[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

nile Criminals,” and there creates a sen- story of a boyhood, and ends with the sation, first by exploiting the unhealthy day on which Tommy drives out to curiosity of a lady patroness, to whom meet his manhood. But the issue, we he recounts a purely imaginary tale of feel, must be a sad, if not a tragic one. crime with all the passion of convic- On the one hand, Tommy is weaker tion, and afterwards, hysteria than Grizel. "The most conspicuous of shakes him into equally fictitious re- his traits,” we are told, “was the facmorse—but here I must take refuge in ulty of stepping into other people's the text:

shoes, and remaining there until he be

came some one else; his individuality The chairman rose and announced that consisted in his having none, while she the Rev. Mr. would open the proceed- could only be herself, and was withings with prayer. The Rev. Mr.

rose out tolerance for those who were differto pray in a loud voice for the waifs in the ent;” and again (p. 264). "at every time body of the hall. At the same moment of his life his pity was easily aroused rose Tommy, and · began to pray in a squeaky voice for the people on the plat- to comfort them by shutting their eyes

for persons in distress, and he sougbt form.

He had many Biblical phrases, mostly to the truth as long as possible. This picked up in Thrums Street, and what he sometimes brought relief to them, but said was distinctly heard in the stillness, it was useless to Grizel, who must face the clergyman being suddenly bereft of her troubles." Here is his schoolmasspeech. “Oh," he cried, "look down on ter's testimony (p. 333): “Though them ones there, for, oh, they are un- sometimes his emotion masters him worthy of thy mercy, and, oh, the worst completely, at other times he can step sinner is her ladyship, her sitting there aside, as it were, and take an approvso brazen in the black frock with yellow ing look at it. That is a characteristic stripes, and the worse I said I were the of him, and not the least maddening better pleased were she. Oh, make her

one.” And Cathro repeats it on p. 335 think shame for tempting of a poor boy, in slightly different words: “That, I forgetting 'Suffer little children. Oh, tell you, is the nature of the sacket; he why cumbereth she the ground? Oh

has a devouring desire to try on other He is seized and cast forth, still pray- folks' feelings, as if they were so many ing hysterically, and even outside the suits of clothes.” doors his agitation does not leave him But, on the other hand, we are shown for a while. His author comments, not obscurely that, though Tommy may "Tommy and the saying about art for resign the captaincy of his own soul, art's sake were in the streets that he will grow up to be the master of night, looking for each other.”

Against this

his mother, It is a melancholy but a wonderful mindful of her own sorrows, entreated portrait, most skilfully heightened by him to pray. And as a child he prayed, contrast with Grizel, the Painted "O God, keep me from becoming a Lady's child, who, though yet a child magerful man!" and thereupon opened when the story closes, is to my mind his eyes to let God see that his prayer already the finest of all Mr. Barrie's was ended, and added to himself, "But achievements in feminine portraiture. I think I would fell like it.” Upon the I say it, forgetting neither Leeby of "A same note ends the interview with Window in Thrums," nor Babbie, be- Grizel (on p. 450), which was their last, loved of “The Little Minister.” Sure, we are told, until they met again as indeed, was the instinct which told him man and woman. As I read, I rememto place a boy of Tommy's nature be- ber another peasant genius who detween the opposing and distracting scribes himself in a familiar epistle as loves of his sister Elspeth and the "an old hawk at the sport” of love, as downright Grizel. The issue we are he understood love. Must I brave the left (for the present) to divine; for this indignation of a perfervid race by conbook, as its title proclaims, is but the fessing that if Mr. Barrie had




thought of Burns in his mind as he are still hesitating over the propriety wrote this book, he has called up the of erecting a memorial to Stevenson! ghost of Burns more than a dozen times But this boyish and unconscious honto the mind of one of his readers? esty towards the half-divined ideals of

Damning the portraiture is, yet not art is, as far as I can discover, the one altogether contemptuous. At least the and only moral beauty which Mr. Barartistic temperament keeps its owner rie concedes to Tommy's temperament. constant to one point of honor; and I Now, all poets and novelists, perhaps, felt that if Mr. Barrie had forgotten or and certainly all who touch the human slurred that point, or made light of it, heart as Mr. Barrie touches it, must I for one should have found it hard io possess that temperament in some deforgive him. Let another Scotsman gree; and, while following this tale, I explain

could not help asking myself, “Is there

not a trace of almost Puritanical bitterNor will the practice of art afford you ness in this contemptuous and unrepleasure only; it affords besides an ad- lenting exposure of the poor, unreal, mirable training. For the artist works self-deluding soul?” One might almost entirely upon honor. The public knows fancy that Mr. Barrie had looked deep little or nothing of those merits in the into his own nature, and—as we all feel quest of which you are condemned to most bitterly towards the weaknesses spend the bulk of your endeavors. Merits from which we have most narrowly esof design, the merit of first-hand energy, the merit of a certain deep accomplish- caped, thanks to training and the charment which a man of the artistic temper acter which training gives—that he had easily acquires-these they can recognize, written this book in a mood of indig. and these they value. But to those more nant revulsion from the picture of a exquisite refinements of proficiency and soul, which, but for happy circumfinish, which the artist so ardently desires stances, happy influences, might have and so keenly feels, for which (in the been his own. I entreat you not to vigorous words of Balzac) he must toil misunderstand this point, which I find "like a miner buried in a landslip," for a peculiarly delicate one to convey. which, day after day, he recasts and re- But a first-rate artist has understandvises and rejects—the gross mass of the ing both of good and of evil, and I public must be forever blind. To those doubt if we admirers ever recognize lost pains, suppose you attain the highest the extent to which, even in depicting pitch of merit, posterity may possibly do justice; suppose, as is so probable, you fail vice and crime, he draws upon the wisby even a hair's breadth of the highest, dom of his own heart. It was not by rest certain they shall never be observed. amassing documents that Shakespeare Under the shadow of this cold thought, saw into the springs which moved Macalone in his studio, the artist must pre- beth and Lady Macbeth, nor from crimserve from day to day his constancy to the inal records, alone or chiefly, that Balzac ideal. It is this which makes his life painted his “Vautrin." In Dmitri Rounoble. (R. L. Stevenson, "Letter to a dine, so high of purpose, yet so futile Young Gentleman who proposes to em- in action, the good Tourgueneff exhibbrace the career of Art.)

its to us a facet of his own nature.

But in “Sentimental Tommy" one It was, therefore, with a shock of re- seems to detect an impatience accomlief and delight that I came upon the panying the exhibition—a sort of scornpenultimate chapter . and read how ful shame which constrains the author, Tommy lost the Hugh Blackadder prize as if in self-mortification, to avert his for a Scotch essay, and all because of eyes from possibly pleasanter features his devoted search for the mot propre; of Tommy's character. I do not, thereanu I can only hope that its moral will fore, find Tommy incomplete. I find not be utterly lost in Edinburgh, where him almost distressingly complete and I understand, the professors who con- life-like. But I warn the reader that sidered Professor Blackie a great man he does not embrace the complete artistic temperament, and express the final that will pass with time into the word upon it; and that in real life company of the classics, and in time no genius and character are not neces- doubt find a critic to judge it without sarily antithetical, as we have only to emotion. I cannot; nor will many, I turn to our lives of Milton, of Johnson, think, who make the acquaintance of or of Scott to discover.

that brave and adorable child. Pathos Further, it may be fancy, but it hangs like a mist about the pretty, strikes me that this impatience has not shameful, demented little woman, with been without effect on the movement her painted face and lips, now babbling of the narrative. To be sure, the story soft English words of endearment and itself is thoroughly considered; it has pure joy, and anon uttering gutterno loose ends; no shadowy, unrealized streams of foul language that Auchierfigures, such as Lord Rintoul in “The lonie, the smith, felt "wae” to hear, Little Minister;" no obvious mechan- "for she just spoke it like a bairn that ism, such as creaked and betrayed it had been in ill company." But the self at least once in that work, in the heart of the pathos resides rather in chapter entitled “Various Parties Con- her child, who defended her mother verging on the Hill;" and it has the single-handed while she lived, and structure which A Window in nursed her single-handed when she Thrums” lacked. In short, I do not be- sickened, and single-handed “straiked” lieve any competent critic will deny her when she was dead. that technically, as well as in its combi- It was necessary, I suppose, and part nation of insight and emotion, this of the donnée of the tale that sorrow book stands highest among Mr. Bar- and suffering—other people's sorrow rie's achievements. But I do not find and suffering-should go to the making ita tranquil or a tranquillizing book. It of that fine fellow Tommy Sandys, who flashes, page after page, with an alarm- grew up to write books so eloquent of ing brilliance; it moves from scene to

sorrows and sufferings he had never scene with an energy all but consump- felt at first hand. Yet I think some of tive. Page after page excites wonder the pathos of this book might have and admiration; but more than once or

been spared; the early death, for intwice there followed on these a feeling stance, of the little girl who passes in of apprehension-I might almost say, and out of Chapter I. like the child of a of distress. Our literature-toasters dream; and perhaps-after reading it I would perhaps discern in this the nat. have not the heart to speak more deural shock of a masterpiece on a mind cidedly—the lamentable history of Miss unaccustomed to masterpieces. To my Kitty; but not—of this I am certainthinking, the sustained and pervading the tale of Grizel. For that, and not pathos of the book will better account the heroical career of Tommy, is the for it. For Tommy stands, so to speak, crown of the book. “I'm not sure what on the apex of a pyramid, the three I'm laughing at,” said Tommy, on one sides of which are built of pathos, or, famous occasion, “but I think it's at at least, cemented with it. Yes, and its mysel'.” The author adds, “The joke base rests on the most sorrowful story grew with the years, until sometimes of Aaron Latta and Jean Myles, al. he laughed in his most emotional moready told. The story of Elspeth, if ments, suddenly seeing himself in his not yet acutely pathetic, will assuredly true light. But it had become a bitter become so when the time arrives, and laugh by this time.” And we foretaste Mr. Barrie tells of Tommy's maṇhood. that bitterness as we read. The tale The story of Miss Ailie, his schoolmis- of Grizel, on the other hand, contains

fashion tress, is pathetic after

no bitterness, and its humor (let the which has been lost to

since reader turn

to the chapter headed the authoress of "Cranford” died. “Grizel Pays Three Visits”) lies too And the story of Grizel and her deep for laughter. mother, the Painted Lady-ah well!

And here, at the very end, I find I




to woo.

have said next to nothing of the humor

From The Nineteenth Century. of "Sentimental Tommy,” and nothing LORD LEIGHTON'S DRAWINGS. at all of its exquisite language.

Το The late Lord Leighton's work has that my quotations may already sufli- been for more than forty years before ciently testify; but I will add yet one, the world. Since his first great picture which concerns the love-letters found of Cimabue's Madonna was exhibited among the Painted Lady's effects, in the Royal Academy he was almost when they were "rouped” at her door every year a contributor to the great by public auction:

show at Burlington House. His posi

tion as an artist has been so freely disMost of them were given to Grizel, but a dozen or more passed without her leave cussed, admirers and detractors have so into the kists of various people, where long been ranged in opposite camps, often since then they have been consulted that one might suppose that there was by swains in need of a pretty phrase; and nothing new to be said about him; yet, Tommy's schoolfellows, the very boys and strange as it may seem, except for a few girls who hooted the Painted Lady, were reproductions in Mr. Earnest Rhys's in time—so oddly do things turn out—to be book and elsewhere, the most characamong those whom her letters taught how teristic part of his work, and, as many

Where the kists did not let in the will think, the best, remains quite undamp or careless fingers, the paper long known to the general public. remained clean, and ink but little faded.

He left behind him a vast number of Some of the letters were creased, as if

drawings of exquisite beauty, which they had been much folded, perhaps for

will be exhibited in the course of the slipping into secret hiding-places, but none of them bore any address or a date. “To coming winter, and which will, one may my beloved," was sometimes written on venture to think, attract considerable the cover, and inside he was darling or

attention and admiration. They beloved again. So no one could have ar- amount to a record of his life and a ranged them in the order in which they statement of his artistic creed. were written, though there was a three- Painters may be divided into two cornered one which said it was the first; classes, viz., those who seek pre. there was a violet in it, clinging to the eminently for pictorial effect of light or paper as if they were fond of each other, color and those who look first for and Grizel's mamma had written, “The beauty of form and composition-in violet is me, hiding in a corner because I other words, those who seek to make a am so happy.” The letters were in many beautiful representation of an object moods, playful, reflective, sad, despairing,

and those who seek to make a repre. arch, but all were written in an ecstasy of

sentation of a beautiful object. The the purest love, and most of them were cheerful, so that you seemed to see the sun divergence of the two may not appear dancing on the paper while she wrote, the great at first sight, but it leads to aston. same sun that afterwards showed up her ishingly different results. Correggio, painted cheeks. Why they came back to the Venetians, and Rembrandt are her no one ever discovered, any more than typical representatives of the first (Sir how she who slipped the violet into that Joshua was contented with any sitter three-cornered one and took it out to kiss

so long as he had “a high light on his again and wrote, “It is my first love-letter, nose"), the Florentines, the Romans, and I love it so much I am reluctant to let and Mantegna of the second. Leighit go,” became in a few years the derision ton's sympathies were with the latter. of the Double Dykes. Some of these That he could see effect and loved color letters may be in old kists still, but whether that is so or not, they alone have is made sufficiently clear in his pictures passed the Painted Lady's memory from and still more in his sketches, but his one generation to another, and they have real affections were given to form. purified it, so that what she was died with One saw it in his method of designing. her vile body, and what she might have He began not, as most painters do now. been lived on as if it were her true self. adays, with a sketch of an effect of light

A. T. QUILLER-COUCH. or color, but with an outline. Of late years he used generally to talk to, or, as towards the understanding of his mind he was pleased to say, consult, a friend is that he never painted a haze in his before beginning a picture, and what life. Mist is the differentiating charhe would show was a small outline, two acteristic of our climate, and he deor three inches high at the utmost, en- lighted in English landscape, as is closed in bounding lines as a frame. proved by the following incident, Whole pages of small designs such as When George Mason first returned to these, in which the germs of his best- England from Italy, where he had known pictures are to be recognized, painted his first pictures, and looked will be found. The sketch bad to be at the English landscape in his own considered according to the salient and beautiful county of Derbyshire, he said retreating parts, as one might consider there was nothing in it to paint. It was a relief. Raphael's pictures, which are Leighton who showed him what to do. always planned like colored bas-reliefs, He went down to Derbyshire, and in were probably begun in the same way. his presence and that of Signor Costa,

The first sketch being settled, he pro- who was with Mason, he drew in a book, ceeded to make drawings from the which is now in the possession of Lord model. First he drew from the nude. Carlisle, numerous small sketches for In many cases there are evidences of pictures. The visit decided Mason's his having tried several models before career. The best pictures of one of the satisfying himself. Then, when this most delightful artists England has yet was accomplished, the study from the brought forth would never have been nude was transferred in outline to an- painted but for Leighton's appreciation other paper. The same model draped, of his native scenery. Yet he himself, was carefully brought into the same intensely English and aggressively pose, and the draperies having been, patriotic as he was, never cared to paint after repeated failures, cast in a form that cardinal fact of our climate in which pleased him, were drawn in over virtue of which English landscape is the the outlined figure. These drawings of loveliest in the world. In his mind and drapery are most elaborate and beauti- in his eye everything is clear, defined, ful, done generally in black and white and as it were in three dimensions. chalk on blue or brown paper, to save He looks all round it. His landscape time, as no model can sit forever.

backgrounds are so modelled that you The next stage was to square off the may pick your way from point to point first small design on to the full-sized to the extremest distance. The minds canvas, to draw in the figure from the of most of us are a more or less clear studies in monochrome, and put the space fading off into a misty region draperies on to it.

peopled with vague longings, unfinished You had now an entire picture in thoughts, and indefinite shapes. Not monochrome, and the designs in this so Leighton's. He could sympathize state were generally most beautiful and with others who grope to their thoughts complete. A friend of his, himself an through a poetic haze, but he never artist as well as an art patron, once be- allowed his own work to be infected by sought him to sell him a picture, “The it. His astonishingly active intelligence Idyll,” in this condition, Unhappily followed the thought to the horizon, and Leighton took it as a reflection upon his so far as that horizon extended he saw powers of coloring and refused.

with a startling clearness. In his drawThis businesslike method of working ings a character so marked could not flowed directly from the nature of the fail to assert itself. man. His mind was extraordinarily, His hand had been exercised from an even disconcertingly clear. It stripped early age upon all manner of subjectseverything it approached of all fog of horses, cows, cats, and poultry, archiprepossession or mistiness of thought. tecture, caricature, and, above all, on He detested the indefinite either in the human figure. His industry was alspeech or in art.

A singular light most incredible. Already before his

« VorigeDoorgaan »