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PORTRAIT OF A SAILOR
Humped o'er the rail, eyes on the sea he stands,
Have never touched an object light enough
Of love, forbearance, faith, he never knew.
And cunning in his mischief-making, too;
But takes it as it comes and lives it through.
To all the beauty molded out for him.
What is the saving grace that made him loved,
Adventures of an Illustrator
IV-A King's Coronation
By JOSEPH PENNELL
Drawing by the author made at the time
BOUT six months after the funeral of Edward VII came a ring at my door-bell, and there was the assistant editor of "The Daily Chronicle" wanting to know if I would do the coronation of King George, the date of which was not fixed. He would get some big man to write it up. But, anyway, would I do it, and for them alone? After much parleying, it was arranged that, if I was in London, I would, provided I could see everything in the Abbey, go to the rehearsals, and attend the ceremony itself, having a seat in the organ-loft, so that my drawing could be made on the spot at the time and be historic. I bothered no more about it for months, and only a few venturesome papers bothered me, for the idea got abroad that I was an expensive luxury. I know nothing about this; all I know is that I am worth what I ask, and won't work unless I get what I want and the way I want it.
The months went on. I did not go away, but I cared less and less to be bothered with the affair, which seemed to grow more and more difficult, and no permission apparently could be obtained to get me into the Abbey. At the American embassy I heard that they were receiving a thousand applications a day for invitations, while, as far as I knew, they had none to bestow.
The newspaper offices were flooded with applications from people ready to pay fabulous prices to write descriptive articles, but the editors were running round trying to get seats for themselves and their families. The entire American press, I was told, had three seats, with three thousand applications for them. tions for them. I waited. One day
came a card to view the Abbey, nearly ready for the ceremony.
I carried with me four large sheets of lithographic paper, my chalks, and a drawing-board, and when I got into the choir I found it filled with the artists of the universe. In the midst, behind a six-foot canvas, was Tuxen, the Danish court painter of Queen Alexandra; at his side the academic Bacon, doing, in a black skull cap, a six-inch sketch for the official British picture, and looking as if he was wound up, though I am sure, when the royal record was finished, it contained an accurate portrait of everybody in the place, and was so intensely correct that all the feeling of the function was gone. As was said of another of his official machines, you could hear the kodak click when you looked at it.
Every paper in the world was represented, and everybody was following round, like sheep, some one of the earl marshal's staff who was explaining just what the king would do, and the
queen and the archbishop and the other royalties and envoys and excellencies and dignitaries, and where all of them were to stand. And every artist had a little note-book, which he took out of the pocket of his frock-coat and made dots in, on a ground plan. Scarcely any one made a sketch. They put down their top-hats to make the dots. Then they all stood in a line right in front of the altar, so as to get the king's face from a point of view from which they never would be allowed to see it. There are holes in the reredos, and my first idea was to get there, but for some reason I was not allowed. Abbey wanted to, also, but they would not let him, when he did Edward's coronation, and put him in a tomb, of which they raised the top a little, he told me. In the whole crowd of about one hundred artists there were only three who had any idea of making a record of the function in its bigness and grandeur. The method of the rest was to listen to statements from an official of the court as to where people would stand, where thrones would be, and what would be done, then go home and draw from models and photographs or out of their heads these things as they were told they were going to be. As a matter of fact, few of the people stood where they should, still fewer wore the robes they ought, no one did as we were told he would, and the daylight managed the whole affair in its own way. Of the hundred artists the only persons who did anything of any importance that day were Sir Benjamin Stone, a photographer, and the cinematograph people; but they are not artists.
As for the remaining three, E. J. Sullivan climbed into a tomb, but that was all he did in the Abbey. M.
Gillot (for the French Government) got in the choir-stalls, in the seat, I believe, of the French envoy, but he was turned out of that at the ceremony; and I-well, I was as usual the only person who had any sense. As I have said, my conditions were that I should have a seat in the organ-loft, that I should attend all the rehearsals and the ceremony from the same seat. My scheme was to draw the scene as I saw it from the choir, as it was, as the people in the choir would see it, as the envoys who had the best places saw it, and not make more or less flattered portraits faked from photographs of the king and queen and half a dozen other people doing things they did not do.
So I climbed into the organ-loft. A lot of artists wanted to follow, but did not know the way, and in three hours I had the architecture sketched in. I did not touch the pavement or the galleries, for I had no idea what the people would be like or where they would stand or what they would do, and I did not care what the officials said.
A few days later we were admitted again. I finished the architecture, the exact size of "The Chronicle" page; then I sent to "The Chronicle" and demanded seats for the rehearsals. None came, but there was a rehearsal. I struck. There was despair. No drawings of the ceremony! They would be ruined. Well, I had not the imagination or the intention to do a thing I had not seen, and they could either keep their promise to get me seats for all the rest of the rehearsals and the ceremony, or get somebody else to do it. It was pointed out to me by the editor that no one except those actually engaged in the coronation ceremonies could be admitted. I pointed