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in the art world by the article he was writing; and I, with one of those inspired bursts of cheek which come to me sometimes, told him that he was not able to do so. I remember that he was somewhat surprised. I don't think the lunch was a very great success, and I do not know whether the article ever appeared; but I do know that no author who is not an artist has any right to discuss the fine arts any more than an artist who cannot write should criticize literature, and Henry James, unlike William, never tried to become one.
Off and on, at various times and
places, including our own and Gosse's, in London, he used to turn up. One afternoon I found him at Keats's grave, in Rome, and another, walking the calle of Venice. We would have, or I would have, coffee and a talk, and he would disappear. But it was not until 1899, when Heinemann suggested making an illustrated edition of "A Little Tour in France," that I really did anything with him, and even then, as the book was published, he only rearranged the chapters and wrote a new preface and did not seem
very keen about that; for though the best book of the sort, it had never been a success. I am glad to say this edition was. But I think I made a pretty book of it, visiting every one of the places on a bicycle and making every drawing on the spot. Before this, even before the London article, there was an event, however, which produced rather a sensation, and the inside history has never been told. It was arranged that I should make a series of drawings of the scenery of "Faust," "Faust," which Henry Irving had produced with great success at the Lyceum, and that James should write
of the production for THE CENTURY MAGAZINE. To cut the matter short, I never did the drawings, and James did not write exactly the article Irving looked for, and matters were somewhat strained. It was my only experience on the stage, though with Anstie Guthrie I once did music halls in London, and with P. T. Barnum did his circus in Brooklyn. We used to take William Archer to
East London in his frail list shoes,-I think we paid a shilling for the box,-and Barnum put us in a box with two-headed twins and bearded infants and horse-faced men. Anstie's article came out in "Harper's," and the Barnum one in "St. Nicholas." There was a lot of fun in the music halls, and Anstie has some of it in "Punch." He made some really funny music-hall parodies, a strange thing in that organ of unequaled dreariness, regarded as funny only by the cultivated classes of this country. Gilbert once said to Burnand:
"You must get such
funny things sent in to 'Punch'!"
"Yes," said Burnand. "Well, then," suggested Gilbert, "why don't you print one?"
I hate the theater, because I was brought up a Friend, and therefore I was taught to avoid it, and it was not till I was grown up that I was ever in one. Then I saw, and was extremely bored by, Salvini in "Othello" or "Hamlet," I forget which. He had He had no interest for me, and later I saw Aimée in "Madame Angot," and thought it naughty, but nice; and finally, just before I went to Europe, I saw the "Romany Rye," I believe it was. I went with some wicked young imps, and when the villain jumped into real water, we demanded an encore, to see if he was wet, and we nearly got thrown out. I always wanted to see "Handy Andy, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street," at Saddlers' Wells, in London, the play
which is given once a year, in which the client goes in as a city gent to be shaved and comes out sausages. I did see, however, a dissected house in York, England, with six murders going on in six different rooms at once, and I loved the "Penny Gaff" with Pepper's Ghost, and when Irving's "Faust" came out, I went to the Elephant and Castle and saw the play up to date; for in that Margaret marries Faust and Mephistopheles weds Martha, and they live happily ever after. But Irving's Lyceum "Faust"
was different. It was the real thing, and Blake Wirgman was to do the actors, and I was to draw the scenery. Irving had taken lots of trouble over this, and had sent Hawes Craven to Nuremberg and Rothenburg to make studies, and it was as real as could be, and all London went to see it. When the curtain was up from the front it was fine, but from the O. P. box it was another thing.
and then they were furiously, but slowly, wafted to heaven. But the language those angels used was not heard by the audience in the solemn death-scene.
frightful lunges, kept telling her to shut up. And when she came on, sometimes she would, if late, slide down the banisters from her dressing-room as the quickest way to get on; and when there had been great applause and the curtain was down, she would start a follow-my-leader round the stage, jumping over chairs, and dragging Irving growling after her till the curtain began to go up for the bows. But the finest was her death in prison, and the scene with the angels at the end. The stage and the dungeon were strewed with straw and made ready, and a thing like the upper part of an eight-oar outrigger was brought on, laid on the stage, and eight lovely little lady angels lay down on it, and were tightly strapped to it. When they were strapped tight, she would go round and tickle them with straws,
I am afraid that this side of the play interested me so much that I scarcely made a drawing, and I don't remember what Wirgman did. But I do remember that the article came out without any illustrations, and that it made such a row the pictures were forgotten. After that I was never again asked to the Lyceum, but, as I said, I never go to the theater, and it did not matter,
though I believe Irving thought it did. Bram Stoker, however, got over it, and I used to go to see him and Poultney Bigelow in Tite Street. It was in the days when Poultney ran "Outing" and London, and, like Roosevelt, managed the kaiser. Only Poultney had the imperial signature written with a diamond on a front window-pane, and an offset of it framed on a blotting-pad in his library. And there were legends in the street that when church was letting out,-though I don't think many went to church from those parts, Mrs. Whistler being the only one I ever heard of,-Poultney and the kaiser, who came over to spend week-ends with him, used to dance Highland flings or czardas for the multitude, or maybe for Oscar, who lived there. Or was it in Beaufort Street that
these things happened? Otherwise, how Mrs. Abbey and Mr. Sargent must have been shocked! Speaking of Oscar in Tite Street, I went to his sale to buy the alleged portrait of Sarah by Whistler, only it was n't a portrait of Sarah,-but when it was bid up to ten pounds I stopped, and got what I believed was a water-color for ten shillings; for Whistler's works were mostly not wanted, and the sale was diversified by fights, and I had to call in the police, who were in readiness to be called in, and help to carry off under police protection the admirers and defenders of Oscar, who were then, as always, eager to defend him.
Later I was press agent for a masque of the Art Workers' Guild, the real beginning of the modern pageant, and on that we lost five thousand pounds. But that is another story. The only other theatrical reminiscence of James I have is that one day
we all got free tickets to a play by the son of a very distinguished man. It was a sort of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and there was James. I only remember a few details. It was given at the theater at the foot of Northumberland Avenue, a matinée. The play was full of action. In one scene the bloodhounds, we were informed, were upon the heels of the escaping hero, and to prove it, while the audience held their breath, he remarked, "I hear them," though we heard in the street only the yelps of a terrier. And again as we listened for the signal, Bernard Partridge, who was then acting as well as drawing, told us he heard the signal upon which fate and future hung, but we heard the horn of the Brighton coach, which just then came round the corner tootely-tootely toot-toot. Even James smiled. I forget whether it was before or after this that James
had the experience of being hissed when his play was put on and he thought he was sure to make a fortune. But it had no more success than his books with the people. This was probably the first time the pit and the gallery ever heard of him, and they did not approve of him.
After "The Little Tour in France," which is the best guide-book to that country I know, I did a series with James, "Italian Hours," and then English "Vistas." I don't think he liked them very much, but Heinemann, the publisher, seemed to, and I did my best, and they are much better than any one else's or any other series. In the series also are Hay's "Castilian Days" and Howells's "Italian Journeys," and the making of these books took me all over France and Spain and Italy in the most delightful fashion. Howells never said a word to me about the illustrations, such is the author, -and Hay was dead.
If James did not altogether like the books, I think he got to like me, for he used to ask me down to stay with him at Rye, and take me all over the place; but I was always afraid of him and nervous with him, and tried to hurry up his stories and give him a word, though that was impossible.
Then, later, there was a scheme that I should illustrate his "American Scene," but that never came off. The The pair of us were too expensive; so I was dropped, though I did give him some points of view from which to see New York, the rubber-neck boat, the Jersey City ferry, and the top of the Singer Building,—and he thanked me afterward for suggesting the first two. But the last, the sky-scraper, was not for him.
"But for you, they are yours to draw; but-ah-oh-just, yes, think of it -difficult, yes; no, impossible; each forty stories, each story forty windows, each window forty people, each person forty tales-my God! maddening! What could-no-um-yes-certainly not, of course-do with such a thing?"
I can't get any nearer to it, and only those who knew him will understand. I saw more and heard more of him in the last years, when he used to come to us and sit by the fire in the twilight. And again I went down to Rye once or twice, and he showed me the town; but as he always would take his little dog with him, and as motors tore through the streets, he was frightened for the dog. But I was far more afraid he would get run over, though I think the dog did in the end. In the balcony of the Reform Club or round the big lower hall he used to take rapid constitutionals. At that time he was living there; Sargent and Abbey and I were the other American members. And one of the last times I saw him was at a Christmas dinner in 1914, when he sat beside his hostess, solemnly, on his head a foolscap that he had pulled out of a Christmas cracker. Why in the world he gave up his nationality I do not know, and I never asked him. He could not even have answered as Legros, the Frenchman, did, who, when he became a naturalized Englishman and was asked why, said, "Moi, j'ai gagné la bataille de Vaterloo."
These are some traits and facts about James which have been ignored or omitted by others who never worked with him half as much as I have worked with him.