Imágenes de páginas

agreed with me, and before long I was elected without opposition for an Irish National constituency. That was in the early spring of 1879.

Alas! how easily things go wrong! I joined the party under the leadership of Mr. Parnell, and we fought our battle out for our own hand regardless of English Ministries and parties, and for a time I became very unpopular with the British public. I worked at the third and fourth volumes of my "History of Our Own Times," and the critics in general gave me a most genial and gracious reception, but the outer public were shocked at me, and did not care to read me any more-for the time, at all events. The third and fourth volumes of my History showed a remarkable drop down from the popularity and the circulation of the first and second. Then I got drawn deeper and deeper into the active work of Parliament. Those were the days of the prolonged sittings, of the all-night obstruction, of the battles against coercion bills, of the suspensions and expulsions, and all the rest of it. I am proud to say that I stood by my party and my cause to the best of my ability. I would do it all over again if it had to be done over again. I had some faint hope that, as I was well known in English literary life, my standing in with my party might make some Englishmen believe that there was something to be said for the party and for the cause. Meanwhile my literary work was going into sad disarray. The "History of Our Own Times" remained a mere torso; the "History of the Four Georges" was only a bust. I wrote some novels against time and at odd intervals, and they were no better than might have been expected under the conditions. I still wrote leaders for the "Daily News," and I found the chance of scribbling off pot-boilers of various kinds. But the work of the House of Commons was absorbing, and I began to live more or less on the capital I had made. The individual withered, and the Parliamentary work became more and


In the meantime a change had taken place in the conditions of the American publishing market. When I was first

in America, there was an honorable understand ing among the publishers there that if any foreign author were accepted by an American publisher all other American publishers would recognize the agreement and not attempt to interfere with it. Some of my novels were published in the United States by Messrs. Harper and Brothers, of New York; one was published by the proprietors of the "Galaxy Magazine," of New York; but whatever publisher I made terms with was regarded as my publisher for that particular book, and I got paid in the most liberal and honorable way, and I counted on my American receipts as a settled and an important part of my income. Later on, however, there came up a set of publishers who regarded no such rights, and, there being then no legal claims of an English or Irish author which American publishers were bound to respect, the poor author was left naked to his enemies. At this time there was no international copyright law in existence. So my "History of Our Own Times," which was published in New York by Messrs. Harper and Brothers, was pirated by all manner of inferior American firms.


Messrs. Harper and Brothers did all they could, and paid all they could, for me. I honestly believe that they must have lost, on the whole, by the publication of my "History of Our Own Times." I am sure they paid me every dollar that they conscientiously could have paid; I am not sure, as I have said, that they did not err on the wrong side for themselves. But the fact was, so far as I was concerned, that my American market was gone. I had become terribly unpopular in England, and the sale of my most successful


books profited me little



nothing in


These facts
did not op-
press me very
much at first.
I had still got
the remains

of the money
made by the
first and sec-
ond volumes
of the "His-
tory of Our
Own Times."
I worked away
the best I
could at his-
tories and
novels and
leading arti-
cles, but the

truth was that I had to work for a long time in the direct teeth of English public opinion, and that I had no longer the American profits at my back. It is true that after some years the feeling of the British public became tempered towards me, and the circulating libraries began to give me once more something like a welcome. But in the meantime the money made by the first and second volumes of the "History of Our Own Times" was "petering out," to use the Western expression. At last it petered out altogether. Once again I found a means of temporary restoration in America. After the failure of Mr. Gladstone's first Home Rule measure in 1886, I accepted an offer for a lecturing tour in the United States and Canada, and I went a good deal over the two countries, spent some eight months there, and was rewarded in money much beyond my deserts. So I was enabled still to fight out my battle for Home Rule in the Westminster Parliament.

I have not, according to my own judgment, written even a fairly good novel since I became actively engaged in the daily work of the House of Commons. My position and the position of my colleagues was not in the least like that of an ordinary member of that House. Our work began to be unintermittent. Our numbers were small, and we could not divide ourselves, as English members, Liberal or Tory, could do, into batches or "shifts" to carry on the fight. We had to be always in the field and at our posts. On the other hand, I, at all events, was not able to give myself wholly up to the life of the House of Commons, as a man ought to do who wants to make any real distinction there. I had to earn a living all the while, and I could never be counted on to make a speech, because I might, at the particular moment when I was needed, be compelled to turn to and write a leading article. The truth was that I tried to serve two masters-literature and politics-two very jealous masters, who will not tolerate divided service. I am fond of Parliamentary life. I can easily understand how a man gives up his whole time and his whole faculties to its work. I am very fond of the House of Commons and of its ways. But I am clear in my mind that the man who wants to make a real distinction for himself in the House of Commons must be able to give himself up altogether to its business and its life, and must not at the same time be compelled to earn his daily bread. It was all very well for a man like Mr. Disraeli to turn to and devote the


leisure of a Parliamentary recess or two to the writing of a novel. But while the House of Commons was sitting Disraeli never troubled himself about anything but the House of Commons. He had no occasion to work for a living. I am far from suggesting that under any conditions of opulence I could have written novels as good as Disraeli's, for I know it is not in me to do anything of the kind I am only contending that for the ordinary man it is all but impossible to be a success in literature and in the House of Commons at one and the same time. For myself, however, I had a national cause to strive for, and I did not greatly care whether or not I quite succeeded as far as I could have wished in fiction and in history. My resolve sustained me, as Tennyson says of Enoch Arden, although in a somewhat different sense. In truth, I suppose every man does just all that he can and nothing else, and that, as Carlyle says, nothing can ever be aught but simply and altogether what it is. I have often had longings and yearnings for a life of literature. merely of reading books and writing books--perhaps mainly of reading books-of keeping up the old classical studies and the Elizabethan literature and Dante and Goethe, and also keep


ing up with the newest as well, and reading all the rising authors, and neither accepting the theory that nothing is good but the old nor the theory that nothing is good but the new, and so, lapped in delightful dreamy leisure, letting the political world go its way. But I suppose I could not do it. I suppose I had to go my way, and so I held on to the House of Commons. everybody knows, we had a disastrous split in our party. some few years ago. The great majority went one way; the small minority went another way. The majority elected me chairman of the party in the room of Mr. Parnell.


73 Eaton Terrace, London, S. W


During some years I did little or no serious literary work. A novel of mine which has lately been published spread over quite four years in its accomplishment. Sometimes it was put absolutely

aside for six months at a stretch. At last, in the early part of the present year, I found myself absolutely compelled, by failing health and the necessity of looking after my neglected literary work, to resign the leadership of my party. I did not withdraw from the House of Commons, and I still attend to my Parliamentary duties as well as I can, but I found it necessary to be relieved from the incessant work and attention and care which belonged and could not but belong to my former position. was succeeded in the place of chairman of



the party by my dear and trusted friend Mr. John Dillon. Now, during my Parliamentary experience I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance and to enjoy the friendship of many distinguished English public men. I came to know Mr. Gladstone well. I had always admired him. I had followed his career closely for many years before I came to know him personally. My colleagues and I had to fight against him during several stormy sessions. Of later years we had been fighting by his side. He was striving hard that justice should be done to Ireland's national claim. I received personally much kindness from him. I was admitted many times to the honor of holding counsel with him on Irish affairs. It is one of the triumphs of a life to have known such a man and to have been permitted to understand his high, unselfish, noble, hopeful nature. I count it the great success of my life to have known such a man and some other men of genius and single-hearted purpose. Therefore I am happy to have the chance of telling the American public something about the story of Mr. Gladstone's life. In the first speech I ever made in the House of Commons I ventured to appeal to Mr. Gladstone, who was then the leader of the Opposition, as the only English statesman since the days of Charles James Fox who had ever risked office, power, and popularity for the sake of trying to do justice to Ireland. At the time when I made that speech Mr. Gladstone had only associated himself directly with the cause of land reform in Ireland. He had not yet seen his way to identify himself with the cause of Home Rule for Ireland. Yet a little and he had put himself at the head of that movement, too, and he had accomplished a thorough union between the Irish Nationalists and the democracy of England, Scotland, and Wales. We have lost him in Parliament, to be sure, and the House of Commons is a changed place for his disappearance from it. But in the last words I had with him, immediately after his resignation of office, he gave me his fervid assurance-and, indeed, I little needed the assurance, delighted though I was to get it from his lips-that his heart and his hopes and his prayers were unalterably with the Irish National cause.

Therefore I have ventured to bring into my autobiographical sketch some account of my dealings with Mr. Gladstone, political and personal. If it were for nothing but such an intercourse I should feel satisfied that I had not lived in vain.


Religious Painting in America

By Rufus Rockwell Wilson

The painting of religious subjects has from the first found favor with American painters. Benjamin West, in many respects greatest of the early men, devoted his ripest effort to imposing canvases based Scriptural motives,

and the same was true of West's contemporary, John Singleton Copley, and of his pupils, John Trumbull and Washington Allston. A majority of the religious paintings of West and Copley remain in England, where both lived for many years and died; but many of Trumbull's works are now in the art galleries at New Haven and Hartford. Trumbull painted with much feeling his own conception of the crucifixion and burial of the Saviour, of "The Woman Taken in Adultery," "The Holy Family," "The Saviour Blessing Little Children," and "The Infant Christ and St. John," canvases full of interest as specimens of genuine academic painting, although the coloring has so suffered that it is difficult to imagine what it was originally. Time, on the other hand, has dealt more kindly with the work of Allston, who in his youth spent many years abroad, and was the first American to fully enjoy the advantages of study and surroundings suited to artistic development. Examples of Allston's work as a religious painter, now in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts at Philadelphia, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and in private hands, show consider able feeling for color and a rich imagination; but his mind was of the literary order, and he must be classed among those artists whose ideals and aspirations keep ever in advance of their executive ability, and whose whole careers consist of more or less futile efforts to record on canvas thoughts better expressed by the pen than by the brush.



By Will H. Low

Following the men I have named, Charles Robert Leslie, Thomas Cole, Robert W. Weir, George W. Flagg, Thomas P. Rossiter, Thomas B. Read, Isaac E. Craig, Joseph O. Eaton, D. M. Carter, Edward H. May, John W. Ehninger, Thomas Ball, William Page, and other painters who lent distinction to the middle period of American art, handled the religious subject with feeling, and often with success. Not all of the members of this second group call for individual mention. Leslie, the friend and pupil of Allston, prompted by the influence and example of his master, painted many religious pictures, some of which are now in the Lenox Gallery at New York; but, while a carefully trained craftsman, his development as a whole was narrow, and his work, as a rule, lacks spirit and earnestness. Therein a wide gulf separates him from Thomas Cole, who, though born in England, spent the greater part of his life on this side of the sea, and was perhaps the first successful landscape-painter of America. The landscape element.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

predominates in all of Cole's work, but his earnestness of thought and feeling led him to paint a number of Scriptural subjects, which, in an engraved form, achieved immense popularity half a century ago and are still honorably remembered.

Weir, while best known as a painter of genre subjects, turned often to sacred themes, and his "Christ and Nicodemus" and "The Angel Liberating Peter," the latter executed in Florence, manifest deep religious feeling in the artist. Flagg was the nephew and the favorite pupil of Allston, and among his early works was a picture of "Jacob and Rachel at the Well," which so delighted his master that he exclaimed, "Now you may consider yourself an artist!" Later he painted "The Good Samaritan," but neither in this nor in his other works were the fond hopes of Allston fully realized. Rossiter's most notable religious canvas is "The Ascension," but he also painted large



pictures of "Noah," "Miriam," and "The Jews in Captivity," which were extensively exhibited forty years and more ago, and devoted his later years to a series of pictures dealing with incidents in the life of the Saviour. The venerable Thomas Ball has so long held a commanding position as a sculptor that most people have forgotten that in the early part of his career he was a very successful portraitpainter. Such, however, was the case; and it is also interesting to recall that before Mr. Ball gave up the brush for the chisel he executed at least two religious canvases, a "Holy Family" and a "Christ in the Temple with the Doctors," both of more than average merit.


William Page was easily the ablest member of the group of painters now under discussion. More than that, he was one of the most picturesque characters of modern times, dwelling habitually in an ideal world where Titian, Shakespeare, and Swedenborg were his constant comrades. His friendships were strong and lasting. Lowell, Hawthorne, Emerson, and Browning were among his friends, and in 1844 Lowell, dedicating his poems to Page, said: Sure I am that no nobler, gentler, or purer spirit than yours was ever appointed by the Eternal Beauty to bear that part of her divine message which it belongs to the great painter to reveal." Page's fame rests mainly on his work in portraiture, but he also painted a number of religious pictures that will live. These include a "Holy Family," now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, a "Ruth and Naomi," owned by the New York Historical Society, and a "Head of Christ," painted for Theodore Tilton, which attracted much attention when first exhibited, and was thought by some the best approach to the Man Divine that was ever made. Mention of Page brings the story of what may properly be termed religious painting in America to a time when a few gifted and original artists inaugurated a new epoch, and imparted a luster to art in this country which has revolutionized painting in all directions, and not least in the


representation of sacred subjects. High on the roll of the creators of this new era stands the name of Elihu Vedder. Born in New York in 1836, Mr. Vedder is sprung from the sturdy Dutch stock which has played so large a part in the history of his native State. His talent asserted itself early, and he commenced as a boy to study art by himself. the age of twenty he found the means to go abroad, studied for a time under Picot in Paris, and then spent several years in Italy. Upon his return to America he opened a studio in New York, and at once attracted attention as a painter of ability and uncommon originality. The high regard with which he soon came to be considered by his fellow-artists was manifested by his election in 1865 to full membership in the Academy of Design.

Rome, however, is the city which the artistic mind looks to as a paradise. It attracts the painter as naturally as the flower lures the bee. Soon after the close of the Civil War Mr. Vedder went back there for a brief visit, but his stay lengthened into months, then into years, and, save for occasional visits to the United States, the Italian capital has ever since been his home. And for this, among other reasons, it is as a meditative artist, living somewhat apart from the world, that he now holds a place in the popular mind; but it is to three strong and original pictures executed by Mr. Vedder before his second visit to Rome that I desire to call attention in this place. These were "The Death of Abel," "The Star of Bethlehem," and "Christ on the Cross at Midnight," in which the prophets and patriarchs, having come from their graves, look up in solemn wonder at the divine sacrifice, to know what it portends to them. In each of these canvases the artist, taking an old and familiar idea and passing it through the alembic of his fancy, gave it new form and application and the element of grandeur. The spirit of the old masters was revived in them, tempered by modern ideas.

These pictures of Mr. Vedder made an immediate and profound impression when first exhibited, and, coming as they did in a period of change and transition, it is not too much to say, gave a new trend to religious art in America. One of those upon whom they exerted a radical and lasting influence was John La Farge, an artist of American birth and French descent, who was then at the outset of his career. Mr. La Farge had been a student of Couture in Paris, and was painting landscapes and flowers in a desultory way, when the desire to deal with religious motives gradually took hold of him. His first efforts in this field were fig ures of a "Madonna" and "St. John " designed for the altar of a Catholic church, which, though not accepted for the positions for which they were intended, are among the most beautiful and important of his paintings. A few years later he executed a "St. Paul at Athens," which, which, when shown at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, at once attracted attention by reason of its sincerity



By Ella C. Lamb

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

of aim and its unmistakable evidence of power, study, and thought.

About this time the opportunity for which Mr. La Farge had long been waiting came to him in the shape of a request from the building committee of Trinity Church, Boston, to undertake the whole mural decoration of their new edifice. The time allowed was all too short, but the painter brought to his task great learning in his art, accurate knowledge of the best means by which to achieve profound and subtle effects, a sensitive regard for the value of mystery in tone and color and of the emission of luminous

light through these qualities, and the result was a great advance upon any church decoration heretofore achieved in this country. Following the consecration of the church, Mr. La Farge painted on the western nave-wall-with more deliberation, and therefore with more success, than was possible in the haste to which he and his assistants had been compelled in the earlier portions-a simple yet beautiful composition depicting Christ and the woman of Samaria. The "Christ and Nicodemus" on the opposite wall is and must remain one of La Farge's masterpieces.

To write the story of Mr. La Farge's career since the

« AnteriorContinuar »