Sir Edward Burne-Jones

IT is my intention to give some idea of the man himself, and of his early formative influences, rather than to attempt a critical estimate of his work. Of the man, I may say at once that he was a prince among his fellows. In nobility of nature, in sweetness and charm of temperament, in distinction of sentiment, in his spiritual outlook, tender, strong, earnest, with an exquisite kindly humor, he won the love as well as the admiration of all who knew him. He had a life so uneventful in external vicissitudes that its main features may be told in a few words. “ What is there to say,” he exclaimed once of a great man who had suddenly passed from among us, “ what is there to say beyond this, — that between youth and old age he ever failed nobly, or nobly succeeded ? Nothing else is called for. His work is his commentary on life, his biography, his record of spiritual adventure. As for the private individual, he and those dear to him are entitled to look upon the privacies of his intimate life as not only sacred, but as having absolutely no concern with the public curiosity.”

Of Edward Burne-Jones this is certainly true, — that his work is his spiritual biography; nor could any one who had the privilege of his friendly regard violate wishes so often and emphatically expressed. But, as a matter of fact, he need not have feared those rents in the privacy of his intimate life which death so often discloses. There were none to be revealed.

“ I have been happy in my life,” I have heard him say, " happy in my friendships, happy in my art ; and the only unhappiness I have known, apart from those sorrows which we all have in common, is the unhappiness of that spirit within one which is forever haunted by the discrepancy between the dream, the vision, and the possible, and therefore far less the ideal, accomplishment.”

There could be few greater contrasts than between the presumptive BurneJones, as he was fashioned after the public fancy, and the Burne-Jones of reality. Partly because of the dreamlike beauty and remoteness of most of his work, partly because he was seldom seen in public or at social gatherings, and partly because he was known to be a recluse who was never so happy as when in his studio in a quiet region of remoter Kensington, the idea had developed into a common belief that as a man he was a mere dreamer, wholly preoccupied with poetic and symbolical vision, and in his individual outlook as remote from his fellows as in the imaginative expression of his spiritual ideas he was remote from the sterile actualities of the commonplace.

This popular view was as baseless as that which regarded William Morris, because he was the author of The Earthly Paradise and Love is Enough, as “the idle dreamer of an empty day.” The two friends were in every sense of the word men of the hour as well as of their day, and of that larger day wherein the great and noble endure.

A good deal has been said as to Sir Edward Burne-Jones having been a distinguished Welshman. There is too much license in this designation. He was born in England, of parents themselves born and bred in England ; and though it is fairly certain that his recent ancestors were of Cymric stock, there seems to be no absolute surety.

What is of interest is his own conviction that in nature and temperament he was Celtic, and not English. He held, as some others hold, that the finest spiritual influences at work in the moulding of contemporary British life, and preeminently in the æsthetic expression of that life, have been, and are, in no small degree, either Celtic or foreign to the Anglo-Saxon. He always maintained that William Morris and Rossetti had done far more to influence the development of the true spirit of art, howsoever expressed, than Tennyson or Browning. When a friend pointed out to him that Morris, though by birth and blood a Welshman, was English of the English, he would rebut the assertion with humorous emphasis, declaring that he was only one of the Welsh Morrises who had conquered England ; and that if he was n’t that, he was certainly a Scandinavian viking who had unexpectedly cropped up among the much enduring Saxons. Morris used to laugh, and exclaim, “ Paint’s the thing, Ned, after all! ” Whereat his friend would suddenly desert the whole question in eager agreement, though before parting he might shoot a Parthian shaft in the guise of “ But after all, Topsy, you are a viking, and you know it! ” In other words, he took the wider view. “ Nationality,” I heard him say on one occasion, “ is an endless snare in art. It ’s all mere accident. The only inevitable thing, independent of race, time, or circumstance, though of course influenced by these, is genius.”

It may be as well to add that Celtic sympathies took practical expression in his keen understanding of and eager wish to be in line with Irish, Welsh, and Scottish nationalist aspirations. Charles Stuart Parnell had no stancher adherent in England, and Gladstone had no more eager follower in his dream of a late retribution to unfortunate Ireland, than this “ painter of other-worldism.”

It was on August 28, 1833, and in a Birmingham very different from the Birmingham of to-day, that Edward Coley Burne Jones was born. I do not know what authority there is for the statement which I have frequently heard, though I have never seen it in print, — which I first heard, indeed, some seventeen or eighteen years ago, from Rossetti, — that the third baptismal name was not Burne, but Bryn. It may or may not be true, also, that it was Rossetti who urged him, at the outset of his career, to drop the “ Coley,” and connect with a hyphen “ Burne ” and “ Jones.” “ ‘ Jones ’ is nobody,” Rossetti would declare, — “ only a particle of a vast multiple ! But ‘ Burne-Jones,’ — that is unmistakable ! ” It was an amusing trait in Rossetti that he was wont to designate the good work of this or that friend as the work of—and he would mention the most distinctive name or part name of the person concerned. Thus he would say, “ Yes, that is BurneJones, but this, this here, you know, is only Jones ; ” or, “ That, now, is the real Holman Hunt, but this here is only Hunt; ” or, “ You can hear Tennyson in that, but Alfred wrote the other lines.”

I recall two amusing instances where Burne-Jones more or less unconsciously adopted the same method. He was asked once if he thought William Bell Scott more eminent as a poet or as an artist. “I never thought very highly of Bell,” he said ; then, seeing a look of surprise, added, with a humorous twinkle, “ I liked old Bell Scott — old Scotus, as we always called him —immensely, and I think William Bell Scott wrote some very fine verse, but I always thought it was a pity that Bell took to painting! ” The other instance occurred when some one remarked to him that “ Parnell was only an agitator.” “ Charles Stuart Parnell,” he replied, with emphasis, “was one of the greatest public men of our day, and far and away the ablest Irish leader.” “ But Parnell,” resumed the objector; to be again corrected by the other disputant, “ Charles Stuart Parnell.”

On the other hand, Rossetti rarely, if ever, called his friend Burne Jones in intimate life or intimate correspondence. He was always Jones or Ned Jones. Perhaps Ned Jones was the man ; Jones, the friend who painted ; Burne Jones, the man of genius. And as with Rossetti, so was it with other early friends of the artist. Burne Jones was only a distinctive name for the benefit of outsiders. Although the name is now generally hyphened, I do not think that its owner ever wrote it so himself. In any case, long before he became Sir Edward he had ceased to call himself anything other than Burne Jones, as though that were his single surname.

His father, Richard Edward Jones, who married Miss Elizabeth Coley, was in business in Birmingham ; and it was a dull environment into which his only son was born, for the Birmingham of the early Victorian era was an unlovely place; but the lad’s childhood and early boyhood were undisturbed by bitter dreams of the beautiful unattainable, for the good reason that he was brought up in complete ignorance of such a factor in life as Art. As I have heard Sir Edward declare, his early boyhood was perturbed only on the intellectual side. He had a great desire for knowledge, for mental adventure and excitement, — a desire continuously starved in his home circle, and for long thwarted by circumstances. “ My ideal, like that of thousands of other boys,” he was wont to add, “ was to be a pirate ; but at the back of that craving was, I think, the mere desire to raid the bookshops, and carry off all the stories of adventure, and stirring histories of what boys who had become men had achieved, — with, perhaps, as a tapestry background to that, again, a vision of an ideal world of romance, situate nowhere, perhaps, with certainty, but quite certainly beyond the confines of Birmingham.”

In childhood, his mental need was sustained, so far as he could remember, by the Pilgrim’s Progress, the Book of Martyrs, and Sandford and Merton. No Robinson Crusoe, not even a Swiss Family Robinson, cheered his evenings. ” I think,” he said once, with a twinkle in his eyes, “ I must have been a very healthy child ; for when I was n’t eating I was sleeping. Perhaps sometimes I pretended to be sleepy.”

“ If I had not become a painter, assuredly I should have become a bookworm,” he said, on an occasion when an eminent Oxford professor was expressing gratified surprise at the discovery that the man whom he so much admired as a painter was also a scholar, and not only a classical scholar and an eager student of the literature of all ages, but a scholar in the difficult science of philology. It was, if I remember right, at the time when Sir Edward was painting the last of the Briar Rose series. Of the two visitors to his studio, one was Mr. Gladstone. The great statesman quoted two lines in Greek, to the effect that he too was caught in the maze ; when Sir Edward at once responded with another Greek couplet, the drift of which was that, deep as the maze was, Theseus found his way therefrom the moment he found the clue. In this quotation occurred a very archaic word, which at once arrested the attention of the eminent Oxonian. “ Yes,” returned the painter, “ that is a far-traveled word. It came to Greece from beyond the Himalayas; it sojourned in Carthage, and had a long residence in Rome ; it may now be found at any moment in any of the Latin tongues ; the Welsh and Irish Celts use it, and in all probability it is known to the Finn and the Basque.” It may be of general interest to add that two famous critics have expressed themselves emphatically as to the intellectual powers of the painter, apart from his art: Mr. Ruskin, who many years ago spoke of him as the most cultured artist whom he had ever known, — and it must be remembered that he was acquainted with Rossetti, G. F. Watts, and Holman Hunt; and James Russell Lowell, who declared that, apart from his eminence as a painter, Edward Burne-Jones was in every sense of the word a great man.

It is pleasant to think that what he lacked so much in his own childhood was given with royal largesse to his children. There could be few more fortunate childhoods than those of Philip and Margaret Burne-Jones. They had not only beautiful things about them, with the far more important spirit of beauty permeating their lives, and books of the kind to fascinate and stimulate imaginative children, but a father who took keen delight in amusing them with fantastic and often charming drawings, mostly of a humorous nature. There are, probably, very few of those nursery drawings now remaining, but those which I have seen are delightful in their humor and gay insouciance. At all times, Burne-Jones found pleasure in amusing his friends with grotesque sketches, skits of friends, acquaintances, and others, and humorous commentaries on topical events. It has been said of him that he might have been a great caricaturist, and, again, a great blackand-white artist, if he had not chosen the better part, and been true to the best that was in him to do. In his own words, written when he was in the early twenties, “ our work, whatsoever it be, must be the best of its kind, the noblest we can offer.” This absolute public severance from his work of all that was not on the same high level of aim has led many people to suppose that he lacked the sense of humor, and that he was, in a word, though so unconventional according to the academic standard, a slave to his own convention. This common accusation, however, generally comes, not from a keen sense of the value of humor, as might be supposed, but from a lack of the sense of art.

When Edward was about ten years old, his father thought of ultimately apprenticing him to a trade, or of getting him into some mercantile house. Happily for art, he decided, when his son was eleven, to send him to a good training school, in order that eventually he might enter the Church. Fortunately, one of the best schools in the kingdom existed in Birmingham, King Edward’s School, an ancient foundation established by King Edward in 1522. “ It was not a leap into the dark ; it was a leap into the light.” In these words the painter himself was wont to allude to that momentous change in his life. Once he said to me : " Broadly speaking, the three determining factors in my life were, first, my father’s decision to send me to King Edward’s School and to Oxford ; second, my early meeting and lifelong friendship with William Morris, and the influence upon me, both as man and artist, of Rossetti ; and third, my relinquishing the idea of entering the ministry, and the definite adoption of art as my sole and inevitable vocation.”

From the first young Burne-Jones proved himself an eager pupil. The head of King Edward’s School, at that time, was a very remarkable man, Dr. Prince Lee, afterward to become distinguished as the Bishop of Manchester; and his intellectual enthusiasm and lofty ideals further enhanced the high qualities of those assistants whom he had obtained for the school. Any boy who showed eager aptitude was encouraged and helped to the utmost. Again and again the famous painter declared that he owed an almost incalculable debt to King Edward’s. “I might say,” he remarked to me once, “ I swam right into that deep, wonderful sea of Greek literature and pagan mythology ; and just as I have never forgotten my first visit to France, which gave me a sense of the poetry of background, or my first visit to Siena, where I found my spiritual ancestry in art, so I never can forget my introduction to the beautiful pagan mythology and lovely legends and literature of Greece.”

In 1852, when he was in his nineteenth year, he won an Exhibition at Exeter College, Oxford. The impression made upon him by the ancient city from the very beginning was ineffaceable. But a stranger and more memorable event happened just at that time ; for on the day that Edward Burne-Jones went up to Exeter College another young man entered it, and with the same intent of taking orders, —a young man named William Morris. The two undergraduates became friends at once, — a friendship of supreme value to both, and to Burne-Jones in particular of incalculable importance. From that day till the death of William Morris the friendship grew in strength and beauty; and when, in 1896, Morris died, the surviving friend felt that he had sustained a loss which no lapse of time could ever set right for him. Sir Edward was never quite himself afterward. Especially did he miss Morris on Sunday mornings, because for many years it had been their wont to breakfast together and to talk over intimately all that so dearly concerned both. It is more than possible that the colorgloom and sombre sentiment pervading the work of Sir Edward Burne-Jones for the last year or two was due more or less directly and paramountly to the loss of his lifelong friend and comrade.

There was one personal subject on which William Morris, on his side, could always talk with enthusiasm, and that was his friend “Ned Jones.” I remember that one day, when I was walking with him from Hyde Park Corner westward, near Sloane Street we met an acquaintance, who said he had just heard that Burne-Jones had died suddenly at Rottingdean.1 The report had arisen through the misapprehension of a local Brighton reporter, who had heard of the death of a Mr. Penrhyn Jones. But, at the announcement, I thought Morris had received some mortal hurt. His whole expression changed: he seemed ten years older, and his eyes had a look in them I shall never forget. “ I don’t believe it,” he blurted out at last. “ I ’ll be damned if I believe it! It’s out of the question, I tell you ! ” Then, with an impatient gesture, he flung aside, with that strangely sea-captain-like turn he had, and crossed the road to a post-office, where he telegraphed to his friend. He soon had a reply which gave him infinite relief.

If Morris never tired of talking of his friend as he was in the early days, Burne-Jones never tired of talking of these memorable undergraduate days with Morris. The friendship then formed was doubly welcome to each from the disappointment both felt, but BurneJones in particular, at the mental apathy and spiritual sluggardliness of those in authority, — characteristics shared by the great majority of the undergraduates.

It seems to have been Morris who first definitely relinquished the idea of taking orders. Ho thought of becoming an architect, a painter, and already he had begun to write verse. For a while his friend thought of the pursuit of letters. However, in a relatively brief time both fell under the same spell, and life suddenly revealed definite vistas. Three names were already well known in the small art-loving world of Oxford : these were Millais, Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

“ One day Morris and I discovered that we were face to face with something new and wonderful. It was the opening of the first seal for each of us. It was Rossetti, the poet who was so new and strange a painter, and the painter who wrote poetry with so rare and strange a new note, who appealed to us most, who influenced us most; but we felt the charm, the originality, the novel creative spirit, of each of these men; and, perhaps more than all, the spirit common to them all, — in them, but yet beyond them, — the wonderful, fresh, recreative spirit of a new day.” Thus I have heard Edward Burne-Jones speak, and, to the same effect, William Morris.

It is not generally known that the artist made his first public appearance as an author. In that exceedingly rare periodical, The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine of 1856 (twelve parts only were issued), there are two papers mainly on Thackeray, in the January and June numbers. These (and, as I was told by Rossetti, also the interesting article on Ruskin’s third volume of Modern Painters) were written by Edward BurneJones. The few who know that he did write one literary essay have taken it for granted that the paper on The Newcomes alone was his; but the second was only the “ leave-over ” from the first. In this magazine, each monthly part of which is now literally worth its weight in gold, appeared three of the lovely archaic stories of William Morris and several of his poems, and, of Rossetti’s, The Blessed Damozel (second lection), The Burden of Nineveh, and The Staff and Scrip. All the contributions were unsigned.

For The Story of Chiaro, which Rossetti entitled Hand and Soul, BurneJones had always the most profound admiration. A short time after Rossetti’s death he thought of painting one or more pictures illustrative of The Story of Chiaro, but, so far as I am aware, he never did so. I recollect that, not long subsequent to the death of William Morris, Sir Edward spoke to me about the extraordinary impression Hand and Soul had made upon Morris and himself, when they first read it, which memorable event occurred one afternoon by Isis’ side. William Morris being the reader. “We were both so overcome that we could not speak a word about it.” It was on this occasion, too, that the painter told me he had never yet fulfilled an almost lifelong intention, — namely, to paint a picture of the Death of Gertha.

No other of William Morris’s early writings had so great a fascination for him as the beautiful romantic tale Gertha’s Lovers, which his friend had written in his company, under the willows by the riverside. I asked him what particular scene or event he had wished to make the subject of his picture, and he replied : “ The opening and the closing sentences always invited me in an indescribable way, but the motive par excellence was that of Gertha after death, in the chapter entitled What Edith the Handmaiden saw from the War-Saddle, where the beautiful queen lies on the battlefield with the blue speedwell about her pale face, while a soft wind rustles the sunset-lit aspens overhead.”

Here is the passage alluded to : —

“ So there lay down Gertha, and the blue speedwell kissed her white cheek; there her breath left her, and she lay very still, while the wind passed over her now and then, with hands laid across her breast. [And there Edith her handmaiden found her] lying dead among the flowers, with her hands crossed over her breast, and a soft wind that came from the place where the sun had set shook the aspen leaves.”

“ Yes, I must paint Gertha before I die,” he added, " and the more so now that dear Morris is gone. It will be like living over my youth, our youth, again.”

The writings of Ruskin, the strange new poetry and the strange new romantic art of Rossetti, the pictorial intensity and symbolism of Holman Hunt, were perhaps the chief causes which brought about that vital change in the life of Burne-Jones and of William Morris which resulted in their giving up the idea of entering the Church. But there were other personal influences of moment. There was, too, the spirit of change in the air, — the spirit of a new era, of a deep and potent renaissance. Ruskin, Carlyle, Thackeray, — these great ones, each in his own way, had already exercised an extraordinary influence upon the keenest spirits of the new generation. Charles Kingsley and others wrought to the same end. The world of art had awakened, and was full of rumors. A vast wave of resentment, almost of hostility, had begun to rise against this new, unexpected tide. It was a day of revolution.

Long before the two friends left Oxford they had discovered that they too were of those who had the shaping and making powers. The discovery was an intoxication to them, and from that moment their development was so rapid as to surprise both themselves and their friends. Morris was now almost ceaselessly preoccupied with both pen and pencil; for, like Rossetti, he had from the first a dual genius, as poet and painter. Burne-Jones hardly let pass a day in which, with swift if unregulated technical advance, he did not find some expression in “romantic pen-and-ink designs of remarkable richness and quality,” as Mr. William Rossetti has recorded.

I am not sure whether it was before he left Oxford that Burne-Jones made another friendship, destined to be one of the three most noteworthy in his life, — the friendship of Mr. Swinburne. This great poet won the love and admiration of all that brilliant band whose work was to bring about a revolution in the art and literature of their country, and among those whose genius he at once recognized was the young painter. He already knew Rossetti, Morris, and others of only less wonderful power and promise ; but it was to the still relatively unknown artist that, in 1866, he dedicated his Poems and Ballads “ affectionately and admiringly.”

Mr. Swinburne made Rossetti’s acquaintance in 1857, while the painter was busy upon his fresco work in the Union at Oxford. In Rossetti’s own words, it was his first meeting with “ immediately convincing and unmistakable genius.” The meeting, in its after results, was a memorable one for the four greatest among these “ new men,” — Rossetti, Swinburne, William Morris, and Burne-Jones.

When, toward the end of 1855, BurneJones left Oxford for London, he had one great wish, — to see Dante Gabriel Rossetti, already his accepted leader, the pioneer. Modest and distrustful of his own powers, he did not think of seeking an interview with the poet-painter, but hoped to be able to obtain at least a glimpse, to see the face and hear the voice of the man who had so profoundly influenced him. The meeting took place at one of the evening classes for drawing at the College for Working Men, in Great Titchfield Street, where, the eager aspirant had heard, Rossetti gave instruction in design on certain evenings each week.

The young artist not only won the friendship of Rossetti, but was encouraged to devote himself wholly and enthusiastically to art. An instance of his rapid development, and at the same time of Rossetti’s magnanimity, is afforded in an interesting anecdote, long familiar in tire “ circle : ” that when Rossetti went to see how his young friend was getting on, and asked for the drawings of his own which he had lent him, he was so much impressed by the excellence of the work of his disciple that he tore up his sketches, remarking, “ You have no more to learn from these.”

It was Rossetti, too, who transformed Burne-Jones’s vague dream of an ultimate art career into actuality. He had already made up his mind not to enter the Church, but he had still his degree to take and another half-year to spend at Oxford; and then, too, there was the keen disappointment of his father to reckon with. Carlyle with his gospel of work, Ruskin with his gospel of spiritual duty, Rossetti with his gospel of beauty, were not his masters for nothing. He did as they would have done, and the outcome was his splendid justification.

Naturally, Rossetti being the generous and magnanimous man he was, he did everything he could to help the newcomer. It was he who was instrumental in procuring Burne-Jones’s first commission in a branch of art that he afterward made peculiarly his own ; for on the advice of the elder man one Mr. Powell entrusted to the young artist a commission for stained-glass windows. His friend also introduced him to Mr. Ruskin, who in time became a helpful patron as well as an ardent admirer of his work.

Burne-Jones painted mostly in watercolors till about 1868, when in the beautiful Chant d’Amour he made a new departure. In 1858—59 he painted in tempera his first Arthurian subject, that of Merlin and Nimue. Some of his drawings of this period are wonderful for their beauty and originality, notably the Sidonia the Sorceress drawings. Between 1858 and 1868 he painted some of his loveliest work in water-color : The Annunciation, Summer Snow, Cupid’s Forge, Blind Love, King René’s Honeymoon, Theseus and Ariadne, Laus Veneris (1861—78), Tristram and Yseult, The Enchantments of Nimue. Fatima, Morgan le Fay, The Merciful Knight, The Wine of Circe. Le Chant d’Amour (1865, first version), Chaucer’s Dream, Cupid and Psyche, Astrologia, St. Theophilus and the Angel, and others. In 1866 he painted a St. George and the Dragon in oils, in 1868 Green Summer, and in the same year, a few months earlier, began the (small) Mirror of Venus, which, however, was not finished till 1877.

In this period, also, he achieved much lovely work in cartoons for stainedglass windows, beginning in 1857 with Adam and Eve, The Tower of Babel, and King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, for St. Andrews College, Bradfield, Berks. In extent, in beauty, in endless imaginative fecundity, BurneJones’s work in this branch is something to marvel at. From 1857 till 1897 he never ceased to work at these cartoons, and in those forty years he added more beauty to the churches, colleges, and public buildings of Great Britain than any other English artist, of any time or period, has done.

It was in 1868 that he began oftener to paint his pictures in oil, though he was always preëminently fond of watercolor as a medium, and practiced it till the end. With the large oil picture of Le Chant d’Amour (begun in 1868, and finished in 1877) what a superb series of masterpieces is inaugurated ! Pygmalion and the Image, The Hours, the first small Briar Rose series of three. Pan and Psyche, The Beguiling of Merlin, the noble Feast of Peleus, The Mirror of Venus, Laus Veneris (1873-78), Hero. Danaë. The Golden Stairs. Fortune, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, Perseus and the Graiæ, The Briar Wood (1884-90), The Depths of the Sea, Flamma Vestalis, The Garden of Pan, Danaë and the Brazen Tower, The Heart of the Rose, and so forth.

In water - color (mostly on a large scale) he achieved, in the last thirty years of his life, some of the most beautiful work ever painted in England: such, for instance, as The Hesperides, The Heart Desires (Pygmalion), Love among the Ruins, Fortune, Fame, Oblivion, Love, Summer, The Sleeping Beauty, the Angels of Creation, Pyramus and Thisbe, The Bath of Venus, Dies Domini, The Star of Bethlehem. From the wonderful little drawing of 1856, The Waxen Image, to The Briar Rose and the work of the last few years, what a record! No man in our time has given himself more wholly, more whole-heartedly, to the quest of beauty.

At the time of The Waxen Image drawing he shared rooms at 17 Red Lion Square with William Morris, and it was to this companionship he owed his lifelong devotion to Chaucer, so often the source of his finest inspiration.

The next great influence in his life was a visit to Italy which he made in the autumn of 1859. He came back profoundly impressed by what he had seen in Pisa, Florence, and Siena ; indeed, for the noble and dignified art of the great Sienese he conceived then, and ever maintained, a supreme admiration. A second visit, in the company of Mr. Ruskin, was made in the summer of 1862, and this time he went to Venice. Here Burne-Jones discovered that his truest powers lay, not in the direction of Venetian splendor, but in that of the dignity, the austerity, the lofty spiritual aristocracy of the art of Siena. From Venice he wrote to Rossetti a letter with an interesting note in it: “ The other day I saw a letter of Titian’s. The handwriting was, absolutely, exactly like yours, — as like as a forged letter of yours could be ; the whole writing a little bit bigger, I think, but the shapes of the letters as exact as could be.”

On his first return from Italy, BurneJones settled in rooms near Fitzroy Square, at the corner of Howland Street; and in 1861 he went to Great Russell Street, where his first public honor came to him in 1863, with his election to an associateship of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. In 1865 he moved again to a charming old house in Kensington Square, and in the autumn paid a long “ painting visit ” to Morris, who was then settled at The Red House, which he had built for himself at Bexley Heath, in Kent. It was in 1867 that he moved finally to the quietly situated and fascinating old house and garden in West Kensington, The Grange, which was his home ever after, and where he died. At The Grange, and at his country or seaside home at Rottingdean, he spent the happiest years of his life.

Not long after his friend Rossetti had married the beautiful Miss Siddal, and his comrade William Morris had married the still more beautiful Miss Burden, he was himself wedded to a lady of great distinction and charm, Miss Georgina Macdonald. One of this lady’s sisters is now Lady Poynter, wife of the director of the National Gallery, and another is the mother of Mr. Rudyard Kipling.

Of the two children of a very happy marriage, one, Margaret (whose lovely portrait is familiar to all admirers of her father’s art), is now Mrs. Mackail, the wife of a distinguished scholar and man of letters ; and the other, Philip, now Sir Philip, is a painter who has won repute for himself, handicapped though he was by the great name of his father.

From the time of his marriage BurneJones’s career is a record of unbroken success, though for many years against a public sentiment of hostility or ignorant amusement, — a sentiment fed by ignorant and bigoted critics. It was not till the establishment of the Grosvenor Gallery, in 1877, that he suddenly, though amid a still prevalent disparagement, became recognized as one of the greatest of English artists. The story of his work and triumphs is a stirring one. He won happiness, fame, and all the honors he could care for ; he achieved an almost unparalleled success ; from first to last he never pandered to any low tastes or unworthy demands, but was ever true to his own ideals ; he enjoyed the friendship and sympathy of the greatest men of his time ; and he died suddenly, in the midst of his work, leaving behind him a great and unsullied name, and a fame which we may confidently trust the future to estimate aright.

William Sharp.

  1. Some years ago Sir Edward Burne-Jones made “ a change and rest ” home at Rottingdean, on the Sussex coast, near Brighton. Of late years he had his nephew-in-law, Mr. Rudyard Kipling, as his neighbor.