Well, do you care if evolution has pretty nearly done with intellect? Would you mind if intellect never made a greater shine? Will your heart break if it never ascends to a higher plane than it has reached already? Enough of intellect for the good and happi- ness of mankind if we evolve no more of it. But this is another thing! This is a spiritual evolution, spiritual advance and develop- ment—a very different thing! Mark you, too, that it is not shown in a few amongst millions, but is common, general.
And though, as you have said, it may perish at its beginnings, trampled out by war, the terrible war to come may absolutely confirm it. For my part, I don't despair of its surviving and spreading even from the battle-field. It is your own word that not only has the growth of common kindness been more urgent, rapid and general this last hundred years than was ever witnessed before in the whole long history of the world, but it has come out as strongly in making war as in making peace.
It is seen in extending to foes a benevolence which not long ago would have been thought ludicrous and even unnatural. Why, then, if that's so, the feeling may be furthered and intensified by the very horrors of the next great war, such horrors as there must be ; and—God knows!
God knows! Yes, we must stick to it, that it is evolution, I suppose, and I m sure it contents me well enough. What matter for the process! And yet do you know what I think? Lights had now been brought in by the waiter—a waiter who really could not understand why not. But we sat by the open window looking out upon the deepening darkness of the garden, beyond which the river shone as if by some pale effulgence of its own, or perhaps by a little store of light saved up from the liberal sunshine of the day. For that is what it is. It is a change of heart ; or, if you like to have it so, of spirit ; and the remarkable thing is that it is nothing else.
Whether it lasts or not, this awakening of brotherliness cannot be completely understood unless that is understood. What else has changed, these hundred years? There is no fresh discovery of human suffering, no new knowledge of the desperate poverty and toil of so many of our fellow-creatures: nor can we see better with our eyes, or understand better what we hear and see. This that we are talking about is a heart-growth, which, as we know, can make the lowliest peasant divine ; not a mind-growth, which can be splendid in the coldest and most devilish man.
Well, then, were I of the orthodox I should say this. When, after many generations, I see a traceless movement of the spirit of man like the one we are speaking of—a movement which, if it gains in strength and goes on to its natural end, will transfigure human society and make it infinitely more like heaven—I think the.
Vernet had to be reminded that the intellectual development of man had also shown itself in sudden starts and rushes toward per- fection—now in one land, now in another ; and never with an appearance of gradual progress, as might be expected from the nature of things. And therefore nothing in the spiritual advance which is declared by the sudden efflorescence of " altruism " dissociates it from the common theory of evolution.
This he was forced to admit. And this was Vernet! That I find as I grow old ; my youth would have been ashamed to acknowledge the sentiment. And for its own sake, I hope that Science is becoming an old gentleman too, and willing to see its youthful confidence in the destruction of religious belief quite upset.
For upset it cer- tainly will be, and very much by its own hands. Most of the new professors were sure that the religious idea was to perish at last in the light of scientific inquiry. None of them seemed to suspect what I remember to have read in a fantastic magazine article two or three years ago, that unbelief in the existence of a providential God, the dissolution of that belief, would not retard but probably draw on more quickly the greater and yet unfulfilled triumphs of Christ on earth.
Are you surprised at that? Certainly it is not. Now what do you think of that as a consequence of settled unbelief? As for Belief, we must allow that that has not done much to bring on the greater triumphs of Christianity. Why, in a most natural way, and not at all mysterious. But if you ask in how long a time——! Well, it is thus, as I understand. What the destruction of religious faith might have made of the world centuries ago we cannot tell ; nothing much worse, perhaps, than it was under Belief, for belief can exist with little change of heart.
But these are new times. Unbelief cannot annihilate the common feeling of humanity. On the contrary, we see that it is just when Science breaks religion down into agnosticism that a new day of tenderness for suffering begins, and poverty looks for the first time like a wrong. And why? To answer that question we should remember what cen- turies of belief taught us as to the place of man on earth in the plan of the Creator.
This world, it was a 'scene of probation. It was only for this life ; and every hour of it we were under the eyes of a heavenly Father who knows all and weighs all ; and there will be a future of redress that will leave no misery unreckoned, no weakness uncon- sidered, no wrong uncompensated that was patiently borne. And how comfortable the doctrine was! How entirely it soothed our uneasiness when, sitting in warmth and plenty, we thought of the thousands of poor wretches outside!
And it was a comfort for the poor wretches too, who believed most when they were most miserable or foully wronged that in His own good time God would requite or would avenge. But now, says my magazine sermoniser, sup- pose this idea of a heavenly Father a mistake and probation a fairy tale; suppose that there is no Divine scheme of redress beyond the grave : how do we mortals stand to each other then?
How do we stand to each other in a world empty of all promise beyond it? What is to become of our scene-of-probation com- placency, we who are happy and fortunate in the midst of so much wrong? And if we do not busy ourselves with a new dispensa- tion on their behalf, what hope or consolation is there for the multitude of our fellow-creatures who are born to unmerited misery in the only world there is for any of us? It is clear that if we must give up the Divine scheme of redress as a dream, redress is an obligation returned upon ourselves. All will not be well in another world : all must be put right in this world or no- where and never.
Dispossessed of God and a future life, mankind is reduced to the condition of the wild creatures, each with a natural right to ravage for its own good. If in such conditions there is a duty of forbearance from ravaging, there is a duty of helpful surrender too ; and unbelief must teach both duties, unless it would import upon earth the hell it denies.
More than that : in the doing of it the. That may be its way of perfection. On that path it will rise higher and higher into Divine illuminations which have touched it but very feebly as yet, even after countless ages of existence. I recognised them well enough, without at all anticipating that so much of them would presently re-appear in the formal theory of more than one social philosopher. There was a piano in the little room we dined in.
For a minute or two Vernet, standing with his cigar between his lips, went lightly over the keys. The movement, though extremely quick, was wonderfully soft, so that he had not to raise his voice in saying :. How long will it be before this spiritual perfectioning is pretty near accom- plishment? Two thousand years? One thousand years? Twenty generations at the least! Ah, that is the despair of us poor wretches of to-day and to-morrow. Well, when the time comes I fancy that an entirely new literature will have a new language. There will certainly be a new literature if ever spiritual progress equals intellectual progress.
The dawning of conceptions as yet undreamt of, enlightenments higher than any yet attained to, may be looked for, I suppose, as in the natural order of things ; and even without extraordinary revelations to the spirit, the spiritual advance must have an enormous effect in disabusing, informing and inspiring mental faculty such as we know it now. And meanwhile? Meanwhile words are all that we speak with, and how weak are words? Already there are heights and depths of feeling which they are hardly more adequate to express than the dumbness of the dog can express his love for his master.
They heave and struggle to reply, till our breasts are actually conscious of pain sometimes ; but—no articulate answer. Do you recognise ——? It is music ; music, which is felt to be the most subtle, most appealing, most various of tongues even while we know that we are never more than half awake to its pregnant meanings, and have not learnt to think of it as becoming the last perfection of speech. But that may be its appointed destiny.
No, I don t think so only because music itself is a thing of late, speedy and splendid development, coming just before the later diffusion of spiritual growth. Yet there is something in that, something which an evolutionist would think apposite and to be expected. There is more, however, in what music is—a voice always under- stood to have powerful innumerable meanings appealing to we know not what in us, we hardly know how ; and more, again, in its being an exquisite voice which can make no use of reason, nor reason of it ; nor calculation, nor barter, nor anything but emotion and thought.
The language we are using now, we two, is animal language by direct pedigree, which is worth observation don't you think? And, for another thing, when it began it had very small likelihood of ever developing into what it has become under the constant addition of man's business in the world and the accretive demands of reason and speculation. And the poets have made it very beautiful no doubt ; yes, and when it is most beautiful it is most musical, please observe : most beautiful, and at the same time most meaning.
Well, then! A new nature, new needs. What do you think? What do you say against. A thousand years, and how much movement? Help is not only desirable, it is imperatively called for. For an unfortunate offensive movement rises against this better one, which will be checked, or perhaps thrown back altogether, unless the stupid reformers who confront the new spirit of kindness with the highwayman's demand are brought to reason.
What I most willingly yield to friend and brother I do not choose to yield to an insulting thief ; rather will I break his head in the cause of divine Civility. Robbery is no way of righteousness, and your gallant reformers who think it a fine heroic means of bringing on a better time for humanity should be taught that some devil has put the wrong plan into their heads. It is his way of continuing under new conditions the old conflict of evil and good. Then leave the reformers ; and while they inculcate their mistaken Gospel of Rancour, let every wise man preach the Gospel of Content.
But if you ask me whether I mean content with a very very little of this world's goods, or even con-. There will be no better day till that gospel has found general acceptance, and has been taken into the common habitudes of life. The end may be distant enough ; but it is your own opinion that the time is already ripe for the preacher, and if he were no Peter the Hermit but only another, another—— ". This first Christianity, it was but 'the false dawn.
Here there was a pause for a few moments, and then I put in a word to the effect that it would be difficult to commend a gospel of content to Poverty. Not forbidding them to strive for more than enough—that would never do. The good of mankind demands that all its energies should be maintained, but not that its energies should be meanly employed in grubbing for the luxury that is no enjoyment but only a show, or that palls as soon as it is once enjoyed, and then is no more felt as luxury than the labourer's second pair of boots or the mechanic's third shirt a week.
For the men of thousands per annum the Gospel of Content would be the wise, wise, wise old injunction to plain living and high thinking, only with one addi- tion both beautiful and wise : kind thinking, and the high and the kind thinking made good in deed. And it would work, this gospel ; we may be sure of it already. For luxury has became common ; it is being found out. Where there was one person at the beginning of the century who had daily experience of its fatiguing disappoint- ments, now there are fifty.
Like everything else, it loses dis- tinction by coming abundantly into all sorts of hands ; and mean-. And from losing distinction— this you must have observed—luxury is becoming vulgar ; and I don't know why the time should be so very far off when it will be accounted shameful. Certain it is that year by year a greater number of minds, and such as mostly determine the currents of social sentiment, think luxury low ; without going deeper than the mere look of it, perhaps. These are hopeful signs. Here is good encouragement to stand out and preach a gospel of content which would be an education in simplicity, dignity, happiness, and yet more an education of heart and spirit.
For nothing that a man can do in this world works so powerfully for his own spiritual good as the habit of sacrifice to kindness. It is so like a miracle that it is, I am sure, the one way—the one way appointed by the laws or our spiritual growth. Well, there we must be careful to discriminate—careful to dis- entangle poverty from some other things which are the same thing in the common idea.
Say but this, that there must be no content with squalor, none with any sort of uncleanness, and poverty takes its own separate place and its own unsmirched aspect. An honour- able poverty, clear of squalor, any man should be able to endure with a tranquil mind. To attain to that tranquillity is to attain to nobleness ; and persistence in it, though effort fail and desert go quite without reward, ennobles. Contentment in poverty does not mean crouching to it or under it.
Contentment is not cowardice, but fortitude. There is no truer assertion of manliness, and none with more grace and sweetness. Before it can have an established place in the breast of any man, envy must depart from it—envy, jealousy, greed, readiness to take half-honest gains, a horde of small ignoble sentiments not only disturbing but poisonous to the.
Ah, believe me! A curse on the mean strivings, stealings, and hoardings that survive from our animal ancestry, and another curse by your permission on the gaudy vanities that we have set up for objects in life since we became reasoning creatures. In effect, here the conversation ended. More was said, but nothing worth recalling. Drifting back to less serious talk, we gossiped till midnight, and then parted with the heartiest desire I speak for myself of meeting soon again.
But on our way back to town Vernet recurred for a moment to the subject of his discourse, saying :. My answer pleased him. In existence—yes, perhaps ; but gone down. You see we are becoming greybeards already ; while you in Russia are boys, with every mark of boyhood on you. You, you are a new race—the only new race in the world ; and it is plain that you swarm with ideas of precisely the kind that, when you come to maturity, may re-invigorate the world.
But first, who knows what deadly wars? He pressed his hand upon my knee in a way that spoke a great deal. We parted, and two months afterwards the Vernet whose real name ended in " ieff" was " happed in lead.
Built of brown home-quarried stone, with solid stone chimney-stacks and roof of red tiles, its door is set in the centre beneath a semi-circular arch of dressed granite, on the keystone of which is deeply cut the date of construction :. Above the date straggle the letters, L G M M, initials of the forgotten names of the builder of the house and of the woman he married.
In the summer weather of that inscription was cut, and the man and woman doubtless read it with pride and pleasure as they stood looking up at their fine new homestead. They believed it would carry their names down to posterity when they themselves should be gone ; yet there stand the initials to-day, while the personalities they represent are as lost to memory as are the builders graves. Louis Renouf that it purposes to deal. But first to complete the description of the house, which is typical of the Islands : hundreds of such homesteads placed singly, or in groups —then sharing in one common name— may be found there in a day' s walk, although it must be added that a day's walk almost suffices to explore any one of the Islands from end to end.
Les Calais shares its name with none. It stands alone, com- pletely hidden, save at one point only, by its ancient elms. On either side of the doorway are two windows, each of twelve small panes, and there is a row of five similar windows above. Around the back and sides of the house cluster all sorts of outbuildings, necessary dependencies of a time when men made their own cider and candles, baked their own bread, cut and stacked their own wood, and dried the dung of their herds for extra winter fuel.
Gilles, then keep to the left of the schools along a narrow lane cut between high hedges. It is a cart track only, as the deep sun-baked ruts testify, leading direct from St. Gilles to Vauvert, and, likely enough, during the whole of that distance you will not meet with a solitary person. You will see nothing but the green running hedgerows on either hand, the blue-domed sky above, from whence the lark, a black pin-point in the blue, flings down a gush of song ; while the thrush you have disturbed lunching off that succulent snail, takes short ground flights before you, at every pause turning back an ireful eye to judge how much farther you intend to pursue him.
He is happy. A gable end of the house faces this lane, and its one window in the days of Louis Renouf looked down upon a dilapidated farm- and stable-yard, the gate of which, turned back upon its hinges, stood wide open to the world. Within might be seen granaries empty of grain, stables where no horses fed, a long cow-house crumbling into ruin, and the broken stone sections of a cider trough dismantled more than half a century back.
Cushions of emerald moss studded the thatches, and liliputian forests of grass- blades sprang thick between the cobble stones. The place might have been mistaken for some deserted grange, but for the con- tradiction conveyed in a bright pewter full-bellied water-can stand- ing near the well, in a pile of firewood, with chopper still stuck in the topmost billet, and in a tatterdemalion troop of barn-door fowl lagging meditatively across the yard. On a certain day, when summer warmth and unbroken silence brooded over all, and the broad sunshine blent the yellows, reds, and greys of tile and stone, the greens of grass and foliage, into one harmonious whole, a visitor entered the open gate.
This was a tall, large young woman, with a fair, smooth, thirty-year-old face. Dressed in what was obviously her Sunday best, although it was neither Sunday nor even market-day, she wore a bonnet diademed with gas-green lilies of the valley, a netted black mantilla, and a velvet-trimmed violet silk gown, which she carefully lifted out of dust's way, thus displaying a stiffly starched petticoat and kid spring-side boots.
Such attire, unbeautiful in itself and incongruous with its sur- roundings, jarred harshly with the picturesque note of the scene. From being a subject to perpetuate on canvas, it shrunk, as it were, to the background of a cheap photograph, or the stage adjuncts. The silence too was shattered as the new comer's foot fell upon the stones.
An unseen dog began to mouth a joyous welcome, and the fowls, lifting their thin, apprehensive faces towards her, flopped into a clumsy run as though their last hour were visible. The visitor meanwhile turned familiar steps to a door in the wall on the left, and raising the latch, entered the flower garden of Les Calais. This garden, lying to the south, consisted then, and perhaps does still, of two square grass-plots with a broad gravel path running round them and up to the centre of the house. In marked contrast with the neglect of the farmyard was this exquisitely kept garden, brilliant and fragrant with flowers.
From a raised bed in the centre of each plot standard rose-trees shed out gorgeous perfume from chalices of every shade of loveliness, and thousands of white pinks justled shoulder to shoulder in narrow bands cut within the borders of the grass. Busy over these, his back towards her, was an elderly man, braces hanging, in coloured cotton shirt.
Thus addressed, he straight- ened himself slowly and turned round. Leaning on his hoe, he shaded his eyes with his hand. Poidevin, " that I wrote I would come Saturday, but Pedvinn expects some friends by the English boat, and wants me to receive them. Yet as they may be stay- ing the week, I did not like to put poor Cousin Louis off so long without a visit, so thought I had better come up to-day. Almost unconsciously, her phrases assumed apologetic form.
She had an uneasy feeling Tourtel's wife might resent her un- expected advent ; although why Mrs. Tourtel should object, or why she herself should stand in any awe of the Tourtels, she. Tourtel was but gardener, the wife housekeeper and nurse, to her cousin Louis Renouf, master of Les Calais. Tourtel, I hope?
Of course I shouldn't think of staying tea if she is busy ; I'll just sit an hour with Cousin Louis, and catch the six'o'clock omnibus home from Vauvert. Tourtel stood looking at her with wooden countenance, in which two small shifting eyes alone gave signs of life. He turned, and stared up at the front of the house ; Mrs.
Poidevin, for no reason at all, did so too. Door and windows were open wide. In the upper storey, the white roller-blinds were let down against the sun, and on the broad sills of the parlour windows were nosegays placed in blue china jars. The whole place breathed of peace and beauty, and Louisa Poidevin was lapped round with that pleasant sense of well-being which it was her chief desire in life never to lose.
Though poor Cousin Louis —feeble, childish, solitary— was so much to be pitied, at least in his comfortable home and his worthy Tourtels he found compensation. An instant after Tourtel had spoken, a woman passed across the wide hall. She had on a blue linen skirt, white stockings, and shoes of grey list.
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The strings of a large, bibbed, lilac apron drew the folds of a flowered bed-jacket about her ample waist ; and her thick yellow-grey hair, worn without a cap, was arranged. She just glanced out, and Mrs. Poidevin was on the point of calling to her, when Tourtel fell into a torrent of words about his flowers.
He had so much to say on the subject of horticulture ; was so anxious for her to examine the freesia bulbs lying in the tool-house, just separated from the spring plants ; he denounced so fiercely the grinding policy of Brehault the middleman, who purchased his garden stuff to resell it at Covent Garden —"my good!
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Poidevin's brain. Then a voice said at her elbow, "Mr. Rennuf is quite ready to see you, ma'am," and there stood Tourtel's wife, with pale composed face, square shoulders and hips, and feet that moved noiselessly in her list slippers. Tourtel, how do you do? Not until this ceremony had been scrupulously accomplished, and the two women were on their way to the house, did Mrs. Poidevin beg to know how things were going with her " poor cousin. There lay something at variance between the ruthless, calculat- ing spirit which looked forth from the housekeeper's cold eye, and the extreme suavity of her manner of speech.
First one ting an' den anudder, an' always tinking dat everybody is robbin' him. You rem-ember de larse time you was here, an Mister Rennuf was abed? Well, den, after you was gone, if he didn't deck- clare you had taken some of de fedders of his bed away wid you. Yes, my good! Poidevin was much interested. But it's quite a mania with him. I remember now, on that very day he complained to me Tourtel was wearing his shirts, and wanted me to go in with him to Lepage's to order some new ones.
Louis have such dozens an' dozens of em dat dey gets hidden away in de presses, an' he tinks dem' stolen. They reached the house. The interior is quite as characteristic of the Islands as is the outside. Two steps take you down into the hall, crossing the further end of which is the staircase with its balustrade of carved black oak. Instead of the mean painted sticks, known technically as " raisers," and connected together at the top by a vulgar mahogany hand-rail —a funda- mental article of faith with the modern builder— these old Island balustrades are formed of wooden panels, fretted out into scrolls, representing flower, or leaf, or curious beaked and winged creatures, which go curving, creeping, and ramping along in the direction of the stairs.
In every house you will find the detail different, while each resembles all as a whole. For in the old days the workman, were he never so humble, recognised the possession of an individual mind, as well as of two eyes and two hands, and he translated fearlessly this individuality of his into his work. Every house built in those days and existing down to these, is not only a confession, in some sort, of the tastes, the habits, the character, of the man who planned it, but preserves a record likewise of every one of the subordinate minds employed in the various parts.
Off the hall of Les Calais are two rooms on the left and one on the right. The solidity of early seventeenth-century walls is shown in the embrasure depth measuring fully three feet of windows and doors. Up to fifty years ago all the windows had leaded casements, as had every similar Island dwelling-house.
To-day, to the artist's regret, you will hardly find one. The showy taste of the Second Empire spread from Paris even to these remote parts, and plate-glass, or at least oblong panes, everywhere replaced the mediaeval style. In , Louis Renouf, just three and thirty, was about to bring his bride, Miss Marie Mauger, home to the old house.
In her honour it was done up throughout, and the diamonded casements were replaced by guillotine windows, six panes to each sash. The best parlour then became a " drawing-room " ; its raftered ceiling was whitewashed, and its great centre-beam of oak in- famously papered to match the walls. The newly married couple were not in a position to refurnish in approved Second Empire fashion.
A Pryor Love
The gilt and marble, the console tables and mirrors, the impossibly curved sofas and chairs, were for the moment beyond them ; the wife promised herself to acquire these later on. But later on came a brood of sickly children only one of whom reached manhood ; to the consequent expenses Les Calais owed the preservation of its inlaid wardrobes, its four-post bedsteads with slender fluted columns, and its Chippendale parlour chairs, the backs of which simulate a delicious intricacy of twisted ribbons.
As a little girl, Louisa Poidevin had often amused herself studying these convolutions, and seeking to puzzle out among the rippling ribbons some beginning or some end ; but as she grew up, even the simplest problem lost interest for her, and the sight of the old Chippendale chairs standing along the walls of the large parlour scarcely stirred her bovine mind now to so much as reminiscence. It was the door of this large parlour that the housekeeper opened as she announced, " Here is Mrs. Pedvinn come to see you, sir," and followed the visitor in.
Sitting in a capacious " berceuse," stuffed and chintz-covered, was the shrunken figure of a more than seventy-year-old man. He was wrapped in a worn grey dressing-gown, with a black velvet skull-cap, napless at the seams, covering his spiritless hair, and he looked out upon his narrow world from dim eyes set in cavernous orbits. In their expression was something of the questioning timidity of a child, contrasting curiously with the querulousness of old age, shown in the thin sucked-in lips, now and again twitched by a movement in unison with the twitching of the withered hands spread out upon his knees.
The sunshine, slanting through the low windows, bathed hands and knees, lean shanks and slippered feet, in mote-flecked streams of gold. It bathed anew rafters and ceiling-beam, as it had done at the same hour and season these last three hundred years ; it played over the worm-eaten furniture, and lent transitory colour to the faded samplers on the walls, bringing into prominence one particular sampler, which depicted in silks Adam and Eve seated beneath the fatal tree, and recorded the fact that Marie Hoched was seventeen in and put her "trust in God" ; and the same ray kissed the cheek of that very Marie's son, who at the time her girlish fingers pricked the canvas belonged to the envi- able myriads of the unthought-of and the unborn.
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Poidevin, taking his passive hand between her two warm ones, and feeling a chill strike from it through the violet kid gloves ; "and in spite of all this sunshine too! Tourtel in a reasonable voice, and with a side glance for the visitor. He took a firmer hold of his cousin's hand, and seemed to gain courage from the comfortable touch, for his thin voice changed from complaint to command. Tourtel," he said ; " we don't require you here. We want to talk. You can go and set the tea-things in the next room. My cousin will stay and drink tea with me.
Pedvinn will stay tea. P'r'aps you'd like to put your bonnet off in the bedroom, first, ma'am? No need for you to take her upstairs. Servant and master exchanged a mute look ; for the moment his old eyes were lighted up with the unforeseeing, unveiled triumph of a child; then they fell before hers. She turned, leaving the room with noiseless tread ; although a large-built, ponderous woman, she walked with the softness of a cat. Poidevin, already prepared for such a statement, answered complacently, " Oh, it must be your fancy, Cousin Louis.
Tourtel takes too good care of you for that. Yet everything belongs to poor John, who is in Australia, and who never writes to his father now. His last letter is ten years old —ten years old, my dear, and I don t need to read it over, for I know it by heart. Poidevin, with easy optimism; "I shouldn't wonder if he has made a fortune, and is on his way home to you at this moment.
He had excellent capabilities, Louisa, but he was too fond of change And yet I often sit and pretend to myself he has made money, and is as proud to be with his poor old father as he used to be when quite a little lad. I plan out all we should do, and all he would say, and just how he would look But I'd be glad if he would come back to the old home, though it were without a penny.
For if he don't come soon, he'll find no home, and no welcome I raised all the money I could when he went away, and now, as you know, my dear, the house and land go to you and Pedvinn But I'd like my poor boy to have the silver and linen, and his mother's furniture and needlework to remember us by. Louis Renouf shook his head, with the immovable obstinacy of the very old or the very young. Louisa, mark my words, he will get nothing, nothing. Everything is going. They'll make away with the chairs and the tables next, with the very bed I lie on.
Poidevin serenely ; had not the poor old man accused her to the Tourtels of filching his mattress feathers? Six dozen rat-tailed silver forks, with silver candlesticks, and tray, and snuffers. Besides odd pieces, and piles and piles of linen. Your cousin Marie was a notable housekeeper, and everything she bought was of the very best. The large table-cloths were five guineas apiece, my dear, British money— five guineas apiece.
Louisa listened with perfect calmness and scant attention. Circumstances too comfortable, and a too abundant diet, had gradually undermined with her all perceptive and reflective powers. Though, of course, had the household effects been coming to her as well as the land, she would have felt more interest in them ; but it is only human nature to contemplate the possible losses of others with equanimity.
At this moment there appeared, framed in the open window, the hideous vision of an animated gargoyle, with elf-locks of flaming red, and an intense malignancy of expression. With a finger dragging down the under eyelid of either eye, so that the eyeball seemed to bulge out with a finger pulling back either corner of the wide mouth, so that it seemed to touch the ear- this repulsive apparition leered at the old man in blood-curdling fashion.
Then catching sight of Mrs. Poidevin, who sat dum- founded, and with her "heart in her mouth," as she afterwards expressed it, the fingers dropped from the face, the features sprang back into position, and the gargoyle resolved itself into a buxom. The old man had cowered down in his chair with his hands over his eyes ; now he looked up. But it's only Margot. But I don't like her. She pulls faces at me, and jumps out upon me from behind doors. And when the wind blows and the windows rattle she tells me about the old Judy from Jethou, who is sailing over the sea on a broom- stick, to come and beat me to death.
Do you know, my dear," he said piteously, "you'll think I'm very silly, but I'm afraid up here by myself all alone? Do not leave me, Louisa ; stay with me, or take me back to town with you. Pedvinn would let me have a room in your house, I'm sure? And you wouldn't find me much trouble, and of course I would bring my own bed linen, you know. Tourtel from outside the window ; she held scissors in her hand, and was busy trimming the roses. She offered no excuse for eaves- dropping. The meal was set out, Island fashion, with abundant cakes and sweets. Louisa saw in the silver tea-set another proof, if need be, of her cousin's unfounded suspicions.
Tourtel stood in the background, waiting. Renouf desired her to pack his things ; he was going into town. He brought a clenched hand down upon the table, so that the china rattled. To-morrow I shall send my notary to put seals on everything, and to take an inventory. For the future I shall live in town. His senility had suddenly left him ; he spoke with firmness ; it was a flash-up of almost extinct fires. Louisa was astounded. Tourtel looked at him steadily. Through the partition wall, Tourtel in the kitchen heard the raised voice, and followed his curiosity into the parlour.
Margot followed him. Seen near, and with her features at rest, she appeared a plump touzle-headed girl, in whose low forehead and loose-lipped mouth, crassness, cruelty, and sensuality were unmistakably expressed. Yet freckled cheek, rounded chin, and bare red mottled arms, presented the beautiful curves of youth, and there was a certain sort of attractive- ness about her not to be gainsaid.
Come with me, Louisa. At a sign from the housekeeper, Tourtel and Margot made way. Poidevin would have followed her cousin, as the easiest thing to do— although she was confused by the old man's outbreak, and incapable of deciding what course she should take— when the deep vindictive baying of the dog ushered a new personage upon the scene. This was an individual who made his appearance from the kitchen regions —a tall thin man of about thirty years of age, with a pallid skin, a dark eye and a heavy moustache.
His shabby black coat and tie, with the cords and gaiters that clothed his legs, suggested a combination of sportsman and family practitioner. He wore a bowler hat, and was pulling off tan driving gloves as he advanced. Doctor Owen, but dat's you? Your patient is in one. He says he shall go right away into town. Wants to make up again wid Doctor Lelever for sure. The new comer and Mrs. Poidevin were examining each other with the curiosity one feels on first meeting a person long known by reputation or by sight.
But now she turned to the house- keeper in surprise. He tought Doctor Lelever made too little of his megrims. He won't have nobody but Dr. Owen now. P'r'aps you know Doctor Owen, ma'am? Pedvinn, Doctor ; de master's cousin, come up to visit him. Owen hung up his hat, putting his gloves inside it. He rubbed his lean discoloured hands lightly together, as a fly cleans its forelegs. With soft nimbleness, in a moment he was upstairs. Poidevin with interest. He must be very clever, I'm sure. Is he beginning to get a good practice yet?
He was very glad when Mr. Figure: Chalk and pencil drawing of head and shoulders. A young D. Christina Rossetti, The sleeves are flounced at the elbows. Surtees, p. The man stands on the left, looking at the girl while leaning his left arm on the tree behind her. She looks to the front, with her long hair unbound. A dog sits to the man's left. Retro Me Sathana!
Figure: Pen and ink, arched top. Inscription on shield: "Ex Nocte Dies. On the left, a priest gazes at a cross held in his right hand, raising his left hand in blessing above the head of a young woman, who also gazes downward at the cross. A shadowy figure with horns and a tail sneaks up behind them.
Genevieve: From Coleridge Figure: Pen and ink, arched top. Inscribed lower left corner: "Genevieve. On the left, a young man seated before the statue plays a lute, gazing downward, while a young woman faces him, leaning her right side against the back of the statue's base while she listens to his song. Il Saluto di Beatrice Figure: Pen and ink, three compartments. Text in left compartment: E cui saluta fa tremar lo core D.
Text in center compartment: 9 Guigno Ita n'e Beatrice in alto ciel Ed ha lasciato Amor meco dolente. Text in right compartment: Guardami ben; ben son, ben son Beatrice D. A full-length Dantis Amor stands in the central compartment, holding a sundial and a down-turned torch. In the left compartment, Beatrice and two women pass through a portico, to the right of Dante and his servant. Beatrice and Dante look at one another. In the right compartment, Beatrice followed by two women meets Dante before a field of lilies. An angel is seen in the distance. Gretchen and Mephistopheles in the Chapel.
Two Designs Figure: Pen and ink, rounded upper corners. Text in lower left corner: G. July Numerous background figures pray in church pews. In the foreground, a young woman facing forward kneels behind a short dias, her eyes closed in prayer. A child kneels the right of the dais, and a sword wrapped in a banner lies before them both. To the right behind this pair, a devil with horns crouches behind another dais, over which a woman leans, her hair unbound and her face concealed.
Figure: Pen and ink. Text in lower left corner: Dante G. Rossetti Numerous background figures in church pews pray facing backward, while in the foreground a young woman slouches over a small dais, and a man with horns stands behind her, bending down towards her ear. To the right, a second man kneeling behind another dais leans forward, looking at the woman. The scene is enclosed within an arched architectural frame, on the outside of which two half-length male figures watch the scene, one in each of the upper corners.
Figure: Oil on canvas mounted on panel. Text in lower left corner: DGR March A seated virgin in a loose white robe slumps on a bed, gazing at a lily held by the angel Gabriel. The angel floats to the left of her bed with flames at his feet, facing the virgin and holding a lily out toward her. At the foot of the bed a crimson cloth embroidered with lilies is displayed.
It need scarcely be added that the chief object of the etched designs will be to illustrate this aim practically, as far as the method of execution will permit; in which purpose they will be produced with the utmost care and completeness. Thus, then, it is not open to the conflicting opinions of all who handle the brush and palette, nor is it restricted to actual practitioners; but is intended to enunciate the principles of those who, in the true spirit of Art, enforce a rigid adherence to the simplicity of Nature either in Art or Poetry, and consequently regardless sic whether emanating from practical Artists, or from those who have studied Nature in the Artist's School.
The left half of the painting depicts a room filled with women sewing and tending the queen, who sits in the right foreground, having her hair brushed as she listens to one of the ladies reading. Behind the women, a high portico reveals amorous male revelers. To the right, another portico reveals a young page on a balcony, reclining on a railing as he sings to his beloved. MacCracken, a Belfast packing agent, who figures largely in Rossetti's early correspondence as a patron of all the Pre-Raphaelites.
He was not always a generous or wealthy customer, and had an annoying way of paying for pictures in kind, i. Still, his connection was a useful one in several ways. I of course stroked him down in my answer, and yesterday he called. His manner was more agreeable than I had expected. He seems in a mood to make my fortune. MacCracken, as he thought the former might smell of Popery to an unenlightened purchaser. The picture changed hands several times after Mr. MacCracken's death. In it was bought by Agnews at the sale of Mr. Heugh's collection, and sold by them to Mr. William Graham, who sent it to Rossetti to see if he cared to touch it up.
Graham has since bought it of Agnew, and has sent it to me for possible revision, but it is best left alone, except just for a touch or two. Indeed, my impression on seeing it was that I couldn't do quite so well now. Rossetti thinks that the lily held by the angel may have been an addition of this date. Stephens, was intended for a large picture of Il Saluto di Beatrice , corresponding to the left side of the pen-and-ink diptych on page It was used for The Bower Meadow in Head of Maid.
According to Marillier, this is a detail of an original "Hist! Said Kate the Queen," which was never finished and was later cut up. Marillier isolates the head of a young woman in a medieval veil and headress with dark curls. She gazes slightly downward and to her left. The Laboratory. Figure: Water color over pen and ink. A man seated behind a laboratory table shows a piece of metal to a young woman, who leans over the table to look at it. Books and laboratory apparatus are strewn about. He copied the poem out at length, and wrote to Browning, who in reply admitted the authorship.
The two met several times later, and in Rossetti painted the water-colour portrait of Browning which forms a companion picture to his Swinburne. From Much Ado About Nothing. Depicts the various pairs of lovers onstage at the end of Shakespeare's play. In the foreground, Benedick stands behind Beatrice, embracing her.
Dante Drawing the Angel Figure: Water color. Text in lower right corner: D. Inside of Dante's studio, at the picture's right, the artist kneels next to a window, holding a small sketch. To the left and rear are three visitors, at whom he looks over his right shoulder. Glaring sunlight pours in from the open window and doorway. Dante and his servant stand in profile next to a wall on the right, as Beatrice and other members of a wedding party descend a staircase and walk past him on the left.
Miss Siddal, Figure: Water color. Head and shoulders of Elizabeth Siddal in profile, facing right. Her left cheek rests on her folded hands. Borgia Swan Electric Engraving Co. How they Met Themselves Figure: Water color. Text across bottom: How they met themselves D. All figures are standing, the distressed and swooning couple to the right of their doubles, who are outlined in white. An earlier sketch for it was exhibited at the rooms of the Old Water-Colour Society, , Pall Mall, at the winter exhibition of , and if Mr. Sharp is right in his date as far back as , at the Portland Place Gallery.
Sharp is certainly wrong in saying that the water-colour itself was exhibited then, as it is dated September, Hesterna Rosa Figure: Pen and ink. Text in lower left corner: Dante Rossetti. Inside a tent, two men kneel and sit next to a short bench, perhaps gambling. A woman stands behind each of them, one gazing skyward, and the other turning her head and hiding her face. To the left, a young girl holds a lute, and to the right, a monkey scratches itself. Girl Playing a Lute. A young girl in medieval dress plays a lute. Full figure, facing front. Text across bottom: I remember thee; The kindness of thy youth, the love of thy betrothal.
Text at center bottom: Found. On the left, a young woman on a sidewalk crouches against a wall, turning her face away from a man on the right who grasps her arms, apparently trying to pull her to her feet. Behind him, to the right, the man's calf is trammeled to a cart. Found Swan Electric Engraving Co. On Saturday. Rossetti came in the middle of the most broiling sun. I knew he must have come to get something.
He wanted costumes to paint a water-colour of the Passover, this instead of setting to work on the picture for which he has been commissioned by McCrack since twelve months. However, whatever he does is sure to be beautiful. But the rage for strangeness disfigures his ideas. Called on Dante Rossetti. Saw Miss Siddal, looking thinner and more deathlike and more beautiful and more ragged than ever; a real artist, a woman without parallel for many a long year. Gabriel as usual diffuse and inconsequent in his work.
Drawing wonderful and lovely Guggums one after another, and his picture never advancing. However he is at the wall, and I am to get him a white calf and a cart to paint here; would he but study the golden one a little more. Poor Gabriello. From want of habit I see Nature bothers him, but it is sweetly drawn and felt. Saw Gabriel's calf; very beautiful, but takes a long time.
Among the Wild Things
Endless emendations, no perceptible progress from day to day, and all the time he wearing my greatcoat, which I want, and a pair of my breeches, besides food and an unlimited supply of turpentine. Gabriel not having yet done his cart, and talking quite freely about several days yet , having been here since the 1st November, and not seeming to notice any hints.
This he said was too expensive. I told him he might ride to his work in the morning and go home at night. This he said he should never think of. So he is gone for the present. Study for the Woman in Found. Figure: Pen and ink with slight wash. Head and shoulders of a woman leaning on her right shoulder, her head turned to the right, with her eyes closed and her bonnet falling down on her shoulders.
Rossetti, but it is of later date and probably done by an assistant. Sketch of Miss Siddal. She holds a paintbrush in her right hand, and a maul-stick in her left. Full-length figure standing, with her face turned to her right. Her left hands rests on a window ledge, and her right hand is on a table slightly behind her.
I said I would find funds for you to go into Wales to draw something I wanted. I never said I would for you to go to Paris, to disturb yourself and other people, and I won't. I don't say you do wrong, because you don't seem to know what is wrong, but do just whatever you like as far as possible—as puppies and tomtits do. However, as it is so, I must think for you—and first, I can't have you going to Paris, nor going near Ida, 1 till you have finished those drawings, and Miss Heaton's too.
You can't do anything now but indoors, and the less you excite Ida the better. Positively, if you go to Paris I will; but you won't go, I'm sure, when you know I seriously don't think it right. I will advance you what you want on this drawing, but only on condition it goes straight on. Coming to scratch again gradually. Please oblige me in one or two matters or you will make me ill again.
Take all the pure green out of the flesh in the Nativity I send, and try to get it a little less like worsted work by Wednesday, when I will send for it. I want the Archdeacon of Salop, who is coming for some practical talk over religious art for the multitude, to see it. Robert Browning. Text in upper left corner: October. Text in upper right corner: Browning's head. Please leave word about reception of it if you must go out. Please put a dab of Chinese white into the hole in the cheek and paint it over. People will say that Beatrice has been giving the other bridesmaids apredestinate scratched face; also a white-faced bridesmaid behind is very ugly to look at—like a skull or body in corruption.
Also please ask Hunt about young fool who wants grapes, and his colour of sleeve. Then—I will tell you where this drawing is to be sent next to be lectured upon, and am affectionately yours,. I had told her to tell you that I was in such a passion that I was like to tear everything in the room to pieces at your daubing over the head in that picture; and that it was no use to me now until you had painted it in again.
And I told her to show you that I had carried off the Passover instead. How you could think I could care to look at it with any pleasure in that mess, I can't think. Before , the whole thing was explained—there was only a white respirator before the mouth. You have deprived me of a great pleasure by your absurdity. I never, so long as I live, will trust you to do anything again, out of my sight.
Ruskin had a humorous way of referring to his drawings in this style which is rather puzzling, and must be very much so to those unacquainted with the pictures and their dates. Wells, R. The latter was painted at least by , in which year it was brought to Mr. Wells by the late Mr. Thomas Seddon, together with the Giotto painting Dante. Rossetti, being at the time hard up for money, was anxious to sell these two drawings, and Mr.
Wells took one and Mr. Seddon the other. They are amongst the finest specimens of Rossetti's early work. At about the date of these letters, Rossetti seems to have borrowed the Beatrice from Mr. Wells to copy for Ruskin, and the criticisms just quoted refer to the copy. In Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism they are made to refer to the original water-colour, which is reproduced by way of illustration, but which certainly has never been altered in the manner described.
The copy has gone, I find, to Mr. Ruskin's old friend, Prof. Norton, of Harvard. I do not choose any more to talk to you until you can recognize my superiorities as I can yours. You simply do not see certain characters in me.
A day may come when you will be able; then—without apology, without restraint, merely as being different from what you are now—come back to me, and we will be as we used to be. October 15 th , Ruskin has most liberally undertaken a drawing class, which he attends every Thursday evening. He is most enthusiastic about it, and has so infected me that I think of offering an evening weekly for the same purpose when I am settled in town again.
January 23 rd , I have set one of them as a model to the rest till they can find themselves another model. The Quest of the Grail. By Miss Siddal. Figure: Oil. In a water-filled sepulcher, a young knight kneels in a small boat, flanked by two young female angels. He has just washed his hands in a basin held by one of the angels, and he gazes at the grail held by the other.
The Woeful Victory. In the foreground, a young knight lies dead, while another knight kneels directly behind him, and his attendant stands by holding a horse's reins. Behind this trio, a young woman and a young man stand in a tournament box. The young man stares at her as she looks away from the dead knight and hands the kneeling knight his prize. Like all the important things I ever meant to do—to fulfil duty or secure happiness—this one has been deferred almost beyond possibility. I have hardly deserved that Lizzy should still consent to it, but she has done so, and I trust I may still have time to prove my thankfulness to her.
The constantly failing state of her health is a terrible anxiety indeed; but I must still hope for the best, and am at any rate in a better position to take the step, as regards money prospects, than I have ever been before. Text in lower left corner: D. Behind her is a window, through which Blackfriars Bridge and the Thames are seen.
Rossetti Sitting to Miss Siddal. Text in lower right corner: Sept. Full-length profile of two seated figures. To the left, DGR sits facing Elizabeth, his feet propped on a chair seat. The back of this chair serves as an easel, as Lizzie leans over her work, scrutinizing DGR as she sketches. Miss Siddal. October, Text in lower right: D. Weymouth St. Full-length figure angled to the left as she reclines in an arm-chair, her eyes closed, her hands clasped, and her head resting on a pillow. Rossetti, by Himself.
September, Inscribed lower right: "Sept 20 His head is turned slightly to right. Design for a Picture, Not Executed. Full length sketch of three figures. A young woman in profile kneels, looking out a window on the left with her hands clasped in prayer. To the left of her, another young woman plays a lute, while a third young woman sits or kneels behind the first, cradling what is perhaps another musical instrument in her arms. Four full-length figures. A seated woman supports a boy sitting on her lap, encircling his head and waist with her arms.
To the right, a man looks over the woman's shoulder at a seated figure on the left, who tends to the boy's hand. Behind the man, the outlines for two additional figures are lightly sketched. Design for a Ballad. Full-length sketch of three figures. To the right, two young women in profile embrace, while to the left, a baby sleeps peacefully in a niche in a wall above a bunk bed.
In the right compartment, the two lovers embrace, floating through drops of flame in hell. Two full-length women in long dark dresses in front of a stone wall and a wooded area, on either side of a water-filled stone basin. The left figure wears a cape and veil as she sits on the wall, her hands at her sides, gazing downward, perhaps at her reflection. To the right, another downward-gazing young woman stands holding a spray of flowers and vines which cascade over the basin onto the ground at her feet. Study for Rachel. Full-length sketch of a young woman seated on a high bench, with her torso turned to her left.
Her hands are clasped on her left knee, and she gazes downward. Five full-length figures outside a small hut, variously kneeling and bending over to gather herbs. Six figures around a table, standing and kneeling, all holding staves. Tennyson Reading Maud. Text in lower right corner: "Maud" Full-length sketch of Tennyson in profile facing left, seated in an over-stuffed chair and reading from a book held in his right hand. His legs are tightly crossed, and his left hand grasps his right shin. The Maids of Elfen-Mere. Figure: Woodcut.
Full-length woodcut of four figures. Three young women stand in flowing gowns, facing forward, left, and right, before a youth, who faces backward while seated on the floor, turning his head away from them. Drawing for The Maids of Elfen-Mere. Four full length figures. A young man sits on the ground, turned slightly to the left. His hands are clasped around his left knee, and he gazes downward. Behind him, three women in flowing dresses face forward, left, and right. Fra Pace. Swan Electric Engraving Co. Five full-length figures. In a chamber, a man stands in profile facing to the right, gazing down at a woman who lies on a bier behind him.
He is led to the bier by an embodiment of love, who holds his left hand while bending over to kiss the supine woman. An attendant stands at the head and foot of the bier. The dead woman's eyes are closed and her hands are joined as if in prayer. Faust and Margaret. Initialed lower right. Three full-length figures. On the right, Faust stands with his back against a prison cell wall, his arms raised and bent as he clasps Margaret's hands. She faces him, raising her arms to grasp his hands as they gaze into one another's eyes.
In the background to the left, a shadowy figure of Mephistopheles descends a stairway into the cell. This, I find, since the page was printed, now belongs to Dr. Munro, who has also a second, less finished, drawing of the same subject , but totally different in composition. In this, Faust kneels at a pew close by, looking lovingly at Gretchen, and the upper spandrils of the picture contain large heads of Faust and Mephistopheles.
Both will be found reproduced at page Three panels with arched tops. The left panel shows David as a shepherd with a sling-shot and stone, ready to slay Goliath. The center panel depicts the birth of Christ among a group of people dressed in medieval attire. The right panel shows David as a king, playing a harp. Each artist, it seems, is to do about half-a-dozen; but I hardly expect to manage so many, as I find the work of drawing on wood particularly trying to the eyes. The Palace of Art.
Monogram, lower right corner. A woman kneeling to the left plays a small organ as an angel embraces her from behind and kisses her forehead. A guard eating an apple stands in the lower left corner, his back to the couple. Monogram, lower left corner. A supine Arthur is cradled on the laps of ten young, weeping queens. The Lady of Shalott.
Lancelot facing left while standing on a barge, leans over to gaze upon the supine Lady of Shalott. Mariana in the South Figure: Woodcut. Monogram, lower left. Mariana kneels to the left, kissing the feet of a crucifix on the wall. Behind her, a free-standing mirror reflects the scene. Sir Galahad, kneeling at the top of a flight of steps before the altar of a deserted chapel in a wood at night, is in the act of making the sign of the cross on his face with the holy water in a vessel suspended on a beam.
The chapel is brilliantly lit within so that the faces of the girls standing below, praying and tolling the golden bell hanging at the entrance, are illuminated by the reflection of light from the altar. It is a thankless task. After a fortnight's work my block goes to the engraver, like Agag delicately, and is hewn to pieces before the Lord Harry. Inscribed upper left and right: "Sanct Grael.
The Holy Dove bearing a censer in its beak has come to rest above her head. Monogram lower right corner. On the right a prostitute stands at dusk under an archway, watching a group of dancing children and recognizes herself as once she was in the figure of a seated, flower-crowned child. An over-hanging lamp casts a dull yellow light upon the children and illumines for a moment a large rat as it scuttles out of sight. Fine houses with lighted windows supply the background. The Wedding of St. George Swan Electric Engraving Co. Monogram, date lower left corner: " The one on the right is drinking from a long glass offered to her by a serving-woman in a blue smock Fanny Cornforth.
Espalier trees against a red-brick wall provide the background. Head nearly in profile to right against a shaded background. Figure: Pen and brown ink.
The town that hanged an elephant: A chilling photo and a macabre story of murder and revenge
In the upper left corner the sun head of Christ ; lower right corner a crescent moon head of Beatrice. The background is divided diagonally between the sun's rays and the stars. Left upper panel: inscribed above Beatrice's head: "Domicella Beatrix de Portinaris. She is attended by two women at left. Dante, ascending the stairs, turns profile facing left to look at her. He holds the railing in his left hand and a book in his right. A town can be seen upper background. In the right lower panel, Dante and Beatrice, both garlanded with leaves, stand facing each other in a flower garden.
Two women at right playing stringed instruments look on. Figure: Pencil, pen, and Indian ink. Study of Dante for the left panel; back turned mounting steps, head in profile to left, his gaze directed at Beatrice who stands whole-length, lightly sketched. In the foreground a woman with the face of Red Lion Mary moves to the left. He has fallen asleep before the shrine full of angels, and between him and it rises in his dream the image of Queen Guenevere, the cause of all. She stands gazing at him with her arms extended in the branches of an apple-tree. As a companion to this I shall paint a design which I have made for the purpose of the attainment of the San Grail by Launcelot's son Galahad, together with Bors and Percival.
Several spaces still remain to be filled, and will be so gradually as time allows. Something more, if not all, will be done this long vacation. There is no work like it for delightfulness in the doing, and none I believe in which one might hope to delight others more according to his powers. Copy by H. Treffry Dunn, DGR's assistant. Launcelot sleeps lower right, his hands on his sword, which rests between his legs.
A haloed angel holds the grael at upper left, and four white-robed girls in candles stand lower left. Gillum has another rough sketch, bought at Rossetti's sale in Monogram and date upper right corner: "Oxford Figure: Pen and ink, with traces of water color. Study for Guenevere standing whole-length, arms outstretched along the fork of an apple-tree, holding an apple in her left hand; the upper part of her body inclined backwards to left, the head turned three-quarters to right, eyes looking down.
Monogram and date lower right: "Oxford At center Guenevere stands facing right, her hands clasped to her throat. Three distressed ladies-in-waiting sit at right. A bush grows beside Launcelot. Monogram and date upper right: " Text in lower right corner: monogram and Oct Head and shoulders of DGR, facing front, with moustache and bushy goatee. In the Transcribed Footnote page 96 : 1 Mr. Then I become depressed. Especially in books for children under six.
A child may react strongly to a book because it reaches him emotionally in some way the author intended. Once in a while I encounter reactions to one of my books that make me think I may be getting some idea of what happened. Then, the text has a rhythmic quality—the repetition that kids like—and some children may be drawn mainly by that.
On another level, Pierre is defiant—irrationally so, when it comes to the lion that finally eats him—and the child may enjoy a surface identification with the fun of rebellion. Some have sent me drawings of their own wild things, and they make mine look like cuddly fuzzballs. My wild things have big teeth. Some of their wild things not only have big teeth but are chewing on children. I have yet to hear of a child who was frightened by the book.
Adults who are troubled by it forget that Max is having a fine time. I think Max is my truest creation. Like all kids, he believes in a world where a child can skip from fantasy to reality in the conviction that both exist. One seven-year-old boy wrote me a letter. If it is not too expensive my sister and I want to spend the summer there. Please answer soon.
Fantasy, I learned in subsequent visits to the studio, has been familiar terrain to Sendak from his earliest years. His sister, Natalie, was eight when he was born, and his brother, Jack, was five. The father, who worked in the garment district, told his children long stories based on tales he remembered from his childhood and alive with myth and fantasy. He becomes separated from them. Snow begins to fall, and the child shivers in the cold. He huddles under a tree, sobbing in terror. He is no longer lost. When his parents find him, the child is dead.
That one, for instance, was based on the power of Abraham in Jewish tradition as the father who was always there—a reassuring father even when he was Death. But the story was also about how tremendously my father missed his parents. Not all his tales were sombre, though.
My father could be very witty, even if the humor was always on the darker side of irony. In addition to the tales his father told, and occasional stories told by his mother, books, to which Sendak early formed a passionate attachment, also stimulated his imagination.
It felt so good just having them. They seemed alive to me, and so did many other inanimate objects I was fond of. All children have these intense feelings about certain dolls or other toys. In my case, this kind of relationship, if you can call it that, was heightened because up to the age of six I spent a lot of time in bed with a series of illnesses. Being alone much of the time, I developed friendships with objects.
Kenny wakes from a dream and remembers meeting in a garden a rooster, who gave him seven questions to answer. In the course of searching for the answers, he has serious conversations with several of his toys. Kenny is angered by a favorite Teddy bear, who reproaches him for having been left under the bed all night, but soon Kenny writes the bear a poem assuring him of his love, and that conflict is resolved.
Kenny resolves not to tell his parents about the horse and its ability to talk and to fly. The first soldier is chipped in four different places. He complains to Kenny. Enraged at being made to feel guilty, Kenny exiles the chipped soldier to the outside ledge of his window in the cold, but then he brings the soldier in again and tells him he has not broken his promise. In a store, some look as if they want to be sold to me. Others will fight me to the end. I may antagonize some and not be able to win back their friendship, but others are less stubborn.
He goes with me on all my trips. Sendak did have other friends besides objects as he grew up. He had a close relationship with his brother Jack. Both boys enjoyed drawing, and one of their amusements was making books. These combined cut-out newspaper photographs and comic strips with sketches of the Sendak family. The books were bound with tape, had elaborately illustrated covers, and contained a good deal of painstaking hand lettering.
And I was so conscious of the streets on which I lived that I can remember them now in complete detail—how many houses there were, who lived in which house, what the people looked like. During my early teens, I spent a lot of time at the window, sketching the kids at play, and those sketchbooks are, in a sense, the foundation of much of my later work. Many of them resemble the kids I knew growing up in Brooklyn.
They were Jewish kids, and they may well look like little greenhorns just off the boat. They had—some of them, anyway—a kind of bowed look, as if the burdens of the world were on their shoulders. Rosie is a girl with an unusually lively imagination, and she gets her friends—who do indeed look like Jewish children on the streets of Brooklyn—to take part in her fantasies. They hear her speak to him, and when they are allowed to open their eyes again, Rosie tells them that the Magic Man has informed her that they can all be firecrackers.
Rosie and her friends proceed to leap and dance through several pages. Though some were stories for children, his reading was indiscriminate. His sister subscribed to the Book-of-the-Month Club, and he read many of the volumes she received. His pictures did move, and they often embodied lots of fantasy. It was only later that I could see how Disney had despoiled beautiful stories and had abused the idea of animation.
I remember a Mickey Mouse mask that came on a big box of cornflakes. What a fantastic mask!