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attached and, as it were, rooted to the soil of Scotland. At first, when they were poorer, their annual holiday was spent at Bowerswell, the home of Mrs. Millais' father. For some time after that he hired shootings. In 1881. Millais became the tenant on a long lease of Murthly Castle ; and henceforth passed as much time as he could spare in Scotland as a kind of laird, a thane, and a prosperous gentle
man.' It is to his life in Scotland that we owe almost all Millais' landscapes.
The year 1867 is chosen by Millais' biographer as that which marks the most decisive change in his art. Sleeping . and Waking,' exhibited in this year, did, indeed, as has already been said, retain much of the pre-raphaelite manner. And with a bound the painter sprang from his minute work to the free or even coarse handling which we find in “Stella' and Vanessa '-pictures, howbeit, of immense technical merit, had they been frankly presented as portraits or studies from models and made no pretence at claiming historical interest. They are all the more remarkable for the moment at which they were painted. In his choice of subjects the artist continued to turn to illustration, either of well-known passages in literature or of commonplace events in real life, treated during this period for the most part in a dull, commonplace way. But he was soon to find a resting-place in almost a new source of inspiration, the one on which his permanent fame will mostly rest. This was in portraiture.* One of Millais' friends, giving an appreciation of his character, says that to the painter the human element was always the most important in life: that even in Millais' landscapes he discovers some trace of it. And Millais' portraits show that the artist, for all that his friendships seemed not very intimate, seemed to rest upon the outer side of life, had a real gift of seizing character. To produce work of first-rate merit such as his portrait of Gladstone, of Hook, of Sir James Paget, or of Sir Henry Thompson, he needed to be helped by the character of his subject. Happy for him that the opportunity for such reinforcement came at a moment when his technical powers were at their height. In the case of children, Millais' natural love for childhood was inspiration enough. One of his best early child-portraits is that of Miss Nina Lehmann, exhibited in
Not, of course, that Millais had not done some portraits since the beginning—Mr. Wyatt and his grandchild in 1849, Ruskin in 1854, and others.
1869. His great series of portraits begins in 1870. The Marchioness of Huntly gives not much more than the externals of a beautiful face. Mrs. Heugh, painted in 1872, is of higher merit, and in 1873 we get the best of all Millais' portraits of women--his Mrs. Bischoffsheim.
Millais' second inspiration came from a source already indicated-landscape. It went hand in hand with his growing attachment to Scotland and to Scottish associations. So that now we find him performing, like some marvellously skilled flute-player, upon three instruments at once, and exhibiting, year by year, portraits, landscapes, and subject pictures in a number which no other artist bas equalled ; with varying degrees of merit, indeed, but with little sign of diminished powers almost to the end of his life.
Of course, his strong bias to portrait-painting brought Millais more than ever into contact with great men, his contemporaries. It would be pleasant, if there were space, to say something of the men and women who were his friends, of whom we get some glimpses, slight, alas ! in the present volumes. Of Leech, one of the earliest friends, we have a delightful vision—the tall, thin, grave, courteous Irishman, a picture altogether different from what Leech's public work would lead us to expect. Of Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, something is said. Du Maurier has a chapter to himself; and there are letters with sketches and doggerel verses that passed between the friends, not very impressive or very enlightening ;* for Mr. J. G. Millais has none of the biographer's art, to give the mind's complexion in a few touches. John Bright, too, spent a time with Millais at Stobhall, and in his cherished sport of salmon fishing ; and his host painted a fine portrait of him. But of Bright likewise we get little that is memorable.
It is a happy, genial, kindly, generous life; but it is a thousand miles removed from the days of early striving and half-understood ambition. And on these smooth waters it drifts slowly towards the end.
Here is a charming letter which Millais writes in the autumn of 1895 to Frith. He is bored. Alas that it should be so ! for this, if he knew it, is the last time that he will stay in his northern home.
Now, I see, Sala is going,' he writes, “not so long after Yates--whilst our friend C-defies the grasp of the skeleton hand. His
• Millais' parody of The twa doggies' is excellent; but nothing else of the kind printed here.
coat-tails somehow always give way, and he escapes. I come up to town the end of this month, to paint -perchance to die. My ailments make the club almost impossible, so I am restricted in all my joys, old man, as you are. I hear bad accounts of Leighton, whom (with a father between 90 and 100) I thought good for 190; and the newspaper correspondents alone know what is to happen in the Royal Academy if anything in the shape of a new President is demanded."
"And now,' says Millais' biographer in a passage which makes us pardon many foregone defects, the door of Bowerswell closed behind him for the last time. Never again would he see the green terraces and yew hedges of his northern home; never again the fir woods and the rushing Tay, which had been to him both his joy and his inspiration; never again the familiar faces of the many friends that he left behind. All were to be no more, for the Great Reaper had stepped across the threshold and marked him for the sickle.'
There are published some pleasant letters of congratulation to Millais after his election as president from old friends and the sons of old friends. But, as we know, the momentary rally which allowed him to accept this great office, was no more than a prelude to the final fall of the curtain. He continued to waste slowly away, and died in * the afternoon of August 13 in the presence of bis wife, my brother Everett, and two of my sisters.'
During his long illness his frame, once so robust, had wasted away to a mere shadow of his former self; his beard and moustache, too, had been allowed to grow; and as he lay in his last sleep, with the lines of care and suffering all effaced, his face looked like that of a mediæval saint. , .. Lord Rosebery noticed this in a most kind and sympathetic letter to my mother : " But in any case my memory your husband must always be one of charm without alloy, for even of his death-bed my recollection is one of divine beauty and patience.”' And Mr. Val Prinsep, who writes the best out of three or four short reminiscences and appreciations which close this biography, speaks of the same saint-like beauty of Millais' face just before death :-
' As he grew older he did not lose his beauty. In later life, though Lis figure had somewhat changed, though age had added weight and destroyed elasticity, he still carried himself without stooping. With his grey hair and whiskers, keen look, and singularly erect carriage of his head, he looked like an old lion, and he resembled the royal beast in his roar. During his last illness, when he was lying speechless in his bed, and his grey beard had already grown, I never saw a more beautiful head. The touching affection with which in mute demonstration he greeted his old friends was enough to unman the firmest nerves, and, I confess, though I had hoped by cheerful talk to enliven
the sick-room, I was quite overcome, and could say nothing; nor was I the only one touched. The eminent surgeon who performed the operation which prolonged his life told me that when the operation was successfully completed, Millais insisted on embracing him."," he said, “am from the necessity of my profession quite without emotion; but I confess I was quite overcome." '
Here and there in the volume we get glimpses into Millais' family life, little touches which illustrate the boyishness of the man, a certain frank egotism (* As a speaker,' says Mr. Val. Prinsep slyly, “Millais was wonderful. It is true he
rarely spoke of anything but himself; but how dramatic
and excellent it was !") - a certain frank egotism and a certain impatience, as when he is watching his son playing a difficult salmon, but gets so impatient that he insists on taking the rod and finishing the job himself; and of the good nature which underlay it all, the chaff' to which he was subjected in his home from his own children.
A certain journal in 1886 set the story afloat that Millais had travelled in Australia along with Woolner and Lord Salisbury (both of whom were in the Antipodes), and that he had for a time worked with his own hands in the Bendigo Goldfields, and presently every tit-bitty paper in the
country repeated the tale, with all the rhetorical adorn'ments at the command of the writer,
“The frenzied energy “of gold-seekers ” was one of their phrases, which specially pleased us, and we never failed to throw it at my • father's head when he was in a bit of a hurry.' †
And here again :
• Another nuisance to Millais was that, owing to the similarity between his Christian names and those of two of his sons, one of whom was a dog-fancier and the other a naturalist, his time was occasionally wasted over letters in which he had no interest. After struggling for some minutes over hieroglyphics familiar enough to us, he would spell out, perhaps, come such question as this: “Why has the name of Savonarola the Sixteenth, my famous basset-hound, been omitted from p. 527 of the Kennel Club stud-book," or “Will you write us an article on the scarcity of owls in the Inner Temple?”
And then, flinging the letter from him, the master of the house would, I grieve to say, mutter to himself some words that were neither complimentary nor considerate, seeing that we never complained when our time was wasted over such frivolities as a flattering invitation to open a new Art school in an unknown neighbourhood, or to deliver a lecture on the fine arts in some wretched educational centre; and this right in the middle of the shooting season !'. * Ibid. vol. ii.
390. † Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 81.
Ibid. vol. ii. p. 246.
These are the little touches, a twopennyworth of bread, which help us to form some picture of the man. They make a whole of which the very weaknesses are endearing, yet a whole which would put no great strain on the psychologist to understand it. Thackeray, it has been said, loved to sketch his painters much after such a pattern; though it is to be noticed that, when Thackeray entered upon a serious study of one of the confraternity, he chose a very different type. That which puts the psychologist upon his mettle is the difficulty in reconciling Millais the man and Millais the painter.
It would, in the case of any great man dead not four years, be rash to attempt an appreciation of his work. When the production is so vast and so varied as was that of Sir John Everett Millais, the task is ten times more hard. A fair judge, ment of the work of Sir Edward Burne Jones might be made by a critic who had never seen but half-a-dozen of Burne Jones's pictures. But what half-dozen could we choose out of Millais' wuvre which should in any fair degree represent him? Gladstone'* or "Hook' and Mrs. Bischoffsheim' might perhaps show him not so incompletely as a portraitpainter. "Murthly Moss' and. Over the Hills' would give no inadequate idea of his landscape. When we came to the subject pictures we should have to choose two extremes, and leave out all the gamut which separates Ophelia' from the 'North-West Passage.' Seeing but these two pictures, one beside the other, any man would be as sceptical as were those officers at Dinan, and ready to wager the two could not have come from the same hand. It is fair to assume in the reader familiarity with a large portion of Millais' work. But it is not fair to assume that of any given picture he can recall the characteristics at any moment. Yet it is impossible to speak of Millais' art at all without citing a great many of his pictures.
Probably no artist that our country has produced was inore highly endowed than was this one with all the natural and quasi-physical gifts which go to make a great painter. This is not saying that in the narrower sense of the word Millais' technique was exceptionally good. M. Chesneau, whom we have already cited, in noticing one
* The earlier "Gladstone'is, judged by all intellectual standpoints, far the best of the two portraits of the statesman ; the later, best as an impressionist portrait. This was the one Millais himself preferred. Life and Letters, vol. ii. p. 166.