Chapter XIV. Third Visit to Europe.

From: The Life and Letters of Christopher Pearse Cranch (1917)
Author: Leonora Cranch Scott
Published: Houghton Mifflin Company 1917 Boston


Mr. Cranch to his brother Edward

May 6, 1880.
  I HAVE been intending for some time to write to you, to tell you what perhaps you have heard, that we are all going to Europe next month. We have let our house in Cambridge furnished, which enables us to carry out a plan Lizzie has long entertained, to go abroad, chiefly on Carrie’s account. It is a fine opportunity for her, and will, we hope, do a great deal towards her completion in her art education. . . .

  Dear brother, how I wish I could have come out to see you before leaving! I had a vivid dream of you last night, that we met, and I cried for joy to embrace you. Well, one of these days we may yet meet. . . . Ever and forever yours, my dear, dear brother.

LONDON, July 28, 1880.
  It is high time I sent you some word of myself, and ourselves, from this side of the ocean. We sailed on the 9th of June in the Cunarder Algeria, had a short and pleasant passage, no rough weather, a very good company of fellow-voyagers, no incidents of any note, and arrived in Liverpool on the evening of Saturday, the 19th. We spent part of Sunday in Liverpool, and then took train to Chester, a wonderfully interesting old city, founded by the Romans, part of the old wall still to be seen; a fine old medieval ruin of a church, and another called the Phamix Tower. There is a fine cathedral, where Carrie and I attended a late Sunday service, after which was given an organ recital, from a very excellent organ and organist, of a part of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The twilight was so long that we had plenty of time to take a walk after service, and saw the ruins of St. John’s Church. The old tower was splendid in the rosy sunset, and we heard some delicious bird notes. We stayed here a day or two, walked round the old walls of the town, and saw the mountains of North Wales, very lovely and dreamy, in the distance. The weather was beautiful, with the finest of half-cloudy, misty, English skies. We enjoyed our ride by rail to London, the kind of landscape being all new to us. We are living in “lodgings”—two chambers and a large parlor, which is also our dining-room. We order what we want, and have our meals cooked and served when we like. Landlady very obliging and service very good. My room is an upper one, looking out on a wide prospect of black backs of houses and an infinity of red chimney pots, and some red-tiled roofs. But I can’t begin to tell you how wonderfully interesting this great city is. One might live years here, and never see all one wants to see. Lizzie is not able to walk very far, but Carrie and I take long walks, and see the streets, the galleries, the museums, the parks, and so on. Considerable riding, too, we have done, by omnibus or hansom. Riding is cheap, but cheapness is a snare and a temptation. We have seen a little of the British Museum which is near us, Westminster Abbey, the House of Lords, the Exhibitions, the National Gallery, the outside of Buckingham Palace, the great parks, the Zoological Gardens, and have been to Dulwich, a quiet, shady-laned place giving us the first suggestion we have had of the ideal rural scenery of England. Enjoyed much the pictures in the Gallery.

  We went twice to hear M. D. Conway, at his chapel in Finsbury, and I was twice at his house at Cheswick, Turnham Green, where I met Mr. Froude—the only distinguished Englishman I have seen. We took a walk about Turnham Green, and saw the house where Hume finished his history, and the house where Hogarth lived and worked. We all went once to the Lyceum Theatre, and saw Irving and Miss Terry, in the “Merchant of Venice,’’ a capital piece of acting. There was an excellent afterpiece, “Iolanthe,” founded on Heine’s “King Rene’s Daughter,” in which Miss Terry was especially charming. But we have seen very few Americans, and sometimes we feel lonely. The only English family we have seen is Mrs. Gilchrist’s,—they live at Hampstead, north of London, on a hill, from which we saw very pretty views. Mrs. G. is the widow of the author of Blake’s biography; we made their acquaintance in New York. A few of our American friends have come and gone. . . .

  Carrie is copying in the National Gallery. There are only two days in the week when students are allowed to work there; she has made only small sketchy copies so far. This gallery is perhaps one of the choicest in Europe. It was not in existence when I was here twenty-five years ago.

  The other day C. and I went to the Kensington Museum, walking part of the way across Hyde Park. We went into the Indian Department. No one can possibly attempt a description of the magnificent things we saw there, the Oriental carpets, shawls, robes, turbans, silk stuft’s, of colors to make a painter’s eye dance with delighti swords, guns, sabres, daggers, horse equipments, how dabs, jewels, rings, bracelets, earrings, photographs of Hindoo architecture. But this was only a portion of the wonderful things in this Museum. Before I got to the picture gallery, my brain was dizzy, and my back acheing. The British Museum is another wonderful place, which we have hardly begun to explore. It seems as if London was appropriating all the wonderful and beautiful things of the world.

  The parks are a remarkable feature of London. They cover an immense area. From St. James’s Park, which is not very far from Westminster Abbey and the Thames, you enter Green Park, then Hyde Park, walking through miles of green grass and trees, and think you are far away in the country instead of the heart of London. The common people all throng through these walks, and stretch themselves on the grass, and wheel about their children every day in the week, including Sundays. I don’t believe there is anything like it in the world. From Woburn Place, where we are, it is about a mile to Regent’s Park, a lovely place, in the Northern portion of which are the Zoological Gardens. . . .

  We have an astonishing climate here for dog days. I have worn my winter clothes ever since we landed in England. We have a good deal of rain, and the London air is almost always smoky, but we have very fine days too, and it is never hot, in our American way. It is neither hot nor cold, but an even temperature, ranging between 60° and 70° that makes you forget the weather entirely. But one never goes out without an umbrella. It may rain at any moment, and rain and sunshine follow one another a dozen times during the day. Every gentleman, so ‘t is said, wears a stove-pipe hat. I vowed for two weeks, I would never, no never wear one. But I had to give in; add to this, I was obliged to discard my cotton umbrella and buy a slender silk one. Such is the tyranny of fashion!

  Here follow a few extracts from Mr. Cranch’s Journal:-

  June 25. . . . Went to the Grosvenor Gallery. The pictures here are better than at the Royal Academy. Some fine portraits by Bastien Le Page, Holl, Richmond, and others. Terribly disappointed in a big picture by Burne Jones—a troop of young women in dirty white descending a spiral staircase, a picture without any motive or meaning, and poor and cold in color. The modem English school men all paint on a high key, and many of them without any shadows, in crude and chalky colors. Some good water-colors—but not so good as the works of our best American water colorists.

  Munkácsy’s “Two Families” at the Royal Academy is the best picture there—very fine—the dogs and children wonderful. . . .

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

  June 30. Went to National Gallery. A splendid collection. Fine Gainsboroughs, Reynolds, Hogarths,—noble ‘specimens of the Venetian school-Paul Veronese, Titian, Guardi, Canaletto, and many others. Good collections of Turners. My brain and back ached with seeing so many fine pictures. . . . Is it not astounding that the modem English Painters, with this noble gallery right under their eyes, go on doing such poor work in color, and don’t seem to derive any benefit from the precious treasures of Art, they can study with such full opportunities?

  July 17. To Russell Sturgis’s, Carlton House Terrace. We went by appointment to see his pictures. Magnificent house—might be called_ a palace. He took us all over it. A good many excellent family portraits. There are four pictures of mine, painted in Paris—two Niagaras, one Venice by moonlight, and a view at Nahant. They all look very well. From the balcony or terrace upstairs you look over St. James’s Park.

  Lizzie, Carrie, and I then went and sat awhile in St. James’s Park. Then Lizzie took a hansom home, and Carrie and I took a bus to Hyde Park Comer, where we sat for an hour or two looking at the grand carriages go by, with their liveried and powdered and wigged coachmen and footmen. London is a whole country and kingdom squeezed together into a gigantic mass of brick and stone, and called a city.

  July 28. . . . The London “Daily News” of July 21 mentions the death of my dear old friend George Ripley. I hear no particulars of his decease. He was of a ripe old age, I think near eighty. I had seen him very seldom of late years, but I knew him to be always the same kind, genial, generous, liberal heart, as in his youth. I have felt his loss deeply. I have known him since before the “Brook Farm” days—more than forty years. I was always “Christopher” to him. He never changed as other friends have changed. He was youthful and genial and hearty, to the last time I saw him, a little over a year ago.

  He is a loss to the country. He was a sound and learned scholar, an accurate, profound, and liberal critic, a good writer, a deep philosopher, and a steady worker. Personally I owe him much for his appreciative notices of my works. I shall long remember him affectionately—my old true-hearted friend-I shall never forget you!

  August 1. Sunday. Lizzie, Carrie, and I went to morning services at the Foundling Hospital Chapel in Guilford Street. The organ is said to have been given by Handel. On each side of it, row upon row, sit on one side the boys, on the other the girls, who are all in uniform—plain dresses and high white caps. There was a great deal of singing and chanting by the children, assisted by the organ and choir. It was a very pretty and striking sight. The liturgy was conducted by three clergymen. The reading of the Scriptures was as monotonous as any schoolboy’s. The sermon by a very old man, was dull and commonplace.

  After service we visited the rooms of the establishment, saw some interesting pictures, and manuscripts of Sir Thomas Coram the founder, and of Handel. Among these was a ticket of admission in 1750 to hear a new Oratorio called the “Messiah.” Gentlemen were requested to attend “without their swords, and ladies without hoops.”

  August 9. By cab to Waterloo Station, and then to Hampton Court. Enjoyed much the old Palace with its courtyards, and the endless succession of royal rooms filled with pictures; also the beautiful grounds, where we walked and sat, in the lovely summer weather; after a lunch at the Mitre Tavern, came back by the little steamboat, which was crowded and uncomfortable—but we enjoyed the scenery of the Thames. Passed under a great many bridges, and landed quite late at the Westminster Bridge, and home by cab. . . .

  August 10. Walked through the Strand to see the Temple quiet, collegiate-looking old places, shady and still, and full of association with celebrated English scholars. Saw Dr. Johnson’s and Goldsmith’s haunts, and the Mitre Tavem, and the Dining-Hall of the Benchers, a wonderfully rich old room of the Elizabethan time, with stained-glass windows, and carved wood, and other sumptuous architectural adornings; and the walls hung with blazoned heraldic panels. Went into Temple Church—the Chapel of the Benchers-a superb Gothic structure, but gloomy and sepulchral. The dim religious light of it is not the light of the future, but of the shuddering and sad-eyed past.

  August 11. The first really warm weather, yesterday and to-day, though not oppressive, nothing like the heat of our American Augusts.

  Mr. Lowes Dickinson, a Royal Academician, had called while I was out, and invited us to his house for the afternoon. Thither we all went. Had a very agreeable visit. Mr. and Mrs. Dickinson are charming people, friendly and genial. They have a beautiful house, everything bright and tasteful; a fine studio, where we saw several good portraits and water-color drawings. Looked over a fine collection of mezzotint engravings of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s portraits, had some tea and pleasant conversation. Mr. Dickinson has a great admiration for William M. Hunt’s works.

  August 17. Went with Carrie to the Tower. Visitors are admitted in squads of twelve under the charge and discipline of a picturesque old Beefeater, who takes them rapidly through, stopping occasionally to explain, with a peculiar grammar and pronunciation, the chief objects of interest—the old armor and weapons, of which there are endless specimens; one would like to pause to inspect, but no time is allowed. We were taken into the ancient White Tower, and up narrow, winding stairs, and saw the place where a great number of distinguished persons had been confined, and some of their carvings and inscriptions on the stone walls. . . . We were conducted back into the yard—where we waited till other parties had got through, when we went up into another castle to see the jewels and regalia of royalty … and at the top of all, the magnificent crown of Victoria, blazing with precious stones, which the guide declared was valued at one million of pounds sterling.

  The moat, the old dark arches, the traitor’s gate, which once opened upon the water, and through which the political prisoners were brought into the Tower, were all interesting. There was a wicked old raven walking about the Tower Court, of a most funereal and uncanny aspect, who seemed like an incarnation of the bad old past, brought so forcibly to mind by all that we saw in these gloomy interiors. He was the sort of bird for such a place, just such a raven croaked the entrance of Duncan under the battlements of Macbeth’s Castle.

  Twenty-five years ago I visited the Tower, with Lowell and Story, but I don’t remember that there was then so much to be seen. . . .

  August 18. Called on the Buttons. Went to the National Gallery and saw the collection of Turner’s watercolors. They are by far the best things he did. No one can judge of Turner till he has seen his drawings and water-colors. I am struck with his patient and elaborate pencilings, of landscape and architecture, full as much as with his bold washes of color. His compositions are fine. In everything he does in the way of landscape, buildings, and boats, he is a master whose power and genius are unmistakable. He could do figures, too, if he had only chosen to give time to them; animals, too,—for I remember an exquisite colored sketch of two swans. I don’t think he knew how to manage oils with the same skill he showed in aquarelle. At least he was very eccentric in oil-painting. His “Building of’ Carthage,” however, is a strong and noble picture, and except that the sky seems to have darkened, this picture more than rivals the large Claude of the same size that hangs beside it. This, and the “Ulysses defying Polyphemus,” and the “Apollo slaying the Python,” seem to me his finest oil-paintings. I also was charmed with the water-colors of Peter De Windt, and of Cattermole, in another room downstairs.

To G. W. C.

This day of summer, many a year ago,
Our young hearts roved the old world’s charms to know.
We sailed away upon an unknown sea;
Our ship was winged with hope and fantasy.
The winds that drove us on, or lightly fanned
Our cheeks, were airs that breathed from fairyland.

The autumn of our lives has come at last,
The dreams of youth are rose leaves of the past.
But though that joyous time long since has gone,
We still, my faithful friend, are sailing on,
To shores unknown we voyage still together,
One in our thought, as in that charmed weather.
Though time our heads has bleached, our faces changed.
We, from our youth, have never been estranged;
Our hearts still keep their early summer glow
As when we sailed the seas long years ago.

LONDON, August 1, 1880.

Mr. Cranch to George William Curtis

PARIS, August 31, 1880.
186 Boulevard Haussmann.
  We were glad to get your letter dated on the day of our anniversary, and though I didn’t write you a letter the same day, I did write the lines aforesaid, whose chief merit is that they are written from the heart.

  We enjoyed London much. We were in comfortable quarters, and saw a great deal that was exceedingly interesting, all of which you know, and is it not all written in the book of Baedeker?

  We left London about a week ago, and after a few days at a hotel near the Seine, we took an apartment for two months in this handsome, new street, where we are quite content. We are on the 4th, a good way upstairs, and have a nicely furnished place, and from our balcony we look up to the Arc de Triomphe over long rows of young trees, and endless processions of carriages. Paris is rather deserted as yet, and the weather is warm. . . .

  The city is greatly changed, and everything is dearer. The great Boulevards have ploughed up old streets and reconstructed them, so that one looks in vain for many that I knew seventeen years ago. . . .

  The Journal continues:—

  September 19. This morning May called before breakfast, and proposed that I and “one of the young ladies” should accompany. him to Meudon, to visit his élève, Miss Thomas—so after breakfast Miss W. and I called at his studio for him, and we took the tramway in the Avenue Josephine, then the railway, and then an omnibus, to the street where his friends live. We were introduced to Mrs. Thomas, a Norwegian lady, a widow whose husband had been an Englishman, and her two daughters and son. The eldest daughter is Mr. May’s pupil, a charming girl. We had a very pleasant visit, but the rain prevented us from walking to the Forest. They live in a house where Moliere once dwelt. There is a good deal of picturesqueness about the streets of Meudon. May told us several stories of his experiences during the siege of Paris. He was obliged to leave his apartment in the Terres, as the enemy’s shells were exploding very near him, and in the middle of the night moved to the centre of the city. The very next day the house he left was shattered to pieces by the shells. His concierge had denounced him during the Commune as un homme suspecte, saying he had two or three apartments and studios in the city, so that he was in great danger, for an immense number of hommes suspectes were shot without mercy by the Government. He says the gamins would run behind the walls, and when a shell burst, would run out and pick up the pieces and sell them. May was actively engaged (in the Prussian siege and in the siege of the Commune) in the ambulance service.

  September 20. Spent most of the day looking at apartments non meublés. In the afternoon Lizzie and I found one with an atelier in the Avenue de Villiers, which may suit us, though it is very small.

  Walked down to the Quais, and bought an old edition of Pope’s “Works,” eight small volumes for eight sous a volume. Also for ten sous, a little pamphlet, the “Life of Franklin,” printed in the third year of the old Republic. I bought it for Huntington, who is a collector of everything pertaining to Franklin and Washington. Curiously enough, I met him, coming through the Court of the Louvre, and showed it to him. He was delighted.

  November 13. In the evening we had a little party, consisting of Mrs. Lee, of Boston, and her two daughters, Lizzie and Hull Adams, Mr. Walter Gay, artist, and Messrs. Longfellow and Stewardson, students of architecture. We had a very lively and pleasant evening, with some singing, and fun.

  November 21. The weather has been cold, windy and rainy, for I don’t know how long. When we were in Paris seventeen years ago, I don’t remember any wind. Now it has been blowing tremendously, equal to anything our side of the Atlantic. But we are very comfortable in our little apartment. All last week, when not interrupted, I have been painting on my picture for the Artist’s Fund, which I shall call “Portia’s Villa.” I have an idea in it, and am trying to get it to please me, but as yet have succeeded very imperfectly.

  Christmas Day. The first clear day for about a month.

  December 26. This morning I walked down to the Louvre, and there waited for Lizzie and Carrie, who came, and we all had a good time studying the pictures. The light was good, for the day was clear. I never saw the great picture of the “Entombment,” by Titian, look so finely. I am not sure that it is not the greatest picture in the gallery. No religious picture I know compares with it. It is solemn and tender, and full of humanity. The figures are natural, yet noble. The face of the Christ in dark shadow is finer than any face of the Saviour I have seen. The composition is admirable, the color marvellous. It dwarfs all the other masterpieces around it. The brilliant” Antiope” of Correggio, which hangs near it, is a wonderful picture in its way—but it appeals only to the senses. The Titian satisfies sense and soul alike. Had the master never done any work but this, it would immortalize him. There are many other fine Titians here, but how far above them is this!

Mr. Cranch to Mrs. Brooks

PARIS, December 30, 1880.
  Your letter of the 11th came yesterday, and has given my conscience a gentle nudge, reminding me more emphatically of what I have had in my mind for a long time; when owing you a letter. . . . I believe I told you we had taken new rooms and that Lizzie was going to furnish them.

  The apartment is very small, but comfortable. My little room is next to the kitchen, which is about the smallest specimen of a kitchen that you ever saw. Only one person being able to get into it at one time. Our cuisinière is sole monarch of it all day, and tolerates no sister or brother near the throne; she goes home at night so that then is the only time when I care to be in my room,—then I have perfect quiet. We have furnished neatly and with some taste, and without great expense, and expect to take some of our furniture home with us. We hired a little upright piano, which is a great comfort to me. I spend most of the day in our atelier, which is under the skylight on the 5th étage, where I have painted a good deal. I have lately sent to New York my Artist’s Fund contribution, a picture I call “Portia’s Villa.” I have no orders, but I am painting for the fun of it, and enjoy my work just as much as I ever did. Carrie has been going every day to Carolus Duran’s class of young ladies. It is a portrait class, and she works there from eight to one; after which she sometimes goes to the Louvre to copy. So we get up by candlelight, for these are the short days of the year. It is an absurd hour, eight o’clock of a winter morning, to begin work, for it takes her at least half an hour to get to the class. M. Duran comes twice a week, and M. Benner twice. Their criticism has been useful, Carrie thinks, but she will not continue another month. Carrie thinks the advantages for art in New York are better than here. But then there is no Louvre in New York.

  We have had no real winter yet, but for the month we have had incessant rains. . . . This is a new quarter, not far from the Pare Monceau, and a quarter where there are many distinguished artists. M. Munkácsy’s studio is quite near us, and we went one day to see it and him, and his pictures. And a princely studio it is. But he is rich, and married a Princess, they say, though he began life as a cabinetmaker. Sarah Bernhardt’s hotel is not far from us in this avenue. And we are reading a story which comes out once every day in the “Temps,” the scene of which is an atelier in the Avenue de Villiers. So you see the neighborhood is distingué, but it is somewhat remote from the most of the comforts enjoyed by those living in the thickest settled parts of Paris.

  There is an enormous amount of building going on near us. Whole streets of new and expensive houses. One would think Paris one of the richest cities in Europe.

  We don’t see many of the Americans here. Our old friends Huntington and May are still in their old quarters, Babcock is living at Barbizon, but has lately come to Paris. Walter Gay, a young artist of talent, is near us. All these have dined with us occasionally. A Miss Lesley, of Philadelphia, is in Carrie’s class. Our cousins, Lizzie Adams and Hull, have been here, and we saw them often, but they have gone to Nice. There is a young Mr. Longfellow, a student of architecture, a very agreeable and clever young man, who has also dined with us, and a companion of his, young Stewardson, also studying architecture, and formerly a college chum of Heyliger De Windt. Mr. Dana, the artist, has returned from England; he was one of our friends when we were here before.

  Mr. Huntington keeps us supplied with the “Daily Tribune,” so we get all the American news. And the “Temps”—a capital paper—keeps us informed of what is going on in Paris and in England. I was much pleased to read in it the other day an excellent and very appreciative article on George Eliot. She was a great genius, and there is no English novelist who takes her place.

From Mr. Cranch’s Journal:—

  December 31. The old year is almost gone. He has only one more hour to live by my watch. I am sitting alone by the ruins of my evening fire. I have just been reading a capital article in the “Temps” by Edward Scherer on Lord Beaconsfield’s novel “Endymion.” He is the author of the article on George Eliot I spoke of. The criticism is very profound and just. It is so good that I shall preserve it. “Le mot qui a l’ air d’ une idée” is one of his good sayings, applied to Beaconsfield.

  January 30, 1881. Received a note from Madame Laugel enclosing a ticket to a Conservatoire Concert this afternoon. Got ready in haste to go and was richly rewarded for doing so. First came Mendelssohn’s magnificent Symphony in A Major, wonderfully performed, and quite enthusiastically received. Second, fragments from Spontini’s Opera (I presume) of “Fernando Cortez,’’ by solo singers and chorus—very striking—consisting of introductory choruses; Alvar and the Spanish prisoners; Mexican priests and sacrificers; recitative of the Grand Priest; chorus and barbaric dances; march of the Mexicans and general chorus. Third, Concerto in A Minor for piano and orchestra, by Schumann, the piano part exquisitely played by a little lady, Madame Viquier. Several passages called forth suppressed bursts of feeling from some of the audience. It seemed to me one of Schumann’s masterpieces. Fourth, trio and chorus of the Parques (Hippolyte and Aricie), by Rameau. And lastly Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture.

  I enjoyed every note of the music. On my left was a little youngish French lady, who fidgeted a good deal and used her lorgnette in the midst of the finest passages, and on the whole seemed bored, or at least indifferent, and yet, as if conscious that she was showing it, would suddenly turn towards the orchestra, and make movements of the body and head, as if she were intensely enjoying the music. How I wished Carrie had been there in her place, what a pleasure it would have been to both of us, to hear such glorious music together. On my right sat a little old lady, who let her head drop, and took several good naps. I suppose she enjoyed the concert, in her way. At any rate, the music was soothing to her, and she made no pretense of ranking herself with the connoisseurs. She couldn’t help being sleepy. But the young woman on my left, if the music bored her, ought to have come prepared to be bored, and showed very bad taste in twisting herself about so with her lorgnette in the midst of the performance.

  February 13. M. Laugel was so kind as to send me a ticket for a box in the ThMtre Fran~ for this evening’s representation—five seats in the box. We invited Mr. Walter Gay to tea and to go with us. After tea we took a carriage and went. The box was a quiet, shady little nook, exacting no dress, and close to the stage on the rez-de-chaussée. The first piece represented was “Gringoire,” a very clever and interesting story of the time of Louis XI. The acting was all admirable. Coquelin, who took the part of Gringoire, was as good as could be. The whole was complete in one act.

  Then came the play of “Jean Baudry,” by Vacquerie, in four acts, I believe, the part of Baudry by Got. The plot was extremely interesting, and the acting u near perfection as anything I ever saw.

  February 24. Dined at the Pinchots’, and went with Mrs. Pinchot (Lizzie, Carrie and I) to the Opera Comique. Heard “Les Contes de Hoffmann,’’ Offenbach’s posthumous work. It was very brilliant, and in parts beautiful music, with admirable orchestration—quite a new rendition of Offenbach’s genius.

  February 25. Received note from John Holmes and went down to see him at the Hotel France et Lorraine, Rue Beaune, the same we stopped at on arriving in Paris. Found him lame and disabled from a fall.

  February 26. Packing up to go to Italy. Lizzie and Carrie bought three of Cook’s Tourist Tickets which will take us to Turin, Genoa, Pisa, and down to Rome, thence to Florence and Venice, available for sixty days from Turin.

  Went down to see John Holmes, who is waiting to get well, when he intends going to England. He has been suffering also from his eyes. He must be terribly lonely, in that hotel, knowing no one here.

  March 3, 1881. We left Paris February 28. Dined at Dijon. Entered the Mont Cenis Tunnel about 3 A.M. Fine mountain scenery, snow on the mountains. Arrived at Turin somewhere about nine, March 1. Had an awful time at station there, regulating tickets and baggage. Started again at half-past nine. Ugly landscape—a flat country with endless miles on miles of stumpy trees, apparently a kind of poplar, truncated with twigs sprouting, some of them looking like caterpillars and centipedes on end.

  The French landscape with its eternal broomstick poplars was ugly enough, but this was dismal. Something uncanny and nightmarish about these hideous stumps.

  But the scenery began to be fine as we drew nearer to Genoa. Fine mountain views right and left, and picturesque old buildings. After a day’s stay in Genoa, reached Rome about noon, March 3.

  March 4. We went to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s. The frescoes of Raphael and of Michael Angelo appear finer than ever. Raphael’s frescoes are better in color than his oil-paintings. The Michael Angelos on the ceiling of the Sistine are wonderful. Yet how much they lose in that dim, imperfect light. This great master must have known, when he was painting these glorious pictures, that they would never be seen up there as they should be seen. I can’t help thinking that, when he did these works at the command of Pope Julius II, he knew and felt how much of their power and beauty would be lost. No wonder he rebelled against the task. But what a treasure the Pope has through him left to the ages!

  March 5. We went to the Rospigliosi, the Capitol, Forum, Coliseum, San Pietro in Vinculo, and in the afternoon visited Story’s studio. Last night I called on the Storys at the Barberini, and was most cordially received by Story, and found there Edith and her husband.

  The afternoon of the day we arrived, I went up on the Pincio. The place is more beautiful than ever, and there was a band of music, and the same crowds of fashionable loungers, the same rolling-by of grand carriages, the same splendidly uniformed officers, and contadini and nurses and children, and priests, etc., as in the years long gone by. And as the music went on, and the people promenaded up and down under the green palms and pines, the vague memories of the old days came over me with a saddening sweep. Such impressions seem more painful than pleasant. I don’t much like these ghosts of the buried past.

  And wherever I go in Rome these same vague memories are awakened. It is better they should sleep.

  Sunday, March 6. We went up on the Pincio, and sat in the sunshine, among the green ilexes, and heard the birds sing. In the afternoon Carrie and I went into the garden of the Accademia, the old Medici Villa, and then walked in the grounds of the Villa Borghese, and gathered purple anemones.

  Monday, March 7. We went to see the Museum of the Vatican—the statues.

  March 8. Left Rome at 10.50. Found the railway to Florence much better than any Italian track we have gone over. Interesting scenery all the way. Arrived in Florence at nearly seven o’clock.

  March 10. Boott called, and took me to the American Consul, to get a request for a permit for the galleries, for Carrie and for me—as American artists. Looked at the Loggia di Lanzi, and the statues, and the old Medici Palace, and remembered how I carried George—little Georgey, who was just beginning to talk, and who understood only Italian—to see the marble lions, and how he was afraid to touch them, when I lifted him up near them, and he said, “son vivente?” till I assured him they were “di sasso.” That was thirty-two years ago. Ah how sad it made me to recall it! . . .

  March 12. In the afternoon went to see the studio of Miss Boott, and of Mr. Duveneck—Miss Boott has advanced greatly under his instruction. Duveneck’s work was very brilliant. There were other pupils of Duveneck also, there, whose work was good.

  March 13. Began an oil sketch looking out across the Arno. Boott called, and proposed going to Bellosguardo with us. At 3.30 took a carriage with Lizzie and Carrie to Bellosguardo—but Carrie and I got out at the Porta Romana, waited for Boott and walked up the hill with him. Beautiful villa and enchanting view. . . . Rode back in the carriage, and Carrie and I went into the Boboli Garden.

  March 14. Birthday of the King of Italy. Great firing of cannon and ringing of bells. Parade of soldiers. The festivities are interrupted by the tragic news of the assassination of the Emperor of Russia. Those crazy Nihilists have at last accomplished their purpose. But what can they gain by it? Could there be a worse thing for their cause?

  Carrie and I went to see some of the churches, after finding the Uffizi Gallery closed. In the evening we all went to a little party at Boott’s—where we met Mr. Ball, the sculptor, his wife, and Miss Anna Dixwell, . . . and half a dozen young art students. Had some good music from Mr. Ritter’s violin with Lizzie Boott’s accompaniment and some comic songs. . . . Enjoyed our evening very much.

  March 19. The weather has been perfectly cloudless,” till to-day—and cold. I have been in the Uffizi and the Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, and taken a long walk in the Cascine, and picked there a few wild flowers. And yesterday we went to the San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel to see the Michael Angelos, and in the afternoon Carrie and I called at Mr. Ball’s studio, and were very much pleased with him and his works. I had known nothing of his work except the equestrian statue of Washington in Boston, which always impresses me as remarkably good. Here we saw a number of works of a high order, and I don’t see why he should n’t rank among the first of the American sculptors. His studio and house are together in a pleasant villa overlooking the city, by the Poggio Imperiale. Boott called while we were there, and we walked up the hill by the Viale, and around to San Miniato. The views of the mountains and city were perfect.

  March 19. In the aftemoon went to a large reception at Mr. Ball’s. There was music, violin and piano, and some good singing. My National Anthem to Boott’s music was well sung by eight voices.

  March 21. In the evening called for Boott and went to the Teatro Nuovo with him. The play was A. Dumas fils’ “Princess of Bagdad.” I understood very little of it, but it was splendidly acted. The star of the piece was Signora Tessero-Guidone—a remarkable actress—Boott thinks she is as good as Ristori, and I don’t know that he is not right. Nothing could be finer than her expressions of passion and feeling, and her variety—her range—was wonderful. All the acting was remarkably good. I never saw towering rage so absolutely rendered as it was by one of the actors, whose name is given as Rosaspina.

  March 26. We have changed our quarters to the Casa Guidi, No. 9 Piazza San Felice. A much more cheerful place; windows looking to the east and on the street. It is the house where the Brownings were; a marble inscription over the front door commemorates it as the house where Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived and died—placed there by the city of Florence.

  Venice, April 5. Venice seems to me even more wonderful for its picturesqueness than it did seventeen years ago. There is nothing that is not picturesque here. I should like to remain six months, and spend my time in sketching. This afternoon began a sketch of the Salute and Dogana from my window—the same old subject I’ve painted so often, but it is good to do it once more from the actual scene. The great difficulty in Venice is to know what to paint—where all outdoors is picture.

  April 10. We have taken a stately apartment in the Palazzo Foscolo, on the Grand Canal. We have four large rooms about seventeen feet high—two of them with heavy stone balconies overhanging the Canal—from which we have a fine view of the Salute, and Dogana, on our left, and palaces on palaces extending as far as we can see to the right. Gondolas and other boats are passing all the time. We take the rooms by the week. The proprietors are two elderly ladies, who call themselves “les nobles Foscolo,” and descend from one of the doges. In a large bare anteroom hang portraits of two of their ancestors, veritable magnificoes, one of them with the name “Fusculus,” and a string of titles in Latin. . . . There are two entrances below, one the water-gate, which seems never to be used, and the other from the Calle Pisani, a narrow alley leading down to the Canal. On the outside of the front door is an immense and picturesque knocker, which no one uses, and on the right two old iron bell-handles. The old lady is very particular about having the front door bolted at night, and the bolt is a curiosity for its huge medireval size. The two sisters go to bed at eight o’clock, and seem to think no visitor ought to ring the bell after that hour.

  The other evening our friend Henry James, Jr., called about nine, and had difficulty about getting in. He had to stand in the rain outside and ring, and hold a colloquy with the servant, from above, who insisted we were not in—he finally got in and upstairs, as far as our outer door, and knocked and rang, but we did not hear, and knew nothing of his visit till we found his card in the door next morning.

  April 17. Easter Sunday. We all went to the Church of San Marco, where there was quite a crowd, and heard some pretty good operatic music. This was followed by a sermon by a splendidly robed and mitred dignitary who seems to have been a bishop, but there was too much reverberation to hear more than a few words. The beauty of this interior of San Marco’s is indescribable. It seems to me one of the wonders of the world. It is an endless delight to gaze about at the shadowy mysterious arches, the antique altars and statues and picturesque nooks; the gold and mosaics of the domes, everything you see arranged in picture shape. This is especially so when the 8UDShine comes in through a door, or window, and touches on its high lights. . . .

  April 20. Alexander W. Thayer arrived from Trieste before breakfast. He takes a room in our Palazzo. . . .

  April 25. Left Venice—Thayer going with us – for Milan. AB we got into our gondola, the Foscolo sisters bade us a tender adieu. The weather was fine, the first good day for some time. Beautiful mountain scenery on the way to Milan. . . .

  April 26. Carrie, Thayer, and I went to the top of the Cathedral. The architecture is beautiful beyond description—a vast white marble frost-work of soaring pinnacles all covered with statues and elaborate ornamental carvings, shooting into the sky in every direction, and all the work upon them finished so as to bear the minutest inspection—and all looking as if they had crystallized instead of being built up slowly and painfully in the course of centuries. We ascended by narrow winding steps to the topmost spire, a dizzy height. The view in every direction is wonderful! . . .

  April 27. We all went to see the “Cenacolo,” the “Last Supper” of Leonardo, in the ancient refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is very impressive, and one cannot judge of it well from the engravings and copies. It is very much obliterated, but in better condition than I expected to see it.

  We went into the Cathedral, and ascended to the very top. The view of the long line of snow-topped Alps was wonderfully fine—on the day before it was misty and they were hidden. In the afternoon we left for Paris, Thayer remaining.

  May 1. Varnishing day at the Salon. There was a great crowd; and over thirty rooms full of pictures. We stayed several hours, and I believe we saw all the rooms. A great number of clever pictures—but none of them struck me as great pictures, except in size. The same kinds of subject are repeated over and over, as they used to be when I was here before. There are a great many strong and clever painters represented, but none that compare with that time. Then we had Troyon, Delacroix, Descamps, Diaz, Ziem, Millet, Rousseau, Daubigny, and many others of less note, but full as good as those here represented. There is plenty of skill and chic, and technique, but few new ideas. And we have been in Italy among the glorious old masters, which obscures these modem Frenchmen. But in so large an exhibition, it is impossible, on a first visit, to discriminate and criticise with any exactness. . . .

  May 11. Wrote to Frank Boott: “What a curious thing, by the way, this matter of popularity is—almost a thing of accident often. You happen to hit the mark the popular eye has fixed its gaze upon, or you don’t happen—and then as the popular eye is turned in a certain direction, you are believed to go on hitting the mark or not hitting it. But in reality what does the public really know about us? If its big mechanical lens of an eye happens to be turned in another direction, we may go on shooting and hitting all our lives, and the sapient newspapers and reviews seem to know nothing about it.”

  June 14. Went a second time to see Munkácsy’s “Christ before Pilate.” It is a great picture, perhaps the greatest picture of the day. It will rank higher than Couture’s “Decadence.” All Paris seems to have been to see it. The treatment is entirely fresh and unconventional, in subject, composition, color, and general technique. The latter quality is wonderful. The picture seizes one with a powerful grasp; it is vivid with life and expression. The Christ is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but intense, self-centred, firm. Pilate sits on the right on his Roman throne, in white, his hair cut close, his face expressing intense thought and deliberation—a group of turbaned Pharisees about him, and close to him stands the High Priest who points to Christ, appealing in a loud voice to Pilate—“Let him be crucified!” And among the mob, at the other end of the picture, a vile ruffian throws up his bare arms and screams, “Let him be crucified!” Near the Saviour sits an old man, turbaned and robed, with his cruel face half averted, and here and there are seen other priests and elders deliberating or talking together. From the crowd in the background a man rises pointing out Barabbas—who is peering around at the face of Christ. A centurion with his back to the spectator, holds his long spear across the crowd to keep them from pressing too near. The architecture of the building is rich and massive, and painted with wonderful solidity. The color of the picture is fine—low in tone and harmonious, full of warm grayish browns and purplish darks- a style peculiar to Mr. Munkácsy—varied with strong blues, and all full of light. The figures have the relief of nature itself. Seen in a mirror in the next room, the picture startles you with its intense realism.

  July 14. The great National Fête. Miss Anna Dixwell lunched and dined with us, and after dinner she, Carrie and I took a carriage as far as the Porte Maillot, beyond which carriages were not allowed, and walked in the Bois de Boulogne to the Lake, where the Fête Vénitienne, and the fireworks were to be seen. The crowd was immense. The trees were hung with large orange-colored lanterns. The lake fringed around with footlights. A great golden gate of light blazed in the distance, reflected in the water. The crowd occupied every inch of ground near the water. We walked on till we reached the pine grove on the left, and spread our camp-stools. At nine o’clock the feux d’artifice began, rockets, fiery serpents, intense red, green, and white fires, blazing on the water and bursting in the air. It was a magnificent show. Splendidly illuminated, boats passed to and fro continually, adding greatly to the fairy-like splendor. The crowd was very orderly. About half-past ten we left, and walked all the way back—no carriages were anywhere allowed. The whole road for miles was splendidly illuminated with lamps and colored lanterns. This illumination and fireworks were more extensive and splendid than anything I ever saw, and yet we saw only a portion of the whole. . . .

To G. W. C.
August 1, 1846

The day, so long remembered, comes again.
The years have vanished. On the vessel’s deck
We stand and wave adieux, until a speck
Our ship appears to friends whose eyes would fain
Follow our voyage o’er the unknown main.
Shadows of sails and masts and rigging fleck
The sunlit ship. The captain’s call and beck
Hurry the cheery sailors as they strain
The windy sheets; while we in careless mood
Gaze on the silver clouds and azure sea,
Filled with old ocean’s novel solitude,
And dreams of that new life of Italy,
The golden fleece for which we sailed away,
Whose splendor freshens this memorial day.

PARIS, August 1, 1881.

  December. Dupont came and took dinner with us, and passed the evening, interesting us a good deal with his conversation and his songs. Though talking nothing but French, he seems totally unlike any Frenchman I ever knew. He is large and sound and liberal in his ideas—full of bright ideas—artistic, imaginative, refined, and withal extremely sympathetic. I always regret that I can’t express myself in French as I wish I could, in talking with him. He sung us some of the old songs he used to sing nearly twenty years ago when we were here. Such a man as he ought to learn English and talk with us in English, but though he knows a little, he never will talk it. He is fond of talking about himself, and the things he has done in painting, and poetry, and politics—but in such a way that he does not impress me as a man unusually vain—only as of one conscious of talent and expressing his feeling frankly and without reserve. . . .

Mr. Cranch to his brother Edward

PARIS, January 11, 1882.
  . . . I have been re-reading your letter, and pondering over your vision. I don’t suppose you take it any more au sérieux than I do; I don’t think you have any more superstition than I have; it was singular certainly. But how curious all dreaming is! The only thing about dreams that seems tangible and sure, is, to me, that they all spring out of our reminiscences, and so belong to the past, and not the future. They are broken and distorted reflections of images that have had a place in the mind. The oddness is the way they surprise us sometimes, and the queer complications and exaggerations; and queerer and more wonderful than all, the characteristic things that are said by the people we know. Another curious thing in dreams, is the mixing up of people; one even being quite intimate with some one, whom, when we wake, we find we never knew at all. Not long since I tried to put into verse this latter phase of dream-life, and will give it to you.
I have met one in the land of sleep
Who seemed a friend long known and true.
But when awake from visions deep,
None such I ever knew.

Yet one there was in life’s young morn,
Loved me. I thought, as I loved him.
Slow from that trance I woke forlorn,
To find his love grown dim.

He by whose side in dreams I ranged,
Unknown by name, my friend still seems.
While he I knew so well, has changed.
So both were only dreams.

  But this is digressing. I meant to offer myself as a Joseph to interpret your vision. For instance, the tomb and date may mean that by that time you will have buried your last law documents, and entered upon your new profession fully and entirely, without any let and hindrance; the sunny hills and the sheep beyond are symbols of a good time coming for you in your declining years. The river to be crossed, you yourself allow to have been an after thought. That is beyond the hills.

  We all went to the Théâtre Français the other night, with two young artist friends. We saw “Le Monde ou l’on s’ennuie,” and a short piece preceding it, called “La Cigale chez les fourmis.” The acting was admirable, as it always is at the Français, but the rapidity of the talk was too much for me. Things were constantly said which made the audience laugh; to me they were serious things because I could n’t understand them. The plot continually mystified me. But the others enjoyed it. To me this theatre was the world where one is bored! I had better have stayed at home and saved eight francs. I can read French easily enough and understand it when distinctly spoken, if I am near enough to the speaker; that is, I don’t lose much of it. But I have so little practice in hearing it, that I grow rusty, and doubt if I can follow the lingo any better than I could twenty years ago.

  The Journal goes on:

January 14. . . .

Unseen, unknown, and sundered long,
Till Age hath touched us with his rust,
Deep in our hearts, alive and strong,
Youth springs immortal from the dust.

Our thoughts like bees in secret hives
Hoard up their wealth, unshared, untold,
Yet love, in our divided lives,
Keeps full his measure as of old.

Ah, could some voice from heavenly spheres
Tell us it has not been in vain,
This absence long, these changing years,
But, somewhere, we may meet again!

  June 4. Went to the Salon and studied Puvis de Chavannes’ immense picture ‘‘Ludus pro Patria,” and find it improves on acquaintance. It is well composed, quite original, full of daylight—but it is daylight of an alien and almost spectral world. The figures, too, all seem as if they belonged to some world of the classic Elysian fields. They are all too sad and serious – there is nothing of the joyousness of youth and sport. Hardly a smile upon a single face. Perhaps the artist intended some such shadowy and spectral life, in the dim and subdued coloring he has given to his picture. M. Puvis de Chavannes has received the médaille d’honneur. Perhaps the jury may be right in decreeing it. But if the picture is poetic, it is French poetry.

  June 16. Went to the Opera to hear “Robert le Diable.” First time I had been in the Opera House. Had a seat on the top row and found it very hot and close. There is much that is fine in the music, but Meyerbeer never interested me much. This opera is too long—too noisy—and on the whole I found it tedious. I was too high up to see Baudry’s pictures on the ceiling—I got a glimpse of them from below, but only vaguely. The vestibule and stairway are magnificent. The effect of the brilliant crowd coming downstairs, surrounded by this superb architecture, was very splendid and picturesque.

Mr. Cranch to George William Curtis

July 24, 1882.
  We found your note here, and were very glad to get your friendly salutation. We arrived in Boston the 17th and were at Cambridge for a few days. . . .

  We had eight days of rough, rainy, cold weather aboard. The Captain says he never saw such weather in July. It might have been November. Head winds all the way over. But the last three or four days were fair and calm. . . .

  For several days I have felt incapable of rising out of a purely passive state of mind and body. I fear we shall hardly accomplish our proposed visit to Ashfield. At least so it seems to us at present.

  P.S. We passed a pleasant week in London, though we were too hurried to see much. I accomplished, however, on a perfect day, a visit to Windsor, and was delighted with the place. I made a water-color sketch of the magnificent Castle, into which I went to see the showable places.

  In his Journal at this date he says: “This place is the perfection of rest. I have done almost nothing, a little sketching, a little reading, a great deal of loafing.”

George William Curtis to Mr. Cranch

July 31, 1882.
  I shall be in the cars all day to-morrow so that I cannot slap you on the back with my pen and congratulate you and Lizzie upon our anniversary. It is thirty-six years ago, my young friend, that we sailed o’er the waters blue, and if our heads are greyer, our hearts are not, and if memory is infinitely richer, hope is no poorer. No man who has seen what we have seen has a right to grumble, much less despair.

  When you said that you were coming home I hoped that we might have drained a beaker of the warm South together upon our day. No matter, I shall pass through Boston and look toward Magnolia, and waft you and yours a blessing.

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