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Title: Happy England
Author: Huish, Marcus B. (Marcus Bourne)
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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[Illustration: 1. PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST

 _Fradelle & Young._

  H. Allingham (signature)]

  Beautiful Britain











  Our Title                                                          1


  Paintresses, Past and Present                                     13


  The Artist's Early Work                                           27


  The Artist's Surrey Home                                          67


  The Influence of Witley                                           81


  The Woods, the Lanes, and the Fields                              98


  Cottages and Homesteads                                          118


  Gardens and Orchards                                             151


  Tennyson's Homes                                                 168


  Mrs. Allingham and her Contemporaries                            181

List of Illustrations

  1. Portrait of the Artist                              _Frontispiece_


                                         Owner of Original.  Facing page

  2. In the Farmhouse Garden             _Mrs. Allingham_              8

  3. The Market Cross, Hagbourne         _Mrs. E. Lamb_               10

  4. The Robin                           _Mr. S. H. S. Lofthouse_     12


  5. Milton's House, Chalfont            _Mrs. J. A. Combe_           22
       St. Giles

  6. The Waller Oak, Coleshill           _Mrs. Allingham_             24

  7. Apple and Pear Blossom              _Mr. Theodore Uzielli_       26


  8. The Young Customers                 _Miss Bell_                  50

  9. The Sand-Martins' Haunt             _Miss Marian James_          54

  10. The Old Men's Gardens,             _Mr. C. Churchill_           56
        Chelsea Hospital

  11. The Clothes-Line                  _Miss Marian James_           58

  12. The Convalescent                  _Mr. R. S. Budgett_           60

  13. The Goat Carriage                 _Sir F. Wigan, Bt._           62

  14. The Clothes-Basket                _Mr. C. P. Johnson_           62

  15. In the Hayloft                    _Miss Bell_                   64

  16. The Rabbit Hutch                  _Mr. C. P. Johnson_           64

  17. The Donkey Ride                   _Sir J. Kitson, Bt., M.P._    66


  18. A Witley Lane                     _Mr. H. W. Birks_             74

  19. Hindhead from Witley Common      _The Lord Chief Justice of     76

  20. In Witley Village                _Mr. Charles Churchill_        76

  21. Blackdown from Witley Common     _Lord Davey_                   78

  22. The Fish-Shop, Haslemere         _Mr. A. E. Cumberbatch_        80


  23. The Children's Tea               _Mr. W. Hollins_               86

  24. The Stile                        _Mr. Alfred Shuttleworth_      88

  25. "Pat-a-Cake"                     _Sir F. Wigan, Bt._            90

  26. Lessons                          _Mr. C. P. Johnson_            90

  27. Bubbles                          _Mr. H. B. Beaumont_           92

  28. On the Sands--Sandown,           _Mrs. Francis Black_           92
        Isle of Wight

  29. Drying Clothes                   _Mr. C. P. Johnson_            94

  30. Her Majesty's Post Office        _Mr. H. B. Beaumont_           94

  31. The Children's Maypole           _Mrs. Dobson_                  96


  32. Spring on the Kentish Downs      _Mrs. Beddington_             102

  33. Tig Bridge                       _Mr. E. S. Curwen_            104

  34. Spring in the Oakwood            _Mrs. Allingham_              106

  35. The Cuckoo                       _Mr. A. Hugh Thompson_        106

  36. The Old Yew Tree                 _Mrs. Allingham_              108

  37. The Hawthorn Valley, Brocket     _Lord Mount-Stephen_          108

  38. Ox-eye Daisies, near             _Mrs. Allingham_              110
        Westerham, Kent

  39. Foxgloves                        _Mrs. C. A. Barton_           112

  40. Heather on Crockham Hill, Kent   _Mrs. Allingham_              114

  41. On the Pilgrims' Way               "       "                   114

  42. Night-jar Lane, Witley           _Mr. E. S. Curwen_            116


  43.  Cherry-tree Cottage,            _The Lord Chief Justice of    130
         Chiddingfold                     England_

  44. Cottage at Chiddingfold          _Mr. H. L. Florence_          130

  45. A Cottage at Hambledon           _Mr. F. Pennington_           132

  46. In Wormley Wood                  _Mrs. Le Poer Trench_         134

  47. The Elder Bush, Brook Lane,      _Mr. Marcus B. Huish_         136

  48. The Basket Woman                 _Mrs. E. F. Backhouse_        138

  49. Cottage at Shottermill,          _Mr. W. D. Houghton_          140
         near Haslemere

  50. Valewood Farm                    _Mrs. Allingham_              142

  51. An Old House at West Tarring       "      "                    142

  52. An Old Buckinghamshire House     _Mr. H. W. Birks_             142

  53. The Duke's Cottage               _Mr. Maurice Hill_            144

  54. The Condemned Cottage            _Mrs. Allingham_              144

  55. On Ide Hill                      _Mr. E. W. Fordham_           146

  56. A Cheshire Cottage,              _Mr. A. S. Littlejohns_       146
        Alderley Edge

  57. The Six Bells                    _Mr. George Wills_            148

  58. A Kentish Farmyard               _Mr. Arthur R. Moro_          150


  59. Study of a Rose Bush             _Mrs. Allingham_              156

  60. Wallflowers                      _Mr. F. G. Debenham_          156

  61. Minna                            _The Lord Chief Justice of    158

  62. A Kentish Garden                 _Mrs. Allingham_              158

  63. Cutting Cabbages                 _Mr. E. W. Fordham_           160

  64. In a Summer Garden               _Mr. W. Newall_               160

  65. By the Terrace, Brocket Hall     _Lord Mount-Stephen_          162

  66. The South Border                 _Mrs. Allingham_              164

  67. The South Border                 _W. Edwards, Jun._            164

  68. Study of Leeks                   _Mrs. Allingham_              166

  69. The Apple Orchard                _Mrs. Dobson_                 166


  70. The House, Farringford           _Mr. J. Mackinnon_            176

  71. The Kitchen-Garden, Farringford  _Mrs. Combe_                  176

  72. The Dairy, Farringford           _Mr. Douglas Freshfield_      176

  73. One of Lord Tennyson's           _Mr. E. Marsh Simpson_        176
        Cottages, Farringford

  74. A Garden in October, Aldworth    _Mr. F. Pennington_           176

  75. Hook Hill Farm, Freshwater       _Sir J. Kitson, Bt., M.P._    176

  76. At Pound Green, Freshwater       _Mr. Douglas Freshfield_      178

  77. A Cottage at Freshwater Gate     _Sir Henry Irving_            178


  78. A Cabin at Ballyshannon          _Mrs. Allingham_              196

  79. The Fairy Bridges                  "       "                   198

  80. The Church of Sta. Maria         _Mr. C. P. Johnson_           200
        della Salute, Venice

  81. A Fruit Stall, Venice              "       "                   202

_The illustrations in this volume have been engraved and printed by the
Hentschel Colourtype Company._

Happy England



To choose a title that will felicitously fit the lifework of an artist
is no easy matter, especially when the product is a very varied one,
and the producer is disposed to take a modest estimate of its value.

In the present case the titles that have suggested themselves to one
or other of those concerned in the selection have not been few, and a
friendly contest has ensued over the desire of the artist on the one
hand to belittle, and of author and publishers on the other to fairly
appraise, both the ground which her work covers and the qualities which
it contains.

The first point to be considered in giving the volume a name was
that it forms one of a series in which an endeavour--and, to judge
by public appreciation, a successful endeavour--has been made to
illustrate in colour an artist's impressions of a particular country:
as, for instance, Mr. John Fulleylove's of the Holy Land, Mr. Talbot
Kelly's of Egypt, and Mr. Mortimer Menpes's of Japan. Now Mrs.
Allingham throughout her work has been steadfast in her adherence to
the portrayal of one country only. She has never travelled or painted
outside Europe, and within its limits only at one place outside the
British Isles, namely, Venice. Even in her native country her work has
been strictly localised. Neither Scotland nor Wales has attracted her
attention since the days when she first worked seriously as an artist,
and Ireland has only received a scanty meed, and that due to family
ties. England, therefore, was the one and only name under which her
work could be included within the series, and that has very properly
been assigned to it.

But it will be seen that to this has been added the prefix "Happy,"
thereby drawing down the disapprobation of certain of the artist's
friends, who, recognising her as a resident in Hampstead, have
associated the title with that alliterative one which the northern
suburbs have received at the hands of the Bank Holiday visitant; and
they facetiously surmise that the work may be called "'Appy England! By
a Denizen of 'Appy 'Ampstead!"

But a glance at the illustrations by any one unacquainted with Mrs.
Allingham's residential qualifications, and by the still greater number
ignorant even of her name (for these, in spite of her well-earned
reputation, will be the majority, taking the countries over which this
volume will circulate), must convince such an one that the "England"
requires and deserves not only a qualifying but a commendatory prefix,
and that the best that will fit it is that to which the artist has now

We say a "qualifying" title, because within its covers we find only
a one-sided and partial view of both life and landscape. None of the
sterner realities of either are presented. In strong opposition to the
tendency of the art of the later years of the nineteenth century, the
baser side of life has been studiously avoided, and nature has only
been put down on paper in its happiest moods and its pleasantest array.
Storm and stress in both life and landscape are altogether absent.
We say, further, a "commendatory" title, because as regards both life
and landscape it is, throughout, a mirror of halcyon days. If sickness
intrudes on a single occasion, it is in its convalescent stage; if old
age, it is in a "Haven of Rest"; the wandering pedlar finds a ready
market for her wares, the tramp assistance by the wayside. In both life
and landscape it is a portrayal of youth rejoicing in its youth. For
the most part it represents childhood, and, if we are to believe Mr.
Ruskin, for the first time in modern Art; for in his lecture on Mrs.
Allingham at Oxford, he declared that "though long by academic art
denied or resisted, at last bursting out like one of the sweet Surrey
fountains, all dazzling and pure, you have the radiance and innocence
of reinstated infant divinity showered again among the flowers of
English meadows of Mrs. Allingham."

This healthiness, happiness, and joy of life, coupled with an idyllic
beauty, reveals itself in every figure in Mrs. Allingham's story, so
that even the drudgery of rural life is made to appear as a task to be

And the same joyous and happy note is to be found in her landscapes.
Every scene is

    Full in the smile of the blue firmament.

One feels that

            Every flower
    Enjoys the air it breathes.

Rain, wind, or lowering skies find no place in any of them, but each
calls forth the expression

            What a day
    To sun one and do nothing!

No attempt is made to select the sterner effects of landscape which
earlier English painters so persistently affected. With the rough
steeps of Hindhead at her door, the artist's feet have almost
invariably turned towards the lowlands and the reposeful forms of the
distant South Downs. Cottages, farmsteads, and flower gardens have been
her choice in preference to dales, crags, and fells.

And in so selecting, and so delineating, she has certainly catered for
the happiness of the greater number.

What does the worker, long in city pent, desire when he cries

    'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
    And open face of heaven?

And what does the banished Englishman oftenest turn his thoughts to,
even although he may be dwelling under aspects of nature which many
would think far more beautiful than those of his native land? Browning
in his "Home Thoughts from Abroad" gives consummate expression to the
homesickness of many an exile:--

    Oh! to be in England
    Now that April's there!

           *       *       *       *       *

    All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
    The Buttercups, the little children's dower,
    Far brighter than this gaudy melon flower!

And Keats also--

    Happy is England! I could be content
    To see no other verdure than its own,
    To feel no other breezes than are blown
    Through its tall woods, with high romances blent.

These, the poets' longings, suggested the prefix for which so lengthy
an apology has been made, and which, in spite of the artist's demur,
we have pressed upon her acceptance, confident that the public verdict
will be an acquittal against any charge either of exaggeration, or that
he who excuses himself accuses himself.

If an apology is due it is in respect of the letterpress. The necessity
of maintaining the size to which the public has been accustomed in the
series of which this forms a part, and of interleaving the numerous
illustrations which it contains, means the provision of a certain
number of words. Now an artist's life that has been passed amid such
pleasant surroundings as has that of Mrs. Allingham, cannot contain a
sufficiency of material for the purpose. Indulgence must, therefore, be
granted when it is found that much of the contents consists merely of
the writer's descriptions of the illustrations, a discovery which might
suggest that they were primarily the _raison d'être_ of the volume.

As regards the illustrations, a word must be said.

The remarkable achievements in colour reproduction, through what is
known as the "three-colour process," have enabled the public to be
placed in possession of memorials of an artist's work in a way that
was not possible even so recently as a year or two ago. Hitherto
self-respecting painters have very rightly demurred to any colour
reproductions of their work being made except by processes whose cost
and lengthy procedure prohibited quantity as well as quality. Mrs.
Allingham herself, in view of previous attempts, was of the same
opinion until a trial of the process now adopted convinced her to the
contrary. Now she is happy that a leap forward in science has enabled
renderings in little of her water-colours to be offered to thousands
who did not know them previously.

The water-colours selected for reproduction have been brought together
from many sources, and at much inconvenience to their owners. Both
artist and publishers ask me to take this opportunity of thanking
those whose names will be found in the List of Illustrations, for the
generosity with which they have placed the originals at their disposal.

It was Mrs. Allingham's wish that the illustrations should be placed
in order of date, and this has been done as far as possible; but this
and the following chapter being in a way introductory, it has been
deemed advisable to interleave them with three or four which do not
fall in with the rest as regards subject or locality. For reasons of
convenience the description of each drawing is not inserted in the
body, but at the end of the chapter in which it appears.

[Illustration: 2. IN THE FARMHOUSE GARDEN]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1903.

A portrait of Vi, the daughter of the farmer at whose house in Kent
Mrs. Allingham stays.

Mrs. Allingham was tempted to take up again her disused practice of
portrait-painting, by the attraction of the combination of the yellow
of the child's hair and hat, the red of the roses, and the blue of the
distant hillside.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. E. Lamb._

Painted 1898.

Berkshire, in spite of its notable places and situation, does not
boast of much in the way of county chronicles, and little can be
learnt by one whose sole resource is a Murray's _Guide_ concerning the
interesting village where the scene of this drawing is laid, for it is
there dismissed in a couple of lines.

Hagbourne, or Hagborne, is one of the many "bornes" which (in the
counties bordering on the Thames, as elsewhere) takes its Saxon affix
from one of the burns or brooks which find their way from thence into
the neighbouring river. It lies off the Great Western main line, and
its fine church may be seen a mile away to the southward just before
arriving at Didcot. This proximity to a considerable railway junction
has not disturbed much of its old-world character.

The buildings and the Cross, which make a delightful harmony in greys,
probably looked much the same when Cavalier and Puritan harried this
district in the Civil War, for with Newbury on one side and Oxford on
the other, they must oftentimes have been up and down this, the main
street of the village. The Cross has long since lost its meaning. The
folk from the countryside no longer bring their butter, eggs, and
farm produce for local sale. The villagers have to be content with
margarine, French eggs, and other foreign commodities from the local
"stores," and the Cross steps are now only of use for infant energies
to practise their powers of jumping from. So, too, the sun-dial on the
top, which does not appear to have ever been surmounted by a cross,
is now useless, for everybody either has a watch or is sufficiently
notified as to meal times by a "buzzer" at the railway works hard

Mrs. Allingham says that most of her drawings are marked in her memory
by some local comment concerning them. In this case a bystander
sympathetically remarked that it seemed "a mighty tedious job," in
that of "Milton's House" that "it was a foolish little thing when
you began"--the most favourable criticism she ever encountered only
amounting to "Why, it's almost worth framing!"

[Illustration: 4. THE ROBIN]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. S. H. S. Lofthouse._

Painted 1898.

One of the simplest, and yet one of the most satisfying of Mrs.
Allingham's compositions.

It is clearly not a morning to stay indoors with needlework which
neither in size nor importance calls for table or chair. Besides,
at the cottage gate there is a likelier chance of interruption and
conversation with occasional passers-by. But, at no time numerous on
this Surrey hillside, these are altogether lacking at the moment,
and the pink-frocked maiden has to be content with the very mild
distraction afforded by the overtures of the family robin, who is
always ready to open up converse and to waste his time also in
manœuvres and pretended explorations over ground in her vicinity, which
he well knows to be altogether barren of provender.



    Man took advantage of his strength to be
    First in the field: some ages have been lost;
    But woman ripens earlier, and her life is longer--
                          Let her not fear.

The fair sex is so much in evidence in Art to-day (the first census of
this century recording the names of nearly four thousand who profess
that calling) that we are apt to forget that the lady artist, worthy of
a place amongst the foremost of the other sex, is a creation of modern

Paintresses--to call them by a quaint and agreeable name--there have
been in profusion, and an author, writing a quarter of a century ago,
managed to fill two bulky volumes[1] with their biographies; but the
majority of these have owed both their practice and their place in Art
to the fact of their fathers or husbands having been engaged in that

History has recorded but little concerning the women artists who worked
in the early days of English Art. The scanty records which, however,
have come down to us prove that if they lived uneventful lives they
did so in comfort. For instance, it is noted of the first that passes
across the pages of English history, namely Susannah Hornebolt (all
the early names were foreign), that she lived for many years in great
favour and esteem at the King's Court, and died rich and honoured: of
the next, Lavinia Teerlinck, that she also died rich and respected,
having received in her prime a higher salary than Holbein, and from
Queen Elizabeth, later on in life, a quarterly wage of £41. Farther on
we find Charles I. giving to Anne Carlisle and Vandyck, at one time,
as much ultramarine as cost him £500, and Anna Maria Carew obtaining
from Charles II. in 1662 a pension of £200 a year. About the same time
Mary Beale, who is described as passing a tranquil, modest existence,
full of sweetness, dignity, and matronly purity, earned the same amount
from her brush, charging £5 for a head, and £10 for a half-length. She
died in 1697, and was buried under the communion table in St. James's,
Piccadilly, a church which holds the remains of other paintresses.

Another, Mary Delaney, described as "lovely in girlhood and old age,"
and who must have been a delightful personage from the testimonies
which have come down to us concerning her, lived almost through the
eighteenth century, being born in 1700, and dying in 1788, and being,
also, buried in St. James's. She has left on record that "I have been
very busy at my usual presumption of copying beautiful nature"; but the
many copies of that kind that she must have made during this long life
are all unknown to those who have studied Art a hundred years later.

Midway in the eighteenth century we come across the great and unique
event in the annals of Female Art, namely the election of two ladies
to the Academic body, in the persons of Angelica Kauffman--who was one
of the original signatories of the memorial to George III., asking him
to found an Academy, and who passed in as such on the granting of that
privilege--and Mary Moser, who probably owed her election to the fact
that her father was Keeper of the newly-founded body.

The only other lady artists who flit across the stage during the latter
half of that century--in the case of whom any attempt at distinction
or recognition is possible--were Frances Reynolds, the sister of the
President, and the "dearest dear" of Dr. Johnson, and Maria Cosway, the
wife of the miniaturist. These kept up the tradition of ladies always
being connected with Art by parentage or marriage.

The Academy catalogues of the first half of the nineteenth century may
be searched in vain for any name whose fame has endured even to these
times, although the number of lady exhibitors was considerable. In the
exhibitions of fifty years ago, of 900 names, 67, or 7 per cent, were
those of the fair sex, the majority being termed in the alphabetical
list "Mrs. ----, as above"; that is to say, they bore the surname and
lived at the same addresses as the exhibitor who preceded them.[2]

The admission of women to the Royal Academy Schools in 1860 must not
only have had much to do with increasing the numbers of paintresses,
but in raising the standard of their work. In recent years, at the
annual prize distributions of that institution, when they present
themselves in such interesting and serried ranks, they have firmly
established their right to work alongside of the men, by carrying off
many of the most important awards.[3]

The Royal Female School of Art, the Slade School, and Schools of Art
everywhere throughout the country each and all are now engaged in
swelling the ranks of the profession with a far greater number of
aspirants to a living than there is any room for.

This invasion of womankind into Art, which has also shown itself in a
remarkable way in poetry and fiction, is in no way to be decried. On
the contrary, it has come upon the present generation as a delightful
surprise, as a breath of fresh and sweet-scented air after the heavy
atmosphere which hung over Art in the later days of the nineteenth
century. To mention a few only: Miss Elizabeth Thompson (Lady Butler),
Lady Alma Tadema, Mrs. Jopling, Miss Dicksee, Mrs. Henrietta Rae, Miss
Kemp Welch, and Miss Brickdale in oil painting; Mrs. Angell, Miss
Clara Montalba, Miss Gow, Miss Kate Greenaway, and Mrs. Allingham in
water-colours have each looked at Art in a distinguished manner, and
one quite distinct from that of their fellow-workers of the sterner

The ladies named all entered upon their profession with a due sense of
its importance. Many of them may perhaps be counted fortunate in having
commenced their careers before the newer ideas came into vogue, by
virtue of which anybody and everybody may pose as an artist, now that
it entails none of that lengthy apprenticeship which from all time has
been deemed to be a necessary preliminary to practice. Even so lately
as the date when Mrs. Allingham came upon the scene, draftsmanship
and composition were still regarded as a matter of some importance if
success was to be achieved. Nature, as represented in Art, was still
subjected to a process of selection, a selection, too, of its higher
in preference to its lower forms. The same pattern was not allowed to
serve for every tree in the landscape whatever be its growth, foliage,
or the local influences which have affected its form. A sufficient
study of the human and of animal forms to admit of their introduction,
if needful, into that landscape was not deemed superfluous. Most
important of all, beauty still held the field, and the cult of
unvarnished ugliness had not captured the rising generation.

The endeavours of women in what is termed very erroneously the higher
branch of the profession, have not as yet received the reward that
is their due. Placed at the Royal Academy under practically the same
conditions as the male sex whilst under tuition, both as regards
fortune and success, their pictures, when they mount from the Schools
in the basement to the Exhibition Galleries on the first floor of
Burlington House, carry with them no further possibility of reward,
even although, as they have done, they hold the pride of place there.
It is true that as each election to the Academic body comes round
rumours arise as to the chances of one or other of the fair sex
forcing an entrance through the doors that, with the two exceptions
we have named, have been barred to them since the foundation of the
Institution. The day, however, when their talent in oil painting, or
any other art medium, will be recognised by Academic honours has yet to

To their honour be it said, the undoubted capacities of ladies have not
passed unrecognised by water-colour painters. Both the Royal Society
and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours have enrolled
amongst their ranks the names of women who have been worthy exponents
of the Art.

The practice of water-colour art would appear to appeal especially to
womankind, as not only are the constituents which go to its making of
a more agreeable character than those of oil, but the whole machinery
necessary for its successful production is more compact and capable
of adaptation to the ordinary house. The very methods employed have a
certain daintiness about them which coincides with a lady's delicacy.
The work does not necessitate hours of standing, with evil-smelling
paints, in a large top-lit studio, but can be effected seated, in any
living room which contains a window of sufficient size. There is no
need to leave all the materials about while the canvasses dry, and no
preliminary setting of palettes and subsequent cleaning off.

Yet in spite of this the water-colour art during the first century of
its existence was practised almost solely by the male sex, and it was
not until the middle of the Victorian reign that a few women came on
to the scene, and at once showed themselves the equals of the male
sex, not only so far as proficiency but originality was concerned. In
the case of no one of these was there any imitation or following of a
master; but each struck out for herself what was, if not a new line,
certainly a presentation of an old one in a novel form. Mrs. Angell,
better known perhaps as Helen Coleman, took up the portrayal of flowers
and still life, which had been carried to such a pitch of minute finish
by William Hunt, and treated it with a breadth, freedom, and freshness
that delighted everybody. It secured for her at once a place amid a
section of water-colourists who found it very difficult to obtain these
qualities in their work. Miss Clara Montalba went to Venice and painted
it under aspects which were entirely different from those of her
predecessors, such as James Holland; and she again has practically held
the field ever since as regards that particular phase of atmospheric
effect which has attracted attention to her achievement. The kind of
work and the subjects taken up by Mrs. Allingham will be dealt with at
greater length hereafter, but I may premise by saying that she, too,
ultimately settled into methods that are entirely her own, and such as
no one can accuse her of having derived from anybody else.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following illustrations find a place in this chapter:--



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. J. A. Combe._

Painted 1898.

The popularity of a poet can hardly be gauged by the number of
visitors to the haunts wherein he passed his day. Rather are they
numbered by the proximity of a railroad thereto. Consequently it
is not surprising that the pilgrims to the little out-of-the-way
Buckinghamshire village where Milton completed his _Paradise Lost_ are
an inconsiderable percentage of those who journey to Stratford-on-Avon.
For though Chalfont St. Giles lies only a short distance away from the
twenty-third milestone on the high-road from London to Aylesbury, it is
some three miles from the nearest station--a station, too, where few
conveyances are obtainable. Motor cars which will take the would-be
pilgrim in an hour from a Northumberland Avenue hotel may increase its
popularity, but at present the village of the "pretty box," as Milton
called the house, is as slumberous and as little changed as it was in
the year 1665, when Milton fled thither from his house in Artillery
Ground, Bunhill Row, before the terror of the plague.[4] Milton
was then fifty-seven, and is described as a pale, but not cadaverous
man, dressed neatly in black, with his hands and fingers gouty, and
with chalk-stones. He loved a garden, and would never take a house, not
even in London, without one, his habit being to sit in the sun in his
garden, or in the colder weather to pace it for three or four hours at
a stretch. Many of his verses he composed or pruned as he thus walked,
coming in to dictate them to his amanuensis, and it was from the vernal
to the autumnal equinox that his intermittent inspiration bore its
fruit. His only other recreation besides conversation was music, and he
sang, and played either the organ or the bass viol. It was at Chalfont
that Milton put into the hands of Ellwood his completed _Paradise
Lost_, with a request that he would return it to him with his judgment
thereupon. It was here also that on receiving Ellwood's famous opinion,
"Thou hast said much here of Paradise Lost, but what hast thou to say
of Paradise Found?" he commenced his _Paradise Regained_. He returned
to London after the plague abated, in time to see it again devastated
by the fresh calamity of the great fire.

An engraving of this house appears in Dunster's edition of _Paradise
Regained_, and an account in Todd's _Life of Milton_, p. 272; also in
Jesse's _Favourite Haunts_, p. 62.

[Illustration: 6. THE WALLER OAK, COLESHILL]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

That several of Mrs. Allingham's drawings should illustrate scenes
connected with Great Britain's poets is not remarkable, seeing that her
life has been so intimately bound up with one of them, but it is at
first somewhat startling to find that the two selected for illustration
here should treat of Milton and Waller, for was it not the latter who
said of _Paradise Lost_ that it was distinguished only by its length.
The accident that has brought them together here is perhaps that the
two scenes are near neighbours, and, may be, the artist was tempted to
paint the old oak through kindly sentiments towards the author of the
sweet-smelling lines, "Go, Lovely Rose," by which his name endures.

Coleshill, where the oak stands, is a "woody hamlet" near Amersham, and
a mile or two away from Chalfont St. Giles. The tree which bears his
name, and under which he is said to have composed much of his verse,
dates from long anterior to the late days of the Monarchy, when he
was more engaged in hatching plots than in writing verse. If, as is
probable, he viewed and sought its comforting shade, he can hardly have
believed that it would survive the fame of him who received such praise
from his contemporaries as to be acclaimed "inter poetas sui temporis
facile princeps."

[Illustration: 7. APPLE AND PEAR BLOSSOM]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Theodore Uzielli._

Painted 1901.

A charming little picture made out of the simplest details is this
spring scene in an Isle of Wight lane. But if the details are of the
simplest character, as much cannot be said for the methods employed
by the artist in their treatment. These are so intricate that the
drawing was perhaps the most difficult of any to reproduce, owing to
the impossibility of accurately translating the subtle gradations which
distinguish the tender greenery of trees, hedgerow, and bank.



Mrs. Allingham, whose maiden name was Helen Paterson, was born on
September 26, 1848, near Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, where her father,
Alexander Henry Paterson, M.D., had a medical practice. As her name
implies, she is of Scottish descent on the paternal side. A year after
her birth her family removed to Altrincham in Cheshire, where her
father died suddenly, in 1862, of diphtheria, caught in attending a

This unforeseen blow broke up the Cheshire household, and the widow
shortly afterwards wended her way with her young family to Birmingham,
where the next few years, the most impressionable of our young artist's
life, were to be spent amid surroundings which at that date were in no
wise conducive to influencing her in the direction of Art of any kind.

Scribbling out of her head on any material she could lay hold of (not
even sparing the polished surfaces of the Victorian furniture) had
been her chief pleasure as a child; and as she grew older she drew
from Nature with interest and ease, especially during family visits
to Kenilworth and other country and seaside places. Some friends in
Birmingham started a drawing club which met each month at houses of
the different members, and the young student was kindly invited to
join it. Subjects were fixed upon and the drawings were shown and
discussed at each meeting. More good resulted from this than might
have been expected, for some of the members were not only persons of
taste but were collectors of fine examples in Art, which were also
seen and considered at the meetings. Helen Paterson, finding that
her pen-and-ink productions were more satisfactory than her colour
attempts, came to hope that she might gradually qualify herself for
book illustration, instead of earning a living by teaching, as she at
first anticipated her future would be.

Two influences greatly helped the girl in her artistic desires at this

Helen Paterson's mother's sister, Laura Herford, had taken up Art as
a profession. Although her name does not often appear in Exhibition
records, the sisterhood of artists owe her a very enduring debt. For to
her was due that opening of the Royal Academy Schools to women to which
I have already referred, and which she obtained through another's slip
of the tongue, aided by a successful subterfuge.

Lord Lyndhurst, at a Royal Academy banquet, in singing the praises of
that institution, claimed that its schools offered free tuition to
_all_ Her Majesty's subjects. Within a few days he received from Miss
Herford a communication pointing out the inaccuracy of his statement,
inasmuch as tuition was only given to the male and not to the female
sex, which comprised the majority of Her Majesty's subjects. She
therefore appealed to him to use his influence with the Government to
obtain the removal of the restriction. He did so, and the Government,
on addressing Sir Charles Eastlake, the President of the Royal Academy,
found in him one altogether in sympathy with such a reform. He replied
to the Government that there was no _written_ law against the admission
of women, and after an interview with the lady he connived at a drawing
of hers being sent in as a test of her capability for admission as
a probationer, under the initials merely of her Christian names. A
few days subsequently a notification that he had passed the test and
obtained admission arrived at her home addressed to A. L. Herford, Esq.
There was of course a demonstration when the lady presented herself
in answer to the summons to execute a drawing in the presence of the
Keeper; and her claim to stay and do this was vehemently combated by
the Council, to whom it was of course referred. But the President
demonstrated the absurdity of the situation, and so strongly advocated
the untenability of the position that the door was opened once and for
all to female students. This lady, who had a strong character in many
other directions, constituted herself Art-adviser-in-chief to her young
niece from the time of her father's death.

The other influence under which Helen Paterson came at this critical
period was that of a capable and sympathetic master at Birmingham.
In Mr. Raimbach, the head of the Birmingham School of Design, she
encountered a man who was a teacher, born not made, and who, not
being hidebound with the old dry-as-dust traditions, saw and fostered
whatever gifts were to be found in his pupils. He it was who,
interesting himself in her desire to learn to draw the human figure,
and to study more of its anatomy than could be gained from the casts
of the School of Design and from the lifeless programme which existed
there, encouraged her to go to London for wider study, in the hope
of gaining entrance into the Academy Schools, and taking up Art as a
profession under her aunt's auspices.

She followed his advice, gave up a single pupil she had acquired, and
passed into the Academy Schools in April 1867 after a short preliminary
course at the Female School of Art, Queen's Square.

British Art may congratulate itself that in Helen Paterson's case, as
in that of so many others, "there's a divinity that shapes our ends,
rough-hew them how we will." It is very certain that had the fates
ordained that she should remain in Birmingham her talent would never
have flowed into the channel which has made possible a memoir of her
Art under the title of "Happy England." The environments of that great
city are such that it would have been practically impossible for her
artistic training to have been as her divinity decreed it should be,
or to place means of exercising it within her grasp should she have
desired them.

During the first year or two at the Royal Academy Helen Paterson worked
in the antique school, where the study of drawing, proportion of the
figure, with some anatomy, precluded the thought of painting. When
raised to the painting school she, like many another capable student
then as now, was at first driven hither and thither by the variety
of and apparently contradictory advice that she received from her
masters. For one month she was under a visitor with strongly defined
ideas in one direction, and the next under some one else who was
equally assertive in another, and it was some time before she could
strike a balance for her own understanding. But, for reasons which
those who know her well will recognise, she received help and kindness
from all, and, as she gratefully remembers, from none more than from
Millais, Frederick Leighton, Frederick Goodall, Fred Walker, Stacy
Marks, and John Pettie. Millais especially could in a minute or two
impart something which was never afterwards forgotten, whilst the
encouragement of all was most stimulating to a beginner. Another artist
who has been a life-long adviser and the kindest of friends, was Briton
Riviere, with whom and whose family an intimacy began even in her
student days. An invitation to stay with them at St. Andrews on the
coast of Fife in the summer of 1872 inaugurated Miss Paterson's first
serious work from Nature. The result was deemed to be satisfactory by
Mr. Riviere, who helped to dissipate a certain despondency and fear
which had sprung up in the young artist's mind as regards her colour
powers. It was not, however, in the grey houses and uninteresting
streets of this old northern university town, to which she first
turned, that the true relations between tone and colour discovered
themselves to her longing eye, but amongst the sandbanks, seaweed, and
blue water which fringe its noted golf-links. For the first time the
artist felt herself happy in attempting to work in any other medium
than black and white. Just prior to this fortunate visit she had in
the spring of the year been taken by an old friend of the family to
Rome, where she had worked assiduously at Nature, but with little
satisfaction so far as she herself was concerned.

She had by this time fully made up her mind to embark on a career in
which she was determined, and was in fact obliged, to earn a living;
and as her colour work at present had no market, there was nothing for
it but to procure a livelihood by black and white. Wood engraving,
although nearing the end of its existence, was still the only medium
of cheap illustration. Photography later on came to its aid to a
certain extent, but the majority of the original drawings continued to
be drawn directly on to the wood block. There were still close upon a
hundred wood engravers employed in London, working for the most part
under master engravers, into whose hands the publishers of magazines,
illustrated periodicals, and books entrusted, not only the cutting of
the block, but the selection of the artist to make the drawing upon it.

It was to these that Helen Paterson had to look for work, and it
was upon a round of their offices that in the autumn of 1869 she
diffidently started with a portfolio full of drawings. Employment did
not come at once, and the list of seventy names with which she started
had been considerably reduced before, to her great satisfaction, a
drawing out of her sheaf was taken by Mr. Joseph Swain, to whom she
had an introduction, for submission to the proprietors of _Once a
Week_. It was accepted, and she copied it on to the wood. Gradually she
obtained work for other magazines, including _Little Folks_, published
by Cassell, and _Aunt Judy_, by George Bell, the drawings for _Aunt
Judy_ illustrating Mrs. Ewing's _A Flat Iron for a Farthing_, _Jan of
the Windmill_, and _Six to Sixteen_.

The first alteration of any magnitude of the custom to which reference
has been made, namely, of the artist having to look to the engraver
for work, occurred when the _Graphic_ newspaper was started in the
year 1870. Mr. W. L. Thomas, to whom the credit of this improvement
in the status of the worker in black and white was due, was himself
an artist and a member of the Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
As such he was not only in touch with, but capable of appreciating
the unusual amount of budding talent of abundant promise which was
just then presenting itself. This he enlisted in the service of the
_Graphic_ upon what may be termed co-operative terms, for those who
liked could have half their payment in cash and half in shares in the
venture. Many, the majority we believe, unfortunately could not afford
the latter proposition. Unfortunately indeed, for the paper embarked
on a career which has yielded dividends, at times of over a hundred
per cent, and has kept the shares at a premium, which few companies in
existence can boast of. This phenomenal success was in a large measure
the result of the personal interest that was brought to bear upon
every department, and that every employé took in his share in it. The
illustrations, upon which success mainly depended, were not the product
of a formulated system, working in a groove, where blocks were served
out to artists as to a machine, without any regard to their fitness for
the particular piece of work. Artists of capacity, whose names are now
to be found amongst the most noted in the academic roll, were selected
for the particular illustration that suited them, and were well paid
for it. The public was not only astonished at, but grateful for, the
result, and showed their appreciation by at once placing the _Graphic_
in the high position which it deserved and has since enjoyed.

Helen Paterson was so fortunate as to be brought into touch with
Mr. Thomas shortly after the first appearance of the paper. She had
obtained some work from one Harrall, an engraver, with whom Mr. Thomas
had had business connections in the past, and it was at Harrall's
suggestion that she went to Mr. Thomas, who at once offered her a
place on the staff of the _Graphic_, a place which she retained until
her marriage in 1874. It was indeed a godsend to her, for it meant
not only regular work but handsome pay. Twelve guineas for a full,
and eight for a half page, and at least one of these a week, meant
not merely maintenance, but a reserve against that rainy day which,
fortunately, the subject of our memoir has never had to contend with.

The subjects which Miss Paterson was called upon to produce were of the
most diversified character, but all of them had figures as their main
feature. To properly limn these she had to employ regular models, but
she also enlisted the aid of her fellow-students, for she was still at
the Royal Academy, and her sketch-books of that time, of which she has
many, are full of studies of artists, no few of whom have since become
celebrated in the world of Art.

Looking through the pages of the _Graphic_ with the artist, it is
interesting to note the variety of episodes upon which Mr. Thomas
employed her. Her drawings were not always from her own sketches, being
at times from originals that had been sent to the paper in an embryo
condition necessitating entire revision, or from rapid notes by artists
sent to represent the paper at important functions. But on occasions
she was also deputed to attend at these, and in consequence underwent
some novel experiences for a young girl. A meeting at Mr. Gladstone's,
Fashions in the Park, Flower Shows at the Botanical Gardens, Archery
at the Toxophilite Society's,--these formed the lighter side of her
work, the more serious being the illustration of novels by novelists of
note. This was at the time a new feature in journalism. Amongst those
entrusted to her were _Innocent_, by Mrs. Oliphant, and _Ninety-Three_,
by Victor Hugo. For the murder trial in the former she had to visit
the Central Criminal Court, and through so doing was more accurate
than the authoress, who admittedly had not been there, and whose work
consequently showed several glaring mistakes, such as the prisoner
addressing the judge by name. She was also employed upon a novel of
Charles Reade's in conjunction with Mr. Luke Fildes and Mr. Henry
Woods. This she undertook with extreme diffidence, for Reade had sent
round a circular saying that he greatly disliked having his stories
illustrated at all; but as it had to be in this case, he begged to
notify that _he_ gave _situations_, whilst George Eliot and Anthony
Trollope only gave conversations, and he requested that good use should
be made of these situations. Meeting him some years afterwards, the
author paid her the compliment of saying he liked her illustration of
the heroine in his story the best of any.

Nor was Miss Paterson entirely dependent upon the _Graphic_, whose
illustrations, oftentimes given out in a hurry, had to be finished
within a period limited by hours. She was fortunate to be numbered
amongst the select few who worked for the _Cornhill_, for which she
was, through Mr. Swain's kind offices, asked to illustrate Hardy's _Far
from the Madding Crowd_, which was at first attributed to George Eliot.
The author was fairly complimentary as to the result, although he said
it was difficult for two minds to imagine scenes in the same light.
Later on she had the pleasant task of illustrating Miss Thackeray's
_Miss Angel_ in the same magazine. The drawing of Sir Joshua Reynolds
asking Angelica to marry him, perhaps the best of the series, was one
of the first to be signed with the name of Allingham, by which she has
since been known.

A very interesting acquaintance with Sir Henry Irving, which has lasted
ever since, was commenced in the early seventies through her having to
visit the Lyceum for the _Graphic_ to delineate him and Miss Isabel
Bateman in _Richelieu_. Mr. Bateman, who was then the manager, placed
a box at her disposal, which she occupied for several nights whilst
making the drawing. One of the cottage drawings reproduced here (Plate
77) belongs to Sir Henry.

Although working regularly and almost continuously at black and white
during these years she managed to intersperse it with some work in
colour, and at the exhibitions of the old Dudley Gallery Art Society,
which had been recently founded, and which had proved a great boon to
rising and amateur art, she exhibited water-colours under the title of
"May," "Dangerous Ground," and "Soldiers' Orphans watching a bloodless
battle at Aldershot," painted in the studio from a _Graphic_ drawing.

In the autumn of the year 1874 Miss Paterson was married to Mr. William
Allingham, the well-known poet, editor of _Fraser's Magazine_, and
friend of so many of the celebrities in literature, science, and art of
the middle of the last century, amongst whom may be mentioned Carlyle,
Ruskin, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Browning, and Tennyson. It was to be
near the first named that the newly married couple went to reside in
Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, where they passed the next seven years of
their married life, namely until 1881.

To Carlyle Mrs. Allingham had the privilege of frequent and familiar
access during his last years; and when he found that he was not
expected to pose to her, and that she had, as he emphatically declared,
a real talent for portraiture (the only form of pictorial art in which
he took any interest), he became very kind and complaisant, and she
was able to make nearly a dozen portraits of him in water-colours.
An early one, which he declared made him "look like an old fool,"
was painted in the little back garden of No. 5 Cheyne Row, which was
not without shade and greenery in the summer time. There, in company
with his pet cat "Tib," and a Paisley churchwarden ("no pipe good
for anything," according to him, "being get-at-able in England"),
he indulged in smoking, the only creature comfort that afforded him
any satisfaction. In these portraits he is depicted sitting in his
comfortable dressing-gown faded to a dim slaty grey, refusing to wear
a gorgeous oriental garment that his admirers had presented to him.
An etching of one of these drawings appeared in the _Art Journal_ for
1882. Other portraits were painted in the winter of 1878-79, in his
long drawing-room with its three windows looking out into the street.

Rossetti she never saw, although he had been an intimate friend of
her husband's for twenty years[5] and was then living in Chelsea, for
he was just entering on that unfortunate epoch preceding his death,
when he was induced to cut himself adrift from all his old circle
of acquaintances. The fact is regrettable, for it would have been
interesting to note his opinion of a lady's work with which he must
have been in full sympathy.

Mr. Allingham had known Ruskin for many years. His wife's acquaintance
began in interesting fashion at the Old Water-Colour Society's. She
happened to be there during the Exhibition of 1877 at a time when the
room was almost empty. Mr. Ruskin had been looking at her drawing of
Carlyle, and introducing himself, asked her why she had painted Carlyle
like a lamb, when he ought to be painted like a lion, as he was, and
whether she would paint the sage as such for him? To this she had to
reply that she could only paint him as she saw him, which was certainly
not in leonine garb. One afternoon soon afterwards, Mr. Allingham
chanced to meet Ruskin at Carlyle's, and brought him round to see her
work. She was at the time engaged on the drawing of "The Clothes-Line"
(Plate 11), and he objected to the scarlet of the handkerchief, and
also to the woman, who he said ought to have been a rough workwoman,
an opinion which Mrs. Allingham did not share with him at the time,
but which she has since felt to be a correct one. He also saw another
drawing with a grey sky, and asked her why she did not make her skies
blue. To her reply that she thought there was often great beauty in
grey skies, he growled, "The devil sends grey skies."

Browning, an old friend of her husband's, Mrs. Allingham sometimes had
the privilege of seeing during her residence in London. One occasion
was typical of the man. He had been asked to come and see her work,
which was at the time arranged at one end of a room at Trafalgar
Square, Chelsea, before sending in to the Exhibition. The drawings were
naturally small ones, and Browning appeared to be altogether oblivious
to their existence. Turning round, with his back to them, he at once
commenced a story of some one who came to see an artist's work, and the
artist was very huffed because his visitor never took the slightest
notice of his pictures, but talked to him of other subjects all the
time. This, Browning considered, was no sufficient ground for his
huffiness. His obliviousness to Mrs. Allingham's drawings may have been
due to his having been accustomed to the pictures of his son, which
were of large size, and in comparison with which Mrs. Allingham's would
be quite invisible. Against this theory, however, I may mention that on
one occasion I happened to have the good fortune to be present in his
son's studio when Tennyson was announced. Browning at once advanced to
the door to meet him, bent low, and addressed him as "Magister Meus,"
and although the Laureate had come to see the paintings, and stayed
some time, neither of the two poets, so long as I was present, noticed
them in any way.

Whilst Mrs. Allingham was painting Carlyle, Browning came to see him,
and they held a most interesting and delightful conversation on the
subject of the great French writers. The alteration in Browning's
demeanour from his usual bluff and breezy manner to a quiet,
deferential tone during the conversation was very notable.

Of her intimacy with Tennyson I may speak later when we come to the
drawings which illustrate his two houses in Sussex and the Isle of

The year of her marriage was also a landmark in Mrs. Allingham's
career, through the Royal Academy accepting and hanging two
water-colours, one entitled "The Milkmaid," the other, "Wait for Me,"
the subject of the latter being a young lady entering a cottage whilst
a dog watched her outside the gate. It would have been interesting to
have been able to insert a reproduction of either of these in this
volume, for they would probably have shown that her fear as to her
inability to master colour was entirely without basis, but I have not
been able to trace them. The drawings were not only well hung, but were
sold during the Exhibition.

It was, however, by another drawing that Mrs. Allingham won her name.

In the year 1875 she was commissioned by Mr. George Bell to make a
water-colour from one of the black-and-white drawings which she had
done some years before for Mrs. Ewing's _A Flat Iron for a Farthing_.
We shall have occasion to describe at length, later on, this delightful
little picture that is reproduced in Plate 8. It is only necessary for
our purpose here to state that it was seen early in 1875 by that prince
of landscape water-colourists, Mr. Alfred Hunt.

He was an old friend of Mr. Allingham's, and being told that his wife
was thinking of trying for election at the Royal Society of Painters in
Water Colours, kindly offered to go through her portfolios. The From
these he made a selection, and promised to propose her at an election
which was about to take place. The result fully proved the soundness
of his choice, for the candidate not only secured the rare distinction
of being elected on the first time of asking, but the still rarer one
of securing her place in that body, so notable for its diversity of
opinion when candidates are in question, with hardly a dissentient vote.

Ladies were not admitted to the rank of full members of the Society
until the year 1890, when she was, to her great pleasure and
astonishment, elected a full member. She deserved it; for much of the
charm of these exhibitions had been due to the presence of the work
which she has contributed to every Exhibition held since her election
save two, one of these rare absences being due to her having mistaken
the date for sending in.

This election, and the fact that after her marriage she could afford to
do without the monetary aid derived from black-and-white work, decided
her to embark upon water-colours; although in these she still confined
her work to figure subjects, more than one of which continued to be
founded on her previous work in monochrome.

The last book in which her name as an illustrator appeared was,
appropriately enough, _Rhymes for the Young Folk_, by her husband,
published in _Cassell's_ in 1885, to which she contributed most of
the illustrations. She relinquished black-and-white work without any
regret, for although she was much indebted to it, it never held her
sympathies, and she always longed to express herself in colour, the
medium in which she instinctively felt she had ultimately the best
chance of success.

Although we are only separated from the Chelsea of Mrs. Allingham's
days by little more than a quarter of a century, its artistic
associations were then of a very different order to those that are
in evidence nowadays. The era of vast studios in which duchesses and
millionaires find adequate surroundings for their portraits was not
yet. Whistler was close to old Chelsea Church, a few doors only from
where he recently died. Tite Street, with which his name will always be
connected, was not yet built. He was still engaged on those remarkable,
but at that time insufficiently appreciated, canvases of scenes which
have now passed away, such as "Fireworks at Cremorne," and "Nocturnes"
dimly disclosing old Battersea Bridge. Seymour Haden was etching the
picturesque façade of the Walk, with his brother-in-law's house as a
principal object in it, and without the respectable embankment which
now makes it more reputable from a hygienic, but less admirable from
an artistic point of view. Rossetti was practically the only other
artist of note in the quarter. But with one exception Mrs. Allingham's
work was not reminiscent of the place. That exception, however,
disclosed to her a field in which she foresaw much delight and abundant
possibilities. In the old Pensioners' Garden at Chelsea Hospital were
to be found tenderly-cared-for borders of humble flowers. The garden
itself was a haven of repose for the old warriors, and a show-place for
their visitors. Mrs. Allingham, like another artist, Hubert Herkomer,
about the same time, was touched by the pathos of the surroundings,
and, chiefly on the urgency of her husband, she ventured on a drawing
of more importance than any hitherto attempted. The subject, which we
shall speak of again later, was finished in 1877, and was the first
large drawing exhibited by her at the Society of Painters in Water

Painters--good, bad, and indifferent--of the garden are nowadays such
a numerous body that one is apt to forget that the time is quite
recent when to paint one with its flowers was a new departure. It is
nevertheless the fact, and in taking it up, especially those that
are associated with the humbler type of cottages, Mrs. Allingham
was practically the originator of a new subject. To the pensioners'
patches at Chelsea we are indebted for the sweet portraits of humble
flower-steads which are now cherished by so many a fortunate possessor,
and charm every beholder. Thus Chelsea aroused a desire to attack
gardens possessing greater possibilities than a town-stunted patch, a
desire that was not, however, gratified until two years later when,
during a visit in the spring of 1879 to Shere, the first of many
cottages and flowers was painted from nature.

In 1881, after the death of Carlyle, Chelsea had attractions for
neither husband nor wife, and with a young family growing up and
calling for larger and healthier quarters, the house in Trafalgar
Square was given up for one at Witley in Surrey, a hamlet close to
Haslemere, which she had visited the year before, and in the midst
of a country which Birket Foster had already done much to popularise,
having resided at a beautiful house there for many years.

       *       *       *       *       *

The water-colours of this first period, namely from 1875 to 1880, that
are reproduced here, are the following:--

[Illustration: 8. THE YOUNG CUSTOMERS]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Miss Bell._

Painted 1875.

The drawing by which, as we have said, Mrs. Allingham made her name,
obtained election at the Society of Painters in Water Colours, was
represented at her first appearance there in 1875, and also at
the Paris Exposition in 1878, and through which she obtained the
recognition of Ruskin, who thus wrote concerning it in the _Notes_
which he was at that time in the habit of compiling each year on the
Summer Exhibitions.

 It happens curiously that the only drawing of which the memory remains
 with me as a possession out of the Old Water-Colour Exhibition of this
 year--Mrs. Allingham's "Young Customers"--should not only be by an
 accomplished designer of woodcuts, but itself the illustration of a
 popular story. The drawing, with whatever temporary purpose executed,
 is for ever lovely--a thing which I believe Gainsborough would have
 given one of his own paintings for, old fashioned as red-tipped
 daisies are, and more precious than rubies.

Later on, in 1883, in his lectures at Oxford on Mrs. Allingham he again
referred to it as "The drawing which some years ago riveted, and ever
since has retained the public admiration--the two deliberate housewives
in their village toyshop, bent on domestic utilities and economies,
and proud in the acquisition of two flat irons for a farthing--has
become, and rightly, a classic picture, which will have its place
among the memorable things in the Art of our time, when many of its
loudly-trumpeted magnificences are remembered no more."

The black-and-white drawing on which it was founded, a somewhat thin
and immature performance, was one of twelve illustrations made by Mrs.
Allingham for Mrs. Ewing's _A Flat Iron for a Farthing_,[6] where it
appears as illustrating the following episode. It will be seen that
Mrs. Allingham's version of the story differs in many points from that
of the authoress, which is thus told by Reginald, the only son:--

 As I looked, there came down the hill a fine, large, sleek donkey,
 led by an old man-servant, and having on its back what is called a
 Spanish saddle, in which two little girls sat side by side, the whole
 party jogging quietly along at a foot's pace in the sunshine. I was
 so overwhelmed and impressed by the loveliness of these two children,
 and by their quaint, queenly little ways, that time has not dimmed one
 line in the picture that they then made upon my mind. I can see them
 now as clearly as I saw them then, as I stood at the tinsmith's door
 in the High Street of Oakford--let me see, how many years ago?

 The child who looked the older, but was, as I afterwards discovered,
 the younger of the two, was also the less pretty. And yet she had
 a sweet little face, hair like spun gold, and blue-grey eyes with
 dark lashes. She wore a grey frock of some warm material, below
 which peeped her indoors dress of blue. The outer coat had a quaint
 cape like a coachman's, which was relieved by a broad white crimped
 frill round her throat. Her legs were cased in knitted gaiters of
 white wool, and her hands in the most comical miniatures of gloves.
 On her fairy head she wore a large bonnet of grey beaver, with a
 frill inside. But it was her sister who shone on my young eyes like
 a fairy vision. She looked too delicate, too brilliant, too utterly
 lovely, for anywhere but fairyland. She ought to have been kept in
 tissue-paper, like the loveliest of wax dolls. Her hair was the true
 flaxen, the very fairest of the fair. The purity and vividness of the
 tints of red and white in her face I have never seen equalled. Her
 eyes were of speedwell blue, and looked as if they were meant to be
 always more or less brimming with tears. To say the truth, her face
 had not half the character which gave force to that of the other
 little damsel, but a certain helplessness about it gave it a peculiar
 charm. She was dressed exactly like the other, with one exception--her
 bonnet was of white beaver, and she became it like a queen.

 At the tinsmith's shop they stopped, and the old man-servant, after
 unbuckling a strap which seemed to support them in their saddle,
 lifted each little miss in turn to the ground. Once on the pavement
 the little lady of the grey beaver shook herself out, and proceeded
 to straighten the disarranged overcoat of her companion, and then,
 taking her by the hand, the two clambered up the step into the shop.
 The tinsmith's shop boasted of two seats, and on to one of these she
 of the grey beaver with some difficulty climbed. The eyes of the other
 were fast filling with tears, when from her lofty perch the sister
 caught sight of the man-servant, who stood in the doorway, and she
 beckoned him with a wave of her tiny finger.

 "Lift her up, if you please," she said on his approach. And the other
 child was placed on the other chair.

 The shopman appeared to know them, and though he smiled, he said very
 respectfully, "What articles can I show you this morning, ladies?"

 The fairy-like creature in the white beaver, who had been fumbling
 in her miniature glove, now timidly laid a farthing on the counter,
 and then turning her back for very shyness on the shopman, raised one
 small shoulder, and inclining her head towards it, gave an appealing
 glance at her sister out of the pale-blue eyes. That little lady, thus
 appealed to, firmly placed another farthing on the board, and said in
 the tiniest but most decided of voices,


 Hereupon the shopman produced a drawer from below the counter, and
 set it before them. What it contained I was not tall enough to see,
 but out of it he took several flat irons of triangular shape, and
 apparently made of pewter, or some alloy of tin. These the grey beaver
 examined and tried upon a corner of her cape, with inimitable gravity
 and importance. At last she selected two, and keeping one for herself,
 gave the other to her sister.

 "Is it a nice one?" the little white-beavered lady inquired.

 "Very nice."

 "Kite as nice as yours?" she persisted.

 "Just the same," said the other firmly. And having glanced at the
 counter to see that the farthings were both duly deposited, she rolled
 abruptly over on her seat, and scrambled off backwards, a manœuvre
 which the other child accomplished with more difficulty. The coats and
 capes were then put tidy as before, and the two went out of the shop
 together, hand in hand.

 Then the old man-servant lifted them into the Spanish saddle,
 and buckled the strap, and away they went up the steep street, and
 over the brow of the hill, where trees and palings began to show, the
 beaver bonnets nodding together in consultation over the flat irons.

The commission to paint this water-colour being unfettered in every
way, the artist felt herself at liberty to create a colour scheme
of her own--hence the changes in the dresses, etc.; also to put an
old woman (after a Devonshire cottager) in place of the shopman, and
to make the shop a toyshop instead of a tinsmith's. The little girl
ironing was painted from a study of a Mr. Hennessy's eldest little
daughter; the fair little maiden from Mr. Briton Riviere's eldest

[Illustration: 9. THE SAND-MARTINS' HAUNT]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Miss James._

Painted 1876.

    I passed an inland cliff precipitate;
      From tiny caves peeped many a soot-black poll.
    In each a mother-martin sat elate,
      And of the news delivered her small soul:
    "Gossip, how wags the world?" "Well, gossip, well."

Interesting not only as the earliest example here of Mrs. Allingham's
landscape work, having been painted at Limpsfield, Surrey, in May
1876, and as such full of promise of better things to come, but as an
instance of a preference for a complex and very difficult effect, which
the artist, on obtaining greater experience, very wisely abandoned.
There is little doubt that she was tempted by the glorious wealth of
colouring which a low sun threw upon the warm quarry side, the pine
wood, and the huge cumuli which banked them up--a magnificent but a
fleeting effect, which could only be placed on record from very rapid
notes. The result could be successful only in the hands of a practised
adept, and it is not surprising, therefore, that in those of an artist
just embarking on her career it was not entirely so. The difficulties
of the task may have afforded her a useful lesson, for we have seen no
further attempts on her part at their repetition.

If the landscape foretells little concerning the future of the artist,
the figures standing on the brink of the quarry, the elder with her
arm placed lovingly and protectingly round the neck of the younger,
whilst they watch the martins rejoicing in the warm summer evening, are
eminently suggestive of the success which Mrs. Allingham was to achieve
in the addition of figures to landscape composition.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Charles Churchill._

Painted 1876.

Contemporary criticism is not, as a rule, palatable to an artist, for
amongst the varied views which the art critics bring to their task
there are always to be found some that are not seen from the same
standpoint as his. Besides, for some occult reason, the balance always
trends in the direction of fault-finding rather than praise, probably
because it is so much the easier, for work always has and will have
imperfections that are not difficult to distinguish. But in the case
of the water-colour before us the critics' chorus must have been very
exhilarating to the young artist, especially as, at the time of its
exhibition at the Royal Water-Colour Society, in the spring of 1877,
she was by no means in good health. The _Spectator_, for instance,
wrote that artists would have to look to their laurels when ladies
began to paint in a manner little inferior to Walker. The _Athenæum_
gave it the exceptional length of a column, considering it "one of the
few pictures by which the exhibition in question would be remembered."
Tom Taylor in the _Times_ wrote as follows:--

 Of all the newly associated figure painters there is none whose
 work has more of the rare quality that inspires interest than Mrs.
 Allingham. She has only two drawings here, a pretty little child's
 head and a large and exquisitely finished composition, "The Old Men's
 Gardens, Chelsea Hospital," where some hundred and forty little garden
 plots are parcelled out among as many of the old pensioners, each of
 whom is free to follow his own fancies in his gardening.

 In the hush of a calm summer evening, two graceful girls in white
 dresses accept a nosegay from one of the veterans, a Guardsman of
 the _vieille cour_, by his look and bearing. All around are plots
 of sweet, bright flowers all aglow with variegated petals. Here and
 there under the shade of the old trees sit restful groups of the old
 veterans, with children about them; one little fellow reverentially
 lifts and examines one of the medals on a war-worn breast. Behind, the
 thickly-clothed fronds of a drooping ash spread to the declining sun,
 and the level roofs of the old Hospital rise ruddy against the warm
 and cloudless sky. No praise can be too high for the exquisiteness
 with which the flowers are drawn, coloured, and combined, or for the
 skill with which they are blended into an artistic whole with the
 suggestive and graceful group in the foreground. The drawing deserves
 to take its place as a pendant of Walker's "Haven of Rest."

It is curious that all the critics seem to have misinterpreted
the main meaning of the artist's motive, namely, that whilst the
Pensioners naturally, in the first place, wish to sell their posies,
they are always ready to give them to those who cannot afford to buy.
The well-to-do ladies are purchasing the flowers, the little group of
mother, boy, and baby, on the right, who can ill afford to buy, are
having a posy graciously offered to them. The drawing represented Mrs.
Allingham at the Jubilee Exhibition in Manchester, 1887, and the Loan
Water-Colour Exhibition at the Guildhall, London, in 1896. It is of the
large size, for this artist's work, of 25 inches by 15 inches.

[Illustration: 11. THE CLOTHES-LINE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Miss James._

Painted 1879.

How considerable and rapid an advance now took place in Mrs.
Allingham's powers may be seen from the two drawings which are dated
two years later, namely, in 1879. In figure draftsmanship there is no
comparison between the timid and haltingly painted children of "The
Sand-Martins' Haunt" and the seated baby in "The Clothes-Line." In
the first the capacity to draw was no doubt present, but the power to
express it through the medium of water-colour was as yet unacquired.
But after two years' study, knowledge is present in its fulness,
and from now onwards the only changes in Mrs. Allingham's work are
a greater precision, breadth, facility of handling, and harmony of
colour. The figure of the woman still smacks somewhat too much of
the studio, and she is a lady-like model,[7] certainly not the type
one would expect to see hanging out the washing of such a clearly
limited and humble wardrobe as in this case. The figure again detaches
itself too much from the rest of the picture, and Mrs. Allingham,
we are sure, would now never introduce such a jarring note as the
scarlet and primrose handkerchief, to which Mr. Ruskin objected at
the time it was painted. The blanket, clothes-line, clothes-basket,
and other accessories are painted with a minuteness which was an
admirable prelude to the breadth that was to follow; but are
singularly constrained in comparison with the yellow gorse bushes, most
difficult of any shrubs to limn, but which here are noteworthy for
unusual easiness of touch. Even with these qualifications the picture
is a delightful one, replete with grace and beauty, and complete in
its portrayal of the little incident of the baby, a less robust little
body than Mrs. Allingham would now paint, capturing as many of the
clothes-pegs that her mother needs as her small fingers and arms can

[Illustration: 12. THE CONVALESCENT]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. R. S. Budgett._

Painted 1879.

This, like "The Young Customers," was founded on previous work, namely,
a black-and-white drawing made for the _Graphic_, as an illustration to
Mrs. Oliphant's _Innocent_. But in the story the patient dies from an
over-dose administered in mistake by Innocent, who is nursing her. Some
years afterwards the poisoning comes to light, and Innocent is tried
and acquitted. Mrs. Allingham would never have voluntarily repeated
such a subject as this, and her temperament is shown in her having
utilised the material for one in which refreshing sleep promises a
speedy recovery.

[Illustration: 13. THE GOAT CARRIAGE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Sir F. Wigan._

Painted 1880.

Painted at Broadstairs, and containing portraits of Mrs. Allingham's
children. Noticeable as being one of a few drawings where the artist
has introduced animals of any size into her compositions, but showing
that, had she minded, she might have animated her landscapes with them
with as conspicuous success as she has with her human figures. Perhaps
an incident which happened whilst this picture was being painted
deterred her. Billy being tied up so as to keep him in somewhat the
same position, managed to gnaw through his rope, and, irate at his
detention, he made for the lady to whom he thought his captivity was
due, and nearly upset her, paintbox, and picture. The exhibition of
this and kindred portraits of her children under such titles as "The
Young Artist" and "The Donkey Ride," led to strangers wishing for
portraits of their offspring under similar winsome conditions.
But Mrs. Allingham never cared for the restraint imposed by portrait
painting, and the few that she did in this manner were undertaken more
from friendship than from pleasure.

[Illustration: 14. THE CLOTHES-BASKET]


_From the Water-colour the property of Mr. C. P. Johnson._

Painted 1880.

It is very seldom that Mrs. Allingham has treated her public to
drawings with low horizons or sunsets, perhaps for the reason that
little of her life has been spent away in the flatter counties, where
the latter are so noticeable and full of charm and beauty. This
water-colour, the first large landscape that the artist exhibited, was
painted from studies made in the Isle of Thanet, whilst staying at

[Illustration: 15. IN THE HAYLOFT]


_From the Water-colour the property of Miss Bell._

Painted 1880.

This is practically the last of the water-colours which were the
outcome of earlier pictures executed in black and white for the
illustration of books.

The story is from _Deborah's Drawer_, by Eleanor Grace O'Reilly, for
which, as Helen Paterson, our artist had made nine drawings in 1870,
at a time when she was so inexperienced in drawing on the wood that in
more than one instance her monogram appears turned the wrong way. Mr.
Bell, the publisher of the book, subsequently commissioned her to make
a companion water-colour to "The Young Customers," and suggested one of
the illustrations called "Ralph's Girls" as the basis for a subject.

The little black-robed girls were twins, whose mother had recently
died, and who had been placed under the care of a grandmother, who
forgot their youth and spirits. They were imaginative children, and
indulged in delightfully original games. One (that of personating a
sportsman named Jenkins and a dog called Tubbs, who together went
partridge-shooting through a big field of cabbages laden with dew)
they had just been taking part in. Tired out with it, they decided
to be themselves again, and to mount to the hayloft and play another
favourite game, that of "remembering." This meant taking them back
over their short lives, which ended up with their most recent
remembrance, their mother's death. Whilst talking over this they are
summoned from their retreat, and have to appear with their black
dresses soaked with the dew from the cabbages, and with hay adhering
everywhere to their deep crape trimmings. Hence much penance!

[Illustration: 16. THE RABBIT HUTCH]


_From the Drawing the property of Mr. C. P. Johnson._

Painted 1880.

Painted in London, but from sketches made near Broadstairs, the house
seen over the wall being one of those that are to be found along the
east coast, which bear a decided evidence of Dutch influence in their
architecture. Here again we have evidence that Mrs. Allingham might,
had she been so minded, have succeeded with animals as well as she has
with human figures and landscape. A little play is being enacted; the
dog, evidently a rival of the inhabitants of the hutch, has to be kept
at a distance while their feeding is going on, lest his jealousy might
find an outlet in an onslaught upon them.

[Illustration: 17. THE DONKEY RIDE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Sir James Kitson, Bart.,

Painted 1880.

This drawing was executed just at the turning of the ways, when London
was to be exchanged for country life, and studio for out-of-door
painting. What an increased power came about through the change will
be seen by a comparison between this "Donkey Ride" and the "Children's
Tea" (Plate 23). Only two years separate them in date; but whilst
in the one we have timidity and hesitancy, in the other the end
is practically assured. In "The Donkey Ride" we have evidences of
experiments, especially in the direction of finicking stippling (all
over the sea and sky) and of the use of body-colour (in the baby's
bonnet and the flowers), which were abandoned later on, to the artist's
exceeding great benefit. What we expect to find, and do find, is the
pure sentiment, and the dainty freshness, which is never absent from
the earliest efforts onwards.

The scene is the cliffs near Broadstairs, Mrs. Allingham's two eldest
children occupying the panniers.



There are few fairer counties in England than Surrey, and of Surrey
the fairest portion is admittedly the extreme south-western edge which
skirts Sussex to the south and Hampshire to the west. Travellers
from London to Portsmouth by the London and South-Western Railway on
leaving Guildford pass through the middle of the right angle which this
corner makes, and cut the corner two miles beyond Haslemere almost
exactly at the point where the three counties meet. As the steep rise
of nearly 300 feet which has to be surmounted in the six miles which
divide Witley from Haslemere is being negotiated by the train, the most
unobservant passenger must be struck by the singularly beautiful wooded
character of the country on either side, and by the far-extended view
which is unfolded as the eye looks southward over the Weald of Sussex.

It was to Sandhills, near Witley, that Mrs. Allingham came to live
in 1881 with her growing family, and it was in this corner of Surrey
that she found ample material for almost all her work during the next
few years; and it is there that she has returned at intervals for the
majority of those cottage subjects which the public has called for,
ever since her first portrayal of them shortly after her commencement
of landscape painting in these parts.

Witley consists of groups of irregularly-dotted-about houses, which
hardly constitute a village, and would perhaps be better designated
by the proper name--Witley Street. A few years ago every one of the
houses counted their ages by centuries, and were fitting companions
of the ancient oaks and elms that shaded them. Some few are left, but
the majority are gone, many so long before the term of their natural
existence had run that it was a troublesome piece of work to destroy
them. There is also an old "Domesday Book" Church. Drawings of almost
all of the cottages, from the hand of Mrs. Allingham, are in existence
somewhere or other, but she never seems to have painted this or other
churches, having apparently little liking for them, as had Birket
Foster. In the present case the omission to do so arose from the fact
that in painting it she would have formed one of the occupants of
half-a-dozen outspread white umbrellas, all taking a stiffly-composed
subject from the same point of view.

Sandhills, where our artist lived, is on the Haslemere side of Witley,
on a sloping common of heather and gorse, topped with fir trees. From
thence the view, looking southwards, extends far and wide over the
Weald of Surrey and Sussex, Hindhead, a mountain-like hill rising
behind, and Blackdown, a spur stretching out on to the Sussex Valley
to the right. In the distance are to be seen the rising grounds near
Midhurst and Petworth, Chanctonbury Ring with its tuft of trees, called
locally "The Squire's Hunting Cap," and on a clear day the downs as far
as Brighton and Lewes.

It is indeed a healthy and bracing spot, and one calculated to induce
a painter to energetic work, and a delight in doing it. Subjects lay
close at hand, the Sandhills garden furnishing many a one. "Master
Hardy's," a charming cottage tenanted by a charming old man, was
within a stone's throw, and received attention inside and out. Of the
Hindhead Road, which passes south-west, a single Exhibition, that of
1886, contained six subjects, all of them wayside cottages, but no
one of which, when the Exhibition opened, was as depicted, having in
that short time been "done up" by local builders at the bidding of
Philistine owners.

The neighbourhood round is, or perhaps we should say was, also prolific
in subjects--Haslemere, four miles south-west, with its pleasant wide
old streets, and with fields tilted up at the end of it, furnished its
Fish-Shop, and other thoroughly English village scenes.

Some two miles south of Haslemere was Aldworth, Lord Tennyson's
house, a mile over the Sussex border, although always spoken of as
his "Surrey" residence. To Mrs. Allingham's work there we shall have
occasion to refer later on.

The varied summits of Hindhead (painted a century earlier by Turner and
Rowlandson, and at that time adorned with a gibbet for the benefit of
the highwaymen who infested the Portsmouth Road, which passes over it),
in one place bare moor, in another crested with fir trees, lay some
distance northward of Haslemere; but our artist did not often depict
them, although they presented themselves under many a charming aspect,
and never more glorious than at sunset in their robes of violet and
gold. A thoroughly characteristic view of them is however given in the
Lord Chief Justice's drawing (Plate 19).

To the southward of Sandhills stretches, as we have said, the Weald.
To this district Mrs. Allingham made frequent excursions, not only for
cottages, which she found at Hambledon, Chiddingfold, and Wisborough,
but for spring and autumn subjects in the oak woods and copses which to
this day probably bear much the same aspect as did the ancient Forest
of Anderida (whose site they occupy) in the time of the Heptarchy.

Oak is the tree of the wealden clay on the lower levels, but elms grow
to a grand size on the higher ground, where ashes are also numerous.
Spanish chestnuts "encamp in state" on certain slopes, and many of the
hills are "fringed and pillared" with pines. The interminable hazel
copses are interspersed with long labyrinthine paths, the intricacies
of which are only known to the countryside folk. Not so long ago the
cutting down at intervals of the young wood for the purposes of hop
poles, hurdles, and kindling, brought in a handsome revenue to the
owners; but of late years wire has taken the place of wood for the two
first of these objects, and the labourers prefer dear coal to wood,
even as a gift, for it does not entail cutting up. As railway rates to
bring it to the metropolis are prohibitive, it is hard to say what the
consequences will be in a few years, but the probabilities actually
point to a return to the primitive conditions which existed in the
Saxon times to which we have referred.

In the spring the country round is decked with primroses, bluebells,
and cowslips in the woods, hedgerows, and fields, being fortunately
outside the range of the marauders from London; and it is indeed
pleasurable to ramble from copse to field, and back again. But in
autumn and winter the deep clay soil makes it heavy travelling in the
deep-cut roads and lanes, cumbered with the redolent decay of the
leafage from the trees.

The cottars were, when the majority of these drawings were made, rural
and old-fashioned, and many had lived hereabouts through numerous
generations. A quiet, taciturn folk, contented with moderate comforts,
on good terms with their wealthier neighbours, not often feeling the
pinch of poverty.

Maybe all are not so good-looking as Mrs. Allingham has depicted
them, but they vary much, some being flaxen Saxons, others as dark
complexioned as gipsies.

As will be seen, they have a taste and enjoyment for colour, if not
for change, in the gardens with which their cottages are fairly
well supplied. These are bright at one or other season of the year
with snowdrop, crocus, and daffodil, lilac, sweetwilliam, and pink,
sunflower, Michaelmas daisy, and chrysanthemum.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following drawings have been selected as illustrating the
neighbourhood of Mrs. Allingham's home at Sandhills:--

[Illustration: 18. A WITLEY LANE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. H. W. Birks._

Painted 1887.

It is very seldom that we encounter a drawing of Mrs. Allingham that
deals with Nature in winter's garb. In this respect she differs from
Birket Foster, who rightly considered that trees were oftentimes as
beautiful in their nude as in their clothed array. Especially did he
delight in the towering framework of the elm, which he regarded as the
most typical of English trees.

Nor is it often that we see Mrs. Allingham afield so early in the
spring as in this lane scene, where the elms are clothed only in their
"ruddy hearted blossom flakes."[8] Perhaps this absence is due to
prudential reasons, to avoid the rheumatism which appears to be the
only ailment which the landscapist runs against in his healthy outdoor

Those who have seen the woods of Surrey and Sussex at this time of
year know what a lovely colour they assume in the budding stage, a
colour that makes the view over the Weald from such a vantage-ground
as Blackdown a sea of ravishing violet hues, almost equalling that of
the oak forests as seen in February from the Terrace at Pau, which
stretch away to the snow-clad range of the Pyrenees--perhaps the most
delicately perfect view in Europe. But the day selected for this sketch
was evidently a warm one for the time of year, or we should not
see that unusual occurrence, an open bedroom window in a labourer's

The flowering whin is no index to the season, for we know the old

    When the whin's in bloom, my love's in tune.

But the catkins on the hazel, and the primroses on the banks, must
place it round that elastic date, Eastertide.

These wayside primroses remind one of a strongly expressed opinion of
Mrs. Allingham's, that wayside flowers should never be gathered, but
left for the enjoyment of the passers-by--a liberal one, which was
first instilled into her by her husband, who wrote verses upon it, from
which I cull the following lines:--

    Pluck not the wayside flower,
    It is the traveller's dower;
    A thousand passers-by
    Its beauties may espy.

           *       *       *       *       *

    The primrose on the slope
    A spot of sunshine dwells,
    And cheerful message tells.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Then spare the wayside flower!
    It is the traveller's dower.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Lord Chief Justice of

Painted 1888.

When this drawing appeared in the Exhibition of 1889 there were some
who called in question the truthfulness of the colour of distant
Hindhead, affirming that it was too blue. But when the air comes up
in August from the southward, laden with a salty moisture, and the
shadows are cast by hurrying clouds over the distance, it is altogether
and exactly of the hue set down here. Had the effect been incorrect
it would hardly have been acquired by so critical a collector as Lord
Alverstone, nor would it have been hung in his Surrey home, where it
invites daily comparison with Nature under similar aspects. The drawing
was painted on the spot, from just behind the artist's house, and is
one of the few instances where she has added to the charm of her work
by a sky of some intricacy. In her cottage and other drawings, where
buildings or other landscape objects are of primary importance, she has
felt that the simpler the treatment of the sky the better, and with
good reason. Here, where a large expanse calls for interesting
forms to cover it, she has shown her complete ability to introduce them.

Mrs. Allingham's house at Sandhills was below the foreground slope, to
the right of the cottages whose roofs rise from the ling. The highest
point of Hindhead seen here is Hurt Hill, some nine hundred feet above
sea-level, a name which Mr. Allingham always held to be a corruption of
Whort Hill, from the whortleberries with which its slopes are covered,
and which in these, as in other parts are called "wurts."

[Illustration: 20. IN WITLEY VILLAGE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Charles Churchill._

Painted 1884.

This drawing was in The Fine Art Society's Exhibition in 1886, the
catalogue stating that the cottage had disappeared in the spring of
1885. It was pulled down by its owner to be replaced by buildings whose
monotonous symmetry, to his eye no doubt, appeared in better taste.
The cottage was still far from the natural term of its existence,
as evidenced by the troublesome piece of work it was to dislocate
the sound, firm old oaken beams of which its framework was built
up. Mr. Birket Foster, who equally with Mrs. Allingham mourned its
disappearance, regretted that he could not rebuild it in his own

The blackening elms, and the ripe bracken carried home by the cottar,
show that the time when this picturesque dwelling was painted was late
summer, probably that of 1884. Mrs. Allingham was clearly then not of
Ruskin's opinion concerning the wrongness of painting trees in full
leaf, for she found the blue-black of the trees a harmonious background
to her red and russet roof.

The work throughout shows a loving fidelity to Nature, as if the artist
had felt that she was looking upon the likeness of an old friend for
the last time, and wished to perpetuate every lineament and feature.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Lord Davey._

Painted 1886.

This view is taken from the same bridle-path as is seen in Lord
Alverstone's "Hindhead," but at a lower elevation, and looking
some points more to the south; also at a later time of year, probably
in early October, to judge by the browning hazels. The bracken-covered
elevation in the distance is Grays Wood Common, which lies to the south
of the railway, and the spur of blue hill seen in the distance is
Blackdown. Aldworth, Lord Tennyson's seat, lies just this side of where
the hill falls away. The drawing is one of three only in the whole
collection where Mrs. Allingham has introduced a draught animal.

[Illustration: 22. THE FISH-SHOP, HASLEMERE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. A. E. Cumberbatch._

Painted 1887.

One can well understand the local builder in his daily round past
this picturesque little tenement casting longing eyes upon its uneven
roof, its diamond-paned lattices, its projecting shop front, and its
spoutless eaves, which allowed the damp to rise up from the foundations
and the green lichen to grow upon its walls, and that he rested not
until he had set hands upon it, and taken one more old-world feature
from the main thoroughfare at Haslemere. Such was actually the case
here, for the shop has long ago disappeared, but it was not until, much
to its owner's regret, interference was necessary. Were it not that it
indeed was the fish-shop of Haslemere, it might well have served for
the toyshop in which the scene of "The Young Customers" was laid. In
the days when this was painted the accommodation provided was probably
sufficient for the intermittent supply of an inland village, for
Haslemere was not, until the last few years, a country resort for those
who seek fine air and beautiful scenery, and can afford to pay a high
price for it.



It will be readily understood that such a beneficial change in her life
surroundings as that from Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, to Sandhills,
Witley, was not without its effect upon Mrs. Allingham's Art. Hitherto
her work had, by the exigencies of fortune, lain almost wholly and
entirely in the direction of the figure. It was studio work, done for
the most part under pressure of time, the selection of subject being
none of hers, and therefore oftentimes altogether unsympathetic.
Finding herself now in the presence of Nature of a kind that appealed
to her, and which she could appreciate untrammelled by any conditions,
it is not surprising that--unwittingly, no doubt, at first--the
preference was given to that side of Art which presented itself under
so much more favourable conditions.

The delight of painting _en plein air_ had first been tasted at Shere
in the spring and summer of 1878, where she was passionately happy in
watching the changes and developments of the seasons, being in the
fields, lanes, and copses all day and every day.[9] Almost as full a
feast had followed at Haslemere in 1880. When these were succeeded by
a permanent residence in front of Nature, studio work became more and
more trying and unsatisfactory.

To most people of an artistic temperament the abandonment of the
figure for landscape would never have been the subject of a moment's
consideration, for it would have appeared to them the desertion of
a higher for a lower grade of Art. But from the time of her arrival
in the country there seems to have never been any doubt in Mrs.
Allingham's mind as to the direction which her Art should take. The
pleasure to which we have referred of sitting down in the open air
before Nature, whose aspects and moods she could select at her own
will, and at her own time, was infinitely preferable to the toil and
trouble of either illustrating the ideas of others, or building up
scenes, oftentimes improbable ones, of her own creation. From this
time onwards, then, we find her drifting away from the figure, but not
altogether, or at once, for as her family grew up, scenes in her house
life passed across her view which she enjoyed to place on record, and
for which the world thanks her: scenes of infant life in the nursery,
such as "Pat-a-cake" and "The Children's Tea"; in the schoolroom, such
as "Lessons"; and out of school hours, such as "Bubbles" and "The
Children's Maypole." In one and all of these it is her own family who
are the chief actors.

The portrayal of her children in heads of a larger size than her usual
work was at this time seen by friends and others, who pressed upon
her commissions for effigies of their own little ones, a branch of
work which promptly drew down upon her the disapproval of Ruskin, who
wrote: "I am indeed sorrowfully compelled to express my regret that she
should have spent unavailing pains in finishing single heads, which are
at the best uninteresting miniatures, instead of fulfilling her true
gift, and doing what the Lord made her for in representing the gesture,
character, and humour of charming children in country landscapes."

But this change naturally did not pass over her work all at once,
or even in a single year. Mrs. Allingham's presentations of the
countryside commenced in earnest shortly after her settling down at
Witley in 1881; but as will be seen by the dates of the pictures which
illustrate this chapter, the figure as the dominant feature continues
for another six years; in fact, during the whole of her seven and a
half years at Witley we find it now and again, and do not part with
it as such until 1890. Since then hardly a single example has come
from her brush. Mrs. Allingham gives as her reason for the change that
she came to the conclusion that she could put as much interest into a
figure two or three inches high as in one three times as large, and
that she could paint it better; for in painting large figures out of
doors it was always a difficulty in making them look anything else than
they were, namely, "posing models."

But if the figure ceases to occupy the foremost position, it is still
there, and is always present to add a charming vitality to all that
she does. To people a landscape with figures, of captivating mien,
each taking its proper position, and each adding to the interest of
the whole, is a gift which is the property of but few landscapists. It
is indeed a gift, for we have before us the example of the greatest
landscapist of all, who the more he strove the more he failed. But
it is a gift which we believe many more might obtain by strenuous
endeavour. It is always a matter of surprise to the ignorant public
how it comes to pass that an artist who can draw nature admirably
should never attempt to learn the draftsmanship of the human figure,
by the omission of which from his work he deprives it of half its
interest and value. He often goes a step further, and shows not his
inability but his indolence by producing picture after picture, upon
the face of which no single instance occurs of the introduction of
man, beast, or bird, save and except a single unpretentious creature
of the lowest grade of the feathered creation; this, however, he
will draw sufficiently well to prove that he could, an he would,
double the interest in his landscapes. To the outsider this appears
incomprehensible in the person of those who apparently are thorough
artists, ardent in their profession. One meets such an one at table,
and even between the courses he cannot refrain from taking out his
pencil and covering the menu with his scribblings; but the same man
appears before Nature without a note-book, in which he might be storing
so many jottings, which would be of untold value to his work.

Mrs. Allingham's case has been the entire contrary to this; she has, I
will not say toiled, for the garnering must be a pleasure, but stored,
many a time and oft, for future use, a mass of valuable material, so
that she is never at a loss for the right adjunct to fit the right
place. Her so doing was, in the first instance, due entirely to her
husband. He said, truly, that the introduction of animals and birds,
in fact, any form of life, gave scale and interest to a picture, and
he urged her to begin making studies from the first. There is not the
slightest doubt that she owed very much to him that habit of thinking
out fitting figures, as she has always tried, and with exceptional
success, as accessories to every landscape.

Her sketch-books, consequently, are full not only of men, women, and
children, and their immediate belongings, but of most of the animal
life which follows in their train. I say "most," because for some
reason, which I have not elicited from her, she has preferences.
Horses, cattle, and sheep she will have but little of, only
occasionally introducing them in distant hay or harvest fields. The
only instances of anything akin to either in this book are the animals
in "The Goat Carriage," and "The Donkey Ride." Nor will she have much
to say to dogs, but for cats she has a great fondness, and they
animate a large number of her scenes. Fowls, pigeons, and the like she
paints to the life, and she apparently is thoroughly acquainted with
their habits; but other winged creatures, save an occasional robin, she
avoids. Rabbits, wild and tame, she often introduces.

Her pictures being always typical of repose, she avoids much motion
in her figures. Her children even, seldom indulge in violent action,
unlike those of Birket Foster, who run races down hill, use the
skipping-rope, fly kites, and urge the horses in the lane out of their
accustomed foots-pace.

       *       *       *       *       *

As typical examples of the drawings made in the early days at Witley,
and whilst the figure was the main object, we have selected the

[Illustration: 23. THE CHILDREN'S TEA]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. W. Hollins._

Painted 1882.

This is the most important, and, to my mind, the most delightful of any
of Mrs. Allingham's creations; quite individual, and quite unlike the
work of any one else. Not only is the subject a charming one, but the
actors in it all hold one's attention. It is certainly destined in the
future to hold a high place among the examples of English water-colour

The scene is laid in Mrs. Allingham's dining-room at Sandhills, Witley,
and contains portraits of her children. The incidents are slight but
original. The mother is handing a cup of tea, but no one notices it,
for the eldest girl's attention is taken up with the old cat lapping
its milk, her younger sister, with her back to the window, is occupied
in feeding her doll, propped up against a cup, from a large bowl of
bread and milk, and the two other children are attracted to a sulphur
butterfly which has just alighted on a glass of lilies of the valley.
The _etceteras_ are painted as beautifully as the bigger objects;
note, for instance, the bowl of daffodils on the old oak cupboard, the
china on the table, and even the buns and the preserves. The whole
is suffused with the warmth of a spring afternoon, the season being
ascertainable by the budding trees outside, and the spring flowers
inside. Exception may be taken to the faces not being more in shadow
from a light which, although reflected from the tablecloth, is
apparently behind them, and to the tablecloth being whiter than the
sky, which it would not be. The fact, as regards the former, is that
the faces were also lit from a window behind the spectator, whilst the
latter is a permissible licence.

[Illustration: 24. THE STILE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Alfred Shuttleworth._

Painted 1883.

The effort of negotiating a country stile, such as the one here
depicted, which has no aids in the way of subsidiary steps, always
induces a desire to rest by the way. Especially is this the case when a
well-worn top affords a substantial seat. Time is evidently of little
importance to the two sisters, for they have lingered in the hazel
copse gathering hyacinths and primroses. Besides, the little one has
asserted her right to a meal, and that would of itself be a sufficient
excuse for lingering on the journey. The dog seems of the same way of
thinking, and is evidently eagerly weighing the chances as to how much
of the slice of bread and butter will fall to its share.

The drawing is a rich piece of colouring, but the hedgerow bank,
with its profusion and variety of flowers, shows just that lack of a
restraining hand which is so evident in Mrs. Allingham's fully-matured
work. It was painted entirely in the open air, close to Sandhills, and
the model who sat for the little child is now the artist's housemaid.

[Illustration: 25. "PAT-A-CAKE"]

25. "PAT-A-CAKE"

_From the Water-colour in the possession of Sir F. Wigan, Bt._

Painted 1884.

This drawing, although painted later than "The Children's Tea," would
seem to be the prelude to a set in which practically the same figures
take a part.

The motive here, as in all Mrs. Allingham's subjects, is of the
simplest kind. The young girl reads from nursery rhymes that
time-honoured one of "Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker's Man." It is
apparently her younger brother's first introduction to the bye-play of
patting, which should accompany its recitation, for the child regards
the performance with some doubt, and has to be trained by the nurse as
to how its hands should be manœuvred.

The drawing is full of details, such as the workbox, scissors, thimble,
primroses, and anemones in the bowl, the china in the cupboard, and
the coloured engraving on the wall, which, as we have seen in the case
of other painters who have practised it, opens up in fuller maturity a
power of painting which is never possible to those who have neglected
such an education.

[Illustration: 26. LESSONS]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. C. P. Johnson._

Painted 1885.

The relations between the teacher and the taught appear to be somewhat
strained this summer morning, for the little girl in pink is evidently
at fault with her lessons, and the boy, while presumably figuring up a
sum on his slate, has his eyes and ears open for a break in the silence
which fills the room for the moment. However, in a short time it will
be halcyon weather for all the actors, for the sun is streaming in at
the window, the roses show that it is high summer, and a day on which
the sternest teacher could not condemn the most intractable child to
lengthy indoor imprisonment.

This drawing is of the same importance as regards size as "The
Children's Tea," and is full of charm in every part.

[Illustration: 27. BUBBLES]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. H. B. Beaumont._

Painted 1886.

Lessons are over, a stool has been brought from the schoolroom, the
kitchen has been invaded, and the dish of soapsuds having been placed
upon it the fun has begun. Who, that has enjoyed it, will forget the
acrid taste of the long new churchwarden (where do the children of the
present day find such pipes if they ever condescend to the fascinating
game of bubble-blowing?) that one naturally sucked away at long before
the watery compound was ready, the still more pungent taste of the
household soap, the delight of seeing the first iridescent globe
detach itself from the pipe and float upwards on the still air, or of
raising a hundred globules by blowing directly into the basin, as the
smocked youngster is doing here. Such joys countervailed the smarts
which befell one's eyes when the burst bubble scattered its fragments
into them, or when the suds came to an end, not through their
dissipation into air, but over one's clothes.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Francis Black._

Painted about 1886.

The family of young children that was now growing up round our artist
naturally necessitated the summer holiday assuming a visit to the
seaside, and much of Mrs. Allingham's time was, no doubt, spent on the
shore in their company. It is little matter for surprise that this
pleasure was combined with that of welding them into pictures; and, if
an excuse must be made for Mrs. Allingham oftentimes robing her little
girls in pink, it is to be found in the fact that the models were
almost invariably her own children, who were so attired. It certainly
will not be one of the least agreeable incidents for those who saunter
over the illustrations of this volume to distinguish them and trace
their growth from the cradle onwards, until they pass out of the stage
of child models.

This drawing was painted on the shore at Sandown, Isle of Wight, where
the detritus of the Culver chalk cliffs afforded, in combination with
the sand, splendid material for the early achievements in architecture
and estate planning which used to yield so healthy an occupation to

It was a hazardous task to attempt success with such a variety of tones
of white as here presented themselves, but the result is entirely
satisfactory. In fact the drawing shows how readily and with what
success the painter took up another phase of outdoor work, not easy
of accomplishment. In those collections which include these seashore
subjects they single themselves out from all their neighbours by the
aptitude with which figures and a limpid sea are painted in sunshine.
This, again, is no doubt due to their having been entirely out-of-doors

[Illustration: 29. DRYING CLOTHES]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. C. P. Johnson._

Painted 1886.

This important drawing, in which the figure is on a large scale,
makes one regret that Mrs. Allingham abandoned her portraiture, for a
more captivating life study it is hard to imagine. Flattery
apart, one may say that Frederick Walker never drew a more ideal
figure or conceived a more charming colour scheme. The only feature
which would perhaps have been omitted from a later work is that of
the foxgloves in the corner, which appears to be rather an artificial
introduction. The note of the little child behind the gate is charming.
It is evidently not allowed to wander in the field, although the
well-worn path shows that here is the main road to the cottage, and it
feels that a joy is denied it not to be allowed to participate in the
ceremony of gathering in of the family washing, as it was in younger
days when the clothes were hung out.

[Illustration: 30. HER MAJESTY'S POST OFFICE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. H. B. Beaumont._

Painted 1887.

This, at the time it was painted, was the only Post Office of which
Bowler's Green, near Haslemere, boasted, and from its appearance it
might well have served during the reigns of several of Her Majesty's
predecessors. It speaks much for the absence of ill-disposed persons
in the neighbourhood that letters were for so long entrusted to its
care, as it seems far removed from the days of the scarlet funnel which
probably now replaces it. I opine that the young gentleman whom we saw
a short while ago engaged in bubble-blowing has been entrusted here
with the posting of a letter.

[Illustration: 31. THE CHILDREN'S MAYPOLE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Dobson._

Painted 1886.

May Day still lingers in some parts of the country, for only last year
in an out-of-the-way lane in Northamptonshire the writer encountered a
band of children decked in flowers, and their best frocks and ribbons,
singing an old May ditty. But lovers have long ago ceased to plant
trees before their mistresses' doors, and to dance with them afterwards
round the maypole on the village green, which we too are old enough to
remember in Leicestershire. The ceremony that Mrs. Allingham's children
are taking a part in was doubtless the recognition by a poet of his
illustrious predecessor Spenser's exhortation:--

    Youths folke now flocken in everywhere
    To gather May baskets, and smelling briere;
    And home they hasten, the postes to dight
    With hawthorne buds, and sweet eglantine,
    And girlonds of roses, and soppes in wine.

The scene is laid in the woods at Witley.



    I've been dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedgerows
      of England;
    They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden;
    Thinking of lanes and of fields, and the song of the lark and the

When Mrs. Allingham finally, I will not say determined to cut herself
away from figure painting, but by the influence of her surroundings
drifted away from it, she did not, as so many do, become the
delineator of a single phase of landscape art. Her journeyings in
search of subjects for some years were neither many nor extensive,
for a paintress with a family growing up around her has not the same
opportunities as a painter. He can leave his incumbrances in charge of
his wife, and his work will probably benefit by an occasional flitting
from home surroundings. But a mother's work would not thrive away from
her children even if absence was possible, which it probably was not in
Mrs. Allingham's case. Hence we find that the ground she has covered
has been almost entirely confined to what are termed the Home Counties,
with an occasional diversion to the Isle of Wight, Dorsetshire,
Gloucestershire, and Cheshire. In the Home Counties, Surrey and Kent
have furnished most of her material, the former naturally being
oftenest drawn upon during her life at Witley, and the latter since she
lived in London, whither she returned in the year 1888. This inability
to roam about whither she chose was doubtless helpful in compelling
her to vary her subjects, for she would of necessity have to paint
whatever came within her reach. But her energy also had its share, for
it enabled her to search the whole countryside wherever she was, and
gather in a dozen suitable scenes where another might only discover one.

As evidence of this we may instance the case of the corner of Kent
whither she has gone again and again of late, and where in the present
year she has still been able to find ample material to her liking.
A visit to this somewhat out-of-the-way spot, which lies in Kent in
an almost identically similar position to that which Witley does in
Surrey, namely, in the extreme south-west corner, shows how she has
found material everywhere. In the mile that separates the station from
the farmhouse where she encamps, she shows a cottage that she has
painted from every side, a brick kiln that she has her eye on, an old
yew, and a clump of elms that has been most serviceable. Arriving at
the farm-gate she points to the modest floral display in front that
has sufficed for "In the Farmhouse Garden" (Plate 2), whilst over the
way are the buildings of "A Kentish Farmyard" (Plate 58). Entering the
house the visitor may not be much impressed with the view from her
sitting-room window, but under the artist's hands it has become the
silvern sheet of daisies reproduced in Plate 38. "On the Pilgrims' Way"
(Plate 41) is a field or so away, whilst a short walk up the downs
behind the house finds us in the presence of the originals of Plates 32
and 36. A drive across the vale and we have Crockham Hill, whence comes
Plate 40, and Ide Hill, Plate 55.

A ramble round these scenes, whilst a most enjoyable matter to any
one born to an appreciation of the country, was in truth not the
inspiration that would be imagined to the writer of the text, for he
had seen, for instance, the daintily conceived water-colour of "Ox-eye
Daisies" (Plate 38), painted a year ago, and he arrived at the field
to find this year's crop a failure, and on a day in which the distant
woods were hardly visible; the scene of the "Foxgloves" had all the
underwood grown up, and only a stray spike suggestive of the glory
of past years; gipsy tramps on the road to "berrying" (strawberry
gathering) conjured up no visions of the tenant of Mrs. Allingham's
"Spring on the Kentish Downs," but only a horrible thought of the
strawberries defiled by being picked by their hands.

This description of the variety of the artist's work within a single
small area will show that it is somewhat difficult to classify it for
consideration. However, one or two arrangements and rearrangements of
the drawings which illustrate these phases of the artist's output seem
to bring them best into the following divisions: woods, lanes, and
fields; cottages; and gardens. These we shall therefore consider in
this and the following chapters, dealing here with the first of them.

Midway in her life at Witley, The Fine Art Society induced Mrs.
Allingham to undertake, as the subject for an Exhibition, the portrayal
of the countryside under its four seasonal aspects of spring, summer,
autumn, and winter. She completed her task, and the result was shown
in 1886 in an Exhibition, but a glance at the catalogue shows in which
direction her preference lay; for whilst spring and summer between
them accounted for more than fifty pictures, only seven answered for
autumn, and six, of which one half were interiors, illustrated winter.
These proportions may not perhaps have represented the ratio of her
affections, but of her physical ability to portray each of the seasons.
Autumn leaves and tints no doubt appealed to her artistic eye as much
as spring or summer hues, but for some reason, perhaps that of health,
illustrations were few and far between of the time of year

    When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
    Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
    Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In so selecting she differed from Mr. Ruskin, who has laid it down that
"a tree is never meant to be drawn with all its leaves on, any more
than a day when its sun is at noon. One draws the day in its morning
or eventide, the tree in its spring or autumn dress." This naturally
exaggerated dictum is the contrary of Mrs. Allingham's practice. She
almost invariably waits for the trees until they have completely
donned their spring garb, and leaves them ere they doff their summer

The drawings of the woods, lanes, and fields which Mrs. Allingham has
selected for illustration here comprise six of spring, three of summer,
and two of autumn, winter being unrepresented. They are culled as to
seven from Kent, three from Surrey, and a single one from Hertfordshire.

Taking them in their seasonal order we may discuss them as follows:--



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Beddington._

Painted 1900.

    Out of the city, far away
    With spring to-day!
    Where copses tufted with primrose
    Give one repose.
                   WILLIAM ALLINGHAM.

That the joy of spring is a never-failing subject for poets, any one
may see who turns over the pages of the numerous compilations which
now treat of Nature. I doubt, however, whether they receive a higher
pleasure from it than does the townsman who can only walk afield at
rare intervals, and whose first visit to the country each year is taken
at Eastertide. He probably has no eye save for the contrasts which he
experiences to his daily life, of scene, air, and vitality, but these
will certainly infect him with a healthier love of life than is enjoyed
by those who live amongst them and see them come and go.

Fortunate is the man who can visit these Kentish downs at a time when
the breath of spring is touching everything, when the eastern air makes
one appreciate the shelter that the hazel copses fringing their sides
afford, an appreciation which is shared by the firs which hug their
southern slopes.

It is very early spring in this drawing. The highest trees show no sign
of it save at their outermost edges. Hazels alone, and they only in the
shelter, have shed their flowery tassels, and assumed a leafage which
is still immature in colour. The sprawling trails of the traveller's
joy, which rioted over everything last autumn, are still without any
trace of returning vitality.

[Illustration: 33. TIG BRIDGE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. E. S. Curwen._

Painted 1887.

    Here the white ray'd anemone is born,
    Wood-sorrel, and the varnish'd buttercup;
    And primrose in its purfled green swathed up,
    Pallid and sweet round every budding thorn.
                               WILLIAM ALLINGHAM.

This little sequestered bridge would hardly seem to be of sufficient
importance to deserve a name, nor for the matter of that the streamlet,
the Tigbourne, which runs beneath it, but on the Hindhead slope
streams of any size are scarce, and therefore call for notice. Bridges
resemble stiles in being enforced loitering places, for whilst there
is no effort which compels a halt in crossing bridges, as there is
with stiles, there is the sense of mystery which underlies them, and
expectancy as to what the water may contain. Especially is this so for
youth; and so here we have boy and girl who pause on their way from
bluebell gathering, whilst the former makes belief of fishing with the
thread of twine which youngsters of his age always find to hand in one
or other of their pockets.

[Illustration: 34. SPRING IN THE OAKWOOD]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1903.

We have elsewhere remarked on the rare occasions on which Mrs.
Allingham utilises sunlight and shadow. Here, however, is one of them,
and one which shows that it is from no incapacity to do so, for it is
now introduced with a difficult effect, namely, blue flowers under
a low raking light. The artist's eye was doubtless attracted by the
unusual visitation of a bright warm sun on a spring day, and determined
to perpetuate it.

The wood in which the scene is laid is on the Kentish Downs, where, as
the distorted boughs show, the winds are always in evidence.

The juxtaposition of the two primaries, blue and yellow, is always a
happy one in nature, but specially is it so when we have such a mass of
sapphire blue.

    Blue, gentle cousin of the forest green,
    Married to green in all the sweetest flowers--
    Forget-me-not, the bluebell, and that queen
    Of secrecy the violet.

[Illustration: 35. THE CUCKOO]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. A. Hugh Thompson._

Painted about 1887.

In a recent "One Man Exhibition" by that refined artist Mr. Eyre
Walker, there was a very unusual drawing entitled "Beauty for Ashes."
The entire foreground was occupied with a luxuriant growth of purple
willow loosestrife, intermixed with the silvery white balls of down
from seeding nipplewort. Standing gaunt from this intermingling,
luxuriant crop, were the charred stems of burnt fir trees, whilst
the living mass of their fellows formed an agreeable background. The
subject must have attracted many travellers on the South-Western
Railway as they passed Byfleet; it did so in Mr. Walker's case to the
extent that he stayed his journey and painted it.

In that case this beautiful display had, as the title to the picture
hints, arisen from the ashes of a forest. A spark from a train had set
fire to the wood, and had apparently destroyed every living thing in
its course. But such is Nature that out of death sprang life. So it has
been with the coppice here, and in the oakwood scene which preceded
it. The cutting down and clearing of the wood has brought sun, air, and
rain to the soil, and as a consequence have followed the

                          Sheets of hyacinth
    That seem the heavens upbreaking thro' the earth.

The drawing takes its name from the cuckoo whose note has arrested the
children's attention.

[Illustration: 36. THE OLD YEW TREE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1903.

                                The sad yew is seen
    Still with the black cloak round his ancient wrongs.
                             WILLIAM ALLINGHAM.

One of many that are dotted about the southern slopes of the Westerham
Downs, and that, not only here but all along the line of the Pilgrims'
Way, are regarded as having their origin in these devotees. The drawing
was made in the early part of the present year, when the primroses and
violets were out, but before there was anything else, save the blossom
of the willow, to show that

    The spring comes slowly up this way,
        Slowly, slowly!
    To give the world high holiday.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Lord Mount-Stephen._

Painted 1898.

It is somewhat remarkable that the most impressive flower-show that
Nature presents to our notice, namely, when, as May passes into June,
the whole countryside is decked with a bridal array of pure white,
should have taken hold of but few of our poets.

Shakespeare, of course, recognised it in lines which make one smile at
the idea that they could ever have been composed by a town-bred poet:--

    O what a life were this! How sweet, how lovely!
    Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
    To shepherds, looking on their silly sheep,
    Than doth a rich embroidered canopy
    To kings that fear their subjects' treachery.

Another, in the person of Mrs. Allingham's husband, penned a sonnet
upon it containing the following happy description:--

        Cluster'd pearls upon a robe of green,
    And broideries of white bloom.

The scene of this drawing is laid in the park at Brocket Hall, to which
reference is made in connection with a subsequent illustration (Plate
65). The park is full of ancient timber, one great oak on the border of
the two counties (Herts and Beds) being mentioned in Doomsday Book, and
another going by the name of Queen Elizabeth's oak, from the tradition
that the Princess was sitting under it when the news reached her that
she was Queen of England.[10] The Hawthorn Valley runs for nearly a
mile from one of the park entrances towards the more woodland part of
the estate, and was formerly used as a private race-course.

The artist has treated a very difficult subject with success, as any
one, especially an amateur, who has tried to portray masses of hawthorn
blossom will readily admit. Any attempt to draw the flowers and fill in
the foliage is hopeless, and it can only be done, as in this case, by
erasure. Hardly less difficult to accomplish are the delicate fronds of
the young bracken, unfolding upwards by inches a day, which can only
be treated suggestively. In the original, which is on a somewhat large
scale, the middle distance is enlivened with browsing rabbits, but the
very considerable reduction of the drawing has reduced these to a size
which renders them hardly distinguishable.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

Whilst no Exhibition passes nowadays which has not one or more
representations of the "blithe populace" of daisies, the fashion has
only come in of late years. Even the Flemings, who were so partial to
the flowers of the field, seem to have considered it beneath their
notice--a strange occurrence, because one can hardly turn over the
pages of any missal of a corresponding epoch without coming upon many a
faithful representation of the rose-encircled orb.

Chaucer extolled it

    Above all the flow'res in the mead
    Then love I most these flow'res white and red,
    Such that men callen daisies in our town.

And much content it gave him

    To see this flow'r against the sunne spread.
    When it upriseth early by the morrow
    That blissful sight softeneth all my sorrow.

He recognised its name of "day's eye," because it opens and closes its
flower with the daylight, in the lines--

    The daisie or els the eye of the daie,
    The emprise and the floure of floures alle.

In fact it was a favourite with English poets long before it came under
the notice of English painters. Witness Milton's well-known line--

    Meadows trim with daisies pied.

It was not until the epoch of the pre-Raphaelite brethren that the
daisies which pie the meadows seemed worthy of perpetuation, and it was
reserved to Frederick Walker, in his "Harbour of Refuge," to limn them
on a lawn falling beneath the scythe.

The flower that Mrs. Allingham has painted with so much skill--for
it is a very difficult undertaking to suggest a mass of daisies
without too much individualising--is not, of course, the field daisy
(_bellis perennis_) but the ox-eye, or moon daisy, which is really
a chrysanthemum (_chrysanthemum leucanthemum_), a plant which seems
to have increased very much of late years, especially on railway
embankments, maybe because it has come into vogue, and actually
been advanced to a flower worthy of gathering and using as a table
decoration, an honour that would never have been bestowed on it a
quarter of a century ago.

The drawing was made from the window of the farmhouse in Kent, to
which, as we have said, Mrs. Allingham runs down at all seasons. It
was evidently made on a glorious summer day, when every flower had
expanded to its utmost under the delicious heat of a ripening sun. The
bulbous cloudlet which floats in front of the whiter strata, and the
blueness of the distant woods may augur rain in the near future, but
for the moment everything appears to be in a serenely happy condition,
except perhaps the farmer, who would fain see a crop in which there was
less flower and more grass.

[Illustration: 39. FOXGLOVES]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. C. A. Barton._

Painted 1898.

Foxgloves have appealed to Mrs. Allingham for portrayal in more than
one locality in England, but never in greater luxuriance than on
this Kentish woodside, where their spikes overtop the sweet little
sixteen-year-old faggot-carrier. It happens to be another instance of a
magnificent crop springing up the first year after a growth of saplings
have been cleared away, and not to be repeated even in this year of
grace (1903) when the newspapers have been full of descriptions of the
unwonted displays of foxgloves everywhere, and have been taunting the
gardeners upon their poor results in comparison with Nature's.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

It is perhaps a fallacy, or at least heresy, to assert that English
heather bears away the palm for beauty over that of the country with
which it is more popularly associated. But many, I am sure, will agree
with me that nowhere in Scotland is any stretch of heather to be found
which can eclipse in its magnificence of colour that which extends
for mile after mile over Surrey and Kentish commonland in mid August.
In the summer in which this drawing was painted it was especially
noticeable as being in more perfect bloom than it had been known to be
for many seasons.

[Illustration: 41. ON THE PILGRIMS' WAY]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

I was taken to task by Mrs. Allingham a while ago for saying that her
affections were not so set upon the delineation of harvesting
as were those of most landscapists, and she stated that she had painted
the sheafed fields again and again. But I held to my assertion, and
proof comes in this drawing just handed to me. Not one artist in ten
would, I am certain, have sat down to his subject on this side of the
hedge, but would have been over the stile, and made his foreground
of the shorn field and stacked sheaves, breaking their monotony of
form and colour by the waggon and its attendant labourers. But Mrs.
Allingham could not pass the harvest of the hedge, and was satisfied
with just a peep of the corn through the gap formed by the stile. It
is not surprising, for who that is fond of flowers could pass such a
gladsome sight as the display which Nature has so lavishly offered
month after month the summer through to those who cared to notice it.
In May the hedge was white with hawthorn, in June gay with dog-roses
and white briar, in July with convolvuli and woodbine, and now again in
August comes the clematis and the blackberry flower.

[Illustration: 42. NIGHT-JAR LANE, WITLEY]


_From the Drawing in the possession of Mr. E. S. Curwen._

Painted 1887.

One of those steep self-made roads which the passage of the seasons
rather than of man has furrowed and deepened in "the flow of the deep
still wood," a lodgment for the leaves from whose depths that charming
lament of the dying may well have arisen,--

    Said Fading Leaf to Fallen Leaf,
    "I toss alone on a forsaken tree,
    It rocks and cracks with every gust that rocks
    Its straining bulk: say! how is it with thee?"

    Said Fallen Leaf to Fading Leaf,
    "A heavy foot went by, an hour ago;
    Crush'd into clay, I stain the way;
    The loud wind calls me, and I cannot go."

The name "Night-Jar," by which this lane is known, is unusual, and
probably points to its having been a favourite hunting-ground for a
seldom-seen visitant, for which it seems well-fitted. The name may
well date back to White of Selborne's time, who lived not far away,
and termed the bird "a wonderful and curious creature," which it must
be if, as he records, it commences its jar, or note, every evening
so exactly at the close of day that it coincided to a second with the
report--which he could distinguish in summer--of the Portsmouth evening

Night-jars are most deceptive in their flight, one or two giving an
illusion of many by their extremely rapid movements and turns; and they
may well have been very noticeable to persons in the confined space
of this gully, especially as the observer in his evening stroll would
probably stir up the moths, which are the bird's favourite food, and
which would attract it into his immediate vicinity. How much interest
would be added to a countryside were the lanes all fitted with titles
such as this.



The ancient haunts of men have numberless tongues for those who know
how to hear them speak.

It was not until some fifteen years of Mrs. Allingham's career as
a painter in water-colour had been accomplished that she found the
subject with which her name has since been so inseparably linked.
Looking through the ranks of her associates in the Art it is in
rare instances that we encounter so complete a departure out of a
long-practised groove, or one which has been so amply justified. But
in selecting English Cottages and Homesteads, and peopling them with a
comely tenantry, she happened upon a theme that was certain not only
to obtain the suffrages of the ordinary exhibition visitors, but of
those who add to seeing, admiration and acquisition. Thus it has come
to pass that in the other fifteen years which have elapsed since she
first began to paint them, "Mrs. Allingham's Cottages" have become a
household word amongst connoisseurs of English water-colours, and no
representative collection has been deemed to be complete without an
example of them.

This appreciation is very assuredly a sound one, as the value of
these pictures does not consist solely in their beauty as works of
Art, but in their recording in line and colour a most interesting but
unfortunately vanishing phase of English domestic architecture. For the
cottages are almost without exception veritable portraits, the artist
(whilst naturally selecting those best suited to her purpose) having
felt it a duty to present them with an accuracy of structural feature
which is not always the case in creations of this kind, where the
painter has had other views, and considered that he could improve his
picture by an addition here and an omission there.

So many of Mrs. Allingham's drawings of cottages have been taken from
the counties of Surrey and Sussex, that it may interest not only
the owners of those here reproduced, but others who possess similar
subjects, to read a short description of the features that distinguish
the buildings in these districts.

One is perhaps too apt to pass these lowlier habitations of our
fellow-men, whether we see them in reality or in their counterfeits,
without a thought as to their structure, or an idea that it is an
evolution which has grown on very marked lines from primitive types,
and which in almost every instance has been influenced by local

In the early days of housebuilding the use of local materials was
naturally a distinctive feature of dwellings of every kind, but more
especially in those where expenditure had to be kept within narrow
limits. But even in such a case the style of architecture affected in
the better built houses influenced and may be traced in the more humble
ones. Change amongst our forefathers was even less hastily assumed than
in these days, and a style which experience had proved to be convenient
was persevered in for generation after generation, individuality seldom
having any play, although a necessary adaptation to the site gave to
most buildings a distinction of their own. One of the earliest forms,
and one still to be found even in buildings which have now descended
to the use of yeomen's dwellings, was that of a large central room
having on one side of it the smaller living and sleeping rooms, and on
the other the kitchens and servants' apartments, the wings projecting
sometimes both to back and front, sometimes only to the latter.
In later times, as such a house fell into less well-to-do hands,
necessity usually compelled the splitting-up of the house into various
tenements, in which event the central room was generally divided into
compartments, often into a complete dwelling. Types of this kind may be
found in most villages in the south-eastern counties, and examples will
be seen in "The Six Bells" (Plate 57) and the house at West Tarring,
near Worthing (Plate 51), where the central portion falls back from the
gabled ends. This arrangement of a central hall used for a living room,
after going out of favour for some centuries, is curiously enough once
more coming into fashion.

Local materials having, as we have said, much to do with the structure,
the type of dwelling that we may expect to find in counties where
wood was plentiful, and the cost of preparing and putting it on the
ground less than that of quarrying, shaping, and carrying stone, is the
picturesque, timber-formed cottage. Those interested in the plan of
construction, which was always simple, of these will find full details
in Mr. Guy Dawber's Introduction to _Old Cottages and Farm Houses in
Kent and Sussex_, as well as many illustrations of examples that occur
in these counties.

The materials other than wood used for the framework, and which were
necessary to fill up the interstices, were, in the better class of
dwellings, bricks; in others, a consistency formed of chopped straw and
clay, an outward symmetry of appearance being gained by a covering of
plaster where it was not deemed advisable to protect the woodwork, and
of boarding or tiles where the whole surface called for protection.
Several of the cottages illustrated in this volume have been protected
by these tilings on some part or another, perhaps only on a gable end,
most often on the upper story, sometimes over the whole building, but
of course, principally, where it was most exposed to the weather (see
Cherry-Tree Cottage, Plate 43; Chiddingfold, Plate 44; Shottermill,
Plate 49; and Valewood Farm, Plate 50). This purpose of the tile in
the old houses, and its use only for protection, distinguishes them
from the modern erections, where it is oftentimes affixed in the most
haphazard style, and clearly without any idea of fitting it where it
will be most serviceable.

The space in the interior was very irregularly apportioned, whilst the
cubic space allotted to living rooms, both on the ground and first
floors, was singularly insufficient for modern hygienic views. A
reason for the small size of the rooms may have been that it enabled
them to be more readily warmed, either by the heat given off by the
closely-packed indwellers, or by the small wood fires which alone could
be indulged in. Little use was made of the large space in the roof, but
this omission adds much to the picturesqueness of the exterior, for the
roofs gain in simplicity by their unbroken surface and treatment. It
is somewhat astonishing that the old builders did not recognise this
costly disregard of space.

The roofs, like the framework, testify to the geological formation and
agricultural conditions of the district.

The roof-tree was always of hand-hewn oak, and this it was, according
to Birket Foster, which gave to many of the old roofs their pleasant
curves away from the central chimney. The ordinary unseasoned sawn deal
of the modern roof may swag in any direction.

The roof-covering where the land was chiefly arable, or the distance
from market considerable, was usually wheaten thatch, which was
certainly the most comfortable, being warm in winter and cool in
summer, just the reverse of the tiles or slates that have practically
supplanted it.[11] In other districts the cottages are covered with
what are known as stone slates, thick and heavy. Roofs to carry the
weight of these had always to be flattened, with the result that they
require mortaring to keep out the wet. The West Tarring cottage (Plate
51) is an instance of a stone roofing.

The red tiles, which were used for the most part, are certainly the
most agreeable to the artistic eye, for their seemingly haphazard
setting, due in part to the builder and in part to nature, affords that
pleasure which always arises from an unstudied irregularity of line.
Roof tiles were made thicker and less carefully in the old days, and
our artist's truth in delineation may be detected in almost any drawing
by examining where the weight has swagged away the tiles between the
main roof beams.

Unlike chimneys erected by our cottage builders of to-day, which appear
to issue out of a single mould, those of the untutored architects of
the past present every variety of treatment and appearance.

The old solidly built chimney seen in many of Mrs. Allingham's cottages
(Chiddingfold, Plate 44) is worthy of note as a type of many sturdy
fellows which have resisted the ravages of time, and have stood for
centuries almost without need of repair. In old days the chimney was
regarded not only as a special feature but as an ornament, and not as
a necessary but ugly excrescence. Although probably it only served
for one room in the house, that service was an important one, and so
materials were liberally used in its construction.

In Kent and Sussex many of the chimneys are of brick, although the
house and the base of the chimney-stack are of stone. This arose from
the stone not lending itself to thin slabs, and consequently being
altogether too cumbrous and bulky.

The windows in the old cottages were naturally small when glass was a
luxury, and became fewer in number when a tax upon light was one of
the means for carrying on the country's wars. They were usually filled
with the smallest panes, fitted into lead lattice, so that breakages
might be reduced to the smallest area. Not much of this remains, but a
specimen of it is to be seen in the Old Buckinghamshire House (Plate
52). One of the few alterations that Mrs. Allingham allows herself is
the substitution of these diamond lattices throughout a house where she
finds a single example in any of the lights, or if, as she has on more
than one occasion found, that they have been replaced by others, and
are themselves stacked up as rubbish. She has in her studio some that
have been served in this way, and which have now become useful models.

It would be imagined that the sense of pride in these, the last traces
of their village ancestors, would have prompted their descendants,
whether of the same kin or not, to deal reverently with them, and
endeavour to hand on as long as possible these silent witnesses to
the honest workmanship of their forbears. Such, unfortunately, is
but seldom the case. If any one will visit Witley with this book in
his hand, and compare the present state of the few examples given
there, not twenty years after they were painted, he will see what is
taking place not only in this little village but through the length
and breadth of England. It is not always wilful on the part of the
landlord, but arises from either his lack of sympathy, time, or

He probably has a sense of his duty to "keep up" things, and so sends
his agent to go round with an architect and settle a general plan
for doing up the old places (usually described as "tumbling down" or
"falling to pieces"). Thereupon a village builder makes an estimate
and sends in a scratch pack of masons and joiners, and between them
they often supplant fine old work, most of it as firm as a rock,
with poor materials and careless labour, and rub out a piece of old
England, irrecoverable henceforth by all the genius in the world and
all the money in the bank. The drainage and water supply, points where
improvement is often desirable, may be left unattended to. But whatever
else is decided on, no uneven tiled roofs, with moss and houseleek,
must remain; no thatch on any pretence, nor ivy on the wall, nor vine
along the eaves. The cherry or apple tree, that pushed its blossoms
almost into a lattice, will probably be cut down, and the wild rose and
honeysuckle hedge be replaced by a row of pales or wires. The leaden
lattice itself and all its fellows, however perfect, must inevitably
give place to a set of mean little square windows of unseasoned wood,
though perhaps on the very next property an architect is building
imitation old cottages with lattices! With the needful small repairs,
most of the real old cottages would have lasted for many generations
to come, to the satisfaction of their inhabitants and the delight of
all who can feel the charm of beauty combined with ancientness--a
charm once lost, lost for ever. And unquestionably the well-repaired
old cottages would generally be more comfortable than the new or the
done-up ones, to say nothing of the "sentiment" of the cottager.
An old man, who was in a temporary lodging during the doing-up of
his cottage, being asked, "When shall you get back to your house?"
answered, "In about a month, they tells me; but it won't be like going
home." At the same time it is fair to add that many of the "doings-up"
in Mrs. Allingham's country are of good intention and less ruthless
execution than may be seen elsewhere, and that certain owners show a
real feeling of wise conservatism. It would perhaps be a low estimate,
however, to say that a thousand ancient cottages are now disappearing
in England every twelvemonth, without trace or record left--many that
Shakespeare might have seen, some Chaucer; while the number "done up"
is beyond computation.

The baronial halls have had abundant recognition and laudation at the
hands of the historian and the painter; the numerous manor-houses, less
pretentious, often more lovely, very little; the old cottages next
to none, even the local chronicler running his spectacles over them
without a pause.

It really looks as if we were, one and all, constituted as a poet has
seen us:--

    For, don't you mark, we're made so that we love
    First when we see them painted, things we have passed
    Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
    And so they are better, painted--better to us,
    Which is the same thing. Art was given for that--
    God uses us to help each other so,
    Lending our minds out.

Had Mrs. Allingham done nothing else for her country, she has justified
her career as a recorder of this altogether overlooked phase of
English architecture--a phase which will soon be a thing of the past.

I remember once being accosted by a bystander in Angers, as I was
wrestling with the perspective of a beautiful old house, with the
remark, "Ah, you had better hurry more than you are doing and finish
the roof of that house, for it will be off to-morrow and the whole
down in three days." That has often been the case with Mrs. Allingham.
More than once a cottage limned one summer has disappeared before the
drawing was exhibited the following spring. Year in and year out the
process has been at work during the quarter of a century during which
the artist has been garnering, and it has almost come to be a joke that
were she to paint as long again as she has, she might have to cease
from actual lack of material.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our illustrations of cottages divide themselves into, first the
examples in the immediate neighbourhood of Sandhills; and secondly,
those farther afield in Kent, Buckingham, Dorset, the Isle of Wight,
and Cheshire.

Those near Sandhills form points in the circumference of a
circle of which it is the centre, the most southern being Chiddingfold,
where we start on our survey.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Lord Chief Justice of

Painted 1885.

The old hamlet of Chiddingfold lies about as far to the south as Witley
does to the north of the station on the London and South-Western
Railway which bears their joint names. It boasts of a very ancient
inn, "The Crown,"--formed, it is said, in part out of a monastic
building,--and a large village green. Cherry-Tree Cottage is, as will
be seen, the milk shop of the place, and, if we may judge from the
coming and going in Mrs. Allingham's picture, carries on an animated,
prosperous trade at certain times of the day.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. H. L. Florence._

Painted 1889.

We have here a March day, or rather one of the type associated with
that month, but which usually visits us with increasing severity as
April and May and the summer progress. Wind in the east, with the sky
a cold, steely blue in the zenith, greying even the young elm shoots a
stone's-throw distant. The cottage almanack, Old Moore's, will foretell
that night frosts will prevail, and the cottager will be fearsome of
its effect upon his apple crop, always so promising in its blossom,
so scanty in its fulfilment. Splendid weather for the full-blooded
lassies, who can tarry to gossip without fear of chills, and also for
drying clothes on the hedgerow, but nipping for the old beldame who
tends them, and who has to wrap up against it with shawl and cap.

    Laburnum, rich
    In streaming gold,

competes in colour with the spikes of the broom, which the artist must
have been thankful to the hedgecutter for sparing as he passed his
shears along its surface when last he trimmed it. For some reason the
broom bears an ill repute hereabouts as bringing bad luck, although
in early times it was put to a desirable use, as Gerard tells us that
"that worthy Prince of famous memory, Henry VIII. of England, was wont
to drink the distilled water of Broome floures." Wordsworth also
gives it[12] a special word in his lines--

                  Am I not
    In truth a favour'd plant?
    On me such bounty summer showers,
    That I am cover'd o'er with flowers;
      And when the frost is in the sky,
    My branches are so fresh and gay,
    That you might look on me and say--
      "This plant can never die."

The cottage contains a typical example of the massive central chimney,
and also an end one, which it is unusual to find in company with the
other in so small a dwelling. Note also the weather tiling round the
gable end and the upper story.

[Illustration: 45. A COTTAGE AT HAMBLEDON]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. F. Pennington._

Painted 1888.

For those who read between the lines there are plenty of pretty
allegories connected with these drawings. This, for instance, might
well be termed "Youth and Age." The venerable cottage in its declining
years, so appropriately set in a framework of autumn tints and
flowers, supported on its colder side by the tendrils of ivy, almost of
its own age, but on its warmer side maturing a fruitful vine, emblem
of the mother and child which gather at the gate, and of the brood of
fowls which busily search the wayside.

[Illustration: 46. IN WORMLEY WOOD]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Le Poer Trench._

Painted 1886.

Half a century ago most of the old dwellings on the Surrey border were
thatched with good wheaten straw from the Weald of Sussex, but thatch
will soon be a thing of the past, partly for the reason that there
are no thatchers (or "thackers" as they are called in local midland
dialect) left, principally because the straw, of which they consumed
a good deal, and which used to be a cheap commodity and not very
realisable, in villages whose access to market was difficult, now finds
a ready sale. Locomotion has also enabled slates to be conveyed from
hundreds of miles away, and placed on the ground at a less rate than

Thus the old order changeth, and without any regard to the comfort of
the tenant, whose roof, as I have already said, instead of consisting
of a covering which was warm in winter and cool in summer, is now one
which is practically the reverse. Strawen roofs are easy of repair or
renewal, and look very trim and cosy when kept in condition.

At the time when this drawing was painted this cottage, lying snugly in
the recesses of Wormley Wood (whose pines always attract the attention
as the train passes them just before Witley station is reached), was
the last specimen of thatch in the neighbourhood, and it only continued
so to be through the intervention of a well-known artist who lived not
far off. That artist is dead, and probably in the score of years which
have since elapsed the thatch has gone the way of the rest, and the
harmony of yellowish greys which existed between it and its background
have given way to a gaudy contrast of unweathered red tiles or cold
unsympathetic blue slates.

The cottage itself may well date back to Tudor times, and the
sweetwilliams, pansies, and lavender which border the path leading
to it may be the descendants of far-away progenitors, culled by a
long-forgotten labourer in his master's "nosegay garden," which at
that time was a luxury of the well-to-do only.

Many of the flowers found in this plot of ground were in early days
conserved in the gardens of the simple folk rather for their medicinal
use than their decorative qualities. Such was certainly the case with
lavender. "The floures of lavender do cure the beating of the harte,"
says one contemporary herbal; and another written in Commonwealth times
says, "They are very pleasing and delightful to the brain, which is
much refreshed with their sweetness." It was always found in the garden
of women who pretended to good housewifery, not only because the heads
of the flowers were used for "nosegays and posies," but for putting
into "linen and apparel."



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Marcus Huish._

Painted 1887.

Those who are ingenious enough to see the inspiration of another hand
in every work that an artist produces would probably raise an outcry
against anybody infringing the copyright which they consider that
Collins secured more than half a century ago for the children swinging
on a gate in his "Happy as a King." But who that examines with any
interest or care the figures in this water-colour could for a moment
believe that Mrs. Allingham had ever had Collins even unconsciously
in her mind when she put in these happy little mortals as adjuncts to
her landscape. Having enjoyed at ages such as theirs a swing on many a
gate, one can testify that these children must have been seen, studied,
and put in from the life and on the spot. See how the elder girl leans
over the gate, with perfect self-assurance, directing the boy as to
how far back the gate may go; how the younger one has to climb a rung
higher than her sister in order to obtain the necessary purchase with
her arms, and even then she can only do so with a strain and with a
certain nervousness as to the result of the jar when the gate reaches
the post on its return. Again, some one has to do the swinging, and
Mrs. Allingham has given the proper touch of gallantry by making the
second in age of the party, a boy, the first to undertake this part of
the business. The excitement of the moment has communicated itself to
the youngest of the family, who raises his stick to cheer as the gate
swings to. Although painted within thirty miles of London, the age of
cheap rickety perambulators had not reached the countryside when this
drawing was made nearly twenty years ago, and so we see the youngest in
a sturdy, hand-made go-cart.

The country folk who passed the artist when she was making this
drawing wondered doubtless at her selection of a point of sight where
practically nothing but roof and wall of the building were visible,
when a few steps farther on its front door and windows might have made
a picture; but the charm of the drawing exists in this simplicity
of subject, the greatest pleasure being procurable from the least
important features, such, for instance, as the lichen-covered and
leek-topped wall, and the untended, buttercup-flecked bank on which it
stands. The locality of the drawing is Brook Lane, near Witley, and
the drawing was an almost exact portrait of the cottage as it stood in
1886, but since then it has been modernised like the majority of its
fellows, and though the oak-timbered walls, tiled roof, and massive
chimney still stand, the old curves of the roof-tree have gone, and
American windows have replaced the old lattices. The other side of
the house, as it then appeared, has been preserved to us in the next

[Illustration: 48. THE BASKET WOMAN]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Backhouse._

Painted 1887.

The art critic of _The Times_, in speaking of the Exhibition where this
drawing was exhibited, singled it out as "taking rank amongst the very
best of Mrs. Allingham's work, and the very model of what an English
water-colour should be, with its woodside cottage, its tangled hedges,
its background of sombre fir trees, and figures of the girl with
basket, and of the cottagers to whom she is offering her wares, showing
as it does intense love for our beautiful south country landscape, with
the power of seizing its most picturesque aspects with truth of eye and
delicacy of hand."

To my mind the most remarkable feature of the drawing is the way in
which the long stretch of hedge has been managed. In most hands it
would either be a monotonous and uninteresting feature or an absolute
failure, for the difficulty of lending variety of surface and texture
to so large a mass is only known to those who have attempted it; it
could only be effected by painting it entirely from nature and on the
spot, as was the case here. Many would have been tempted to break it
up by varieties of garden blooms, but Mrs. Allingham has only relieved
it by a stray spray or two of wild honeysuckle, which never flowers in
masses, and a few white convolvuli.

That we are not far removed from the small hop district which is to
be found west and northward of this part is evidenced by the hops
which the old woman was in course of plucking from the pole when her
attention was arrested by the wandering pedlar. This and the apples
ripening on the straggling apple tree show the season to be early
autumn, whereas the elder bush in the companion drawing puts its season
as June.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. W. D. Houghton._

Painted 1891.

Each of three counties may practically claim this cottage for one of
its types, for it lies absolutely at the junction of Surrey, Sussex,
and Hampshire.

For a single tenement it is particularly roomy, and a comfortable
one to boot, for its screen of tiles is carried so low down.

It was a curious mood of the artist's to sit down square in front of it
and paint its paling paralleling across the picture, a somewhat daring
stroke of composition to carry on the line of white tiling with one of
white clothes. The sky displays an unusual departure from the artist's
custom, as the whole length of it is banked up with banks of cumuli.

The figures and the empty basket point to a little domestic episode.
Boy and girl have been sent on an errand, but have not got beyond the
farther side of the gate before they betake themselves to a loll on
the grass, which has lengthened out to such an extent that the old
grand-dame comes to the cottage door to look for their return, little
witting that they are quietly crouched within a few feet of her, hidden
behind the paling, over which lavender, sweet-pea, roses, peonies, and
hollyhocks nod at them. They are even less conscious of wrong-doing and
of impending scoldings than the cat, which sneaks homewards after a
lengthened absence on a poaching expedition.

[Illustration: 50. VALEWOOD FARM]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1903.

Valewood is over the ridge which protects Haslemere on the south, and
is a very pretty vale of sloping meadows fringed with wood, all under
the shadow of Blackdown, to which it belongs. This is distinguished
from most houses hereabouts in boasting a stream, the headwater of
a string of ponds, whence starts the river Wey northwards on its
tortuous journey round the western slopes of Hindhead. When Mrs.
Allingham painted the house, which was inhabited by well-to-do yeomen
from Devonshire, the dairying and the milking were still conducted by
desirable hands, namely, those of milkmaids.

[Illustration: 51. AN OLD HOUSE AT WEST TARRING]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1900.

Worthing has been termed "a dull and dreary place, the only relief
to which is its suburb of West Tarring." This happening to have been
one of the "peculiars" of the Archbishops of Canterbury,
has buildings and objects of considerable antiquarian interest. The
cottages which Mrs. Allingham selected for her drawing may be classed
amongst them, for they are a type, as good as any in this volume, of
the well-built, substantial dwelling-house of our progenitors of many
centuries ago--one in which all the features that we have pointed
out are to be found. The house has in course of time clearly become
too big for its situation, and has consequently been parcelled out
into cottages; this has necessitated some alteration of the front of
the lower story, but otherwise it is an exceptionally well-preserved
specimen. Long may it remain so.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. H. W. Birks._

Painted 1899.

This is a somewhat rare instance of the artist selecting for
portraiture a house of larger dimensions than a cottage. It is a
singular trait, perhaps a womanly trait, that we never find her choice
falling upon the country gentleman's seat, although their formal
gardening and parterres of flowers must oftentimes have tempted her.
Her selection, in fact, never rises beyond the wayside tenement, which
in that before us no doubt once housed a well-to-do yeoman, but was,
when Mrs. Allingham limned it, only tenanted in part by a small farmer
and in part by a butcher. But it is planned and fashioned on the old
English lines to which we have referred, and which in the days when it
was built governed those of the dwelling of every well-to-do person.

[Illustration: 53. THE DUKE'S COTTAGE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Maurice Hill._

Painted 1896.

The trend of the trees indicates that this scene is laid where the
winds are not only strong, but blow most frequently from one particular
quarter. It is, in fact, on the coast of Dorset, at Burton, a little
seaside resort of the inhabitants of Bridport, when they want a change
from their own water-side town. The English Channel comes up to one
side of the buttercup-clad field, and was behind the artist as she sat
to paint the carrier's cottage, a man of some local celebrity, who took
the artist to task for not painting his home from a particular
point of view, saying, "I've had it painted many a time, and theyse
always took it from there." He was a man accustomed to boss the village
in a kindly but firm way, never allowing any controversy concerning
his charges, which were, however, always reasonable. Hence he had
come to be nicknamed "The Duke," and as such did not understand Mrs.
Allingham's declining at once to recommence her sketch at the spot he

The Dorsetshire cottages, for the most part, differ altogether from
their fellows in Surrey and Sussex, for their walls are made of what
would seem to be the flimsiest and clumsiest materials,--dried mud,
intermixed with straw to give it consistency, entering mainly into
their composition. Many are not far removed from the Irish cabins, of
which we see an example in Plate 78.

[Illustration: 54. THE CONDEMNED COTTAGE]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

In speaking of Duke's Cottage, I dwelt upon the poor materials of
which it and its Dorsetshire fellows were made, and this, coupled
with Mrs. Allingham presenting a picture of one that is too decayed
to live in, may raise a suggestion as to their instability. But such
is not the case. The lack of substance in the material is made up by
increased thickness, and the cottage before us has stood the wear and
tear of several hundred years, and now only lacks a tenant through its
insanitary condition. A robin greeted the artist from the topmost of
the grass-grown steps, glad no doubt to see some one about the place
once more.

[Illustration: 55. ON IDE HILL]


_From the Drawing in the possession of Mr. E. W. Fordham._

Painted 1900.

Ide Hill is to be found in Kent, on the south side of the Westerham
Valley, and the old cottage is the last survival of a type, every one
of which has given place to the newly built and commonplace.[13] The
view from hereabouts is very fine--so fine, indeed, that Miss Octavia
Hill has, for some time, been endeavouring, and at last with success,
to preserve a point for the use of the public whence the best
can be seen.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. A. S. Littlejohns._

Painted 1898.

The almost invariable rule of the south, that cottages are formed out
of the local material that is nearest to hand, is clearly not practised
farther north, to judge by this example of a typical Cheshire cottage.

Stone is apparently so ready to hand that not only is the roadway paved
with it, but even the approach to the cottage, whilst the large blocks
seen elsewhere in the picture show that it is not limited in size. Yet
the only portion of the building that is constructed of stone, so far
as we can see, is the lean-to shed.

The cottage itself differs in many respects from those we have been
used to in Surrey and Sussex. The roof is utilised, in fact the level
of the first floor is on a line almost with its eaves, and a large bay
window in the centre, and one at the end, show that it is well lighted.
Heavy barge-boards are affixed to the gables, which is by no means
always the case down south, and the wooden framework has at one time
been blackened in consonance with a custom prevalent in Cheshire and
Lancashire, but which is probably only of comparatively recent date;
for gas-tar, which is used, was not invented a hundred years ago, and
there seems no sense in a preservative for oak beams which usually are
almost too hard to drive a nail into. The fashion is probably due to
the substitution of unseasoned timber for oak.

[Illustration: 57. THE SIX BELLS]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. G. Wills._

Painted 1892.

This beautiful old specimen of a timbered house was discovered by
Mrs. Allingham by accident when staying with some artistic friends at
Bearsted, in Kent, who were unaware of its existence. Although the
weather was very cold and the season late, she lost no time in painting
it, as its inmates said that it would be pulled down directly its
owner, an old lady of ninety-two, who was very ill, died. Having spent
a long day absorbed in putting down on paper its intricate details, she
went into the house for a little warmth and a cup of tea, only
to find a single fire, by which sat a labourer with his pot of warmed
ale on the hob. Asking whether she could not go to some other fire, she
was assured that nowhere else in the house could one be lit, as water
lay below all the floors, and a fire caused this to evaporate and fill
the rooms with steam.

As we have said, Mrs. Allingham alters her compositions as little as
possible when painting from Nature, but in this case she has omitted
a church tower that stood just to the right of the inn, and added the
tall trees behind it. The omission was due to a feeling that the house
itself was the point, and a quite sufficient point of interest, that
would only be lessened by a competing one. The addition of the trees
was made in order to give value to the grey of the house-side, which
would have been considerably diminished by a broad expanse of sky.

[Illustration: 58. A KENTISH FARMYARD]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Arthur R. Moro._

Painted 1900.

Farmyards are out of fashion nowadays, and a Royal Water-Colour
Society's Exhibition, which in the days of Prout and William Hunt
probably contained a dozen of them, will now find place for a single
example only from the hand of Mr. Wilmot Pilsbury, who alone faithfully
records for us the range of straw-thatched buildings sheltering an
array of picturesque waggons and obsolete farming implements. But this
"stead" is just opposite to the farm in which Mrs. Allingham stays, and
it has often attracted her on damp days by its looking like "a blaze
of raw sienna." We can understand the tiled expanse of steep-pitched,
moss-covered roof affording her some of that material on which her
heart delights, and which she has felt it a duty to hand down to
posterity before it gives place to some corrugated iron structure which
must, ere long, supplant this old timber-built barn.

What was originally a study has been transformed by her, through the
human incidents, into a picture: the milkmaid carrying the laden
pail from the byre; the cock on the dunghill, seemingly amazed that
his wives are too busily engaged on its contents to admire him; the
lily-white ducks waddling to the pool to indulge in a drink, the gusto
of which seems to increase in proportion to the questionableness of its



One is nearer God's heart in a garden Than anywhere else on earth.

The practice of painting gardens is almost as modern as that of
painting by ladies. The Flemings of the fifteenth century, it is true,
introduced in a delightful fashion conventional borders of flowers
into some of their pictures, probably because they felt that ornament
must be presented from end to end of them, and that in no way could
they do this better than by adding the gaiety of flowers to their
foregrounds. But all through the later dreary days no one touched the
garden, for the conglomeration of flowers in the pieces of the Dutchmen
of the seventeenth century cannot be treated as such. Flowers certainly
flourished in the gardens of the well-to-do in England in the century
between 1750 and 1850, but none of the limners of the drawings of
noblemen or of gentlemen's seats which were produced in such quantities
during that period ever condescended to introduce them. Even so
late as fifty years ago, if we may judge from the titles, the Royal
Academy Exhibition of that date did not contain a single specimen of
a flower-garden. The only probable one is a picture entitled "Cottage
Roses," and any remotely connected with the garden appear under such
headings as "Early Tulips," "Geraniums," "Japonicas and Orchids," "Will
you have this pretty rose, Mamma?" or "The Last Currants of Summer"!
Taste only half a century ago was different from ours, and asked for
other provender. Thus, the original owner of the catalogue from which
these statistics were taken was an energetic amateur critic, who has
commended, or otherwise, almost every picture, commendations being
signified by crosses and disapproval by noughts. The only work with
five crosses is one illustrating the line, "Now stood Eliza on the
wood-crown'd height." On the other hand, Millais' "Peace Concluded"
stands at the head of the bad marks with five, his "Blind Girl" with
two, which number is shared with Leighton's "Triumph of Music." Holman
Hunt's "Scapegoat," in addition to four bad marks, is described as
"detestable and profane." These pre-Raphaelites, Millais, Holman
Hunt, and their followers, then so little esteemed, may in truth be
said to have been the originators of the "garden-drawing cult," chief
amongst their followers being Frederick Walker. To the example of the
last-named more especially are due the productions of the numerous
artists--good, bad, and indifferent--who have seized upon a delightful
subject and almost nauseated the public with their productions. The
omission of gardens from the painter's _rôle_ in later times may in
a measure have been due to the gardens themselves, or, to speak more
correctly, to those under whose charge they were maintained. The ideal
of a garden to the true artist must always have differed from these as
to its ordering, even in these very recent days when the edict has gone
forth that Nature is to be allowed a hand in the planning.

The gardener, no matter whether the surroundings favour a formal
garden or not, insists upon his harmonies or contrasts of brilliant
colourings. If he takes these from a manual on gardening he will adopt
what is termed a procession of colouring somewhat as follows: strong
blues, pale yellow, pink, crimson, strong scarlet, orange, and bright
yellow. He is told that his colours are to be placed with careful
deliberation and forethought, as a painter employs them in his picture,
and not dropped down as he has them on his palette! Alfred Parsons and
George Elgood have on occasions grappled with creations such as these,
when placed in settings of yew-trimmed hedges, or as surroundings of a
central statue, or sundial; but who will say that the results have been
as successful as those where formality has been merely a suggestion,
and Nature has had her say and her way. Surroundings must, of course,
play a prominent part in any garden scheme. However much we may
dislike a stiff formality, it is sometimes a necessity. For instance,
herbaceous plants, with annuals of mixed colours, would have looked out
of place on the lawn in front of Brocket Hall (Plate 65), which calls
for a mass of plants of uniform colours. The lie of the ground, too,
must, as in such a case, be taken into account: there it is a sloping
descent facing towards the sun, and so is not easy to keep in a moist
condition. Geraniums and calceolarias, which stand such conditions, are
therefore almost a necessity.

When this book was proposed to Mrs. Allingham her chief objection
was her certainty that no process could reproduce her drawings
satisfactorily. Her method of work was, she believed, entirely opposed
to mechanical reproduction, for she employed not only every formula
used by her fellow water-colourists, but many that others would not
venture upon. Amongst those she tabulated was her system of obtaining
effects by rubbing, scrubbing, and scratching. But the process was not
to be denied, and she was fain to admit that even in these it has been
a wonderfully faithful reproducer. Now nowhere are these methods of
Mrs. Allingham's more utilised, and with greater effect, than in her
drawings of flower-gardens. The system of painting flowers in masses
has undergone great changes of late. The plan adopted a generation or
so ago was first to draw and paint the flowers and then the foliage.
This method left the flowers isolated objects and the foliage without
substantiality. Mrs. Allingham's method is the reverse of this. Take,
for instance, the white clove pinks in the foreground of Mrs. Combe's
drawing of the kitchen-garden at Farringford (Plate 71). These are
so admirably done that their perfume almost scents the room. They
have been simply carved out of a background of walk and grey-green
spikes, and left as white paper, all their drawing and modelling
being achieved by a dexterous use of the knife and a wetted and rubbed
surface. The poppies, roses, columbines, and stocks have all been
created in the same way. The advantage is seen at once. There are no
badly pencilled outlines, and the blooms blend amongst themselves and
grow naturally out of their foliage.

[Illustration: 59. STUDY OF A ROSE BUSH]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted about 1887.

A very interesting series of studies of various kinds might have been
included in this volume, which would have shown the thoroughness
with which our artist works, and it was with much reluctance that we
discarded all but two, in the interests of the larger number of our
readers, who might have thought them better fitted for a manual of
instruction. The Gloire de Dijon rose, however, is such a prime old
favourite, begotten before the days of scentless specimens to which
are appended the ill-sounding names of fashionable patrons of the
rose-grower, that we could not keep our hands off it when we came
across it in the artist's portfolio.

This rose tree, or one of its fellows, will be seen in the background
of two of the drawings of Mrs. Allingham's garden at Sandhills, namely,
Plates 61 and 64.

[Illustration: 60. WALLFLOWERS]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. F. G. Debenham._

Painted about 1893.

Of the denizens of the garden there is perhaps none which appeals to
a countryman who has drifted into the city so much as the wallflower.
His senses both of sight and smell have probably grown up under its
influence, and it carries him back to the home of his childhood, for it
is of never-to-be-forgotten sweetness both in colour and in scent, and
it conjures up old days when the rare warmth of an April sun extracted
its perfume until all the air in its neighbourhood was redolent of it.

If my reader be a west countryman, like the author, he may best know it
as the gilliflower, but he will do so erroneously, for the name rightly
applies to the carnation, and was so used even in Chaucer's time--

    Many a clove gilofre
    To put in ale;

and again in Culpepper--

    The great clove carnation Gillo-Floure.

But as a "rose by any other name would smell as sweet," every true
flower-lover cherishes his wallflower, which returns to him so
bountifully the slightest attention, which accepts the humblest
position, which thrives on the scantiest fare, which is amongst the
first to welcome us in the spring, and, with its scantier second bloom,
amongst the last to bid adieu in the autumn, sometimes even striving to
gladden us with its blossom year in and year out if winter's cold be
not too stark.

Old names give place to new, and in nurserymen's catalogues we search
in vain for its pleasant-sounding title, and fail to distinguish either
its reproduction in black and white, or its designation under that of

[Illustration: 61. MINNA]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Lord Chief Justice of

Painted about 1886.

This, and the drawing of a "Summer Garden" (Plate 64), are taken almost
from the same spot in Mrs. Allingham's garden at Sandhills.
Both are simple studies of flowers without any more elaborate effort
at arrangement or composition than that which gives to each a purposed
scheme of colour--a scheme, however, that is, with set purpose, hidden
away, so that the flowers may look as if they grew, as they appear
to do, by chance. The flowers, too, are old-fashioned inhabitants:
pansies, sea-pinks, marigolds, sweetwilliams, snap-dragons,
eschscholtzias, and flags, with a background of rose bushes; all of
them (with the exception, perhaps, of the flag) flowers such as Spenser
might have had in his eye when he penned the lines--

    No daintie flowre or herbe that growes on grownd,
    No arborett with painted blossomes drest
    And smelling sweete, but there it might be fownd
    To bud out faire, and throwe her sweete smels al arownd.

[Illustration: 62. A KENTISH GARDEN]


_From the Drawing in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1903.

This scene may well be compared with that of Tennyson's garden at
Aldworth, reproduced in Plate 74, as it illustrates even more
appositely than does that, the lines in "Roses on the Terrace"
concerning the contrast between the pink of the flower and the blue
of the distance. But here the interval between the colours is not the
exaggerated fifty miles of the poem, but one insufficient to dim the
shapes of the trees on the opposite side of the valley. Of all the
gardens here illustrated none offers a greater wealth of colour than
this Kentish garden, situated as it is with an aspect which makes it a
veritable sun-trap.

[Illustration: 63. CUTTING CABBAGES]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. E. W. Fordham._

Painted about 1884.

The cabbage is probably to most people the most uninteresting tenant of
the kitchen-garden, and yet its presence there was probably the motive
which set Mrs. Allingham to work to make this drawing, for it is clear
that in the first instance it was conceived as a study of the varied
and delicate mother-of-pearl hues which each presented to an artistic
eye. As a piece of painting it is extremely meritorious through its
being absolutely straight-forward drawing and brush work,
the high lights being left, and not obtained by the usual method of
cutting, scraping, or body colour. The buxom mother of a growing family
selecting the best plant for their dinner is just the personal note
which distinguishes each and every one of our illustrations.

[Illustration: 64. IN A SUMMER GARDEN]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. William Newall._

Painted about 1887.

I cannot refrain from drawing attention to this reproduction as one
of the wonders of the "three colour process." If my readers could see
the three colours which produce the result when superimposed, first
the yellow, then the red, and lastly the blue--aniline hues of the
most forbidding character--they would indeed deem it incredible that
any resemblance to the original could be possible. It certainly passes
the comprehension of the uninitiated how the differing delicacies of
the violet hues of the flowers to the left could be obtained from
a partnership which produced the blue black of the flowers in the
foreground, the light pinks of the Shirley poppies, and the rich
reds of the sweetwilliams. Again, what a marvel must the photographic
process be which refuses to recognise the snow-white campanula, and
leaves it to be defined by the untouched paper, and yet records
the faint pink flush which has been breathed upon the edges of the
sweetwilliam. It is indeed a tribute to the inventive genius of the
present day, genius which will probably enable the "press the button
and we do the rest photographer" before many days are past to reel off
in colour what he now can only accomplish in monochrome.

[Illustration: 65. BY THE TERRACE, BROCKET HALL]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Lord Mount-Stephen._

Painted 1900.

Portraiture of time-worn cottages where Nature has its way, and
cottars' gardens where flowers come and go at their own sweet will, is
a very different thing from portraiture of a well-kept house, where the
bricklayer and the mason are requisitioned when the slightest decay
shows itself, and of gardens where formal ribbon borders are laid out
by so-called landscape gardeners, whose taste always leans to
bright colours not always massed in the happiest way. In portraits of
houses license is hardly permissible even for artistic effects, for not
only may associations be connected with every slope and turn of a path,
but the artist always has before him the possibility that the drawing
will be hung in close proximity to the scene, for comparison by persons
who may not always be charitably disposed to artistic alterations. It
speaks well, therefore, for Mrs. Allingham in the drawing of the garden
at Brocket that she has produced a drawing which, without offending
the conventions, is still a picture harmonious in colour, and probably
very satisfying to the owner. There are few who would have cared to
essay the very difficult drawing of cedars, and have accomplished it
so well, or have laboured with so much care over the plain-faced house
and windows. As to these latter she has been happy in assisting the
sunlight in the picture by the drawn-down blinds at the angles which
the sun reaches. The scene has clearly been pictured in the full blaze
of summer.

Brocket Hall is a mansion some three miles north of Hatfield,
Hertfordshire, and a short distance off the Great North Road. It is one
of a string of seats hereabouts which belong to Earl Cowper, but has
been tenanted by Lord Mount-Stephen for some years. The house, which,
as will be seen, has not much architectural pretensions, was built in
the eighteenth century, but it is, to cite an old chronicle, "situate
on a dry hill in a fair park well wooded and greatly timbered" through
which the river Lea winds picturesquely. It is notable as having
been the residence of two Prime Ministers, Lord Melbourne and Lord
Palmerston. The drawing of "The Hawthorn Valley" (Plate 37) is taken
from a part of the park.

[Illustration: 66. THE SOUTH BORDER]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

This is one of the borders designed on the graduated doctrine as
practised by Miss Jekyll in her garden at Munstead near Godalming. Here
we have the colours starting at the far end in grey leaves, whites,
blues, pinks, and pale yellows, towards a gorgeous centre of reds,
oranges, and scarlets, the whites being formed of yuccas, the
pinks of hollyhocks, the reds and yellows of gladioli, nasturtiums,
African marigolds, herbaceous sunflowers, dahlias, and geraniums.
Another part of the scheme is seen in the drawing which follows.

[Illustration: 67. THE SOUTH BORDER]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of W. Edwards, Jun._

Painted 1900.

A further illustration of the same border in Miss Jekyll's garden,
but painted a year or two earlier, and representing it at its farther
end, where cool colours are coming into the scheme. The orange-red
flowers hanging over the wall are those of the _Bignonia grandiflora_;
the bushes on either side of the archway with white flowers are
choisyas, and the adjoining ones are red and yellow dahlias, flanked by
tritonias (red-hot pokers); the oranges in front are African marigolds
(hardly reproduced sufficiently brightly), with white marguerites; the
grey-leaved plant to the left is the _Cineraria maritima_. Miss Jekyll
does not entirely keep to her arrangement of masses of colour; whilst,
as an artist, she affects rich masses of colour, she is not above
experimenting by breaking in varieties.

[Illustration: 68. STUDY OF LEEKS]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1902.

    I like the leeke above all herbes and flowers,
    When first we wore the same the field was ours.
    The Leeke is White and Greene, whereby is ment
    That Britaines are both stout and eminent;
    Next to the Lion and the Unicorn,
    The Leeke's the fairest emblym that is worne.

When Mrs. Allingham in wandering round a garden came upon this bed of
flowering leeks, and, "singularly moved to love the lovely that are
not beloved," at once sat down to paint it in preference to a more
ambitious display in the front garden that was at her service, her
friends probably considered her artistic perception to be peculiar,
and some there may be who will deem the honour given to it by
introduction into these pages to be more than its worth. But it has
more than one claim to recognition here, for it is unusual in subject,
delicate in its violet tints, not unbecoming in form, and is here
disassociated from the disagreeable odour which usually accompanies the

[Illustration: 69. THE APPLE ORCHARD]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Dobson._

Painted about 1877.

Originally, no doubt, a study of one of those subjects which artists
like to attack, a misshapen tree presenting every imaginable contortion
of foreshortened curvature to harass and worry the draughtsman,--a
tree, specimens of which are too often to be found in old orchards
of this size, whose bearing time has long departed, and who now only
cumber the ground, and with their many fellows have had much to do with
the gradual decay of the English apple industry.



Few poets have been so fortunate in their residences as was the great
Poet Laureate of the Victorian era in the two which he for many years
called his own. Selected in the first instance for their beauty and
their seclusion, they had other advantages which fitted them admirably
to a poet's temperament.

Farringford, at the western end of the Isle of Wight, was the first to
be acquired, being purchased in 1853; it was Tennyson's home for forty
years, and the house wherein most of his best-known works were written.
At the time when it came into his hands communication with the mainland
was of the most primitive description, and the poet and his wife had
to cross the Solent in a rowing-boat. So far removed was he from
intrusion there that he could indulge in what to him were favourite
pastimes--sweeping up the leaves, mowing the grass, gravelling the
walks, and digging the beds--without interruption. Many of the visitors
which railway and steamship facilities brought to the neighbourhood in
later years felt that he set the boundary within which no foot other
than his own and that of his friends should tread at an extreme limit.
Golfers over the Needles Links--persons who, perhaps, are prone to
consider that whatever is capable of being made into a course should be
so utilised--were wont to look with covetous eyes over a portion of the
downs that would have formed a much-needed addition to their course,
but over which no ball was allowed to be played. But the pertinacity of
the crowd, in endeavouring to get a sight of the Laureate, necessitated
an inexorable rule if the retreat was to be what it was intended,
namely, a place for work and for rest.

Mrs. Tennyson thus described "her wild house amongst the pine trees":--

 The golden green of the trees, the burning splendour of Blackgang
 Chine, and the red bank of the primeval river contrasted with the
 turkis blue of the sea (that is our view from the drawing-room) make
 altogether a miracle of beauty at sunset. We are glad that Farringford
 is ours.

Although at times the weather can be cold and bleak enough in this
sheltered corner of the Isle of Wight, and

    The scream of a madden'd beach
    Dragged down by the wave

must oftentimes have "shocked the ear" in the Farringford house, the
climate is too relaxing an one for continued residence, and Tennyson's
second house, Aldworth, was well chosen as a contrast. Aubrey Vere thus
describes it:--

 It lifted England's great poet to a height from which he could gaze on
 a large portion of that English land which he loved so well, see it
 basking in its most affluent beauty, and only bound by the inviolate

The house stands at an elevation of some six hundred feet above the
sea, on the spur of Blackdown, which is the highest ground in Sussex,
on a steep side towards the Weald, just where the greensand hills break
off. It is some two miles from Haslemere, and just within the Sussex

Two of the drawings connected with these houses, which are reproduced
here, were painted before Tennyson's death, namely, in 1890.

The house at Farringford was drawn in the spring, when the lawn was
pied with daisies, and the Laureate required his heavy cloak to guard
him from the keenness of the April winds.

The kitchen-garden at Farringford, which somewhat belies its name, for
flowers encroach everywhere upon the vegetables, and the apple trees
rise amidst a parterre of blossom, was painted in its summer aspect,
when it was gay with pinks, stocks, rockets, larkspurs, delphiniums,
aubrietias, eschscholtzias, and big Oriental poppies. Tennyson visited
it almost daily to take the record of the rain-gauge and thermometer,
which can be descried in the drawing about half-way down the path.

The kitchen-garden at Aldworth opens up a very different prospect to
the banked-up background of trees at Farringford. Standing at a very
considerable elevation, it commands a magnificent view over the Weald
of Sussex. The spot is referred to in the poem "Roses on the Terrace"
in the volume entitled _Demeter_, thus--

    This red flower, which on our terrace here,
    Glows in the blue of fifty miles away;

as also in the lines--

    Green Sussex fading into blue,
    With one grey glimpse of sea.

It was this view that the dying poet longed to see once again on his
last morning when he cried, "I want the blinds up! I want to see the
sky and the light!"

The time of year when Mrs. Allingham painted it was October, and a wet
October too, for two umbrellas even could not keep her from getting wet

It is rare for Mrs. Allingham to set her flowers so near the horizon as
in this case,--in fact I only remember having seen another instance of
it,--but no doubt the same feeling that appealed to the poet's eye, and
impelled him to pen the lines we have quoted, fascinated the artist's,
namely, the beautiful appearance of the varied hues of flowers against
a background of delicate blue.

October is the saddest time of year for the garden, but a basket full
of gleanings at that time is more cherished than one in the full
heyday of its magnificence. Here the apple tree has already shed most
of its leaves, the hollyhock stems are baring, and autumnal flowers,
in which yellow so much predominates, as, for instance, the great
marigold, the herbaceous sunflower, and the calliopsis, are much in
evidence. Nasturtiums and every free-growing creeper have long ere this
trailed their stems over the box edging, and made an untidiness which
forebodes their early destruction at the hands of the gardener. Of
sweet-scented flowers only a few peas and mignonette remain.

Mr. Allingham knew the Poet Laureate for many years, having at one time
lived at Lymington, which is the port of departure for the western end
of the Isle of Wight, and whence he often crossed to Farringford. The
artist's first meeting with Tennyson was soon after her marriage. He
and his son Hallam had come up to town, and had walked over from Mr.
James Knowles's house at Clapham, where they were staying, to Chelsea.
He invited Mrs. Allingham to Aldworth, an invitation which was accepted
shortly afterwards. The poet was very proud of the country which framed
his house, and during this visit he took her his special walks to
Blackdown, to Fir Tree Corner (whence there is a wide view over the
Weald towards the sea), and to a great favourite of his, the Foxes'
Hole, a lovely valley beyond his own grounds. Whilst on this last-named
ramble he suddenly turned round and chided the artist for "chattering
instead of looking at the view." During this visit he read to her a
part of his _Harold_, and the wonder of his voice and whole manner of
reading or chanting she will never forget.

When the Allinghams came to live at Witley they were able to get to and
from Aldworth in an afternoon, and so were frequent visitors there. One
day in the autumn of 1881 Mrs. Allingham went over alone, owing to her
husband's absence, and after lunch the poet walked with her to Foxes'
Hole, where they sat on bundles of peasticks, she painting an old
cottage since pulled down, and he watching her. After a time he said
slowly, "I should like to do that. It does not look very difficult."
Years later he showed her some water-colour drawings he had made,
from imagination, of Mount Ida clad in dark fir groves, which were
undoubtedly very clever in their suggestiveness.

Lord Tennyson's Isle of Wight home Mrs. Allingham did not see until
after she returned to live in London, when Mr. Hallam Tennyson, in
conversing with her about her drawings, told her that if she would
come to the Isle of Wight he could show her some fine old cottages.
She accordingly went at the Easter of 1890 to Freshwater, when he was
as good as his word, and she at once began drawings of "The Dairy"
and the cottage "At Pound Green." Miss Kate Greenaway, who had come
to stay with her, also painted them. The next spring, and many springs
afterwards, Mrs. Allingham went to Freshwater, generally after the
Easter holidays.

During one of these stays she accompanied Birket Foster to Farringford,
and the poet asked the two artists to come for a walk with him. There
happened to be a boy of the party in a sailor costume with a bright
blue collar and a scarlet cap, and Birket Foster, who was at the moment
walking behind with Mrs. Allingham, said, "Why is that red and blue so
disagreeable?" Tennyson's quick ear caught something, and he turned
on them, setting his stick firmly in the ground, and asked Mr. Foster
to explain himself. "Well," Mr. Foster said, "I only know that the
effect of the contrast is to make cold water run down my spine." Mrs.
Allingham cordially agreed with Mr. Birket Foster, but Tennyson could
not feel the "cold water," although he saw their point, and said it
was doubtless with painters as with himself in poetry, namely, that
some combinations of sound gave intense pleasure, whilst others grated,
and he quoted certain lines as being so to him. On another occasion,
whilst walking with him at Freshwater, he said something which led
Mrs. Allingham to mention that she generally kept her drawings by her
for a long time, often for years, working on them now and again and
considering about figures and incidents for them,[14] upon which he
remarked that it was the same in the case of poems, and that he used
generally to keep his by him, often in print, for a considerable time
before publishing.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following drawings have been sufficiently described in the text:--

[Illustration: 70. THE HOUSE, FARRINGFORD]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. John Mackinnon._

Painted 1890.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mrs. Combe._

Painted 1894.

[Illustration: 72. THE DAIRY, FARRINGFORD]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Douglas Freshfield._

Painted 1890.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. E. Marsh Simpson._

Painted 1900.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. F. Pennington._

Painted 1891.

The next three water-colours find a place here, as having been painted
during visits to the Island.

[Illustration: 75. HOOK HILL FARM, FRESHWATER]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of Sir James Kitson, Bt., M.P._

Painted 1891.

An old farmhouse on the other side of the Yar Valley to Farringford,
but one which Tennyson often made an object for a walk. It possessed
a fine yard and old thatch-covered barn, which, however, has passed
out of existence, but not before Mrs. Allingham had perpetuated it in
water-colour. This group of buildings has been painted by the artist
from every side, and at other seasons than that represented here, when
pear, apple, and lilac trees, primroses, and daisies vie with one
another in heralding the coming spring.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. Douglas Freshfield._

Painted about 1891.

To the cottage-born child of to-day the name of the "Pound" has little
significance, but even in the writer's recollection it not only had a
fascination but a feeling almost akin to terror, being deemed, in very
truth, to be a prison for the dumb animals who generally, through no
fault of their own, were impounded there. Both it and its tenants too
were always suggestive of starvation. When (following, at some interval
of time, the village stocks) it passed out of use, the countryside, in
losing both, forgot a very cruel phase of life.

A child of to-day has, with all its education, not acquired many
amusements to replace that of teasing the tenants of the Pound on
the Green, so he never tires of pulling anything with the faintest
similitude to the cart which he will probably spend much of his later
life in driving. Here the youngster has evidently been making
stabling for his toy under a seat whose back is formed out of some
carved relic of an old sailing-ship that was probably wrecked at the
Needles, and whose remains the tide carried in to Freshwater Bay.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Sir Henry Irving._

Painted 1891.

Tramps are usually few and far between in the Isle of Wight, for the
reason that the island does not rear many, and those from the mainland
do not care to cross the Solent lest, should they be tempted to
wrong-doing, there may be a difficulty in avoiding the arm of the law
or the confines of the island. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, to
find the only flaw in our title of _Happy England_ in such a locality.
But here it is, on this spring day, when apple, and pear, and primrose
blossoms make one

                                Bless His name
    That He hath mantled the green earth with flowers.

We have the rift, making the discordant note, of want, in the person of
a woman, dragged down with the burden of four children, sending the
eldest to beg a crust at a house which cannot contain a superfluity of
the good things of this world.

A singular interest attaches to Mrs. Allingham's drawing of this
cottage. She had nearly completed it on a Saturday afternoon, and was
asked by a friend whether she would finish it next day. To this she
replied that she never sketched in public on Sunday. On Monday the
cottage was a heap of ruins, having been burnt down the previous night.



That a true artist is always individual, and that his work is always
affected by some one or other of his predecessors or contemporaries,
would appear to be a paradox: nevertheless it is a proposition that
few will dispute. Art has been practised for too long a period, and by
too many talented professors, for entirely novel views or treatments
of Nature to be possible, and whilst an artist may be entirely unaware
that he has imbibed anything from others, it is certain that if he has
had eyes to see he must have done so.

I have already stated that Mrs. Allingham's work, whether in subject or
execution, is, so far as she is aware, entirely her own, and it would,
perhaps, be quite sufficient were I to leave the matter after having
placed that assertion on record. To go farther may perhaps lay oneself
open to the charge, _qui s'excuse s'accuse_. I trust not, and that I
may be deemed to be only doing my duty if I deal at some length with
comparisons that have been made between her work and that of certain
other artists.

The two names with whose productions those of Mrs. Allingham are most
frequently linked are Frederick Walker and Birket Foster: the first in
connection with her figures, the latter with her cottage subjects.

As regards these two artists it must be remembered that both their and
her early employment lay in the same direction, namely, that of book
illustration, and therefore each started with somewhat similar methods
of execution and subject, varied only by leanings towards the style of
any work they came in contact with, or by their own individuality.

That both had much in common is well known; in fact, Mrs. Allingham
used to tell Mr. Foster that she considered him, as did others, the
father of Walker and Pinwell.

In the case of Frederick Walker, his career was at its most interesting
phase whilst Mrs. Allingham was a student. Her first visit to the Royal
Academy was probably in 1868, when his "Vagrants" was exhibited, to
be followed in 1869 by "The Old Gate," in 1870 by "The Plough," and in
1872 by "The Harbour of Refuge."

It must not be forgotten that the name of Frederick Walker was at this
time in every one's mouth, that is, every one who could be deemed to be
included in the small Art world of those days. The painter visitors to
the Academy schools sang his praises to the students, and he himself
fascinated and charmed them with his boyish and graceful presence. As
Mrs. Allingham says, everybody in the schools "adored" him and his
work, and on the opening of the Academy doors on the first Monday in
May the students rushed to his picture first of all.

To contradict a dictum of Walker's in those days was the rankest heresy
in a student. Mrs. Allingham remembers an occasion when a painter was
holding forth on the right methods of water-colour work, asserting
that the paper should be put flat down on a table, as was the custom
with the old men, and the colour should be laid on in washes and left
to dry with edges, and if Walker taught any other method he was wrong.
Mrs. Allingham and her fellow-students were furious at their hero being
possibly in fault, and asked for the opinion of an Academician. His
reply was: "And _who_ is Mr. ----, and how does _he_ paint that _he_
should lay down the law? If Walker _is_ all wrong with his methods, he
paints like an angel."

Mrs. Allingham's confession of faith is this: "I _was_ influenced,
doubtless, by his work. I adored it, but I never consciously copied
it. It revealed to me certain beauties and aspects of Nature, as du
Maurier's had done, and as North's and others have since done, and
then I saw like things for myself in Nature, and painted them, I truly
think, in my own way--not the best way, I dare say, but in the only way
_I_ could."

Those, therefore, who discover not the reflection but the inspiration
of Walker in the idyllic grace of Mrs. Allingham's figures, and in her
treatment of flowers, place her in a company which she readily accepts,
and is proud of.

But it is with Birket Foster that our artist's name has been more
intimately linked by the critics, some even going to the length of
asserting that without him there would have been no Mrs. Allingham.

Having had the pleasure of an intimacy with Birket Foster, which
extended to writing his biography (_Birket Foster: His Life and
Work_, Virtue and Co., 1890), I can emphatically assert that he never
held that opinion, but stated that she had struck out a line which
was entirely her own, and, as he generously added, "with much more
modernity in it than mine."

There are, however, so many similarities between their artistic careers
that I may be excused for dwelling on some of them, for they no doubt
unconsciously influenced not only the method of their work but the
subject of it.

Drawing in black and white on wood in each case formed the groundwork
of their education, and was only followed by colour at a subsequent

Both, having determined to support themselves, were fain to seek
out the engravers and obtain from them a livelihood. Birket Foster
at sixteen was fortunate enough to meet in Landells one who at once
recognised his capabilities, whilst Mrs. Allingham found a similar
friend in Joseph Swain. Again, book illustration was as much in vogue
in 1870 as it was in 1842; and by another coincidence both years
witnessed the birth of an illustrated weekly, for Birket Foster, in
1842, was employed upon the infant _Illustrated London News_, while
Mrs. Allingham was the only lady to whom Mr. Thomas allotted some of
the early work on the _Graphic_. Differences there were in their
opportunities, and these were not always in the lady's favour. Birket
Foster found in Landells a man who looked after his youngster's
education, and, convinced that Nature was his best mistress, sent
him to her with these instructions: "Now that work is slack in these
summer months, spend them in the fields; take your colours and copy
every detail of the scene as carefully as possible, especially trees
and foreground plants, and come up to me once a month and show me what
you have done." A splendid memory aided Foster in his studies all too
well, for he learnt to draw with such absolute fidelity every detail
that he required, that he never again required to go to Nature. That he
did so we know from his repeated visits to every part of Europe--visits
resulting in delightful work; but what the world saw was entirely
studio work, and this tended to a repetition which oftentimes marred
the entire satisfaction that one otherwise derived from his drawings.
Mrs. Allingham herself, although living close to and engaged on the
same subjects, never came across him painting out of doors, and only
once saw him note-book in hand.

Chance influenced the two careers also in another way, which might
have made any similarity between them altogether out of question. The
first commission to illustrate a book which Miss Paterson obtained
was a prose work, in which figures and household scenes entirely
predominated,--in fact, all her black-and-white work was of this homely
nature,--and for some years she had no call for the delineation of
landscape. With Foster it was not very different. It is true that his
first commission was _The Boys Spring and Summer Book_, in which he had
to draw the seasons, and to draw them afield. But this might not have
attracted him to landscape work, for his patron's next commission was
quite in another direction. I may be excused for referring to it at
length, for the little-known incident is of some interest now that the
actors in it have each achieved such world-wide reputations. Certain
of the young pre-Raphaelites, including Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and
Millais, had been entrusted with the illustration of _Evangeline_.
The result was a perfect staggerer to the publisher Bogue, who was
altogether unable to appreciate their revolutionary methods. "What
shall I do with them?" he was asked by the engraver to whom he showed
the blocks on which most elaborate designs had been most lovingly
drawn. "This," said Bogue, and wetting one of them he erased the
drawing with the sleeve of his coat, serving each in turn in the same

After this drastic treatment the _Evangeline_ commission was handed
over to Birket Foster. It can be easily imagined with what trepidation
he, knowing these facts, approached and carried out his task, and his
delight when even the _Athenæum_ could say, "A more lovely book than
this has rarely been given to the public." The success of the work
was enormous. His career was apparently henceforth marked out as an
illustrator of verse in black and white, for his popularity continued
until it was not a question of giving him commissions, but of what book
there was for him to illustrate; and he used laughingly to say that
finally there was nothing left for him but Young's _Night Thoughts_ and
Pollok's _Course of Time_.[15]

Thus we see that Birket Foster's art work was for long confined to
subjects as to which he had no voice, but which certainly influenced
his art, and it says much for his temperament that throughout it
warranted the term "poetical." In like manner it is much to Mrs.
Allingham's credit that her prosaic start did not prevent the same
quality welling up and being always in evidence in her productions.

If I have not wearied the reader I would like to point out some further
coincidences in their careers which are of interest.

Birket Foster became a water-colourist through the chance that he
could not sell his oil-paintings, which consequently cumbered his
small working-room to such an extent that one night he cut them all
from their stretchers, rolled them up, and sneaking out, dropped them
over Blackfriars Bridge into the Thames; water-colours cost less to
produce and took up less space, so he adopted them. Mrs. Allingham
abandoned oils after a year or two's work in them at the Royal Academy
Schools, because she gradually became convinced that she could express
herself better in water-colours. But she considered that it was a great
advantage to have worked, even for the short time, in the stronger
medium. It was this practice in oils that made her for some time
(until, indeed, Walker's lessons to her at the Royal Academy) use a
good deal of body-colour.

Both artists aspired to obtain the highest rank which then, as now,
is open to the water-colourist, namely, membership of The Royal
Water-Colour Society, but whilst Birket Foster only attained it in
1860, in his thirty-fifth year, and at his second attempt, Mrs.
Allingham followed him in 1875, when only twenty-six, and at her first
essay. Both promptly at once gave up a remunerative income in black and
white, and having done so, never had cause to regret their decision.

The coincidences do not end even here, for both within a year or two of
their election found themselves, the one on the invitation of Mr. Hook,
R.A., the other, twenty years later, for reasons we have mentioned,
settled near the same village, Witley, in the heart of the country
which they have since identified with their names. Here the selection
of subjects from the same neighbourhood naturally brought their work
still closer together.

Both of them have been attracted to Venice; Mr. Foster again and again,
Mrs. Allingham only within the last year or two.

Lastly, few artists have been indulged with so many smiles and so few
frowns from the public for which they have catered. Birket Foster
considered that he had been almost pampered by the critics, and
Mrs. Allingham has never had the slightest cause to complain of her
treatment at their hands.

Having dwelt at such length upon the interesting concurrences in
their careers, I now pass on to a comparison of their methods of
work; and here there are many resemblances, but these are no doubt
due to the times in which they lived. Birket Foster found himself,
when he commenced, the pupil of a school which had some merits and
more demerits. Composition and drawing were still thought of, and
before a landscape artist presumed to pose as such, he had to study
the laws which governed the former, and to thoroughly imbue himself
with a knowledge of the anatomy of what he was about to depict.
Mrs. Allingham, as I have pointed out, was also fortunate enough to
commence her tuition before the fashion of undergoing this needful
apprenticeship died out. But Birket Foster came at the end of a time
when landscape was painted in the studio rather than in the field. He
went to Nature for suggestions, which he pencilled into note-books in
the most facile and learned manner, but content with this he made
his pictures under comfortable conditions at home. The fulness of
his career, too, came at a time when Art was booming, and the demand
for his work was such that he could not keep pace with it. It is not
surprising, therefore, that in the zenith of his fame his pictures
were, in the main, studio pictures, worked out with a marvellous
facility of invention, but nevertheless just lacking that vitality
which always pervades work done in the open air and before Nature.

Mrs. Allingham's work at the outset was very similar to this. For her
subject drawings she made elaborate preliminary studies from Nature
in colour, but the drawing itself was thought and carried out in the
house. Fortunately this method soon became unpalatable to her, and she
gradually came to work more and more directly from Nature, and when, at
Witley, she found her subjects at her doors, she discontinued once and
for ever her former method. Since then she has painted every drawing
on the spot during the months that it is feasible, leaving actual
completion for some time, to enable her to view her work with a fresh
eye, and to study at leisure the final details, such, for instance, as
where the figures shall be grouped, usually posing, for this purpose,
her models in the open air in her Hampstead garden. Her figures are,
however, sometimes culled from careful studies made in note-books,
of which she has an endless supply. Fastidious to a degree as to the
completeness of a drawing, she lingers long over the finishing touches,
for it is these which she considers make or mar the whole. Every sort
of contrivance she considers to be legitimate to bring about an effect,
save that of body-colour, which she holds in abhorrence; but the
knife, a hard brush, a pointed stick, a paint rag, and a sponge are in
constant request.

Mrs. Allingham is above all things a fair-weather painter. She has no
pleasure in the storm, whether of rain or wind. Maybe this avoidance
of the discomforts inseparable from a truthful portrayal of such
conditions indicates the femininity of her nature. Doubtless it
does. But is she to blame? Her work is framed upon the pleasure that
it affords her, and it is certain that the result is none the less
satisfactory because it only numbers the sunny hours and the halcyon

I ought perhaps to have qualified the expression "sunny hours," for as
a rule she does not affect a sunshine which casts strong shadows, but
rather its condition when, through a thin veil of cloud, it suffuses
all Nature with an equable light, and allows local colour to be seen
at its best. In drawings which comprise any large amount of floral
detail, the leaves, in full sunshine, give off an amount of reflected
light that materially lessens the colour value of the flowers, and
prevents their being properly distinguished. Mr. Elgood, the painter
of flower-gardens _par excellence_, always observes this rule, not
only because the effect is so much more satisfactory on paper, but
because it is so much easier to paint under this aspect. As regards
sky treatment, both he and Mrs. Allingham, it will be noted, confine
themselves to the simplest sky effects, feeling that the main interest
lies on the ground, where the detail is amply sufficient to warrant
the accessories being kept as subservient as possible. For this reason
it is that the glories of sunrise and sunset have no place in Mrs.
Allingham's work, the hours round mid-day sufficing for her needs.

To the curiously minded concerning her palette, it may be said that
it is of the simplest character. Her paint-box is the smallest that
will hold her colours in moist cake form, of which none are used
save those which she considers to be permanent. It contains cobalt,
permanent yellow, aureolin, raw sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium, rose
madder, light red, and sepia. She now uses nothing save O.W. (old
water-colour) paper. Mrs. Allingham's method of laying on the colour
differs from that of Birket Foster, who painted wet and in small
touches. Her painting is on the dry side, letting her colours mingle on
the paper. As a small bystander once remarked concerning it, "You do
mess about a deal."

Mrs. Allingham has been a constant worker for upwards of a quarter of
a century, during which time, in addition to contributing to the Royal
Society, she has held seven Exhibitions at The Fine Art Society's, each
of them averaging some seventy numbers. She has, therefore, upon her
own calculation, put forth to the world nearly a thousand drawings. In
spite of this, they seldom appear in the sale-room, and when they do
they share with Birket Foster's work the unusual distinction of always
realising more than the artist received for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The illustrations which adorn this closing chapter have no connection
with its subject, but are not on that account altogether out of place;
for they are the only ones which are outside the title of the work,
two being from Ireland, and two from Venice, and they are associated
with two of the main incidents of the artist's life, namely, her
marriage, and her only art work abroad.

[Illustration: 78. A CABIN AT BALLYSHANNON]


_From a Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1891.

Ballyshannon is the birthplace of Mr. William Allingham, who married
Mrs. Allingham in 1874. It is situated in County Donegal, and was
described by him as "an odd, out-of-the way little town on the extreme
western verge of Europe; our next neighbours, sunset way, being
citizens of the great Republic, which indeed to our imagination seemed
little, if at all, farther off than England in the opposite direction.
Before it spreads a great ocean, behind stretches many an islanded
lake. On the south runs a wavy line of blue mountains, and on the
north, over green, rocky hills, rise peaks of a more distant range. The
trees hide in glens or cluster near the river; grey rocks and boulders
lie scattered about the windy pastures." Here Mr. Allingham was born
of the good old stock of one of Cromwell's settlers, and here he
lived until he was two-and-twenty. The drawing now reproduced was made
when Mrs. Allingham visited the place with his children after his death
in 1889. Many ruined cabins lie around; money is scarce in Donegal,
and each year the tenants become fewer, some emigrating, others who
have done so sending to their relations to join them. Better times are
indeed necessary if the country is not to become a desert.

[Illustration: 79. THE FAIRY BRIDGES]


_From the Water-colour in the possession of the Artist._

Painted 1891.

The Fairy Bridges--a series of natural arches, carved or shaken out of
the cliffs, in times long past, by the rollers of the Atlantic--are
within a walk of Ballyshannon, and were often visited by Mrs. Allingham
during her stay there. Three of them (there are five in all) are seen
in the drawing, and a quaint and mythological faith connects them with
Elfindom--a faith which every Irishman in the last generation imbibed
with his mother's milk, and which is not yet extinct in the lovely
crags and glens of Donegal.

The scene is introduced into two of Mr. Allingham's best-known songs;
in one, "The Fairies," thus--

    Up the airy mountain,
    Down the rushy glen,
    We daren't go a-hunting
    For fear of little men.
    Down along the rocky shore
    Some make their home,
    They live in crispy pancakes
    Of yellow tide foam.

The only land which separates the wind-swept Fairy Bridges from America
is the Slieve-League headland, whose wavy outline is seen in the
distance. It, too, finds a place in one of Mr. Allingham's songs, "The
Winding Banks of Erne: the Emigrant's Adieu to his Birthplace" (which
in ballad form is sung by Erin's children all the world over)--

    Farewell to you, Kildenny lads, and them that pull an oar,
    A lug-sail set, or haul a net, from the Point to Mullaghmore;
    From Killikegs to bold Slieve-League, that ocean mountain steep,
    Six hundred yards in air aloft, six hundred in the deep,
    From Dorran to the Fairy Bridge, and round by Tullen Strand,
    Level and long and white with waves, where gull and curlew stand,
    Head out to sea, when on your lee the breakers you discern!
    Adieu to all the billowy coast, and winding banks of Erne!

By a curious coincidence Mr. Allingham when here in "the eighties" sent
an "Invitation to a Painter"[16]--

    O come hither! weeks together let us watch the big Atlantic,
    Blue or purple, green or gurly, dark or shining, smooth or frantic;

but the first to come was his own wife.



_From the Water-colour in the possession of Mr. C. P. Johnson._

Painted 1901.

Mrs. Allingham, after an absence of thirty-three years, visited Italy
again in 1901, in company with a fellow-artist, and the following
year the Exhibition of the Old Water-Colour Society was rendered
additionally interesting by a comparison of her rendering of Venice
with that of a fellow lady-member, Miss Clara Montalba, to whose
individuality in dealing with it we have before referred.

The drawing of Mrs. Allingham's here reproduced shows Venice in quite
an English aspect as regards weather. It is almost a grey day; it
certainly is a fresh one, and has nothing in common with one which
induces the spending of much time about in a gondola.

In selecting the Salute for one of her principal illustrations of
Venice, Mrs. Allingham has respectfully followed in the footsteps of
England's greatest landscapist, for Turner made it the main object in
his great effort of the Grand Canal, and there are few of the craft who
have failed to limn it again and again in their story of Venice.

But whilst most people are disposed to regard it as one of the most
beautiful features of the city, the church has fallen under the ban of
those exponents of architecture that have studied it carefully.

Mr. Ruskin classified it under the heading of "Grotesque Renaissance,"
although he admitted that its position, size, and general proportions
rendered it impressive. Its proportions were good, but its graceful
effect was due to the inequality in the size of its cupolas and the
pretty grouping of the campaniles behind them. But he qualified his
praise by an opinion that the proportions of buildings have nothing
whatever to do with the style or general merits of their architecture,
for an artist trained in the worst schools, and utterly devoid of all
meaning and purpose in his work, may yet have such a natural gift
of massing or grouping as will render all his structures effective
when seen from a distance. Such a gift was very general with the late
Italian builders, so that many of the most contemptible edifices in the
country have a good stage effect so long as we do not approach them.
The Church of the Salute is much assisted by the beautiful flight of
steps in front of it down to the Canal, and its façade is rich and
beautiful of its kind. What raised the anger of Ruskin was the disguise
of the buttresses under the form of colossal scrolls, the buttresses
themselves being originally a hypocrisy, for the cupola is of timber,
and therefore needs none.

[Illustration: 81. A FRUIT STALL, VENICE]


_From the Drawing, the property of Mr. C. P. Johnson._

Painted 1902.

A lover of gardens and their produce, such as Mrs. Allingham is, could
not visit Venice without being captivated by the wealth of colour which
Nature has lavished upon the contents of the Venetian fruit stalls.
Even the most indifferent, when they get into meridional parts, cannot
be insensible to the luscious hues which the fruit baskets display.
To look out of the window of one's hotel on an Italian lake-side at
dawn and see the boats coming from all quarters of the lake laden with
the luscious tomatoes, plums, and other fruits, is not among the least
of the delights of a sojourn there. Mrs. Allingham's drawing bears
upon its face evidences that it is a literal translation of the scene.
We have none of the introduction of stage accessories in the way of
secchios and other studio belongings which find a place in most of
the Venetian output of this character. She has evidently delighted in
the mysteries of the tones of the wicker baskets, for we recognise in
them traces of the skill she achieves in England in the delineation
of similar surfaces on her tiled roofs. Her figure, too, has nothing
of the studio model in it. This black-haired girl is a new type for
her, but it is a faithful transcript of the original, and not one of
the robust beauties which one is accustomed to in the pictures of
Van Haanen and his followers. The stall itself was located somewhere
between the Campo San Stefano and the Rialto.

       *       *       *       *       *

With these illustrations of Mrs. Allingham's painting elsewhere than
in England our tale is told. We trust that this digression, which
appeared to be necessary if a complete survey of the artist's lifework
up to the present time was to be portrayed, will not be deemed to have
appreciably affected the appropriateness of the title to the volume,
nor invalidated the claim that we have made as to her work having
most felicitously represented the fairest aspects of English life and
landscape--English life, whether of peer, commoner, or peasant, passed
under its healthiest and happiest conditions, and English landscape
under spring and summer skies and dressed in its most beauteous array
of flower and foliage--an England of which we may to-day be as proud
as were those who lived when the immortal lines concerning it were

    This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise;
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war;
    This happy breed of men, this little world;
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall,
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands;
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
    This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
    This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
    Dear for reputation through the world;--
    England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
    Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
    Of watery Neptune.


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.


[1] Clayton's _English Female Artists_, 1876.

[2] In the Exhibition of 1903, 330 out of 1180, or 28 per cent, were

[3] The first female gold medallist was Miss Louisa Starr (now Madame
Canziani), and she was followed by Miss Jessie Macgregor, a niece of
Alfred Hunt.

[4] The Parish Register shows that the plague reached Chalfont later on.

[5] See _Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham_.
(London: Fisher Unwin, 1897.)

[6] _A Flat Iron for a Farthing, or some Passages in the Life of an
Only Son_, by Juliana Horatia Ewing. (George Bell and Sons.)

[7] The model was a Mrs. Stewart, who, with her husband, sat to Mrs.
Allingham for years. They were well known in art circles, and had
charge of the Hogarth Club, Fitzroy Square, when Mrs. Allingham, before
her marriage, lived in Southampton Row close by. She introduced the
models to Mr. du Maurier, who immediately engaged them, and continued
to use them for many years. "Ponsonby de Tompkins" was Stewart, run
to seed, and "Mrs. Ponsonby de Tompkins" a very good portrait of Mrs.

[8] Lord Tennyson quoted this line to Mrs. Allingham one day when,
walking with him, they passed ground covered with the fallen flowers of
the lime trees.

[9] I have been reminded by the artist that my first introduction
to her was at Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, whither I went to see the
products of this Shere visit, and that I came away with some of them in
my possession.

[10] Another tree at Hatfield also claims this distinction.

[11] See "In Wormley Wood" (Plate 46), in the description of which I
have referred to the reasons for the disappearance of thatch as a roof
material. An additional one to those there mentioned is without doubt
the risk of fire. Since the introduction of coal, chimneys clog much
more readily with soot, and a fire from one of these with its showers
of sparks may quickly set ablaze not only the cottage where this
happens, but the whole village. That the insurance companies, by their
higher premiums for thatch-covered houses, recognise a greater risk,
may or may not be proof of greater liability to conflagration, but we
certainly nowadays hear of much fewer of those disasters, which even
persons now living can remember, whereby whole villages were swept out
of existence.

[12] Do not these lines rather refer to gorse?

[13] Rightly perhaps, for the local doctor pleasantly inquired while
she was painting it, why she had selected a house that had had more
fever in it than any other in the parish.

[14] Mrs. Allingham's friends sometimes say to her, "You paint so
quickly." Her reply is, "Perhaps I make a quick beginning, but I take a
long time to finish." Which is the fact.

[15] When will the day come that editions of the books illustrated by
Birket Foster will attain to their proper value? The poets illustrated
by miserable process blocks find a sale, whilst these volumes, issued
in the middle of the last century, and containing the finest specimens
of the wood-cutting art, attract, if we may judge by the second-hand
book-sellers' catalogues, no purchasers even at a sum which is a
fraction of their original price.

[16] _Irish Songs and Poems_ (1887), p. 47.

[Transcriber's Note:

Plate images have been moved to the beginning of the text headers.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

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