CHAPTER XIII

I return to England from South Africa — The call of the wilds — Finding a new studio — 3 Blenheim Place — My cousin Harris — A sporting arrangement — Alone once more — The female element again — A pleasant adventure — My new friend — I restart painting — The demure Gaiety girl and the diaphanous drapery — Painting from the nude — Bad times — Living on the cheap — Sententious platitudes — The artists' money-lender — Cycling in those days — The Army Cycling Corps —-Our tricycle — Cycling Club costume — The "Spider," the "Kangaroo" — Ludicrous adventure — The new dollar piece — Cycling in France — Le Portel — The "Grosvenor" and Sir Coutts Lindsay — "Varnishing Day" at the Royal Academy — The "Private View" — London hosts and hostesses — Lady Seton — Social life — Card parties — Funny experience — Result of a foraging expedition — "When the moon," etc., curious sequel to the sale of a picture — Keeley Halswelle and the Sketching Club

I FELT very much like a fish out of water for some time after my return to England, and I was almost wondering if I should ever be able to settle down again to the quiet humdrum I had been leading before I went away.

When one has got accustomed to the free-and-easy camp life of the veldt, and the days spent in the saddle, with no cares or worries to trouble one, it may be imagined how difficult it is to return to the cramped quarters of a London studio.

Although I had often been longing when out in South Africa for the day to come when I should find myself back in London, the recollection of the adventurous existence I had been living for the past year kept continually recurring to my memory, and at times I found myself wishing it would all come over again. Those dreary wastes, which had so depressed one when wearily trekking across them, would now appear to my mind's eye, as I recalled them, as a sort of boundless parkland, and I would have given anything to be across a horse again galloping towards the distant horizon of blue hills.

"Leily"

The call of the wild had got hold of me, and has held me ever since. Settle down as I may, I still feel that indescribable yearning at times for the solitude of the plains.

St John's Wood seemed strangely small now, and every one I met appeared to me as though suffering from lack of fresh air, and I almost felt sorry for them having had to stay at home, as it were, midst bricks and mortar, whilst I had been seeing the world. However, my wanderings were over for the time, so it now meant my finding a new studio. I wished to remain in the old neighborhood, as I had got accustomed to it, and had many friends round about.

After only a few days' search, I came across a place that suited me admirably at No. 3 Blenheim Place, quite close, therefore, to my old one. It was part of a double house, immediately facing the "Eyre Arms," with an entrance to itself, two rooms on the street level, and a large room on the first floor, which the landlord agreed to convert into a studio by putting in a large top light. The house itself was also "To Let," and a cousin of mine "Leily" Harris, a very jolly fellow, with whom I was on a footing of the greatest friendship, decided to take it, so we started, as it were, en ménage together. The house, I may mention, communicated with the studio through the back garden, which was of quite appreciable dimensions. This garden gave a sort of comparative isolation to us both, which was very useful, seeing we were bachelors. We therefore never attempted to intrude on each other's privacy. If the back doors were closed it was understood we were "engaged." This sporting arrangement answered admirably, for "Leily" was "one of the best," and during the several years we lived together there was never a hitch or a wry word of any sort between us.


It was with a peculiar sort of feeling of commencing all over again that I arranged my furniture in the studio, and unpacked my belongings. So much had happened to me since I had last seen them all a year ago, that it seemed almost strange to sit in front of a canvas and make a start at a picture, whilst particularly there was a sense of freedom which was almost impressive after my year of military subordination.

Although I had made no fortune by my work in South Africa, I had come back with sufficient money to enable me if I so wished to devote all my time during the next few months to painting only. I had been looking forward to this moment with a joyous expectancy which the long period of "roughing it" had accentuated.

I recall how particularly delightful it was to be alone once more in a place of my own, for what had been to me the most trying part of my soldier life was the entire absence at any time of privacy, the constant and unavoidable association with companions who were not invariably congenial. Though one made good and lasting chums amongst one's comrades, there were many unpleasant characters you would have gladly got away from, could it have been managed. It was this promiscuous association rather than the actual soldiering that made one so glad to get away from it. Apart, however, from this feeling of liberty that I now enjoyed, there was the knowledge that the female element would once more become an integrant part of one's life, for whilst it is common knowledge that Venus and Mars have often united, such a combination is hardly possible when on "active service." Therefore for the past twelve months practically I had been willy-nilly living the life of an ascetic, which, as a Bohemian of the Paris school, I feel constrained to confess is not at all in my line.

Somewhat curiously I had a very pleasant adventure on the very night of my return to England. I had put up at lodgings I already knew of in St Ann's Terrace, and she happened to live within a few yards of me. I cannot quite exactly remember how we became acquainted; but if I remember rightly she was going to post a letter. I was finishing a pipe before going into bed. It was one of those rencontres du hasard which frequently, and strangely enough, lead to lasting friendship, and so it turned out in this instance. One would scarcely have expected to make the acquaintance of a charming woman in a St John's Wood street at 11:30 at night. One would be apt to be somewhat skeptical when she told you she was not what you took her for, especially when the acquaintanceship was made in so unorthodox a manner. But I was in a particularly happy state of mind at the time, and when she told me she was a governess with a family in the neighborhood, instead of smiling to myself at the old, old story as I should probably have thought it otherwise, I believed her at once, and not only did it turn out to be quite true, but we eventually became the closest of friends, and she sat to me quite a number of times. I may here mention a curious and interesting fact that some of my most successful and popular pictures were painted from "friends" I had met under similarly casual circumstances.

The fact of my only having just got back from a long campaign seemed to interest her, and we strolled round the quiet neighborhood until long after the hour when respectable folk are supposed to be in bed. There was a fascination to me in being once more with a delightful woman after months of rough camp life, that made me feel still more elated at having got through my twelve months' experience of soldiering safely and being back again, free to continue my own bent once more.

It may be imagined with what eagerness I was looking forward to an early renewal of the pleasant times my studio life had hitherto procured me. It took some few days after I had moved in to get into the way of the place and to make it ship-shape; and when I had done this, I felt that this was the most delightfully convenient place I had had so far, and as will be seen, it turned out to be the luckiest place also. It may perhaps appear strange that after a year's campaigning when sketching only military subjects, I should on my return to painting at once revert to my old loves — shipping and the sea. But such was the case, and as soon as my studio was ready I made a start on an idea I had had in my mind before I went away. It represented the deck of one of the old Woolwich steamers, and was, of course, a composition with many figures. My newly-found friend, who was really very good-looking, managed to come and sit for me at times, and evinced an intelligent interest in the progress of the picture that conduced not a little to its ultimate success.

I went several times down the river in order to get the local coloring and grouping accurately; whilst for my models, I trusted to chance to find them, since it was necessary to have distinct types in a picture of this description. The average model is too self-conscious and professional, I therefore got any one I happened to come across to sit for me, if they would. One day, for instance, it was a lifeguardsman, on another occasion there was a laboring man with his tool bag, then an old work-house man I saw passing the studio one Sunday morning. I remember him in particular, because he was quite a curiosity in his way. He couldn't make out what I wanted with him at first; when he realized that I meant him no harm he became as talkative as a child, and was willing to come and sit for me every day of the year had I wanted him. These sittings were red-letter days for him evidently. Then I got a flower girl to come to the studio. In fact this picture provided a good excuse for having all sorts and conditions of everyday folk to sit for me, and making character studies which were extremely interesting. I eventually exhibited this picture at the Paris Salon, and it was sent afterwards to Australia, where it was bought by one of the Art Galleries.

The
                  Deck...

In a comparatively short time, therefore, I quite dropped back into my old groove and found plenty of work to keep me busy, and although it was not highly remunerative, I managed somehow to make a living by it.

I Got A Flower Girl...
 
It was, however, often highly entertaining as well as interesting to be able to paint exactly what you felt inclined to, and there was a certain compensation even if it didn't bring in a lot of money. I remember one little instance, which is, perhaps, worth relating in this connection. I had been looking out for a type of face I had in my mind for a subject, and I was introduced to a very pretty girl, who was, at the time, at the "Gaiety," and who not only had the face I wanted but apparently the figure also. She willingly agreed to sit for me, but waxed most indignant when she saw the sketch for the picture, as the subject was an "altogether" one, and she expressed herself very emphatically on the indecency of any girl sitting in that state.

Was, At The Time, At The
                'Gaiety'


I somehow had an idea that she was not so demure as she wished me to think; but I said nothing in reply to her tirade, as I thought there was a chance of getting her to alter her views, and so it turned out. She came and sat for me, and we gradually became friendly, and she got less and less prudish, or, rather, more and more natural, till one afternoon she suggested to me of her own accord that she would don a diaphanous drapery, if it would help me at all. Of course I fell in with her views, and the next time she came she brought some soft material to drape herself in. "The drapery," which was merely a very thin sort of chiffon, was difficult to keep in place and kept slipping off, until at last there was really no excuse for her continuing to wear it at all as there was nothing further to hide, so I painted her as a nymph after all. It had taken her about a fortnight to alter her views.

Now came the sequel, which was quite curious. Once she had overcome her scruples as to sitting for the nude, she actually seemed to enjoy being about the studio in puris naturalibus, and it ended by my often having to persuade her to don her attire when I had finished work. She even went so far, one day, as to express the opinion that "clothes were a nuisance"; and I agreed with her that they were, when they disguised so beautiful a form as hers, but not otherwise.

Perhaps, however, not the least amusing part of of it all was that she brought several girl friends of hers from the theater to see the picture as it progressed, and one or two of them made no compliments about offering to sit for me also for a similar subject, if ever I wanted some one else with an equally good figure, so I could have had as many amateur models as I wished for on the strength of it.

Painting from the nude, however, was a luxury which one could not always permit oneself, much as one would have liked to be always at it. One had to keep the main chance in view at all times, and that was whether the picture would sell, for buyers of such subjects are few and far between in England.

Outside the studio one managed also to have amusements, for it was seldom you had dull times unless you happened to be hard up, which condition of affairs happened now and again, for one's expenses were seldom commensurate with one's earnings.

Once She
                  Had Overcome Her Scruples 
 

In looking back on these days, I am forced to the conclusion that one got used to the recurrence of bad times. It is said that eels get used to being skinned; and, I suppose, artists get reconciled to what has always been considered inevitable in the most precarious of the professions.

It is when things are not looking bright that Bohemianism in London is so utterly depressing, whereas in Paris, when one is dans la dèche, there are many little places where one can live cheaply and without loss of dignity. In this vast metropolis, if one is on one's "uppers," as it used to be picturesquely called, there are no haunts corresponding with what one could find in the Quartier Latin or Montmatre, where for a few sous you could get an ample meal, with a merry crowd of students as hard up as yourself, to keep you company. There were cheap places round about Lisson Grove and Edgware Road; but the mere look of them was sufficient to decide one that a crust of bread and a piece of cheese in the privacy of the studio was preferable to rubbing shoulders with the unwashed loafers and casual laborers who frequented them. Most artists probably have had similar experiences at some time or other, for I fancy that snobbishness is not one of the weaknesses of the profession.

I have often heard it advanced by people who love to air sententious platitudes on subjects they know little about, that the charm of art as against other professions is that an artist need never be hard up, he can always occupy himself even when he has no work on order. He can paint pictures instead of sitting idle. That is so, for, of course, a doctor cannot make cases any more than a solicitor would occupy his spare time, whilst waiting for clients, writing legal documents on spec. But whilst it is easy to manufacture pictures, they necessitate actual disbursement from the time one gets one's canvas till the frame is ordered, and then there is no certainty of effecting a sale and getting back one's outlay.

The speculative character of making a living by art is generally overlooked when it is considered sufficiently compensated for by the pleasurable and comparatively easy nature of the work.

In the days of which I am writing there was a nice, kind, old gentleman, who conceived the quixotic idea of lending money to artists on their pictures or prospective work. You had to be introduced to him through a client, and if he had confidence in you or your talent he would generously help you out of your temporary embarrassment for a certain consideration, and many a lame dog did he help over the stile. He was the only one, I think, in London who would advance cash to artists on note of hand. He could scarcely have been considered a money-lender in the accepted sense of the term, for, although, the interest he charged often worked out at a very high rate, the risks he took were generally quite out of proportion to the security he was given, and his office was always full of pictures on which he had advanced money which he had little chance of ever getting back. Still it was evidently a profitable business, or he would not have carried it on, I suppose.

I got introduced to him, of course, as indeed did most of us, for it was often very useful if you wanted to go away suddenly to be able to discount an account owing to you. He got to know his clients, and was never hard on those who kept their word with him, and I was almost sorry to learn that when he died he left quite a collection of unsalable pictures, which, of course, represented errors of judgment, but I believe he left quite a respectable fortune also. In these days of depreciation of modern art such a business could not exist, for the average artist has no security to offer so far as his paintings are concerned, I fancy.

But let us revert to the lighter side of artistic Bohemianism which, after all, makes more interesting reading. The eternal feminine never monopolized the same attention in London artistic life as it did in the Quartier in Paris, where it is part and parcel of the life of the student, and although many of us, especially those who had studied abroad, had acquired a continental proclivity for always being on the look-out for pretty girls, we generally made our recreations coincide with British ideas.

These recreations at this time took the form of bicycling, which was then in a state of transition. It makes me smile when I recall what grotesque looking objects could be seen about at that time. Quadricycles, tricycles, in all shapes and sizes, every one of which claimed to be more efficacious than the rest, some with huge wheels, others with small ones.

The Army had just began to adopt them, and a cycling corps established, which had some machines constructed to carry as many as eight men. Eccentricity was the prevailing feature in all makes.

I recollect a tricycle a friend and I used to ride, which had two large wheels on either side and a very small one at the back, and there were two sets of pedals which we both worked. I sat on a little seat in front, and my friend behind was responsible for the steering and the brake, and if he stopped the machine too suddenly, I was shot out of my seat like from a catapult, and would find myself sitting in the road. The tires were, of course, solid, as pneumatics were not invented then, and one was always having trouble with them as they were fixed on the rim of the wheel with a sort of glue.

The most ludicrous results would often ensue if, as would often happen, the rubber got warped or stretched or the glue would not hold. On one occasion I remember we had to tear up a hand-kerchief into strips to tie the tire on, with an effect that may be imagined — and we rode the whole day in this quaint fashion.

Not the least curious feature of cycling in those days was the peculiar fact that most of the cycling clubs would adopt uniforms of weird designs. My cousin Harris, who rode a high machine, I remember, belonged to a club in which all the members were dressed in a sort of compromise between a military officer and a foreign postman, with black, short, heavily-braided tunic, tight-fitting knee-breeches, stockings and shoes, and a peak cap. Yet he fancied himself no end in this motley garb. In my particular set we were not so fastidious as to our get-up, in fact rather the other way about, and often looked veritable tramps on wheels in our scratch costumes.

The "Spider" with its immense front wheel and little tiny back one was being gradually ousted by the small "Safety" or "Kangaroo" — a most grotesque looking object, something like a miniature tall machine, and which was the forerunner of the present bicycle. It was driven by a horizontal chain. Every one was going mad on them, and I, together with several of my friends, succumbed to the craze as they were far lighter than the tricycle, and many a pleasant week-end in the country did we have. We would set off with only the bare necessities in the shape of luggage and a parcel attached to the handle-bars, and make for the Coast.

How peaceful the country roads were in those premotor days, when almost one's only risk was getting run in by the police if you were caught "scorching," i.e., going at a "furious pace," which, of course, could scarcely mean more than twelve miles an hour! It seems almost inconceivable that so great a change could have come over the country in twenty-five years only.

What would hardly be considered as incidents nowadays were looked upon as "adventures" then. This was easily understood, as one seldom went any distance without a breakdown of some sort, for the machines were faultily constructed. If this happened at a distance from a town or village it usually meant a long and wearisome walk whilst trundling one's crippled machine, and not infrequently losing one's way into the bargain. I remember a ludicrous incident on one occasion of which I was the cause.

A party of five of us had started for a trip to the East Coast one hot, summer day, intending to put up for the first night at a little place named Goldhanger. We had not got many miles from London when my "Kangaroo" began to give me trouble. In vain did we pull up and overhaul it, the trouble continued, until we had at last to stop, and the mechanical genius of our party took the chain off and eased it, and tried by every means to get the beastly thing to work properly — but to no purpose — so there was no help for it but to get along as well as I could and endeavor to reach our destination somehow. But the chain would not work, and I could scarcely get the wheels to move.

Night came on and we were hardly making any progress; I was gradually becoming exhausted. At last the chain became completely jammed and I could go no further, whilst to make matters worse, we had not the slightest idea where we were, and it was pitch dark. We found ourselves on an apparently new bridge over a railroad, the roadway was of soft rubble, so I placed my bicycle against the parapet and literally dropped with fatigue on the ground alongside it.

My friends realized that there was nothing for it but to keep me company, and decided that the best thing to do was to remain where we were until daybreak, before attempting to find out where we were. There was no help for it. We should have to go without supper and bed, so they made themselves as comfortable as possible on the soft ground, It was an unpleasant ending to the excursion, and we were all too annoyed to speak much. Our only consolation was that it was a beautifully warm night. Quarter of an hour or so passed, and we were dozing off when a church clock chimed out quite close by — only a short distance away. Up we jumped and went across the bridge towards it, when to our utter amazement we found we were actually in a village, and not a hundred yards from an old-fashioned, comfortable looking inn.

All was in darkness, for it was late, but it did not take long to arouse the landlord, and soon we were all ensconced in a cozy parlor with the pleasant prospect of supper and bed. It was, indeed, an instance of "All's well that ends well," and, as may be imagined, we laughed heartily over the curious adventure.

The adventures of our cycling days would indeed almost make up a volume for themselves. In fact, when one started on a tour, it was almost with the idea of seeking them, for it was very delightful exploring wild parts of the country, and discovering, as it were, out-of-the-world villages.

I recall one little incident which will convey some idea of the primitive conditions which still prevailed in outlying districts and within comparatively easy distance of London. It was shortly after the new coinage had been introduced. I forget where we were going, but anyhow we stopped to lunch at a wayside inn on a big road some fifty miles from town.

On finishing our humble meal of bread and cheese, and pickles and shandygaff, one of the party who was paymaster tendered a brand new 4s. piece to the landlady, in payment. I well remember the look of indignation on her face. Holding it in the palm of her outstretched hand she exclaimed coarsely, "What are you trying on? 'Ere, wot's this?" Our friend told her that it was one of the new dollar pieces; but she wouldn't listen to him. "Don't you come any of your larks on me," she vociferated contemptuously. "I want paying for what I sell; I don't want medals!" Of course it was no use arguing with her, so paid she had to be in coin of the realm she recognized.

Hung In
                  The Royal Academy... 


The advent of the motor has done away with all the rural simplicity that then existed. Of course one's sketching materials were always indispensable adjuncts on these tours, for you could never tell when you would come across something that would tempt you to stop and work.

I went over to France one summer with a particular pal, and whilst riding round on our bicycles, we lighted on a delightfully quaint little fishing village named Le Portel, near Boulogne, a perfect Paradise for artists. We were so smitten with it that we remained there for weeks, and I painted several pictures in the open, so quiet was it, and returned there on several successive years.

The quondam fishing village has now developed into quite a smart little bourgeois plage, and has long been abandoned by artists.

Two of the pictures which I painted in Le Portel were hung in the Royal Academy the following year. This was the first time I had exhibited there, so I was very pleased, especially as one of them was six feet long. They were very well placed, one being "on the line," and, what was of still more importance to me, for, after all, I was out for the shekels, was that I sold them both, one of my purchasers being Arthur Collins, at that time stage manager to Sir Augustus Harris at Drury Lane, then and ever since a good pal of mine, but whom I had not hitherto suspected of being a patron of Art. That particular bicycle tour brought me luck, as another picture I had painted at the same time was "on the line" at the Grosvenor Gallery, and was also sold.

At that time the "Grosvenor" was a very serious rival to the Academy, and many of the best known men exhibited there in preference to Burlington House, as the galleries were very spacious, and the pictures not crowded together. It was run by Sir Coutts Lindsay, and his idea was to encourage painters who showed an inclination to break away from the hide-bound traditions of mid-Victorian Art — and one exhibited by invitations from him only.

For many years the Grosvenor Gallery Summer Exhibition was looked upon as of almost equal importance to that at the Royal Academy, and to be invited to exhibit there was a compliment eagerly sought after. During the exhibition, which was held in the height of the London season, Sir Coutts would give evening receptions which were chiefly remarkable, I recollect, for the weird artistic attire and plainness of the ladies present, whilst another feature was the invariable notice that met your eyes — "Chablis and oysters downstairs." "Downstairs," therefore, was usually the most crowded part of the reception. The strawberries and cream of the ordinary Royal Academy receptions paled into insignificance against Sir Coutts' hospitality.

"Varnishing Day" at the Academy was then, as it is now, a very tame affair compared with the "Vernissage" at the Paris Salon, which, as is well known, is practically the Private View as well, and one of the fashionable events of the year. In London the galleries at Burlington House on that day are entirely given up to the exhibitors, who are even at liberty to work on their pictures if they choose, and it is a very solemn and uninteresting scene as compared with that on the other side of the Channel.

The English artist is not a particularly cheerful individual as a rule, and on this occasion he generally seems too much wrapped up in himself to be very communicative. Even if one's picture is well placed, I know of few occasions more depressing than "Varnishing Day" at the Royal Academy.

"Private View," to which the mere artists who have only painted the pictures, are never invited, is a purely social function, for which it is very difficult to get a card unless one happens to be a friend of an Academician, in the Smart Set, or a nouveau riche; it does not therefore in any sense come within the range of Bohemianism. I say this advisedly, because I feel sure that it will be admitted that true Bohemianism and Smart Society cannot under any conceivable conditions go frankly hand in hand in London, far less indeed than in Paris, whilst the English bourgeois who has made a bit of money is often a terrible snob, and frequently more royalist than the King — the women folk especially so. I had not lived long in England on my return from France when I noticed this, and I have never seen reason to alter my opinion.

Outward appearance and the style one lives in count for so much in London. The time-worn joke, "It is not what you are but what you wear," has indeed exceptional significance here, except in a certain very proscribed set — nowadays perhaps even more so than in the time of which I am writing. It was therefore, perhaps, all for the good of the artists that they did not receive invitations to the private view at the Royal Academy. They would have probably felt very out of it, even though in it.

There were, however, several London hosts and hostesses who, without being in any sense Bohemian, yet took pleasure in having around them an artistic coterie, and at their receptions one met most of the young, rising celebrities of the day. Sir Bruce and Lady Seton, for instance, were always "At home" on Sunday afternoons at Durham House, their delightful place in Chelsea. And one was certain to find there a distinguished and interesting crowd of people who had most of them accomplished something, or thought they had. As a friend of mine whom I used to meet there said to me once, it was somewhat disconcerting at times to be amongst such a lot of distinguished and clever people, and he always felt nervous about "opening his mouth in case he put his foot into it." It really wasn't quite so bad as all that, all the same, and Lady Seton was as witty as she was gracious.

Of course, this social life was a great contrast to one's unconventional studio existence, but it did one no harm to now and again get into a black coat and put on a top hat to pay visits on a Sunday afternoon. It made you feel quite a respectable member of society, even if you did have your best girl waiting for you at the corner of the next street when you came out.

On Saturday evening during the winter months, we usually fixed up a mild game of poker, and went to different friends' houses in turn. We only played for small stakes, and there was not much damage done, but it often meant a long sitting, though that didn't matter much, as Sunday was always a day off, and unless you had some particular work to get finished by Monday morning, you never got up early. Mentioning this reminds me of a rather funny experience.

One Sunday I had been spending the evening with some friends when I suddenly recollected I had a drawing to get finished by nine o'clock the following morning, when they were sending from the office for it. It was already late, so there was no time to lose. I jumped up and made excuses for having to run away by explaining the reason.

My host, a very good-natured fellow, wouldn't hear of my leaving until I had had supper. I could go away as soon as I wished afterwards. In vain did I protest that I must be off at once, otherwise the drawing would not be ready in time, and, as it was, I should have to sit up nearly all night to get it done. He would not hear of it. Then, as a last resort, I told him that supper always made me sleepy, and I hoped he would not insist on my having it. "I know the very thing to keep you awake," he replied heartily, "a bit of cold pheasant and salad, a small bottle of 'The Boy,' something extra dry, and then a cup of strong black coffee and a liqueur of old brandy; you will work like a Trojan, and thank me for my advice — you see if you don't."

His genial hospitality was absolutely irresistible, and after a little further feeble resistance, during which I became weaker and weaker, I succumbed, and had a supper that I enjoyed immensely. Well, I got back to the studio, smoking a big cigar, and, sitting down in front of my drawing, started work.

The next thing I remember was a startled exclamation from the charwoman: "Lor, sir, you gave me quite a turn, seein' you sittin' there when I came in." It was eight o'clock, and I had been fast asleep all night. The drawing was not ready by nine o'clock, and since then I have not been a believer in supper, even if followed by black coffee and old brandy, for keeping one awake, when one has work to do.

But to revert to our Saturday night poker parties. I remember on one occasion we were playing at a friend's house till well on into the small hours of the Sunday morning. Our host's wife had provided a lot of sandwiches and bread and cheese — a sort of scratch supper which we had disposed of before midnight. At 3 o'clock we were ravenous, and as we did not feel inclined to break up the party yet, our host said that perhaps we might find something to appease our hunger in the kitchen, but added that he did not know his way about downstairs, and, of course, all the servants were in bed long ago.

So down we all trooped on a foraging expedition, and to our joy we discovered in the larder some sausages and bacon and bread and butter, so with plates and knives and the frying pan we returned to the room where we were playing cards, cooked a succulent supper on the fire, and made an excellent impromptu meal, then went on with our game and separated about 4:30 A.M.

Our host called on me on Monday morning and told me that he had had an awful shindy with his wife, and the whole household had been furious, as it appeared we had eaten up all the Sunday breakfast!

Taking it all in all, therefore, unless work was slack, one managed to put in a very pleasant time, for our tastes were not extravagant, and the temptation to go down "West" of a night was not as it is now. To be able to afford a nice outing in the summer was the sum total of the ambition of most of us, I believe, and if one were lucky enough to sell a picture he had painted whilst away, the holiday appeared to have been still more delightful, and it often meant a jaunt somewhere at Christmas as well.

I recollect one autumn I exhibited at the Society of British Artists a picture I painted during my summer outing. It was very well placed, and judging from the press notices attracted some attention. There would have been nothing worth mentioning about it had it not been for a somewhat curious sequel. Towards the end of the exhibition I received a letter from a distinguished baronet totally unknown to me, saying that he had taken a great fancy to the picture, and would like to present it to his wife on the anniversary of their wedding day. He went on to say he disliked bargaining with an artist, but the price I was asking for it — £125 — was more than he could afford at the moment; would I accept £100?

As it was getting near Christmas, and it meant having a good time in Paris, I accepted his offer, and in due course a check reached me.

Now comes the funny part of an otherwise commonplace transaction. After the picture had been delivered, I received a very effusive note from Lady ____, saying how delighted she was with the picture, that she had always been a great admirer of my "work generally" and of "When the Moon is Up, yet it is not Night" in particular. Delighted as I was to receive this flattering letter, there was, I must admit, a fly in the ointment. I had never painted a picture entitled "When the Moon is Up," etc. Romantic though I naturally am, I regret my fancy had never attained such heights. However, after the most earnest deliberation I decided that I had no moral right to shatter the good lady's illusion, so in my very polite reply, whilst thanking her for her kind opinion of my work, I avoided all reference to her favorite picture.

The following day she wrote again, this time asking if she might visit my studio with her sister, who was also a great admirer of "When the Moon," etc. I had no alternative but to fix a day, in fear and trembling, but, to my inexpressible relief, at the last moment I received a wire postponing her call. Although many moons have arisen since then, I have heard nothing further of Lady ____.

During the summer months we would often make short sketching excursions into the country not far from London, and there were several Sketch Clubs formed solely for this purpose by different groups of men. It was more often than not merely a good excuse for a pleasant afternoon's outing, as the jaunts always ended up with a little dinner at some local hostelry.

I recall a laughable story in connection with one of these excursions. The club in question consisted of a very select coterie of distinguished landscape painters, amongst them being Keely Halswelle, whose pictures, it will be remembered, were remarkable for their delightful sky effects, dappled grey clouds especially. On this particular chance, the party had gone to Goring-on-Thames. It was a blazing hot afternoon in midsummer, and on reaching their destination the friends separated, as was their wont, arranging to meet for dinner in the evening at a certain well-known inn.

It was the custom of the club to hold a sort of impromptu exhibition, before sitting down to dinner, of the sketches done during the afternoon. Well, on this occasion, when they met as arranged, Keely Halswelle was somewhat late in putting in an appearance. In the meantime every one was talking about the intense glare of the sun and the heat, which had been terrific all day.

The sketches were arranged round the room, and were being criticized and admired when Halswelle came in with his canvas, which represented a beautiful reach of the river painted in his inimitable style; but to the amazement of every one it had one of his well-known cloud effects, very artistic of course, but there had not been the sign of a cloud in the sky all the afternoon, so he was asked jokingly to explain the phenomenon. To the astonishment of every one he took it quite seriously, and calmly said that he knew there had been no clouds round about there, but he had taken a boat and gone further up the river.




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