that the splendour of this
great ceremony outshines that of any other here or in the whole world.
Mamma and I reserved ourselves for the benediction alone, so did not
start for St. Peter’s till ten o’clock, and got there long before the
troops. On getting out of the carriage we strolled leisurely to the
steps leading up to the church, where we took up our stand, enjoying the
delicious sunshine and fresh, clear air, and also the interesting people
that were gradually filling the piazza, amongst whom were pilgrims with
long staves, many being Neapolitans, the women in new costumes of the
brightest dyes and with snowy _tovaglie_ artistically folded. Some of
these women carried the family luggage on their heads, this luggage
being great bundles wrapped in rugs of red, black, and yellow stripes,
some with the big coloured umbrella passed through and cleverly
balanced. All these people had trudged on foot all the way. Their shoes
hung at their waists, and also their water flasks. As the troops came
pouring in we were requested by the sappers to range ourselves and not
to encroach beyond the bottom step. Here was a position to see from! We
watched the different corps forming to the stirring bugle and trumpet
sounds, the officers mounting their horses, all splendid in velvet
housings, the officers in the fullest of full dress. There was no
pushing in the crowd, and we were as comfortable as possible. But there
was a scene to our left, up on the terrace that runs along the upper
part of the piazza and is part of the Vatican, which was worth to me all
the rest; it was, pictorially, the most beautiful sight of all. Along
this terrace, the balustrade of which was hung with mellow old faded
tapestry, and bears those dark-toned, effective statues standing out so
well against the blue sky, were collected in a long line, I should say,
nearly all the bishops who are gathered here in Rome for the Council, in
their white and silver vestments, and wearing their snowy mitres, a few
dark-dressed ladies in veils and an officer in bright colour here and
there supporting most artistically those long masses of white. Above the
heads of this assembly stretched the long white awning, through which
the strong sun sent a glowing shade, and above that the clear sky, with
the Papal white and yellow flags and standards in great quantities
fluttering in the breeze! My delighted eyes kept wandering up to that
terrace away from the coarser military picturesqueness in front. Up
there was a real bit of the olden time. There was a feeling as of lilies
about those white-robed pontiffs. At last a sign from a little balcony
high up on the façade was given, and all the troops sprang to attention,
and then the gentle-faced old Pope glided into view there, borne on his
chair and wearing the triple crown. Clang go the rifles and sabres in a
general salute, and a few ‘_evvivas_’ burst from the crowd, which are
immediately suppressed by a general ‘sh-sh-sh,’ and amidst a most
imposing silence, the silence of a great multitude, the Pope begins to
read from a crimson book held before him with the voice of a strong
young man. Curiously enough, in this stillness all the horses began to
neigh, but their voices could not drown the single one of Pio Nono.
After the reading the Pope rose, and down went, on their knees, the mass
of people and soldiers, ‘like one man,’ and the old Pope pressed his
hands together a moment and then flung open his arms upwards with an
action full of electrifying fervour as he pronounced the grand words of
the blessing which rang out, it seemed, to the ends of the Earth.

“In the evening we saw the famous illumination of the dome of St.
Peter’s from the Pincian. The wind rather spoiled the first or silver
one, but the next, the golden, was a grand sight, beginning with the
cross at the top and running down in streams over the dome. As I looked,
I heard a funny bit of Latin from an English tourist, who asked a priest
‘_Quis est illuminatio, olio o gas?_’ ‘_Olio, olio_,’ answered the
priest good-naturedly.”

And so our Papal Rome on May 2nd, 1870, retreated into my very
appreciative memory, and we returned for a few days to Florence, and
thence to Padua and Venice and Verona on our way to England through the
Tyrol and Bavaria. What a downward slope in art it is from Italy into
Germany! We girls felt a great irritation at the change, and were too
recalcitrant to attend to the German sights properly.

But I filled the Diary with very searching notes of the wonderful things
I saw in Venice, thanks to Veronese, Titian, Tintoretto, Palma Vecchio
and others, who filled me with all that an artist can desire in the way
of colour. I was anxious to improve my weak point, and here was a
lesson!

It is curious, however, to watch through the succeeding years how I was
gradually inducted by circumstances into that line of painting which is
so far removed from what inspired me just then. It was the Franco-German
War and a return to the Isle of Wight that sent me back on the military
road with ever diminishing digressions. Well, perhaps my father’s fear,
which I have already mentioned in my early ‘teens, that I was joining in
a “tremendous ruck” in taking the field would have been justified had I
not taken up a line of painting almost non-exploited by English artists.
The statement of a French art critic when writing of one of my war
pictures, “_L’Angleterre n’a guère qu’un peintre militaire, c’est une
femme_,” shows the position. I wish I could have another life here below
to share the joys of those who paint what I studied in Italy, if only
for the love of such work, though I am very certain I should be quite
indistinguishable in _that_ “ruck.”



CHAPTER VII

WAR. BATTLE PAINTINGS


Padua I greatly enjoyed--its academic quiet, its Shakespearean
atmosphere; and still more did Shakespearean Verona enchant me. I had a
good study of the modern French school at the Paris Salon, and on
getting back to London rejoined the South Kensington schools till the
end of the summer session. Then a studio and practice from the living
model. In July we were all absorbed in the great Franco-German War,
declared in the middle of that month. It seems so absurd to us to-day
that we should have been pro-German in England. This little entry in the
Diary shows how Bismarck’s dishonest manœuvres had hoodwinked the
world. “France _will_ fight, so Prussia _must_, and all for nothing but
jealousy--a pretty spectacle!” We all believed it was France that was
the guilty party. I call to mind how some one came running upstairs to
find me and, subsiding on the top step with _The Times_ in her hand,
announced the surrender of MacMahon’s army and the Emperor. I wrote “the
Germans are pro-di-gious!” and I have lived to see them prostrate. Such
is history.

I was asked, as the war developed, if I had been inspired by it, and
this caused me to turn my attention pictorially that way. Once I began
on that line I went at a gallop, in water-colour at first, and many a
subject did I send to the “Dudley Gallery” and to Manchester, all the
drawings selling quickly, but I never relaxed that serious practice in
oil painting which was my solid foundation. I sent the poor “Magnificat”
to the Royal Academy in the spring of 1871. It was rejected, and
returned to me with a large hole in it.

That summer, which we spent at well-loved Henley-on-Thames, was marred
by the awful doings of the Commune in Paris. _The Times_ had a
stereotyped heading for a long time: “The Destruction of Paris.” What
horrible suspense there was while we feared the destruction of the
Louvre and Notre Dame. I see in the Diary: “_May 28th, 1871_.--Oh! that
to-morrow’s papers may bring a decided contradiction of the oft-repeated
report that the great Louvre pictures are lost and that Notre Dame no
longer stands intact. As yet all is confusion and dismay, and one
clings, therefore, to the hope that little by little we may hear that
some fragments, at least, may be spared to bereaved humanity and that
all that beauty is not annihilated.”

In August, 1871, we were off again. From London back to Ventnor! There I
kept my hand in by painting in oils life-sized portraits of friends and
relations and some Italian ecclesiastical subjects, such as young
Franciscan monks, disciples of him who loved the birds, feeding their
doves in a cloister; an old friar teaching schoolboys, _al fresco_,
outside a church, as I had seen one doing in Rome. For this friar I
commandeered our landlord as a model, for he had just the white beard
and portly figure I required. Yet he was one of the most _furibond_
dissenters I ever met--a Congregationalist--but very obliging. Also a
candlelight effect in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, in Rome; a
large altar-piece for our little Church of St. Wilfrid, and so on, a
mixture of the ecclesiastical and the military. The dances, theatricals,
croquet parties, rides--all the old ways were linked up again at
Ventnor, and I have a very bright memory of our second dwelling there
and reunion with our old friends. In the spring of 1872 I sent one of
the many Roman subjects I was painting to the Academy, a water-colour of
a Papal Zouave saluting two bishops in a Roman street. It was rejected,
but this time without a hole. This year was full of promise, and I very
nearly reached the top of my long hill climb, for in it I began what
proved to be my first Academy picture.

What proved of great importance to me, this year of 1872, was my
introduction, if I may put it so, to the British Army! I then saw the
British soldier as I never had had the opportunity of seeing him before.
My father took me to see something of the autumn manœuvres near
Southampton. Subjects for water-colour drawings appeared in abundance to
my delighted observation. One of the generals who was to be an umpire at
these manœuvres, Sir F. C., had become greatly interested in me, as a
mutual friend had described my battle scenes to him, and said he would
speak about me to Sir Charles Staveley, one of the commanders in the
impending “war,” so that I might have facilities for seeing the
interesting movements. He hoped that, if I saw the manœuvres, I would
“give the British soldiers a turn,” which I did with alacrity. I sent
some of the sketches to Manchester and to my old friend the “Dudley.”
One of them, “Soldiers Watering Horses,” found a purchaser in a Mr.
Galloway, of Manchester, who asked through an agent if I would paint him
an oil picture. I said “Yes,” and in time painted him “The Roll Call.”
Meanwhile, in the spring of 1873, I sent my first really large war
picture in oils to the Academy. It was accepted, but “skyed,” well
noticed in the Press and, to my great delight, sold. The subject was, of
course, from the war which was still uppermost in our thoughts: a
wounded French colonel (for whom my father sat), riding a spent horse,
and a young subaltern of Cuirassiers, walking alongside (studied from a
young Irish officer friend), “missing” after one of the French defeats,
making their way over a forlorn landscape. The Cameron Highlanders were
quartered at Parkhurst, near Ventnor, about this time, and I was able to
make a good many sketches of these splendid troops, so essentially
pictorial. I have ever since then liked to make Highlanders subjects for
my brush.

In this same year of 1873 my sister and I, now both belonging to the old
faith, whither our mother had preceded us, joined the first pilgrimage
to leave the shores of England since the Reformation. I had arranged
with the _Graphic_ to make pen-and-ink sketches of the pilgrimage, which
was arousing an extraordinary amount of public interest. Our goal was
the primitive little town of Paray-le-Monial, deep in the heart of
France, where Margaret Mary Alacoque received our Lord’s message. I
cannot convey to my readers who are not “of us” the fresh and exultant
impressions we received on that visit. There was a mixture of religious
and national patriotism in our minds which produced feelings of the
purest happiness. The steamer that took us English pilgrims from
Newhaven to Dieppe on September 2nd flew the standard of the Sacred
Heart at the main and the Union Jack at the peak, seeming thus to
symbolise the whole character of the enterprise. Those _Graphic_
sketches proved a very great burden to me. Nowadays one of the pilgrims
would have done all by “snapshots.” I tried to sketch as I walked in the
processions at Paray and to sing the hymn at the same time. There was
hardly a moment’s rest for us, except for a few intervals of sleep. The
long ceremonies and prescribed devotions, the processions, the stirring
hymns and the journey there and back, all crowded into a week from start
to finish, called for all one’s strength. But how joyfully given!

I can never forget the hearty, well-mannered welcome the French gave us,
lay and clerical. The place itself was lovely and the weather kind. It
is good to have had such an experience as this in our weary world. The
Bishop of Salford, the future Cardinal Vaughan, led us, and our clergy
mustered in great force. The dear French people never showed so well as
during their welcome of us. It suited their courteous and hospitable
natures. Most of our hosts were peasants and owners of little
picturesque shops in this jewel of a little town. We two were billeted
at a shoemaker’s. The urbanity of the French clergy in receiving our own
may be imagined. I love to think back on the truly beautiful sights and
sounds of Paray, with the dominant note of the church bells vibrating
over all. They gave us a graceful send-off, pleased to have the
assurance of our approval of our reception. Many compliments on our
_solide piété_, with regrets as to their own “_légèreté_,” and so forth.
“_Vive l’Angleterre!_” “_Vive la France!_” “_Adieu!_”



CHAPTER VIII

“THE ROLL CALL”


I had quite a large number of commissions for military water-colours to
get through on my return home, and an oil of French artillery on the
march to paint, in my little glass studio under St. Boniface Down. But
after my not inconsiderable success with “Missing” at the Academy, I
became more and more convinced that a London studio _must_ be my destiny
for the coming winter. Of course, my father demurred. He couldn’t bear
to part with me. Still, it must be done, and to London I went, with his
sad consent. I had long been turning “The Roll Call” in my mind. My
father shook his head; the Crimea was “forgotten.” My mother rather
shivered at the idea of the snow. It was no use; they saw I was bent on
that subject. My dear mother and our devoted family doctor in London
(Dr. Pollard[4]), who would do anything in his power to help me, between
them got me the studio, No. 76, Fulham Road, where I painted the picture
which brought me such utterly unexpected celebrity.

Mr. Burchett, still headmaster at South Kensington, was delighted to see
me with all the necessary facilities for carrying out my work, and he
sent me the best models in London, nearly all ex-soldiers. One in
particular, who had been in the Crimea, was invaluable. He stood for
the sergeant who calls the roll. I engaged my models for five hours each
day, but often asked them to give me an extra half-hour. Towards the
end, as always happens, I had to put on pressure, and had them for six
hours. My preliminary expeditions for the old uniforms of the Crimean
epoch were directed by my kind Dr. Pollard, who rooted about Chelsea
back streets to find what I required among the Jews. One, Mr. Abrahams,
found me a good customer. I say in my Diary:

“Dr. Pollard and I had a delightful time at Mr. Abrahams’ dingy little
pawnshop in a hideous Chelsea slum, and, indeed, I enjoyed it _far_ more
than I should have enjoyed the same length of time at a West End
milliner’s. I got nearly all the old accoutrements I had so much longed
for, and in the evening my Jew turned up at Dr. Pollard’s after a long
tramp in the city for more accoutrements, helmets, coatees, haversacks,
etc., and I sallied forth with the ‘Ole Clo!’ in the rain to my boarding
house under our mutual umbrella, and he under his great bag as well. We
chatted about the trade ‘_chemin faisant_.’”

[Illustration: CRIMEAN IDEAS.]

I called Saturday, December 13th, 1873, a “red-letter day,” for I then
began my picture at the London studio. Having made a little water-colour
sketch previously, very carefully, of every attitude of the figures, I
had none of those alterations to make in the course of my work which
waste so much time. Each figure was drawn in first without the great
coat, my models posing in a tight “shell jacket,” so as to get the
figure well drawn first. How easily then could the thick, less shapely
great coat be painted on the well-secured foundation. No matter how its
heavy folds, the cross-belts, haversacks, water-bottles, and
everything else broke the lines, they were there, safe and sound,
underneath. An artist remarked, “What an absurdly easy picture!” Yes, no
doubt it was, but it was all the more so owing to the care taken at the
beginning. This may be useful to young painters, though, really, it
seems to me just now that sound drawing is at a discount. It will come
by its own again. Some people might say I was too anxious to be correct
in minor military details, but I feared making the least mistake in
these technical matters, and gave myself some unnecessary trouble. For
instance, on one of my last days at the picture I became anxious as to
the correct letters that should appear stamped on the Guards’
haversacks. I sought professional advice. Dr. Pollard sent me the beery
old Crimean pensioner who used to stand at the Museum gate wearing a
gold-laced hat, to answer my urgent inquiry as to this matter. Up comes
the puffing old gentleman, redolent of rum. I, full of expectation, ask
him the question: “What should the letters be?” “B. O.!” he roars
out--“Board of Ordnance!” Then, after a congested stare, he calls out,
correcting himself, “W. D.--War Deportment!” “Oh!” I say, faintly, “War
Department; thank you.” Then he mixes up the two together and roars, “W.
O.!” And that was all I got. He mopped his rubicund face and, to my
relief, stumped away down my stairs. Another Crimean hero came to tell
me whether I was right in having put a grenade on the pouches. “Well,
miss, the natural _hinference_ would be that it _was_ a grenade, but it
was something like my ‘and.” Desperation! I got the thing “like his
hand” just in time to put it in before “The Roll Call” left--a brass
badge lent me by the War Office--and obliterated the much more
effective grenade.

On March 29th and 30th, 1874, came my first “Studio Sunday” and Monday,
and on the Tuesday the poor old “Roll Call” was sent in. I watched the
men take it down my narrow stairs and said “_Au revoir_,” for I was
disappointed with it, and apprehensive of its rejection and speedy
return. So it always is with artists. We never feel we have fulfilled
our hopes.

The two show days were very tiring. Somehow the studio, after church
time on the Sunday, was crowded. Good Dr. Pollard hired a “Buttons” for
me, to open the door, and busied himself with the people, and enjoyed
it. So did I, though so tired. It was “the thing” in those days to make
the round of the studios on the eve of “sending-in day.”

Mr. Galloway’s agent came, and, to my intense relief, told me the
picture went far beyond his expectations. He had been nervous about it,
as it was through him the owner had bought it, without ever seeing it.
On receiving the agent’s report, Mr. Galloway sent me a cheque at
once--£126--being more than the hundred agreed to. The copyright was
mine.

The days that followed felt quite strange. Not a dab with a brush, and
my time my own. It was the end of Lent, and then Easter brought such
church ceremonial as our poor little Ventnor St. Wilfrid’s could not
aspire to. A little more Diary:

“_Saturday, April 11th._--A charming morning, for Dr. Pollard had a fine
piece of news to tell me. First, Elmore, R.A., had burst out to him
yesterday about my picture at the Academy, saying that all the
Academicians are in quite a commotion about it, and Elmore wants to
make my acquaintance very much. He told Dr. P. I might get £500 for ‘The
Roll Call’! I little expected to have such early and gratifying news of
the picture which I sent in with such forebodings. After Dr. P. had
delivered this broadside of Elmore’s compliments he brought the
following battery of heavy guns to bear upon me which compelled me to
sink into a chair. It is a note from Herbert, R.A., in answer to a few
lines which kind Father Bagshawe had volunteered to write to him, as a
friend, to ask him, as one of the Selecting Committee, just simply to
let me know, as soon as convenient, whether my picture was accepted or
rejected. The note is as follows:

     ‘DEAR MISS THOMPSON,--I have just received a note from Father
     Bagshawe of the Oratory in which he wished me to address a few
     lines to you on the subject of your picture in the R.A. To tell the
     truth I desired to do so a day or two since but did not for two
     reasons: the first being that as a custom the doings of the R.A.
     are for a time kept secret; the second that I felt I was a stranger
     to you and you would hear what I wished to say from some
     friend--but Father Bagshawe’s note, and the decision being over, I
     may tell you with what pleasure I greeted the picture and the
     painter of it when it came before us for judgment. It was simply
     this: I was so struck by the excellent work in it that I proposed
     we should lift our hats and give it and you, though, as I thought,
     unknown to me, a round of huzzahs, which was generally done. You
     now know my feeling with regard to your work, and may be sure that
     I shall do everything as one of the hangers that it shall be
     _perfectly seen_ on our walls.

     I am tired and hurried, and ask you to excuse this very hasty note,
     but _accept my hearty congratulations_, and

     Believe me to be, dear Miss Thompson,

     Most faithfully yours,

     J. R. HERBERT.’

I trotted off at once to show Father Bagshawe the note, and then left
for home with my brilliant news.”

While at home at Ventnor I received from many sources most extraordinary
rumours of the stir the picture was making in London amongst those who
were behind the scenes. How it was “the talk of the clubs” and spoken of
as the “coming picture of the year,” “the hit of the season,” and all
that kind of thing. Friends wrote to me to give me this pleasant news
from different quarters. Ventnor society rejoiced most kindly. I went to
London to what I call in the Diary “the scene of my possible triumphs,”
having taken rooms at a boarding house. I had better let the Diary
speak:

“_‘Varnishing Day,’ Tuesday, April 28th._--My real feelings as, laden
like last year, with palette, brushes and paint box, I ascended the
great staircase, all alone, though meeting and being overtaken by
hurrying men similarly equipped to myself, were not happy ones. Before
reaching the top stairs I sighed to myself, ‘After all your working
extra hours through the winter, what has it been for? That you may have
a cause of mortification in having an unsatisfactory picture on the
Academy walls for people to stare at.’ I tried to feel indifferent, but
had not to make the effort for long, for I soon espied my dark battalion
in Room _II. on the line_, with a knot of artists before it. Then began
my ovation (!) (which, meaning a second-class triumph, is _not_ quite
the word). I never expected anything so perfectly satisfactory and so
like the realisation of a castle in the air as the events of this day.
It would be impossible to say all that was said to me by the swells.
Millais, R.A., talked and talked, so did Calderon, R.A., and Val
Prinsep, asking me questions as to where I studied, and praising this
figure and that. Herbert, R.A., hung about me all day, and introduced
me to his two sons. Du Maurier told me how highly Tom Taylor had spoken
to him of the picture. Mr. S., our Roman friend, cleaned the picture for
me beautifully, insisting on doing so lest I should spoil my new
velveteen frock. At lunchtime I returned to the boarding house to fetch
a sketch of a better Russian helmet I had done at Ventnor, to replace
the bad one I had been obliged to put in the foreground from a Prussian
one for want of a better. I sent a gleeful telegram home to say the
picture was on the line. I could hardly do the little helmet alterations
necessary, so crowded was I by congratulating and questioning artists
and starers. I by no means disliked it all. Delightful is it to be an
object of interest to so many people. I am sure I cannot have looked
very glum that day. In the most distant rooms people steered towards me
to felicitate me most cordially. ‘Only send as _good_ a picture next
year’ was Millais’ answer to my expressed hope that next year I should
do better. This was after overhearing Mr. C. tell me I might be elected
A.R.A. if I kept up to the mark next year. O’Neil, R.A., seemed rather
to deprecate all the applause I had to-day and, shaking his head, warned
me of the dangers of sudden popularity. I know all about _that_, I
think.

“_Thursday, April 30th._--The Royalties’ private view. The Prince of
Wales wants ‘The Roll Call.’ It is not mine to let him have, and
Galloway won’t give it up.

“_Friday, May 1st._--The to-me-glorious private view of 1874. I insert
here my letter to Papa about it:

     ‘DEAREST ----, I feel as though I were undertaking a really
     difficult work in attempting to describe to you the events of this
     most memorable day. I don’t suppose I ever can have another such
     day, because, however great my future successes may be, they can
     never partake of the character of this one. It is my first great
     success. As Tom Taylor told me to-day, I have suddenly burst into
     fame, and this _first time_ can never come again. It has a
     character peculiar to all _first things_ and to them alone. You
     know that “the _élite_ of London society” goes to the Private View.
     Well, the greater part of the _élite_ have been presented to me
     this day, all with the same hearty words of congratulation on their
     lips and the same warm shake of the hand ready to follow the
     introductory bow. I was not at all disconcerted by all these
     bigwigs. The Duke of Westminster invited me to come and see the
     pictures at Grosvenor House, and the old Duchess of Beaufort was so
     delighted with “The Roll Call” that she asked me to tell her the
     history of each soldier, which I did, the knot of people which, by
     the bye, is always before the picture swelling into a little crowd
     to see me and, if possible, catch what I was saying. Galloway’s
     tall figure was almost a fixture near the painting. That poor man,
     he was sadly distracted about this Prince of Wales affair, but the
     last I heard from him was that he _couldn’t_ part with it.

     Some one at the Academy offered him £1,000 for it, and T. Agnew
     told him he would give him anything he asked, but he refused those
     offers without a moment’s hesitation. He has telegraphed to his
     wife at Manchester, as he says women can decide so much better than
     men on the spur of the moment. The Prince gives him till the dinner
     to-morrow to make up his mind. The Duchess of Beaufort introduced
     Lord Raglan’s daughters to me, who were pleased with the interest I
     took in their father. Old Kinglake was also introduced, and we had
     a comparatively long talk in that huge assembly where you are
     perpetually interrupted in your conversation by fresh arrivals of
     friends or new introductions. Do you remember joking with me, when
     I was a child, about the exaggerations of popularity? How strange
     it felt to-day to be realizing, in actual experience, what you
     warned me of, in fun, when looking at my drawings. You need not be
     afraid that I shall forget. What I _do_ feel is great pleasure at
     having “arrived,” at last. The great banker Bunbury has invited me
     and a friend to the ball at the Goldsmiths’ Hall on Wednesday
     night. He is one of the wardens. Oh! if you could only come up in
     time to take me. Col. Lloyd Lindsay, of Alma fame, and his wife
     were wild to have “The Roll Call.” She shyly told me she had cried
     before the picture. But, for enthusiasm, William Agnew beat them
     all. He came up to be introduced, and spoke in such expressions of
     admiration that his voice positively shook, and he said that,
     having missed purchasing this work, he would feel “proud and happy”
     if I would paint him one, the time, subject and price, whatever it
     might be, being left entirely to me. Sir Richard Airey, the man who
     wrote the fatally misconstrued order on his holster and handed it
     to Nolan on the 25th October, 1854, was very cordial, and showed
     that he took a keen pleasure in the picture. I told him I valued a
     Crimean man’s praise more than anybody else’s, and I repeated the
     observation later to old Sir William Codrington under similar
     circumstances, and to other Crimean officers. One of them, whose
     father was killed at the assault on the Redan, pressed me very hard
     to consent to paint him two Crimean subjects, but I cannot promise
     anything more till I have worked out my already too numerous
     commissions, old ones, at the horrible old prices.

     Sir Henry Thompson, a great surgeon, I understand, was very polite,
     and introduced his little daughter who paints. Lady Salisbury had a
     long chat with me and showed a great intelligence on art matters.
     Many others were introduced, or I to them, but most of them exist
     as ghosts in my memory. I have forgotten some of their names and,
     as some only wrote their addresses on my catalogue, I don’t know
     who is who. The others gave me their cards, so that is all right.
     Horsley, R.A., is such a genial, hearty sort of man. He says he
     shouldn’t wonder if my name was mentioned in the Royal speeches at
     the dinner. Lady Somebody introduced me to Miss Florence
     Nightingale’s sister, who wanted to know if there was any
     possibility of my “most kindly” letting the picture be taken, at
     the close of the exhibition, to her poor sister to see. Miss
     Nightingale, you know, is now bedridden. Now I must stop. More
     to-morrow....’

I remember how on the following Sunday my good friend Dr. Pollard, who
lived close to my boarding house, waylaid me on my way to mass at the
Oratory, and from his front garden called me in stentorian tones, waving
the _Observer_ over his head. On crossing over I learnt of the speeches
of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge at the Academy banquet
the evening before, in which most surprising words were uttered about me
and the picture.

“_Monday, May 4th_.--The opening day of the Royal Academy. A dense crowd
before my grenadiers. I fear that fully half of that crowd have been
sent there by the royal speeches on Saturday. I may say that I awoke
this morning and found myself famous. Great fun at the Academy, where
were some of my dear fellow students rejoicing in the fulfilment of
their prophecies in the old days. Overwhelmed with congratulations on
all sides; and as to the papers, it is impossible to copy their
magnificent critiques, from _The Times_ downwards.

“_Wednesday, May 6th_.--The Queen had my picture abstracted from the
R.A. last night to gaze at, at Buckingham Palace! It is now, of course,
in its place again. Went with Papa to the brilliant Goldsmiths’ Ball,
where I danced. I was a bit of a lion there, or shall I say lioness? Sir
William Ferguson was introduced to me; and he, in his turn, introduced
his daughter and drank to my further success at the supper. Sir F.
Chapman also was presented, and expressed his astonishment at the
accuracy of the military details in my picture. He is a Crimean man. The
King of the Goldsmiths was brought up to me to express his thanks at my
‘honouring’ their ball with my presence. The engravers are already at me
to buy the copyright, but my dear counsellor and friend, Seymour Haden,
says I am to accept nothing short of £1,000, and get still more if I
can!

“_May 10th_.--The Dowager Lady Westmoreland, who is about 80, and who
has lost pleasure in seeing new faces, when she heard of my Crimean
picture, expressed a great wish to see me, and to-day I went to dine at
her house, meeting there the present earl and countess, an old Waterloo
lord, and Henry Weigall and his wife, Lady Rose. The dear old lady was
so sweet. She was the Duke of Wellington’s favourite niece, and his
Grace’s portraits deck the walls of more than one room. Her pleasure was
in talking of the Florence of the old pre-Austrian days, where she lived
sixteen years, but my great pleasure was talking with the earl and the
Waterloo lord, who were most loquacious. Lord Westmoreland was on Lord
Raglan’s staff in the Crimea.

“_May 11th_.--Received cheque for the ‘San Pietro in Vincoli’ and
‘Children of St. Francis.’ My popularity has _levered_ those two poor
little pictures off. Messrs. Dickinson & Co. have bought my copyright
for £1,200!!!”

There follows a good deal in the Diary concerning the trouble with Mr.
Galloway, who made hard conditions regarding his ceding “The Roll Call”
to the Queen, who wished to have it. He felt he was bound to let it go
to his Sovereign, but only on condition that I should paint him my next
Academy picture for the same price as he had given for the one he was
ceding, and that the Queen should sign with her own hand six of the
artist’s proofs when the engraving of her picture came out. I had set my
heart on painting the 28th Regiment in square receiving the last charge
of the French Cuirassiers at Quatre Bras, but as that picture would
necessitate far more work than “The Roll Call,” I could not paint it for
that little £126--so very puny now! So I most reluctantly suggested a
subject I had long had _in petto_, “The Dawn of Sedan,” French
Cuirassiers watching by their horses in the historic fog of that
fateful morning--a very simple composition. To cut a very long story
short, he finally consented to have “Quatre Bras” at my own price,
£1,126, the copyright remaining his. All this talk went on for a long
time, and meanwhile, all through the London society doings, I made oil
studies of all the grey horses for “Sedan.” The General Omnibus Company
sent me all shades of grey _percherons_ for this purpose. I also made
life-size oil studies of hands for “Quatre Bras,” where hands were to be
very strong points, gripping “Brown Besses.” So I took time by the
forelock for either subject. I was very fortunate in having the help of
wise business heads to grapple with the business part of my work, for I
have not been favoured that way myself.

There is no mention in the Diary of the policeman who, a few days after
the opening of the Academy, had to be posted, poor hot man, in my corner
to keep the crowd from too closely approaching the picture and to ask
the people to “move on.” That policeman was there instead of the brass
bar which, as a child, I had pleased myself by imagining in front of one
of my works, _à la_ Frith’s “Derby Day.” The R.A.’s told me the bar
created so much jealousy, when used, that it had been decided never to
use it again. But I think a live policeman quite as much calculated to
produce the undesirable result. I learnt later that his services were
quite as necessary for the protection of two lovely little pictures of
Leighton’s, past which the people _scraped_ to get at mine, they being,
unfortunately, hung at right angles to mine in its corner. What an
unfortunate arrangement of the hangers! Horsley told me that they went
every evening after the closing, with a lantern, to see if the two gems
had been scratched. They were never seen. I wonder if Leighton had any
feelings of dislike towards “that girl.” She who in her ‘teens records
her prostrations of worship before his earlier works, ere he became so
coldly classical.

It is a curious condition of the mind between gratitude for the
appreciation of one’s work by those who know, and the uncomfortable
sense of an exaggerated popularity with the crowd. The exaggeration is
unavoidable, and, no doubt, passes, but the fact that counts is the
power of touching the people’s heart, an “organ” which remains the same
through all the changing fashions in art. I remember an argument I once
had with Alma Tadema on this matter of touching the heart. He laughed at
me, and didn’t believe in it at all.

“_Tuesday, May 12th._--Mr. Charles Manning and his wife have been so
very nice to me, and this morning Mrs. M. bore me off to be presented to
His Grace of Westminster, with whom I had a long interview. What a face!
all spirit and no flesh. After that, to the School of Art Needlework to
meet Lady Marion Alford and other Catholic ladies. I ordered there a
pretty screen for my studio on the strength of my £1,200! Thence I
proceeded on a round of calls, going first to the Desanges, where I
lunched. There they told me the Prince of Wales was coming at four
o’clock to see the Ashanti picture Desanges is just finishing. They
begged me to come back a little before then, so as to be ready to be
presented when the moment should arrive. I returned accordingly, and
found the place crowded with people who had come to see the picture. As
soon as H.R.H. was announced, all the people were sent below to the
drawing-room and kept under hatches until Royalty should take its
departure; but I alone was to remain in the back studio, to be handy.
All this was much against my will, as I hate being thrust forward. But,
as it turned out, there was no thrusting forward on this occasion, and
all was very nice and natural. The Prince soon came in to where I was,
Mr. Desanges saying ‘Here she is’ in answer to a question. His first
remark to me was, of course, about the picture, saying he had hoped to
be its possessor, etc., etc., and he asked me how I had got the correct
details for the uniforms, and so on, having quite a little chat. He
spoke very frankly, and has a most clear, audible voice.”

Of course, the photographers began bothering. The idea of my portraits
being published in the shop windows was repugnant to me. Nowadays one is
snapshotted whether one likes it or not, but it wasn’t so bad in those
days; one’s own consent was asked, at any rate. I refused. However, it
had to come to that at last. My grandfather simply walked into the shop
of the first people that had asked me, in Regent Street, and calmly made
the appointment. I was so cross on being dragged there that the result
was as I expected--a rather harassed and coerced young woman, and the
worst of it was that this particular photograph was the one most widely
published. Indeed, one of my Aunts, passing along a street in Chelsea,
was astonished to see her rueful niece on a costermonger’s barrow
amongst some bananas!



CHAPTER IX

ECHOES OF “THE ROLL CALL”


On May 14th I lunched at Lady Raglan’s. Kinglake was there to meet me,
and we talked Crimea. I had read and re-read his much too prolix
history, which I thought overburdened with detail, giving one an
impression of the two Balaclava charges as lasting hours rather than
minutes. But I had learnt much that was of the utmost value from this
very superabundance of detail. Then on the next day I rose early, and
was off by seven with the Horsleys to Aldershot at the invitation of Sir
Hope Grant, of Indian celebrity, commanding, who travelled down with us.
“Lady Grant received us at the house, where we found a nice breakfast,
and where I got dried, being drenched by a torrential downpour. Would
that it had continued longer, if only to lay the hideous sand in the
Long Valley, which made the field day something very like a fiasco. I
tried to sketch, but my book was nearly blown out of my hand, my
umbrella was turned inside out and my arms benumbed by the cold. M.,
most luckily, was on the field, and Mrs. Horsley and I were soon
comfortably ensconced in his hansom cab and trying to feel more
comfortable and jolly. When the sham fight began we had to keep shifting
our standpoint, and Mrs. H. and I had repeatedly to jump out of the
hansom, as we were threatened by an upset every minute over those
sandhills. As to the two charges of cavalry, which Sir Hope had on
purpose for me, I could hardly see them, what with the dust storms half
swallowing them up in dense dun-coloured sheets and my eyes being full
of sand. However, I made the most of the situation, and hope I have got
some good hints. I ought to have so much of this sort of thing, and hope
to now, with all those ‘friends in court!’ When the march past began Sir
Hope sent to ask me if I would like to stand by his charger at the
saluting base, which I did, and saw, of course, beautifully. I felt
extraordinarily situated, standing there, half liking and half not
liking the situation, with an enormous mounted staff of utterly unknown,
gorgeous officers curvetting and jingling behind me and the general. As
one regiment passed, marching, as I thought, just as splendidly as the
others, I heard Sir Hope snap at them ‘Very bad, very bad. Don’t,
don’t!’ And I felt for them so much, trusting they didn’t see me or mind
my having heard.”

Three days later, at a charming lunch at Lady Herbert’s, I met her son,
Lord Pembroke, and Dr. Kingsley, Charles’s brother--“The Earl and the
Doctor.” It was interesting to see the originals of the title they gave
their book. The next day people came to the Academy to find, in place of
“The Roll Call,” a placard--“This picture has been temporarily removed
by command of Her Majesty.” She had it taken to Windsor to look at
before her departure for Scotland, and to show to the Czar, who was on a
visit.

Calderon, the R.A., whom I met that evening, told me the Academy had
never been receiving so many daily shillings before, and that it ought
to present me with a diamond necklace. And so forth, and so forth--all
noted in the faithful Diary, wherein many extravagances of the moment in
my regard are safely tucked away. Two days later I see: “_May
20th._--The Woolwich review was quite glorious. I went with Lady
Herbert, the Lane Foxes, Lord Denbigh and Capt. Slade. We posted there
and back with two jolly greys and a postboy in a sky-blue jacket. This
was quite after my own heart. Lord Denbigh talked art and war all the
way, interesting me beyond expression. We were in the forefront of
everything on arrival, next the Saluting Point, round which were grouped
the most brilliant sons of Mars I ever saw gathered together, and of
various nations. The Czar Alexander II. headed these, flanked by my two
friends, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge. The artillery
manœuvres were effective, and I sketched as much as I could, getting
up on the box, Lord Denbigh holding my parasol over my head, as the sun
was strong. I suppose people like spoiling me just now, or _trying_ to.”

Then, two days later, I note that I dined at Lady Rose Weigall’s, my
left-hand neighbour at table the Archbishop of York, Dr. Thomson, who
took in the hostess. He and I seem to have talked an immense deal about
all sorts of things. He confided to me that his private opinion was that
the Irish Church should never have been disestablished. In the course of
further conversation I thought it better to let him know I was a
Catholic by a passing remark. I said I thought the Neapolitans did not
make such solid Catholics as the English. He stared, none too pleased!
The next night I met at the Westmorelands’, at dinner, Lord George
Paget, Colonel Kingscote, and Henry Weigall, my host of the previous
evening. Lord George was drawn out during dinner about Balaclava, and I
listened to his loud cavalry soldier’s talk with the keenest interest.
He protested that we were making him say too much, but we were
insatiable. Lord George was a man I had tried to picture; he was almost
the last to ride back from the light cavalry charge. His manner and
speech were _soldatesque_, his expressions requiring at times a “saving
your presence” to the ladies, as a prefix. For me time flew in listening
to this interesting Balaclava hero, and it was very late when I made up
my mind to go, a wiser but by no means a sadder girl.

At a dinner at Lady Georgiana Fullerton’s my sister and I met Aubrey de
Vere, who delighted Alice with his conversation. The general company,
however, seem to have chiefly amused themselves with the long and, on
the whole, silly controversy which was appearing in _The Times_
regarding the sequence of the horse’s steps as he walks. It began by my
horse’s walk in “The Roll Call” having been criticised by those who held
to the old conventional idea. How many hours I had moved alongside
horses to see for myself exactly how a horse puts his feet down in the
walk! I had told many people to go down on all fours themselves and
walk, noting the sequence with their own hands and knees, which was sure
to be correct instinctively. At this same dinner Lady Lothian told me
she had followed my advice, and the idea of that sedate _grande dame_,
with grey hair combed under a white lace cap, pacing round her room on
all fours I thought delightful. Since those days I have been vindicated
by the snap-shot.

I find many Diary pages chiefly devoted to preparations for “Quatre
Bras” and the doing of several pen-and-ink reminiscences of what I had
seen at Woolwich and Aldershot, and exhibited at the “Dudley.” Some were
bought by the picture dealer Gambart, and some by Agnew. One of those
pen-and-inks was the “Halt!”--those Scots Greys I only half saw through
the dust storm at Aldershot pulling up in the midst of a tremendous
charge, very close to us. Gambart had come to my studio to see if he
could get anything, and when I told him of this “Halt!” which I had just
sent to the “Dudley,” he there and then wrote me a cheque for it,
without seeing it. When he went there to claim it, behold! it had
already been sold, before the opening. He was very angry, and threatened
law against the “Dudley” for what he called “skimming” the show before
the public got a chance. But the possessor was, like Mr. Galloway, a
_Maanchester maan_, and these are very firm on what they call “our
rights.” It was no use. I had to make Gambart a compensation drawing.
This introduces Mr. Whitehead, for whom I was to paint “Balaclava.” He
had the “Halt!” tight.

On Corpus Christi Day that year Alice and I, having received our
invitations from the Bishop of Salford, of happy pilgrimage memory, to
join in the services and procession in honour of the Blessed Sacrament
at the Missionary College, Mill Hill, we went thither that glorious
midsummer day. At page 127 of the Diary I have put down certain
sentiments about the practice of the Catholic faith in England, and I
express a longing to see the Host carried through English fields. I
little thought in one year to see my hope realised; yet so it was at
Mill Hill. After vespers in the little church, the procession was
formed, and I shall long remember the choristers, in their purple
cassocks, passing along a field of golden buttercups and the white and
gold banners at the head of the procession floating out against a
typical English sky as their bearers passed over a little hillock which
commands a lovely view of the rich landscape. The bishop bore the Host,
and six favoured men held the canopy. Franciscan nuns in the procession
sang the hymns.

The early days of that July had their pleasant festivities, such as a
dinner, with Alice, at Lady Londonderry’s (she who was our mother’s
godmother on the occasion of her reception into the Catholic Church) and
the Academy _soirée_, where Mrs. Tait invited me and Dr. Pollard to a
large garden party at Lambeth Palace. There I note: “The Royalties were
in full force, the _Waleses_, as I have heard the Prince and Princess
called, and many others. It was amusing and very pleasant in the
gardens, though provokingly windy. I had a curiously uncomfortable and
oppressed feeling, though, in that headquarters of the--what shall I
call it?--Opposition? The Archbishop and Mrs. Archbishop, particularly
Mrs., rather appalled me. But dear Dr. Pollard, that stout Protestant,
must have been very gratified.”

On July 4th Colonel Browne, C.B., R.E., who took the keenest interest in
my “Quatre Bras,” and did all in his power to help me with the military
part of it, had a day at Chatham for me. He, Mrs. B. and daughters
called for me in the morning, and we set forth for Chatham, where some
300 men of the Royal Engineers were awaiting us on the “Lines.” Colonel
Browne had ordered them beforehand, and had them in full dress, with
knapsacks, as I desired.

They first formed the old-fashioned four-deep square for me, and not
only that, but the beautiful parade dressing was broken and _accidenté_
by my directions, so as to have a little more the appearance of the real
thing. They fired in sections, too, as I wished, but, unfortunately, the
wind was so strong that the smoke was whisked away in a twinkling, and
what I chiefly wished to study was unobtainable, _i.e._, masses of men
seen through smoke. After they had fired away all their ammunition, the
whole body of men were drawn up in line, and, the rear rank having been
distanced from the front rank, I, attended by Colonel Browne and a
sergeant, walked down them both, slowly, picking out here and there a
man I thought would do for a “Quatre Bras” model (beardless), and the
sergeant took down the name of each man as I pointed him out very
unobtrusively, Colonel Browne promising to have these men up at
Brompton, quartered there for the time I wanted them. So I write: “I
shall not want for soldierly faces, what with those sappers and the
Scots Fusilier Guards, of whom I am sure I can have the pick, through
Colonel Hepburn’s courtesy. After this interesting ‘choosing a model’
was ended, we all repaired to Colonel Galway’s quarters, where we
lunched. After that I went to the guard-room to see the men I had chosen
in the morning, so as to write down their personal descriptions in my
book. Each man was marched in by the sergeant and stood at attention
with every vestige of expression discharged from his countenance whilst
I wrote down his personal peculiarities. I had chosen eight out of the
300 in the morning, but only five were brought now by the sergeant, as I
had managed to pitch upon three bad characters out of the eight, and
these could not be sent me. We spent the rest of the day very pleasantly
listening to the band, going over the museum, etc. I ought to see as
much of military life as possible, and I must go down to Aldershot as
often as I can.

“_July 16th._--Mamma and I went to Henley-on-Thames in search of a rye
field for my ‘Quatre Bras.’ Eagerly I looked at the harvest fields as we
sped to our goal to see how advanced they were. We had a great
difficulty in finding any rye at Henley, it having all been cut, except
a little patch which we at length discovered by the direction of a
farmer. I bought a piece of it, and then immediately trampled it down
with the aid of a lot of children. Mamma and I then went to work, but,
oh! horror, my oil brushes were missing. I had left them in the chaise,
which had returned to Henley. So Mamma went frantically to work with two
slimy water-colour brushes to get down tints whilst I drew down forms in
pencil. We laughed a good deal and worked on into the darkness, two
regular ‘Pre-Raphaelite Brethren,’ to all appearances, bending over a
patch of trampled rye.”

I seem to have felt to the utmost the exhilaration produced by the
following episode. Let the young Diary speak: “The grand and glorious
Lord Mayor’s banquet to the stars of literature and art came off to-day,
July 21st, and it was to me such a delightful thing that I felt all the
time in a pleasant sort of dream. I was mentioned in two speeches, Lord
Houghton’s (‘Monckton Milnes’) and Sir Francis Grant’s, P.R.A. As the
President spoke of me, he said his eye rested with pleasure on me at
that moment! Papa came with me. Above all the display of civic
splendour one felt the dominant spirit of hospitality in that
ever-to-me-delightful Mansion House. It was a unique thing because such
aristocrats as were there were those of merit and genius. The few lords
were only there because they represented literature, being authors.
Patti was there. She wished to have a talk with me, and went through
little Italian dramatic compliments, like Neilson. Old Cruikshank was a
strange-looking old man, a wonder to me as the illustrator of ‘Oliver
Twist’ and others of Dickens’s works--a unique genius. He said many nice
things about me to Papa. I wished the evening could have lasted a week.”

The next entries are connected with the “Quatre Bras” cartoon: “Dreadful
misgivings about a vital point. I have made my front rank men sitting on
their heels in the kneeling position. Not so the drill book. After my
model went, most luckily came Colonel Browne. Shakes his head at the
attitudes. Will telegraph to Chatham about the heel and let me know in
the morning.

“_July 23rd._--Colonel Browne came, and with him a smart sergeant-major,
instructor of musketry. Alas! this man and telegram from Chatham dead
against me. Sergeant says the men at Chatham must have been sitting on
their heels to rest and steady themselves. He showed me the exact
position when at the ‘ready’ to receive cavalry. To my delight I may
have him to-morrow as a model, but it is no end of a bore, this wasted
time.”

“_July 24th._--The musketry instructor, contrary to my sad expectations,
was by no means the automaton one expects a soldier to be, but a
thoroughly intelligent model, and his attitudes combined perfect
drill-book correctness with great life and action. He was splendid. I
can feel certain of everything being right in the attitudes, and will
have no misgivings. It is extraordinary what a well-studied position
that kneeling to resist cavalry is. I dread to think what blunders I
might have committed. No civilian would have detected them, but the
military would have been down upon me. I feel, of course, rather
fettered at having to observe rules so strict and imperative concerning
the poses of my figures, which, I hope, will have much action. I have to
combine the drill book and the fierce fray! I told an artist the other
day, very seriously, that I wished to show what an English square looks
like viewed quite close at the end of two hours’ action, when about to
receive a last charge. A cool speech, seeing I have never seen the
thing! And yet I seem to have seen it--the hot, blackened faces, the set
teeth or gasping mouths, the bloodshot eyes and the mocking laughter,
the stern, cool, calculating look here and there; the unimpressionable,
dogged stare! Oh! that I could put on canvas what I have in my mind!

“_July 25th._--A glorious day at Chatham, where again the Engineers were
put through field exercises, and I studied them with all my faculties. I
got splendid hints to-day. Went with Colonel Browne and Papa.

“_July 28th._--My dear musketry instructor for a few more attitudes. He
has put me through the process of loading the ‘Brown Bess’--a
flint-lock--so that I shall have my soldiers handling their arms
properly. Galloway has sold the copyright of this picture to Messrs.
Dickenson for £2,000! They must have faith in my doing it well.”

On August 11th I see I took a much-needed holiday at home, at Ventnor;
and, as I say, “gave myself up to fresh air, exercise, a little
out-of-door painting, and Napier’s ‘Peninsular War,’ in six volumes.”
Shortly before I left for home I received from Queen Victoria a very
splendid bracelet set with pearls and a large emerald. My mother and
good friend Dr. Pollard were with me in the studio when the messenger
brought it, and we formed a jubilant trio.

It was pleasant to be amongst my old Ventnor friends who had known me
since I was little more than a child. But on September 10th I had to bid
them and the old place goodbye, and on September 11th I re-entered my
beloved studio.

“_September 12th._--An eventful day, for my ‘Quatre Bras’ canvas was
tackled. The sergeant-major and Colonel Browne arrived. The latter, good
man, has had the whole Waterloo uniform made for me at the Government
clothing factory at Pimlico. It has been made to fit the sergeant-major,
who put on the whole thing for me to see. We had a dress rehearsal, and
very delighted I was. They have even had the coat dyed the old
‘brick-dust’ red and made of the baize cloth of those days! Times are
changed for me. It will be my fault if the picture is a fiasco.”

During the painting of “Quatre Bras” I was elected a member of the Royal
Institute of Painters in Water Colour, and I contributed to the Winter
Exhibition that large sketch of a sowar of the 10th Bengal Lancers which
I called “Missed!” and which the _Graphic_ bought and published in
colours. This reproduction sold to such an extent that the _Graphic_
must have been pleased! The sowar at “tent-pegging” has missed his peg
and pulls at his horse at full gallop. I had never seen tent-pegging at
that time, but I did this from description, by an Anglo-Indian officer
of the 10th, who put the thing vividly before me. How many, many
tent-peggings I have seen since, and what a number of subjects they have
given me for my brush and pencil! Those captivating and pictorial
movements of men and horses are inexhaustible in their variety.

I had more models sent to me than I could put into the big
picture--Guardsmen, Engineers and Policemen--the latter being useful as,
in those days, the police did not wear the moustache, and I had
difficulty in finding heads suitable for the Waterloo time. Not a head
in the picture is repeated. I had a welcome opportunity of showing
varieties of types such as gave me so much pleasure in the old
Florentine days when I enjoyed the Andrea del Sartos, Masaccios, Francia
Bigios, and other works so full of characteristic heads.

On November 7th my sister and I went for a weekend to Birmingham, where
the people who had bought “The Roll Call” copyright were exhibiting that
picture. They particularly wished me to go. We were very agreeably
entertained at Birmingham, where I was curious to meet the buyer of my
first picture sold, that “Morra” which I painted in Rome. Unfortunately
I inquired everywhere for “Mr. Glass,” and had to leave Birmingham
without seeing him and the early work. No one had heard of him! His name
was Chance, the great Birmingham _glass_ manufacturer.

“_November 27th._--In the morning off with Dr. Pollard to Sanger’s
Circus, where arrangements had been made for me to see two horses go
through their performances of lying down, floundering on the ground,
and rearing for my ‘Quatre Bras’ foreground horses. It was a funny
experience behind the scenes, and I sketched as I followed the horses in
their movements over the arena with many members of the troupe looking
on, the young ladies with their hair in curl-papers against the
evening’s performance. I am now ripe to go to Paris.”

So to Paris I went, with my father. We were guests of my father’s old
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Talmadge, Boulevard Haussmann, and a complete
change of scene it was. It gave my work the desired fillip and the fresh
impulse of emulation, for we visited the best studios, where I met my
most admired French painters. The Paris Diary says:

“_December 3rd._--Our first lion was Bonnat in his studio. A little man,
strong and wiry; I didn’t care for his pictures. His colouring is
dreadful. What good light those Parisians get while we are muddling in
our smoky art centre. We next went to Gérôme, and it was an epoch in my
life when I saw him. He was at work but did not mind being interrupted.
He is a much smaller man than I expected, with wide open, quick black
eyes, yet with deep lids, the eyes opening wide only when he talks. He
talked a great deal and knew me by name and ‘_l’Appel,_’ which he
politely said he heard was ‘_digne_’ of the celebrity it had gained. We
went to see an exhibition of horrors--Carolus Duran’s productions, now
on view at the _Cercle Artistique_. The talk is all about this man, just
now the vogue. He illustrates a very disagreeable present phase of
French Art. At Goupil’s we saw De Neuville’s ‘Combat on the Roof of a
House,’ and I feasted my eyes on some pickings from the most celebrated
artists of the Continent. I am having a great treat and a great lesson.

“_December 4th._--Had a _supposed_ great opportunity in being invited to
join a party of very _mondaines Parisiennes_ to go over the Grand Opera,
which is just being finished. Oh, the chatter of those women in the
carriage going there! They vied with each other in frivolous outpourings
which continued all the time we explored that dreadful building. It is a
pile of ostentation which oppressed me by the extravagant display of
gilding, marbles and bronze, and silver, and mosaic, and brocade, heaped
up over each other in a gorged kind of way. How truly weary I felt; and
the bedizened dressing-rooms of the actresses and _danseuses_ were the
last straw. Ugh! and all really tasteless.”

However, I recovered from the Grand Opera, and really enjoyed the lively
dinners where conversation was not limited to couples, but flowed with
great _ésprit_ across the table and round and round. Still, in time, my
sleep suffered, for I seemed to hear those voices in the night. How
graceful were the French equivalents to the compliments I received in
London. They thought I would like to know that the fame of “_l’Appel_”
had reached Paris, and so I did.

We visited Detaille’s beautiful studio. He was my greatest admiration at
that time. Also Henriette Browne’s and others, and, of course, the
Luxembourg, so I drew much profit from my little visit. But what a
change I saw in the army! I who could remember the Empire of my
childhood, with its endless variety of uniforms, its buglings, and
drummings, and trumpetings; its _chic_ and glitter and swagger: 1870 was
over it all now. Well, never mind, I have lived to see it in the “_bleu
d’horizon_” of a new and glorious day. My Paris Diary winds up with:
“_December 14th._--Papa and I returned home from our Paris visit. My eye
has been very much sharpened, and very severe was that organ as it
rested on my ‘Quatre Bras’ for the first time since a fortnight ago. Ye
Gods! what a deal I have to do to that picture before it will be fit to
look at! I continue to receive droll letters and poems (!). One I must
quote the opening line of:

    ‘Go on, go on, thou glorious girl!’

Very cheering.”



CHAPTER X

MORE WORK AND PLAY


So I worked steadily at the big picture, finding the red coats very
trying. What would I have thought, when studying at Florence, if I had
been told to paint a mass of men in one colour, and that “brick-dust”?
However, my Aldershot observations had been of immense value in showing
me how the British red coat becomes blackish-purple here, pale salmon
colour there, and so forth, under the influence of the weather and wear
and tear. I have all the days noted down, with the amount of work done,
for future guidance, and lamentations over the fogs of that winter of
1874-5. I gave nicknames in the Diary to the figures in my picture,
which I was amused to find, later on, was also the habit of Meissonier;
one of my figures I called the “_Gamin_” and he, too, actually had a
“_Gamin_.” Those fogs retarded my work cruelly, and towards the end I
had to begin at the studio at 9.30 instead of 10, and work on till very
late. The porter at No. 76 told me mine was the first fire to be lit in
the morning of all in The Avenue.

[Illustration: PRACTISING FOR “QUATRE BRAS.”]

One day the Horse Guards, directed by their surgeon, had a magnificent
black charger thrown down in the riding school at Knightsbridge (on deep
sawdust) for me to see, and get hints from, for the fallen horse in my
foreground. The riding master strapped up one of the furious animal’s
forelegs and then let him go. What a commotion before he fell! How he
plunged and snorted in clouds of dust till the final plunge, when the
riding master and a trooper threw themselves on him to keep him down
while I made a frantic sketch. “What must it be,” I ask, “when a horse
is wounded in battle, if this painless proceeding can put him into such
a state?”

The spring of 1875 was full of experiences for me. I note that “at the
Horse Guards’ riding school a charger was again ‘put down’ for me, but
more gently this time, and without the risk, as the riding master said,
of breaking the horse’s neck, as last time. I was favoured with a
charge, two troopers riding full tilt at me and pulling up at within two
yards of where I stood, covering me with the sawdust. I stood it bravely
the _second_ time, but the first I got out of the way. With ‘Quatre
Bras’ in my head, I tried to fancy myself one of my young fellows being
charged, but I fear my expression was much too feminine and pacific.”
March 22nd gave me a long day’s tussle with the grey, bounding horse
shot in mid-career. I say: “This _is_ a teaser. I was tired out and
faint when I got home.” If that was a black day, the next was a white
one: “The sculptor, Boehm, came in, and gave me the very hints I wanted
to complete my bounding horse. Galloway also came. He says ‘Quatre Bras’
beats ‘The Roll Call’ into a cocked hat! He gave me £500 on account. Oh!
the nice and strange feeling of easiness of mind and slackening of
speed; it is beginning to refresh me at last, and my seven months’ task
is nearly accomplished.” Another visitor was the Duke of Cambridge, who,
it appears, gave each soldier in my square a long scrutiny and showed
how well he understood the points.

On “Studio Monday” the crowds came, so that I could do very little in
the morning. The novelty, which amused me at first, had worn off, and I
was vexed that such numbers arrived, and tried to put in a touch here
and there whenever I could. Millais’ visit, however, I record as “nice,
for he was most sincerely pleased with the picture, going over it with
great _gusto_. It is the drawing, character, and expression he most
dwells on, which is a comfort. But I must now try to improve my _tone_,
I know. And what about ‘_quality_’? To-day, Sending-in Day, Mrs. Millais
came, and told me what her husband had been saying. He considers me, she
said, an even stronger artist than Rosa Bonheur, and is greatly pleased
with my _drawing_. _That_ (the ‘drawing’) pleased me more than anything.
But I think it is a pity to make comparisons between artists. I _may_ be
equal to Rosa Bonheur in power, but how widely apart lie our courses! I
was so put out in the morning, when I arrived early to get a little
painting, to find the wretched photographers in possession. I showed my
vexation most unmistakably, and at last bundled the men out. They were
working for Messrs. Dickinson. So much of my time had been taken from me
that I was actually dabbing at the picture when the men came to take it
away; I dabbing in front and they tapping at the nails behind. How
disagreeable!”

After doing a water colour of a Scots Grey orderly for the “Institute,”
which Agnew bought, I was free at last to take my holiday. So my Mother
and I were off to Canterbury to be present at the opening of St.
Thomas’s Church there.

“_April 11th, Canterbury._--To Mass in the wretched barn over a stable
wherein a hen, having laid an egg, cackled all through the service. And
this has been our only church since the mission was first begun six
years ago, up till now, in the city of the great English Martyr. But
this state of things comes to an end on Tuesday.”

This opening of St. Thomas’s Church was the first public act of Cardinal
Manning as Cardinal, and it went off most successfully. There were rows
of Bishops and Canons and Monsignori and mitred Abbots, and monks and
secular priests, all beautifully disposed in the Sanctuary. The sun
shone nearly the whole time on the Cardinal as he sat on his throne.
After Mass came the luncheon at which much cheering and laughter were
indulged in. Later on Benediction, and a visit to the Cathedral. I
rather winced when a group of men went down on their knees and kissed
the place where the blood of St. Thomas à Becket is supposed to still
stain the flags. The Anglican verger stared and did _not_ understand.

On Varnishing Day at the Academy I was evidently not enchanted with the
position of my picture. “It is in what is called ‘the Black Hole’--the
only dark room, the light of which looks quite blue by contrast with the
golden sun-glow in the others. However, the artists seemed to think it a
most enviable position. The big picture is conspicuous, forming the
centre of the line on that wall. One academician told me that on account
of the rush there would be to see it they felt they must put it there.
This ‘Lecture Room’ I don’t think was originally meant for pictures and
acts on the principle of a lobster pot. You may go round and round the
galleries and never find your way into it! I had the gratification of
being told by R.A. after R.A. that my picture was in some respects an
advance on last year’s, and I was much congratulated on having done what
was generally believed more than doubtful--that is, sending any
important picture this year with the load and responsibility of my
‘almost overwhelming success,’ as they called it, of last year on my
mind. And that I should send such a difficult one, with so much more in
it than the other, they all consider ‘very plucky.’ I was not very happy
myself, although I know ‘Quatre Bras’ to be to ‘The Roll Call’ as a
mountain to a hill. However, it was all very gratifying, and I stayed
there to the end. My picture was crowded, and I could see how it was
being pulled to pieces and unmercifully criticised. I returned to the
studio, where I found a champagne lunch spread and a family gathering
awaiting me, all anxiety as to the position of my _magnum opus_. After
that hilarious meal I sped back to the fascination of Burlington House.
I don’t think, though, that Mamma will ever forgive the R.A.’s for the
‘Black Hole.’

“_April 30th._--The private view, to which Papa and I went. It is very
seldom that an ‘outsider’ gets invited, but they make a pet of me at the
Academy. Again this day contrasted very soberly with the dazzling P.V.
of ‘74. There were fewer great guns, and I was not torn to pieces to be
introduced here, there, and everywhere, most of the people being the
same as last year, and knowing me already. The same _furore_ cannot be
repeated; the first time, as I said, can never be a second. Papa and I
and lots of others lunched over the way at the Penders’ in Arlington
Street, our hosts of last night, and it was all very friendly and nice,
and we returned in a body to the R.A. afterwards. I was surprised, at
the big ‘At Home’ last night, to find myself a centre again, and people
all so anxious to hear my answers to their questions. Last year I felt
all this more keenly, as it had all the fascination of novelty. This
year just the faintest atom of zest is gone.

“_May 3rd._--To the Academy on this, the opening day. A dense, surging
multitude before my picture. The whole place was crowded so that before
‘Quatre Bras’ the jammed people numbered in dozens and the picture was
most completely and satisfactorily rendered invisible. It was chaos, for
there was no policeman, as last year, to make people move one way. They
clashed in front of that canvas and, in struggling to wriggle out,
lunged right against it. Dear little Mamma, who was there nearly all the
time of our visit, told me this, for I could not stay there as, to my
regret, I find I get recognised (I suppose from my latest photos, which
are more like me than the first horror) and the report soon spreads that
I am present. So I wander about in other rooms. I don’t know why I feel
so irritated at starers. One can have a little too much popularity. Not
one single thing in this world is without its drawbacks. I see I am in
for minute and severe criticism in the papers, which actually give me
their first notices of the R.A. The _Telegraph_ gives me its entire
article. _The Times_ leads off with me because it says ‘Quatre Bras’
will be the picture the public will want to hear about most. It seems to
be discussed from every point of view in a way not usual with battle
pieces. But that is as it should be, for I hope my military pictures
will have moral and artistic qualities not generally thought necessary
to military _genre_.

“_May 4th._--All of us and friends to the Academy, where we had a
lively lunch, Mamma nearly all the time in ‘my crowd,’ half delighted
with the success and half terrified at the danger the picture was in
from the eagerness of the curious multitude. I just furtively glanced
between the people, and could only see a head of a soldier at a time. A
nice notion the public must have of the _tout ensemble_ of my
production!”

I was afloat on the London season again, sometimes with my father, or
with Dr. Pollard. My dear mother did not now go out in the evenings,
being too fatigued from her most regrettable sleeplessness. There was a
dinner or At Home nearly every day, and occasionally a dance or a ball.
At one of the latter my partner informed me that Miss Thompson was to be
there that evening. All this was fun for the time. At a crowded
afternoon At Home at the Campanas’, where all the singers from the opera
were herded, and nearly cracked the too-narrow walls of those tiny rooms
by the concussion of the sound issuing from their wonderful throats, I
met Salvini. “Having his ‘Otello,’ which we saw the other night, fresh
in my mind, I tried to _enthuse_ about it to him, but became so
tongue-tied with nervousness that I could only feebly say _‘Quasi, quasi
piangevo!’ ‘O! non bisogna piangere,’_ poor Salvini kindly answered. To
tell him I nearly cried! To tell the truth, I was much too painfully
impressed by the terrific realism of the murder of Desdemona and of
Othello’s suicide to _cry_. I have been told that, when Othello is
chasing Desdemona round the room and finally catches her for the murder,
women in the audience have been known to cry out ‘Don’t!’ And I told him
I _nearly_ cried! Ugh!”

After this I went to Great Marlow for fresh air with my mother, and
worked up an oil picture of a scout of the 3rd Dragoon Guards whom I saw
at Aldershot, getting the landscape at Marlow. It has since been
engraved.

By the middle of June I was at work in the studio once more. The
evenings brought their diversions. Under Mrs. Owen Lewis’s chaperonage I
went to Lady Petre’s At Home one evening, where 600 guests were
assembled “to meet H.E. the Cardinal.”[5] I record that “I enjoyed it
very much, though people did nothing but talk at the top of their voices
as they wriggled about in the dense crowd which they helped to swell.
They say it is a characteristic of these Catholic parties that the talk
is so loud, as everybody knows everybody intimately! I met many people I
knew, and my dear chaperon introduced lots of people to me. I had a
longish talk with H.E., who scolded me, half seriously, for not having
come to see him. I was aware of an extra interest in me in those
orthodox rooms, and was much amused at an enthusiastic woman asking,
repeatedly, whether I was there. These fleeting experiences instruct one
as they fly. Now I know what it feels like to be ‘the fashion.’” Other
festivities have their record: “I went to a very nice garden party at
the house of the great engineer, Mr. Fowler, where the usual sort of
thing concerning me went on--introductions of ‘grateful’ people in large
numbers who, most of them, poured out their heartfelt(!) feelings about
me and my work. I can stand a surprising amount of this, and am by no
means _blasée_ yet. Mr. Fowler has a very choice collection of modern
pictures, which I much enjoyed.” Again: “The dinner at the Millais’ was
nice, but its great attraction was Heilbuth’s being there, one of my
greatest admirations as regards his particular line--characteristic
scenes of Roman ecclesiastical life such as I so much enjoyed in Rome. I
told Millais I had had Heilbuth’s photograph in my album for years. ‘Do
you hear that, Heilbuth?’ he shouted. To my disgust he was portioned off
to some one else to go in to dinner, but I had de Nittis, a very clever
Neapolitan artist, and, what with him and Heilbuth and Hallé and Tissot,
we talked more French and Italian than English that evening. Millais was
so genial and cordial, and in seeing me into the carriage he hinted very
broadly that I was soon to have what I ‘most _t_’oroughly
deserved’--that is, my election as A.R.A. He pronounced the ‘_th_’ like
that, and with great emphasis. Was that the Jersey touch?”

In July I saw de Neuville’s remarkable “Street Combat,” which made a
deep impression on me. I went also to see the field day at Aldershot, a
great success, with splendid weather. After the “battle,” Captain Cardew
took us over several camps, and showed us the stables and many things
which interested me greatly and gave me many ideas. The entry for July
17th says:

“Arranging the composition for my ‘Balaclava’ in the morning, and at
1.30 came my dear hussar,[6] who has sat on his fiery chestnut for me
already, on a fine bay, for my left-hand horse in the new picture. I
have been leading such a life amongst the jarring accounts of the
Crimean men I have had in my studio to consult. Some contradict each
other flatly. When Col. C. saw my rough charcoal sketch on the wall, he
said _no_ dress caps were worn in that charge, and coolly rubbed them
off, and with a piece of charcoal put mean little forage caps on all the
heads (on the wrong side, too!), and contentedly marched out of the
door. In comes an old 17th Lancer sergeant, and I tell him what has been
done to my cartoon. ‘Well, miss,’ says he, ‘all I can tell you is that
my dress cap went into the charge and my dress cap came out of it!’ On
went the dress caps again and up went my spirits, so dashed by Col. C.
To my delight this lancer veteran has kept his very uniform--somewhat
moth-eaten, but the real original, and he will lend it to me. I can get
the splendid headdress of the 17th, the ‘Death or Glory Boys,’ of that
period at a military tailor’s.”

The Lord Mayor’s splendid banquet to the Royal Academicians and
distinguished “outsiders” was in many respects a repetition of the last
but with the difference that the assembly was almost entirely composed
of artists. “I went with Papa, and I must say, as my name was shouted
out and we passed through the lane of people to where the Lord Mayor and
Lady Mayoress were standing to receive their guests, I felt a momentary
stroke of nervousness, for people were standing there to see who was
arriving, and every eye was upon me. I was mentioned in three or four
speeches. The Lord Mayor, looking at me, said that he was honoured to
have amongst his guests Miss Thompson (cheers), and Major Knollys
brought in ‘The Roll Call’ and ‘Quatre Bras’ amidst clamour, while Sir
Henry Cole’s allusion to my possible election as an A.R.A. was equally
well received. I felt very glad as I sat there and heard my present
work cheered; for in that hall, last year, I had still the great ordeal
to go through of painting, and painting successfully, my next picture,
and that was now a _fait accompli_.”

A rainy July sadly hindered me from seeing as much as I had hoped to see
of the Aldershot manœuvres. On one lovely day, however, Papa and I
went down in the special train with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of
Cambridge, and all the “cocked hats.” In our compartment was Lord
Dufferin, who, on hearing my name, asked to be introduced and proved a
most charming companion, and what he said about “Quatre Bras” was nice.
He was only in England on a short furlough from Canada, and did not see
my “Roll Call.”

“At the station at Farnborough the picturesqueness began with the gay
groups of the escort, and other soldiers and general officers, all in
war trim, moving about in the sunshine, while in the background slowly
passed, heavily laden, the Army on the march to the scene of action.
Papa and I and Major Bethune took a carriage and slowly followed the
march, I standing up to see all I could.

“We were soon overtaken by the brilliant staff, and saluted as it
flashed past by many of its gallant members, including the dashing Baron
de Grancey in his sky blue _Chasseurs d’Afrique_ uniform. Poor Lord
Dufferin in civilian dress--frock coat and tall hat--had to ride a
rough-trotting troop horse, as his own horse never turned up at the
station. A trooper was ordered to dismount, and the elegant Lord
Dufferin took his place in the black sheepskin saddle. He did all with
perfect grace, and I see him now, as he passed our carriage, lift his
hat with a smiling bow, as though he was riding the smoothest of Arabs.
The country was lovely. All the heather out and the fir woods aromatic.
In one village regiments were standing in the streets, others defiling
into woods and all sorts of artillery, ambulance, and engineer waggons
lumbering along with a dull roll very suggestive of real war. At this
village the two Army Corps separated to become enemies, the one
distinguished from the other by the men of one side wearing broad white
bands round their headdresses. This gave the wearers a rather savage
look which I much enjoyed. It made their already brown faces look still
grimmer. Of course, our driver took the wrong road and we saw nothing of
the actual battle, but distant puffs of smoke. However, I saw all the
march back to Aldershot, and really, what with the full ambulances, the
men lying exhausted (_sic_) by the roadside, or limping along, and the
cheers and songs of the dirty, begrimed troops, it was not so unlike
war. At the North Camp Sir Henry de Bathe was introduced, and Papa and I
stood by him as the troops came in.” A day or two later I was in the
Long Valley where the most splendid military spectacle was given us,
some 22,000 being paraded in the glorious sunshine and effective cloud
shadows in one of the most striking landscapes I have seen in England.
“It was very instructive to me,” I write, “to see the difference in the
appearance of the men to-day from that which they presented on Thursday.
Their very faces seemed different; clean, open and good-looking, whereas
on Thursday I wondered that British soldiers could look as they did. The
infantry in particular, on that day, seemed changed; they looked almost
savage, so distorted were their faces with powder and dirt and deep
lines caused by the glare of the sun. I was well within the limits when
I painted my 28th in square. I suppose it would not have done to be
realistic to the fullest extent. The lunch at the Welsh Fusiliers’ mess
in a tent I thought very nice. Papa came down for the day. It is very
good of him. I don’t think he approves of my being so much on my own
hook. But things can’t help being rather abnormal.”

Here follows another fresh air holiday at my grandparents’ at Worthing
(where I rode with my grandfather), finishing up with a visit which I
shall always remember with pleasure--I ought to say gratitude--not only
for its own sake, but for all the enjoyment it obtained for me in Italy.
That August I was a guest of the Higford-Burrs at Aldermaston Court, an
Elizabethan house standing in a big Berkshire park. “I arrived just as
the company were finishing dinner. I was welcomed with open arms. Mrs.
Higford-Burr embraced me, although I have only seen her twice before,
and I was made to sit down at table in my travelling dress, positively
declining to recall dishes, hating a fuss as I do. The dessert was
pleasant because every one made me feel at home, especially Mrs. Janet
Ross, daughter of the Lady Duff Gordon whose writings had made me long
to see the Nile in my childhood. There are five lakes in the Park, and
one part is a heather-covered Common, of which I have made eight oil
sketches on my little panels, so that I have had the pleasure of working
hard and enjoying the society of most delightful people. There were
always other guests at dinner besides the house party, and the average
number who sat down was eighteen. Besides Mrs. Ross were Mr. and Mrs.
Layard, he the Nineveh explorer, and now Ambassador at Madrid, the
Poynters, R.A., the Misses Duff Gordon, and others, in the house. Mrs.
Burr with her great tact allowed me to absent myself between breakfast
and tea, taking my sandwiches and paints with me to the moor.”

Days at Worthing followed, where my mother and I painted all day on the
Downs, I with my “Balaclava” in view, which required a valley and low
hills. My mother’s help was of great value, as I had not had much time
to practise landscape up to then. Then came my visit, with Alice, to
Newcastle, where “Quatre Bras” was being exhibited, to be followed by
our visit at Mrs. Ross’s Villa near Florence, whither she had invited us
when at Aldermaston, to see the _fêtes_ in honour of Michael Angelo.

“We left for Newcastle by the ‘Flying Scotchman’ from King’s Cross at 10
a.m., and had a flying shot at Peterborough and York Cathedrals, and a
fine flying view of Durham. Newcastle impressed us very much as we
thundered over the iron bridge across the Tyne and looked down on the
smoke-shrouded, red-roofed city belching forth black and brown smoke and
jets of white steam in all directions. It rises in fine masses up from
the turbid flood of the dark river, and has a lurid grandeur quite novel
to us. I could not help admiring it, though, as it were, under protest,
for it seems to me something like a sin to obscure the light of Heaven
when it is not necessary. The laws for consuming factory smoke are quite
disregarded here. Mrs. Mawson, representing the firm at whose gallery
‘Quatre Bras’ is being exhibited, was awaiting our arrival, and was to
be our hostess. We were honoured and fêted in the way of the
warm-hearted North. Nothing could have been more successful than our
visit in its way. These Northerners are most hospitable, and we are
delighted with them. They have quite a _cachet_ of their own, so
cultured and well read on the top of their intense commercialism--far
more responsive in conversation than many society people I know ‘down
South.’ We had a day at Durham under Mrs. Mawson’s wing, visiting that
finest of all English Cathedrals (to my mind), and the Bishop’s palace,
etc. We rested at the Dean’s, where, of course, I was asked for my
autograph. I already find how interested the people are about here, more
even than in other parts where I have been. Durham is a place I loved
before I saw it. The way that grand mass of Norman architecture rises
abruptly from the woods that slope sheer down to the calm river is a
unique thing. Of course, the smoky atmosphere makes architectural
ornament look shallow by dimming the deep shadows of carvings, etc.--a
great pity. On our return we took another lion _en passant_--my picture
at Newcastle, and most delighted I was to find it so well lighted. I may
say I have never seen it properly before, because it never looked so
well in my studio, and as to the Black Hole----! What people they are up
here for shaking hands! When some one is brought up to me the introducer
puts it in this way: ‘Mr. So-and-So wishes very much to have the honour
of shaking hands with you, Miss Thompson.’ There is a straight-forward
ring in their speech which I like.”

We were up one morning at 4.30 to be off to Scotland for the day. At
Berwick the rainy weather lifted and we were delighted by the look of
the old Border town on its promontory by the broad and shining Tweed.
Passing over the long bridge, which has such a fine effect spanning the
river, we were pleased to find ourselves in a country new to us.
Edinburgh struck us very much, for we had never quite believed in it,
and thought it was “all the brag of the Scotch,” but we were converted.
It is so like a fine old Continental city--nothing reminds one of
England, and yet there is a _Scotchiness_ about it which gives it a
sentiment of its own. Our towns are, as a rule, so poorly situated, but
Edinburgh has the advantage of being built on steep hills and of being
back-grounded by great crags which give it a most majestic look. The
grey colour of the city is fine, and the houses, nearly all gabled and
very tall, are exceedingly picturesque, and none have those vile, black,
wriggling chimney pots which disfigure what sky lines our towns may
have. I was delighted to see so many women with white caps and tartan
shawls and the children barefoot; picturesque horse harness; plenty of
kilted soldiers.

We did all the lions, including the garrison fortress where the Cameron
Highlanders were, and where Colonel Miller, of Parkhurst memory, came
out, very pleased to speak to me and escort us about. He had the water
colour I gave him of his charger, done at Parkhurst in the old Ventnor
days. Our return to Newcastle was made in glorious sunshine, and we
greedily devoured the peculiarly sweet and remote-looking scenes we
passed through. I shall long remember Newcastle at sunset on that
evening, Then, I will say, the smoke looked grand. They asked me to look
at my picture by gas light. The sixpenny crowd was there, the men
touching their caps as I passed. In the street they formed a lane for me
to pass to the carriage. “What nice people!” I exclaim in the Diary.

All the morning of our departure I was employed in sitting for my
photograph, looking at productions of local artists and calling on the
Bishop and the Protestant Vicar. One man had carved a chair which was to
be dedicated to me. I was quaintly enthroned on it. All this was done on
our way to the station, where we lunched under dozens of eyes, and on
the platform a crowd was assembled. I read: “Several local dignitaries
were introduced and ‘shook hands,’ as also the ‘Gentlemen of the local
Press.’ As I said a few words to each the crowd saw me over the
barriers, which made me get quite hot and I was rather glad when the
train drew up and we could get into our carriage. The farewell
handshakings at the door may be imagined. We left in a cloud of waving
handkerchiefs and hats. I don’t know that I respond sufficiently to all
this. Frankly, my picture being made so much of pleases me most
satisfactorily, but the _personal_ part of the tribute makes me
curiously uncomfortable when coming in this way.”

Ruskin wrote a pamphlet on that year’s Academy in which he told the
world that he had approached “Quatre Bras” with “iniquitous prejudice”
as being the work of a woman. He had always held that no woman could
paint, and he accounted for my work being what he found it as being that
of an Amazon. I was very pleased to see myself in the character of an
Amazon.



CHAPTER XI

TO FLORENCE AND BACK


We started on our most delightful journey to Florence early in September
of that year to assist at the Michael Angelo fêtes as the guests of dear
Mrs. Janet Ross and the Marchese della Stufa, who, with Mr. Ross,
inhabited in the summer the delicious old villa of Castagnolo, at Lastra
a Signa, six miles on the Pisan side of my beloved Florence. Of course,
I give page after page in the Diary to our journey across Italy under
the Alps and the Apennines. To the modern motorist it must all sound
slow, though we did travel by rail! Above all the lovely things we saw
on our way by the Turin-Bologna line, I think Parma, rising from the
banks of a shallow river, glowing in sunshine and palpitating jewel-like
shade, holds pride of place for noontide beauty. After Modena came the
deeper loveliness of the afternoon, and then Bologna, mellowed by the
rosy tints of early evening. Then the sunset and then the tender moon.

By moonlight we crossed the Apennines, and to the sound of the droning
summer beetle--an extraordinarily penetrating sound, which I declared
makes itself heard above the railway noises, we descended into the
Garden of Italy, slowly, under powerful brakes. At ten we reached
Florence, and in the crowd on the platform a tall, distinguished-looking
man bowed to me. “Miss Thompson?” “Yes.” It was the Marchese, and lo!
behind him, who should there be but my old master, Bellucci. What a
warm welcome they gave us. Of course, our luggage had stuck at the
_douane_ at Modane, and was telegraphed for. No help for it; we must do
without it for a day or two. We got into the carriage which was awaiting
us, and the Marchese into his little pony trap, and off we went flying
for a mysterious, dream-like drive in misty moonlight, we in front and
our host behind, jingle-jingling merrily with the pleasant monotony of
his lion-maned little pony’s canter. We could not believe the drive was
a real one. It was too much joy to be at Florence--too good to be true.
But how tired we were!

At last we drove up to the great towered villa, an old-fashioned
Florentine ancestral place, which has been the home of the Della Stufas
for generations, and there, in the great doorway, stood Mrs. Ross,
welcoming us most cordially to “Castagnolo.” We passed through frescoed
rooms and passages, dimly lighted with oil lamps of genuine old Tuscan
patterns, and were delighted with our bedrooms--enormous, brick-paved
and airy. There we made a show of tidying ourselves, and went down to a
fruit-decked supper, though hardly able to sit up for sleep. How kind
they were to us! We felt quite at home at once.

“_September 12th._--After Mass at the picturesque little chapel which,
with the _vicario’s_ dwelling, abuts on the _fattoria_ wing of the
villa, we drove into Florence with Mrs. Ross and the Marchese, whom we
find the typical Italian patrician of the high school. We were rigged
out in Mrs. Ross’s frocks, which didn’t fit us at all. But what was to
be done? Provoking girls! It was a dear, hot, dusty, dazzling old
Florentine drive, bless it! and we were very pleased. Florence was _en
fête_ and all _imbandierata_ and hung with the usual coloured draperies,
and all joyous with church bells and military bands. The concert in
honour of Michael Angelo (the fêtes began to-day) was held in the
Palazzo Vecchio, and very excellent music they gave us, the audience
bursting out in applause before some of the best pieces were quite
finished in that refreshingly spontaneous way Italians have. After the
concert we loitered about the piazza looking at the ever-moving and
chattering crowd in the deep, transparent shade and dazzling sunshine.
It was a glorious sight, with the white statues of the fountain rising
into the sunlight against houses hung mostly with very beautiful yellow
draperies. I stood at the top of the steps of the Loggia de’ Lanzi, and,
resting my book on the pedestal of one of the lions, I made a rough
sketch of the scene, keeping the _Graphic_ engagement in view. I
subsequently took another of the Michael Angelo procession passing the
Ponte alle Grazie on its way from Santa Croce to the new ‘Piazzale
Michel Angelo,’ which they have made since we were here before, on the
height of San Miniato. It was a pretty procession on account of the rich
banners. A day full of charming sights and melodious sounds.”

The great doings of the last day of the fêtes were the illuminations in
the moonlit evening. They were artistically done, and we had a feast of
them, taking a long, slow drive to the piazzale by the new zigzag.
Michael Angelo was remembered at every turn, and the places he fortified
were especially marked out by lovely lights, all more or less soft and
glowing. Not a vile gas jet to be seen anywhere. The city was not
illuminated, nor was anything, with few exceptions, save the lines of
the great man’s fortifications. The old white banner of Florence, with
the _Giglio_, floated above the tricolour on the heights which Michael
Angelo defended in person. The effect, especially on the church of San
Miniato, of golden lamps making all the surfaces aglow, as if the walls
were transparent, and of the green-blue moonlight above, was a thing as
lovely as can be seen on this earth. It was a thoroughly Italian
festival. We were charmed with the people; no pushing in the crowds,
which enjoyed themselves very much. They made way for us when they saw
we were foreigners.

We stayed at Castagnolo nearly all through the vintage, pressed from one
week to another to linger, though I made many attempts to go on account
of beginning my “Balaclava.” The fascination of Castagnolo was intense,
and we had certainly a happy experience. I sketched hard every day in
the garden, the vineyards, and the old courtyard where the most
picturesque vintage incidents occurred, with the white oxen, the wine
pressing, and the bare-legged, merry _contadini_, all in an atmosphere
scented with the fermenting grapes. Everything in the _Cortile_ was dyed
with the wine in the making. I loved to lean over the great vats and
inhale that wholesome effluence, listening to the low sea-like murmur of
the fermentation. On the days when we helped to pick the grapes on the
hillside (and “helping ourselves” at the same time) we had _collazione_
there, a little picnic, with the indispensable guitar and post-prandial
cigarette. Every one made the most of this blessed time, as such moments
should be made the most of when they are given us, I think. Young
Italians often dined at the villa, and the evenings were spent in
singing _stornelli_ and _rispetti_ until midnight to the guitar,
every one of these young fellows having a nice voice. They were merry,
pleasant creatures.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE BALAKLAVA SIX-HUNDRED.]

Nothing but the stern necessity of returning to work could have kept me
from seeing the vintage out. We left most regretfully on October 4th,
taking Genoa and our dear step-sister on the way. Even as it was our
lingering in Italy made me too late, as things turned out, for the
Academy!

October 19th has this entry: “Began my ‘Balaclava’ cartoon to-day.
Marked all the positions of the men and horses. My trip to Italy and the
glorious and happy and healthy life I have led there, and the utter
change of scene and occupation, have done me priceless good, and at last
I feel like going at this picture _con amore_. I was in hopes this happy
result would be obtained.” “Balaclava” was painted for Mr. Whitehead, of
Manchester. I had owed him a picture from the time I exhibited
“Missing.” It was to be the same size, and for the same price as that
work, and I was in honour bound to fulfil my contract! So I again
brought forward the “Dawn of Sedan,” although my prices were now so
enlarged that £80 had become quite out of proportion, even for a simple
subject like that. However, after long parleys, and on account of Mr.
Whitehead’s repudiation of the Sedan subject, it was agreed that
“Balaclava” should be his, at the new scale altogether. The Fine Art
Society (late Dickenson & Co.) gave Mr. Whitehead £3,000 for the
copyright, and engaged the great Stacpoole, as before, to execute the
engraving.

I was very sorry that the picture was not ready for Sending-in Day at
the Academy. No doubt the fuss that was made about it, and my having
begun a month too late, put me off; but, be that as it may, I was a
good deal disturbed towards the end, and had to exhibit “Balaclava” at
the private gallery of the purchasers of the copyright in Bond Street.
This gave me more time to finish. I had my own Private View on April
20th, 1876: “The picture is disappointing to me. In vain I call to mind
all the things that judges of art have said about this being the best
thing I have yet painted. Can one _never_ be happy when the work is
done? This day was only for our friends and was no test. Still, there
was what may be called a sensation. Virginia Gabriel, the composer, was
led out of the room by her husband in tears! One officer who had been
through the charge told a friend he would never have come if he had
known how like the real thing it was. Curiously enough, another said
that after the stress of Inkermann a soldier had come up to his horse
and leant his face against it exactly as I have the man doing to the
left of my picture.

“_April 22nd._--An enormous number of people at the Society’s Private
View and some of the morning papers blossoming out in the most beautiful
notices, ever so long, and I getting a little reassured.” A day later:
“Went to lunch at Mrs. Mitchell’s, who invited me at the Private View,
next door to Lady Raglan’s, her great friend. Two distinguished officers
were there to meet me, and we had a pleasant chat.” And this is all I
say! One of the two was Major W. F. Butler, author of “The Great Lone
Land.”

The London season went by full of society doings. Our mother had long
been “At Home” on Wednesdays, and much good music was heard at “The
Boltons,” South Kensington. Ruskin came to see us there. He and our
mother were often of the same way of thinking on many subjects, and I
remember seeing him gently clapping his hands at many points she made.
He was displeased with me on one occasion when, on his asking me which
of the Italian masters I had especially studied, I named Andrea del
Sarto. “Come into the corner and let me scold you,” were his
disconcerting words. Why? Of course, I was crestfallen, but, all the
same, I wondered what could be the matter with Andrea’s “Cenacolo” at
San Salvi, or his frescoes at the SS. Annunziata, or his “Madonna with
St. Francis and St. John,” in the Tribune of the Uffizi. The figure of
the St. John is, to me, one of the most adorable things in art. That
gentle, manly face; that dignified pose; the exquisite modelling of the
hand, and the harmonious colours of the drapery--what _could_ be the
matter with such work? I remember, at one of the artistic London “At
Homes,” Frith, R.A., coming up to me with a long face to say, if I did
not send to the Academy, I should lose my chance of election. But I
think the difficulties of electing a woman were great, and much
discussion must have been the consequence amongst the R.A.’s. However,
as it turned out, in 1879 I lost my election by _two_ votes only! Since
then I think the door has been closed, and wisely. I returned to the
studio on May 18th, for I could not lay down the brush for any amount of
society doings. Besides, I soon had to make preparations for
“Inkermann.”

“_Saturday, June 10th._--Saw Genl. Darby-Griffith, to get information
about Inkermann. I returned just in time to dress for the delightful
Lord Mayor’s Banquet to the Representatives of Art at the Mansion
House, a place of delightful recollections for me. Neither this year’s
nor last year’s banquet quite came up to the one of ‘The Roll Call’ year
in point of numbers and excitement, but it was most delightful and
interesting to be in that great gathering of artists and hear oneself
gracefully alluded to in The Lord Mayor’s speech and others. Marcus
Stone sat on my left, and we had really a thoroughly good conversation
all through dinner such as I have seldom embarked on, and I found, when
I tried it, that I could talk pretty well. He is a fine fellow, and
simple-minded and genuine. My _vis-à-vis_ was Alma Tadema, with his
remarkable-looking wife, like a lady out of one of his own pictures; and
many well-known heads wagged all around me. After dinner and the
speeches, Du Maurier, of _Punch_, suggested to the Lord Mayor that we
should get up a quadrille, which was instantly done, and the friskier
spirits amongst us had a nice dance. Du Maurier was my partner; and on
my left I had John Tenniel, so that I may be said to have been supported
by Punch both at the beginning and end of dinner, this being Du
Maurier’s simple and obvious joke, _vide_ the post-turtle indulgence
peculiar to civic banquets. After a waltz we laggards at last took our
departure in the best spirits.”

I remember that in June we went to a most memorable High Mass, to wit,
the first to be celebrated in the Old Saxon Church of St. Etheldreda
since the days of the Reformation. This church was the second place of
Christian worship erected in London, if not in England, in the old Saxon
times. We were much impressed as the Gregorian Mass sounded once more in
the grey-stoned crypt. The upper church was not to be ready for years.
Those old grey stones woke up that morning which had so long been
smothered in the London clay.

Here follow too many descriptions in the Diary of dances, dinners and
other functions. They are superfluous. There were, however, some
_Tableaux Vivants_ at an interesting house--Mrs. Bishop’s, a very
intellectual woman, much appreciated in society in general, and Catholic
society in particular--which may be recorded in this very personal
narrative, for I had a funny hand in a single-figure tableau which
showed the dazed 11th Hussar who figures in the foreground of my
“Balaclava.” The man who stood for him in the tableau had been my model
for the picture, but to this day I feel the irritation caused me by that
man. In the picture I have him with his busby pushed back, as it
certainly would and should have been, off his heated brow. But, while I
was posing him for the tableau, every time I looked away he rammed it
down at the becoming “smart” angle. I got quite cross, and insisted on
the necessary push back. The wretch pretended to obey, but, just before
the curtain rose, rammed the busby down again, and utterly destroyed the
meaning of that figure! We didn’t want a representation of Mr. So-and-so
in the becoming uniform of a hussar, but my battered trooper. The thing
fell very flat. But tableaux, to my mind, are a mistake, in many ways.

I often mention my pleasure in meeting Lord and Lady Denbigh, for they
were people after my own heart. Lady Denbigh was one of those women one
always looks at with a smile; she was so _simpatica_ and true and
unworldly.

July 18th is noted as “a memorable day for Alice, for she and I spent
the afternoon at _Tennyson’s_! I say ‘for Alice’ because, as regards
myself, the event was not so delightful as a day at Aldershot. Tennyson
has indeed managed to shut himself off from the haunts of men, for,
arrived at Haslemere, a primitive little village, we had a six-mile
drive up, up, over a wild moor and through three gates leading to
narrow, rutty lanes before we dipped down to the big Gothic, lonely
house overlooking a vast plain, with Leith Hill in the distance.
Tennyson had invited us through Aubrey de Vere, the poet, and very
apprehensive we were, and nervous, as we neared the abode of a man
reported to be such a bear to strangers. We first saw Mrs. Tennyson, a
gentle, invalid lady lying on her back on a sofa. After some time the
poet sent down word to ask us to come up to his sanctum, where he
received us with a rather hard stare, his clay pipe and long, black,
straggling hair being quite what I expected. He got up with a little
difficulty, and when we had sat down--he, we two and his most
deferential son--he asked which was the painter and which was the poet.
After our answer, which struck me as funny, as though we ought to have
said, with a bob, ‘Please, sir, I’m the painter,’ and ‘Please, sir, I’m
the poet,’ he made a few commonplace remarks about my pictures in a most
sepulchral bass voice. But he and Alice, in whom he was more interested,
naturally, did most of the talking; there was not much of that, though,
for he evidently prefers to answer a remark by a long look, and perhaps
a slightly sneering smile, and then an averted head. All this is not
awe-inspiring, and looks rather put on. We ceased to be frightened.

“There is no grandeur about Tennyson, no melancholy abstraction; and, if
I had made a demi-god of him, his personality would have much
disappointed me. Some of his poetry is so truly great that his manner
seems below it. The pauses in the conversation were long and frequent,
and he did not always seem to take in the meaning of a remark, so that I
was relieved when, after a good deal of staring and smiling at Alice in
a way rather trying to the patience, he acceded to her request and read
us ‘The Passing of Arthur.’ He was so long in finding the place, when
his son at last found him a copy of the book which suited him, and the
tone he read in so deep and monotonous, that I was much bored and longed
for the hour of our departure. He was vexed with Alice for choosing that
poem, which he seemed to think less of than of his later works, and he
took the poor child to task in a few words meant to be caustic, though
they made us smile. But the ice was melting. He seemed amused at us and
we gratefully began to laugh at some quaint phrases he levelled at us.
Then he dropped the awe-inspiring tone, and took us all over the grounds
and gave us each a rose. He pitched into us for our dresses which were
too fashionable and tight to please him. He pinned Alice against a
pillar of the entrance to the house on our re-entry from the garden to
watch my back as I walked on with his son, pointing the _walking-stick_
of scorn at my skirt, the trimming of which particularly roused his ire.
Altogether I felt a great relief when we said goodbye to our curious
host with whom it was so difficult to carry on conversation, and to know
whether he liked us or not. Away, over the windy, twilight heath behind
the little ponies--away, away!”

At the beginning of August I began my studies for “The Return from
Inkermann.” The foreground I got at Worthing; and I had another visit
to Aldershot and many further conversations with Inkermann
survivors--officers of distinction. I am bound to say that these often
contradicted each other, and the rough sketches I made after each
interview had to be re-arranged over and over again. I read Dr.
Russell’s account (_The Times_ correspondent) and sometimes I returned
to my own conception, finding it on the whole the most likely to be
true.

I laugh even now at the recollection of two elderly _sabreurs_, one of
them a General in the Indian Army, who had a hot discussion in my
studio, _â propos_ of my “Balaclava,” about the best use of the sabre.
The Indian, who was for slashing, twirled his umbrella so briskly, to
illustrate his own theory, that I feared for the picture which stood
close by his sword arm. The opposition umbrella illustrated “the point”
theory.

Having finally clearly fixed the whole composition of “Inkermann,” in
sepia on tinted paper the size of the future picture I closed the studio
on August 25th and turned my face once more to Italy.



CHAPTER XII

AGAIN IN ITALY


My sister and I tarried at Genoa on our way to Castagnolo where we were
to have again the joys of a Tuscan vintage. But between Genoa and
Florence lay our well-loved Porto Fino and, having an invitation from
our old friend Monty Brown, the English Consul and his young wife, to
stay at their castello there, we spent a week at that Eden. We were
alone for part of the time and thoroughly relished the situation, with
only old Caterina, the cook, and the dog, “Bismarck,” as company. Two
Marianas in a moated grange, with a difference. “He” came not, and so
allowed us to clasp to our hearts our chief delights--the sky, the sea,
the olives and the joyous vines. In those early days many of the deep
windows had no glass, and one night, when a staggering Mediterranean
thunderstorm crashed down upon us, we really didn’t like it and hid the
knives under the table at dinner. Caterina was saying her Rosary very
loud in the kitchen. As we went up the winding stairs to bed I carried
the lamp, and was full of talk, when a gust of wind blew the lamp out,
and Alice laughed at my complete silence, more eloquent than any words
of alarm. We had every evening to expel curious specimens of the lizard
tribe that had come in, and turn over our pillows, remembering the
habits of the scorpion.

But that storm was the only one, and as to the sea, which three-parts
enveloped our little Promontory, its blue utterly baffled my poor
paints. But paint I did, on those little panels that we owe to Fortuny,
so nicely fitting into the box he invented. There was a little cape,
crowned with a shrine to Our Lady--“the Madonnetta” it was called--where
I used to go daily to inhale the ozone off the sea which thundered down
below amongst the brown “pudding-stone” rocks, at the base of a sheer
precipice. The “sounding deep.” Oh, the freshness, the health, the joy
of that haunt of mine! Our walks were perilous sometimes, the paths
which almost overhung the deep foaming sea being slippery with the
sheddings of the pines. At the “nasty bits” we had to hold on by shrubs
and twigs, and haul ourselves along by these always aromatic supports.

Admirable is the industry of the peasants all over Italy. Here on the
extreme point of Porto Fino wherever there was a tiny “pocket” of clay,
a cabbage or two or a vine with its black clusters of grapes toppling
over the abyss found foot-hold. We came one day upon a pretty girl on
the very verge of destruction, “holding on by her eyelids,” gathering
figs with a hooked stick, a demure pussy keeping her company by dozing
calmly on a branch of the fig tree. The walls built to support these
handfuls of clay on the face of the rock are a puzzle to me. Where did
the men stand to build them? It makes me giddy to think of it.

Paragi, the lovely rival of Monty’s robber stronghold, belonged to his
brother, and a fairer thing I never saw than Fred’s loggia with the
slender white marble columns, between which one saw the coast trending
away to La Spezzia. But “goodbye,” Porto Fino! On our way to
Castagnolo, at lovely Lastre a Signa, we paused at Pisa for a night.

“Pisa is a _bald Florence_, if I may say so; beautiful, but so empty and
lifeless. There are houses there quite peculiar, however, to Pisa, most
interesting for their local style. Very broad in effect are those flat
blank surfaces without mouldings. The frescoes on them, alas! are now
merely very beautiful blotches and stains of colour. We had ample time
for a good survey of the Duomo, Baptistery, Camposanto and Leaning
Tower, all vividly remembered from when I saw them as a little child.
But I get very tired by sight-seeing and don’t enjoy it much. What I
like is to sit by the hour in a place, sketching or meditating. Besides,
I had been kept nearly all night awake at the Albergo Minerva by railway
whistles, ducks, parrots, cats, dogs, cocks and hens, so that I was only
at half power and I slept most of the way to Signa.

“At the station a carriage fitted, for the heat, with cool-looking brown
holland curtains was awaiting us on the chance of our coming, and we
were soon greeted at dear Castagnolo by Mrs. Ross. Very good of her to
show so much happy welcome seeing we had been expected the evening
before, not to say for many days, and only our luggage had turned up!
The Marchese, who had to go into Florence this morning for the day, had
gone down to meet us last evening, and returned with the disconcerting
announcement that, whereas we had arrived last year without our luggage,
this year the luggage had arrived without us. ‘_I bauli sono giunti ma
le bambine--Chè!_’”

Here follows the record of the same delights as those of the year
before. We had been long expected, and Mrs. Ross told me that the
peaches had been kept back for us in a most tantalising way by the
_padrone_, and that everything was threatening over-ripeness by our
delay. The light-hearted life was in full force. There were great
numbers of doves and pigeons at Castagnolo which shared in the general
hilarity, swirling in the sunshine and swooping down on the grain
scattered for them with little cries of pleasure. I don’t know whether I
should find a socialistic blight appearing here and there, if I returned
to those haunts of my youth, over that patriarchal life, but it seemed
to me that the relations between the _padrone_ and his splendid
_contadini_ showed how suitable the system obtaining in Tuscany was
then. The labourers were the _fanciulli_ (the children) of the master,
and without the least approach to servility these men stood up to him in
all the pride of their own station. But what deference they showed to
him! Always the uncovered head and the respectful and dignified attitude
when spoken to or speaking. I mustn’t forget the frank smile and the
pleasant white teeth. It was a smiling life; every one caught the
smiling habit. Oh, that we could keep it up through a London winter! And
to a London winter we returned, for my friends in England were getting
fidgety about “Inkermann.” One more extract, however, from the
Castagnolo Diary must find a place before the veil is drawn. The
Marchese took us to Siena for two days.

“_September 29th._--We got up by candlelight at 5 a.m. and had a fresh
drive in the phaeton to the station, whence we took train to the
fascinating Etruscan city, whose very name is magic. The weather, as a
matter of course, was splendid, and Siena dwells in my mind all tender
brown-gold in a flood of sunshine. Small as the city is, and hard as we
worked for those two days, we could only see a portion of its treasures.
The result of my observation in the churches and picture galleries shows
me that the art there, as regards painting, is very inferior; and,
indeed, after Florence, with its most exquisite examples of painting and
drawing, these works of art are not taking. I suppose Florence has
spoilt me. Here and there one picks out a plum, such as the ‘Svenimento
of St. Catherine’ in San Domenico, by Sodoma, the only thing by him that
I could look at with pleasure; also, of course, the famous Perugino in
Sant’ Agostino, which I beheld with delight, and a lovely gem of a Holy
Family by Palma Vecchio in the Academy--such a jewel of Venetian colour.

“The frescoes, however, in the sacristy of the cathedral are things
apart, and such as I have never seen anywhere else, for the very dry air
of Siena has preserved them since Pinturicchio’s time quite intact, and
there one sees, as one can see nowhere else, ancient frescoes as they
were when freshly painted. And very different they are from one’s
notions of old frescoes; certainly not so pleasing if looked at as bits
of colour staining old walls in mellow broken tints, but intensely
interesting and beautiful as pictures. Here one sees what frescoes were
meant to be: deep in colour, exceedingly forcible, with positive
illusion in linear and aërial perspective, the latter being most
unexpected and surprising. One’s usual notion of frescoes is that they
must be flat and airless, and modern artists who go in for fresco
decorative art paint accordingly, judging from the faded examples of
what were once evidently such as one sees here--forcible pictures.

“Certainly these wall spaces, looking like apertures through which one
sees crowds of figures and gorgeous halls or airy landscapes, do not
please the eye when looking at the room _as_ a room. One would prefer to
feel the solidity of the walls; but taking each fresco and looking at it
for its own sake only, one feels the keenest pleasure. They are
magnificent pictures, full of individual character and realistic action,
unsurpassable by any modern.

“I cannot attempt to put into words my impression of the cathedral
itself. Certainly, I never felt the beauty of a church more. It being
St. Michael’s Day, we heard Mass in the midst of our wanderings, and we
were much struck by the devotion of the people, the men especially--very
unlike what we saw in Genoa. In the afternoon we had a glorious drive
through a perfect pre-Raphaelite landscape to Belcaro, a fortress-villa
about six miles outside Siena, every turn in the road giving us a new
aspect of the golden-brown city behind us on its steep hill. Perhaps the
most beautiful view of Siena is from near Belcaro, where you get the
dark pine trees in the immediate foreground. The owner of the villa took
us all over it, the Marchese gushing outrageously to him about the
beauties of the dreadful frescoes on walls and ceilings, painted by the
man himself. We had been warned, Alice and I, to express our admiration,
but I regret to say we had our hearts so scooped out of us on seeing
those things in the midst of such true loveliness that we couldn’t say a
thing, but only murmured. So the poor Marchese had to do
triple-distilled gush to serve for three, and said everything was
‘_portentoso_.’

“In the evening we all three went out again and, in the bright
moonlight, strolled about the streets, the piazza, and round the
cathedral, which shone in the full light which fell upon it. The deep
sky was throbbing with stars, and all the essence of an Italian
September moonlight night was there. Oh, sweet, restful Siena dream!
Like a dream, and yet such a precious reality, to be gratefully kept in
memory to the end.”

Back at Castagnolo on October 1st. “Went for my _solita passeggiata_ up
to the hill of lavender and dwarf oak and other mountain shrubs, where I
made a study of an oak bush on the only wet day we have had, for my
‘Inkermann’ foreground. Mrs. Ross, a fearless rider, went on with the
breaking in of the Arab colt ‘Pascià’ to-day. Old Maso, one of the
_habitués_ of the villa, whooped and screamed every time the colt bucked
or reared, and he waddled away as fast as he could, groaning in terror,
only to creep back again to venture another look. And he had been an
officer in the army! I have secured some water-colour sketches of the
vintage for the ‘Institute’ and knocked off another panel or two, and
sketched Mrs. Ross in her Turkish dress, so I have not been idle.” Janet
Ross seemed to have assimilated the sunshine of Egypt and Italy into her
buoyant nature, and to see the vigour with which she conducted the
vintage at Castagnolo acted as a tonic on us all; so did the deep
contralto voice and the guitar, and the racy talk.

We left on October 14th, on a golden day, with the thermometer at 90
degrees in the shade, to return to the icy smoke-twilight of London,
where we groped, as the Diary says, in sealskins and ulsters. Castagnolo
has our thanks. How could we have had the fulness of Italian delights
which our kind hosts afforded us in some pension or hotel in Florence?
And what hospitality theirs was! We tried to sing some of the
“_Stornelli_” in the hansom that took us home from Victoria Station. One
of our favourites, “_M’affaccio alla finestra e vedo Stelle_,” had to be
modified, as we looked through the glass of the cab, into “_Ma non vedo
Stelle_,” sung in the minor, for nothing but the murk of a foggy night
was there. What but the stern necessity of beginning “Inkermann” could
have brought me back? My dear sister cannot have rejoiced, and may have
wished to tarry, but when did she ever “put a spoke in my wheel”?



CHAPTER XIII

A SOLDIER’S WIFE


Though the London winter was gloomy, on the whole, and I was handicapped
in the middle of my work by a cold which retarded the picture so much
that, to my deep disappointment, I had again to miss the Academy, the
brightest spring of my life followed, for on March 3rd I was engaged to
be married to the author of “The Great Lone Land.” It may not be out of
place to give a little sketch of our rather romantic meeting.

When the newly-promoted Major Butler was lying at Netley Hospital, just
beginning to recover from the Ashanti fever that had nearly killed him
at the close of that campaign, his sister Frances used to read to him
the papers, and they thus learnt together how, at the Royal Academy
banquet of that spring, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge
had spoken as they did of Miss Elizabeth Thompson. As paper after paper
spoke of me and of my work, he said one day to his sister, in utter fun
under his slowly reviving spirits, “I wonder if Miss Thompson would
marry me?” Two years after that he met me for the first time, and yet
another year was to go by before the Fates said “Now!”

When “Inkermann” was carted off to Bond Street on April 19th, what a
relief and delight it was to tell the model “Time is up.” “Mamma and I
danced about the studio when the picture was gone, revelling in our
freedom to make as much dust as we liked, when hitherto one had had to
be so careful about dust.” We always did this on such occasions.

The Fine Art Society, at whose galleries in Bond Street the picture was
exhibited, bought it and the copyright together. No doubt for some the
subject of this work is too sad, but my dominant feeling in painting it
was that which Wellington gave expression to in those memorable words on
leaving the field of battle at Waterloo: “There is nothing sadder than a
victory, except a defeat.” It shows the remnants of the Guards and the
20th Regiment and odds and ends of infantry returning in the grey of a
November evening from the “Soldiers’ Battle,” most of the men very
weary. The A.D.C. on horseback I painted from a fine young soldier,
Rupert Carrington, who kindly gave me a sitting. His mother, Lady
Carrington, sent me as a wedding present a medal taken from a dead
Russian on the field of Inkermann, set in a gold bracelet, which is one
of my treasures, her name and mine engraved on it.

“_April 20th_.--The first Private View of ‘Inkermann.’ I was there a
short time, and was quite happy at the look of my picture. The other
three are in the same gallery, and very popular the whole exhibition
seems to be. They have even got my 1873 venture, ‘Missing,’ by itself
upstairs, and remarkably well it looks, too. The crowd was dense and I
left the good people wriggling in a cloud of dust.”

June 11th of that year, 1877, was my wedding day. Cardinal Manning
married us in the Church of the Servite Fathers; our guests were chiefly
that gallant group of soldiers who, with my husband, had won the Ashanti
War, Sir Garnet Wolseley, Redvers Buller and their comrades. My “Red
Cross” fellow students of old South Kensington days gave me the very
touching surprise of strewing our path down the church, as we came out,
with flowers. I had not known they were there.

And now a new country opened out for my admiration and delight in days
so long before the dreadful cloud had fallen on it under which I am now
writing these Recollections--so long, so long before. It looks like
another world to me now. One might say I had had already a sufficiently
large share of the earth’s beauties to enjoy, yet here opened out an
utterly new and unique experience--Ireland. Our wedding tour was chiefly
devoted to the Wild West, with a pause at Glencar, in Kerry. I have
tried in happier political times to convey to my readers in another
place[7] my impression of that Western country--its freshness, its wild
beauty, its entrancing poetry, and that sadness which, like the minor
key in music, is the most appealing quality in poetry. That note is
utterly absent from the poetry of Italy; there all is in the major, like
its national music, so that my mind received, with strange delight, a
new sensation, surprising, heart-stirring, appealing. My husband had
given me the choice of a _local_ for the wedding tour between Ireland
and the Crimea. How could I hesitate?

My first married picture was the one I made studies for in
Glencar--“‘Listed for the Connaught Rangers.” I had splendid models for
the two Irish recruits who are being marched out of the glen by a
recruiting sergeant, followed by the “decoy” private and two drummer
boys of that regiment, the old 88th, with the yellow facings of that
time. The men were cousins, Foley by name, and wore their national
dress, the jacket with the long, white homespun sleeves and the
picturesque black hat which I fear is little worn now, and is largely
replaced by that quite cosmopolitan peaked cap I loathe. The deep
richness of those typical Irish days of cloud and sunshine had so
enchanted me that I was determined to try and represent the effect in
this picture, which was a departure from my former ones, the landscape
occupying an equal share with the figures, and the civilian peasant
dress forming the centre of interest. Its black, white and brown
colouring, the four red coats and the bright brass of the drum, gave me
an enjoyable combination with the blue and red-purple of the mountains
in the background, and the sunlight on the middle distance of the stony
Kerry bog-land. Here was that variety as to local colour denied me in
the other works. It was a joy to realise this subject. The picture was
for Mr. Whitehead, the owner of “Balaclava.”

The opening day of my introduction to the Wild West was on a Sunday in
that June: “From Limerick Junction to Glencar. I had my first experience
of an Irish Mass, and my impression is deepening every day that Ireland
is as much a foreign country to England as is France or Italy. The
congregation was all new to me. The peasant element had quite a _cachet_
of its own, though in a way an exact equivalent to the Tuscan--the
rough-looking men in homespun coats in a crowd inside and outside of the
church, the women in national dress; the constabulary, equivalent to the
_gendarmes_, in full dress, mixing with the people and yet not of them.
This Limerick Junction was the nucleus of the Fenian nebula. In this
terrible Tipperary the stalwart constabulary, whom I greatly admire,
have a grave significance. I have never seen finer men than those, and
they are of a type new to me. How I enjoy new types, new countries, new
customs! The girls, looking so nice in their Bruges-like hoods, are very
fresh and comely.

“We left at noon for the goal of our expedition, and I think I may say
that I never had a more memorable little journey. The distant mountains
I had looked at in the morning took clearer forms and colours by
degrees, and the charm of the Irish bogs with their rich black and
purple peat-earth, and bright, reedy grass, and teeming wild flowers,
developed themselves to my delighted eyes as the train whirled us
southwards. At Killarney we took a carriage and set off on my favourite
mode of travel, soon entering upon tracts of that wild nature I was most
anxious to experience. The evening was deepening, and in its solemn
tones I saw for the first time the Wild West Land, whose aspect
gradually grew wilder and more strange as we neared the mysterious
mountains that rose ahead of us. I was content. I was beginning to taste
the salt of the Wilds. What human habitations there are are so like the
stone heaps that lie over the face of the land that they are scarcely
distinguishable from them; but my ‘contentment’ was much dashed by the
sight of the dwellers in this poor land which yields them so little.
Very strange, wild figures came to the black doors to watch us pass,
with, in some cases, half-witted looks.

“The mighty ‘Carran Thual,’ one of the mountain group which rises out of
Glencar and dominates the whole land of Kerry, was on fire with blazing
heather, its peaks sending up a glorious column of smoke which spread
out at the top for miles and miles, and changed its delicate smoke tints
every minute as the sun sank lower. As we reached the rocky pass that
took us by the remote Lough Acoose that sun had gone down behind an
opposite mountain, and the blazing heather glowed brighter as the
twilight deepened, and circles of fire played weirdly on the mountain
side. Our glen gave the ‘Saxon bride’ its grandest illumination on her
arrival. Wild, strange birds rose from the bracken as we passed, and
flew strongly away over lake and mountain torrent, and the little black
Kerry cattle all watched us go by with ears pricked and heads
inquiringly raised. The last stage of the journey had a brilliant
_finale_. A herd of young horses was in our way in the narrow road, and
the creatures careered before us, unable or too stupid to turn aside
into the ditches by the roadside to let us through. We could not head
them, and for fully a mile did those shaggy, wild things caper and jump
ahead, their manes flying out wildly, with the glow from the west
shining through them. Some imbecile cows soon joined them in the
stampede, for no imaginable reason, unless they enjoyed the fright of
being pursued, and the ungainly progress of those recruits was a sight
to behold--tails in the air and horns in the dust. With this escort we
entered Glencar.”

Nothing that I have seen in my travels since that golden time has in the
least dimmed my recollections of that Glencar existence; nor could
anything jar against a thing so unique. I have fully recorded in my
former book how we made different excursions, always on ponies, every
day, not returning till the evening. What impressed me most during these
rides was the depth and richness of the Irish landscape colouring. The
moisture of the ocean air brings out all its glossy depth. Even without
the help of actual sunshine, so essential to the landscape beauty of
Italy, the local colour is powerful. In describing to me the same deep
colouring in Scotland Millais used the simile of the wet pebble. Take a
grey, dry pebble on the seashore and dip it in the water. It will show
many lovely tints. Our inn was in the centre of the glen, delightfully
rough, and impregnated with that scent of turf smoke which has ever
since been to me the subtlest and most touching reminder of those days.
Yet with that roughness there was in the primitive little inn a very
pleasant provision of such sustenance as old campaigners and fishermen
know how to establish in the haunts they visit.

The coast of Clare came next in our journey, where the Atlantic hurls
itself full tilt at the iron cliffs, and the west wind, which I learnt
to love, comes, without once touching land since it left the coast of
Labrador, to fill one with a sense of salt and freshness and health as
it rushes into one’s lungs from off the foam. I was interested in making
comparisons between that sea and the other “sounding deep” that washes
the rocks of Porto Fino as I looked down on the thundering waves below
the cliffs of Moher. Here was the simplest and severest colouring--dark
green, almost amounting to black; light green, cold and pure; foam so
pure that its whiteness had over it a rosy tinge, merely by contrast
with the green of the waves, and that was all; whereas the sea around
Porto Fino baffles both painter and word-painter with its infinite
variety of blues, purples, and greens. These are contrasts that I
delight in. How the west wind rushed at us, full of spray! How the ocean
roared! It was a revel of wind where we stood at the very edge of those
sheer cliffs. Across their black faces sea birds incessantly circled and
wheeled, crying with a shrill clamour. That and the booming of the waves
many fathoms below, as they leap into the immense caverns, were the only
sounds that pierced the wind. The black rocks had ledges of greyer rock,
and along these ledges, tier above tier, sat myriads of white-headed
gulls, their white heads looking like illumination lamps on the faces of
titanic buildings. The Isles of Arran and the mountains of Connemara
spread out before us on the ocean, which sparkled in one place with the
gold beams of the faint, spray-shrouded sun.

Then good-bye to Erin for the present on July 15th and the establishment
of ourselves in London till our return to the Land that held a magnet
for us on September 21st. There we paid a visit to the Knight of Kerry,
at Valentia Island. What a delightful home! The size of the fuchsia
trees told of the mild climate; the scenery was of the remotest and
freshest, most pleasing to the senses, and the ever-welcome scent of
turf smoke would not be denied in the big house where the sods glowed in
the great fireplaces. My surprise, when strolling on one of the innocent
little strands by the sea, was great at seeing the Atlantic cable
emerging, quite simply, from the water between the pebbles, as though it
was nothing in particular. Following it, we reached a very up-to-date
building, so out of keeping with the primitive scene, filled with busy
clerks transmitting goodness knows what cosmopolitan corruption from the
New World to the Old, and _vice versâ_.

[Illustration: In Western Ireland.

A “Jarvey” and “Biddy.”]

I would not have missed the Valentia pig for anything. A taller, leaner,
gaunter specimen has not his match anywhere, not even in the little
black hog of Monte Cassino, whose salient hips are so unexpected. There
is something particularly arresting in a pig with visible hips.[8] All
the animals in the west seemed to me free-and-easy creatures that live
with the peasants as members of the family, having a much better time
than the humans. They frisk irresponsibly in and out of the cabins--no
“by your leave” or “with your leave”--and, altogether, enjoy life to the
top of their own highest level. The poorer the people, the greater
appears the contrast caused by this inverted state of things.

The next time we left England was to go in the opposite direction--to
the Pyrenees. Rapid travel is fast levelling down the different
countries, and a carriage journey through the Pyrenean country is a
bygone pleasure. We have to go to Thibet or the Great Wall of China for
our trips if we want to write anything original about our travels. A
flight by air to the North Pole would, at first, prove very readable and
novel, if well described. This, however, does not take from the pleasure
of going over the inner circle in memory. In the year 1878 we could
still find much that was new and refreshing in a tour through the south
of France! Some friends of mine went up to Khartoum from Cairo not long
ago, with return tickets, by rail, and all they could say was that the
journey was so dusty that they had to draw the blinds of their
compartment and play bridge all the way. Poor dears, how arid!

This little tour of ours was well advised. The loss of our firstborn,
Mary Patricia, brought our first sorrow with it, and we went to Lourdes
and made a wide _détour_ from there through the Pyrenees to Switzerland.
There is nothing like travel for restoring the aching mind to
usefulness. But, undoubtedly, the send-off from Lourdes gave me the
initial impetus towards recovery of which, though I say little, I am
very sensible. We drove to St. Sauveur after our visit to the Grotto
where such striking cures have happened, and each day brought more fully
back to me that zest for natural beauty which has been with me such an
invigorator.

St. Sauveur was bracing and beautiful, but too full of invalids. It was
rather saddening to see them around the Hontalade Sulphur Springs. At
Lourdes they were clustering round the cascade that flows from the
Grotto where the statue of Our Lady stands, exactly reproducing the
figure as seen by the little Shepherdess. Poor humanity, reaching out
hopeful arms in its pain, here for physical help, there for spiritual.
The Gave rushes through both Lourdes and St. Sauveur, with a very sharp
noise in the rocky gorge of the latter, too harsh to be a soothing
sound. I looked forward to getting yet another experience of _vetturino_
travel which I had never thought could be enjoyed again, and which
proved to be still possible. The journey was a success, and, besides the
beauty of that very majestic mountain scenery, the little incidents of
the road were picturesque. Our driver was proud to tell us he was known
as “_L’ancien chien des Pyrénées_,” and a characteristic “old dog” he
was, one-eyed and weatherbeaten, wearing the national blue _béret_ and
very voluble in local _patois_. His horses’ bells jingled in the old
familiar way of my childhood; two absurd little dogs of his accompanied
us all the way who, in the noonday heat, sat in the wayside streams for
a moment to cool, and emerged little dripping rags. The first day’s
ascent was over the Pass of the Tourmalet, the second over that of the
Col d’Aspin, and the third and final climb was that of the Col de
Peyresourde. Then Bagnères de Luchon appeared deep down in the valley
where our drive came to an end. What would we have seen of the Pyrenees
if we had burrowed in tunnels under those _Cols?_ Luchon was not
embellished by the invalids there, whose principal ailment amongst the
female patients was evidently a condition of _embonpoint_ so remarkable
that the suggestion of overfeeding could not possibly be ignored.

We had refreshing “_ascensions_” on horseback; a wide view of Spain from
Super-Bagnère, wherein the backbone of the Pyrenees, with the savage
“Maladetta,” rising supreme, 11,000 feet above sea level, has its
origin. Many very pleasant excursions we had besides. I tried a hurried
sketch of one of these views from the saddle, the only precious chance I
had, but a little Frenchman in tourist helmet and blue veil (and such
boots and spurs!), who was riding in our direction with a party, threw
himself off his pony into my foreground and, hoping to be included in
the view which he was pretending to admire, posed there, right in my
way, his comrades calling him in vain to rejoin them.

On leaving Luchon we journeyed _viâ_ Toulouse to Cette, following the
course of the Garonne, which famous river we had seen in its little
muddy infancy near Arreau and in its culminating grandeur at Bordeaux.
Toulouse looked majestic, a fair city as I remember it. There I was
interested to see that famous canal which carries on the traffic from
the great river to the Mediterranean. A noteworthy feature in the
landscape as we journeyed on to Cette in the dreary, dun-coloured
gloaming was the mediæval city of Carcassonne. To come suddenly upon a
complete restoration to life of an old-world city, full of towers and
wrapped in its unbroken walls, gives one a strange sensation. One seems
to be suddenly deposited in the heart of the Middle Ages. That dark
evening there was something indescribably gloomy in the aspect of that
cinder-coloured mass against an ashen sky, and set on a hill high above
the fields cultivated in prim rows and patches, looking like a town in
the background of some hunting scene, so often shown in old tapestry.
All was darkening before an approaching storm. In writing of it at the
time I was not aware that we owed this most precious old city to
Viollet-le-Duc, who has restored it stone by stone.

Cette looked so bleared and blind the next morning in a sea mist that I
have preserved a dejected impression of those low shores, grey
tamarisks, and lagunes, and waste places, seen as though in a dismal
dream. I was coaxed back to cheerfulness by the sunshine of Nismes,
where we spent several hours, on our way to our halt for the night,
strolling in the warm-tinted Roman ruins, and I finally relaxed in the
delight of our arriving once more at one of my most beloved cities,
splendid Avignon. Good travelling. This closed the day. Under my
parents’ _régime_, and chiefly on account of my mother, who hated night
travel, and on account of our general easy-going ways, we gave nearly a
fortnight to reach Genoa from England, with pauses here and there.

My redundant Diary carries me on now, like the rapid Rhone itself, to my
native Lake Leman. I see it now as I saw it that day, August 8th,
1878--a blue opal. There is always something sacred about a place in
which one came into the world. We visited “Claremont,” a lovely dwelling
overlooking the lake, and facing the snowy ridges of the Dents du Midi.
Looking at that house “all my mother came into my eyes” as I thought of
her that November night, long ago, and of our dear, faithful nurse whom
I captured there to our service till death, with a smile!

And now for the dear old Rhine once more. We got to Bâle next day, and
very scenic the old town looked on our arrival in the evening. On either
side of the swift-flowing river the gabled houses were full of lights,
which were reflected in the water, all looking red-gold by contrast with
the green-gold of the moon. On August 10th from Bâle to Heidelberg, the
rose-coloured city of the great Tun! Other tuns are also shown, not
quite so capacious; but what swilling they suggest on the part of the
old electors, who gathered all that hock in tithes!

I was mortified when trying to impress my husband with the charms of the
Rhine as we dropped down to Cologne. My early Diary tells of my
enchantment on that fondly-remembered river. But, alas! this time the
weather was rainy and ugly all the way, and as we came to the best part,
the romantic Gorge, he shut himself up in a deck cabin, out of which I
could not entice him. I suspect the natives on board drove him in there
rather than his resentment at the “come down” from the glowing
descriptions one reads in travel books. These natives were a most
irritating foreground to the blurred views. All day long, and into the
night, meals were perpetually breaking out all over the deck and, do
what one could, the feeding of those Teutons obtruded itself on one’s
attention _ad nauseam_. I have a sketch, taken _sub rosa_, of an obese
and terrible _frau_, seated behind her rather smart officer husband at
one of the little tables. She had emptied her capacious mug of beer, and
was asking him for more, to which demand he was paying no attention. But
“Gustav! Gustav!” she persisted, poking him in the back with her empty
tankard. The “Gustav!” and the prods were getting too much to be ignored
by the long-suffering back, and she got her refill. What General Gordon
calls the “German visage” in contrast with the “Italian countenance”
never appeared so surprisingly ugly as it did to us that day on the
crowded deck of the _Queen of Prussia_.

My Diary says: “At Mayence, Will and I, always on the look-out for
soldiers, had a good opportunity of seeing German infantry, as we
stopped here a long time and two line battalions crossed the bridge near
us. From the deck of the steamer the men looked big enough, but when
Will ran on shore and overhauled them to have a nearer look, I could
gauge their height by his six-foot-two. He showed a clear head and
shoulders above their _pickelhauben_. They were short, chiefly by reason
of the stumpy legs, which carry a long back--a very unbeautiful
arrangement.”

The next day we had a rather dull start from Cologne along a dismal
stretch of river as far as Düsseldorf. Killing time at Düsseldorf is not
lively. At the café where we had tea two young subalterns of hussars
came gaily in to have their coffee, and, just as they were sitting down
with a cavalry swagger, there came in a major of some other corps, and
the two immediately got up, saluted, and left the room. Here was
discipline! On our returning to the steamer Will found an epauletted
disciple of Bismarck in my place at supper. He told the epauletted one
of his mistake, much to the latter’s manifest astonishment, who didn’t
move. I suppose there came something into the British soldier’s eye,
but, anyway, the sabre-rattler eventually got up and went elsewhere:
things felt electric.

August 14th found us nearly all day on board the boat. “A very
interesting day, showing me a phase of Rhine scenery familiar to me in
Dutch pictures by the score, but never seen by me till then in reality.
The strong wind blew from the sea and tossed the green-yellow river into
tumultuous waves, over which came bounding the blunt-bowed craft from
Holland, taking merchandise up stream, and differing in no way from the
boats beloved of the old Dutch masters. On either side of the river were
low banks waving with rushes, and beyond stretched sunken marshy
meadows, and here and there quaint little towns glided by with windmills
whirring, and clusters of ships’ masts appearing above the grey willows
and sedges. Dordrecht formed a perfect picture _à la_ Rembrandt, with a
host of windmills on the skyline, telling dark against the brightness,
at the confluence of the Maes and Rhine. Here Cuyp was born, the painter
of sunlit cows. Rotterdam pleased us greatly, and we strolled about in
the evening, coming upon the statue of Erasmus, which I place amongst
the most admirable statues I have seen. Rotterdam possesses in rich
abundance the peculiar charm of a seaport. A place of this kind has for
me a very strong attraction. The varied shipping, the bustle on land
and water, the colour, the noise, the mixture of human types, the bustle
of men and animals; all these things have always filled me with pleasure
at a great seaport.” A visit to Holland (“the dustless” land, as my
husband called it truly), a revel amongst the Amsterdam galleries, then
Antwerp, where we embarked for Harwich, closed our trip. Invigorated and
restored, I set to work on an 8-foot canvas, whereon I painted a subject
which had been in my mind since childhood.



CHAPTER XIV

QUEEN VICTORIA


It must have been at Villa de’ Franchi that my father related to me a
tragedy which had profoundly moved England in the year 1842, and he
laughingly encouraged me to paint it when I should be grown up. The
Diary says: “We are now at war with poor Shere Ali, and this new Afghan
War revived for me the idea of the tragedy of ‘42, namely, Dr. Brydon
reaching Jellalabad, weary and fainting, on his dying horse, the sole
survivor, as was then thought, from our disaster in the Cabul passes....
Here I am, on 1st March, 1879, not doing badly with the picture. I think
it is well painted, and I hope poetical. But I have had the darkest
winter I can remember, and lost nearly all January by the succession of
fogs which have accompanied this long frost. Will sailed under orders
for the Cape last Friday, February 28th. Our terrible defeat at Isandula
has caused the greatest commotion here, and regiments are being poured
out of England to Zululand in a fleet of transports; and now staff
officers are being selected for posts of great responsibility out there,
and amongst these is Colonel Butler, A.A.G. to General Clifford.

“_March 16th, 1879._--I am beginning to show my picture. Scarcely
anything is talked of still but the fighting in Zululand and the
incapacity of that poor unfortunate Lord Chelmsford, whom Government
keeps telling they will continue to trust in his supreme post of
Commander-in-Chief, though he would evidently be thankful to be relieved
of an anxiety which his nervous temperament and susceptible nature must
make unbearable. What magnificent subjects for pictures the ‘Defence of
Rorke’s Drift’ will furnish. When we get full details I shall be much
tempted to paint some episode of that courageous achievement which has
shed balm on the aching wound of Isandula. But the temptation will have
to be very strong to make me break my rule of not painting contemporary
subjects. I like to mature my themes.

“Studio Sunday. At last, at last! After three years of disappointment
another Academy Studio Show has come, and that very brightly and
successfully. I have called the Afghan picture ‘The Remnants of an
Army.’ I had the Irish picture to show also, by permission of Whitehead,
‘’Listed for the Connaught Rangers.’ From one till six to-day people
poured in. My studio was got up quite charmingly with curtains and
screens, and with wild beast skins disposed on the floor, and my arms
and armour furbished up. The two pictures came out well, and both
appeared to ‘take.’ However, not much value can be attached to to-day’s
praises to my face. But I must not let Elmore’s (R.A.) tribute to the
‘Remnants of an Army’ go unrecorded. ‘It is impossible to look at that
man’s face unmoved,’ and his eyes were positively dimmed! I have heard
it said that no one was ever known to shed tears before a picture. On
reading a book, on hearing music, yes, but not on seeing a painting.
Well! that is not true, as I have proved more than once. I can’t resist
telling here of a pathetic man who came to me to say, ‘I had a wet eye
when I saw your picture!’ He had one eye brown and the other blue, and
I almost asked, ‘Which, the brown or the blue?’ It is often so difficult
to know what to answer appreciatively to enthusiastic and unexpected
praise!

“Varnishing Day. A long and cheery day in those rooms of happy memory at
Burlington House. Both my pictures are well hung and look well, and
congratulations flowed in.” A few days later: “Alice and I to the
Private View at that fascinating Burlington House, so fascinating when
one’s works are well placed! The Press is treating me very well. No
subsidised puffs _here_, so I enjoy these critiques. The Academy has
received me back with open arms, and the members are very nice to me,
some of them expressing their hope that I am pleased with the positions
of my pictures, and several of them speaking quite openly about their
determination to vote for me at the next election.”

The Fine Art Society bought the Afghan subject of which they published a
very faithful engraving, and it is now at the Tate Gallery. It is a
comfort to me to know that nearly all my principal works are either in
the keeping of my Sovereign or in public galleries, and not changing
hands among private collectors.

I spent much of a cool, if rainy, summer at Edenbridge, in Kent, taking
a rose bower of a cottage there, my parents with me. There we heard in
the papers the dreadful news of the Prince Imperial’s death. Then
followed a hasty line from my husband, written in a fury of indignation
from Natal, at the sacrifice of “the last of the Napoleons.” When he
returned at long last from the deplorable Zulu War, followed by the
Sekukuni Campaign, the poor Empress Eugénie sent for him to Camden
Place, and during a long and most painful interview she asked for all
details, her tears flowing all the time, and in her open way letting all
her sorrow loose in paroxysms of grief. He had managed the funeral and
embarkation at Durban. The pall was covered with artificial violets
which he had asked the nuns there to make, at high pressure, and he
subsequently described to me the impressive sight of the _cortège_ as it
wound down the hill to the port off Durban, in the afternoon sunshine.

At little Edenbridge I was busy making studies of any grey horses I
could find, as I had already begun my charge of the Scots Greys at
Waterloo at my studio. That charge I called “Scotland for Ever,” and I
owe the subject to an impulse I received that season from the Private
View at the Grosvenor Gallery, now extinct. The Grosvenor was the home
of the “Æsthetes” of the period, whose sometimes unwholesome productions
preceded those of our modern “Impressionists.” I felt myself getting
more and more annoyed while perambulating those rooms, and to such a
point of exasperation was I impelled that I fairly fled and, breathing
the honest air of Bond Street, took a hansom to my studio. There I
pinned a 7-foot sheet of brown paper on an old canvas and, with a piece
of charcoal and a piece of white chalk, flung the charge of “The Greys”
upon it. Dr. Pollard, who still looked in during my husband’s absences
as he used to do in my maiden days to see that all was well with me,
found me in a surprising mood.

On returning from my _villeggiatura_ in Kent with my parents I took up
again the painting of this charge, and one day the Keeper of the Queen’s
Privy Purse, Sir Henry Ponsonby, called at the studio to ask me if I
would paint a picture for Her Majesty, the subject to be taken from a
war of her own reign.

Of course, I said “Yes,” and gladly welcomed the honour, but being a
slow worker, I saw that “Scotland for Ever!” must be put aside if the
Queen’s picture was to be ready for the next Academy.

Every one was still hurrahing over the defence of “Rorke’s Drift” in
Zululand as though it had been a second Waterloo. My friends (not my
parents) urged and urged. I demurred, because it was against my
principles to paint a conflict. In the “Greys” the enemy was not shown,
here our men would have to be represented at grips with the foe. No, I
put that subject aside and proposed one that I felt and saw in my mind’s
eye most vividly. I proposed this to the Queen--the finding of the dead
Prince Imperial and the bearing of his body from the scene of his heroic
death on the lances of the 17th Lancers. Her Majesty sent me word that
she approved, to my great relief. I began planning that most impressive
composition. Then I got a message to say the Queen thought it better not
to paint the subject. What was to be done? The Crimea was exhausted.
Afghanistan? But I was compelled by clamour to choose the popular
Rorke’s Drift; so, characteristically, when I yielded I threw all my
energies into the undertaking.

When the 24th Regiment, now the South Wales Borderers, who in that fight
saved Natal, came home, some of the principal heroes were first summoned
to Windsor and then sent on to me, and as soon as I could get down to
Portsmouth, where the 24th were quartered, I undertook to make all the
studies from life necessary for the big picture there. Nothing that the
officers of that regiment and the staff could possibly do to help me was
neglected. They even had a representation of the fight acted by the men
who took part in it, dressed in the uniforms they wore on that awful
night. Of course, the result was that I reproduced the event as nearly
to the life as possible, but from the soldier’s point of view--I may say
the _private’s_ point of view--not mine, as the principal witnesses were
from the ranks. To be as true to facts as possible I purposely withdrew
my own view of the thing. What caused the great difficulty I had to
grapple with was the fact that the whole mass of those fighting figures
was illuminated by firelight from the burning hospital. Firelight
transforms colours in an extraordinary way which you hardly realise till
you have to reproduce the thing in paint.

The Zulus were a great difficulty. I had them in the composition in dark
masses, rather swallowed up in the shade, but for one salient figure
grasping a soldier’s bayonet to twist it off the rifle, as was done by
many of those heroic savages. My excellent Dr. Pollard got me a sort of
Zulu as model from a show in London. It was unfortunate that a fog came
down the day he was brought to my studio, so that at one time I could
see nothing of my dusky savage but the whites of his eyes and his teeth.
I hope I may never have to go through such troubles again!

When the picture was in its pale, shallow, early stage, the Queen, who
was deeply interested in its progress, wished to see it, and me. So to
Windsor I took it. The Ponsonbys escorted me to the Great Gallery, where
I beheld my production, looking its palest, meanest, and flattest,
installed on an easel, with two lords bending over it--one of them Lord
Beaconsfield.

Exeunt the two lords, right, through a dark side door. Enter the Queen,
left. Prince Leopold, Duchess of Argyll, Princess Beatrice and others
grouped round the easel, centre. The Queen came up to me and placed her
plump little hand in mine after I had curtseyed, and I was counselled to
give Her Majesty the description of every figure. She spoke very kindly
in a very deep, guttural voice, and showed so much emotion that I
thought her all too kind, shrinking now and then as I spoke of the
wounds, etc. She told me how she had found my husband lying at Netley
Hospital after Ashanti, apparently near his end, and spoke with warmth
of his services in that campaign. She did not leave us until I had
explained every figure, even the most distant. She knew all by name, for
I had managed to show, in that scuffle, all the V.C.’s and other
conspicuous actors in the drama, the survivors having already been
presented to her. Majors Chard and Bromhead were sufficiently
recognisable in the centre, for I had had them both for their portraits.

The Academicians put “The Defence of Rorke’s Drift” in the Lecture Room
of unhappy “Quatre Bras” memory, no doubt for the same reason they gave
in the case of that picture. Yes, there was a great crush before it, but
I was not satisfied as to its effect in that poor light. It is now with
“The Roll Call” at St. James’s Palace. I learnt later how very, very
pleased the Queen was with her commission, and that one day at Windsor,
wishing to show it to some friends, the twilight deepening, she showed
so much appreciation that she took a pair of candlesticks and held them
up at the full stretch of her arms to light the picture. I like to see
in my mind’s eye that Rembrandtesque effect, with the principal figure
in the group our Queen. She wanted me to paint her two other subjects,
but, somehow, that never came off.



CHAPTER XV

OFFICIAL LIFE--THE EAST


In 1880 my husband was offered the post of Adjutant-General at Plymouth,
and thither we went in time, with the pretty little infant Elizabeth
Frances, who came to fill the place of the sister who was gone. There
three more of our children were born.

I took up “Scotland for Ever!” again, and in the bright light of our
house on the Hoe, with never a brown fog to hinder me, and with any
amount of grey army horses as models, I finished that work. It was
exhibited alone. It is quite unnecessary to burden my readers with the
reason of this. I was very sorry, as I expected rather a bright effect
with all those white and grey galloping _hippogriffes_ bounding out of
the Academy walls. There was a law suit in question, and there let the
matter rest. Messrs. Hildesheimer bought the copyright from me, and the
picture I sold, later on, to a private purchaser, who has presented it
to the city of Leeds. By a happy chance I had a supply of very brilliant
Spanish white (_blanco de plata_) for those horses, and though I have
ever since used the finest _blanc d’argent_, made in Paris, I don’t
think the Spanish white has a rival. Perhaps its maker took the secret
with her to the Elysian Fields. It was an old widow of Seville.

On May 11th of that year our beloved father died, comforted with the
heartening rites of the Church. He had been received not long before the
end.

Life at “pleasant Plymouth” was very interesting in its way, and the
charm of the West Country found in me the heartiest appreciation. But
the climate is relaxing, and conducive to lotus eating. One seems to
live in a mental Devonshire cream of pleasant days spent in excursions
on land and water, trips up the many lovely rivers, or across the
beautiful Sound to various picnic rendezvous on the coast. There was
much festivity: balls in the winter and long excursions in summer,
frequently to the wilds of Dartmoor. Particularly pleasant were the
receptions at Government House under the auspices of the
Pakenhams--perfect hosts--and at the Admiralty, with its very
distinguished host and hostess, Sir Houston and Lady Stewart. Over
Dartmoor there spread the charm of the unbounded hospitality of the
Mortimer Colliers, who lived on the verge of the moor, and this was a
thing ever to be fondly remembered. No pleasanter house could offer one
a welcome than “Foxhams,” and how hearty a welcome that always was!

Riding was our principal pleasure. I never spent more enjoyable days in
the saddle elsewhere. My husband and I had a riding tour through
Cornwall--just the thing I liked most. But he was from time to time
called away. To Egypt in 1882, for Tel-el-Kebir; twice to Canada, the
second time on Government business; and in 1884 to the great Gordon
Relief Expedition, that terrible tragedy, made possible by the maddening
delays at home. I illustrated the book he wrote[9] on that colossal
enterprise, so wantonly turned into failure from quite feasible success.

My next picture was on a smaller scale than its predecessors, and was
exhibited at the Academy in 1882. The Boer War, with its terrible Majuba
Hill disaster, had attracted all our sorrowful attention the year before
to South Africa, and I chose the attack on Laing’s Nek for my subject.
The two Eton boys whom I show, Elwes and Monck, went forward (Elwes to
his death) with the cry of “_Floreat Etona!_” and I gave the picture
those words for its title.

Yet another Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Mansion House, in honour of the
Royal Academicians, saw me late in 1881 a guest once more in those
gilded halls, this time by my husband’s side. He responded for the Army,
and joined Arts and Arms in a bright little speech, composed
_impromptu_. “We were a highly honoured couple,” I read in the Diary,
“and very glad that we came up. We must have sat at that festive board
over three hours. The music all through was exceedingly good and,
indeed, so was the fare. The homely tone of civic hospitality is so
characteristic, dressed as it is with gold and silver magnificence,
rivalling that of Royalty itself! One of the waiters tried to press me
to have a second helping of whitebait by whispering in my ear the
seductive words, ‘_Devilled_, ma’am.’ It was a fiery edition of the
former recipe. I resisted.”

The departure of my husband with Lord Wolseley (then Sir Garnet) and
Staff for Egypt on August 5th, 1882, to suppress poor old Arabi and his
“rebels” was the most trying to me of all the many partings, because of
its dramatic setting. One bears up well on a crowded railway platform,
but when it comes to watching a ship putting off to sea, as I did that
time at Liverpool, to the sound of farewell cheering and “Auld Lang
Syne,” one would sooner read of its pathos than suffer it in person.
Soldiers’ wives in war time have to feel the sickening sensation on
waking some morning when news of a fight is expected of saying to
themselves, “I may be a widow.” Not only have I gone through that, but
have had a second period of trial with two sons under fire in the World
War.

I gave a long period of my precious time to making preparations for a
large picture representing Wolseley and his Staff reaching the bridge
across the canal at the close of the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, followed by
his Staff, wherein figured my husband. The latter had not been very
enthusiastic about the subject. To beat those poor _fellaheen_ soldiers
was not a matter for exultation, he said; and he told me that the
capture of Arabi’s earthworks had been like “going through brown paper.”
He thought the theme unworthy, and hoped I would drop the idea. But I
wouldn’t; and, seeing me bent on it, he did all he could to help me to
realise the scene I had chosen. Lord Wolseley gave me a fidgety sitting
at their house in London, his wife trying to keep him quiet on her knee
like a good boy. I had crowds of Highlanders to represent, and went in
for the minutest rendering of the equipment then in use. Well, I never
was so long over a work. Depend upon it, if you do not “see” the thing
vividly before you begin, but have to build it up as you go along, the
picture will not be one of your best. Nor was this one! It was exhibited
in the Academy of 1885, and had a moderate success. It was well
engraved.

In the September of 1884 my husband left for the Gordon Expedition,
having finished his work of getting boats ready for the cataracts, boats
to carry the whole Army. In the following June he came home on leave,
well in health, in spite of rending wear and tear, but deeply hurt at
the failure of what might have been one of the greatest campaigns in
modern history. How he had urged and urged, and fumed at the delays! He
told me the campaign was lost _three times over_. Gordon was simply
sacrificed to ineptitude in high quarters at home. In this connection, I
ask, can praise be too great for the British rank and file who did
_their_ best in this unparalleled effort? You saw Lifeguardsmen plying
their oars in the boats, oars they had never handled before this call;
marines mounted on camels--more than “horse-marines,” as a camel in his
movements is five horses rolled into one; everything he was called upon
to do the British soldier did to the best of his capacity.

We spent most of my husband’s precious leave in Glencar. What better
haven to come to from the feverish toil on river and in desert, ending
in bitter disappointment? We went to Court functions, also. How these
functions amused me, and how I revelled in their colour, in their
variety of types brought together, all these guests in national uniform
or costume. And I must be allowed to add how proud I was of my
six-foot-two soldier in all his splendour. The Queen’s aide-de-camp
uniform, which he wore at the time of which I am writing, till he was
promoted major-general, was particularly well designed, both for “dress”
and “undress.” I frankly own I loved these Court receptions. No, I was
never bored by them, I am thankful to say; and I don’t believe any woman
is who has the luck to go there, whatever she may say.



CHAPTER XVI

TO THE EAST


I followed my husband to Egypt, where he had returned, in command at
Wady Halfa on the expiration of his leave, on November 14th, 1885. I
went with our eldest little boy and girl. A new experience for me--the
East! One of my longings in childhood was to see the East. There it was
for me.

Cairo in 1885 still retained much of its Oriental aspect in the European
quarter. (I don’t suppose the old, true Cairo will ever change.) I was
just in time. The Shepheard’s Hotel of that day had a terrace in front
of it where we used to sit and watch the life of the street below, an
occupation very pleasing to myself. The building was overrun with a
wealth of flowering creepers of all sorts of loveliness, and surrounded
with a garden. When next we visited Cairo the creepers were being torn
down, and the terrace demolished. Then a huge hotel was run up in
avaricious haste to reap the next season’s harvest from the thronging
visitors, and now stands flush with the street to echo the trams.

It is difficult for me now to revive in memory the exquisite surprise I
felt when first I saw the life of the East. I could hardly believe the
thing was real, everyday life. Though I have often returned to Egypt
since, that first-time feeling never was renewed, though my enjoyment of
Oriental beauty and picturesqueness never, I am glad to say, faded in
the least. Oh, you who enjoy the zest of life, be thankful that you
possess it! It is a thing not to be acquired, but to be born with. I
think artists keep it the longest, for it enters the heart by the eye.
The long letters I wrote to my mother on the spot and at the moment I
incorporated later in the little book already referred to. Oh, the
pleasures of memory, streaked with sadness though they must be, and with
ugly things of all kinds, too! Still, how intensely precious a
possession they are when _weeded_. To me, after Italy and, of course,
the Holy Land, give me the Nile.

I and the children remained in Cairo till I got my husband’s message
from the front that the way was clear enough for our journey as far as
Luxor. There I and the children remained until the fight at Giniss was
won and all danger was over further up stream. At Luxor began the most
enjoyable of all modes of travel--by houseboat. The _dahabiyeh Fostat_
was sent down from Wady Halfa to take us up to Assouan, where my husband
awaited us. We had reached Luxor from Cairo by the commonplace post
boat. The Assouan Dam was, of course, not in existence, and our
_dahabiyeh_ had to be hauled in the old way through the first cataract,
while we transferred ourselves to another _dahabiyeh_ moored off the now
submerged island of Philæ.

This cut-and-dried chronicle includes one of the most enchanting
experiences of my life. Above Philæ we entered Nubia, before whose
intensified colouring the lower desert pales. Time being very precious
to my husband, our slow, dreamy sailing houseboat had to be towed by a
little steamer for the rest of the way to Wady Halfa, where we lived
till the heat of March warned us that I and the children must prudently
go into northern coolness. And to Plymouth we returned, leaving the
General to drag out the burning summer at Wady Halfa in such heat as I
never had had to suffer. While at Halfa I made many sketches in oil for
my picture, “A Desert Grave,” out in the desert across the river. It is
very trying painting in the desert on account of the wind, which blows
the sand perpetually into your eyes. With that and the glare, I took two
inflamed eyes back with me to Europe. The picture should have been more
poetical than it turned out to be, and I wish I could repaint it now. It
was well placed at the Academy. The Upper Nile had these graves of
British officers and men all along its banks during that terrible toll
taken in the course of the Gordon Expedition and after, some in single
loneliness, far apart, and some in twos and threes. These graves had to
be made exactly in the same way as those of the enemy, lest a cross or
some other Christian mark should invite desecration.

The World War has thrown a dreadful cloud between us and those old war
days, but the cloud in time will spread out thinner and let us look
through to those past times.

My next experience was Brittany. Thither we went for a rest, and to give
the children the habit of talking French. At Dinan, in an old farmhouse,
we ruralised amidst orchards and amongst the Breton peasantry. Very nice
and quiet and healthy. There our youngest boy was born, Martin William,
who was immediately inscribed on the army books as liable for service in
the French Army if he reached the age of eighteen on French soil. During
that part of our stay at Dinan I painted the 24th Dragoons, who were
stationed there, leaving the town by the old Porte St. Malo for the
front, a great crowd of people seeing them off. I had mounted dragoons
and peasants for the asking as models.

My husband was knighted--K.C.B.--in this interval, at Windsor. We went
to live in Ireland from Dinan, in 1888, under the Wicklow Mountains,
where the children continued their healthy country life in its fulness.
The picture I had painted of the departing dragoons went to the Academy
in 1889, and in 1890 I exhibited “An Eviction in Ireland,” which Lord
Salisbury was pleased to be facetious about in his speech at the
banquet, remarking on the “breezy beauty” of the landscape, which almost
made him wish he could take part in an eviction himself. How like a
Cecil!

The ‘eighties had seen our Government do some dreadful things in the way
of evictions in Ireland. Being at Glendalough at the end of that decade,
and hearing one day that an eviction was to take place some nine miles
distant from where we were staying for my husband’s shooting, I got an
outside car and drove off to the scene, armed with my paints. I met the
police returning from their distasteful “job,” armed to the teeth and
very flushed. On getting there I found the ruins of the cabin
smouldering, the ground quite hot under my feet, and I set up my easel
there. The evicted woman came to search amongst the ashes of her home to
try and find some of her belongings intact. She was very philosophical,
and did not rise to the level of my indignation as an ardent English
sympathiser. However, I studied her well, and on returning home at
Delgany I set up the big picture which commemorates a typical eviction
in the black ‘eighties. I seldom can say I am pleased with my work when
done, but I _am_ complacent about this picture; it has the true Irish
atmosphere, and I was glad to turn out that landscape successfully which
I had made all my studies for, on the spot, at Glendalough. What storms
of wind and rain, and what dazzling sunbursts I struggled in, one day
the paints being blown out of my box and nearly whirled into the lake
far below my mountain perch! My canvas, acting like a sail, once nearly
sent me down there too. I did not see this picture at all at the
Academy, but I am very certain it cannot have been very “popular” in
England. Before it was finished my husband was appointed to the command
at Alexandria, and as soon as I had packed off the “Eviction,” I
followed, on March 24th, and saw again the fascinating East.

My journey took me _viâ_ Venice, where the P.& O. boat _Hydaspes_ was
waiting. Can any journey to Egypt be more charming than this one, right
across Italy?

Oh! you who do not think a journey a mere means of getting to your
destination as quickly as possible, say, if you have taken the
Milan-Verona-Padua line, is there anything in all Italy to surpass that
burst on the view of the Lago di Garda after you emerge from the Lonato
tunnel? On a blue day, say in spring? If you have not gone that way yet,
I beg you to be on the look-out on your left when you do go. This
wonderful surprise is suddenly revealed, and almost as quickly lost.
Waste not a second. I put up at the “Angleterre” at Venice, on the Riva,
because from there one sees the lagunes and glimpses of the open sea
beyond, and the air is open and fresh.

“_March 28th._--Took gondola for the big P. & O. S.S. which is to be my
home for the next six days. I at once saw the ship was one of their
smartest boats, and all looked very festive on board. Luncheon was
served immediately after my arrival, and I found a bright company
thereat assembled, with Sir Henry and Lady Layard at their head; some
come to see friends off and others to go on. We amalgamated very
pleasantly, and great was the waving of handkerchiefs as we slowly
steamed past the Dogana and the Riva, our returning friends having gone
on shore in gondolas whose sable sides were hidden in brilliant
draperies. The sashes of the gondoliers’ liveries flashed in coloured
silks and gold fringes; the sea sparkled. I rejoiced. The Montalba girls
gave us a salvo of pocket handkerchiefs from their balcony on the
Giudecca. What a gay scene! Lady Layard, on leaving, introduced Mrs. H.
M., who was to join her husband at Brindisi for a long trip in the big
liner from England, and I was very happy at the prospect of her pleasant
and intellectual companionship thus far.”

And so we passed out into the early night on the dim Adriatic, after a
sunset farewell to Venice, which remains to me as one of the tenderest
visions of the past. That voyage to Alexandria is more enjoyable, given
fair weather, than most voyages, because one is hardly ever out of sight
of land, and such classic land, too! The Ionian Islands, “Morea’s
Hills,” Candia. But what a pleasure it is to see on the day before the
arrival the signs that the landing is near at hand. The General in
Command will be waiting at sunrise on the landing stage, perhaps the
light catching the gold lace on his cap, appearing above the turbans of
the native crowd. Of course every one who has been to Egypt knows the
feeling of disappointment at the first sight of its shores, low-lying
and fringed with those incongruous windmills which the Great Napoleon
vainly planted there to teach the natives how better to make flour. In
vain. And so were his wheelbarrows. The natives preferred carrying the
mud in their hands. And the city, how it fails to give you the Oriental
impression you are longing for, with its pseudo-Italian architecture,
its hard paved streets, and dusty boulevards and squares. Government
House on the Boulevard de Ramleh was comfortable, roomy and airy, but I
missed the imagined garden and palm trees of the Cairo official
residence.

“_April 3rd._--We have a view of Cleopatra’s Tomb (so called) to the
right, jutting out into the intensely blue sea, but the other arm of the
bay (the old Roman harbour) to our left, covered with native houses and
minarets, is partly hidden by an abomination which hurts me to
exasperation, one of those amorphous buildings of tenth-rate Italian
vulgarity and dreariness which are being run up here in such quantities,
and rears its gaunt expanse close behind this house. To cap this
erection it has received the title of ‘Bombay Castle.’ Never mind, I
shall soon, in my happy way, cease to notice what I don’t like to see,
and shall enjoy all that is left here of the original East and its
fascinating barbaric beauty. Will took me for a most interesting drive,
first to Ras-el-Tin, during which we threaded a conglomeration of East
and West which was bewildering. There were nightmarish Italian
‘_palazzi_’ loaded with cheap, bluntly-moulded stucco; glaring streets,
cafés, dusty gardens, over-dressed Jewish and Levantine women driving
about in exaggerated hats, frocks and figures; and there also appeared
the dark narrow bazaars and original streets, the latticed windows, the
finely-coloured robes of the natives, the weird goats, the wolfish dogs,
straying about in all directions. Mounds of rubbish everywhere; some
only the leavings of newly-built houses, some the remains of the
bombardment’s havoc, others the dust of a once beautiful city whose
loveliness in old Roman times must have been supreme.

“Only here and there was I reminded of the charm of Cairo--a tree by a
yellow wall, a group of natives eating sugar cane, a water-seller with
his tinkling brass cups and a rose behind his ear, and so on. We then
had a really enjoyable drive along the Mahmoudieh Canal, which was balm
to my mind and eyes. All along the placid water on the opposite bank ran
Arab villages with their accompaniments of palms, buffaloes, goats,
water jars, native men and women in scriptural robes; water wheels;
square-shaped, almost window-less mud dwellings, so appropriate under
that intense light. On our bank were the remnants of Pashadom in the
shape of gimcrack palaces closed and let go to ruin, on account of
fashion having betaken itself to the suburb of Ramleh. These dwellings
were, however, so hidden in deep tropical gardens of great and rich
beauty that they did not offend.

“Beyond the Arab villages on the other bank appeared Lake Mareotis, and
there was a poetical feeling about all that region. It was so strange to
have on one side of a narrow band of water old Egypt and the life of the
East going on just as it has been for ages past, and on the other the
ephemeral tokens of the sham and fleeting life of to-day, and this all
the way along a drive of some two miles. This is the fashionable drive,
and to see young Egypt on horseback, and old Jewry in carriages, passing
and repassing up and down this cosmopolitan Rotten Row is decidedly
trying. My admired friends, the running syces, though, redeem the thing
to me. Their dress is one of the most perfect in shape, colour and
material ever devised. The air was rich with the scent of strange
flowers, some of which billowed over entrance gates in magnificent
purple masses.”

I must be excused for having shown irritation in my Diary at starting. I
soon adapted myself to the entourage, and I hope I “did my manners” as
became my official responsibilities. I liked the Greeks best of
all--nay, I got very fond of these handsome, sunny people.

It was a curiously cosmopolitan society, and I, who am never good at
remembering the little feuds that are always simmering in this kind of
mixed company, must have sometimes made mistakes. I heard a Greek woman,
who had dined with us the previous evening, informing her friends in a
voice fraught with meaning, _”Imaginez, hier au soir chez le Général
Monsieur Gariopulo a donné le bras à Madame Buzzato!”_ The recipients of
this information were filled with mirth. What _had_ I done in pairing
off these two for the procession to dinner?

The British were entrenched at Ramleh. The little stations on the
railway there gave me quite a turn at first sight. One was “Bulkley,”
the next “Fleming,” then “Sydney O. Schutz,” and finally San Stefano at
railhead, and a casino with a corrugated iron roof under that scorching
sun. Oh, that I should see such a thing in Egypt! Cheek by jowl with the
little villas one saw weird Bedouin tents and wild Arabs and their
animals, carrying on their existence as if the Briton had never come
there.

The incongruities of Alexandria became to me positively enjoyable; and
the desert air, as ever, was life-giving. My little Syrian horse,
“Minnow,” carried me many a mile alongside my husband’s charger, over
that pleasant desert sand. But an occasional khamseen wind gave me a
taste of the disagreeable phase of Egyptian weather. I name, with the
vivid recollection of the khamseen’s irritating qualities, the
experience of paying calls (in a nice toilette) under its suffocating
puffs. And how the flies swarm; how they settle in black masses on the
sweetmeats sold in the streets, and hang in tassels from the native
children’s eyes. Oh, yes, there is a seamy side to all things, but it
isn’t my way to turn it up more than is necessary. Here may follow a bit
of Diary:

“_May 22nd._--We had a memorable picnic at Rosetta to-day, with thirty
of the English colony. I had long wished to visit this ancient city,
brick-built and half deserted, a once opulent place, but now mournful in
its decay. I longed to see old Nile once more. We chartered a special
train and left Moharram Bey Station at 8 a.m. I was much pleased with
the seaside desert and the effects of mirage over Aboukir Bay. The
ancient town of Edkou struck me very much. It was built of the small
brown Rosetta brick, and was placed on a hill, giving it a different
aspect from the usual Arab pale-walled villages which are usually built
on level ground. It had thus a peculiar character. Shortly before
reaching Rosetta the land becomes richly cultivated. There is a subtle
beauty about the cultivated regions of this fascinating land of Egypt
which I feel very much. It is the beauty of abundance and richness as
well as of vivid colour.

“At Rosetta dense crowds of natives awaited us and some police were
detailed to escort us through the town. I heard some of the women of our
party wishing they could pick the blue tiles off the minarets, but for
my part I prefer them under their lovely sky and sunshine, rather than
ornamenting mantelpieces in a Kensington fog. A little _musharabieh_
lattice is still left here in the windows and has not yet been taken to
grace the British drawing-rooms of Ramleh. We strolled about the bazaars
and into the old ramshackle mosques, and, altogether, exhausted the
sights. Everywhere in Rosetta you see beautiful little Corinthian marble
columns incorporated with the Arab buildings, and supporting the
ceilings and pulpits of the mosques. They are daubed over with red
plaster. Very often a rich Corinthian capital is used as a base to a
pillar by being turned upside down, so that the shaft, crowned with its
own capital, possesses two--one at each end--an arrangement evidently
satisfactory to the barbarian Arabs who succeeded the classic builders
of the old city. Almost every angle of a house has a Greek column acting
as corner stone. But the brown brickwork is very dismal, and but for the
vivid colours of the people’s dresses the monotony of tone would be
displeasing. This is Bairam, and the people during the three days’ feast
succeeding the dismal Ramadan Fast are in their most radiant dresses,
and revelry and feasting are going on everywhere. Such a mass of moving
colour as was the market place of Rosetta to-day these eyes, that have
seen so much, never looked upon before.

“At last, when we had climbed into enough mosques and poked about into
houses, and through all the bazaars (the fish bazaar was trying), we
went down to the landing stage and took boat for the trysting place,
about a mile up the broad, wind-lashed Nile. Will and the Bishop of
Clifton, sole remaining straggler from the late pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, and half our party had gone on before us; and, after a quick sail
along the palm-fringed bank, we arrived at the pretty landing place
chosen for our picnic. We found a tent pitched and the servants busy
laying the cloth under a dense sycamore, close to an old mosque whose
onion-shaped dome and Arab minaret gave me great pleasure as we came in
sight of them. I was impatient to make a sketch. I lost no time, and
went off and established myself in a palm grove with my water colours.
The usual Egyptian drawbacks, however, were there--flies, and puffs of
sand blown into one’s eyes and powdering one’s paints. On the Mahmoudieh
Canal I am exempt from the sand nuisance, and nothing can be pleasanter
than my experience there, sitting in an open carriage with the hood up,
and not a soul to bother me.

“Our return to Rosetta was lively. As we were then going against the
wind, we had to be towed from the shore, and it was very interesting to
watch the agility of our crew dodging in and out of the boats moored
under the bank and deftly disengaging the tow-rope from the spars and
rigging of these vessels. A tall Circassian _effendi_ of police cantered
on his little Arab along the bank to see that all went well with us. The
other half of our party chose to sail and progress by laborious tacking
from one side of the wide river to the other, and arrived long after we
did. We all met at the house of the Syrian postmaster, where he and his
pretty little wife received us with native politeness, and gave us
coffee and sweets. Our return journey was most pleasant, and we got to
Alexandria at 8 p.m. Twelve charming hours.

“_May 24th._--The Queen’s birthday. Trooping of the colour at 5 p.m. on
the Moharrem Bey Ground. Most successful. Will, mounted on a powerful
chestnut, did look a commanding figure as he raised his plumed helmet
and led the ringing cheers for the Queen which brought the pretty
ceremony to a close. The sun was near setting behind the height of
Komeldik, and lit up the roses in the men’s helmets and garlanded round
the standard. In the evening a dull and solemn dinner to the heads of
departments and their wives. A difficult function. We had the band of
the Suffolks playing outside the windows, which were wide open on the
sea. I went out sketching in the morning, very early. I should have been
at my post all day on such an occasion, I confess. Will said I was like
Nero, fiddling while Rome was burning.

“_May 29th._--The Mediterranean Fleet is here. Great interchange of
cards, firing of salutes, etc., etc. All very ceremonious, but
productive of picturesqueness and colour and effect, so I like it very
much. The Khedive Tewfik, too, has arrived, with the Khediviah, for the
hot season from Cairo. Will, of course, had to be present at the station
this morning for the reception of our puppet, and it was not nice to see
the Union Jack down in the dust as the guard of honour of the Suffolks
gave the salute. Our dinner to-night was to the admiral and officers of
the newly-arrived British squadron.

“_June 2nd._--To the Khediviah’s first reception at the harem of the
Ras-el-Tin Palace. I had two Englishwomen to present, rather an
unmanageable pair, as seniority appeared to be claimed erroneously at
the last moment by the junior. This reception has become a most dull
affair now that Oriental ways are done away with. Dancing girls no
longer amuse the guests, nor handmaidens cater to them with sweetmeats
during the audience, and there is nothing left but absolute emptiness.
The Vice-Reine sits, in European dress, on a divan at the end of a vast
hall, and the visitors sit in a semi-circle before her on hard European
chairs reflected in a polished _parquet_, speaking to each other in
whispers and furtively sipping coffee. She addresses a few remarks to
those nearest her, and the pauses are articulated by the click of the
ever-moving fans of the assembly. The ladies-in-waiting and girl slaves
move about in a mooning way in the funniest frocks, supposed to be
European, but some of them absolutely frumpish. Melancholy eunuchs of
the bluest black, in glossy frock coats, rise and bow as one passes
along the passages to or from the presence, and it is a relief to get
out through the jealously-walled garden into the outer world.

“I find it difficult to converse in a harem, being so bad at small talk.
I upset the Vice-Reine’s equanimity by telling her (which was quite
true) that I had heard she was taking lessons in painting. ‘_Moi,
madame?!! Oh! je n’aurais pas le courage!_’ It was as bad as when I told
her, in Cairo, how much I liked poking about the bazaars. ‘_Vous allez
dans les bazaars, madame?!!_’ So I relapsed into talking of illnesses,
which subject I have always found touches the proper note in a harem.
They say the Vice-Reine delights in these audiences, as they are
amongst the great events of her days. She is a beautiful woman, a
Circassian, and of lovely whiteness.

“Finished the delicate sketch of the loveliest bit of the canal, where
the pink minaret and the black cypress are. I wish I could do just one
more reach of that lovely waterway before I leave! There is a particular
group of oleanders nodding with heavy pink blossom by the water’s edge
against a soft blurred background of tamarisk, where women and girls in
dark blue, brilliant orange, and rose-coloured robes come down to fetch
water in their amphoræ. There is another reach lined for the whole
length of the picture with tall waving canebrakes, above whose tender
green tops appears the delicate distance of the lagoons of Mareotis;
there is--but ah! each bend of that canal reveals fresh beauties, and
often as Will has driven me there, I am as eager as ever to miss no
point in the lovely sequence.

“_June 14th._--All my days now I am sketching more continuously, as the
arduous work of paying calls has relaxed greatly. This evening we drove
again far beyond Ramleh on the old route followed by Napoleon to reach
Aboukir, and I finished the sketch there.”

And so on, till my departure a few days later. I had wisely left my oils
at home at Delgany, and thus got together a much larger number of
subjects, the handier medium of water-colour being better suited to the
official life I had to attend to.



CHAPTER XVII

MORE OF THE EAST


My return voyage was made on board the Messageries boat to Marseilles.
This gave me the Straits of Messina as well as those of Bonifacio. On
passing Ajaccio I don’t think a single French passenger gave a thought
to Napoleon. I was intent on taking in every detail of that place, as
far as I could see it through a morning mist. Corsica looked very grand,
crowned with great snow-capped mountains.

I lost no time in getting home to the children, and passed the rest of
the summer in the green loveliness of Ireland, returning to Egypt, in
the following October, _viâ_ Venice again. Every soldier’s wife knows
what it is to be torn in two between the husband far away abroad and the
children one must leave at home. The trial is great, no doubt of it.
Then there is this perplexity: whether it would be well to take one of
the children with one and risk the dangers of the journey and the
climate at the other end. Parents pay heavily for our far-flung Empire!

On the morning of my departure from Venice I woke to the call of the
sunbeams pouring into my room, and, behold, as I went to the window, the
dome of the “Salute” taking the salute, as we say in the Army, of the
sunrise! And the Dogana’s gilded globe responding, too. Joy! our start
at least will be calm. Till midday I had Venice to myself, and I could
stroll about the Piazza and little streets, and recollect myself in
peaceful meditation in St. Mark’s. What delicate loveliness is that of
Venice! Those russet reds and creamy whites and tender yellows, and here
and there bits of deep indigo blue to give emphasis to the colour
scheme. And that tender opalesque sky, and the gilded statues on domes
and towers, and the rich mosaics twinkling in the hazy light! These
things make one feel a love for Venice which is full of gratitude for so
beautiful a thing.

At 12.30 I took gondola and was rowed to my old friend the _Hydaspes_
lying in the Giudecca, and was just in time to sit down to a truly
Hydaspian luncheon, which was crowded. To my indescribable relief the
captain told me I should have a cabin all to myself as last time. At two
o’clock we cast off, and that effective passage all along the front of
the city was again made which so impressed me the preceding spring; and
then we turned off seawards, winding through the channel marked out by
those white posts with black heads which, even in their humble way, are
so harmonious in tone and are beloved by painters, carrying out as they
do the whole artistic scheme. Every fishing boat we met or overtook gave
one a study of harmonies. Now it was an orange sail with a red upper
corner in soft sunlight against the flat blue-purple of the distant
mountains and the vivid green of the Lido; now, composing with a line of
rosy, snowy mountain tops that lay like massive clouds on the horizon,
would rise a pale cool grey-white sail, well in the foreground, with its
upper part tinted a soft mouse-grey and its lower border deep
terra-cotta red. The sea, pale blue; the sky thinly veiled with clouds
of a rosy dove-grey. Nowhere does one see such delicacy of colouring as
here. Then the market boats looked well, full of vegetables, whose cool
green came just where it should for the completion of the colour study.
To think that the Local Board, or whatever those modern vulgarians are
called, of Venice are advocating the complete suppression of those
coloured sails, to be replaced by plain white ones all round. Hands off,
_mascalzoni!_ All this enchantment gradually faded away in the mists of
evening and of distance, and we were soon well out to sea.

“_Sunday._--At 9 a.m. Brindisi in bright, low sunshine,” says the Diary.
“To Missa Cantata; much pleasant strolling. What animation all day with
the loading and unloading, the coming and going of passengers, the cries
and laughter of the population thronging the quays! The _Britannia_ from
London was already in, and I watched the transfer of my heavy luggage
from her to the _Hydaspes_ with a hawk’s eye. I had a genuine compliment
on landing paid to my accent. Those pests, the little beggar boys, who
hang on to the English and can’t be shaken off, attacked me at first
till I turned on them and shouted, ‘_Via, birrrrichini!_’ One of them
pulled the others away: ‘Come away, don’t you see she is not English!’
The Italians still think _Gl’ Inglesi_ are all millionaires and made of
_scudi_.

“_November 12th._--What indescribable joy this afternoon to see the crew
busy with the preparations for our arrival to-morrow morning!

“_November 13th._--Of course I began to get ready at 3 a.m. and peer out
of the porthole on the waste of starlit waters as I felt the ship
stopping off the distant lighthouse. We lay to a long time waiting for
the dawn before proceeding to enter the harbour. The sun rose behind the
city just as we turned into the port. I looked towards the distant
landing stage. Half a mile off, with my wonderful sight, I saw Will,
though the sun was right in my eyes. I knew him not only by his height,
but by the shining gold band round his cap. We were a long time coming
in and swinging round alongside, and, before the gangway was well down,
Will sprang on to it and, in spite of the warning shouts of the sailors,
was the first to board the _Hydaspes_.”

I was back in Egypt; to be there once more was bliss. The now brimming
Mahmoudieh saw me haunting it again; the predominating red of the
flowering trees and creepers that I noted before had made place for
enchanting variations of yellow, and all the vegetation had deepened.
The heat was great at first. I was particularly struck by the enhanced
beauty of the date palms, whose golden and deep purple fruit now hung in
clusters under the graceful branches. But all too soon came a good deal
of rain, to my indignation. Rain in Egypt! The natives say we have
brought it with us. I never saw any in Cairo nor upstream.

The Governor of the city had invited us to make use of a little
_dahabiyeh_, the _Rose_, for a cruise on the Lower Nile, and on November
20th we started. My husband had already welcomed on their arrival, in a
worthy manner, the officers of the French fleet, with whom he was in
perfect sympathy; but my Diary records the happy necessity for our
departure by the scheduled time on board the _Rose_ on that very
November 20th. That morning the German squadron arrived and the thunder
of its guns gave us an unintentional send-off! They were duly honoured,
of course, but the General himself was away.

It was a nine days’ cruise to the mouth of the Nile and back. Quite a
different reading of the Nile from the one I have recorded in my letters
to my mother, and reproduced in “From Sketch Book and Diary.” Very few
tourists or even serious travellers have come so far down, so that one
is less afraid of being forestalled by abler writers in recording one’s
impressions there. It was pretty to see the big Turkish flag fluttering
at our helm, and a beautifully disproportionate pennon streaming in
crimson magnificence from the point of the little vessel’s curved
felucca spar. But our first days were damping: “_November 22nd._--Oh,
the rain! Alas! that I should know Egypt under such deluges, and see in
this land the deepest, ugliest mud in the world. We had to moor off the
residence of the Bey, to whom this _dahabiyeh_ belongs, last night, as
we wished to pay him our respects and tender him our thanks this
morning. He made us stay to luncheon, and a very excellent Arab repast
it was. I got on well with him as he spoke excellent French, but his
mother! Oh! it was heavy, as she could only talk Turkish, and my
translated remarks didn’t even get a smile out of her. I must say the
Mohammedan women are deadly.

“We proceeded on our voyage very late in the day, on account of this
visit which common civility made necessary. The weather brightened up at
sunset and nothing more weird have I ever seen than the mud villages,
cemeteries, lonely tombs, goats, buffaloes and wild human beings that
loomed on the banks as we glided by, brown and black against that sky
full of racing clouds that seemed red-hot from the great fiery globe
that had just sunk below the palm-fringed horizon. These canal banks
might give many people the horrors. I certainly think them in this
weather the most uncanny bits of manipulated nature I have ever seen. I
was fortunate in getting down in colour such a telling thing, a goatherd
in a Bedouin’s burnous, which was wildly flapping in the hot wind
against the red glow in the west, driving a herd of those goats I find
so effective, with their long, pendant ears, and kids skipping in impish
gambols in front. ‘Apocalyptic’ apparition, caught, as we left it
astern, in that portentous gloaming! I shall make something of this. As
to the inhabitants of those regions, to contemplate their life is too
depressing. As darkness comes on you see them creeping into their
unlighted mud hovels like their animals. On the Upper Nile, at least,
the fellaheen have glorious air, the sun, the clean, dry sand, but here
in that mud----!

“_November 23rd_.--No more rain. At Atfeh we left the canal at last, by
a lock, and I gave a sigh of relief and contentment, for we were on the
broad bosom of Old Nile. After a delay at this mud town to buy
provisions we pushed out into the current and with eight immensely long
‘sweeps’ (the wind was against sailing) we made a good run to Rosetta,
on whose mud bank we thumped by the light of a pale moon. The rhythmic
sound of those splashing oars and of the chant of the oarsmen in the
minor key, with barbaric ‘intervals’ unknown to our music, continued to
echo in my ears--it all seemed wild and strange and haunting.

“_November 24th_.--Began this morning a sketch of Rosetta to finish on
our return from rounding up our outward voyage at the western mouth of
the great river where we saw it emerge into a very desolate, grey
Mediterranean. I may now say I have a very good idea of the mighty
river for upward of a thousand miles of its course--a good bit further,
both below and above stream, than the authoress of ‘A Thousand Miles up
the Nile’ knew it, whom in my early days I longed to emulate and, if
possible, surpass! An old-fashioned book, now, I suppose, but all the
more interesting for that. Furling sail, for the wind had been fair
to-day, we turned and were towed back to Fort St. Julian, where we
moored for the night.

“_November 25th_.--After a nice little sketch of the Fort St. Julian,
celebrated in Napoleonic annals, we started off, and reached Rosetta in
good time, so that I was able most satisfactorily to finish my large
water-colour of the place. I was rather bothered where I sat at the
water’s edge by the small boys and a very persistent pelican, which kept
flying from the river into the fish market and returning with stolen
fish, to souse them in the water before filling its pouch, in time to
avoid capture by the pursuing brats.

“_November 26th_.--From Rosetta we glided pleasantly to Metubis, one of
the many shining cities, as seen from afar, that become heaps of squalid
dwellings when viewed at close quarters. But the minarets of those
phantom cities remain erect in all their beauty, and this city in
particular was transfigured by the most magnificent sunset I have ever
seen, even here.”

The wild town of Syndioor was our mooring place for the next night, and
at sunrise we were off homewards. Syndioor and the opposite city of
Deyrout were veiled in a soft mist, out of which rose their tall
minarets in stately beauty, radiant in the level light. The effect on
the mind of these ruined places, once magnificent centres of commerce
and luxury, is quite extraordinary. They are now, all of them,
derelicts. And so in time we slipped back into the canal, landing under
the oleanders of our starting place. The crew kissed hands, the _reis_
made his obeisance, and we returned to the hard stones and rattle of the
Boulevard de Ramleh, refreshed. The Germans were gone.

Balls, picnics, gymkhanas and dinners were varied by intervals of
water-colour sketching in the desert. One picnic, out at Mex, to the
west of Alexandria, was distinguished by a great camel ride we all had
on the soft-paced, mouse-coloured mounts of the Camel Corps, the
Englishwomen looking so nice in their well-cut riding habits, sitting
easily on their tall steeds. I managed to secure several sketches that
day of the men and camels of the corps, and have one sketch of ourselves
starting for our turn in the desert. Our ponies took us back home. The
sort of day I liked. As I record, the completeness of my enjoyment was
caused by my having been able to put some useful work in, as usual. I
had a Camel Corps picture _in petto_ at this time.

“_February 13th_, 1891.--We had the Duke of Cambridge to luncheon. He
arrived yesterday on board the _Surprise_ from Malta, and Will, of
course, received him officially, but not royally, as he is travelling
incog., and he came here to tea. To-day we had a large party to meet
him, and a very genial luncheon it was, not to say rollicking. The day
was exquisite, and out of the open windows the sea sparkled, blue and
calm. H.R.H. seemed to me rather feeble, but in the best of humours; a
wonderful old man to come to Egypt for the first time at seventy-two,
braving this burning sun and with such a high colour to begin with! One
felt as though one was talking to George III. to hear the ‘What, what,
what? Who, who, who? Why, why, why?’ Col. Lane, one of his suite, said
he had never seen him in better spirits. I was gratified at his praise
of our cook--very loud praise, literally, as he is not only rather deaf
himself, but speaks to people as though they also were a ‘little hard of
hearing.’ ‘Very good cook, my dear’ (to me). ‘Very good cook, Butler’
(across the table to Will). ‘Very good cook, eh, Sykes?’ (very loud to
Christopher Sykes, further off). ‘You are a _gourmet_, you know better
about these things than I do, eh?’ C. S.: ‘I ought to have learnt
something about it at Gloucester House, sir!’ H.R.H. (to me): ‘Your
health, my dear.’ ‘Butler, your very good health!’ Aside to me: ‘What’s
the Consul’s name?’ I: ‘Sir Charles Cookson.’ ‘Sir Charles, your
health!’ When I hand the salt to H.R.H. he stops my hand: ‘I wouldn’t
quarrel with her for the world, Butler.’ And so the feast goes on, our
august guest plying me with questions about the relationship and
antecedents of every one at the table; about the manners and customs of
the populace of Alexandria; the state of commerce; the climate. I answer
to the best of my ability with the most unsatisfactory information. He
started at four for Cairo, leaving a most kindly impression on my
memory. The last of the old Georgian type! ‘Your mutton was good, my
dear; not at all _goaty_,’ were his valedictory words.”

Mutton _is_ goaty in Egypt unless well selected. I advise travellers to
confine themselves to the good poultry, and to leave meat alone. What I
would have done without our dear, good old Magro, the major domo who did
my housekeeping out there, I dread to think. His name, denoting a lean
habit of body, was a misnomer, for he was rotund. A good, honest
Maltese, his devotion to “Sair William” was really touching. I was only
as the moon is to the sun, and to serve the sun he would, I am
convinced, have risked his life. I came in for his devotion to myself by
reason of my reflected glory. One morning he came hurtling towards me,
through the rooms, waving aloft what at first looked like a red
republican flag, but it proved to be a sirloin or other portion of
bovine anatomy which he had had the luck to purchase in the market (good
beef being so rare). “Look, miladi, you will not often meet such beef
walking in the street!” He laid it out for my admiration. This is the
way he used to ask me for the daily orders: “What will miladi command
for dinner?” “Cutlets?” (patting his ribs); “a loin?” (indications of
lumbago); “or a leg?” (advancing that limb); “or, for a delicate
_entrée_, brains?” (laying a finger on his perspiring forehead). “Oh,
for goodness’ sake, Magro, not brains!” When the day’s work was done he
would retire to what we called the “Ah!-poor-me-room”--his
boudoir--where, repeating aloud those words so dear to his nationality,
he would take up his cigar. Government gave him £250 a year for all this
expenditure of zeal.

While on the subject of Oriental housekeeping, I must record the
following. Our predecessors of a former time had what to me would have
been an experience difficult to recover from. They were giving a large
Christmas dinner, and the cook, proud of the pudding he had mastered the
intricacies of, insisted on bringing it in himself, all ablaze. It was
only a few steps from the kitchen to the dining-room. Holding the great
dish well up before him, he unfortunately set fire to his beard, and the
effect of his dusky face approaching in the subdued light of the door,
illuminated in that way by blue flames, must have been satanic.

“_March 14th_.--Lord Charles Beresford, who has relieved the other ship
with the _Undaunted_, invited us all to luncheon on board, but Will and
I could not stay to luncheon as we had guests; nevertheless, we had a
very interesting morning on board. On arriving at the Marina we found
Lady Charles, Lady Edmund Talbot, Colonel Kitchener,[10] whose light,
rather tiger-like eyes in that sunburnt face slightly frightened me, and
others waiting to go with us to the _Undaunted_ in the ship’s barge and
a steam launch. Lord Charles received us with his usual sailor-like
welcome, and we had a tremendous inspection of the ship, one of our
latest experiments in naval machinery--a belted cruiser. She will
probably cruise to the bottom if ever the real test comes. A torpedo was
fired for us, but it gambolled away like a porpoise, ending by plunging
into a mudbank. I wish they would diverge their direction like that in
war, detestable inventions!

“_April 1st_, 1891.--I am now quite in the full swing of Egyptian
enjoyment. No more Egyptian rain! Excellent accounts from home, and my
intention of going back is rendered unnecessary. How thankful I am, on
the eve of our departure for Palestine, for the ‘all well’ from home!”

My entries in the Diary during that unique journey, and my letters to my
mother, are published in my book, “Letters from the Holy Land.” I
illustrated it with the water colours I made during our pilgrimage, and
I was most delighted to find the little book had an utterly unexpected
success. It was nice to find myself among the writers! To have ridden
through this land from end to end is to have experienced a pleasure such
as no other part of the earth can give us. Had I had no more joy in
store for me, that would have been enough.

As the railway was not opened till the following year the mind was not
disturbed, and could concentrate on the scenes before it with all the
recollection it required. I called our progress “riding through the
Bible.” Many a local allusion in both Testaments, which had seemed vague
or difficult to appreciate before, opened out, so to say, before one’s
happy vision, and gave a substance, a vitality to the Scripture
narrative which produced a satisfaction delightful to experience.
Perhaps the strongest longing in my childhood’s mind had been to do this
journey. To do it as we did, just our two selves, and in the fresh
spring weather, was a happy circumstance.

As I look back to that time which we spent amidst the scenes of Our
Lord’s revealed life on earth, no portion of it produces such a sense of
mental peace as does the night of our arrival on the shores of the Sea
of Galilee. _There_ there were no crowds, no distractions, not a thing
to jar on the mind. Before and around one, as one sat on the pebbly
strand, appeared the very outlines of the hills His eyes had rested on,
and far from modern life encroaching on one’s sensitiveness, the cities
that lined those sacred shores in His time had disappeared like one of
the fleeting cloud shadows which the moon was casting all along their
ruined sites. His words came back with a poignant force, “Woe unto
thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida!... and thou, Capernaum, which
art exalted unto heaven....” Where were they? And the high waves raced
foaming and breaking on the shingle, blown by a strong though mild wind
that came across from the dark cliffs of the country of the Gadarenes.
One seemed to feel His approach where He had so often walked. One can
hardly speak of the awe which that feeling brought to the mind. He was
quite near!

Undoubtedly the effect of a journey through the Holy Land _does_
permanently impress itself upon one’s life. It is a tremendous
experience to be brought thus face to face with the Gospel narrative. We
returned to the modern world on May 1st. This time I left Alexandria in
company with my husband on June 3rd, and on landing at Venice we at once
went on to Verona, where he was anxious to visit the battlefield of
Arcole.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE LAST OF EGYPT


Here at Verona was Italy in her richest dress, her abundant and varied
crops filling the landscape, one might say, to overflowing; not a space
of soil left untilled, and, all the way along our road to San Bonifacio
for Arcole, the snow-capped Alps were shimmering in the blue atmosphere
on one hand, and a great teeming plain stretched away to the horizon on
the other.

I noticed the fine physique of the peasantry, and their nice ways. Every
peasant man we met on the road raised his hat to us as we passed. At San
Bonifacio we got out of the carriage and, turning to the right, we
walked to Arcole, becoming exclusively Napoleonic on reaching the famous
marsh. History says that a soldier saved Napoleon from drowning early in
the battle by pulling him out of the water in that marsh, “by the hair!”
I pondered this _bald_ statement, and came to the conclusion that the
thing must have happened in this wise. Young Bonaparte in those early
days wore his hair very long, and gathered up into a queue. Had he been
close-cropped, as his later experience in Egypt compelled him to be, the
history of the world might have been very different. As I looked into
the water from the famous little bridge, I saw the place where the young
conqueror slipped and plunged in. The soldier must have caught hold of
the pigtail, and with the good grip it afforded him pulled his drowning
general out. Between the little bridge and the spot where he sank
Napoleon raised the obelisk which we see to-day. Thus do I like to
realise interesting events in history.

Our driver on the way back became a dreadful bore, for ever turning on
the box to chatter. First he informed us that Arcole was called after
Hercules, “a very strong man” (great thumping of biceps to illustrate
his meaning), which we knew before. Then, when within sight of the
battlefield of Custozza, where our dear Italians got such a “dusting”
from the Austrians, he informed us that he had been in the battle, and
that the Italians had _blasted_ the enemy. “_Li abbiamo fulminati_.”
“Oh, shut up, do! _Basta, caro!_”

Our afternoon stroll all over Verona merged into a moonlight one which
takes first rank in my Italian chronicles. The effect of a roaring
Alpine torrent (for such is the Adige at this season of melting snows)
rushing and swirling through the heart of that ancient city, between
embankments bordered with domed churches, with towers and palaces, I
found quite unique. Mysterious, too, it all felt in the lights and
profound shades of the moonlight. Above rose the hills with very
striking serrated outlines, crowned with fortresses.

The rest of the summer saw me at home at Delgany. I must say the “Green
Isle” for summer, following Egypt for winter, makes a very pleasant
combination. My husband had returned to Alexandria on August 23rd, and I
and a wee child followed in November. I had half accomplished my next
Academy picture at home, and I took it out to finish in Egypt--“Halt on
a Forced March: Retreat to Corunna.” A study of an artillery team this
time, giving the look of the spent horses, “lean unto war.” It was very
well placed at the Academy in the fresh first room, and well received,
but it was too sad a subject, perhaps, so I have it still. There were no
half-starved horses in all Wicklow, I am happy to say, look where I
would for models. I had well-to-do ones to get tone and colour from, but
I bided my time. In Egypt I had plenty of choice, and had I not been
able to put the finishing touches to my team _there_, the picture would
never have been so strong--an instance of my favourite definition when I
am asked, “What is the secret of success?” “_Seize opportunities_.”

So on December 10th, 1891, I, with the little child I had safely brought
out with me, landed once more at Alexandria. The big charger and the
grey Syrian pony had now a black donkey alongside for the desert rides,
which were the chief pleasure of our life out there.

But the winter grew sad. On January 7th, 1892, the Khedive Tewfik died
rather mysteriously, it was said, but his death was announced as the
result of that plague we call the “flu,” which reached even to the East.
Just eight days later poor Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, fell a
victim to it, and in the same way died Cardinal Manning. Also some of
our own friends at Alexandria went down. And yet never was there more
brilliant weather, so softly brilliant that one could hardly realise the
presence of danger. All the balls and other festivities were stopped, of
course. I had ample time to finish my “Halt on a Forced March” in this
long interval, so boring and depressing to Alexandrian society. Soon
things returned to pleasantly normal conditions, however, and being
free from the studio on sending my picture off, I went in
whole-heartedly for the amenities of my official position. The Private
View at the far-away Royal Academy was in my mind on the occasion of my
giving away the prizes at some athletic sports, for I knew it was just
then in full blast, April 29th, 1892. I knew my quiet picture could not
make anything of a stir, and I chaffed myself by suggesting that the
“three cheers and one cheer more” proposed by the English consul at the
end of the prize-giving, which rent the sunset air in that dusty plain
in my honour, should be all I ought to expect. It would be a _little_
too much to receive applause in two quarters of the globe at the same
moment, allowing for difference of time!

I call upon my Diary again: “_May 18th_.--We joined a picnic in the very
palm grove through which the Turks fled from the French pursuit under
Bonaparte to find death in the surf of Aboukir Bay. We were shaded by
clumps of pomegranate trees in flower as well as by the waving, rustling
palms, and a cool wind blew round us most pleasantly, while the white
and grey donkeys that brought us rested in groups, their drivers and the
villagers squatting about them in those unconsciously graceful attitudes
I love to jot down in my sketch book. The moving shadows of the palm
branches on the sand always capture my observation; no other tree
shadows produce that effect of ever-interlacing forms. Far away in the
radiant light lay the region where the terrible naval battle took place
later, to our credit. Altogether our party was surrounded by frightful
reminiscences, in the midst of which the picnic went its usual picnicky
way. We rode back to Alexandria by the light of the stars.

“_May 23rd_.--A wonderful day, full of colour, movement and interest.
Young Abbas II., the new Khedive, was received here on his arrival from
Cairo, the whole population, swelled by strange wild Asiatics from
distant parts, filling the streets and squares through which he was to
pass. Will, of course, had to receive him at the station. The crowd
alone was a pleasure to look at. The Khedive seemed a squat young man
with a round pink and white painted face. They say he loves not the
English. What I enjoyed above all was the drive we took soon after, all
the length of the line of reception, to Ras-el-Tin. Oh, those narrow
streets of the old quarter, filled with numberless varieties of Oriental
costumes. Now and then the crowd was threaded by troops, some on
horseback, some perched on camels, and, to give the finishing touch of
variety, the native fire brigade went by, wearing the brass helmets of
their London _confrères_, very surprising headgear bonneting their black
and brown faces.”

I, with the little child, left for home on June 7th, _viâ_ Genoa, well
provided with a good stock of studies of camels and Camel Corps
troopers. These were for my 8-foot picture, destined for the next
Academy. Many a camel had I stalked about the Ramleh desert to watch its
mannerisms in movement. I got quite to revel in camels. Usually that
interesting beast is made utterly uninteresting in pictures, whereas if
you know him personally he is full of surprises and one never gets to
the end of him.

The voyage to my dear old Genoa was full of beautiful sights, with one
exception. I don’t know what old Naples was like--I know it was
frightfully dirty--but I saw it modernised into a very horrid town, a
smudge of ugliness on one of the ideal beauties of the world. It gave me
a shock on beholding it as we entered the harbour, and so I leave the
town itself severely alone, with its new, barrack-like buildings looking
gaunt and gritty in the burning June sunshine. The cloisters of the
Certosa at Sant’ Elmo are very beautiful, and I much enjoyed the church
and the splendid “Descent from the Cross” of Spagnoletto. There was just
time for a dash up there before leaving at 12 noon. As we steamed out
towards Ischia I got the oft-painted (and, alas! oleographed) view of
Vesuvius across the whole extent of the bay from off Posilipo. Certainly
nowhere on earth can a fairer scene be beheld, and greater grace of
coast and mountain outline. Then the fair scene melted away into the
tender haze of the June afternoon--blue and tender grey, the volcanic
islands one by one disappeared and the day of my first sight of the Bay
of Naples closed.

June 12th was a most memorable day, a day of deepest, sweetest, and
saddest impressions and memories for me. In the afternoon I made ready
for our approach to that part of the world where the brightest years of
my childhood were spent--the Gulf of Genoa. In order not to lose one
moment away from the contemplation of what we were approaching, I packed
up all our things before three o’clock, did all the _fin de voyage_
paying and tipping, and then, my mind free for concentration, I
stationed myself at the starboard bulwark, binocular in hand. At long
last I saw in the haze of the lovely afternoon a shadowy outline of
rocky mountain which my heart, rather than my eyes, told me was Porto
Fino, for never had I seen it before from out at sea, at that angle. But
I knew where to look for it, and while to the other passengers we seemed
still out of sight of land I saw the shadowy form. Then little by little
the whole coast grew out of the haze and I saw again, one after the
other, the houses we lived in from Ruta to Albaro. With the powerful
glass I had I could see Villa de’ Franchi and its sundial, and see how
many windows were open or shut at Villa Quartara as we passed Albaro,
and see the old, well-loved pine tree and cypress avenue of the latter
_palazzo_.

“The sight of Genoa in the lurid sunset glow, with its steep, conical
mountains behind it, crowned with forts, half shrouded in dark grey
clouds, was very impressive. ‘La Superba’ looked her proudest thus seen
full face from the sea, seated on her rocky throne. By the by, when
_will_ people give up translating ‘superba’ by ‘superb’? It is rather
trying. ‘Genoa the Superb’! Ugh!”

[Illustration: THE EGYPTIAN CAMEL-CORPS AND THE BERSAGLIERI.]

I worked away well in the pleasant seclusion of Delgany, at my 8-foot
canvas whereon I carried very far forward my “Review of the Native Camel
Corps at Cairo.” I had already a water-colour drawing of this subject,
which I had made while the scene was fresh in my mind’s eye. I had been
indebted to the then General commanding at Cairo for the facilities
afforded me to see, at close quarters, a charge of the native Camel
Corps, which impressed me indelibly. I had driven out of Cairo to the
desert, where the manœuvres were taking place, and, getting out of
the carriage opposite the saluting base, I placed myself in front of the
advancing squadrons, so timing things that I got well clear at the right
moment. I wanted as much of a full-face view as possible. The
attitudes of the men, wielding their whips, the movements of the camels,
the whole rush of the thing gave me such a sensation of advancing force
that, as soon as the “Halt!” was sounded, and the 300 animals had flung
themselves on their knees with the roar and snarl peculiar to those
creatures when required to exert themselves, I hastened back to
Shepheard’s and marked down the salient points. The men were of all
shades, from _fellaheen_ yellow to the bluest black of Nubia, and it was
a striking moment when they all leapt off their saddles (as the camels
collapsed), panting, and beginning to re-set their disordered
accoutrements. In those days the saddles were covered with red morocco
leather, with fringed strips that flew out in the wind, adding, for the
artist, a welcome aid to the representation of motion. Now, of course,
that precious bit of colour is gone, and the necessity for khaki
invisibility reaches even to the camel saddle, which is now a stiff and
unattractive dun-coloured object.

For my last and most brilliant visit to Egypt I took out our eldest
little girl, and a very enjoyable trip we had, _viâ_ Genoa. Of course, I
took out the picture to finish it on its native sands. I had the richest
choice of military camels, arms and accoutrements, and a native trooper
or two, as models, but only for studies. I was careful to have no posed
model to paint from in the studio, otherwise good-bye to movement. These
graceful Orientals become the stupidest, stiff lay figures the moment
you ask them to pose as models. Besides, the sincere Mohammedans refuse
to be painted at all. I have never used a Kodak myself, finding
snapshots of little value, but quick sketches done unbeknown to the
_sketchee_ and a good memory serve much better. The picture, I grieve to
say, was hung not very kindly at the Academy, but at the Paris Salon it
was received with all the appreciation I could desire.

What pleased me particularly in this last sojourn in Egypt was our visit
to Cairo, where I was so happy during my first experience, when I
described my sensations as being comparable to swimming in Oriental
colour, light, and picturesqueness. The only thing that jarred was the
tyranny of Cairo society, which compelled one to appear at the
diversions, whether one liked it or not. Nevertheless, I gained a very
thorough knowledge of the wondrously beautiful mosques, having the
advantage of the guidance of one who knew them all intimately--Dean
Butcher. It was a true pleasure to have him as _cicerone_, and I am
grateful to him for his most kindly giving up his time for little C. and
me. My husband had long ago been acquainted with every nook and corner
of Cairo, but Dean Butcher had made a special study of these mosques,
and I think he was pleased with the way we took in the fascinating
information he gave me and the child.

It’s a far cry from Cairo to Aldershot! On November 1st, 1893, my
husband’s command of the 2nd Infantry Brigade began there. Much as I
loved Egypt, it was a great delight for me to know that the parting from
the children was not to be repeated. I had had Egypt to my heart’s
content.

After returning home from Egypt, at Delgany, on June 17th, 1893, I set
up my next big picture, “The Réveil in the Bivouac of the Scots Greys on
the Morning of Waterloo--Early Dawn.” I was able to make all my
twilight studies at home, all out of doors; not a thing painted in the
studio. I pressed many people into my service as models, and I think I
got the light on their fine Irish faces very true to nature. I even
caught an Irish dragoon home on leave in the village, whose splendid
profile I saw at once would be very telling.



CHAPTER XIX

ALDERSHOT


And now our Irish home under the glorious Wicklow Mountains broke up,
and I was to become acquainted with life in the great English camp. The
huts for officers were still standing at that time, wooden bungalows of
the quaintest fashion, all the more pleasing to me for being unlike
ordinary houses. The old court-martial hut became my studio, four
skylights having been placed in it, and I was quite happy there. I
worked hard at “The Réveil,” and finished it in that unconventional
workshop.

To say that Aldershot society was brilliant would be very wide of the
mark. How could it be? But to us there was a very great attraction close
by, at Farnborough. There lived a woman who was and ever will be a very
remarkable figure in history, the Empress Eugénie. She hadn’t forgotten
my husband’s connection with her beloved son’s tragic story out in South
Africa, nor her interview with him at Camden Place, and his management
of the Prince’s funeral at Durban. We often took tea with her on Sundays
during our Aldershot period, her “At Home” day for intimate friends and
relatives, at the big house on the hill. She became very fond of talking
politics with _Sair William_, and always in English, and she used to sit
in that confidential way foreign politicians have, expressive of the
whispered divulgence of tremendous secrets and of occult plots and
plans in various parts of the world. She talked incessantly with him,
but was a bad listener; and if a subject came up in conversation which
did not interest her, a sharp snap or two of her fan would soon bring
things to a stop.

[Illustration: ALDERSHOT MANŒUVRES.

THE ENEMY IN SIGHT.]

Entries from the Aldershot Diary:

“_January 9th_, 1894.--We went to the memorial service at the Empress’s
church in commemoration of the death of Napoleon III. After Mass we went
down to the crypt, where another short service was chanted and the tombs
of the Emperor and Prince Imperial were incensed. Between the two lies
the one awaiting the pathetic widow who was kneeling there shrouded with
black, a motionless, solitary figure, for whom one felt a very deep
respect.

“_March 14th_.--Delightful dinner at Government House, where the Duke
and Duchess of Connaught proved most cheery host and hostess. He took me
to dinner, and we talked other than banalities. All the other generals’
wives and the generals and heads of departments were there to the number
of twenty-two.

“_March 25th_.--To a brilliant dinner at Government House to meet the
Duke of Cambridge. Good old George was in splendid form, and asked me if
I remembered the lunch we gave him at Alexandria. It was a most cheery
evening. We sat down about twenty-eight, of whom only six were ladies.
Grenfell, our old friend of Genoese days, and Evelyn Wood were there.

“_May 17th_.--A glorious day for the Queen’s Review, which was certainly
a dazzling spectacle. Dear old Queen, it is many a long year since she
reviewed the Aldershot Division; nor would she have come but that her
son is now in supreme command here. Old people say it was like old
times, only that she has shrunk into a tinier woman than ever she was,
and by the side of the towering Duchess of Coburg in that spacious
carriage she looked indeed tiny, and nearly extinguished under a large
grey sunshade. A good place was reserved for my little carriage close to
the Royal Enclosure, and I enjoyed the congenial scene to the utmost.
Was I not in my element? The review took place on Laffan’s Plain, a
glorious sweep of intense green turf which I often take little Martin to
for our morning walk, and no Aldershot dust annoyed us. I was very proud
of the general commanding the 2nd Brigade riding past the saluting base
at the head of his troops on that mighty charger, ‘Heart of Oak,’ that
fine golden bay, set off to the utmost advantage by the ceremonial
saddle-cloth and housings of blue and gold. That general gives the
salute with a very free sweep of the sword arm. The march past took a
long time. As to the crowd of officers behind the Queen’s carriage, my
eyes positively ached with the sight of all that scarlet and gold. I
must say this scarlet is pushed too far to my mind. It must have now
reached the highest pitch of dyeing powers. It was a duller tone at
Waterloo; and certainly still more artistic when Cromwell first ordered
his men to wear it. But I may be wrong, and it is certainly very
splendid. The Duke of Cambridge and Prince of Wales were on huge black
chargers, and wore field marshals’ uniforms. It was pretty to see the
Duke of Connaught--who, at the head of his staff, in front of the
division drawn up in line, had sat awaiting the Queen’s arrival--canter
up to his mother and salute her as her carriage drove into the
enclosure. Then he cantered back to his place, a very graceful rider,
and the review began. I managed to do good work at ‘The Réveil’ in
forenoon. What a contrast and rest to the eyes that picture is after
such glittering spectacles as to-day’s. War _versus_ Parade! It was
pathetic to see the Queen to-day with her soldiers. She cannot pass them
in review many more times.

“The Empress Eugénie has returned, and we had a long interview with her
the other day at her beautiful home at Farnborough. She is by no means
the wreck and shadow some people are pleased to describe her as being,
but has the remains of a certain masculine power which I suppose was
very masterful in the great old days of her splendour. She is not too
tall, and has a fine, upright figure. She lives apparently altogether in
the memory of her son, and is surrounded by his portraits and relics,
including drawings showing him making his heroic stand, alone, forsaken,
against the savage enemy. I feel, as an Englishwoman, very uneasy and
remorseful while listening to that poor mother, with her tearful eyes,
as she speaks of her dead boy, who need not have been sacrificed. There
is no trace in her words of anger or reproach or contempt, only most
appealing grief. She has one window in the hall full to a height of many
feet of the tall grass which grows on the spot where her treasured son
was done to death by seventeen assegai wounds, all received full in
front. I remember his taking us over some artillery stables, I think, at
Woolwich once. He had a charming face. The Empress rightly described to
us the quality of the blue of his eyes--‘the blue sky seen in water.’

“We often go to her beautiful church these fine summer days. Her only
infirmity appears to be her rheumatism, which necessitates some one
giving her his arm to ascend or descend the sanctuary steps when she
goes to or comes from her _prie-Dieu_ to the right of the altar.
Sometimes it is M. Franceschini Pietri, sometimes it is the faithful old
servant Uhlmann who performs this duty.

“_August 13th._--We have had the Queen down again for another review in
splendid (Queen’s) weather. The night before the review Her Majesty gave
a dinner at the Pavilion to her generals, and for the first time in her
life sat down at table with them. Will gave me a most interesting
account. In the night there was a great military tattoo, which I
witnessed with C. from General Utterson’s grounds. Very effective, if a
little too spun out. Will and the others were standing about the Queen’s
and the Empress Eugénie’s carriages all the time, in the grass soaked
with the heavy night dew, and felt all rather blue and bored. In the
Queen’s carriage all was glum, while the Empress with her party chatted
helpfully in hers to fill up the time. It was pitch dark but for the
torches carried by long lines of troops in the distance.

“To-day was made memorable by the review held of our brilliant little
division by the German Emperor on Laffan’s Plain, in perfect weather. He
wore the uniform of our Royal Dragoons, of which regiment he is honorary
colonel, and rode a bay horse as finely trained as a circus horse (and
rather suggestive of one, as are his others, too, that are here), with
the curb reins passing somewhere towards the rider’s knees, which supply
the place of the left hand, half the size of the right and apparently
almost powerless. The poor fellow’s shoulders are padded, too, and one
sees a _hiatus_ between the false, square shoulder and the real one,
which is very sloping. But the general appearance was gallant, and the
young man seemed full of gaiety and martial spirit. He took the salute,
of course, and was a striking figure under the Union Jack which waved
over his British helmet. Then followed a little episode which, if rather
theatrical, was enlivening, and a pretty surprise. As the Royal
Dragoons’ turn came to pass the saluting base the Kaiser drew his sword
and, darting away from his post, placed himself at the head of his
British regiment, the Duke of Connaught replacing him at the flagstaff
_pro tem_. The Kaiser couldn’t salute himself, of course, so saluted the
Duke, and, when the Dragoons were clear, back he came at a circus canter
to resume his post and continue to receive the salute of the passing
legions, as before. We all clapped him for this graceful compliment. It
was smartly done. The detachment (seventy-five in number) had been sent
over from Dublin on purpose for this little display. In the evening Will
dined at Government House in a nest of Germans, who seemed afraid to sit
well upon their chairs in the august presence of their Emperor, and sat
on the very edge. One particularly corpulent general was very nearly
slipping off. I went to the evening reception, no wives being asked to
the dinner, as the dining-room is so small and the German suite so
voluminous.

“I was at once presented to H.I.M., who talked to me, like a good boy,
about my painting and about the army, which he said he greatly admired
for its appearance. He is just now a keen Anglo-maniac (_sic_)! We shall
have him dressing one of his regiments in kilts next. He is not at all
as hard-looking as I expected, but not at all healthy. His face, seen
near, is unwholesome in its colour and texture, and the eyes have that
_boiled_ look which suggests a want of clarity in the system, it seems
to me. He is nice and natural in his manner and in the expression of his
face, with light brown moustache brushed up on his cheeks. He wore the
mess dress of the Royal Dragoons, and his right hand was twinkling with
very ‘loud’ rings on every finger, coiled serpents with jewelled eyes.

“_August 14th._--A glorious sham fight in the Long Valley and heights
for the Kaiser. I shall always remember his appearance as, at the head
of a large and brilliant staff of Germans and English, he came suddenly
galloping up to the mound where I was standing with the children,
riding, this time, a white horse and wearing his silver English Dragoon
helmet without the plume. He seemed joyous as his eye took in the lovely
landscape and he sat some minutes looking down on the scene,
gesticulating as he brightly spoke to the deferential _pickelhauben_
that bent down around him. He then dashed off down the hill and crested
another, with, if you please, C. on her father’s huge grey second
charger careering after the gallant band, and escaping for an anxious
(to me) half-hour from my surveillance. The child looked like a fly on
that enormous animal which overtopped the crowd of staff horses. Adieu
to the old gunpowder smoke. It has cleared away for ever. One sees too
much nowadays, and that mystery of effect, so awful and so grand, caused
by the lurid smoke, is gone. How much writers and painters owe to the
old black powder of the days gone by!

“_September 23rd._--Had a delightful evening, for we dined with the
Empress Eugénie. I seemed to be basking in the ‘Napoleonic Idea’ as I
sat at that table and saw my glass engraved with the Imperial ‘N,’ and
was aware of the historical portraits of the Bonaparte Era that hung
round the room. The Empress was full of bright conversation and chaff;
and I find, as I see her oftener, that she has plenty of humour and
enjoys a joke greatly. We didn’t go in arm in arm, men and women, but
_Sa Majesté_ signed to me and another woman to go in on either side of
her. She called to Will to come and sit on her right. I was very happy
and in my element. Oh! how the mind feels relieved and expanded in that
atmosphere. We had music after dinner, and I had long talks on Egypt
with the Empress, whose recollections of that bright land are
particularly brilliant, she having been there during the jubilant
ceremonies in connection with the opening of the Suez Canal. One year
before the great calamities to her and her husband! She told me that
just for a freak she walked several times in and out between the two
pillars on the Piazzetta at Venice, that time, to brave Fate, who, it
was said, punished those who dared to do this. ‘Then _les évènements_
followed,’ she added. Well might she say that life is an up and down
existence. She waved her hand up and down, very high and very low, as
she said it, with a very weary sigh. Her face is often very beautiful;
those eyes drooping at the outer corners look particularly lovely as
they are bent downwards, and her white hair is arranged most gracefully.
She is always in black.

“Will has accepted the extension of his command here to my great
pleasure; the chief charm to us in this place is the neighbourhood of
the Empress. That makes Farnborough unique. Not only is she so
interesting, but now and then there are visitors at her house whose very
names are sonorous memories. The other day as we came into her presence
she went up to Will and asked him to let Prince Murat, Ney (Prince de la
Moscowa) and Masséna (duc de Rivoli), see some of the regiments in his
brigade at their barracks. When the inspection was over these three
illustrious Names came to lunch with us, and I sat between Murat and
Masséna, with _le Brave des Braves_ opposite. What’s in a name?
Everything, sometimes. I thought myself a very favoured creature last
Sunday as I sat by Eugénie at her tea table and she sprinkled my muffin
with salt out of her little muffineer. I am glad to know she likes me
and she is very fond of Will. One Sunday she and I and the Marquise de
Gallifet were sitting together, and the Empress was talking to the
latter about ‘The Roll Call,’ pronouncing the name in English, but
Madame, who looked somewhat stony and unsympathetic, could not pronounce
the name when the Empress asked her to, and made a very funny thing out
of it. The Empress tried to teach her, making fun of her attempts which
became more and more comic, combined with her frigid expression. At last
the Empress turned to me and asked me to show how it ought to be said in
the proper way; but, as she had just given me an enormous chocolate
cream, I was for the moment unable to pronounce anything with this thing
in my cheek, and she went into fits of laughter as I made several
attempts to say the unfortunate name. So it was never pronounced, and
Madame la Marquise looked on as though she thought we were both rather
childish, which made the Empress laugh the more. The least thing, if it
is at all comical, sends her into one of her laughing fits which are
very catching--except by Gallifets.

“Talking of camel riding (and they say she rode like a Bedouin in the
desert) I sent her into another fit which brought the tears to her eyes
by saying I always forgot ‘_quel bout de mon chameau se lève le
premier_’ at starting. But she sent me into one of my own particular
fits the other day. I was telling her, in answer to her enquiry as to
insuring pictures on sending them by sea, that I thought only their
total loss would be paid for, and what the artist considered an injury
of a grave nature amounting to total loss might not be so considered by
the insurance company. ‘And if,’ she said, ‘you have a portrait and a
hole is made right through one of the eyes?’ Here she slowly closed her
left eye and looked at me stolidly with the right, to represent the
injured effigy, ‘would you not get compensation?’ The one-eyed portrait
continued to look at me out of the forlorn single eye with every vestige
of expression gone, and I laughed so much that I begged her to become
herself again, but she wouldn’t, for a long time.

“There has been a great deal of pheasant shooting, particularly at the
De Worms’ at Henley Park, where a _chef_ at £500 a year has made that
hospitable house very attractive; but there has been one shoot at
Farnboro’ made memorable by Franceschini Pietri distinguishing himself
with his erratic gunnery. Suddenly he was seen on a shutter, screaming,
as the servants bore him to the house. Every one thought he was wounded,
but it turned out he was sure he had hit somebody else, which happily
wasn’t true. People are shy of having him, after that, at their shoots,
especially Baron de Worms, who showed me how he accoutred himself by
padding and goggles, one day, bullet-proof against that excitable little
southerner, who was a member of the party at Henley Park.”

After one of the Empress’s dinners at Farnboro’ Hill, a small dinner of
intimate friends, we had fun over a lottery which she had arranged,
making everything go off in the most sprightly French way. What easy,
pleasant society it was! One admired the courage which put on this
brightness, though all knew that the dead weight on the poor heart was
there, so that others should not feel depressed. Even with these kind
semblances of cheeriness no one could be unmindful of the abiding sorrow
in that woman’s face.

“_January 9th, 1895._--The anniversary of the Emperor Napoleon’s death
come round again. There was quite a little stir during the service in
the church. The catafalque, heaped up with flowers, was surrounded with
scores of lighted tapers as it lay before the altar. A young priest, in
a laced _cotta_, went up to it to set a leaf or flower or something in
its place, when instantly one of his lace sleeves blazed. Almost
simultaneously the General, in full uniform, springing up the altar
steps without the smallest click of his sword, was at the priest’s side,
beating out the fire. Not another soul in that crowded place had seen
anything. That was like Will! We laid wreaths on the tombs in the
crypt.”

An entry in March of that year records good progress with “The Dawn of
Waterloo,” and mentions that we had the honour of receiving the Empress
Frederick and her hosts, the Connaughts, and their suites, who came to
see the picture. I found the Empress still more like her mother than
when I first saw her, when she and the Crown Prince Frederick dined at
the Goschens’--a memorable dinner, when the fine, serious-looking and
bearded Frederick told my husband he would desire nothing better for his
sons than that they should follow in his footsteps. The Empress was
beaming--that is exactly the word--and a few minutes after coming into
the drawing-room she showed that she was anxious to get on to the
studio, to save the light. So out we sallied, walking two and two, a
formidable procession, and we were nearly half an hour in the little
court-martial hut. They all had tea with us afterwards, quite filling
the tiny drawing-room. The Empress was very small, and as she talked to
me, looking up into my face, I thought her the most taking little woman
I ever saw. She had what I call the “Victoria charm,” which all her
sisters shared with her--absolutely unstudied, homely, and exceedingly
friendly. At least it so appeared to me in a high degree in her that
day. But what a sorrow she had had to bear!

The picture was taken to the Club House, there to be shown for three
days to the division before Sending-in Day. The idea was Will’s, but I
got the thanks--undeserved, as I had been reluctant to brave the dust on
the wet paint. Crowds went to see it, from the generals down to the
traditional last drummer.

I thought the Academicians were again unkind in the placing of my
picture, and a trip to Paris was all the more welcome as a diversion,
for there I was able to seek consolation in the treat of a plunge into
the best art in the “City of Light.” One interesting day in May found us
at Malmaison, the country house of Napoleon and Josephine. There is
always something mournful in a house no longer tenanted which once
echoed the talk, the laughter, the comings and goings, the pleasant and
arresting sounds of voices that are long silent. But _this_ house, of
all houses! It was absolutely stripped of everything but Napoleon’s
billiard table, and the worm-eaten bookshelves in his little musty study
the only “fixtures” left. The ceilings we found in holes; that garden,
once so much admired and enjoyed, choked with dusty nettles. We went
into every room--the one where poor derelict Josephine died; the guests’
bedrooms; the dining-room where Napoleon took his hurried meals; the
library where he studied; the billiard-room, where he himself often took
part in a game surrounded by “fair women and brave men” in the glitter
of gorgeous uniforms and radiant _toilettes_. One lends one’s mind’s ear
to the daily and nightly sounds outside--the clatter of horses’ hoofs as
the staff ride in and out of the courtyards with momentous despatches;
the sharp words of command; the announcement of urgent arrivals
demanding instant hearing. We found our minds revelling in suchlike
imaginings. The chapel, the coach-houses, the great iron gates were all
there, but seen as in a dream.

We were back at Aldershot on May 30th. “The Queen’s Ball, at Buckingham
Palace, brilliant as ever. The Shahzada, the Ameer of Afghanistan’s son,
was the guest of the evening, as it is our policy just now to do him
particular honour, after having made his father ‘sit up.’ A pale,
wretched-looking Oriental, bored to tears! The usual delightful medley
of men of every nationality, civilised and semi-civilised, was there in
full splendour, but the rush of that crowd for the supper-room, in the
wake of royalty, was most unseemly. Every one got jammed, and it was
most unpleasant to have steel cartridge boxes and sword hilts sticking
into one’s bare arms in the pressure. I think there was something wrong
this time with the doors. I was much complimented that night on my ‘Dawn
of Waterloo,’ but that was an inadequate salve to my wounded feelings.

“_June 15th._--A great review here in honour of the young Shahzada, who
is being so highly honoured this season. I don’t think I ever saw such a
large staff as surrounded that pallid princeling as he rode on to the
field. The whole thing was a long affair, and our bored visitor
refreshed himself occasionally with consolatory snuff. The whole of the
cavalry finished up, as usual, with a charge ‘stem on,’ and as the
formidable onrush neared the weedy youth he began to turn his horse
round, possibly suspecting deep-laid treachery.”

My husband and I were present when Cardinals Vaughan and Logue laid the
foundation stone of Westminster Cathedral. The luncheon that followed
was enlivened by some excellent speeches, especially Cardinal Logue’s,
whose rich brogue rolled out some well-turned phrases.

A week later we were at dinner at Farnborough Hill. “There was a large
house-party, including Princes Victor and Louis Napoleon, the elder a
taciturn, shy, dark man about thirty-three, and the younger an alert,
intelligent officer of thirty-one, who is a colonel in the Russian
cavalry, and is the hope and darling of the Bonapartists. I call him
Napoleon IV. Victor went in with the Empress to dinner and Louis with
me, but on taking our seats the two brothers exchanged places, so that I
sat on Victor’s right. I had an uphill task to talk with the studious,
silent Victor, and found my right-hand neighbour much more pleasant
company, Sir Mackenzie Wallace. I had not caught his name and his accent
was so perfect and his idioms and turns of speech so irreproachable that
I never questioned his being a Frenchman. Away we went in the liveliest
manner with our French till suddenly we lapsed into English, why I don’t
know. This gave the Empress her chance. She began chuckling behind her
toothpick and asked me in French if he had a good accent in speaking
English. ‘Yes, madame, very good!’ ‘Ah? _really_ good?’ (chuckle).
‘Really good, madame.’ ‘Ah, that is well’ (chuckle). I saw in Will’s
face I was being chaffed and guessed the truth. Much laughter,
especially from Louis. He told Will, across the Empress, that he had
seen an engraving of ‘Scotland for Ever’ in a shop window in Moscow, and
had presented it to the mess of his own cavalry regiment, the Czar being
now colonel of the Scots Greys, and that he little expected so soon to
meet the painter of that picture. The dinner was very bright and
sparkling, so unlike a purely English one. How gratefully Will and I
conformed to the spirit of the thing. His Irish heart beats in harmony
with it. I didn’t quite recover from my _faux pas_ at table, and, on our
taking leave, brought everything into line once more by wishing Prince
Louis ‘_Felicissima Sera!_’ in a way denoting a bewilderment of mind
amidst such a confusion of tongues. I left amidst applause.

“_July 8th._--There was a sham fight on the Fox Hills to-day to which
the two French princes went. Will mounted Victor on steady ‘Roly Poly,’
and sent H. on ‘Heart of Oak’ to attend on His Imperial Highness
throughout the day. Louis was mounted by the Duke. My General loves to
honour a Napoleon, so, when he was riding home with Louis after the
fight, and the Guards were preparing to give the General the usual
salute, he begged the Imperial Colonel to take the salute himself. ‘But,
General, I am not even in uniform!’ answered Louis. ‘One of your name,
sir, is always in uniform,’ was the ready reply. So Louis took it. On
his way back to the Empress he stopped at our hut, and after a glass of
iced claret cup on this grilling day, he looked at my sketches, and at
the little oil picture I am painting for Miss S.--‘Right Wheel!’--the
Scots Greys at manœuvres. I wonder if he has it in him to make a bid
for the French Throne!

“_July 12th._--The Queen came down to-day, and there was a very fine
display of the picked athletes of the army at the new gymnasium in the
afternoon, before Her Majesty, who did not leave her carriage. She
looked pleased and in great good humour. She gave a dinner to her
generals in the evening at the Pavilion as she did last year. Will sat
near her, and she kept nodding and smiling to him at intervals as he
carried on a lively conversation with Princesses Louise and Beatrice.
Her Majesty expanded into full contentment when nine pipers, supplied by
the three Highland Regiments of the Division, entered the room at the
close of dinner in full blast. They tell me that each regiment jealously
adhered to its own key for its skirls, or whatever the right word is,
and so in three different keys did the pibrochs bray, but this detail
was not particularly noticeable in the general hurly-burly. The Queen
stood it well, though in that confined space it must have tried her
nerves. Give me the bagpipes on the mountain side or in the desert,
where I have heard them and loved them.

“_July 13th._--At a very fine review for the Queen, who brought her
usual weather with her. She looked well pleased, especially with the
stirring light cavalry charge at the close, when Brabazon pulled up his
line at full charging pace within about 12 yards (it seemed to me) of
the royal carriage. Really, for a moment, I thought, as the dark mass of
men and horses rolled towards us, that he had forgotten all about
‘Halt!’ It was a tremendous _tour de force_, and a bit of swagger on the
part of this dashing hussar. That group of the Queen in her carriage,
with the four white horses and scarlet coated servants; the Prince of
Wales and the rest of the glittering Staff; Prince Victor Napoleon in
civilian dress, his heavy face shaded by his tall black hat as he
uneasily sat his excited horse; the other carriages resplendent in red
and gold; the Empress’s more sober equipage full of French _élégantes_,
and the wave of dark hussars bursting in a cloud of dust almost in
amongst the group, all the leaders of the charging squadrons with sabres
flung up and heads thrown back--what a sight to please me! I feel a
physical sensation of refreshment on such occasions. What discipline and
training this performance showed! Had one horse got out of hand he might
have flopped right into the Queen’s lap. I saw one of the squadron
leaders give a little shiver when all was over. On getting home I was
doing something to the bearskins of my Scots Greys in ‘Right Wheel,’
showing the way the wind blew the hair back, as I had just seen it at
the review, while fresh in my mind, when a servant came to tell me
Princess Louise was at the Hut. I had got into my painting dress with
sleeves turned up for coolness. I ran in, changed in half a minute, and
had a nice interview, the Duchess of Connaught being there also, and we
had one of those ‘shoppy’ art talks which the Duchess of Argyll likes.

“_August 16th._--My ‘At Home’ day was made memorable by the appearance
of the Empress Eugénie, who brought a remedy for little Eileen’s cold.
It was a plaster, which she showed me how to use. I cannot say how
touched we were by this act, so thoughtful and kind--that poor childless
widow! She seems to have a particularly tender feeling for Eileen,
indeed Mdlle. d’Allonville has told me so.”

The rest of the Aldershot Diary is filled with military activities up to
the date of the expiration of my husband’s time there, and his
appointment to the command of the South Eastern District with Dover
Castle as our home. But between the two commands came an interlude
filled with a tour through some parts of Italy I had not seen before,
and a visit to the Villa Cyrnos at Cap Martin, whither the Empress had
invited us.



CHAPTER XX

ITALY AGAIN


In January, 1896, we left Aldershot on a raw foggy day, with the usual
winter brown-paper sky, the essence of dreariness, on leave for the land
I love best. At Turin our train for Genoa was filled with poor young
soldiers off to Abyssinia, the Italian Government having followed our
example in the policy of “expansion”; with what success was soon seen.
An Italian told us that “good coffee” was to be had from there, amongst
other desirable commodities. So the poor young conscripts were being
sent to fetch the good coffee, etc. They were singing in a chorus of
tenor voices as they went, after affectionately kissing the comrades who
had come to see them off.

At sunrise we arrived at Naples, Vesuvius looking like a great amethyst,
transparent in the golden haze from the sun which rose just behind it. I
must say the Neapolitan population struck me as very wretched; the men
were no better than the poor creatures one might see in Whitechapel any
day, and dressed, like them, in shoddy clothing. The poor skeleton mules
and horses were covered with picturesque brass-mounted harness instead
of flesh, and I saw no red-sashed, brown-limbed _lazzaroni_ such as were
supposed to dance _tarantelle_ on the shore. Certainly there is not much
dancing and singing in their hungry-looking descendants.

January 17th was a memorable day, spent at Pompeii. One must see the
place for oneself. Familiar with it though you may be through books and
paintings, Pompeii takes you by surprise. The suddenness of that
entrance into the City of the Dead _is_ a surprise to a newcomer, such
as I was. To come into the city at once by the “Street of Tombs,” which
carries you steeply upwards into the interior--no turnstiles at the
gate, no ticket collectors, no leave-your-umbrella-at-the-door; this
natural way of entering gave me a strange sensation as if I were walking
into the past. The present day was non-existent. Though we were three
and a half hours circulating about those theatres, baths, villas, shops,
through the narrow streets, with their deep ruts and stepping stones, I
was so absorbed in the fascination of realising the life of those days
that I never needed to rest for a moment, and the day had grown very
hot. One rather drags oneself through a museum, but we were here under
the sky, and Vesuvius, the author of this destruction, was there in very
truth, looking down on us as we wandered through the remnants of his
victim.

As to beauty of colour there is here a great feast for the painter. What
could surpass, on a day like that, the simple beauty of those positive
reds and yellows and blues of walls and pillars in that light,
back-grounded by the tender blue of mountains delicately crested with
the white of their snows? The positive strong foreground colours
emphasised by the delicacy of the background! The absolute silence of
the place was impressive and very welcome.

The Diary had better “carry on” here: “_Sunday, January 19th._--To Capri
and Sorrento on our way to Amalfi. There is a string of names! I feel I
can’t pronounce them to myself with adequate relish. To Mass at 8, and
then at 9 by steamer to Capri, touching at Sorrento on our way. Three
hours’ passage over a very dark blue sea, which was flecked with foam
off Castellamare. Capri is all I expected, a mass of orange and lemon
groves in its lower part, with wonderful crags soaring abruptly, in
places, out of the clear green water. Tiberius’s villa is perched on the
edge of a fearful precipice that has memories connected with his
cruelties which one tries to smother. Indeed, all around one, in those
scenes of Nature’s loveliness, the detestable doings of man against man
are but too persistently obtruding themselves on the mind which is
seeking only restful pleasure.

“We were driven to the Hotel Quisisana (‘Here one gets well’), very high
up on a steep ridge, where the village is, and were sorry to find our
pleasure marred by being set down to _déjeuner_ with as repulsive a
company of Teutons as one could see. The perspective of those feeding
faces, along the edge of the table, tried me horribly. They say the
Germans are outnumbering the British as tourists in Italy now. Nowhere
do their loud voices and rude manners jar upon our sensibility so
painfully as in Italy. The _Frau_ next to me actually sniffed at four
bottles out of the cruet in succession, poking them into her nose before
she satisfied herself that she had found the right sauce for her chop!
What’s to be done with such people?

“We had not much time to give to the lovely island, for the little
steamer had to take us to Sorrento at two o’clock. We put up there at
the Hotel Tramontano, and had a stroll at sunset, with views of the
coast and Vesuvius that spread out beyond the reach of my well-meaning,
but inadequate, pen. I can’t help the impulse of recording the things of
beauty I have seen. It is owing to a wish to preserve such precious
things in my memory, to waste nothing of them, and to record my
gratitude as well.”

At Amalfi came the culmination to our long series of experiences of the
Neapolitan Riviera. The names of Amalfi, Ravello, Salerno and Pæstum
will be with me to the end, in a halo of enchantment.

On returning to Naples, of course, we paid our respects to Vesuvius. Our
climb to the highest point allowable of the erupting cone was not at all
enchanting, and left my mind in a most perturbed condition. There was
much food for meditation when our visit was over, but at the time one
had only leisure to receive impressions, and very disconcerting
impressions at that. A keen north wind blew the fumes from the crater
straight down my throat as I panted upwards through the sulphur, ankle
deep, and I could only think of my discomfort and probable collapse. I
disdained a litter. I perceived several fat Germans in litters.

An even deeper impression was made on my mind than that produced by the
eruption proper on our coming, after much staggering over cold lava,
near a great, crawling river of liquid fire oozing out of the mountain’s
side. Above our heads the great maw of the crater was throwing up bursts
of rock fragments with rumblings and growls from the cruel monster. I
wonder when that wild beast will make its next pounce? And down there,
far, far below, in the plain lay little Pompeii, its poor, tiny,
insignificant victim! Yes, for a thoughtful climber there was more than
the sulphurous north wind to make him pause.

The little funicular railway had brought us up to the foot of the cone,
crunching laboriously over the shoulder of the mountain, and I could not
but think--“If the chain broke?” At one point the open truck seemed to
dangle over space. We were sitting with our faces turned towards the sea
and away from the cone, and (were we never to be rid of them?) two
corpulent Teutons faced us, hideously conspicuous, as having apparently
nothing but blue air behind them. There was no horizon at all to the
sea, the pale haze merging sea and sky into one. Then, when we alighted,
we found ourselves in a restaurant with Messrs. Cook & Co.’s waiters
running about. Certainly it was no time for meditating or moralising in
that medley of the prehistoric and the _fin de siècle_.

I found Rome very much changed after the lapse of all those years since
I was there with our family during the last months of the Temporal
Power. I shall never forget the shock I felt when, to lead off, on our
arrival, I conducted my husband to the great balustrade on the Pincian
overlooking the city, promising him my favourite view. It was a truly
striking one in the far-off days, and quite beautiful. Instead of the
reposeful vineyards of the area facing us beyond the Tiber, fitting
middle distance between us and St. Peter’s, gaunt buildings bordering
wide, straight, staring streets glistening with tramlines seemed to jeer
at me in vulgar triumph, and I am not sure that I did not shed tears in
private when we got back to our hotel. One fact, however, brought a
sense of mental expansion as I surveyed that view, which should have
made amends for the sensitive contraction of my artist’s mind. That
great basilica yonder was mine now! A return to Rome had another touch
of sadness for me. Our father had been so happy there in introducing his
girls to the city he loved. He seemed now to be ever by my side as the
well-remembered haunts that were left unchanged were seen again. Leo
XIII. was now Pope. On one particular occasion in the Sistine Chapel, at
Mass, I was struck by the extraordinary effect of his white, utterly
ethereal face and fragile figure as he stood at the altar, relieved
against the background of Michael Angelo’s exceedingly muscular “Last
Judgment.” And, now, what of this “Last Judgment”? The action of our
Lord, splendidly rendered as giving the powerful realisation of the push
which that heavy arm is giving in menace to the condemned souls towards
the Abyss on His left (I had almost said the _shove!_), is realistic and
strong. But what a gross conception! Our modern minds cannot be
impressed by this fleshly rendering of such a subject, a rendering
suitable to the coarser fibre of the Middle Ages. I could positively
hate this fresco, were I not lured, as a painter, to admire its
technical power.

Our visit to the Empress at Cap Martin followed, on our way home to
Aldershot. She received us with her usual genial grace. The place, of
course, ideal, and the typical blue weather. We were made very much at
home. Madame le Breton told me I was to wear a _table d’hôte_ frock at
dinner, and Pietri told Sir William a black tie to the evening suit was
the order of the day.

“_February 13th._--The Villa Cyrnos is in a wood of stone pines,
overhanging the sea on a promontory between Mentone and Monte Carlo. It
is in the French Riviera style, all very white--no Italian fresco
colouring. Plentiful striped awnings to keep off the intense sunlight.
Cool marble rooms, polished parquets, flowers in masses--a sense of
grateful freshness with reminders of the heat outside in the dancing
reflections from the sea. Indeed, this is a charming retreat. Madame
d’Arcos and her sister, Mrs. Vaughan, were there, who having just
arrived from England, were full of accounts of the arrival of the
remains of Prince Henry of Battenberg from Ashanti, and the funeral, at
which Madame d’Arcos had represented the Empress. The different episodes
were minutely described by her of this, the last act of the latest
tragedy in our Royal Family. She had a sympathetic listener in the poor
Empress.

“_February 14th._--A sunny day marred, to me, by a visit to Monte Carlo,
where the gambling is in fullest activity. The Empress wanted us all to
go for a little cruise in a yacht, but though the sea was calm enough I
preferred _terra firma_, and her ladies drove me to Monte Carlo. Hateful
place! The lovely mountains were radiant in the low sunshine of that
afternoon and the sea sparkling with light, but a crowd of overdressed
riff-raff was circulating about the casino and pigeon-shooting place,
from which came the ceaseless crack of the cowardly, unsportsmanlike
guns. I record, with loathing, one fellow I saw who came on the green,
protected from the gentle air by a fur-lined coat which his valet took
charge of while his master maimed his allotted number of clipped
victims, and carefully replaced as soon as all the birds were down. A
black dog ran out to fetch each fluttering thing as it fell. I was glad
to see this hero was not an Englishman. Inside the casino the people
were massed round the gaming tables, the hard light from the circular
openings above each table bringing into relief the ugly lines of their
perspiring faces. The atmosphere was dusty and stifling, and the hands
of these horribly absorbed people were black with clawing in their gains
across the grimy green baize. I drank in the pure, cool air of the
sunset loveliness outside when I got free, with a very certain
persuasion that I would never pay a second visit, except under polite
compulsion, to the gambling palace of Monte Carlo.

“_February 15th._--The Empress took us quite a long walk to see the
corps of the ‘_Alpins_’ at the Mentone barracks and back by the rocky
paths along the shore. She is very active, and is looking beautiful.

“_Sunday, February 16th._--All of us to Mass at the little Mentone
church. The dear Empress gave me a little holy picture during the
service and said, ‘I want you to keep this.’ There is at times something
very touching about her.”

I sent a small picture this year to the “New Gallery,” instead of the
Academy, feeling still the effects of their unkindness in placing “The
Dawn of Waterloo” where they did the preceding year.



CHAPTER XXI

THE DOVER COMMAND


And now Dover Castle rises into prominence above the horizon as I travel
onward. My husband was offered Colchester or Dover. He left the choice
to me. How could there be a doubt in my mind? The Castle was the very
ideal, to me, of a residence. Here was History, picturesqueness, a wide
view of the silver sea, and the line of the French coast to free the
mind of insularity. So to Dover we went, children, furniture, horses,
servants, dogs and all, from the Aldershot bungalow. As usual, I was
spared by Sir William all the trouble of the move, and while I was
comfortably harboured by my ever kind and hospitable friends, the
Sweetmans, in Queen’s Gate, my husband was managing all the tiresome
work of the move.

It was a pleasure to give dances at the Constables’ Tower, and the
dinners were like feasts in the feudal times under that vaulted ceiling
of the Banqueting Hall. Our boys’ bedroom in the older part of this
Constables’ Tower had witnessed the death of King Stephen, and a winding
staircase conducted the unappreciative London servants by a rope to
their remote domiciles. The modernised part held the drawing-rooms,
morning-room, library, and chief bedrooms, while in the garden, walled
round by the ramparts, stood the tower whence Queen Mary is said to have
gazed upon her lost Calais. My studio had a balcony which overhung the
moat and drawbridge. What could I have better than that? No wonder I
accomplished a creditable picture there, for I had many advantages. I
place “Steady, the Drums and Fifes!” amongst those of my works with
which I am the least dissatisfied. The Academy treated me well this
time, and gave the picture a place of honour. These drummer-boys of the
old 57th Regiment, now the Middlesex, are waiting, under fire, for the
order to sound the advance, at the Battle of Albuera. That order was
long delayed, and they and the regiment had to bear the supreme test of
endurance, the keeping motionless under fire. A difficult subject,
excellent for literature, very trying for painting. I had had the vision
of those drummer-boys for many years before my mind’s eye, and it is a
very obvious fact that what you see strongly in that way means a
successful realisation in paint. Circumstances were favourable at Dover.
The Gordon Boys’ Home there gave me a variety of models in its
well-drilled lads, and my own boys were sufficiently grown to be of
great use, though, for obvious reasons, I could not include their dear
faces in so painful a scene. The yellow coatees, too, were a tremendous
relief to me after that red which is so hard to manage. I remember
asking Detaille if he ever thought of giving our army a turn. “I would
like to,” he said, “but the red frightens us.” The bandsmen of the
Peninsular War days wore coatees of the colour of the regimental
facings. After long and patient researches I found out this fact, and
the facings of the 57th, being canary yellow, I had an unexpected treat.
I remember how the Duke of York[11] at an Aldershot dinner had
characteristically caught up this fact with great interest when I told
him all about my preparations for this picture. I am glad to know this
work belongs to the old 57th, the “Die Hards,” who won that title at
Albuera. “Die hard, men, die hard!” was their colonel’s order on that
tremendous day.

Many interesting events punctuated our official life at Dover:

“_August 15th, 1896._--Great doings to-day. We had a busy time of it.
Lord Salisbury was installed Lord Warden in the place of Lord Dufferin.
Will had the direction, not only of the military part of the ceremonies
but of the social (in conjunction with me), as far as the Constables’
Tower was concerned. Everything went well. Lord and Lady Salisbury drove
in a carriage and four from Walmer up to our Tower, and, while the
procession was forming outside to escort them down to the town, they
rested in our drawing-room for about half an hour, and Lord Dufferin
also came in.

“I had to converse with these exalted personages whilst officers in full
uniform and women in full toilettes came and went with clatter of sabre
and rustle of silk. To fill up the rather trying half-hour and being
expected to devote my attention chiefly to the new Lord Warden, I
bethought myself of conducting him to a window which gave a bird’s-eye
view of the smoky little town below. I moralised, _à la_ Ruskin, on the
ugliness of the coal smoke which was smudging that view in particular,
and spoiling England in general. On reconducting the weighty Salisbury
to a rather fragile settee I morally and very nearly physically knocked
him over by this felicitous remark: ‘Well, I have the consolation of
knowing that the coalfields of England are finite!’ ‘What?’ he shouted,
with a bound which nearly broke the back of that settee. I don’t think
he said anything more to me that day. Of course, I meant that smokeless
methods would have to be discovered for working our industries, but I
left that unsaid, feeling very small. It is my misfortune that I have
not the knack of small talk, so useful to official people, and that I am
obliged to propel myself into conversation by pronouncements of that
kind. Shall I ever forget the catastrophe at the L----s’ dinner at
Aldershot, when I announced, during a pause in the general conversation,
to an old gentleman who had taken me in, and whose name I hadn’t caught,
that there was one word I would inscribe on the tombstone of the Irish
nation, and that word was--Whisky. The old gentleman was John Jameson.

“But to return to to-day’s doings. I had to consign to C.,[12] as my
deputy, the head of the table for such of the people as were remaining
at the Castle for luncheon as I myself had to appear at that function at
the Town Hall. The procession, military, civil and civic--especially
civic--started at 12 for the ‘Court of Shepway,’ where much antique
ceremonial took place. When they all reached the Town Hall after that,
Lord Salisbury first unveiled a full-length portrait of the outgoing
Lord Warden, at the entrance to the Banqueting Hall, and complimented
him on so excellent a likeness with a genial pat on the back. We were
all in good humour which increased as we filed in to luncheon and
continued to increase during that civic feast, enlivened by a band.
Trumpets sounded before each speech, and the sharp clapping of hands
called, I think, ‘Kentish Fire,’ gave a local touch which was pleasingly
original. I am glad, always, to find the county spirit still so strong
in England, and nowhere is it stronger than in Kent. It must work well
in war with the county regiments.

“I am afraid Lady Salisbury must have got rather knocked out of time
coming to the Castle, by all the saluting, trumpeting and general
prancing of the guard of honour. She was nervous crossing our drawbridge
with four ‘jumpy’ horses which she told me had never been with troops
before! Altogether I don’t think this was a day to suit her at all. I
heard the postillion riding the near leader shout back to the coachman
on the box as they started homeward from our door, ‘Put on both brakes
_hard!_’ Away went the open carriage which had very low sides and no
hood, and Lord Salisbury, being very wide, rather bulged over the side.
Wearing a military cape, lent him by my General, the day turning chilly,
he had a rather top-heavy appearance, and we only breathed freely when
that ticklish drawbridge, and the very steep drop of the hill beyond it,
were passed. So now let them rest at Walmer. Will will do all he can to
secure peace for them there.”

On August 20th I went to poor Sir John Millais’ funeral in St. Paul’s.
The ceremony was touching to me when I thought of the kind, enthusiastic
friend of my early days and his hearty encouragement and praise. They
had placed his palette and a sheaf of his brushes on the coffin. Lord
Wolseley, Irving, the actor, Holman Hunt and Lord Rosebery were the
pall-bearers. The ceremony struck me as gloomy after being accustomed to
Catholic ritual, and the undertaker element was too pronounced, but the
music was exquisite. So good-bye to a truly great and sincere artist.
What a successful life he had, rounded by so terribly painful a death!

One of the most interesting of the Dover episodes was our hiring of
“Broome Hall” for the South-Eastern District manœuvres in the
following September. The Castle was too far away for working them from
there, so this fine old Elizabethan mansion, being in the very centre of
the theatre of “war,” became our headquarters. There we entertained Lord
Wolseley and his staff as the house-party. Other warriors and many
civilians whose lovely country houses were dotted about that beautiful
Kentish region came in from outside each day, and for four days what
felt to me like a roaring kind of hospitality went on which proved an
astonishing feat of housekeeping on my part. True, I was liberally
helped, but to this day I marvel that things went so successfully.
Everything had to be brought from the Castle--servants in an omnibus,
_batterie de cuisine_, plate, linen and all sorts of necessary things,
in military waggons, for the house had not been inhabited for a long
while. All the food was sent out from Dover fresh every day, by road--no
village near. The house had been palatially furnished in the old days,
but its glory was much faded and so ancestral was it that it possessed a
ghost. A pathetic interest attaches to “Broome” to-day, and I should not
know it again in its renovated beauty. Lord Kitchener restored it to
more than its pristine lustre, I am told.

The morning start each day of all these generals (Sir Evelyn Wood was
one of them) from the front door for the “battle” was a pleasing sight
for me, with the strong cavalry escort following. After the gallant
cavalcade had got clear I would follow in the little victoria with
friends, hoping in my innermost heart that I was leaving everything well
in hand behind me for the hungry “Cocked Hats” on their return.

On March 30th, 1897, I had a glimpse of Gladstone. We were on the pier
to receive a Royalty, and the “Grand Old Man” was also on board the
Calais boat. He was the last to land and was accompanied by his wife. He
came up the gangway with some difficulty, and struck me as very much
aged, with his face showing signs of pain. I had not seen him since he
sat beside me at a dinner at the Ripons’ in 1880, when his keen eye had
rather overawed me. He was now eighty-eight! The crowd cheered him well,
but the old couple were past that sort of thing, and only anxious to
seek their rest at “Betteshanger,” a few miles distant, whither Lord
Northbourne’s carriage whirled them away from public view.

And now comes the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. I think my fresh
impressions written down at the time should be inserted here as I find
them. Too much national sorrow and suffering brought to us by the Great
War, and too many changes have since blurred that bright picture to
allow of posthumous enthusiasm for its chronicling to-day. Were I to
tone down that picture to the appearance it has to me at the present
time it would hardly be worth showing.

“_June 22nd, 1897._--Jubilee Day. I never expected to be so touched by
what I have seen of these pageants and rejoicings, and to feel so much
personal affection for the Queen as I have done through this wonderful
week. Thinking of other nations, we cannot help being impressed with the
way in which the English have comported themselves on this occasion--the
unanimity of the crowds; the willingness of every one concerned; all
resulting in those huge pageants passing off without a single jar. My
place was in the courtyard of the Horse Guards; Will’s place was on his
big grey before St. Paul’s, at Queen Anne’s statue, to keep an eye on
things. I had an effective view of the procession making the bend from
Whitehall into the courtyard, and out by the archway into the parade
ground. This gave me time to enjoy the varied types of all those
nationalities whose warriors represented them, as they filed past at
close quarters. But we had five hours of waiting. These hours were well
filled up for me, so continually interested in watching the movements of
the troops as they took up their positions for receiving the procession
and saluting the Queen. I think in the way of perfect dress and of
superfine, thoroughbred horseflesh, Lord Lonsdale’s troop of Cumberland
Hussars was as memorable a group as any that day. They wore the ‘sling
jacket,’ only known to me in pictures and old prints of the pre-Crimean
days, and to see these gallant-looking crimson pelisses in reality was
quite a delightful surprise.

“The sun burst through the clouds just as the guns announced to us that
the Queen had started from Buckingham Palace on her great round by St.
Paul’s at 11.15. So we waited, waited. Presently some one called out,
‘Here’s Captain Ames,’ and, knowing he was the leader, we nimbly ran up
to our seats. It seemed hardly credible that the journey to St. Paul’s
and the ceremony there, and the journey homewards could have occupied
so comparatively brief an interval. I think the part of the procession
which most delighted me was the cohort of Indian cavalry, and then the
gorgeous bunch of thirty-six princes, each in his national dress or
uniform. These rode in triplets. You saw a blue-coated Prussian riding
with a Montenegrin on one side and an Italian bonneted by the absurd
general’s helmet now in vogue on the other. Then came another triplet of
a Persian, whose breast was a galaxy of diamonds flashing in the sun, an
Austrian with fur pelisse and busby (poor man, in that heat), and the
brother of the Khedive, wearing the familiar _tarboosh_, riding a little
white Arab. Then followed an English Admiral in the person of the Duke
of York, a Japanese mannikin on his right, and a huge Russian on his
left, and so on, and so on--types and dresses from all the quarters of
the globe in close proximity, so that one could compare them at a
glance. The dignified Indian cavalry were superb as to dress and
_puggarees_, but the faces were stolid, very unlike the keen, clean-cut
Arab types which so charmed me in Egypt and Palestine. There certainly
were too many carriages filled with small Germans. Then came the
colonial escort to the Queen’s carriage. As they came on and passed
before us I do not exaggerate when I say that there seemed to pass over
them an ever-deepening cloud-shadow, as it were, from the white
Canadians riding in front, through ever-deepening shades of brown down
to the blackest of negroes, who rode last. What an epitome of our
Colonial Empire! Then, finally, before the supreme moment, came Lord
Wolseley, the immediate forerunner of the Royal carriage. He looked well
and gallant and youthful. Then round the curve into the courtyard the
eight cream-coloured horses in rich gala harness of Garter-blue and
gold! So quick was the pace that I dared not dwell too long on their
beauty for I was too absorbed in the Queen during that precious minute.
There she was, the centre of all this! A little woman, seated by herself
(I had not time to see who sat facing her) with an expressionless pink
face, preoccupied in settling her bonnet, which had got a little
crooked, as though nothing unusual was going on, and that was the last I
saw of her as she passed under the dark archway, facing homeward.

“_June 26th._--Off from Dover at 2 a.m. for Southampton, by way of
London, to see the culminating glory of the Jubilee--the greatest naval
review ever witnessed. At eight we left Waterloo in one of the
‘specials’ that took holders of invitation cards for the various ocean
liners that had been chartered for the occasion. Our ship was the P. and
O. _Paramatta_, and very pleased I was on beholding her vast
proportions, for I feared qualms on any smaller vessel. There were
meetings on board with friends and a great luncheon, and general good
humour and complacency at being Britons. The day cleared up at 10.30,
and only a slight haze thinly veiled the mighty host of the Channel
Fleet as we slowly steamed towards it along the Solent. Gradually the
sun shone fully out and the day settled into steady brilliance.

“Well, I have been so inflated with national pride since beholding our
naval power this day that if I don’t get a prick of some sort I shall go
off like a balloon. Let us be exultant just for a week! We won’t think
of the ugly look of India just now and all the nasty warnings of the
bumptious Kaiser and the rest of it. We can’t while looking at Britannia
ruling the waves, as we are doing to-day. Five miles of ships of war
five lines deep! When all these ships fired each twenty-one guns by
divisions as the Prince of Wales steamed up and down the lines, and the
crews of each vessel in turn gave such cheers as only Jack Tar can give,
it was not the moment to threaten us with anything. I shall never forget
the aspect of this fleet of ours, black hulls and yellow funnels and
‘fighting tops’ stretching to east and west as far as the eye could
reach and beyond, the mellow sunlight full upon them and the
slowly-rolling clouds of smoke that wrapped them round with mystery as
their countless guns thundered the salute! Myriads of flags fluttered in
the breeze, the sea sparkled, and in and out of those motionless
battleships all manner of steam and sailing craft moved incessantly,
deepening by the contrast of their hurry the sense one had of the
majestic power contained in those reposing monsters.... Every one is
saying, ‘And to think that not a single ship has been recalled from
abroad to make up this display!’ We are all very pleased, and have the
good old Nelson feeling about us.” On June 28th the Queen held her
Jubilee Garden Party in the Buckingham Palace grounds. There we looked
our last on her.

I took four of the children, in August, to Bruges, that old city so much
enjoyed by me in my early years. I was charmed to see how carefully all
the old houses had been preserved, and, indeed, I noticed that a few of
them, vulgarly modernised then, were now restored to their original
beauty. How well the Belgians understand these things! Seventeen years
after this date the eldest of the two schoolboys I had with me was to
ride through that same old Bruges as A.D.C. to the general commanding
“The Immortal 7th Division,” which, retiring before the German hordes,
was to turn and help to rend them at Ypres.

In 1898 I exhibited a smaller picture than usual--“The Morrow of
Talavera,” which was very kindly placed at the Academy--and I began a
large Crimean subject, “The Colours,” for the succeeding year. I had
some fine models at Dover for this picture. In making the studies for it
I had an interesting experience. I wanted to show the colour party of
the Scots Guards advancing up the hill of the Alma in their full parade
dress--the last time British troops wore it in action--Lieutenant Lloyd
Lindsay carrying the Queen’s colour. It was then he won the V.C. Lord
Wantage (that same Lloyd Lindsay), now an old man, but full of energy,
when he heard of my project, conducted me to the Guards’ Chapel in
London, and there and then had the old, dusty, moth-eaten Alma colours
taken down from their place on the walls, and held the Queen’s colour
once more in his hand for me to see. I made careful studies at the
chapel, and restored the fresh tints which he told me they had on that
far-away day, when I came to put them into the picture. I was in South
Africa when the Academy opened in the following spring.

On September 11th, 1898, we received the terrible news of the
assassination of the Empress of Austria. I had seen her every Sunday and
feast day at our little Ventnor church, at Mass, during her residence at
Steep Hill Castle. She had the tiniest waist I ever saw--indeed, no
woman could have lived with a tinier one. She was beautiful, but so
frigid in her manner; she seemed made of stone, yet she rode splendidly
to hounds--altogether an enigma.

October 27th, 1898, I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a day after my own
heart--picturesque, historical, stirring, amusing. Sir Herbert
Kitchener, _the_ Sirdar _par excellence_, was received at Dover on his
arrival from the captured Khartoum with all the prestige of his new-won
honours shining around him. My husband had decided that the regulation
military honours “to be accorded to distinguished persons” were
applicable to the man who was coming, and so a guard of honour
(Highlanders) with the regimental colour was drawn up at the pier head,
the regimental officers in red and the staff in blue. The crowd on the
upper part of the pier was immense and densely packed all along the
parapet, and the Lower Pier, reserved for special people, was crowded,
too. It was a calm, grey, yet bright day, and the absence of wind made
things pleasant. Great gathering of Cocked Hats at the entrance gates,
and we all walked to the landing stage. There was a dense smudge of
black smoke on the horizon. I knew that meant Kitchener. Keeping my eye
on that smudge, I took but a distracted part in the small talk and
frequent introductions of distinguished persons come from afar to
welcome the man of the hour, “the Avenger of Gordon.” I was conducted to
the head of the landing steps, together with such of the staff as were
not to go on board the boat with the General. Then the smudge got hidden
behind the pier end, but I could see the ever-increasing swish and swirl
of the water on the starboard side of the hidden steamer, and soon she
swept alongside; a few vague cheers began, no one in the crowd knowing
the Sirdar by sight. When, however, the General went on board and shook
hands, this proclaimed at once where the man was, and cheer upon cheer
thundered out. I have never, before or since, seen such spontaneous
enthusiasm in England. After a little talk (my husband and he were long
together on the Nile) and after the delivery of letters (one from the
Queen) and telegrams, during which the hurrahs went on in a great roar
and multitudinous pocket handkerchiefs fluttered in a long perspective,
the big, solid, stolid, sunburnt Briton stepped on English soil once
more. While shaking hands with me he seemed astonished and amused at all
that was going on and, looking over my head at the masses of people
above, he lifted his hat, and thenceforth kept it in his hand as he was
escorted to the Lord Warden Hotel. He had asked his A.D.C., on first
catching sight of the reception awaiting him, “What is all this about?”

Then there was an Address at the hotel to which he listened with an
ox-like patience, and after that the enormous company of invited guests
went to lunch. In his speech my husband paid the Sirdar the compliment
of saying that the traditional Field Marshal’s baton would be found in
his trunk when the customs officers opened it at Victoria. Kitchener
spoke so low I could not hear him. Had he been less immovable one could
have plainly seen how utterly he hated having to make a speech. His
travelling dress looked most interestingly incongruous amidst the rich
uniforms and the glossy frock-coats as he stood up to say what he had to
say. As we all bulged out of the hotel door the cheers began again from
the crowds. I took care to look at the people that day, and I was struck
by their _unanimity_. All ranks were there, and yet on every face, well
bred or unwashed, I saw the same identical expression--one of broad,
laughing delight. Such were my impressions, which I noted down, as
usual, at the moment, and I have lived to see that remarkable man work
out his life, and end it with a tragedy that will hold its place in
history; my husband’s prophecy, put in those playful words at Dover,
fulfilled; a threatening disaster to the Empire turned into victory with
the aid of that extraordinary mind and physical endurance; and the
burning fire of that personality quenched, untimely, in the icy depths
of a northern sea.



CHAPTER XXII

THE CAPE AND DEVONPORT


On November 12th, 1898, my husband sailed for South Africa, there to
take up the military command, and to act as High Commissioner in place
of Sir Alfred Milner, home on leave. His staff at Dover loved him. Their
send-off brought tears to his eyes. I, C. and the A.D.C. saw him off
from Southampton, to rejoin him in the process of time at the Cape. We
little knew what a dark period in his life awaited him out there,
brought about by the malice of those in power there and at home. It is
too sacred and too painful a subject for me to record it here further
than I have done. The facts will be found in his “Autobiography.” I left
England on February 18th, 1899, with three of the children, leaving the
two eldest boys at college. It was a very painful leave-taking at the
Waterloo Station. My mother was there and all the dear ones, whom I did
not expect to see again for two or three years--my mother perhaps ever
again. Yet in a few months we were back there! My theory that one should
try and not fret about the future, which is an absolutely unknown
quantity, proved justified. I have chronicled our voyage out in my
former little book, and described one night at Madeira--a night of
enchantment under the moon.

I need not go over the days on the “blue water” again, nor our strange
life beyond the Equator, where, though I was filled with admiration for
the beauty of our surroundings, I never felt the happiness which Italy,
Egypt or Palestine had given me. Very absurd, no doubt, and sentimental,
but my love of the old haunts made me feel resentful of the topsy-turvy
state of things I found down there. The crescent moon on what (to me)
was the wrong side of the sunset, the hot north wind, the cold blast
from the south, the shadows all inverted--no, I did not enjoy this
contradiction to my well-beloved traditions. There was, besides, a local
melancholy in that strange beauty I cannot describe. All this may be put
down to sentimentality, but a very real melancholy attaches to South
Africa in my mind in connection with my husband, who suffered there for
his honesty and devotion to the honour of the Empire he served. The
authorities accepted his resignation of the Cape command which he
tendered for fear of embarrassing the Government, and he accepted the
command of the Western District in its place, which meant Devonport. So
on August 22nd we all embarked for Home.

There we found the campaign of calumny, originated in South Africa
against Sir William, in its acutest phase. The Press was letting loose
all the poison with which it was being supplied, and I consequently went
through, at first, the bitter pain of daily trying to intercept the
vilest anonymous letters, many of them beer-stained missives couched in
ill-spelt language from the slums. Not all the reparation offered to my
husband later on--the bestowal of the Grand Cross of the Bath, his
election to the dignity of Privy Councillor, his selection as the safest
judge to investigate the South African war stores scandals, not to name
other acts conveying the _amende honorable_--ever healed the wound.

His offence had been a frank admission of sympathy for a people
tenacious of their independence and, knowing the Boers as he did, he
knew what their resistance would mean in case of attack. He was appalled
at the prospect of a war, not against an army but against a people,
involving the farm-burnings and all the horrors which our armies would
have to resort to. He would fain have seen violence avoided and
diplomacy used instead, knowing, as he did, that the old intransigent
Dopper element would die out in time, and the new generation of Boers,
many of whom were educated at our universities, intermarrying with the
English, as they were already doing, would have brought about that very
union of the two races within the Empire which has been reached to-day
through all that suffering. In case, however, war should be decided on
he employed the utmost vigour allowed to official language to warn those
in power of the necessity for enormous forces in order to ensure
success. Some of his despatches were suppressed. The idea at
Headquarters was an easy march to Pretoria. What I have alluded to as
the malice which prompted the campaign of calumny had caused the report
to be spread that our initial defeats were owing to his wilful neglect
in not warning the directing powers of the gravity of their undertaking.

The chief interest I found in our new appointment was caused by the
frequent arrivals of foreign men-of-war, whose captains were received
officially and socially, and there were admirals, too, when squadrons
came. It was interesting and amusing. Lord and Lady Charles Scott were
at the Admiralty and, later, Sir Edward Seymour, during our appointment.
The foreign sailors prevented the official functions from becoming
monotonous, and we got a certain amount of pleasure out of this
Devonport phase of our experiences. I carried my painting “through thick
and thin,” and did well, on the whole, at the Academy. I had the
“consuming zeal”--a very necessary possession. One year it was a big
tent-pegging picture (I don’t know where its purchaser is now), which
was well lighted at Burlington House. Then a Boer War subject, “Within
Sound of the Guns”--well placed; followed by an Afghan subject, “Rescue
of Wounded,” which to my great pleasure was given an excellent place in
the _Salle d’Honneur_. I also accomplished other smaller works and
exhibited a great number of water colours. It is a medium I like much. I
also prepared for the Press my “Letters from the Holy Land” there which
I have already mentioned. My publishers, Messrs. A. and C. Black,
reproduced the water-colour illustrations very faithfully.

Our French sailor guests were always bright, so were the Italians, but
the Japanese were very heavy in hand, and conversation was uphill work.
It was mainly carried on by repeated smiles and nods on their part. When
their big ships came in on one occasion the Admiralty gave them the
first dinner, of course, and at the end the bandmaster had the happy
thought of giving a few bars out of Arthur Sullivan’s “Mikado” before
the Emperor’s health was drunk, the National Air not being in his
repertory. Some one asked the Jap admiral if he recognised it. “Ah! no,
no, no!” came the usual smiling and nodding answer. At the Port
Admirals’ I was to learn that in the navy you mustn’t stand up for our
Sovereign’s health, by order of William IV. This resulted one evening in
our sitting for “The King” and standing up for “The Kaiser.” There were
the German admiral and officers present. I thought that very
unfortunate.[13]

Well, Devonport in summer was very delightful, but Devonport in winter
had long periods of fog and gloom. I had the blessing of another trip to
Italy, this time with our eldest daughter, starting on a dark wintry day
in early March, 1900. Sir William’s work prevented his coming with us.
_Viâ_ Genoa to Rome lay our happy way. Of course, it wasn’t the Rome I
first knew, but the shock I received when revisiting it four years
before this present visit had already introduced me into the new order,
and I now knew what to see, enjoy, and avoid. There were several new
things to enjoy: above all, the Forum, now all open to the sky! In the
dear old days that space was a rather dreary expanse of waste land where
some poor old paupers were to be daily seen, leisurely labouring under
the delusion that they were excavating. They grubbed up the tufts of
grass and scraped the dust with pocket-knives, and the treasures below
remained comfortably tucked away from public view. Then the much-abused
Embankment. The dignified sweep of its lines leads the eye up, as it
follows the flow of the stream, to the dignity of St. Peter’s, whereas,
formerly, in its place, unbeautiful masses of mouldering houses tottered
over the Tiber and gave that long-suffering river the reflections of
their drainpipes. Then, the two end arches of that most estimable Ponte
Sant’ Angelo are now cleared of the old mud which blocked them up
malodorously and docked the lovely thing of its symmetry. Then, finally,
Rome is clean!

We had the good fortune to be present at two very striking Papal
functions, striking as bringing together Catholics from a wide-flung
circle embracing some remote nationalities unknown by sight to me. The
first was the Pope’s Benediction in St. Peter’s on March 18th. We were
standing altogether about three hours in the crowd at the Tomb, well
placed for seeing the Holy Father. He was taken round the vast basilica
in his _sedia gestatoria_, and blessed a wildly cheering crowd. I never
saw a human being so like a spirit as Leo XIII. He looked as white as
his mitre as he leant forward and stretched his arm out in benediction
from side to side, borne high above the helmets of the Noble Guard. One
heard cheers in all languages, and a curious effect was produced by the
whirling handkerchiefs, which made a white haze above the dark crowd. I
have often heard secular monarchs cheered, and that very heartily, but
for a Pope it seems that more than ordinary loyalty prompts the
cheerers. The people seem to give out their whole being in their voices
and gestures.

The Diary says: “I am glad I have seen that old man’s face and his look,
as though it came to us from beyond the grave. At times the cheers went
up to the highest pitch of both men’s and women’s voices. A strange
sound to hear in a church.”

A spring day spent at the well-known Hadrian’s Villa, under Tivoli, is
not to be allowed to pass without a grateful record. It is a most
exquisite place of old ruins, cypresses, olives and, at this time,
flowering peach trees, violets and anemones. It is an enchanting site
for a country house. Hadrian chose well. From there you see the
delicately-pencilled dome of St. Peter’s on the rim of the horizon to
the west, and behind you, to the north, rise the steep foot-hills of the
mountains, some crowned with old cities. The ruins of the villa are all
_minus_ the lovely outer coating which used to hide the brickwork, and
poor Hadrian would have felt very woeful had he foreseen that all the
white loveliness of his villa was to come to this. But as bits of warm
colour and lovely surface those brick spaces take the sun and shadow
beautifully between the dark masses of the cypresses and feathery grey
cloudiness of the olives. Nowhere is the “touch and go” nature of life
more strikingly put before the mind than in dead Rome, where so much
magnificence in stone and marble and mosaic and bronze has fallen into
lumps of crumbling brick.

On March 26th we attended the Papal Benediction in the Sistine Chapel,
which is a remarkable thing to see. It was a memorable morning. The
floor of the chapel was packed with pilgrims, some of them rough men and
women from remote regions of the north-east, whose outlandish costumes
were especially remarkable for the heavy Cossack boots, reaching to the
knee, worn by both sexes. One wondered how these people journeyed to
Rome. What a gathering of the faithful we looked down on from our
gallery! The same ecstatic cheering we had heard in St. Peter’s
announced the entrance of Leo XIII. There he was, the holy creature,
blessing right and left with that thin alabaster hand, half covered with
a white mitten. With all their hoarse barbaric cheering, I noticed how
those peasants, who had so particularly attracted me, remembered to bend
their heads and most devoutly make the sign of the cross as he passed.
They almost monopolised my study of the motley crowd, but I was aware of
the many nationalities present, and the same enthusiasm came from them
all. At such times a great consolation eases the mind, saddened, as it
often is, by the general atmosphere of declining faith in which one has
to live one’s ordinary life in the world. After the Mass came the
presentation of the pilgrims at the altar steps. The Pope had kind words
for all, bending down to hear and to speak to them, and often stroking
the men’s heads. One huge Muscovite peasant knelt long at his feet, and
the Pope kept patting the rough man’s cheek and speaking to him and
blessing him over and over again. At the sight of this a wild
“_hourah_!” broke from his fellow villagers. Where in the world was
their village? In the mists of remoteness, but here in heart,
unmistakably. Following the swarthy giant three sandy-haired German
students, carrying their plumed caps in their hands and girt with
rapiers, presented some college documents to receive the Papal
benediction, and a great many men and women knelt and passed on, but the
Pope seemed in no way fatigued. As he was borne out again he waved us an
upward blessing with his white and most friendly countenance turned up
to us.

Our Roman wanderings included a visit to the Holy Father’s Vatican
gardens, which are part of the little temporal kingdom a Pope still
possesses, and to his tiny “country house” therein, where he goes for
change of air(!) in the summer, about two stonethrows from the Vatican.
I note: “There are well-trimmed vineyards there; there are pet birds and
beasts in a little ‘zoological gardens’; there is the arbour where he
has his meals on hot days; and, finally, we were conducted to his little
villa bedroom from whose window one of the finest views of Rome is seen,
dominated by the Quirinal, within (let us hope) shaking hands distance.”
We heard the “Miserere” at St. Peter’s on Good Friday--very impressive,
that twilight service in the apse of the great basilica! The
unaccompanied voices of boys sounded in sweetest music--one hardly knew
whence it came--and the air seemed to thrill with the thin angelic sound
in the waning light as one by one the candles at the altar were put out.
At the last Psalm the last light was extinguished, and the vast crowd
with its wan faces remained lighted only by the faint glimmer that came
down from the pale sky through the high windows. Then good-bye to Rome.
We left for Perugia on April 22nd. I certainly ought to be grateful for
having had yet another reception by my Umbrian Hills! And such a
reception that April afternoon, with the low sun gilding everything into
fullest beauty! I did my best to secure that moment in miserably
inadequate paint from the hotel window immediately on arrival. Better
than nothing. But no more of Perugia, nor of dear old Florence on our
way to academic Padua; no more of Verona. I have much yet to record on
getting home, and after!



CHAPTER XXIII

A NEW REIGN


Sir William was asked by Lord Wolseley to take up the Aldershot command
in the absence of Sir Redvers Buller, who was struggling very
desperately to retrieve our fortunes in the Boer War; so to Aldershot we
went from Devonport, where my husband’s command ran concurrently. How
intensely England had hoped for the turning of the tide when Buller was
given the tremendous task of directing our armies! We forget the horrors
the nation went through in those days because the late War has made us
pass through the same apprehensions multiplied by millions, but there
the fact remains in our history that we nearly suffered a terrible
catastrophe at the time of which I am writing. Buller, on leaving for
the Cape, had said to my husband how fervently he wished he possessed
his gift of imagination, and, indeed, that is a very precious gift to a
commander. This truly awful state of things--our terrible losses, and
the temporary lowering of our military prestige (thank heaven, so
gloriously recovered and enhanced in the World War!)--were the answer to
the repeated assertion made, when we were at the Cape, by those who
ought to have known, that “the Boers won’t fight.” How this used to
enrage my husband, whose “gift of imagination” made him see so clearly
the danger ahead. Well, all this is of the long ago, and, as I have
already noted, it is better to say little now; but the sense of
injustice lives!

[Illustration: A DESPATCH-BEARER, BOER WAR, AND THE HORSE-GUNNERS.]

Buller had a great reception at Aldershot on his return from South
Africa. I never saw a more radiantly happy face on a woman than poor
Lady Audrey’s, who had been in a state of most tense anxiety during her
dear Redvers’ absence. As the train steamed into the station the band
struck up “See the Conquering Hero comes!” The horses of his carriage
were unharnessed, and the triumphal car was drawn by a team of firemen
to Government House. At the entrance gate a group of school children
sang “Home, sweet Home”; my husband hauled down his flag and Buller’s
was run up, and so that episode closed.

We had inhabited a suburban-looking villa on the road to Farnborough
during the absence of Sir Redvers, not wishing to disturb the anxious
watcher at Government House, and very often we saw the Empress, just as
in the old days. She told us the dear Queen was very ill, far worse than
the world was allowed to know. My husband had always said the war would
kill her, for she had taken our losses cruelly to heart, and so it
happened on January 22nd, 1901. The resumed Devonport Diary says:

“A day ever to be marked in English history as a day of mourning. Our
Queen is dead. At dinner S. brought us the news that she passed away at
6.30 this afternoon. We were prepared for it, but it seems like a dream.
To us who have been born and have lived all our lives under her
sovereignty it is difficult to realise that she is gone.

“_January 23rd, 1901._--A dull gloomy day, punctuated by 81 minute guns,
which began booming at noon. All the royal standards and flags hanging
half-mast in the fog, on land and afloat.

“_January 24th._--At noon-day all standards and flags were run up to the
masthead, and a quick thunder of guns proclaimed the accession of Edward
VII. At the end the band on board the guardship _Nile_ struck up ‘God
Save the King.’ The flags will all be lowered again until the day after
Queen Victoria is laid to rest. Edward VII.! How strange it sounds, and
how events and changes are rolling down upon us every hour now. Albert
Edward will be a greater man as Edward VII.

“_February 5th._--The Queen was buried to-day beside her husband at
Frogmore. It is inexpressibly touching to think of them side by side
again. Model wife and mother, how many of your women subjects have
strayed away, of late, from those virtues which you were true to to the
last!

“_February 16th._--There is great indignation amongst us Catholics at
Edward VII. having been called upon to take the oath at the opening of
Parliament which savours so much of the darkest days of ‘No Popery’
bigotry. I think it might have been modified by this time, and the lies
about ‘idolatry’ and the ‘worship’ of the Virgin Mary eliminated. Could
not the King have had strength of mind enough to refuse to insult his
Catholic subjects? I know he must have deeply disliked to pronounce
those words.

“_August 6th._--Again the flags to-day are at half-mast, and so is the
royal standard, and this time, on the men-of-war, it is the German flag!
The Empress Frederick died yesterday.” I never mentioned at the time of
our visit to the Connaughts at Bagshot, when we were first at Aldershot,
a touching incident concerning her. Sir William sat next to her at
dinner, and, _à propos_ of a really fine still-life picture painted by
her, which hung over the dining-room door in the hall, he asked her
whether she still kept up her painting. “No,” she said, “I have cried
myself blind!” What with one Empress crying as though her heart would
break in speaking to him that time at Camden Place and this Empress
telling him she had cried herself blind----! The illness and death of
the Kaiser Frederick must have been a period of great anguish.

During this summer I was very busy with my picture of the “10th Bengal
Lancers at Tent Pegging,” a subject requiring much sunshine study, which
I have already mentioned.

In September, Lord Roberts--“the miniature Field Marshal,” as I call him
in the Diary--came down on inspection, and great were the doings in his
honour. “How will this little figure stand in history? Will’s
well-planned defence against a night attack from the sea came off very
well this dark still night, though the navy were nearly an hour late.
There was too much waiting, but when, at last, the enemy torpedo boats
and destroyers appeared, the whole Sound was bordered with such a zone
of fire that, had it been real war, not a rivet of the invader’s
flotilla would have been left in possession of its hold. ‘Bobs’ must
have been gratified at to-night’s display, which he reviewed from
Stonehouse.

“Our Roberts dinner was of twenty-two covers, and the only women were
Lady Charles Scott, myself and C. A guard of honour was at the front
door, and presented arms as the Field Marshal arrived, the band playing.
He certainly is diminutive. A nice face, soldierlike, and a natural
manner. With him that too jocose Evelyn Wood and others. ‘Bobs,’ of
course, took me in to dinner, and, on my left, Lord Charles Scott took
in C. Will took in Lady Charles. The others--Lord Mount Edgcumbe, H.S.H.
Prince Louis of Battenberg (in command of the _Implacable_), Admiral
Jackson, and so forth--subsided into their places according to
seniority. Every man in blue or red except one rifleman. Soft music
during dinner and two bars of the National Anthem before the still
unfamiliar ‘The King, God bless him!’ at dessert. Will still feels a
little--I don’t know how to express it--of the mental hesitation before
changing ‘the Queen’ which he felt so strongly at first. He was very
truly attached to her. I was back in the drawing-room in good time to
receive the crowd, who came in a continuous flow, all with an expectant
smile, to pay homage to the Lion. I don’t think I forgot anybody’s name
(coached by the A.D.C.) in all those introductions, but that item of my
duties is a thing I dread. I never saw people in such good humour at any
social function before. We certainly _do_ love to honour our soldiers.
But, all the time, things are not going too well with us in the war!

“_September 14th._--Again the flags half-mast! Now it is the ‘Stars and
Stripes.’ Poor President McKinley succumbed to-day to his horrible
wound. The surgeons wouldn’t let him die for a long while, though he
asked them to. They did their best.

“_March 7th, 1902._--And now for the royal visit, the principal occasion
for which is the launching of the great battleship the _Queen_, by Queen
Alexandra. Will was responsible for all matters ashore, as the admiral
was for those afloat. Lady Charles and I had to be on the platform at
North Road to receive Their Majesties, the only other women there being
Lady Morley and the Plymouth Mayor’s daughter, bearing a bouquet for
presentation. The royal train had an engine decorated in front of its
funnel with an enormous gilt crown, and I was pleased, as it
majestically glided into the station, to see that it is possible even in
railway prose to have a little dash of poetry. The band struck up, the
guard of honour presented arms with a clang. First, out sprang lacqueys
carrying bags and wraps who scurried to the royal carriages waiting
outside, and out sprang various admirals and diplomats in hot haste, all
with rather anxious faces veneered with smiles. And then, leisurely, the
ever lovely and self-possessed Queen and her kindly and kingly consort,
wearing, over his full-dress admiral’s uniform, a caped overcoat.
Salutes, bows, curtseys, smiles, handshakes. Will presents the great
silver Key of the Citadel, which Charles II. had made for locking the
Great Gate against the refractory people. Edward VII. touches it and the
General Commanding returns it to the R.A. officer, who has charge of it.
We all kiss the King’s hand as seeing him for the first time to speak to
since his accession. The Queen withdraws her hand quickly before any
officer can salute it in like manner, which looks a little ungracious.
Whilst the General and Admiral are introducing their respective staffs
to the King, the Queen has a little chat with me and asks after my
painting and so forth. She is very fond of that water colour I did for
her album at Dover of a trooper of her ‘own’ 19th Hussars at
tent-pegging. Lady Charles and I did not join in the procession through
the Three Towns to the dockyard, but hastened home to avoid the crowd.

“In the evening we dined with Their Majesties on board the royal yacht
over part of which floating palace C. and I had been conducted in the
morning. Whatever the yacht’s sailing value may be she certainly cuts
out the Kaiser’s _Hohenzollern_ in her internal splendour. When it comes
to washstand tops of onyx and alabaster; and carpets of unfathomable
depth of pile, and hangings in bedrooms of every shade of delicate
colour, ‘toning,’ as the milliners say, with each particular set of
furniture; and the most elaborately beautiful arrangements for lighting
and warming electrically, and so on, and so on--one rather wonders why
so much luxury was piled on luxury in this new yacht which the King, I
am told, does not like on the high seas. Her lines are not as graceful
as those of the old _Victoria and Albert_, and it is said she ‘rolls
awful’!

“Well, to dinner! As we drove up to the yacht, which is moored right
opposite the Port Admiral’s house and is the habitation of the King and
Queen during their sojourn here, we saw her outlined against the pitch
black sky by coloured electric lamps, which was pretty. Equerries,
secretaries and Miss Knollys received us at the top of the gangway, and
the ladies of the Queen soon filed into the ante-chamber (or cabin)
where they and we, the guests, awaited Their Majesties. Full uniform was
ordered for the men, and we ladies were requested to come in ‘high, thin
dresses,’ as, it appears, is the etiquette on board royal yachts. There
were the Admiral and Lady Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh,
Lord and Lady St. Germans, Lord Walter Kerr, Lord Mount Edgcumbe (‘the
Hearl,’ as he is known to Plymothians), the Bishop of Exeter, Lady
Lytton and others up to about thirty-six in number. The King, still
dressed as an admiral, and the Queen in a charming black and white
semi-transparent frock, with many ropes of pearls, soon came in, and,
the curtseying over, we filed into the great dining saloon brilliantly
lighted and splendid. The King led in his daughter, Princess Victoria.
Buccleugh led in the Queen, and so on. How unlike the painfully solemn,
whispered dinners of dear old Queen Victoria was this banquet. We
shouted of necessity, as the band played all the time. The King and
Queen seem to me to have acquired an _expanded_ dignity since they have
come to the Throne. Will and I could not do justice to the dinner as it
was Friday, but that didn’t matter. After the sweets the head servant
(what Goliaths in red liveries they all are!) handed the King a _snuff
box_! I was so fascinated by the sight of the descendant of the Georges
engaged in the very Georgian act of taking a pinch that my eyes were
riveted on him. I love history and am always trying to revive the past
in imagination. It is true that ‘a cat may look at a King,’ but then I
am _not_ a cat (at least I hope not). I only trust His Majesty didn’t
mind, but he certainly saw me!

“After dinner we women went down with the Queen to her boudoir, where an
Egyptian-looking servant wearing a _tarboosh_ handed us coffee of
surpassing aroma, and Her Majesty showed us her beloved little Japanese
dog and some of the pretty things about the room. She then asked us to
see her bedroom (which I had already seen that morning) and the little
dog’s basket where he sleeps near her bed. She is still extremely
beautiful. Her figure is youthful and shapely, and all her movements are
queenly. The King had quite a long talk with Will about this dreadful
Boer War which is causing us all so much anxiety, after we went up
again. He then came over to me, and after a few commonplaces he came
nearer and in a confidential tone began about Will. I think he is fond
of him. What he said was kind, and I knew he wanted me to repeat his
sympathetic words to my husband afterwards. He spoke of him as a
‘splendid soldier.’ I know he had in his mind the painful trial Will had
gone through. It was late when Their Majesties bade us good-night.

“_March 8th._--The great day of the launch of H.M.S. _Queen_. I wonder
if the hearts of the sailors beat anxiously to-day at all! A quieter,
more unemotional-looking set of men than those naval bigwigs could
nowhere be seen in the world. But, first of all, there was the
medal-giving at the R.N. Barracks, where Ladies Poore and Charles Scott,
Mrs. Jackson and myself had to receive the King and Queen by the side of
our respective husbands on a raised daïs in the centre of the huge
parade ground. It was very cold, and the Queen told me she envied me my
fur-lined coat. Will said I missed an opportunity of making a pendant to
Sir Walter Raleigh! The function was very long, for the King had to give
a medal to each one of the three hundred bluejackets and marines who
passed before him in single file. At the launching place we all
assembled on a great platform, and there in front of us stood the huge
hull of the battleship, the ram projecting over the little table on
which the Queen was to cut the ropes. That red-painted ram was garlanded
with flowers, and the bottle hung from the garland, completely hidden
under a covering of roses. It contained red Australian wine, a very
sensible change from the French champagne of former times. Down below an
immense crowd of workmen waited, some of them right under the ship, and
all round, in the different stands, were dense masses of people. We were
soon joined by three German naval grandees and two Japanese
_leprechauns_, one an admiral, a toadlike-looking creature in a uniform
entirely copied from ours. Our new allies are not handsome. Then came
the Bishop of Exeter, in robes and cap and with a peaked beard, a living
Holbein in the dress of Cranmer. How could I, a painter, not delight in
that figure? I told a friend that bishop had no business to be alive,
but ought to be a painting by Holbein, on panel. What does she do but
whisk off straight to him and Mrs. Bishop and tell them! Our privileged
group kept swelling with additions of officers in full glory and smart
women in lovely frocks, and bouquets were brought in, and everything was
to me perfectly charming. Monarchy calls much beauty into existence.
Long may it endure!

“At last there was a stir; the monarchs came up the inclined approach
and the band struck up. They took their places facing the ship’s bows,
and Cranmer on panel by Holbein blessed the ship in as nearly a Catholic
way as was possible, with the sign of the cross left out. A subordinate
held his crozier before him. A hymn had previously been sung and a
psalm, followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Then came the ‘christening’
(strange word), a picturesque Pagan ceremony. The Queen brightened up
after the last ‘Amen’ and, nearing the table, reached over to the
flower-decked bottle; then, stepping back, swung it from her against the
monstrous ram, saying, ‘God bless this ship and all that sail in her.’ I
heard a little crack, and only a few red drops trickled down. This
wouldn’t do, for she immediately seized the bottle again and, stepping
well back this time and holding the bottle as high over her head as the
ropes would allow, flung it with such violence that it smashed all to
pieces and the red wine gushed over her hands and sleeves and poured out
its last drops on the table. A great cheer rang out at this, and the
King laughingly seemed to say to her, ‘You did it this time with a
vengeance!’ She flushed up, looking as though she enjoyed the fun. Then
came the great moment of the cutting by the Queen of the little ropes
that held the monster bound as by silken threads. Six good taps with the
mallet, severing the six strands across a ‘turtle back’ in the centre of
the table, and away flew the two ropes down amongst the cheering crowd
of workmen and, automatically, down came the two last supports on either
side of the yet impassive hull. Still impassive--not a hair’s breadth of
movement! A painful pause. Some men below were pumping the hydraulic
apparatus for all they were worth. I kept my eye on the nose of the ram,
gauging it by some object behind. Firm as a rock! At last a tiny
movement, no more than the starting of a snail across a cabbage leaf.
‘She’s off!’ A hurricane of cheers, and with the most admirable and
dignified acceleration of speed the great ship, seeming to come into
life, glided down the slips and, ploughing through the parting and
surging waters, floated off far into the Hamoaze to the strains of ‘Rule
Britannia.’ Queen Alexandra, in her elation, made motions with her arms
as though she was shoving the ship off herself. Scarcely had the
battleship _Queen_ passed into the water than the blocks displaced by
her passage were rolled back, still hot as it were from the friction,
into the position they had occupied before she moved, and the King,
stepping forward, turned a little electric handle at the table, and lo!
the keel plate of the _Edward VII_. slowly moved forward and stopped in
its position on the blocks as the germ of the new battleship. The King,
in a loud voice, proclaimed that the keel plate of the _Edward VII_. was
‘well and truly laid,’ and a great cheer arose and ‘God Save the King,’
and all was over. A new battleship was born.[14] We met Their Majesties
at the Port Admiral’s at tea, and Will dined with them, together with
some of his staff.

“_March 10th_.--Saw Their Majesties off. I wonder if they were getting
tired of seeing always the same set of faces and smiles? I am going to
present C. at Court on the 14th, and my function twin, Lady Charles, is
going there, too, so I shall feel it will be a case of ‘Here we are
again,’ when I meet the royal eye that night. In the evening the news of
Methuen’s defeat and capture by Delarey. To think this horror was going
on the day we received the King and Queen at North Road Station!

“_March 14th_.--The King’s Court was much better arranged than formerly,
as we had only to make two curtseys--nothing more--instead of having to
run the gauntlet of a long row of princes and princesses who were
abreast of Queen Victoria (or her representative), and who used to
inspect one from head to foot. These were now grouped behind the
monarchs, and formed a rich, subdued background to the two regal
figures on their thrones. (What a blessing to the aforesaid princes and
princesses to be spared the necessity of passing all those nervous women
in review, and by daylight, too!) Altogether the music and the generally
more festive character of the function struck one as a great and happy
improvement on the old dispensation. The King and Queen didn’t exactly
say, ‘How do you do again?’ as I appeared, but looked it as I met their
smiling eyes. This is the first Court of the King’s reign.

“_March 27th_.--Cecil Rhodes died yesterday. I am glad I saw him at the
Cape. One morning just at sunrise I and the children were driving to
Mass during the mission and, as we passed over the railway line, we saw
people riding down from ‘Grootschuur.’ The foremost horseman was Cecil
Rhodes, looking very big and with a wide red face. He gave me a
searching look or stare as if trying to make out who I was in the shade
of the carriage hood. So I saw his face well.

“_April 3rd_.--Will and I are invited by the King and Queen to see them
crowned at Westminster. I am to wear ‘court dress with plumes but
without train.’ But what if the nightmare war still is dragging on in
June? The time is getting short! We hear the King is getting anxious.
Lord Wolseley’s trip to the Cape (for his health!) is supposed to have
really to do with bringing about peace. But ‘’ware politics’ for me.
They are not in my line. What a wet blanket would be spread as a pall
over all the purple canopies in Westminster Abbey if war was still
brooding over us all! Imagine news of a new Methuen disaster on the
morning of June 26th!”

On Varnishing Day that spring at the Royal Academy I found that my
tent-pegging picture could not look to greater advantage, but it was in
the last room, where the public looks with “lack-lustre eyes,” being
tired.

On June 21st I left to attend the Coronation of Edward VII., spending
two days at Dick’s monastery at Downside on the way, high up in the
Mendip Hills. I note: “I had a bright little room at the guest house
just outside the precincts. That night the full moon, that emblem of
serenity, rose opposite my window, and I felt as though lifted up above
that world into which I was about to plunge for my participation in the
pomp of the Coronation in a few hours. It is inexpressibly touching to
me to see my son where he is. A hard probation, for the Benedictine test
is long and severe, as indeed the test is, necessarily, throughout the
Religious Orders.

“_June 24th_.--Memorable day! I was passing along Buckingham Palace Road
at 12.30 when I saw a poster: ‘Coronation Postponed’! Groups of people
were buying up the papers. Of course, no one believed the news at first,
and people were rather amusedly perplexed. No one had heard that the
King was ill. On getting to Piccadilly I saw the official posters and
the explanation. An operation just performed! and only yesterday Knollys
telling the world there was ‘not a word of truth in the alarming rumours
of the King’s health.’ I and Mrs. C. went to a dismal afternoon concert
at 2.30 to which we were pledged, and which the promoters were in two
minds about postponing, and we left in the middle to stroll about the
crowded streets and watch the effect of the disastrous news. There was
something very dramatic in the scene in front of the palace--the huge
crowd waiting and watching, the royal standard drooping on the roof
(not half-mast yet?), and the sense of brooding sorrow over the great
building, which held the, perhaps, dying King. What a change in two or
three hours!

“_June 26th_.--This was to have been the Coronation Day. General
dismantling. Those dead laurel wreaths still lying in the gutters are
said to be the same that were used at the funeral of King Humbert. What
a weird thought! The crowds are thinning, but still, at night, they gaze
at the little clumps of illuminations which some people exhibit, as the
King is going on well. ‘_Vivat Rex_’ flares in great brilliancy here and
there. The words have a deeper meaning than usual. May he live!

“_June 27th_.--This was to have been the day of the royal procession.
Where is that rose-colour-lined coach I so looked forward to? Lying idle
in its cover. Every one is moralising. Even the clubmen, Will tells me,
are furbishing up little religious platitudes and texts; many are
curiously superstitious, which is strange.”

On our return home I was very busy in the studio. There was much
galloping and trotting of horses up and down in the Government House
grounds for my studies of movement for my next Academy picture (dealing
with Boer War yeomanry) and others.

“_August 9th_.--King Edward VII. was crowned to-day. At about 12.40 the
guns firing in the Sound and batteries announced that, at last, the
Coronation was consummated. We were asked to the ceremony, but could not
go up this time.”

A little tour in France, with my husband and our two girls, made in
September, 1902, gave us sunny days in Anjou on the Loire. The majestic
rivers of France are her chief attraction for the painter, and to us
English Turner’s charm is inseparably blended with their slowly flowing
waters. We were visitors at a _château_ at Savonnières, near Angers, for
most of the time, and our hosts took care that we should miss none of
the lovely things around their domain. The German “Ocean Greyhounds” of
the Hamburg-Amerika line used to call at Plymouth in those days, huge,
three-funnel monsters which, I think, we have since appropriated, and
one of these, the _Augusta Marie_, bore us off to Cherbourg in all the
pride of her gorgeous saloons, flower-decked tables, band, and
extraordinary bombastic oleographs from allegorical pictures by the
Kaiser William II. As we boarded her the band played “God Save the
King,” the captain receiving Sir William with finished regulation
attention, and hardly had the great twin engines swung the ship into the
Sound to receive her passengers, than with another swing forward, which
made the masts wriggle to their very tops, she was off. It was the
“Marseillaise” as we reached France. That band played us nearly the
whole way over. A really pretty idea, this, of playing the national air
of each country where the ship touched.

It was vintage time at Savonnières, which was a French “Castagnolo,” a
most delightful translation into French of that Italian patriarchal
home. There were stone terraces garlanded with vines bearing--not the
big black grapes of Tuscany, but small yellow ones of surpassing
sugariness. We were in a typical and beautiful bit of France, peaceful,
plenteous, and full of dignity. They lead the simple life here such as I
love, which is not to be found in the big English country houses, as
far as I know. I was truly pleased at the sight of the peasantry at Mass
on the Sunday. The women in particular had that dignity which is so
marked in their class, and the white lace coifs they wore had many
varieties of shape, all most beautiful, and were very _soignées_ and
neatly worn. Not an untidy woman or girl amongst these daughters of the
soil.

I was anxious to see “Angers la Noire,” where we stayed on our way from
Savonnières to Amboise. But the black slate houses which gave it that
name are being turned into white stone ones, and so its grim
characteristic is passing away. Give me character, good or bad;
characterless things are odious. I don’t suppose a more perfect old
Angevin town exists than Amboise. It fulfilled all I required and
expected of it. How Turner understood these towns on the broad, majestic
Loire! He occasionally exaggerated, but his exaggerations were always in
the right direction, emphasising thus the dominant beauties of each
place and their local sentiment. Which recalls the deep charm of the
rivers of France more subtly to the mind, Turner’s series or an album of
photographs? Turner’s mind saw more truly than the camera. The castle of
Amboise is superb and its creamy white stone a glory. Then came Blois,
with a quite different reading of a castle, where plenty of colour and
gilding and Gothic richness gave the character--not so restful to eye
and mind as Amboise. Through both the _châteaux_ we were marshalled
along by a guide. I would sooner learn less of a place, by myself, than
be told all by a tiresome man in a _cicerone’s_ livery. Plenty of
horrors were supplied us at both places, vitiating my otherwise simple
pleasure as a painter in the sight of so much beauty.

We returned to Plymouth Sound on a lovely day, and there our blue
launch, with that bright brass funnel I had so long agitated for, was
awaiting us, and we landed at the steps of Mount Wise as though we had
merely been for a trip to Penlee Point.

I found my picture of the yeomanry cantering through a “spruit” in the
Boer War, “Within Sound of the Guns,” admirably placed this time at
Burlington House, in the spring of 1903. I had greatly improved in tone
by this time. Millais’ remark once upon a time, “She draws better than
any of us, but I wish her _tone_ was better,” had sunk deep.

On July 14th, 1903, the Princess Henry of Battenberg (as the title was
then), with a suite of six, paid us a visit of two days at Government
House, and we had, of course, a big reception, which was inevitable. Our
guest hated the ordeal of all those presentations, being very retiring,
and I sympathised. I heard her murmur to her lady, Miss Bulteel, “I
shall die,” as the first arrival was announced. And there she had to
stand till I and the A.D.C. had finished terrifying her with about 250
people in succession. What a tax royalty has to pay! There was the
laying of a foundation stone, a trip in the launch up the Tamar, and
something to be done each day, but with as many rests as we could
squeeze in for our very _simpatica_ princess. The drive through the
streets of Plymouth showed me what the crowd looks like from royalty’s
point of view as I sat by her side in the carriage. I remarked to her
what bad teeth the people had. “They are nothing to those in the north,”
the poor dear said. How often royalty has to run that gauntlet of an
unlovely and cheering crowd!

I was now to go through the great ordeal of witnessing our dear
Dick’s[15] taking his vows. This was on September 4th, 1903, at Belmont
Minster, Hereford.

On July 10th, 1904, a German squadron of eighteen men-of-war came
thundering into the Sound, and on the 12th we assembled a Garden Party
of about three hundred guests to give the three admirals and their
officers a very proper welcome. Eighteen beautiful ships, but all
untried. I lunched on board the flagship, the _Kaiser Wilhelm II._, on
the previous day, and anything to equal the dandified “get up” of that
war vessel could not be found afloat. Wherever there was an excuse for a
gold Imperial crown, there it was, relieved by the spotless whiteness of
its surroundings. The fair-haired bluejackets were extremely clean and
comely, but struck me as being drilled too much like soldiers, and
wanting the natural manner of our men. The impression on my mind at the
time was that immense care and pains had been taken to show off these
brand-new ships and to rival ours, but that they were not a bit like
their models. The General dined in state on board that evening. Oh! the
veneer of politeness shown to us these days; the bowings, the clicking
of heels, the well-drilled salutes; and all the time we were joking
amongst ourselves about the certainty we had that they were taking
soundings of our great harbour. As usual, they were allowed to do just
as they liked there. It is a tremendous thought to me that I have lived
to hear of the surrender of Germany’s entire navy. How often in those
days we allowed ourselves to imagine a modern _possible_ Trafalgar, but
such a cataclysm as this was outside the bounds of any one’s
imagination.

I devoted a great deal of my time to getting up a “one-man-show,” my
first of many, composed of water colours, and in accomplishing the
Afghan picture I have already mentioned as being so much honoured by the
Hanging Committee at the Academy in the spring of 1904. My husband’s
command of the Western District terminated on January 31st, 1905, and
with it his career in the army, as he had reached the retiring age. The
Liberal Party was very keen on having him as an M.P., representing East
Leeds. I am glad the idea did not materialise. I know what would have
happened. He would have set out full of honest and worthy enthusiasm to
serve the _Patria_. Then, little by little, he would have found what
political life really is, and thrown the thing up in disgust. An old
story. _Non Patria sed Party!_ So utterly outside my own life had
politics been that I had an amused sensation when I saw the
Parliamentary world opening before me, like a gulf!

“_January 31st_, 1905.--Will is to stand for East Leeds. It is all very
sudden. Liberals so eager that he has almost been (courteously) hustled
into the great enterprise. Herbert Gladstone, Campbell-Bannerman and
other leaders have written almost irresistible letters to him, pleading.
When he goes to the election at Leeds he is to be ‘put to no expense
whatever,’ and they are confident of a ‘handsome majority.’ We shall
see! Besides all this he is given a most momentous commission at the War
Office to investigate certain ugly-looking matters connected with the
Boer War stores scandal that require clearing up. I am glad they have
done him the ‘poetical justice’ of selecting him for this.

“_February 13th_.--We went to a very brilliant and (to me) novel
gathering at the Campbell-Bannermans’. All the leaders of the Liberal
Party there, an interesting if not very noble study. All so cordial to
Will. Tremendous crush, but nice when we got down to the more airy tea
room. The snatches of conversation I got in the general hubbub all
sounded somewhat ‘shoppy.’ Winston Churchill, a ruddy young man, with a
roguish twinkle in his eye, Herbert Gladstone and his lovely wife, our
bluff, rosy host and other ‘leaders’ were very interesting, and we met
many friends, all on the ‘congratulate.’ All these M.P.’s seem to relish
their life. I suppose it _has_ a great fascination, this working to get
your side in, as at a football match.”

The general election in course of time swept over England and brought in
the Liberal Party with an overwhelming majority. My husband did not
stand for East Leeds. He had to abandon the idea, as a Catholic, on
account of the religious difficulties connected with the Education Act.

Our life in the glorious west of Ireland, which followed our retirement
from Devonport, has been so fully described by this pen of mine in “From
Sketch-book and Diary” that I give but a slight sketch of it here. Those
were days when one could give one’s whole heart, so to speak, to Erin,
before the dreadful cloud had fallen on her which, as I write, has lent
her her present forbidding gloom. That will pass, please God!

To come straight through from London and its noise and superfluous fuss
and turmoil into the absolute peace and purity of County Mayo in perfect
summer weather was such a relief to mind and body that one felt it as an
emancipation. Health, good sleep, enjoyment of pure air and noble
scenery; kindly, unsophisticated peasantry--all these things were there,
and the flocks and herds and the sea birds. In the midst of all that
appealing poetry, so peculiar to Ireland, I had a funny object lesson of
a prosaic kind at romantic Mulranny, on Clewe Bay. In the little station
I saw a big heap in sackcloth lying on the platform--“_Hog-product from
Chicago_”--and the country able to “cure” the matchless Irish pig! I
went on to get some darning wool in the hamlet--“_Made in England_”--and
all those sheep around us! Outside the shop door a horse had the usual
big nose-bag--_”Made in Austria”!_ All these things, with a little
energy, should have come out of the place itself, surely? I thought to
encourage native industry, when found, by ordering woollen hose at the
convent school. No two stockings of the same pair were of equal length.
The bay was rich in fish, and one day came a little fleet of fishing
boats--_from France!_ There was Ireland to-day in a nutshell. What of
to-morrow? Is this really Ireland’s heavy sleep before the dawn?

I have seen some of the most impressive beauties of our world, but never
have I been more impressed than by the solemn grandeur of the mountain
across Clewe Bay they call Croagh Patrick, as we saw it on the evening
of our arrival at Mulranny. The last flush of the after-glow lingered on
its dark slopes and the red planet Mars flamed above its cone, all this
solemn beauty reflected in the sleeping waters. At Mulranny I spent
nearly all my days making studies of sheep and landscape for the next
picture I sent to the Academy--“A Cistercian Shepherd.” This gave me a
period of the most exquisitely reposeful work. The building up of this
picture was in itself an idyll. But the public didn’t want idylls from
me at all. “Give us soldiers and horses, but pastoral idylls--no!”
People had a slightly reproachful tone in their comments after seeing my
poor pastoral on the Academy walls. Some one said, “How are the mighty
fallen!”

We made our home in the heart of Tipperary, under the Galtee Mountains.
It seemed time for us to seek a dignified repose, “the world forgetting,
by the world forgot,” but we did not succeed in our intention. In 1906
my husband went on a great round of observation through Cape Colony and
the (former) Boer Republics on a literary mission. I and E. went off to
Italy, meanwhile; Rome as our goal. There I had the great pleasure of
the companionship of my sister, and it may be imagined with what
feelings we re-trod the old haunts in and about that city together.

“_April 9th, 1906_.--We had a charming stroll through the Villa d’Este
gardens, where the oldest, hoariest cypresses are to be seen, and
fountains and water conduits of graceful and fantastic shape, wherever
one turns, all gushing with impetuous waters. The architects of these
gardens revelled in their fanciful designs and sported with the
responsive flood. Cascades spout in all directions from the rocks on
which Tivoli is built. We had _déjeuner_ under a pergola at the inn
right over one of these waterfalls, where, far below us, birds flew to
and fro in the mist of the spray. Nature and art have joined in play at
Tivoli. I always have had a healthy dislike of burrowing in tombs and
catacombs. The sepulchral, bat-scented air of such places in Egypt--the
land, of all others, of limpid air and sunshine and dryness--is not in
any way attractive to me, and I greatly dislike diving into the Roman
catacombs out of the sunny Appian Way. On former occasions I went
through them all, so this time I kept above ground. I learnt all that
the catacombs teach in my early years, and am not likely to lose that
tremendous impression.

“_April 10th_.--A true Campagna day, as Italianised as I could make it.
We had a frugal _colazione_ under the pergola of an Appian Way-side inn,
watched by half a dozen hungry cats, that unattractive, wild, malignant
kind of cat peculiar to Italy. The girl who waited on us drew our white
wine in a decanter from what looked like a well in the garden. It had,
apparently, not ‘been cool’d a long age in _that_ deep-delved earth,’
but it did very well. I was perfectly happy. This old-fashioned _al
fresco_ entertainment had the local colour which I look for when I
travel and which is getting rarer year by year. Our Colosseum moonlight
was more weird than ever. At eleven we had our moon. It was a large,
battered, woeful, waning old moon, that looked in at us through the
broken arch. An opportune owl, which had been screeching like a cat in
the shade, flitted across its sloping disc just at the supreme moment.”

To receive Holy Communion at the hands of the Holy Father is a privilege
for which we should be very thankful. It was mine and E.’s on Easter
morning that year, at his private Mass in the Sistine Chapel. There I
saw Pius X. for the first time. Goodness and compassion shine from that
sad and gentle face. It is the general custom to kiss the ‘Fisherman’s
ring’ on the Pope’s hand before receiving, but Pius X. very markedly
prevents this. One can understand! Our audience with the Holy Father
took place on the eve of our departure. There was a never-absent look
with him of what I may call the submissive sense of a too-heavy burden
of responsibility. No photographs convey the right impression of this
Pope. He was very pale, very spiritual, very kind and a little weary;
most gentle and touching in his manner. The World War at its outset
broke that tender heart. I sent him my “Letters from the Holy Land,” for
which I received very urbane thanks from one of the cardinals. I don’t
think the Holy Father knows a single word of English, and I wonder what
he made of it.

As to our tour homeward, taking Florence and Venice on the way, I think
we will take that as read. I revel in the Diary in all the dear old
Italian details, marred only by the change I noticed in Venice as
regards her broken silence. The hurry of modern life has invaded even
the “silent city,” and there is too much electric glare in the lighting
now, at night, for the old enjoyment of her moonlights. It annoyed me to
see the moon looking quite shabby above the incandescent globes on the
Riva.

From Venice to the Dublin Castle season is a big jump. We had an average
of twenty-one balls in six weeks in each of the two seasons 1907--1908.
Little did I think that it would be quite an unmixed pleasure to me to
do _chaperon_ for some five hours at a stretch; but so it turned out. It
all depends what sort of daughter you have on the scene! The Aberdeens
were then in power.

Lady Aberdeen was untiring in her endeavours to trace and combat the
dire disease which seemed to fasten on the Irish in an especial manner.
She went about lecturing to the people with a tuberculosis “caravan.”
She brought it to Cashel, and my husband made the opening speech at her
exhibition there. But her addresses came to nothing. The lungs exhibited
in the “caravan” in spirits of wine appealed in vain. She actually asked
the people that day to go back to their discarded oatmeal “stir-about”!
They prefer their stewed tea and their artificially whitened, so-called
bread, with the resultant loss of their teeth. My experiences at the
different Dublin horse shows were sociable and pleasant. There you see
the finest horses and the most beautiful women in the world, and Dublin
gives you that hospitality which is the most admirable quality in the
Irish nature.

Sir William spent the remaining days of his life in trying, by addresses
to the people in different parts of the country, to quicken their sense
of the necessity for industry, sobriety, and a more serious view of
existence. They did not seem to like it, and he was apparently only
beating the air. I remember one particularly strong appeal he made in
Meath at a huge open-air meeting. I thought to myself that such
warnings, given in his vivid and friendly Irish style, touched with
humour to leaven the severity, would have impressed his hearers. The
applause disappointed me. Well, he did his best to the very last for the
country and the people he loved. He had vainly longed all his life for
Home Rule within the Empire. Was this, then, all that was wanting?

I recall in this connection an episode which was eloquent of the hearty
appreciation of his worth, quite irrespective of politics. At a banquet
given in Dublin to welcome Lord and Lady Granard, after their marriage,
he was called upon to respond for “the Guests.” For fully one minute the
cheers were so persistent when he rose that he had to wait before his
opening words could be heard. The company were nearly all Unionists.

After all the misunderstandings connected with Sir William’s association
with the Boer War and its antecedents had been righted at last, these
words of a distinguished general at Headquarters were spoken: “Butler
stands a head and shoulders above us all.”

The year 1910 is one which in our family remains for ever sacred. My
dear mother died on March 13th.

On June 7th a very brave soldier, who feared none but God, was called to
his reward. Here my Diary stops for nearly a year.[16]



CHAPTER XXIV

MOSTLY A ROMAN DIARY


Palm Sunday, 1911, found me in Rome, on the eve of my son’s ordination
as priest. One of those extraordinary occurrences which have happened in
my life took place that day. Four of us joined at the appointed place
and hour: I and Eileen from Ireland (Dick, already in Rome) and Patrick,
just landed, in the nick of time, from India! We three met at the foot
of the Aventine and went up to Sant’ Anselmo, where we knew we should
see _the other one_ during the Palm Sunday Mass, though not to speak to
till after the long service was ended. He intoned the Gospel as deacon,
and when his deep voice reached us in the gallery we looked at each
other with a smile. None of us had seen him for a more or less long
time.

“Holy Saturday. The great day. Dick assumed the chasuble, and is
officially known now as Father Urban, though ‘Dick’ he will ever remain
with us. The weather was Romanly brilliant, but I was anxious, knowing
that these young deacons were to be on their knees in the great Lateran
Church, fasting, from 7 a.m. We three waited a long time in the piazza
of the Lateran for the pealing of the bells which should announce the
beginning of the Easter time, and which was to be the signal for our
entry into the great basilica at 9.15. We had places in two balconies,
right over the altar. Below us stood about forty deacons, with our
particular one in their midst, each holding his folded chasuble across
his arms ready for the vesting. The sight of these young fellows, in
their white and gold deacons’ vestments, was very touching. Each one was
called up by name in turn, and ascended the altar steps, where sat the
consecrating bishop, who looked more like a spirit than a mere human
creature. When Urbano Butler (pronounced _Boutler_, of course, by the
Italian voice) was called, how we craned forward! To me the whole thing
was poignant. What those boys give up! (‘Well,’ answers a voice, ‘they
give up the world, and a good thing too!’)

“We went, when the ceremony was completed, into a side chapel to receive
the newly-made young priests’ first blessing. These young fellows ran
out of the sacristy towards the crowd of expectant parents and friends,
their newly-acquired chasubles flying behind them as they ran, with
outstretched hands, for the kisses of that kneeling crowd that awaited
them. What a sight! Can any one paint it and do it justice? Old and
young, gentlefolk and peasants, smiling through tears, kissing the young
hands that blessed them. Dick came to his mother first, then to his
soldier brother, then to his sister, and I saw him lifting an aged
prelate to his feet after blessing him. Strangers knelt to him and to
the others, and I saw, in its perfection, what is meant by ‘laughing for
joy’ on those young and holy faces. There was one exception. A poor
young Irish boy, somehow, had no relative to bless--no one--he seemed
left out in his corner, and he was crying. Perhaps his mother was
‘beyond the beyond’ in far Connemara? I heard of this afterwards. Had I
seen him, I would certainly have asked his blessing too. So it
is--always some shadow, even here.

“As soon as we could get hold of Dick, in his plain habit, we hurried
him to a little _trattoria_ across the piazza, where his dear friend and
chum, John Collins,[17] treated him to a good cup of chocolate to break
his long fast.”

It was quite a necessary anti-climax for me when we and our friends all
met again at the hotel and sat down, to the number of fifteen, to a
bright luncheon I gave in honour of the day. A very celebrated English
cardinal honoured me with his presence there.

“_Easter Sunday_.--Patrick, Eileen and I received Holy Communion in the
crypt of Sant’ Anselmo from Dick’s hands at his first Mass. These few
words contain the culmination of all.

“_April 17th_.--In the afternoon we were all off, piloted by Dick, to
the celebrated Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, a long way down
towards Naples, to spend a few days, Patrick as guest within the
precincts, and E. and I lodging at the guest-house, which forms part of
the monastic farm, poised on the edge of a great precipice. The sheer
rock plunges down to the base of the mountain whereon stands the
wonderful monastery. It is something to see a great domed church on the
top of such a mountain, and a building of such vast proportions,
containing one of the greatest libraries in the world. A mule path was
all the monks intended for communication between the two worlds, but now
a great carriage road takes us up by an easy zigzag.

“_April 18th_.--Every hour of our visit to Monte Cassino must be lived.
I made a sketch of the monastery and the abyss into which one peers
from that great height, with angry red clouds gathering over the tops of
the snowy mountains. But my sketches are too didactic; and, indeed, who
but Turner could convey to the beholder the awful spirit of that scene?
The tempest sent us in and we had the experience of a good thunderstorm
amidst those severe mountains that have the appearance of a petrified
chaos. Last night E. woke up to find the room full of a surprising blue
light, which at first she took to be the dawn because, through the open
windows, she heard the whole land thrilling with the song of birds. But
such a _blue_ light for dawn? She got up to see. The light was that of
the full moon and the birds were nightingales.

“I was enchanted to see the beautiful dress of the peasant women here.
Their white _tovaglie_ are looped back in a more graceful line than the
Roman. The queerest little thin black hogs, like poor relations of the
tall, pink Valentia variety which I have already signalised, browse on
the steep ascent to this great stronghold, and everything still looks
wild, in spite of the carriage road. I should have preferred coming up
here on a mule. Our suppers at the guest-house were Spartan. Rather
dismal, having to pump conversation with the Italian guests at this
festive(!) board. Our intellectual food, however, was rich. The abbot
and his monks did the honours of far-famed Monte Cassino for us with the
kindest attention, showing very markedly their satisfaction in
possessing Brother Urban, whose father’s name they held in great
esteem.”

On April 22nd we had the long-expected audience with Pio Decimo. It was
only semi-private and there were crowds, including eleven English naval
officers, to be presented. I had my little speech ready, but when we
came into the Pope’s presence we found him standing instead of restfully
seated, and he looked so fatigued and so aged since I last saw him that
I knew I must keep him listening as short a time as possible. First I
presented “_Mio figlio primogenito, ufficiale_;” then “_mio figlio
Benedettino_” and then “_mia figlia_.” He spoke a little while to Dick
in Latin, and then we knelt and received his blessing and departed, to
see him no more.

It is a great thing to have seen Leo XIII. and Pius X., as I have had
the opportunity of seeing them. Both have left a deep impression on
modern life, especially the former, who was a great statesman. To see
the fragile scabbard of the flesh one wondered how the keen sword of the
spirit could be held at all within it. It was his diplomatic tact that
smoothed away many of the difficulties that obtruded themselves between
the Vatican and the Quirinal, and that tact kept the Papacy on good
terms with France and her Republic, to which he called on all French
Catholics to give their support. It was he who forced “the man of blood
and iron” to relax the ferocious laws against the Church in Germany, and
to allow the evicted bishops to return to their Sees. Diplomatic
relations with Germany were renewed, and the Church’s laws regarding
marriage and education had to be re-admitted by the Government. Even the
dark “Orthodox” intolerance of Russia bent sufficiently to his influence
to allow of the establishment of Catholic episcopal Sees in that
country, and the cessation of the imprisonment of priests. The
episcopate in Scotland, too, was restored. We owe to him that spread of
Catholicism in the United States which has long been such a surprise to
the onlooker. Then there are his great encyclicals on the Social
Question, setting forth the Christian teaching on the relations between
capital and labour; establishing the social movement on Christian lines.
How clearly he saw the threat of a great European war at no very distant
date from his time unless armaments were reduced. That refined mind
inclined him to the advancement of the cause of the Arts and of
learning. Students thank him for opening the Vatican archives to them,
which he did with the words, “The Church has nothing to fear from the
publication of the Truth.” His is the Vatican observatory--one of the
most famous in the world. It makes one smile to remember his remarks on
the then young Kaiser William II., who seems to have struck the Holy
Father as somewhat bumptious on the occasion of his historic visit.
“That young man,” as he called him, evidently impressed the Pope as one
having much to learn.

What a contrast Pius X. presents to his predecessor! The son of a
postman at Rieti, a little town in Venetia. I remember when a deputation
of young men came to pay him their respects at the Vatican, arriving on
their bicycles, that he told them how much he would have liked a bike
himself when, as a bare-legged boy, he had to trudge every day seven
miles to school and back. Needless to say, he had no diplomatic or
political training, but he led the truly simple life, very saintly and
apostolic. He devoted his energies chiefly to the purely pastoral side
of his office. We are grateful to him for his reform of Church music
(and it needed it in Italy!). He was very emphatic in urging frequent
communion and early communion for children. His condemnation of
“modernism” is fresh in all our minds, and we are glad he removed the
prohibition on Catholics from standing for the Italian Parliament,
thereby allowing them to obtain influential positions in public life. He
took a firm stand with regard to the advancing encroachment of the
French Government on the liberties of the Church in his day. His policy
is being amply justified under our very eyes.

We joined the big garden party, after the Papal audience, at the British
Embassy. A great crush in that lovely remnant of the once glorious,
far-spreading gardens I can remember, nearly all turned to-day into
deadly streets on which a gridiron of tram lines has been screwed down.
Prince Arthur of Connaught brought in the Queen-Mother, Margherita, to
the lawn where the dancing took place. The Rennell-Rodd children as
little fairies were pretty and danced charmingly, but I felt for the
professional dancer who, poor thing, was not in her first youth, and
unkindly dealt with by the searching daylight. To have to caper airily
on that grass was no joke. It was heavy going for her and made me
melancholy, in conjunction with my memories of the old Ludovisi gardens
and the vanished pines.

On October 26th my youngest daughter, Eileen, was married to Lord
Gormanston, at the Brompton Oratory, the church so loved by our mother,
and where I was received. Our dear Dick married them. I had the
reception in Lowndes Square in the beautiful house lent by a friend.

Ireland has many historic ancestral dwellings, and one of these became
my daughter’s new home in Meath. Shakespeare’s “cloud-capp’d towers”
seemed not so much the “baseless fabric” of the poet’s vision when I
saw, one day, the low-lying trail of a bright Irish mist brush the high
tops of the towers of Gormanston. A thing of visions, too, is realised
there in a cloister carved so solidly out of the dense foliage of the
yew that never monastic cloister of stone gave a more restful
“contiguity of shade.”

I spent the winter of 1911--12 in London, and worked hard at water
colours, of which I was able to exhibit a goodly number at a “one-man
show” in the spring. The King lent my good old “Roll Call,” and the
whole thing was a success. I showed many landscapes there as well as
military subjects; many Italian and Egyptian drawings made during my
travels, and scenes in Ireland. These exhibitions in a well-lighted
gallery are pleasant, and the private view day a social rendezvous for
one’s friends.

Through my sister, with whom I revisited Rome early in 1913, I had the
pleasure of knowing many Americans there. How refreshing they are, and
responsive (I don’t mean the mere tourist!), whereas my dear compatriots
are very heavy in hand sometimes. American women are particularly well
read and cultivated and full of life. They don’t travel in Europe for
nothing. I have had some dull experiences in the English world when
embarking, at our solemn British dinners, on cosmopolitan subjects for
conversation. What was I to say to a man who, having lately returned
from Florence, gave it as his opinion that it was only “a second-rate
Cheltenham”? I tried that unlucky Florentine subject on another. He:
“Florence? Oh, yes, I liked that--that--_minaret thing_ by the side of
the--the--er----“ I: “The Duomo?” He: “Oh, yes, the Duomo.” I (in
gloomy despair): “Do you mean Giotto’s Tower?” Collapse of our
conversation.

Very probably I bade my last farewell to St. Peter’s that year. I had
more than once bidden a provisional “good-bye” at sundown on leaving
Rome to that dome which I always loved to see against the western glory
from the familiar terrace on Monte Pincio, only to return, on a further
visit, and see it again with the old, fresh feeling of thankfulness. My
initial enthusiasm, crudely chronicled as it is in my early Diary on
first coming in sight of St. Peter’s, was a young artist’s emotion, but
to the maturer mind what a miracle that Sermon in Stone reveals! The
tomb of one Simon, no better, before his call, than any ordinary
fisherman one may see to-day on our coasts--and now? “TU ES PETRUS....”



CHAPTER XXV

THE GREAT WAR


I was very busy with oil brush and water-colour brush during the summer
of 1913, and the succeeding winter, in Ireland, accomplishing a large
oil, “The Cuirassier’s Last _Reveil_, Morning of Waterloo,” and a number
of drawings, all of that inexhaustible battle, for my next “one-man
show” held on its centenary, 1915. I left no stone unturned to get true
studies of dawn twilight for that _reveil_, and I got them. At the
pretty house of my friends, the Egerton Castles, on a steep Surrey hill,
I had my chance. The house faced the east. It was midsummer; an alarm
clock roused me each morning at 2.30. I had modelled a little grey horse
and a man, and set them up on my balcony, facing in the right direction,
and there I waited, with palette spread, for the dawn. Time was short;
the first ray of sunrise would spoil all, so I could only dab down the
tones, anyhow; but they were all-important dabs, and made the big
picture run without a hitch. Nothing delays a picture more than the
searching for the true relations of tone without sufficient data. But
this is a truism.

The Waterloo water colours were most interesting to work out. I had any
amount of books for reference, records of old uniforms to get from
contemporary paintings; and I utilised the many studies of horses I had
made for years, chiefly on the chance of their coming in useful some
day. The result was the best “show” I had yet had at the Leicester
Galleries. But ere that exhibition opened, the World War burst upon us!
First my soldier son went off, and then the Benedictine donned khaki, as
chaplain to the forces. He went, one may say, from the cloister to the
cannon. I had to pass through the ordeal which became the lot of so many
mothers of sons throughout the Empire.

“_Lyndhurst, New Forest, September 22nd, 1914._--I must keep up the old
Diary during this most eventful time, when the biggest war the world has
ever been stricken with is raging. To think that I have lived to see it!
It was always said a war would be too terrible now to run the risk of,
and that nations would fear too much to hazard such a peril. Lo! here we
are pouring soldiers into the great jaws of death in hundreds of
thousands, and sending poor human flesh and blood to face the new
‘scientific’ warfare--the same flesh and blood and nervous system of the
days of bows and arrows. Patrick is off as A.D.C. to General Capper,
commanding the 7th Division. Martin, who was the first to be ordered to
the front, attached to the 2nd Royal Irish, has been transferred to the
wireless military station at Valentia. That regiment has been utterly
shattered in the Mons retreat, so I have reason to be thankful for the
change. I am here, at Patrick’s suggestion, that I may see an army under
war conditions and have priceless opportunities of studying ‘the real
thing.’ The 7th Division[18] is now nearly complete, and by October 3rd
should be on the sea. I arrived at Southampton to-day, and my good old
son in his new Staff uniform was at the station ready to motor me up to
Lyndhurst where the Staff are, and all the division, under canvas. I was
very proud of the red tabs on Patrick’s collar, meaning so much. I saw
at once, on arriving, the difference between this and my Aldershot
impressions. This is _war_, and there is no doubt the bearing of the men
is different. They were always smart, always cheery, _but not like
this_. There is a quiet seriousness quite new to me. They are going to
look death straight in the face.

“_September 23rd._--I had a most striking lesson in the appearance of
men after a very long march, _plus_ that look which is quite absent on
peace manœuvres, however hot and trying the conditions. What
surprises and telling ‘bits’ one sees which could never be imagined with
such a convincing power. A team of eight mammoth shire horses drawing a
great gun is a sight never to be forgotten; shapely, superb cart horses
with coats as satiny as any thoroughbred’s, in polished artillery
harness, with the mild eyes of their breed--I must do that amongst many
most _real_ subjects. But I see the German shells ploughing through
these teams of willing beasts. They will suffer terribly.

“_September 25th._--Getting hotter every day and not a cloud. I brought
this weather with me. Patrick waits on me whenever he is off duty for an
hour or so, and it is a charming experience to have him riding by the
side of the carriage to direct the driver and explain to me every
necessary detail. The place swarms with troops for ever in movement, and
the roll of guns and drums, and the notes of the cheery pipes and fifes
go on all day. The Gordons have arrived.

[Illustration: NOTES ON THE EVE OF THE GREAT WAR.]

“_September 26th._--Signs of pressure. They may now be off any hour.
The ammunition has all arrived, and there wants but one battery of
artillery to complete the division. General Capper won’t wait much
longer and will be off without it if it delays and make up a battery _en
route_ somehow. It is sad to see so many mere boys arriving at the hotel
fresh from Sandhurst. They are given companies to command, captains
being killed, wounded or missing in such numbers. As to Patrick’s
regiment, the old Royal Irish seem to have been so shattered that they
are all _hors de combat_ for the present.

“_September 27th._--What a precious Sunday this has been! First, Patrick
accompanied me to Mass, said by Father Bernard Vaughan, in a secluded
part of the camp, where the heather had not been ploughed up by men,
horses and guns, as elsewhere, and where the altar was erected in a
wooded glen. The Grenadier and Scots Guards were all on their knees as
we arrived, and the bright green and gold vestments of the priest were
relieved very vividly in the sunshine against the darker green
background of the forest beyond. Quite a little crowd of stalwart
guardsmen received Holy Communion, and two of them were sheltering with
their careful hands the candles from the soft warm breeze, one at each
end of the altar. We sit out in the leafy garden of the hotel and have
tea there, we parents and relatives, with our boys by us at all spare
moments. To-day, being Sunday, there have been extra crowds of relatives
and friends who have motored over from afar. There is pathos here, very
real pathos. How many of these husbands and sons and brothers I see
sitting close to their dear ones, for the last time, perhaps! Who knows?
The voices are low and quiet--very quiet. Patrick and I were
photographed together by M. E. These little snapshots will be precious.
We were nearly all day together to-day as there was a rest. All this
quiet time here our brave soldiers are being shattered on the banks of
the Aisne. Just now must be a tremendously important period of the
fighting. We may get great news to-morrow. Many names I know beginning
to appear in the casualty lists.

“_September 28th, 1914._--Had a good motor run with the R.’s right
through the field of ‘battle’ in the midst of the great forest--a
rolling height covered with heather and bracken. Our soldiers certainly
have learnt, at last, how to take cover. One can easily realise how it
is that the proportion of officers killed is so high. Kneeling or
standing up to give directions they are very conspicuous, whereas of the
men one catches only a glimpse of their presence now and then through a
tell-tale knapsack or the round top of a cap in the bracken; yet the
ground is packed with men--quite uncanny. The Gordons were a beautiful
sight as they sprang up to reach a fresh position. I noticed how the
breeze, as they ran, blew the khaki aprons aside and the revealed tartan
kilts gave a welcome bit of colour and touched up the drab most
effectively. One ‘gay Gordon’ sergeant told us, ‘We are a grand
diveesion, all old warriors, and when we get out ‘twill make a
deeference.’”

The most impressive episode to me of that well-remembered day was when
Patrick took me up to the high ground at sunset and we looked down on
the camp. The mellow, very red sun was setting and the white moon was
already well up over the camp, which looked mysterious, lightly veiled
by the thin grey wood-smoke of the fires. Thousands of troops were
massed or moving, shadowy, far away; others in the middle distance
received the blood-red glow on the men’s faces with an extraordinary
effect. They showed as ruddy, vaporous lines of colour over the scarcely
perceptible tones of the dusky uniforms. Horses stood up dark on the
sky-line. The bugles sounded the “Retreat”; these doomed legions,
shadow-like, moved to and fro. It was the prologue to a great tragedy.

“_September 30th._--There was a field day of the whole of one brigade.
The regiments in it are ‘The Queen’s,’ the Welsh Fusiliers, Staffords,
and Warwicks, with the monstrous 4·7 guns drawn by my well-loved mighty
mammoths. The guns are made impossible to the artist of modern war by
being daubed in blue and red blotches which make them absolutely
formless and, of course, no glint of light on the hidden metal is seen.
Still, there is much that is very striking, though the colour, the
sparkle, the gallant plumage, the glinting of gold and silver, have
given way to universal grimness. After all, why dress up grim war in all
that splendour? My idea of war subjects has always been anti-sparkle.

“As I sat in the motor in the centre of the far-flung ‘battle,’ in a
hollow road, lo! the Headquarter Staff came along, a gallant group, _à
la_ Meissonier, Patrick, on his skittish brown mare ‘Dawn,’ riding
behind the General, who rode a big black (_very_ effective), with the
chief of the Staff nearly alongside. The escort consisted of a strong
detachment of the fine Northumberland Hussars, mounted on their own
hunters. They are to be the bodyguard of the General at the Front.
Several drivers of the artillery are men who were wounded at Mons and
elsewhere, and, being well again, are returning with this division to
the Front. All the horses here are superb. Poor beasts, poor beasts! One
daily, hourly, reminds oneself that the very dittoes of these men and
animals are suffering, fighting, dying over there in France. Kitchener
tells our General that the 7th Division will ‘probably arrive after the
first phase is over,’ which looks as though he fully expects the
favourable and early end of the present one.

“_October 2nd._--The whole division was out to-day. I was motored into
the very thick of the operations on the high lands, and watched the men
entrenching themselves, a thing I had never yet seen. Most picturesque
and telling. And the murderous guns were being embedded in the yellow
earth and covered with heather against aeroplanes, especially, and their
wheels masked with horse blankets. There they lay, black, hump-backed
objects, with just their mouths protruding, and as each gun section
finished their work with the pick and shovel, they lay flat down to hide
themselves. How war is waged now! Great news allowed to be published
to-day in the papers. The Indian Army has arrived, and is now at the
_Front!_ It landed long ago at Marseilles, but how well the secret has
been kept! How mighty are the events daily occurring. Late in the
afternoon I saw the Northumberland Hussars, on a high ridge, _practising
the sword exercise!_ With the idea that the sword was obsolete
(engendered by the Boer War experience), no yeomanry has, of late, been
armed with sabres, but, seeing what use our Scots Greys, Lancers,
Dragoon Guards and Hussars have lately been making of the steel, General
Capper has insisted on these, his own yeomen, being thus armed. I felt
stirred with the pathos of this sight--men learning how to use a new
arm on the eve of battle. They were mounted and drawn up in a long,
two-deep line on that brown heath, with a heavy bank of dark clouds like
mine in ‘Scotland for Ever!’ behind their heads--a fine subject.

[Illustration: THE SHIRE HORSES: WHEELERS OF A 4·7,

A HUSSAR SCOUT OF 1917.]

“Who will look at my ‘Waterloos’ now? I have but one more of that series
to do. Then I shall stop and turn all my attention and energy to this
stupendous war. I shall call up my Indian sowars again, but _not_ at
play this time.

“_October 3rd_.--Sketched Patrick’s three beautiful chargers’ heads in
water colour. Still the word ‘Go!’ is suspended over our heads.

“_October 4th_.--The word ‘Go!’ has just sounded. In ten minutes Patrick
had to run and get his handbag, great coat and sword and be off with his
General to London. They pass through here to-morrow on their way to
embark.

“_October 5th_, 1914.--I was down at seven, and as they did not finally
leave till 8.15 I had a golden half-hour’s respite. Then came the
parting....”

I left Lyndhurst at once. It will ever remain with me in a halo of
physical and spiritual sunshine seen through a mist of sadness.

On November 2nd, 1914, my son Patrick was severely wounded during the
terrible, prolonged first Battle of Ypres, and was sent home to be
nursed back to health and fighting power at Guy’s Hospital, where I saw
him. He told me that as he lay on the field his General and Staff passed
by, and all the General said was, “Hullo, Butler! is that you?
Good-bye!”[19] General Capper was as brave a soldier as ever lived,
but, I think, too fond for a General of being, as he said he wished to
be, _in the vanguard_. Thus he met his death (riding on horseback, I
understand) at Loos. Patrick’s brother A.D.C., Captain Isaac, whom I
daily used to see at Lyndhurst, was killed early in the War. The poor
fellow, to calm my apprehensions regarding my own son, had tried to
assure me that, as A.D.C., he would be as safe as in Piccadilly.

Towards the end of 1914 London had become intensely interesting in its
tragic aspect, and so very unlike itself. Soldiers of all ranks formed
the majority of the male population. In fact, wherever I looked now
there was some new sight of absorbing interest, telling me we were at
war, and such a war! Bands were playing at recruiting stations; flags of
all the Allies fluttered in the breeze in gaudy bunches; “pom-pom” guns
began to appear, pointing skywards from their platforms in the parks,
awaiting “Taubes” or “Zeppelins.” I went daily to watch the recruits
drilling in the parks--such strangely varied types of men they were, and
most of them appearing the veriest civilians, from top to toe. Yet these
very shop-boys had come forward to offer their all for England, and the
good fellows bowed to the terrible, shouting drill-sergeants as never
they had bowed to any man before. What enraged me was the giggling of
the shop-girls who looked on--a far harder ordeal for the boys even than
the yells of the sergeants. One of the squads in the Green Park was
supremely interesting to me one day, in (I am bound to say) a semi-comic
way. These recruits were members and associates of the Royal Academy.
They were mostly somewhat podgy, others somewhat bald. When resting,
having piled arms, they played leap-frog, which was very funny, and
showed how light-heartedly my brothers of the brush were going to meet
the Boche. Of the maimed and blind men one met at every turn I can
scarcely write. I find that when I am most deeply moved my pen lags too
far behind my brush.

On getting home to Ireland I set to work upon a series of khaki water
colours of the War for my next “one-man show,” which opened with most
satisfactory _éclat_ in May, 1917. One of the principal subjects was
done under the impulse of a great indignation, for Nurse Cavell had been
executed. I called the drawing “The Avengers.” Also I exhibited at the
Academy, at the same time, “The Charge of the Dorset Yeomanry at Agagia,
Egypt.” This was a large oil painting, commissioned by Colonel Goodden
and presented by him to his county of Dorset. That charge of the British
yeomen the year before had sealed the fate of the combined Turks and
Senussi, who had contemplated an attack on Egypt. One of the most
difficult things in painting a war subject is the having to introduce,
as often happens, portraits of particular characters in the drama. Their
own mothers would not know the men in the heat, dust, and excitement of
a charge, or with the haggard pallor on them of a night watch. In the
Dorset charge all the officers were portraits, and I brought as many in
as possible without too much disobeying the “distance” regulation. The
Enemy (of the Senussi tribe) wore flowing _burnouses_, which helped the
movement, but at their machine guns I, rather reluctantly, had to place
the necessary Turkish officers. I had studies for those figures and for
the desert, which I had made long ago in the East. It is well to keep
one’s sketches; they often come in very useful.

The previous year, 1916, had been a hard one. Our struggles in the War,
the Sinn Fein rebellion in Dublin, and one dreadful day in that year
when the first report of the Battle of Jutland was published--these were
great trials. I certainly would not like to go through another phase
like that. But I was hard at work in the studio at home in Tipperary,
and this kept my mind in a healthy condition, as always, through
trouble. Let all who have congenial work to do bless their stars!

On July 31st my second son, the chaplain, had a narrow escape. It was at
the great Battle of Flanders, where we seem to have made a good
_beginning_ at last. Father Knapp and Dick were tending the wounded and
dying under a rain of shells, when the old priest told Dick to go and
get a few minutes’ rest. On returning to his sorrowful work Dick met the
fine old Carmelite as he was borne on a stretcher, dying of a shell that
had exploded just where my son had been standing a few minutes before.

I see in the Diary: “_December 11th, 1917_.--To-day our army is to make
its formal entry into Jerusalem. I can scarcely write for excitement.
How vividly I see it all, knowing every yard of that holy ground! Dick
writes from before Cambrai that, if he had to go through another such
day as that of the 30th November last, he would go mad with grief. He
lost all his dearest friends in the Grenadier Guards, and he says
England little knows how near she was to a great disaster when the enemy
surprised us on that terrible Friday.”

Men who have gone through the horrors of war say little about them, but
I have learnt many strange things from rare remarks here and there. To
show how human life becomes of no account as the fighting grows, here is
an instance. A soldier was executed at dawn one day for “cowardice.” An
officer who had acted at the court-martial met a private of the same
regiment as the dead man’s that day, who remarked to his officer that
all he could say about his dead “pal” was that he had seen him perform
an act of bravery three times which would have deserved the V.C. “My
good man,” said the officer, “why didn’t you come forward at the trial
and say this?” “Well, I didn’t think of it, sir.” After all, to die one
way or another had become quite immaterial.

One of the most important of my water colours at the second khaki
exhibition, held in London in May, 1919, was of the memorable charge of
the Warwick and Worcester Yeomanry at Huj, near Jerusalem, which charge
outshone the old Balaclava one we love to remember, and which differed
from the Crimean exploit in that we not only captured all the enemy
guns, but _held_ them. I had had all details--ground plans, description
of the weather on that memorable day, position of the sun, etc.,
etc.--supplied me by an eye-witness who had a singularly quick eye and
precise perception.[20] I called it “Jerusalem delivered,” for that
charge opened the gates of the Holy City to us. “The Canadian Bombers on
Vimy Ridge” was another of the more conspicuous subjects, and this one
went to Canada.

But I must look back a little: “_Monday, November 11th,
1918_.--Armistice Day! I have been fortunate in seeing London on this
day of days. I arrived at Victoria into a London of laughter, flags,
joy-rides on every conceivable and inconceivable vehicle. I had hints on
the way to London by eruptions of Union Jacks growing thicker and
thicker along the railway, but I could not let myself believe that it
was the end of all our long-drawn-out trial that I would find on
arrival. But so it was. I went alone for a good stroll through Oxford
Street, Bond Street, and Piccadilly. People meeting, though strangers,
were smiling at each other. _I_ smiled to strange faces that were
smiling at me. What a novel sensation! The streets were thronged with
the _true_ happiness in the people’s eyes, and there was no
“_mafficking_” no horse-play, but such _fun_. The matter was too great
for rowdyism and drunkenness. The crowd was allowed to do just as it
pleased for once, yet I saw no accidents. The police just looked on, and
would have beamed also, I am sure, if they had not been on duty. They
had, apparently, thrown the reins on the public’s neck. I saw some sad
faces, but, of course, such as these kept mostly away.”

In deepest gratitude I felt I could be amongst the smilers that day, for
both my own sons, who faced death to the very end in so many of the
theatres of war to which our armies were sent, had survived.

The boat that took me back to Ireland eventually had no protecting
airship serpentining above us. We could breathe freely now!

[Illustration: A POST-CARD, FOUND ON A GERMAN PRISONER, WITH “SCOTLAND
FOR EVER” TURNED INTO PRUSSIAN CAVALRY, TYPIFYING THE VICTORIOUS ON-RUSH
OF THE GERMAN ARMY IN THE NEW YEAR, 1915.]



INDEX


Abbas II., Khedive, 228.

Aberdeen, Marchioness of, 308.

Agostino (cook), 5.

Aix-la-Chapelle, Germany, 29.

Albaro, Italy, 6, 54, 230.

Aldershot, review at, 236.

Alexandra, Queen, launches _Queen_, 288 _seq._

Alexandria, Egypt, 202 _seq._

Alma Tadema, Sir L., 154.

Amalfi, Italy, 255.

Amboise, France, 300.

Amélie (nurse), 2, 3, 5, 10.

“An Eviction in Ireland,” 199.

Angers, France, 300.

Antonelli, Cardinal, 74.

Arcole, Italy, 224.

Armistice Day, 1918, 332.

Atfeh, Egypt, 216.

Avignon, France, 178.


Bagshawe, Father, 105.

“Balaclava,” composition, 138;
  copyright sold, 151;
  exhibited, 152.

Bâle, Switzerland, 179.

_Barberi_ races, 85.

Beatrice, Princess, 301.

Bellucci, Giuseppe, 60, 66, 148.

Beresford, Lord Charles, 221.

Birmingham, 126.

Blois, France, 300.

Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, 12.

Bonn, Germany, 19.

Boppart, Germany, 24.

Broome Hall, Kent, 265.

Browne, Colonel, 120.

Bruges, Belgium, 16, 270.

Brussels, Belgium, 31.

Buller, Sir Redvers, 284.

Burchett, Mr., 39, 41, 42, 44, 48, 50, 101.

Butcher, Dean, 232.

Butler, Elizabeth, Lady, birth and education, 1;
  visits to Italy, 3, 54 _seq._, 147 _seq._, 159 _seq._, 252 seq.,
    279 _seq._, 306, 311 _seq._;
  taste for drawing, 4;
  early sketches, 7;
  commences Diary, 7;
  artistic training, 10, 14, 39 _seq._, 60 _seq._, 77;
  German experiences, 19 _seq._, 179 seq.;
  visits Waterloo, 31;
  taste for military subjects, 46;
  early exhibits, 50;
  sells water-colours, 96;
  first military drawings, 98;
  conversion to Catholicism, 99;
  first Academy picture, 99;
  photographs, 114;
  at Lord Mayor’s banquets, 122, 139, 153, 193;
  present from Queen Victoria, 125;
  visits Paris, 127 _seq._;
  proposed election as R.A., 153;
  marriage, 168, Irish experiences, 169 _seq._, 199, 304;
  tour in Pyrenees, 175;
  paints “Rorke’s Drift” for Queen Victoria, 187 _seq._;
  life at Plymouth, 191;
  Tel-el-Kebir picture, 194;
  residence in Egypt, 196, 202 _seq._;
  in Brittany, 198;
  paints 24th Dragoons, 199;
  tour in Palestine, 221;
  Aldershot life, 234 _seq._;
  residence at Dover, 260;
  in South Africa, 275;
  at Devonport, 277;
  tour in France, 298;
  “one-man” shows, 303, 318, 321, 329, 331.

----, Martin, 321.

----, Patrick, 321 _seq._

----, Richard (Urban), at Downside, 297;
  enters Benedictine Order, 302;
  ordained as priest, 311;
  presented to Pius X., 315;
  as army chaplain, 321;
  war experiences, 330.

Butler, General Sir William, marriage, 168;
  German tour, 179 _seq._;
  Zulu War, 183;
  friendship with Empress Eugénie, 185, 241, 257;
  at Plymouth, 191;
  at Lord Mayor’s banquet, 193;
  Egyptian campaign (1882), 193;
  Gordon expedition, 194;
  Wady Halfa command, 196;
  receives K.C.B., 199;
  Alexandria command, 200;
  Aldershot command, 234, 284;
  Dover command, 260;
  South African command, 275;
  attacks on, 276;
  Devonport command, 277;
  tour in France, 298;
  asked to stand for Parliament, 303;
  on Royal Commission, 303;
  speeches in Ireland, 309;
  death, 310.


CAIRO, Egypt, 196.

Cambridge, Duke of, 131, 218, 235.

“Canadian Bombers on Vimy Ridge,” 331.

Canterbury, opening of church in, 132.

Cap Martin, France, 251, 257.

Capper, General, 327.

Capri, Italy, 254.

Carcassonne, France, 178.

Castagnolo, Italy, 161.

Cette, France, 177.

Chapman, Sir F., 110.

“Charge of the Dorset Yeomanry at Agagia, Egypt,” 329.

Chatham, Kent, 120.

“Cistercian Shepherd,” 305.

Coblenz, Germany, 21.

Collier, Mortimer, 192.

Cologne, Germany, 19.

Connaught, Duke of, 235.

Corpus Christi procession, 119.

Cruikshank, George, 123.

“Cuirassier’s Last Réveil, Morning of Waterloo,” 320.


D’ARCOS, Madame, 258.

“Dawn of Sedan,” 111.

“Dawn of Waterloo,” 244.

“Defence of Rorke’s Drift,” 187 _seq._

Delgany, Ireland, 199, 225.

Denbigh, Earl of, 117.

“Desert Grave,” 198.

Devonport, 277.

Deyrout, Egypt, 217.

Diamond Jubilee, 1897, 266.

Dickens, Charles, 9.

Dinan, France, 198.

Dordrecht, Holland, 181.

Dover, Kent, 38, 260.

Du Maurier, George, 107, 154.

Dufferin, Marquis of, 140.

Durham, 144.

Düsseldorf, Germany, 180.


EDENBRIDGE, Kent, 4, 185.

Edinburgh, 145.

Edkou, Egypt, 205.

Edward VII., King (formerly Albert Edward, Prince of Wales),
  approves of “Roll Call,” 113;
  accession, 286;
  at launch of _Queen_, 289 _seq._;
  lays keel of battleship, 295;
  postponed coronation, 297.

_Edward VII._ (battleship), 295.

Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, 271.

Eugénie, Empress, interview with General Butler, 185;
  friendship with the Butlers, 234, 251;
  devotion to her son, 237;
  recollections of Egypt, 241;
  at Cap Martin, 257.


FARNBOROUGH, Hants., 235.

Ferguson, Sir William, 110.

“Floreat Etona!” 193.

Florence, Italy, 57 _seq._, 147 _seq._, 161.

Fort St. Julian, Egypt, 217.

Frederick, Emperor, 245.

----, Empress. _See_ Victoria, Empress Frederick.


GABRIEL, Virginia, 152.

Gallifet, Marquise de, 242.

Galloway, Mr., 111, 131.

Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 6.

Gave, River, 176.

Genoa, Italy, 5, 54, 230.

George V., King, 261.

Gladstone, W. E., 266.

Glendalough, Ireland, 199.

Gormanston, Viscountess (formerly Miss Eileen Butler), 317.

Gormanston, Ireland, 318.

Grant, Sir Hope, 115, 116.

_Graphic_, 99, 125.


HADEN, Seymour, 110.

Hadrian’s Villa, Rome, 280.

“Halt!” 119.

“Halt on a Forced March: Retreat to Corunna,” 225.

Hastings, Sussex, 9.

Heidelberg, Germany, 179.

Henley-on-Thames, 15, 97.

Henry of Battenberg, Princess. _See_ Beatrice, Princess.

Herbert, J. R., 105.


IMPERIAL, Prince. _See_ Napoleon, Prince Imperial.


“Jerusalem Delivered,” 331.


KITCHENER, Lord, 221, 272 _seq._

Koenigswinter, Germany, 19.


LANE, Richard, 11, 42.

Le Breton, Madame, 257.

Leman, Lake (Lake of Geneva), 179.

Leo XIII., Pope, 257, 280, 281, 315.

_Letters from the Holy Land_, 278.

“‘Listed for the Connaught Rangers,” 169, 184.

Lothian, Marchioness of, 118.

Louis Napoleon, Prince, 247.

Louise, Princess, Duchess of Argyll, 250.

Lourdes, France, 176.

Luchon, Bagnères de, France, 177.

Luxor, Egypt, 197.

Lyndhurst, Hants., 321.


MCKINLEY, William, 288.

“Magnificat,” 83, 97.

Magro (cook), 219.

Mahmoudich Canal, Egypt, 207.

Malmaison, France, 245.

Manning, Cardinal, 113, 133, 137.

Mareotis, Lake, 203.

Mayence, Germany, 180.

Medmenham Abbey, 15.

Metubis, Egypt, 217.

Meynell, Mrs., 10, 51, 79, 99, 119, 155.

Millais, Sir J. E., 11, 106, 107, 132, 138, 264.

“Missed!” 125.

“Missing,” 168.

Missionary College, Mill Hill, 119.

Monte Carlo, 258.

Monte Cassino, Monastery, 313.

“Morrow of Talavera,” 271.

Mulranny, Ireland, 305.

Mundy, Sergeant-Major, 31.


NAPLES, Italy, 229, 252.

Napoleon, Prince Imperial, 185, 237.

Naval Review, 1897, 269.

Nervi, Italy, 2, 4.

Newcastle-on-Tyne, 143.

_Newcomes_, illustrations to, 45.

Nîmes, France, 178.


ŒCUMENICAL COUNCIL, opening of, 79.


PAGET, Lord George, 118.

Paray-le-Monial, pilgrimage to, 99.

Patti, Adelina, 123.

Perugia, Italy, 70, 283.

Pietri, Franceschini, 243, 257.

Pisa, Italy, 161.

Pius IX., Pope, 76, 82, 90, 92, 94.

---- X., Pope, 307, 314, 316.

Podesti, Signor, 85.

Pollard, Dr., 101, 102, 104, 120, 186.

Pompeii, Italy, 253.

Porto Fino, Italy, 159, 230.


”QUATRE BRAS,” studies for, 112, 130;
  models for, 120;
  copyright sold, 124;
  correctness of uniforms, 125;
  where hung, 133;
  success of, 135;
  Ruskin’s approval, 146.

_Queen_, launching of, 288 _seq._


RAMLEH, Egypt, 204.

Ras-el-Tin, Egypt, 228.

“Remnants of an Army,” 184.

“Rescue of Wounded,” 278.

“Return from Inkermann,” preparations for, 153, 157, 165;
  exhibited, 168.

“Réveil in the Bivouac of the Scots Greys on the Morning of Waterloo,” 232.

“Review of the Native Camel Corps at Cairo,” 230.

Rhodes, Cecil, 296.

_Riding Together_, illustrations to, 48.

“Right Wheel,” 250.

Ristori, Adelaide, 7.

Roberts, Earl, 287.
  “Roll Call,” models for, 101;
  methods of work, 102;
  attention to details in, 103;
  success of, 104;
  private view, 107;
  sale of copyright, 111;
  bought by Queen Victoria, 111;
  taken to Windsor, 116;
  question of horse’s steps in, 118.

Rome, Lady Butler’s visits to, 71 _seq._, 256, 279, 306, 311 _seq._

Rosetta, Egypt, 205, 216.

Ross, Mrs. Janet, 148, 161, 165.

Rotterdam, Holland, 181.

Ruskin, John, 51, 146, 153.

Ruta, Italy, 3, 230.


ST. ETHELDREDA’S Church, London, High Mass in, 154.

St. Peter’s, Rome, functions in, 75, 280, 283.

St. Sauveur, France, 176.

Salisbury, Marquis of, 199, 262 _seq._

Salvini, Tommaso, 136.

Savennières, France, 299.

“Scotland for Ever,” 186, 187, 191.

Sestri Levante, Italy, 56.

Severn, Joseph, 78, 84, 107.

Shahzada of Afghanistan, 246.

Siena, Italy, 162.

Sistine Chapel, Rome, 281, 307.

Sori, Italy, 3.

Sorrento, Italy, 254.

South Kensington Art School, 10.

“Steady, the Drums and Fifes!” 261.

Stone, Marcus, 154.

Strettell, Rev. Alfred, 6.

Stufa, Marchese delle, 147, 161.

Super-Bagnère, France, 177.

Syndioor, Egypt, 217.


TENNYSON, Alfred, Lord, 155 _seq._

“Tenth Bengal Lancers at Tent-pegging,” 278, 287, 297.

Tewfik, Khedive, 208, 226.

“The Avengers,” 239.

“The Colours,” 271.

Thompson, Miss Alice. _See_ Meynell, Mrs.

----, Miss Elizabeth. _See_ Butler, Elizabeth, Lady.

----, Mr. T. J., 1, 2, 14, 49, 84, 191.

----, Mrs. T. J., 2, 3, 9, 12, 51, 58, 83, 84, 143, 310.

Thomson, Dr., Archbishop of York, 117.

Toulouse, France, 177.


VALENTIA Island, 174.

Vatican Gardens, Rome, 282.

Vecchii, Colonel, 6.

Venice, Italy, 200, 211, 308.

Ventnor, Isle of Wight, 12, 97.

Verona, Italy, 224.

Vesuvius, Mount, ascent of, 255.

Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy, 6.

Victor Napoleon, Prince, 247.

Victoria, Queen, buys “Roll Call,” 111;
  commissions “Rorke’s Drift,” 187;
  reviews troops at Aldershot, 235, 250;
  death, 285.

----, Empress Frederick, 244, 286.

Vyvyan, Miss, 42.


WADY Halfa, Egypt, 197.

Wallace, Sir D. Mackenzie, 248.

Waterloo, field of, 31.

Wellington, Duke of, 33.

Westmoreland, Countess of, 110.

William II., German Emperor, 238.

“Within Sound of the Guns,” 278, 301.

Wolseley, Viscount, 194, 265.

Woolwich, review at, 117.


PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY THE WHITEFRIARS PRESS LTD. LONDON AND
TONBRIDGE.


Since I closed these Memoirs my sister, Alice Meynell, has passed away.

I feel that it is not out of place to record here the fact of her desire
that I should reduce the mention of her name throughout the book. In the
original text it had figured much oftener alongside of my own. Her wish
to keep her personality always retired prevailed upon me to delete many
an allusion to her which would have graced the text, greatly to its
advantage.

ELIZ^{TH.} BUTLER.

_31st December, 1922._



FOOTNOTES:

[1] The cattle plague was raging in England.

[2] William I., afterwards German Emperor.

[3] The severe Lady Superintendent.

[4] Whose son, Mr. Alfred Pollard, C.B., became the head of the British
Museum Printed Book Department.

[5] Manning.

[6] Poor young Inman, who was killed at the fight of Laing’s Nek, S.
Africa.

[7] “From Sketch-Book and Diary,” A. & C. Black.

[8] I have just been told by an Irishman that the Valentia breed are
trained for _racing!_

[9] “The Campaign of the Cataracts.”

[10] The late Lord Kitchener.

[11] Now King George V.

[12] Our eldest daughter Elizabeth, now Mrs. Kingscote.

[13] Some one has explained to me, with what authority I cannot tell,
that “The Sailor King” gave this order to his officers with Royal tact,
being well aware that they could no more stand, at that period of the
dinner, than he could himself. So we sit.

[14] To die during the World War.--E. B., 1921.

[15] Our second son.

[16] My daughter, Lady Gormanston, who completed and edited her father’s
autobiography, has recorded in the After-word the circumstances of his
passing.

[17] Since dead.

[18] Only a few survivors of the original division which I saw are left.
(1916.)

[19] In his little book, “A Galloper at Ypres” (Fisher Unwin), my son
gives a clear account of his own experience of that battle.

[20] Colonel the Hon. Richard Preston, whose book, “The Desert Mounted
Corps,” is a masterpiece.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical error corrected by the etext transcriber:

Italian friend in a duett=> Italian friend in a duet {pg 3}





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