PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON
PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON
PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON ET AL
_AND A MEMOIR BY HIS WIFE_
"Intellectual living is not so much an accomplishment as a state or
condition of the mind in which it seeks earnestly for the highest and
purest truth.... If we often blunder and fail for want of perfect wisdom
and clear light have we not the inward assurance that our aspiration
has not been all in vain that it has brought us a little nearer to the
Supreme Intellect whose effulgence draws us while it dazzles?"--_The
About twelve years ago my husband told me that he had begun to write an
Autobiography intended for publication but not during his lifetime. He
worked upon it at intervals as his literary engagements permitted but
I found after his sudden death that he had only been able to carry it as
far as his twenty-fourth year. Such a fragment seemed too brief for
separate publication and I earnestly desired to supplement it by a
Memoir and thus to give to those who knew and loved his books a more
complete understanding of his character and career. But though I longed
for this satisfaction and solace the task seemed beyond my power
especially as it involved the difficulty of writing in a foreign
language. Considering however that the Autobiography was carried as
it happened up to the date of our marriage and that I could therefore
relate all the subsequent life from intimate knowledge as no one else
could I was encouraged by many of Mr. Hamerton's admirers to make the
attempt and with the great and untiring help of his best friend Mr.
Seeley I have been enabled to complete the Memoir--such as it is.
I offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Sidney Colvin and to his co-executor
for having allowed the insertion of Mr. R. L. Stevenson's letters; to
Mr. Barrett Browning for those of his father; to Sir George and Lady
Reid Mr. Watts Mr. Peter Graham and Mr. Burlingame for their own.
I also beg Mr. A. H. Palmer to accept the expression of my gratitude for
his kind permission to use as a frontispiece to this book the fine
photograph taken by him.
My reasons for writing an Autobiography.--That a man knows the history
of his own life better than a biographer can know it.--Frankness and
reserve.--The contemplation of death.
My birthplace.--My father and mother.--Circumstances of their
marriage.--Their short married life.--Birth of their child.--Death of
my mother.--Her character and habits.--My father as a widower.--Dulness
of his life.--Its degradation.
My childhood is passed at Barnley with my aunts.--My grandfather and
grandmother.--Estrangement between Gilbert Hamerton and his brother of
Hellifield Peel.--Death of Gilbert Hamerton.--His taste for the French
language.--His travels in Portugal and the conduct of a steward during
his absence.--His three sons.--Aristocratic tendencies of his
daughters.--Beginning of my education.--Visits to my father.
A tour in Wales in 1842.--Extracts from my Journal of this tour.--My
inborn love for beautiful materials.--Stay at Rhyl.--Anglesea and
Caernarvon.--Reasons for specially remembering this tour.
A painful chapter to write.--My father calls me home.--What kind of a
house it was.--Paternal education and discipline.--My life at that time
one of dulness varied by dread.
My extreme loneliness.--Thoughts of flight.--My father's last illness
and death.--Circumstances of my last interview with him.--His funeral.
Dislike to Shaw in consequence of the dreadful life I lead there with my
father.--My guardian.--Her plan for my education.--Doncaster
School.--Mr. Cape and his usher.--The usher's intolerance of
Dissenters.--My feeling for architecture and music.--The
drawing-master.--My guardian insists on my learning French.--Our French
master Sig. Testa.--A painful incident.--I begin to learn the
violin.--Dancing.--My aversion to cricket.--Early readings.--Love of
Scott.--My first library.--Classical studies.
Early attempts in English verse.--Advantages of life at Doncaster.--A
school incident.--Fagging.--Story of a dog.--Robbery.--My school-fellow
Henry Alexander.--His remarkable influence.--Other school-fellows.
--Story of a boat.--A swimming adventure.--Our walks and battles.
Early interest in theology.--Reports of sermons.--Quiet influence of Mr.
Cape.--Failure of Mr. Cape's health.--His death.
My education becomes less satisfactory.--My guardian's state of
health.--I pursue my studies at Burnley.--Dr. Butler.--He encourages me
to write English.--Extract from a prize poem.--Public discussions in
Burnley School.--A debate on Queen Elizabeth.
My elder uncle.--We go to live at Hollins.--Description of the place.
--My strong attachment to it.--My first experiment in art-criticism.
--The stream at Hollins.--My first catamaran.--Similarity of my life at
Hollins to my life in France thirty-six years later.
Interest in the Middle Ages.--Indifference to the Greeks and Romans.
--Love for Sir Walter Scott's writings.--Interest in heraldry and
illuminations.--Passion for hawking.--Old books in the school library at
Burnley.--Mr. Edward Alexander of Halifax.--Attempts in literary
composition.--Contributions to the "Historic Times."--"Rome in
1849."--"Observations on Heraldry."
Political and religious opinions of my relations.--The Rev. James
Bardsley.--Protestant controversy with Rome.--German neology.--The
inspiration of the Scriptures.--Inquiry into foundation for the
doctrine.--I cease to be a Protestant.--An alternative presents
itself.--A provisional condition of prolonged inquiry.--Our medical
adviser.--His remarkable character.--His opinions.
First visit to London in 1851.--My first impression of the place.--
Nostalgia of the country.--Westminster.--The Royal Academy.--Resolution
never to go to London again.--Reason why this resolution was afterwards
The lore of reading a hindrance to classical studies.--Dr. Butler
becomes anxious about my success at Oxford.--An insuperable
obstacle.--My indifference to degrees.--Irksome hypocrisy.--I am nearly
sent to a tutor at Brighton.--I go to a tutor in Yorkshire.--His
disagreeable disposition.--Incident about riding.--Disastrous effect of
my tutor's intellectual influence upon me.--My private reading.--My
tutor's ignorance of modern authors.--His ignorance of the fine
arts.--His religious intolerance.--I declare my inability to sign the
Choice of a profession.--Love of literature and art.--Decision to make
trial of both.--An equestrian tour.--Windermere.--Derwentwater.--I take
lessons from Mr. J. P. Pettitt.--Ulleswater.--My horse turf.--Greenock
a discovery.--My unsettled cousin.--Glasgow.--Loch
sailing excursion.--Mull and Ulva.--Solitary reading.
A journal.--Self-training.--Attempts in periodical literature.--The
time given to versification well spent.--Practical studies in art.--
Beginning of Mr. Ruskin's influence.--Difficulty in finding a master in
landscape-painting.--Establishment of the militia.--I accept a
commission.--Our first training.--Our colonel and our adjutant.--The
Grand Llama.--Paying off the men.
A project for studying in Paris.--Reading.--A healthy life.--
Quinsy.--My most intimate friend.
London again.--Accurate habits in employment of time.--Studies with Mr.
Pettitt.--Some account of my new master.--His method of technical
teaching.--Simplicity of his philosophy of art.--Incidents of his
life.--Rapid progress under Pettitt's direction.
Acquaintance with R. W. Mackay.--His learning and accomplishments.--His
principal pursuit.--His qualities as a writer.--Value of the artistic
element in literature.--C. R. Leslie R. A.--Robinson the
line-engraver.--The Constable family.--Mistaken admiration for minute
detail.--Projected journey to Egypt.--Mr. Ruskin.--Bonomi.--Samuel
A Visit to Rogers.--His Home.--Geniality in poets.--Talfourd.--Sir
Walter Scott.--Leslie's picture "The Rape of the Lock."--George
Leslie.--Robert Leslie.--His nautical instincts.--Watkiss
Miss Marian Evans.--John Chapman the publisher.--My friend William
Shaw.--His brother Richard.--Mead the tragedian.--Mrs. Rowan and her
daughter.--A vexatious incident.--I suffer from nostalgia for the
Some of my relations emigrate to New Zealand.--Difficulties of a poor
gentleman.--My uncle's reasons for emigration.--His departure.--Family
separations.--Our love for Hollins.
Resignation of commission in the militia.--Work from nature.--Spenser
the poet.--Hurstwood.--Loch Awe revisited.--A customer.--I determine to
learn French well.--A tour in Wales.--Swimming.--Coolness on account of
my religious beliefs.--My guardian.--Evil effects of religions
bigotry.--Refuge in work.--My drawing-master.--Our excursion in Craven.
Publication of "The Isles of Loch Awe and other Poems."--Their
sale.--Advice to poetic aspirants.--Mistake in illustrating my book of
verse.--Its subsequent history.--Want of art in the book.--Too much
reality.--Abandonment of verse. A critic in "Fraser."--Visit to Paris
in 1855.--Captain Turnbull.--Ball at the Hotel de Ville.--Louis Napoleon
and Victor Emmanuel.
Thackeray's family in Paris.--Madame Mohl.--Her husband's encouraging
theory about learning languages.--Mr. Scholey.--His friend William
Wyld.--An Indian in Europe.--An Italian adventuress.--Important meeting
with an American.--Its consequences.--I go to a French hotel.--People
at the _table d'hote_.--M. Victor Ouvrard.--His claim on the
Emperor.--M. Gindriez.--His family.--His eldest daughter.
Specialities in painting.--Wyld's practice.--Projected voyage on the
Loire.--Birth of the Prince Imperial.--Scepticism about his inheritance
of the crown.--The Imperial family.--I return home.--Value of the French
language to me.
My first encampment in Lancashire.--Value of encamping as a part of
educational discipline.--Happy days in camp.--The natural and the
artificial in landscape.--Sir James Kay Shuttleworth's Exhibition
project.--I decline to take an active part in it.--His energetic and
laborious disposition.--Charlotte Bronte.--General Scarlett.
I visit the homes of my forefathers at Hamerton Wigglesworth and
Hellifield Peel.--Attainder and execution of Sir Stephen Hamerton.
--Return of Hellifield Peel to the family.--Sir Richard.--The Hamertons
distinguished only for marrying heiresses.--Another visit to the Peel
when I see my father's cousin.--Nearness of Hellifield Peel and Hollins.
Expedition to the Highlands in 1857.--Kindness of the Marquis of
Breadalbane and others.--Camp life its strong and peculiar
attraction.--My servant.--Young Helliwell.--Scant supplies in the
camp.--Nature of the camp.--Necessity for wooden floors in a bad
climate.--Double-hulled boats.--Practice of landscape-
painting.--Changes of effect.--Influences that governed my way of study
in those days.--Attractive character of the Scottish Highlands.--Their
scenery not well adapted for beginners.--My intense love of it.
Small immediate results of the expedition to the Highlands.--Unsuitable
system of work.--Loss of time.--I rent the house and island of
Innistrynich.--My dread of marriage and the reasons for
it.--Notwithstanding this I make an offer and am refused.--Two young
ladies of my acquaintance.--Idea of a foreign marriage.--Its
inconveniences.--Decision to ask for the hand of Mdlle. Gindriez.--I go
to Paris and am accepted.--Elective affinities.
Reception at home after engagement.--Preparations at Innistrynich.--I
arrive alone in Paris.--My marriage.--The religious ceremony.--An
uncomfortable wedding.--The sea from Dieppe.--London.--The Academy
Exhibition of 1858.--Impressions of a Frenchwoman.--The Turner
collection.--The town.--Loch Awe.--The element wanting to happiness.
My first sight of Loch Awe.--Arrival at Innistrynich.--Our domestic
life.--Difficulties about provisions.--A kitchen-garden.
Money matters.--Difficulties about servants.--Expensiveness of our mode
Painting from nature.--Project of an exhibition.--Photography.--Plan of
"A Painter's Camp."--Topographic art.--Charm of our life in the
English and French manners.--My husband's relatives.--First journey to
France after our marriage.--Friends in London.--Miss Susan Hamerton.