Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Ch. 7: The Pre-Raphaelites

In the latter half of the century the Italian Middle Age and Dante, its great exemplar, found new interpreters in the Rossetti family; a family well fitted by its mixture of bloods and its hereditary aptitudes, literary and artistic, to mediate between the English genius and whatever seemed to it alien or repellant in Dante's system of thought. The father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a political refugee, who held the professorship of Italian in King's College, London, from 1831 to 1845, and was the author of a commentary on Dante which carried the politico-allegorical theory of the "Divine Comedy" to somewhat fantastic lengths. The mother was half English and half Italian, a sister of Byron's travelling companion, Dr. Polidori. Of the four children of the marriage, Dante Gabriel and Christina became poets of distinction. The eldest sister, Maria Francesca, a religious devotee who spent her last years as a member of a Protestant sisterhood, was the author of that unpretentious but helpful piece of Dante literature, "A Shadow of Dante." The younger brother, William Michael, is well known as a biographer, littérateur, and art critic, as an editor of Shelley and of the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Other arts besides the literary art had partaken in the romantic movement. The eighteenth century had seen the introduction of the new, or English, school of landscape gardening; and the premature beginnings of the Gothic revival in architecture, which reached a successful issue some century later.[1] Painting in France had been romanticised in the thirties pari passu with poetry and drama; and in Germany, Overbeck and Cornelius had founded a school of sacred art which corresponds, in its mediaeval spirit, to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In England painting was the last of the arts to catch the new inspiration. When the change came, it evinced that same blending of naturalism and Gothicism which defined the incipient romantic movement of the previous century. Painting, like landscape gardening, returned to nature; like architecture, it went back to the past. Like these, and like literature itself, it broke away from a tradition which was academic, if not precisely classic in the way in which David was classic.

In 1848 the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was established by three young painters, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt. The name expresses their admiration of the early Italian—and notably the early Florentine—religious painters, like Giotto, Ghiberti, Bellini, and Fra Angelica. In the work of these men they found a sweetness, depth, and sincerity of devotional feeling, a self-forgetfulness and humble adherence to truth, which were absent from the sophisticated art of Raphael and his successors. Even the imperfect command of technique in these "primitives" had a charm. The stiffness and awkwardness of their figure painting, their defects of drawing, perspective, and light and shade, their lack of anatomical science were like the lispings of childhood or the artlessness of an old ballad. The immediate occasion of the founding of the Brotherhood was a book of engravings which Hunt and Rossetti saw at Millais' house, from the frescoes by Gozzoli, Orcagna, and others in the Campo Santo, at Pisa; the same frescoes, it will be remembered, which so strongly impressed Leigh Hunt and Keats. Holman Hunt—though apparently not his associates—had also read with eager approval the first volume of Ruskin's "Modern Painters," in which the young artists of England are advised to "go to nature in all singleness of heart . . . rejecting nothing, selecting nothing." Pre-Raphaelitism was a practical, as "Modern Painters" was a theoretical, protest against the academic traditions which kept young artists making school copies of Raphael, instructed them that a third of the canvas should be occupied with a principal shadow, and that no two people's heads in the picture should be turned the same way, and asked, "Where are you going to put your brown tree?"

The three original members of the group associated with themselves four others: Thomas Woolner, the sculptor; James Collinson, a painter; F. G. Stephens, who began as an artist and ended as an art critic; and Rossetti's brother William, who was the literary man of the movement. Woolner was likewise a poet, and contributed to The Germ[2] his two striking pieces, "My Beautiful Lady" and "Of My Lady in Death." Among other artists not formally enrolled in the Brotherhood, but who worked more or less in the spirit and principles of Pre-Raphaelitism, were Ford Madox Brown, an older man, in whose studio Rossetti had, at his own request, been admitted as a student; Walter Deverell, who took Collinson's place when the latter resigned his membership in order to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood; and Arthur Hughes.[3]

But the main importance of the Pre-Raphaelite movement to romantic literature resides in the poetry of Rossetti, and in the inspiration which this communicated to younger men, like Morris and Swinburne, and through them to other and still younger followers. The history of English painting is no part of our subject, but Rossetti's painting and his poetry so exactly reflect each other, that some definition or brief description of Pre-Raphaelitism seems here to be called for, ill qualified as I feel myself to give any authoritative account of the matter.[4]

And first as to methods: the Pre-Raphaelites rejected the academic system whereby the canvas was prepared by rubbing in bitumen, and the colours were laid upon a background of brown, grey, or neutral tints. Instead of this, they spread their colours directly upon the white, unprepared canvas, securing transparency by juxtaposition rather than by overlaying. They painted their pictures bit by bit, as in frescoes or mosaic work, finishing each portion as they went along, until no part of the canvas was left blank. The Pre-Raphaelite theory was sternly realistic. They were not to copy from the antique, but from nature. For landscape background, they were to take their easels out of doors. In figure painting they were to work, if possible, from a living model and not from a lay figure. A model once selected, it was to be painted as it was in each particular, and without imaginative deviation. "Every Pre-Raphaelite landscape background," wrote Ruskin, "is painted, to the last touch, in the open air from the thing itself. Every Pre-Raphaelite figure, however studied in expression, is a true portrait of some living person. Every minute accessory is painted in the same manner." [5] In this fashion their earliest works were executed. In Rossetti's "Girlhood of Mary Virgin," exhibited in 1849, the figure of St. Anne is a portrait of the artist's mother; the Virgin, of his sister Christina; and Joseph, of a man-of-all-work employed in the family. In Millais' "Lorenzo and Isabella"—a subject from Keats—Isabella's brother, her lover, and one of the guests, are portraits of Deverell, Stephens, and the two Rossettis. But this severity of realism was not long maintained. It was a discipline, not a final method. Even in Rossetti's second painting, "Ecce Ancilla Domini," the faces of the Virgin and the angel Gabriel are blendings of several models; although, in its freedom from convention, its austere simplicity, and endeavour to see the fact as it happened, the piece is in the purest Pre-Raphaelite spirit. Ruskin insisted that, while composition was necessarily an affair of the imagination, the figures and accessories of a picture should be copies from the life. In the early days of the Brotherhood there was an ostentatious conscientiousness in observing this rule. We hear a great deal in Rossetti's correspondence about the brick wall at Chiswick which he copied into his picture "Found," and about his anxious search for a white calf for the countryman's cart in the same composition. But all the Pre-Raphaelites painted from the lay figure as well as from the living model, and Rossetti, in particular, relied quite as much on memory and imagination as upon the object before him. W. B. Scott thinks that his most charming works were the small water-colours on Arthurian subjects; "done entirely without nature and a good deal in the spirit of illuminated manuscripts, with very indifferent drawing and perspective nowhere." As for Millais, he soon departed from rigidly Pre-Raphaelite principles, and became the most successful and popular of British artists in genre. In natural talent and cleverness of execution he was the most brilliant of the three; in imaginative intensity and originality he was Rossetti's inferior—as in patience and religious earnestness he was inferior to Hunt. It was Hunt who stuck most faithfully to the programme of Pre-Raphaelitism. He spent laborious years in the East in order to secure the exactest local truth of scenery and costume for his Biblical pieces: "Christ in the Shadow of Death," "Christ in the Temple," and "The Scapegoat." While executing the last-named, he pitched his tent on the shores of the Dead Sea and painted the desert landscape and the actual goat from a model tied down on the edge of the sea. Hunt's "Light of the World" was one of the masterpieces of the school, and as it is typical in many ways, may repay description. Ruskin pronounced it "the most perfect instance of expressional purpose with technical power which the world has yet produced."

In this tall, narrow canvas the figure of Christ occupies nearly half the space. He holds a lantern in his hand and knocks at a cottage door. The face—said to be a portrait of Venables, curate of St. Paul's, Oxford—is quite unlike the type which Raphael has made traditional. It is masculine—even rugged—seamed with lines of care, and filled with an expression of yearning. There is anxiety and almost timidity in his pose as he listens for an answer to his knock. The nails and bolts of the door are rusted; it is overgrown with ivy and the tall stalks and flat umbels of fennel. The sill is choked with nettles and other weeds, emblems all of the long sleep of the world which Christ comes to break. The full moon makes a halo behind his head and shines through the low boughs of an orchard, whose apples strew the dark grass in the foreground, sown with spots of light from the star-shaped perforations in the lantern-cover. They are the apples of Eden, emblems of the Fall. Everything, in fact, is symbolical. Christ's seamless white robe, with its single heavy fold, typifies the Church catholic; the jewelled clasps of the priestly mantle, one square and one oval, are the Old and New Testaments. The golden crown is enwoven with one of thorns, from which new leaves are sprouting. The richly embroidered mantle hem has its meaning, and so have the figures on the lantern. To get the light in this picture right, Hunt painted out of doors in an orchard every moonlight night for three months from nine o'clock till five. While working in his studio, he darkened one end of the room, put a lantern in the hand of his lay-figure and painted this interior through the hole in a curtain. On moonlight nights he let the moon shine in through the window to mix with the lantern light. It was a principle with the Brotherhood that detail, though not introduced for its own sake, should be painted with truth to nature. Hunt, especially, took infinite pains to secure minute exactness in his detail. Ruskin wrote in enthusiastic praise of the colours of the gems on the mantle clasp in "The Light of the World," and said that all the Academy critics and painters together could not have executed one of the nettle leaves at the bottom of the picture. The lizards in the foreground of Millais' "Ferdinand Lured by Ariel" (exhibited in 1850) were studied from life, and Scott makes merry over the shavings on the floor of the carpenter shop in the same artist's "Christ in the House of his Parents," a composition which was ferociously ridiculed by Dickens in "Household Words."

The symbolism which is so pronounced a feature in "The Light of the World" is common to all the Pre-Raphaelite art. It is a mediaeval note, and Rossetti learned it from Dante. Symbolism runs through the "Divine Comedy" in such touches as the rush, emblem of humility, with which Vergil girds Dante for his journey through Purgatory; the constellation of four stars—

"Non viste mai fuor ch' alla prima gente"—

typifying the cardinal virtues; the three different coloured steps to the door of Purgatory;[6] and thickening into the elaborate apocalyptic allegory of the griffin and the car of the church, the eagle and the mystic tree in the last cantos of the "Purgatorio." In Hunt's "Christ in the Shadow of Death," the young carpenter's son is stretching his arms after work, and his shadow, thrown upon the wall, is a prophecy of the crucifixion. In Millais' "Christ in the House of his Parents," the boy has wounded the palm of his hand upon a nail, another foretokening of the crucifixion. In Rossetti's "Girlhood of Mary Virgin," Joseph is training a vine along a piece of trellis in the shape of the cross; Mary is copying in embroidery a three-flowered white lily plant, growing in a flower-pot which stands upon a pile of books lettered with the names of the cardinal virtues. The quaint little child angel who tends the plant is a portrait of a young sister of Thomas Woolner. Similarly, in "Ecce Ancilla Domini," the lily of the annunciation which Gabriel holds is repeated in the piece of needlework stretched upon the 'broidery frame at the foot of Mary's bed. In "Beata Beatrix" the white poppy brought by the dove is the symbol at once of chastity and of death; and the shadow upon the sun-dial marks the hour of Beatrice's beatification. Again, in "Dante's Dream," poppies strew the floor, emblems of sleep and death; an expiring lamp symbolises the extinction of life; and a white cloud borne away by angels is Beatrice's departing soul. Love stands by the couch in flame-coloured robes, fastened at the shoulder with the scallop shell which is the badge of pilgrimage. In Millais' "Lorenzo and Isabella" the salt-box is overturned upon the table, signifying that peace is broken between Isabella's brothers and their table companion. Doves are everywhere in Rossetti's pictures, embodiments of the Holy Ghost and the ministries of the spirit, Rossetti labelled his early manuscript poems "Poems of the Art Catholic"; and the Pre-Raphaelite heresy was connected by unfriendly critics with the Anglo-Catholic or Tractarian movement at Oxford. William Sharp, in speaking of "that splendid outburst of Romanticism in which Coleridge was the first and most potent participant," and of the lapse or ebb that followed the death of Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats, resumes: "At last a time came when a thrill of expectation, of new desire, of hope, passed through the higher lives of the nation; and what followed thereafter were the Oxford movement in the Church of England, the Pre-Raphaelite movement in art, and the far-reaching Gothic revival. Different as these movements were in their primary aims, and still more differing in the individual representations of interpreters, they were in reality closely interwoven, one being the outcome of the other. The study of mediaeval art, which was fraught with such important results, was the outcome of the widespread ecclesiastical revival, which in its turn was the outcome of the Tractarian movement in Oxford. The influence of Pugin was potent in strengthening the new impulse, and to him succeeded Ruskin with 'Modern Painters' and Newman with the 'Tracts for the Times.' Primarily the Pre-Raphaelite movement had its impulse in the Oxford religious revival; and however strange it may seem to say that such men as Holman Hunt and Rossetti . . . followed directly in the footsteps of Newman and Pusey and Keble, it is indubitably so." [7] Ruskin, too, cautioned his young friends that "if their sympathies with the early artists lead them into mediaevalism or Romanism, they will of course come to nothing. But I believe there is no danger of this, at least for the strongest among them. There may be some weak ones whom the Tractarian heresies may touch; but if so, they will drop off like decayed branches from a strong stem." [8] One of these weak ones who dropped off was James Collinson, a man of an ascetic and mystical piety—like Werner or Brentano. He painted, among other things, "The Renunciation of St. Elizabeth" from Kingsley's "Saint's Tragedy." "The picture," writes Scott, "resembled the feckless dilettanteism of the converts who were then dropping out of their places in Oxford and Cambridge into Mariolatry and Jesuitism. In fact, this James Collinson actually did become Romanist, wanted to be a priest, painted no more, but entered a seminary, where they set him to clean the boots as an apprenticeship in humility and obedience. They did not want him as a priest; they were already getting tired of that species of convert; so he left, turned to painting again, and disappeared." [9]

M. de la Sizeranne is rather scornful of these metaphysical definitions of Pre-Raphaelitism; "for to characterise a Pre-Raphaelite picture by saying that it was inspired by the Oxford movement, is like attempting to explain the mechanism of a lock by describing the political opinions of the locksmith." [10] He himself proposes, as the distinguishing characteristics of Pre-Raphaelite art, originality of gesture and vividness of colouring. This is the professional point of view; but the student of literature is less concerned with such technical aspects of the subject than with those spiritual aspects which connect the work of the Pre-Raphaelites with the great mediaeval or romantic revival.

When Ruskin came to the rescue of the P.-R. B. in 1851, in those letters to the Times, afterwards reprinted in pamphlet form under the title "Pre-Raphaelitism," he recognised the propriety of the name, and the real affinity between the new school and the early Italian schools of sacred art. Mediaeval art, he asserted,[11] was religious and truthful, modern art is profane and insincere. "In mediaeval art, thought is the first thing, execution is the second; in modern art, execution is the first thing and thought is the second. And again, in mediaeval art, truth is first, beauty second; in modern art, beauty is first, truth second." Ruskin denied that the Pre-Raphaelites were unimaginative, though he allowed that they had a disgust for popular forms of grace and prettiness. And he pointed out a danger in the fact that their principles confined them to foreground work, and called for laborious finish on a small scale. In "Modern Painters" he complained that the Pre-Raphaelites should waste a whole summer in painting a bit of oak hedge or a bed of weeds by a duck pond, which caught their fancy perhaps by reminding them of a stanza in Tennyson. Nettles and mushrooms, he said, were good to make nettle soup and fish sauce; but it was too bad that the nobler aspects of nature, such as the banks of the castled Rhine, should be left to the frontispieces in the Annuals. Ruskin, furthermore, denied that the drawing of the Pre-Raphaelites was bad or their perspective false; or that they imitated the errors of the early Florentine painters, whom they greatly excelled in technical accomplishment. Meanwhile be it remarked that the originality of gesture in Pre-Raphaelite figure painting, which M. de la Sizeranne notices, was only one more manifestation of the romantic desire for individuality and concreteness as against the generalising academicism of the eighteenth century.[12]

As poets, the Pre-Raphaelites derive from Keats rather than from Scott, in their exclusive devotion to beauty, to art for art's sake; in their single absorption in the passion of love; and in their attraction towards the more esoteric side of mediaeval life, rather than towards its broad, public, and military aspects.[13]

Rossetti's position in the romantic literature of the last half of the ninetenth century is something like Coleridge's in the first half. Unlike Coleridge, he was the leader of a school, the master of a definite group of artists and poets. His actual performance, too, far exceeds Coleridge's in amount, if not in value. But like Coleridge, he was a seminal mind, a mind rich in original suggestions, which inspired and influenced younger men to carry out its ideas, often with a fluency of utterance and a technical dexterity both in art and letters which the master himself did not possess. Holman Hunt, Millais, and Burne-Jones among painters, Morris and Swinburne among poets, were disciples of Rossetti who in some ways outdid him in execution. His pictures were rarely exhibited, and no collection of his poems was published till 1870. Meanwhile, however, many of these had circulated in manuscript, and "secured a celebrity akin in kind and almost equal in extent to that enjoyed by Coleridge's 'Christabel' during the many years preceding 1816 in which it lay in manuscript. Like Coleridge's poem in another important particular, certain of Rossetti's ballads, while still unknown to the public, so far influenced contemporary poetry that when they did at length appear, they had all the seeming to the uninitiated of work imitated from contemporary models, instead of being, as in fact they were, the primary source of inspiration for writers whose names were earlier established." [14] William Morris, e.g., had printed four volumes of verse in advance of Rossetti, and the earliest of these, "The Defence of Guenevere," which contains his most intensely Pre-Raphaelite work and that most evidently done in the spirit of Rossetti's teachings, saw the light (1858) twelve years before Rossetti's own. Swinburne, too, had published three volumes of poetry before 1870, including the "Poems and Ballads" of 1866, in which Rossetti's influence is plainly manifest; and he had already secured a wide fame at a time when the elder poet's reputation was still esoteric and mainly confined to the cénacle. William M. Rossetti, in describing the literary influences which moulded his brother's tastes, tells us that "in the long run he perhaps enjoyed and revered Coleridge beyond any other modern poet whatsoever." [15]

It is worth while to trace these literary influences with some detail, since they serve to link the neo-romantic poetry of our own time to the product of that older generation which had passed away before Rossetti came of age. It is interesting to find then, that at the age of fifteen (1843) he taught himself enough German to enable him to translate Bürger's "Lenore," as Walter Scott had done a half-century before. This devil of a poem so haunts our history that it has become as familiar a spirit as Mrs. Radcliffe's bugaboo apparitions, and our flesh refuses any longer to creep at it. It is quite one of the family. It would seem, indeed, as if Bürger's ballad was set as a school copy for every young romanticist in turn to try his 'prentice hand upon. Fortunately, Rossetti's translation has perished, as has also his version—some hundred lines—of the earlier portion of the "Nibelungenlied." But a translation which he made about the same time of the old Swabian poet, Hartmann von Aue's "Der Arme Heinrich" (Henry the Leper) is preserved, and was first published in 1886. This poem, it will be remembered, was the basis of Longfellow's "Golden Legend" (1851). Rossetti did not keep up his German, and in later years he never had much liking for Scandinavian or Teutonic literature. He was a Latin, and he made it his special task to interpret to modern Protestant England whatever struck him as most spiritually intense and characteristic in the Latin Catholic Middle Age. The only Italian poet whom he "earnestly loved" was Dante. He did not greatly care for Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ariosto, and Tasso—the Renaissance poets—though in boyhood he had taken delight in Ariosto, just as he had in Scott and Byron. But that was a stage through which he passed; none of these had any ultimate share in Rossetti's culture. At fifteen he wrote a ballad entitled "Sir Hugh the Heron," founded on a tale of Allan Cunningham, but taking its name and motto from the lines in "Marmion"—

"Sir Hugh the Heron bold,
Baron of Twisell and of Ford,
And Captain of the Hold."

A few copies of this were printed for family circulation by his fond grandfather, G. Polidori. Among French writers he had no modern favourites beyond Hugo, Musset, and Dumas. But like all the neo-romanticists, he was strongly attracted by François Villon, that strange Parisian poet, thief, and murderer of the fifteenth century. He made three translations from Villon, the best known of which is the famous "Ballad of Dead Ladies" with its felicitous rendering of the refrain—

"But where are the snows of yester year?"
(Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?)

There are at least three good English verse renderings of this ballad of Villon; one by Andrew Lang; one by John Payne, and doubtless innumerable others, unknown to me or forgotten. In fact, every one translates it nowadays, as every one used to translate Bürger's ballad. It is the "Lenore" of the neo-romanticists. Rossetti was a most accomplished translator, and his version of Dante's "Vita Nuova" and of the "Early Italian Poets" (1861)—reissued as "Dante and His Circle" (1874)—is a notable example of his skill. There are two other specimens of old French minstrelsy, and two songs from Victor Hugo's "Burgraves" among his miscellaneous translations; and William Sharp testifies that Rossetti at one time thought of doing for the early poetry of France what he had already done for that of Italy, but never found the leisure for it.[16] Rossetti had no knowledge of Greek, and "the only classical poet," says his brother, "whom he took to in any degree worth speaking of was Homer, the 'Odyssey' considerably more than the 'Iliad.'" This, I presume, he knew only in translation, but the preference is significant, since, as we have seen, the "Odyssey" is the most romantic of epics. Among English poets, he preferred Keats to Shelley, as might have been expected. Shelley was a visionary and Keats was an artist; Shelley often abstract, Keats always concrete. Shelley had a philosophy, or thought he had; Keats had none, neither had Rossetti. It is quite comprehensible that the sensuous element in Keats would attract a born colourist like Rossetti beyond anything in the English poetry of that generation; and I need not repeat that the latest Gothic or romantic schools have all been taking Keats' direction rather than Scott's, or even than Coleridge's. Rossetti's work, I should say, e.g., in such a piece as "The Bride's Prelude," is a good deal more like "Isabella" and "The Eve of St. Agnes" than it is like "The Ancient Mariner" or "Christabel" or "The Lay of the Last Minstrel." Rossetti got little from Milton and Dryden, or even from Chaucer and Spenser. Wordsworth he valued hardly at all. In the last two or three years of his life he came to have an exaggerated admiration for Chatterton. Rossetti's taste, like his temperament, was tinctured with morbidness. He sought the intense, the individual, the symbolic, the mystical. These qualities he found in a supreme degree in Dante. Probably it was only his austere artistic conscience which saved him from the fantastic—the merely peculiar or odd—and kept him from going astray after false gods like Poe and Baudelaire. Chaucer was a mediaeval poet and Spenser certainly a romantic one, but their work was too broad, too general in its appeal, too healthy, one might almost say, to come home to Rossetti.[17] William Rossetti testifies that "any writing about devils, spectres, or the supernatural generally . . . had always a fascination for him." Sharp remarks that work more opposite than Rossetti's to the Greek spirit can hardly be imagined. "The former [the Greek spirit] looked to light, clearness, form in painting, sculpture, architecture; to intellectual conciseness and definiteness in poetry; the latter [Rossetti] looked mainly to diffused colour, gradated to almost indefinite shades in his art, finding the harmonies thereof more akin than severity of outline and clearness of form; while in his poetry the Gothic love of the supernatural, the Gothic delight in sensuous images, the Gothic instinct of indefiniteness and elaboration, carried to an extreme, prevailed. . . . He would take more pleasure in a design by . . . William Blake . . . than in the more strictly artistic drawing of some revered classicist; more enjoyment in the weird or dramatic Scottish ballad than in Pindaric or Horatian ode; and he would certainly rather have had Shakspere than Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides put together."

Rossetti's office in the later and further development of romantic art was threefold: First, to revive and express, both in painting and poetry, the religious spirit of the early Florentine schools; secondly, to give a more intimate interpretation of Dante to the English public, and especially of Dante's life and personality and of his minor poetry, like the "Vita Nuova," which had not yet been translated; thirdly, to afford new illustrations of mediaeval life and thought, partly by treating legendary matter in the popular ballad form, and partly by treating romantic matter of his own invention with the rich colour and sensuous imagery which belonged to his pictorial art.

"Perhaps," writes Mr. Caine,[18] "Catholicism is itself essentially mediaeval, and perhaps a man cannot possibly be a 'mediaeval artist, heart and soul,' without partaking of a strong religious feeling that is primarily Catholic—so much were the religion and art of the Middle Ages knit each to each. . . . Rossetti's attitude towards spiritual things was exactly the reverse of what we call Protestant. . . . He constantly impressed me during the last days of his life with the conviction that he was by religious bias of nature a monk of the Middle Ages." All this is true in a way, yet Rossetti strikes one as being Catholic, without being religious; as mediaeval rather than Christian. He was agnostic in his belief and not devout in his practice; so that the wish that he suddenly expressed in his last illness, to confess himself to a priest, affected his friends as a singular caprice. It was the romantic quality in the Italian sacred art of the Middle Ages that attracted him; and it attracted him as a poet and painter, not as a devotee. There was little in Rossetti of the mystical and ascetic piety of Novalis or Zacharias Werner; nor of the steady religious devotion of his friend Holman Hunt, or his own sister Christina.

Rossetti, by the way, was never in Italy, though he made several visits to France and Belgium. A glance at the list of his designs—extending to some four hundred titles—in oil, water-colour, crayon, pen and ink, etc., will show how impartially his interest was distributed over the threefold province mentioned above. There are sacred pieces like "Mary Magdalen at the Door of Simon the Pharisee," "St. Cecily," a "Head of Christ," a "Triptych for Llandaff Cathedral"; Dante subjects such as "Paolo and Francesca," "Beata Beatrix," "La Donna della Finestra," "Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante"; and, in greater number, compositions of a purely romantic nature—"Fair Rosamond," "La Belle Dame sans Merci," "The Chapel before the Lists," "Michael Scott's Wooing," "Meeting of Sir Tristram and Yseult," "Lady Lilith," "The Damozel of the Sanct Grail," "Death of Breuse sans Pitié," and the like.

It will be noticed that some of these subjects are taken from the Round Table romances. Tennyson was partly responsible for the newly awakened interest in the Arthurian legend, but the purely romantic manner which he had abandoned in advancing from "Sir Galahad" and "The Lady of Shalott" to the "Morte d'Arthur" of 1842 and the first "Idylls" of 1859, continued to characterise the work of the Pre-Raphaelites both in poetry and in painting. Malory's "Morte Darthur" was one of Rossetti's favourite books, and he preferred it to Tennyson, as containing "the weird element in its perfection. . . . Tennyson has it certainly here and there in imagery, but there is no great success in the part it plays through his 'Idylls.'" [19] The five wood-engravings from designs furnished by Rossetti for the Moxon Tennyson quarto of 1857 include three Arthurian subjects: "The Lady of Shalott," "King Arthur Sleeping in Avalon," and "Sir Galahad Praying in the Wood-Chapel." "Interwoven as were the Romantic revival and the aesthetic movement," writes Mr. Sharp, "it could hardly have been otherwise but that the young painter-poet should be strongly attracted to that Arthurian epoch, the legendary glamour of which has since made itself so widely felt in the Arthurian idyls of the laureate. . . . Mr. Ruskin speaks, in his lecture on 'The Relation of Art to Religion' delivered in Oxford, of our indebtedness to Rossetti as the painter to whose genius we owe the revival of interest in the cycle of early English legend."

It was in 1857 that Rossetti, whose acquaintance had been recently sought by three young Oxford scholars, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, and Algernon Charles Swinburne, volunteered to surround the gallery of the new Union Club House at Oxford with life-size frescoes from the "Morte Darthur." [20] He was assisted in this work by a number of enthusiastic disciples. Burne-Jones had already done some cartoons in colour for stained glass, and Morris had painted a subject from the "Morte Darthur," to wit: "Sir Tristram after his Illness, in the Garden of King Mark's Palace, recognised by the Dog he had given to Iseult." Rossetti's contribution to the Oxford decorations was "Sir Lancelot before the Shrine of the Sangreal." Morris' was "Sir Palomides' Jealousy of Sir Tristram and Iseult," an incident which he also treated in his poetry. Burne-Jones, Valentine Prinsep, J. H. Pollen, and Arthur Hughes likewise contributed. Scott says that these paintings were interesting as designs; that they were "poems more than pictures, being large illuminations and treated in a mediaeval manner." But he adds that not one of the band knew anything about wall painting. They laid their water-colours, not on a plastered surface, but on a rough brick wall, merely whitewashed. They used no adhesive medium, and in a few months the colours peeled off and the whole series became invisible.

A co-partnership in subjects, a duplication of treatment, or interchange between the arts of poetry and painting characterise Pre-Raphaelite work. For example, Morris' poems, "The Blue Closet" and "The Tune of Seven Towers" were inspired by the similarly entitled designs of Rossetti. They are interpretations in language of pictorial suggestions—"word-paintings" in a truer meaning than that much-abused piece of critical slang commonly bears. In one of these compositions—a water-colour, a study in colour and music symbolism—four damozels in black and purple, white and green, scarlet and white, and crimson, are singing or playing on a lute and clavichord in a blue-tiled room; while in front of them a red lily grows up through the floor. To this interior Morris' "stunning picture"—as his friend called it—adds an obscurely hinted love story: the burden of a bell booming a death-knell in the tower overhead; the sound of wind and sea; and the Christmas snows outside. Conversely Rossetti's painting, "Arthur's Tomb," was suggested by Morris' so-named poem in his 1858 volume.

Or, again, compare Morris' poem, "Sir Galahad: A Christmas Mystery," with the following description of Rossetti's aquarelle, "How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Percival were fed with the Sanc Grael; but Sir Percival's sister died by the way": "On the right is painted the altar, and in front of it the damsel of the Sanc Grael giving the cup to Sir Galahad, who stoops forward to take it over the dead body of Sir Percival's sister, who lies calm and rigid in her green robe and red mantle, and near whose feet grows from the ground an aureoled lily, while, with his left hand, the saintly knight leads forward his two companions, him who has lost his sister, and the good Sir Bors. Behind the white-robed damsel at the altar, a dove, bearing the sacred casket, poises on outspread pinions; and immediately beyond the fence enclosing the sacred space, stands a row of nimbused angels, clothed in white and with crossed scarlet or flame-coloured wings." [21]

Rossetti's powerful ballad, "The King's Tragedy," was suggested by the mural paintings (encaustic) with which William Bell Scott decorated the circular staircase of Penkill Castle in 1865-68. These were a series of scenes from "The Kinges Quair" once attributed to James I. of Scotland. The photogravure reproduction, from a painting by Arthur Hughes of a section of the Penkill Castle staircase, represents the king looking from the window of his prison in Windsor Castle at Lady Jane Beaufort walking with her handmaidens in a very Pre-Raphaelite garden. At the left of the picture, Cupid aims an arrow at the royal lover. Rossetti, Hunt, and Millais were all great lovers of Keats. Hunt says that his "Escape of Madeline and Prospero" was the first subject from Keats ever painted, and was highly acclaimed by Rossetti. At the formation of the P.-R B. in 1848, it was agreed that the first work of the Brotherhood should be in illustration of "Isabella," and a series of eight subjects was selected from the poem. Millais executed at once his "Lorenzo and Isabella," but Hunt's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" was not finished till 1867, and Rossetti's part of the programme was never carried out. Rossetti's "La Belle Dame sans Merci," Mr. J. M. Strudwick's "Madness of Isabella," Arthur Hughes' triptych of "The Eve of St. Agnes," and Millais' great painting, "St. Agnes' Eve," were other tributes of Pre-Raphaelite art to the young master of romantic verse.

Whether this interpenetration of poetry and painting is of advantage to either, may admit of question. Emerson said to Scott: "We [Americans] scarcely take to the Rossetti poetry; it does not come home to us; it is exotic." The sonnets of "The House of Life" have appeared to many readers obscure and artificial, the working out in language of conceptions more easily expressible by some other art; expressed here, at all events, through imagery drawn from a special and even technical range of associations. Such readers are apt to imagine that Rossetti suffers from a hesitation between poetry and painting; as Sidney Lanier is thought by some to have been injured artistically by halting midway between music and verse. The method proper to one art intrudes into the other; everything that the artist does has the air of an experiment; he paints poems and writes pictures.

A department of Rossetti's verse consists of sonnets written for pictures, pictures by Botticelli, Mantegna, Giorgione, Burne-Jones, and others, and in many cases by himself, and giving thus a double rendering of the same invention. But even when not so occasioned, his poems nearly always suggest pictures. Their figures seem to have stepped down from some fifteenth-century altar piece bringing their aureoles and golden backgrounds with them. This is to be pictorial in a very different sense from that in which Tennyson is said to be a pictorial poet. Hall Caine informs us that Rossetti "was no great lover of landscape beauty." His scenery does not, like Wordsworth's or Tennyson's, carry an impression of life, of the real outdoors. Nature with Rossetti has been passed through the medium of another art before it comes into his poetry; it is a doubly distilled nature. It is nature as we have it in the "Roman de la Rose," or the backgrounds of old Florentine painters: flowery pleasances and orchard closes, gardens with trellises and singing conduits, where ladies are playing at the palm play. In his most popular poem, "The Blessed Damosel"—a theme which he both painted and sang—the feeling is exquisitely and voraciously human. The maiden is "homesick in heaven," and yearns back towards the earth and her lover left behind. Even so, with her symbolic stars and lilies, she is so like the stiff, sweet angels of Fra Angelico or Perugino, that one almost doubts when the poet says

"—her bosom must have made The bar she leaned on warm."

The imagery of the poem is right out of the picture world;

"The clear ranged, unnumbered heads
Bowed with their aureoles."

The imaginations are Dantesque:

"And the souls, mounting up to God,
Went by her like thin flames."

"The light thrilled towards her, filled
With angels in strong, level flight."

Even in "Jenny," one of the few poems of Rossetti that deal with modern life, mediaeval art will creep in.

"Fair shines the gilded aureole
In which our highest painters place
Some living woman's simple face.
And the stilled features thus descried,
As Jenny's long throat droops aside—
The shadows where the cheeks are thin
And pure wide curve from ear to chin—
With Raffael's, Leonardo's hand
To show them to men's souls might stand."

The type of womanly beauty here described is characteristic; it is the type familiar to all in "Pandora," "Proserpine," "La Ghirlandata," "The Day Dream," "Our Lady of Pity," and the other life-size, half-length figure paintings in oil which were the masterpieces of his maturer style. The languid pose, the tragic eyes with their mystic, brooding intensity in contrast with the full curves of the lips and throat, give that union of sensuousness and spirituality which is a constant trait of Rossetti's poetry. The Pre-Raphaelites were accused of exaggerating the height of their figures. In Burne-Jones, whose figures are eight and a half heads high, the exaggeration is deliberate. In Morris' and Swinburne's early poems all the lines of the female face and figure are long—the hand, the foot, the throat, the "curve from chin to ear," and above all, the hair.[22] The hair in these paintings of Rossetti seems a romantic exaggeration, too; immense, crinkly waves of it spreading off to left and right. William Morris' beautiful wife is said to have been his model in the pieces above named.

The first collection of original poems by Rossetti was published in 1870. The manuscripts had been buried with his wife in 1862. When he finally consented to their publication, the coffin had to be exhumed and the manuscripts removed. In 1881 a new edition was issued with changes and additions; and in the same year the volume of "Ballads and Sonnets" was published, including the sonnet sequence of "The House of Life." Of the poems in these two collections which treat directly of Dante the most important is "Dante at Verona," a noble and sustained piece in eighty-five stanzas, slightly pragmatic in manner, in which are enwoven the legendary and historical incidents of Dante's exile related by the early biographers, together with many personal allusions from the "Divine Comedy." But Dante is nowhere very far off either in Rossetti's painting or in his poetry. In particular, the history of Dante's passion for Beatrice, as told in the "Vita Nuova," in which the figure of the girl is gradually transfigured and idealised by death into the type of heavenly love, made an enduring impression upon Rossetti's imagination. Shelley, in his "Epipsychidion," had appealed to this great love story, so characteristic at once of the mediaeval mysticism and of the Platonic spirit of the early Renaissance. But Rossetti was the first to give a thoroughly sympathetic interpretation of it to English readers. It became associated most intimately with his own love and loss. We see it in a picture like "Beata Beatrix," and a poem like "The Portrait," written many years before his wife's death, but subsequently retouched. Who can read the following stanza without thinking of Beatrice and the "Paradiso"?

"Even so, where Heaven holds breath and hears
The beating heart of Love's own breast,—
Where round the secret of all spheres
All angels lay their wings to rest,—
How shall my soul stand rapt and awed,
When, by the new birth borne abroad
Throughout the music of the suns,
It enters in her soul at once
And knows the silence there for God!"

Rossetti's ballads and ballad-romances, all intensely mediaeval in spirit, fall, as regards their manner, into two very different classes. Pieces like "The Blessed Damozel," "The Bride's Prelude," "Rose Mary," and "The Staff and Scrip" (from a story in the "Gesta Romanorum") are art poems, rich, condensed, laden with ornament, pictorial. Every attitude of every figure is a pose; landscapes and interiors are painted with minute Pre-Raphaelite finish. "The Bride's Prelude"—a fragment—opens with the bride's confession to her sister, in the 'tiring-room sumptuous with gold and jewels and brocade, where the air is heavy with musk and myrrh, and sultry with the noon. In the pauses of her tale stray lute notes creep in at the casement, with noises from the tennis court and the splash of a hound swimming in the moat. In "Rose Mary," which employs the superstition in the old lapidaries as to the prophetic powers of the beryl-stone, the colouring and imagery are equally opulent, and, in passages, Oriental.

On the other hand, "Stratton Water," "Sister Helen," "The White Ship," and "The King's Tragedy" are imitations of popular poetry, done with a simulated roughness and simplicity. The first of these adopts a common ballad motive, a lover's desertion of his sweetheart through the contrivances of his wicked kinsfolk:

"And many's the good gift, Lord Sands,
You've promised oft to me;
But the gift of yours I keep to-day
Is the babe in my body." . . .

"Look down, look down, my false mother,
That bade me not to grieve:
You'll look up when our marriage fires
Are lit to-morrow eve."

"Sister Helen" is a ballad in dialogue with a subtly varying repetend, and introduces the popular belief that a witch could kill a man slowly by melting a wax figure. Twice Rossetti essayed the historical ballad. "The White Ship" tells of the drowning of the son and daughter of Henry I. with their whole ship's company, except one survivor, Berold, the butcher of Rouen, who relates the catastrophe. The subject of "The King's Tragedy" is the murder of James I. by Robert Graeme and his men in the Charterhouse of Perth. The teller of the tale is Catherine Douglas, known in Scottish tradition as Kate Barlass, who had thrust her arm through the staple, in place of a bar, to hold the door against the assassins. A few stanzas of "The Kinges Quair" are fitted into the poem by shortening the lines two syllables each, to accommodate them to the ballad metre. It is generally agreed that this was a mistake, as was also the introduction of the "Beryl Songs" between the narrative parts of "Rose Mary." These ballads of Rossetti compare well with other modern imitations of popular poetry. "Sister Helen," e.g., has much greater dramatic force than Tennyson's "Oriana" or "The Sisters." Yet they impress one, upon the whole, as less characteristic than the poet's Italianate pieces; as tours de force carefully pitched in the key of minstrel song, but falsetto in effect. Compared with such things as "Cadyow Castle" or "Jack o' Hazeldean," they are felt to be the work of an art poet, resolute to divest himself of fine language and scrupulously observant of ballad convention in phrase and accent—details of which Scott was often heedless—but devoid of that hearty, natural sympathy with the conditions of life from which popular poetry sprang, and wanting the lyrical pulse that beats in the ballad verse of Scott, Kingsley, and Hogg. In "The King's Tragedy" Rossetti was poaching on Scott's own preserves, the territory of national history and legend. If we can guess how Scott would have handled the same story, we shall have an object lesson in two contrasted kinds of romanticism. Scott could not have bettered the grim ferocity of the murder scene, nor have equalled, perhaps, the tragic shadow of doom which is thrown over Rossetti's poem by the triple warning of the weird woman. But the sense of the historic environment, the sense of the actual in places and persons, would have been stronger in his version. Graeme's retreat would have been the Perthshire Highlands, and not vaguely "the land of the wild Scots." And if scenery had been used, it would not have been such as this—a Pre-Raphaelite background:

"That eve was clenched for a boding storm,
'Neath a toilsome moon half seen;
The cloud stooped low and the surf rose high;
And where there was a line of the sky,
Wild wings loomed dark between."

The historical sense was weak in Rossetti. It is not easy to imagine him composing a Waverley novel. The life of the community, as distinct from the life of the individual, had little interest for him. The mellifluous names of his heroines, Aloyse, Rose Mary, Blanchelys, are pure romance. In his intense concentration upon the aesthetic aspects of every subject, Rossetti seemed, to those who came in contact with him, singularly borné. He was indifferent to politics, society, speculative thought, and the discoveries of modern science—to contemporary matters in general.[23] It is to this narrow aestheticism that Mr. Courthope refers when, in comparing Coleridge and Keats with Rossetti and Swinburne, he finds in the latter an "extraordinary skill in the imitation of antique forms," but "less liberty of imagination." [24] The contrast is most striking in the case of Coleridge, whose intellectual interests had so wide a range. Rossetti cared only for Coleridge's verse; William Morris spoke with contempt of everything that he had written except two or three of his poems;[25] and Swinburne regretted that he had lost himself in the mazes of theology and philosophy, instead of devoting himself wholly to creative work. Keats, it is true, was exclusively preoccupied with the beautiful; but he was more eclectic than Rossetti—perhaps also than Morris, though hardly than Swinburne. The world of classic fable, the world of outward nature were as dear to his imagination as the country of romance. Rossetti was not university bred, and, as we have seen, forgot his Greek early. Morris, like Swinburne, was an Oxford man; yet we hear him saying that he "loathes all classical art and literature." [26] In "The Life and Death of Jason" and "The Earthly Paradise" he treats classical and mediaeval subjects impartially, but treats them both alike in mediaeval fashion; as Chaucer does, in "The Knightes Tale." [27] As for Rossetti, he is never classical. He makes Pre-Raphaelite ballads out of the tale of Troy divine and the Rabbinical legends of Adam's first wife, Lilith; ballads with quaint burdens—

"(O Troy's down,
Tall Troy's on fire)";

"(Sing Eden Bower!
Alas the hour!)"

and whose very titles have an Old English familiarity—"Eden Bower," "Troy Town," as who says "London Bridge," "Edinboro' Town," etc. Swinburne has given the rationale of this type of art in his description of a Bacchus and Ariadne by Lippino Lippi ("Old Masters at Florence"), "an older legend translated and transformed into mediaeval shape. More than any others, these painters of the early Florentine school reproduce in their own art the style of thought and work familiar to a student of Chaucer and his fellows or pupils. Nymphs have faded into fairies, and gods subsided into men. A curious realism has grown up out of that very ignorance and perversion which seemed as if it could not but falsify whatever thing it touched upon. This study of Fillippino's has all the singular charm of the romantic school. . . . The clear form has gone, the old beauty dropped out of sight . . . but the mediaeval or romantic form has an incommunicable charm of its own. . . . Before Chaucer could give us a Pandarus or a Cressida, all knowledge and memory of the son of Lycaon and the daughter of Chryses must have died out, the whole poem collapsed into romance; but far as these may be removed from the true tale and the true city of Troy, they are not phantoms."

But of all this group, the one most thoroughly steeped in mediaevalism—to repeat his own description of himself—was William Morris. He was the English equivalent of Gautier's homme moyen âge; and it was his endeavour, in letters and art, to pick up and continue the mediaeval tradition, interrupted by four hundred years of modern civilisation. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did not attract him; and as for the eighteenth, it simply did not exist for him.[28] The ugliness of modern life, with its factories and railroads, its unpicturesque poverty and selfish commercialism, was hateful to him as it was to Ruskin—his teacher. He loved to imagine the face of England as it was in the time of Chaucer—his master; to

"Forget six counties overhung with smoke,
Forget the snorting steam and piston smoke, . . .
And dream of London, small and white and clean,
The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green."

The socialistic Utopia depicted in his "News from Nowhere" (1890) is a regenerated Middle Age, without feudalism, monarchy, and the mediaeval Church, but also without densely populated cities, with handicrafts substituted for manufactures, and with mediaeval architecture, house, decoration, and costume. None of Morris' books deals with modern life, but all of them with an imaginary future or an almost equally imaginary past. This same "News from Nowhere" contains a passage of dialogue in justification of retrospective romance. "'How is it that though we are so interested with our life for the most part, yet when people take to writing poems or painting pictures they seldom deal with our modern life, or if they do, take good care to make their poems or pictures unlike that life? Are we not good enough to paint ourselves?' . . . 'It always was so, and I suppose always will be,' said he, 'however, it may be explained. It is true that in the nineteenth century, when there was so little art and so much talk about it, there was a theory that art and imaginative literature ought to deal with contemporary life; but they never did so; for, if there was any pretence of it, the author always took care . . . to disguise, or exaggerate, or idealise, and in some way or another make it strange; so that, for all the verisimilitude there was, he might just as well have dealt with the times of the Pharaohs.'" [29]

The difference between the mediaevalism of Rossetti and of Morris illustrates, in an interesting way, the varied results produced by the operation of similar influences on contrasted temperaments. The comparison which Morris' biographer makes between him and Burne-Jones holds true as between Morris and Rossetti: "They received or re-incarnated the Middle Ages through the eyes and brain, in the one case of a Norman, in the other of a Florentine." Morris was twice a Norman, in his love for the romancers and Gothic builders of northern France; and in his enthusiasm for the Icelandic sagas. His visits to Italy left him cold, and he confessed to a strong preference for the art of the North. "With the later work of Southern Europe I am quite out of sympathy. In spite of its magnificent power and energy, I feel it as an enemy, and this much more in Italy, where there is such a mass of it, than elsewhere. Yes, and even in these magnificent and wonderful towns I long rather for the heap of gray stones with a gray roof that we call a house north-away." Rossetti's Italian subtlety and mysticism are replaced in Morris by an English homeliness—a materialism which is Teutonic and not Latin or Celtic, and one surface indication of which is the scrupulously Saxon vocabulary of his poems and prose romances. "His earliest enthusiasms," said Burne-Jones, "were his latest. The thirteenth century was his ideal period always"—the century which produced the lovely French romances which he translated and the great French cathedrals which he admired above all other architecture on earth. But this admiration was aesthetic rather than religious. The Catholic note, so resonant in Rossetti's poetry, is hardly audible in Morris, at least after his early Oxford days. The influence of Newman still lingered at Oxford in the fifties, though the Tractarian movement had spent its force and a reaction had set in. Morris came up to the university an Anglo-Catholic, and like his fellow-student and life-long friend, Burne-Jones, had been destined to holy orders. We find them both, as undergraduates, eagerly reading the "Acta Sanctorum," the "Tracts for the Times," and Kenelm Digby's "Mores Catholici," and projecting a kind of monastic community, where celibacy should be practised and sacred art cultivated. But later impressions soon crowded out this early religious fervour. Churchly asceticism and the mediaeval "praise of virginity" made no part of Morris' social ideal. The body counted for much with him. In "News from Nowhere," marriage even is so far from being a sacrament, that it is merely a free arrangement terminable at the will of either party. Morris had a passionate love of earth and a regard for the natural instincts. He complains that Swinburne's poetry is "founded on literature, not on nature." His religion is a reversion to the old Teutonic pagan earth-worship, and he had the pagan dread of "quick-coming death." His paradise is an "Earthly Paradise"; it is in search of earthly immortality that his voyagers set sail. "Of heaven or hell," says his prelude, "I have no power to sing"; and the great mediaeval singer of heaven and hell who meant so much to Rossetti, appealed hardly more to Morris than to Walter Scott.

Moreover, Morris' work in verse was the precise equivalent of his work as a decorative artist, who cared little for easel pictures, and regarded painting as one method out of many for covering wall spaces or other surfaces.[30] His poetry is mainly narrative, but whether epical or lyrical in form, is always less lyric in essence than Rossetti's. In its objective spirit and even distribution of emphasis, it contrasts with Rossetti's expressional intensity very much as Morris' wall-paper and tapestry designs contrast with paintings like "Beata Beatrix" and "Proserpina." Morris—as an artist—cared more for places and things than for people; and his interest was in the work of art itself, not in the personality of the artist.

Quite unlike as was Morris to Scott in temper and mental endowment, his position in the romantic literature of the second half-century answers very closely to Scott's in the first. His work resembled Scott's in volume, and in its easiness for the general reader. For the second time he made the Middle Ages popular. There was nothing esoteric in his art, as in Rossetti's. It was English and came home to Englishmen. His poetry, like his decorative work, was meant for the people, and "understanded of the people." Moreover, like Scott, he was an accomplished raconteur, and a story well told is always sure of an audience. His first volume, "The Defence of Guenevere" (1858), dedicated to Rossetti and inspired by him, had little popular success. But when, like Millais, he abandoned the narrowly Pre-Raphaelite manner and broadened out, in "The Life and Death of Jason" (1867) and "The Earthly Paradise" (1868-70), into a fashion of narrative less caviare to the general, the public response was such as met Millais.

Morris' share in the Pre-Raphaelite movement was in the special field of decorative art. His enthusiasm for Gothic architecture had been aroused at Oxford by a reading of Ruskin's chapter on "The Nature of Gothic" in "The Stones of Venice." In 1856, acting upon this impulse, he articled himself to the Oxford architect G. E. Street, and began work in his office. He did not persevere in the practice of the profession, and never built a house. But he became and remained a connoisseur of Gothic architecture and an active member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. His numerous visits to Amiens, Chartres, Reims, Soissons, and Rouen were so many pilgrimages to the shrines of mediaeval art. Indeed, he always regarded the various branches of house decoration as contributory to the master art, architecture.

A little later, under the dominating and somewhat overbearing persuasions of Rossetti, he tried his hand at painting, but never succeeded well in drawing the human face and figure. The figure designs for his stained glass, tapestries, etc., were usually made by Burne-Jones, Morris furnishing floriated patterns and the like. In 1861 was formed the firm of Morris & Company, which revolutionised English household decoration. Rossetti and Burne-Jones were among the partners in this concern, which undertook to supply the public with high art work in wall painting, paper hangings, embroidery, carpets, tapestries, printed cottons, stamped leather, carved furniture, tiles, metals, jewelry, etc. In particular, Morris revived the mediaeval arts of glass-staining, illumination, or miniature painting, and tapestry-weaving with the high-warp loom. Though he chose to describe himself as a "dreamer of dreams born out of my due time," and "the idle singer of an empty day," he was a tireless practical workman of astonishing cleverness and versatility. He taught himself to dye and weave. When, in the last decade of the century, he set up the famous Kelmscott Press, devoted to artistic printing and book-making, he studied the processes of type-casting and paper manufacture, and actually made a number of sheets of paper with his own hands. It was his favourite idea that the division of labour in modern manufactures had degraded the workman by making him a mere machine; that the divorce between the art of the designer and the art of the handicraftsman was fatal to both. To him the Middle Ages meant, not the ages of faith, or of chivalry, or of bold and free adventure, but of popular art—of "The Lesser Arts"; when every artisan was an artist of the beautiful and took pleasure in the thing which his hand shaped; when not only the cathedral and the castle, but the townsman's dwelling-house and the labourer's cottage was a thing of beauty. He believed that in those times there was, as there should be again, an art by the people and for the people. It was the democratic and not the aristocratic elements of mediaeval life that he praised. "From the first dawn of history till quite modern times, art, which nature meant to solace all, fulfilled its purpose; all men shared in it; that was what made life romantic, as people call it, in those days; that and not robber-barons and inaccessible kings with their hierarchy of serving-nobles and other such rubbish." [31] One more passage will serve to set in sharp contrast the romanticism of Scott and the romanticism of Ruskin and Morris. "With that literature in which romance, that is to say humanity, was re-born, there sprang up also a feeling for the romance of external nature, which is surely strong in us now, joined with a longing to know something real of the lives of those who have gone before us; of these feelings united you will find the broadest expression in the pages of Walter Scott; it is curious, as showing how sometimes one art will lag behind another in a revival, that the man who wrote the exquisite and wholly unfettered naturalism of 'The Heart of Midlothian,' for instance, thought himself continually bound to seem to feel ashamed of, and to excuse himself for, his love of Gothic architecture; he felt that it was romantic, and he knew that it gave him pleasure, but somehow he had not found out that it was art, having been taught in many ways that nothing could be art that was not done by a named man under academical rules." [32]

It is worth while to glance at Morris' culture-history and note the organic filaments which connect the later with the earlier romanticism. He had read the Waverley novels as a child, and had even snatched a fearful joy from Clara Reeve's "Old English Baron." [33] He knew his Tennyson before he went up to Oxford, but reserved an unqualified admiration only for such things as "Oriana" and "The Lady of Shalott." He was greatly excited by the woodcut engraving of Dürer's "Knight, Death and the Devil" in an English translation of Fouqué's "Sintram." [34] Rossetti was first made known to him by Ruskin's Edinburgh lectures of 1854 and by the illustration to Allingham's "Maids of Elfin Mere," over which Morris and Burne-Jones "pored continually." Morris devoured greedily all manner of mediaeval chronicles and romances, French and English; but he read little in Elizabethan and later authors. He disliked Milton and Wordsworth, and held Keats to be the foremost of modern English poets. He took no interest in mythology, or Welsh poetry or Celtic literature generally, with the exception of the "Morte Darthur," which, Rossetti assured him, was second only to the Bible. The Border ballads had been his delight since childhood. An edition of these; a selection of English mediaeval lyrics; and a "Morte Darthur," with a hundred illustrations from designs by Burne-Jones, were among the unfulfilled purposes of the Kelmscott Press.

Morris' first volume, "The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems," was put forth in 1858 (reprint in 1875); "a book," says Saintsbury, "almost as much the herald of the second school of Victorian poetry as Tennyson's early work was of the first." [35] "Many of the poems," wrote William Bell Scott, "represent the mediaeval spirit in a new way, not by a sentimental, nineteenth-century-revival mediaevalism, but they give a poetical sense of a barbaric age strongly and sharply real." [36] These last words point at Tennyson. The first four pieces in the volume are on Arthurian subjects, but are wholly different in style and conception even from such poems as "The Lady of Shalott" and "Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere." They are more mannerised, more in the spirit of Pre-Raphaelite art, than anything in Morris' later work. If the name-poem is put beside Tennyson's idyl "Guinevere"; or "Sir Galahad, a Christmas Mystery," beside Tennyson's "Sir Galahad," the difference is striking. In place of the refined ethics and sentiment, and purely modern spiritual ideals which find a somewhat rhetorical expression in Tennyson, Morris endeavours to render the genuine Catholic mediaeval materialistic religious temper as it appears in Malory; where unquestioning belief, devotion, childish superstition, and the fear of hell coexist with fleshly love and hate—a passion of sin and a passion of repentance. Guenevere's "defence" is, at bottom, the same as Phryne's:

"See through my long throat how the words go up
In ripples to my mouth: how in my hand
The shadow lies like wine within a cup
Of marvellously colour'd gold."

"Dost thou reck
That I am beautiful, Lord, even as you
And your dear mother?" [37]

Morris criticised Tennyson's Galahad, as "rather a mild youth." His own Galahad is not the rapt seer of the vision beatific, but a more flesh-and-blood character, who sometimes has cold fits in which he doubts whether the quest is not a fool's errand; and whether even Sir Palomydes in his unrequited love, and Sir Lancelot in his guilty love, do not take greater comfort than he.

Other poems in the book were inspired by Froissart's "Chronicle" or other histories of the English wars in France: "Sir Peter Harpdon's End," "Concerning Geffray Teste Noire," "The Eve of Crecy," etc.[38] Still others, and these not the least fascinating, were things of pure invention, lays of "a country lit with lunar rainbows and ringing with fairy song." [39] These have been thought to owe something to Edgar Poe, but they much more nearly resemble the work of the latest symbolistic schools. When reading such poems as "Rapunzel," "Golden Wings," and "The Tune of Seven Towers," one is frequently reminded of "Serres Chaudes" or "Pelléas et Mélisande"; and is at no loss to understand why Morris excepted Maeterlinck from his general indifference to contemporary writers—Maeterlinck, like himself, a student of Rossetti. There is no other collection of English poems so saturated with Pre-Raphaelitism. The flowers are all orchids, strange in shape, violent in colouring. Rapunzel, e.g., is like one of Maeterlinck's spellbound princesses. She stands at the top of her tower, letting down her hair to the ground, and her lover climbs up to her by it as by a golden stair. Here is again the singular Pre-Raphaelite and symbolistic scenery, with its images from art and not from nature. Tall damozels in white and scarlet walk in garths of lily and sunflower, or under apple boughs, and feed the swans in the moat.

"Moreover, she held scarlet lilies, such
As Maiden Margaret bears upon the light
Of the great church walls." [40]

"Lord, give Mary a dear kiss,
And let gold Michael, who look'd down,
When I was there, on Rouen town,
From the spire, bring me that kiss
On a lily!" [41]

The language is as artfully quaint as the imaginations are fantastic:

"Between the trees a large moon, the wind lows
Not loud, but as a cow begins to low." [42]

"Pale in the green sky were the stars, I ween,
Because the moon shone like a star she shed
When she dwelt up in heaven a while ago,
And ruled all things but God." [43]

"Quiet groans
That swell out the little bones
Of my bosom." [44]

"I sit on a purple bed,
Outside, the wall is red,
Thereby the apple hangs,
And the wasp, caught by the fangs,
Dies in the autumn night.
And the bat flits till light,
And the love-crazed knight
Kisses the long, wet grass." [45]

A number of these pieces are dramatic in form, monologues or dialogues, sometimes in the manner of the mediaeval mystery plays.[46] Others are ballads, not of the popular variety, but after Rossetti's fashion, employing burdens, English or French:

"Two red roses across the moon";

"Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée";

"Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite"; etc.

The only poem in the collection which imitates the style of the old minstrel ballad is "Welland Water." The name-poem is in terza rima; the longest, "Sir Peter Harpdon's End," in blank verse; "Golden Wings," in the "In Memoriaro" stanza.

When Morris again came before the public as a poet, his style had undergone a change akin to that which transformed the Pre-Raphaelite painter into the decorative artist. The skeins of vivid romantic colour had run out into large-pattern tapestries. There was nothing eccentric or knotty about "The Life and Death of Jason" and "The Earthly Paradise." On the contrary, nothing so facile, pellucid, pleasant to read had appeared in modern literature—a poetic lubberland, a "clear, unwrinkled song." The reader was carried along with no effort and little thought on the long swell of the verse, his ear lulled by the musical lapse of the rime, his eye soothed—not excited—by ever-unrolling panoramas of an enchanted country "east of the sun and west of the moon." Morris wrote with incredible ease and rapidity. It was a maxim with him, as with Ruskin, that all good work is done easily and with pleasure to the workman; and certainly that seems true of him which Lowell said of Chaucer—that he never "puckered his brow over an unmanageable verse." Chaucer was his avowed master,[47] and perhaps no English narrative poet has come so near to Chaucer. Like Chaucer, and unlike Scott, he did not invent stories, but told the old stories over again with a new charm. His poetry, as such, is commonly better than Scott's; lacking the fire and nervous energy of Scott in his great passages, but sustained at a higher artistic level. He had the copious vein of the mediaeval chroniclers and romancers, without their tiresome prolixity and with finer resources of invention. He had none of Chaucer's humour, realism, or skill in character sketching. In its final impression his poetry resembles Spenser's more than Chaucer's. Like Spenser's, it grows monotonous—without quite growing languid—from the steady flow of the metre and the exhaustless profusion of the imagery. The reader becomes, somewhat ungratefully, surfeited with beauty, and seeks relief in poetry more passionate or intellectual. Chaucer and, in a degree, Walter Scott, have a way of making old things seem near to us. In Spenser and Morris, though bright and clear in all imagined details, they stand at an infinite remove, in a world apart—

"—a little isle of bliss
Midmost the beating of the steely sea"

which typifies the weary problems and turmoil of contemporary life.

"Jason" was a poem of epic dimensions, on the winning of the Golden Fleece; "The Earthly Paradise," a series of twenty-four narrative poems set in a framework of the poet's own. Certain gentlemen of Norway, in the reign of Edward III. of England, set out—like St. Brandan—on a voyage in search of a land that is free from death. They cross the Western ocean, and after long years of wandering, come, disappointed of their hope, to a city founded centuries since by exiles from ancient Greece. There being hospitably received, hosts and guests interchange tales in every month of the year; a classical story alternating with a mediaeval one, till the double sum of twelve is complete. Among the wanderers are a Breton and a Suabian, so that the mediaeval tales have a wide range. There are Norse stories like "The Lovers of Gudrun"; French Charlemagne romances, like "Ogier the Dane"; and late German legends of the fourteenth century, like "The Hill of Venus," besides miscellaneous travelled fictions of the Middle Age.[48] But the Hellenic legends are reduced to a common term with the romance material, so that the reader is not very sensible of a difference. Many of them are selected for their marvellous character, and abound in dragons, monsters, transformations, and enchantments: "The Golden Apples," "Bellerophon," "Cupid and Psyche," "The Story of Perseus," etc. Even "Jason" is treated as a romance. Of its seventeen books, all but the last are devoted to the exploits and wanderings of the Argonauts. Medea is not the wronged, vengeful queen of the Greek tragic poets, so much as she is the Colchian sorceress who effects her lover's victory and escape. Her romantic, outweighs her dramatic character. Sea voyages, emprizes, and wild adventures, like those of his own wanderers in "The Earthly Paradise," were dearer to Morris' imagination than conflicts of the will; the vostos or home-coming of Ulysses, e.g. He preferred the "Odyssey" to the "Iliad," and translated it in 1887 into the thirteen-syllabled line of the "Nibelungenlied." [49] Of the Greek tales in "The Earthly Paradise," "The Love of Alcestis" has, perhaps, the most dramatic quality.

Like Chaucer and like Rossetti,[50] Morris mediaevalised classic fable. "Troy," says his biographer, "is to his imagination a town exactly like Bruges or Chartres, spired and gabled, red-roofed, filled (like the city of King Aeetes in 'The Life and Death of Jason') with towers and swinging bells. The Trojan princes go out, like knights in Froissart, to tilt at the barriers." [51] The distinction between classical and romantic treatment is well illustrated by a comparison of Theocritus' idyl "Hylas," with the same episode in "Jason." "Soon was he 'ware of a spring," says the Syracusan poet, "in a hollow land, and the rushes grew thickly round it, and dark swallow-wort, and green maiden-hair, and blooming parsley and deer-grass spreading through the marshy land. In the midst of the water the nymphs were arraying their dances, the sleepless nymphs, dread goddesses of the country people, Eunice, and Malis, and Nycheia, with her April eyes. And now the boy was holding out the wide-mouthed pitcher to the water, intent on dipping it; but the nymphs all clung to his hand, for love of the Argive lad had fluttered the soft hearts of all of them. Then down he sank into the black water." [52] In "Jason," where the episode occupies some two hundred and seventy lines, one of the nymphs meets the boy in the wood, disguised in furs like a northern princess, and lulls him to sleep by the stream side with a Pre-Raphaelite song:

"I know a little garden close
Set thick with lily and red rose";

the loveliest of all the lyrical passages in Morris' narrative poems except possibly the favourite two-part song in "Ogier the Dane";

"In the white-flower'd hawthorne brake,
Love, be merry for my sake:
Twine the blossoms in my hair.
Kiss me where I am most fair—
Kiss me, love! for who knoweth
What thing cometh after death?"

This is the strain which recurs in all Morris' poetry with the insistence of a burden, and lends its melancholy to every season of "the rich year slipping by."

Three kinds of verse are employed in "The Earthly Paradise": the octosyllabic couplet; the rime royal, which was so much a favourite with Chaucer; and the heroic couplet, handled in the free, "enjambed" fashion of Hunt and Keats.

"Love is Enough," in the form of a fifteenth-century morality play, and treating a subject from the "Mabinogion," appeared in 1873, Mackail praises its delicate mechanism in the use of "receding planes of action" (Love is prologue and chorus, and there is a musical accompaniment); but the dramatic form only emphasises the essentially undramatic quality of the author's genius. What is the matter with Morris' poetry? For something is the matter with it. Beauty is there in abundance, a rich profusion of imagery. The narrative moves without a hitch. Passion is not absent, passionate love and regret; but it speaks a sleepy language, and the final impression is dream-like. I believe that the singular lack which one feels in reading these poems comes from Morris' dislike of rhetoric and moralising, the two main nerves of eighteenth-century verse. Left to themselves, these make sad work of poetry; yet poetry includes eloquence, and life includes morality. The poetry of Morris is sensuous, as upon the whole poetry should be; but in his resolute abstention from the generalizing habit of the previous century, the balance is lost between the general and the concrete, which all really great poetry preserves. Byron declaims and Wordsworth moralises, both of them perhaps too much; yet in the end to the advantage of their poetry, which is full of truths, or of thoughts conceived as true, surcharged with emotion and uttered with passionate conviction. One looks in vain in Morris' pages for such things as

"There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away";

or

"—the good die first, ——And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust, Burn to the socket."

Such coin of universal currency is rare in Morris, as has once before been said. Not that quotability is an absolute test of poetic value, for then Pope would rank higher than Spenser or Shelley. But its absence in Morris is significant in more than one way.

While "The Earthly Paradise" was in course of composition, a new intellectual influence came into Morris' life, the influence of the Icelandic sagas. Much had been done to make Old Norse literature accessible to English readers since the days when Gray put forth his Runic scraps and Percy translated Mallet.[53] Walter Scott, e.g., had given an abstract of the "Eyrbyggja Saga." Amos Cottle had published at Bristol in 1797 a metrical version of the mythological portion of the "Elder Edda" ("Icelandic Poetry, or the Edda of Saemund"), with an introductory verse epistle by Southey. Sir George Dasent's translation of the "Younger Edda" appeared in 1842; Laing's "Heimskringla" in 1844; Dasent's "Burnt Nial" in 1861; his "Gisli the Outlaw," and Head's "Saga of Viga-Glum" in 1866. William and Mary Howitt's "Literature and Romance of Northern Europe" appeared in 1852. Morris had made the acquaintance of Thorpe's "Northern Mythology" (1851) and "Yuletide Stories" (1853) at Oxford; two of the tales in "The Earthly Paradise" were suggested by them: "The Land East of the Sun" and "The Fostering of Aslaug." These, however, he had dealt with independently and in an ultra-romantic spirit. But in 1869 he took up the study of Icelandic under the tuition of Mr. Erick Magnusson; in collaboration with whom he issued a number of translations.[54] "The Lovers of Gudrun" in "The Earthly Paradise" was taken from the "Laxdaela Saga," and is in marked contrast with the other poems in the collection. There is no romantic glamour about it. It is a grim, domestic tragedy, moving among the homeliest surroundings. Save for the lawlessness of a primitive state of society which gave free play to the workings of the passions, the story might have passed in Yorkshire or New England. A book like "Wuthering Heights," or "Pembroke," occasionally exhibits the same obstinate Berserkir rage of the tough old Teutonic stock, operating under modern conditions. For the men and women of the sagas are hard as iron; their pride is ferocious, their courage and sense of duty inflexible, their hatred is as enduring as their love. The memory of a slight or an injury is nursed for a lifetime, and when the hour of vengeance strikes, no compunction, not even the commonest human instincts—such as mother love—can avert the blow. Signy in the "Völsunga Saga" is implacable as fate. To avenge the slaughter of the Volsungs is with her an obsession, a fixed idea. When incest seems the only pathway to her purpose, she takes that path without a moment's hesitation. The contemptuous indifference with which she hands over her own little innocent children to death is more terrible than the readiness of the fierce Medea to sacrifice her young brothers to Jason's safety; more terrible by far than the matricide of Orestes.

The colossal mythology of the North had impressed Gray's imagination a century before, Carlyle in his "Hero Worship" (1840) had given it the preference over the Greek, as an expression of race character and imagination. In the preface to his translation of the "Völsunga Saga," Morris declared his surprise that no version of the story yet existed in English. He said that it was one of the great stories of the world, and that to all men of Germanic blood it ought to be what the tale of Troy had been to the whole Hellenic race. In 1876 he cast it into a poem, "Sigurd the Volsung," in four books in riming lines of six iambic or anapaestic feet. "The Lovers of Gudrun" drew its material from one of that class of sagas which rest upon historical facts. The family vendetta which it narrates, in the Iceland of the eleventh century, is hardly more fabulous—hardly less realistic—than any modern blood feud in the Tennessee mountains. The passions and dramatic situations are much the same in both. The "Völsunga Saga" belongs not to romantic literature, strictly speaking, but to the old cycle of hero epics, to that earlier Middle Age which preceded Christian chivalry. It is the Scandinavian version of the story of the Niblungs, which Wagner's music-dramas have rendered in another art. But in common with romance, it abounds in superhuman wonders. It is full of Eddaic poetry and mythology. Sigmund and Sinfiotli change themselves into were wolves, like the people in "William of Palermo": Sigurd slays Fafnir, the dragon who guards the hoard, and his brother Regni, the last of the Dwarf-kin; Grimhild bewitches Sigurd with a cup of evil drink; Sigmund draws from the hall pillar the miraculous sword of Odin, and its shards are afterwards smithed by Regni for the killing of the monster.

Morris was so powerfully drawn to the Old Norse literature that he made two visits to Iceland, to verify the local references in the sagas and to acquaint himself with the strange Icelandic landscapes whose savage sublimity is reflected in the Icelandic writings. "Sigurd the Volsung" is probably the most important contribution of Norse literature to English poetry; but it met with no such general acceptance as "The Earthly Paradise." The spirit which created the Northern mythology and composed the sagas is not extinct in the English descendants of Frisians and Danes. There is something of it in the minstrel ballads; but it has been so softened by modern life and tempered with foreign culture elements, that these old tales in their aboriginal, barbaric sternness repel. It is hard for any blossom of modern poetry to root itself in the scoriae of Hecla.

An indirect result of Morris' Icelandic studies was his translation of Beowulf (1897), not a success; another was the remarkable series of prose poems or romances, which he put forth in the last ten years of his life.[55] There is nothing else quite like these. They are written in a peculiar archaic English which the author shaped for himself out of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century models, like the "Morte Darthur" and the English translation of the "Gesta Roroanorum," but with an anxious preference for the Saxon and Danish elements of the vocabulary. It is a dialect in which a market town is called a "cheaping-stead," a popular assembly a "folk-mote," foresters are "wood-abiders," sailors are "ship-carles," a family is a "kindred," poetry is "song-craft," [56] and any kind of enclosure is a "garth." The prose is frequently interchanged with verse, not by way of lyrical outbursts, but as a variation in the narrative method, after the manner of the Old French cantefables, such as "Aucassin et Nicolete"; but more exactly after the manner of the sagas, in which the azoic rock of Eddaic poetry crops out ever and anon under the prose strata. This Saxonism of style is in marked contrast with Scott, who employs without question the highly latinised English which his age had inherited from the last. Nor are Morris' romances historical in the manner of the Waverley novels. The first two of the series, however, are historical in the sense that they endeavour to reproduce in exact detail the picture of an extinct society. Time and place are not precisely indicated, but the scene is somewhere in the old German forest, and the period is early in the Christian era, during the obscure wanderings and settlements of the Gothic tribes. "The House of the Wolfings" concerns the life of such a community, which has made a series of clearings in "Mirkwood" on a stream tributary to the Rhine. The folk of Midmark live very much as Tacitus describes the ancient Germans as living. Each kindred dwells in a great common hall, like the hall of the Niblungs or the Volsungs, or of King Hrothgar in "Beowulf." Their herding and agriculture are described, their implements and costumes, feasts in hall, songs, rites of worship, public meetings, and finally their warfare when they go forth against the invading Romans. In "The Roots of the Mountains" the tribe of the Wolf has been driven into the woods and mountains by the vanguard of the Hunnish migrations. In time they make head against these, drive them back, and retake their fertile valley. In each case there is a love story and, as in Scott, the private fortunes of the hero and heroine are enwoven with the ongoings of public events. But it is the general life of the tribe that is of importance, and there is little individual characterisation. There is a class of thralls in "The House of the Wolfings," but no single member of the class is particularised, like Garth, the thrall of Cedric, in "Ivanhoe."

The later numbers of the series have no semblance of actuality. The last of all, indeed, "The Sundering Flood," is a war story which attains an air of geographical precision by means of a map—like the plan of Egdon Heath in "The Return of the Native"—but the region and its inhabitants are alike fabulous. Romances such as "The Water of the Wondrous Isles" and "The Wood beyond the World" (the names are not the least imaginative feature of these curious books) are simply a new kind of fairy tales. Unsubstantial as Duessa or Armida or Circe or Morgan le Fay are the witch-queen of the Wood beyond the World and the sorceress of the enchanted Isle of Increase Unsought. The white Castle of the Quest, with its three champions and their ladies, Aurea, Atra, and Viridis; the yellow dwarfs, the magic boat, the wicked Red Knight, and his den, the Red Hold; the rings and spells and charms and garments of invisibility are like the wilder parts of Malory or the Arabian Nights.

Algernon Charles Swinburne was an early adherent of the Pre-Raphaelite school, although such of his work as is specifically Gothic is to be found mainly in the first series of "Poems and Ballads" (1866);[57] a volume which corresponds to Morris' first fruits, "The Defence of Guenevere." If Morris is prevailingly a Goth—a heathen Norseman or Saxon—Swinburne is, upon the whole, a Greek pagan. Rossetti and Morris inherit from Keats, but Swinburne much more from Shelley, whom he resembles in his Hellenic spirit; as well as in his lyric fervour, his shrill radicalism—political and religious—and his unchastened imagination. Probably the cunningest of English metrical artists, his art is more closely affiliated with music than with painting. Not that there is any paucity of imagery in his poetry; the imagery is superabundant, crowded, but it is blurred by an iridescent spray of melodious verbiage. The confusion of mind which his work often produces does not arise from romantic vagueness, from the dreamlike and mysterious impression left by a ballad of Coleridge's or a story of Tieck's, but rather, as in Shelley's case, from the dizzy splendour and excitement of the diction. His verse, like Shelley's, is full of foam and flame, and the result upon the reader is to bewilder and exhaust. He does not describe in pictures, like Rossetti and Morris, but by metaphors, comparisons, and hyperboles. Take the following very typical passage—the portrait of Iseult in "Tristram of Lyonesse" (1882);

"The very veil of her bright flesh was made
As of light woven and moonbeam-colored shade
More fine than moonbeams; white her eyelids shone
As snow sun-stricken that endures the sun,
And through their curled and coloured clouds of deep,
Luminous lashes, thick as dreams in sleep,
Shone, as the sea's depth swallowing up the sky's,
The springs of unimaginable eyes.
As the wave's subtler emerald is pierced through
With the utmost heaven's inextricable blue,
And both are woven and molten in one sleight
Of amorous colour and implicated light
Under the golden guard and gaze of noon,
So glowed their aweless amorous plenilune,
Azure and gold and ardent grey, made strange
With fiery difference and deep interchange
Inexplicable of glories multiform;
Now, as the sullen sapphire swells towards storm
Foamless, their bitter beauty grew acold,
And now afire with ardour of fine gold.
Her flower-soft lips were meek and passionate,
For love upon them like a shadow sate
Patient, a foreseen vision of sweet things,
A dream with eyes fast shut and plumeless wings
That knew not what man's love or life should be,
Nor had it sight nor heart to hope or see
What thing should come; but, childlike satisfied,
Watched out its virgin vigil in soft pride
And unkissed expectation; and the glad
Clear cheeks and throat and tender temples had
Such maiden heat as if a rose's blood
Beat in the live heart of a lily-bud."

What distinct image of the woman portrayed does one carry away from all this squandered wealth of words and tropes? Compare the entire poem with one of Tennyson's Arthurian "Idyls," or even with Matthew Arnold's not over-prosperous "Tristram and Iseult," or with any of the stories in "The Earthly Paradise," and it will be seen how far short it falls of being good verse narrative—with its excesses of language and retarded movement. Wordsworth said finely of Shakspere that he could not have written an epic: "he would have perished from a plethora of thought." It is not so much plethora of thought as lavishness of style which clogs the wheels in Swinburne. Too often his tale is

"Like a tale of the little meaning,
Though the words are strong."

But his narrative method has analogies, not only with things like Shelley's "Laon and Cythna," but with Elizabethan poems such as Marlowe and Chapman's "Hero and Leander." If not so conceited as these, it is equally encumbered with sticky sweets which keep the story from getting forward.

The symbolism which characterises a great deal of Pre-Raphaelite art is not conspicuous in Swinburne, whose spirit is not mystical. But two marks of the Pre-Raphaelite—and, indeed, of the romantic manner generally—are obtrusively present in his early work. One of these is the fondness for microscopic detail at the expense of the obvious, natural outlines of the subject. Thus of Proserpine at Enna, in the piece entitled "At Eleusis,"

"—she lying down, red flowers Made their sharp little shadows on her sides."

"Endymion" is, perhaps, partly responsible for this exaggeration of the picturesque, and in Swinburne, as in Keats, the habit is due to an excessive impressibility by all forms of sensuous beauty. It is a sign of riches, but of riches which smother their possessor. It is impossible to fancy Chaucer or Goethe, or any large, healthy mind dealing thus by its theme. Or, indeed, contrast the whole passage from "At Eleusis" with the mention of the rape of Proserpine in the "Winter's Tale" and in "Paradise Lost."

Another Pre-Raphaelite trait is that over-intensify of spirit and sense which was not quite wholesome in Rossetti, but which manifested itself in Swinburne in a morbid eroticism. The first series of "Poems and Ballads" was reprinted in America as "Laus Veneris." The name-poem was a version of the Tannhäuser legend, a powerful but sultry study of animal passion, and it set the key of the whole volume. It is hardly necessary to say of the singer of the wonderful choruses in "Atalanta" and the equally wonderful hexameters of "Hesperia," that his imagination has turned most persistently to the antique, and that a very small share of his work is to be brought under any narrowly romantic formula. But there are a few noteworthy experiments in mediaevalism included among these early lyrics. "A Christmas Carol" is a ballad of burdens, suggested by a drawing of Rossetti's, and full of the Pre-Raphaelite colour. The inevitable damsels, or bower maidens, are combing out the queen's hair with golden combs, while she sings a song of God's mother; how she, too, had three women for her bed-chamber—

"The first two were the two Maries,
The third was Magdalen," [58]

who "was the likest God"; and how Joseph, who, likewise had three workmen, Peter, Paul, and John, said to the Virgin in regular ballad style:

"If your child be none other man's,
But if it be very mine,
The bedstead shall be gold two spans,
The bedfoot silver fine."

"The Masque of Queen Bersabe" is a miracle play, and imitates the rough naïveté of the old Scriptural drama, with its grotesque stage directions and innocent anachronisms. Nathan recommends King David to hear a mass. All the dramatis personae swear by Godis rood, by Paulis head, and Peter's soul, except "Secundus Miles" (Paganus quidam), a bad man—a species of Vice—who swears by Satan and Mahound, and is finally carried off by the comic devil:

"S. M. I rede you in the devil's name,
Ye come not here to make men game;
By Termagaunt that maketh grame,
I shall to-bete thine head.
Hic Diabolus capiat eum." [59]

Similarly "St. Dorothy" reproduces the childlike faith and simplicity of the old martyrologies.[60] Theophilus addresses the Emperor Gabalus with "Beau Sire, Dieu vous aide." The wicked Gabalus himself, though a heathen, curses by St. Luke and by God's blood and bones, and quotes Scripture. Theophilus first catches sight of Dorothy through a latticed window, holding a green and red psalter among a troop of maidens who play upon short-stringed lutes. The temple of Venus where he does his devotions is a "church" with stained-glass windows. Heaven is a walled pleasance, like the Garden of Delight in the "Roman de la Rose,"

"Thick with companies
Of fair-clothed men that play on shawms and lutes."

Swinburne has also essayed the minstrel ballad in various forms. There were some half-dozen pieces of the sort in the "Laus Veneris" volume, of which several, like "The King's Daughter" and "The Sea-Swallows," were imitations of Rossetti's and Morris' imitations, artistically overwrought with elaborate Pre-Raphaelite refrains; others, like "May Janet" and "The Bloody Son," are closer to popular models. The third series of "Poems and Ballads" (1889) contains nine of these in the Scotch dialect, two of them Jacobite songs. That Swinburne has a fine instinct in such matters and holds the true theory of ballad imitation is evident from his review of Rossetti's and Morris' work in the same kind.[61] "The highest form of ballad requires, from a poet," he writes, "at once narrative power, lyrical and dramatic. . . . It must condense the large, loose fluency of romantic tale-telling into tight and intense brevity. . . . There can be no pause in a ballad, and no excess; nothing that flags, nothing that overflows." He pronounces "Sister Helen" the greatest ballad in modern English; but he thinks that "Stratton Water," which is less independent in composition, and copies the formal as well as the essential characteristics of popular poetry, is "a study after the old manner too close to be no closer. It is not meant for a perfect and absolute piece of work in the old Border fashion, . . . and yet it is so far a copy that it seems hardly well to have gone so far and no farther. On this ground Mr. Morris has a firmer tread than the great artist by the light of whose genius and kindly guidance he put forth the first fruits of his work, as I did afterwards. In his first book, the ballad of 'Welland River,' the Christmas carol in 'The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon,' etc., . . . are examples of flawless work in the pure early manner. Any less absolute and decisive revival of mediaeval form . . . rouses some sense of failure by excess or default of resemblance."

Swinburne's own ballads are clever and learned experiments, but he does not practise the brevity which he recommends; some of them, such as "The Bloody Son," "The Weary Wedding," and "The Bride's Tragedy," otherwise most impressive, would be more so if they were shorter or less wordy. Though his genius is more lyrical than dramatic, the fascination which the dramatic method has had for him from the first is as evident in his ballads as in his series of verse dramas, which begins with "The Queen Mother," and includes the enormous "Mary Stuart" trilogy. Several of these are mediaeval in subject; the "Rosamond" of his earliest volume—Fair Rosamond of the Woodstock Maze—the other "Rosamund, Queen of the Goths" (1899) in which the period of the action is 573 A.D.; and "Locrine" (1888), the hero of which is that mythic king of Britain whose story had been once before dramatised for the Elizabethan stage; and whose daughter, "Sabrina fair," goddess of the Severn, figures in "Comus." But these are no otherwise romantic than "Chastelard" or "The Queen Mother." The dramatic diction is fashioned after the Elizabethans, of whom Swinburne has been an enthusiastic student and expositor, finding an attraction even in the morbid horrors of Webster, Ford, and Tourneur.[62]

Once more the poet touched the Round-Table romances in "The Tale of Balen" (1896), written in the stanza of "The Lady of Shalott," and in a style simpler and more direct than "Tristram of Lyonesse." The story is the same as Tennyson's "Balin and Balan," published with "Tiresias and Other Poems" in 1885, as an introduction to "Merlin and Vivien." Here the advantage is in every point with the younger poet. Tennyson's version is one of the weakest spots in the "Idylls." His hero is a rough Northumberland warrior who looks with admiration upon the courtly graces of Lancelot, and borrows a cognisance from Guinevere to wear upon his shield, in hope that it may help him to keep his temper. But having once more lost control of this, he throws himself upon the ground

"Moaning 'My violences, my violences!'"—

a bathetic descent not unexampled elsewhere in Tennyson.

This episode of the old "Morte Darthur" has fine tragic possibilities. It is the tale of two brothers who meet in single combat, with visors down, and slay each other unrecognised. It has some resemblance, therefore, to the plan of "Sohrab and Rustum," but it cannot be said that either poet avails himself of the opportunity for a truly dramatic presentation of his theme. Tennyson, as we have seen, aimed to give epic unity to the wandering and repetitious narrative of Malory, by selecting and arranging his material with reference to one leading conception; the effort of the king to establish a higher social state through an order of Christian knighthood, and his failure through the gradual corruption of the Round Table. He subdues the history of Balin to this purpose, just as he does the history of Tristram which he relates incidentally only, and not for its own sake, in "The Last Tournament." Balin's simple faith in the ideal chivalry of Arthur's court is rudely dispelled when he hears from Vivien, and sees for himself, that the two chief objects of his reverence, Lancelot and the queen, are guilty lovers and false to their lord; and in his bitter disappointment, he casts his life away in the first adventure that offers. Moreover, in consonance with his main design, Tennyson seeks, so far as may be, to discard whatever in Malory is merely accidental or irrational; whatever is stuff of romance rather than of epic or drama—whose theatre is the human will. To such elements of the wonderful as he is obliged to retain he gives, where possible, an allegorical or spiritual significance. There are very strange things in the story of Balin, such as the invisible knight Garlon, a "darkling manslayer"; and the chamber in the castle of King Pellam, where the body of Joseph of Arimathea lies in state, and where there are a portion of the blood of Christ and the spear with which his heart was pierced, with which spear Sir Balin smites King Pellam, whereupon the castle falls and the two adversaries lie among its ruins three days in a deathlike trance. All this wild magic—which Tennyson touches lightly—Swinburne gives at full length; following Malory closely through his digressions and the roving adventures—most of which Tennyson suppresses entirely—by which he conducts his hero his end. This is the true romantic method.

As Rossetti for the Italian and Morris for the Scandinavian, Swinburne stands for the spirit of French romanticism. At the beginning of the nineteenth century France, the inventor of "Gothic" architecture and chivalry romance, whose literature was the most influential of mediaeval Europe, still represented everything that is most anti-mediaeval and anti-romantic. Gérard de Nerval thought that the native genius of France had been buried under two ages of imported classicism; and that Perrault, who wrote the fairy tales, was the only really original mind in the French literature of the eighteenth century. M. Brunetière, on the contrary, holds that the true expression of the national genius is to be found in the writers of Louis XIV.'s time—that France is instinctively and naturally classical. However this may be, in the history of the modern return to the past, French romanticism was the latest to awake. Somewhat of the chronicles, fabliaux, and romances of old France had dribbled into England in translations;[63] but Swinburne was perhaps the first thoroughpaced disciple of the French romantic school. Victor Hugo is the god of his idolatry, and he has chanted his praise in prose and verse, in "ode and elegy and sonnet." [64] Gautier and Baudelaire have also shared his devotion.[65] The French songs in "Rosamond" and "Chastelard" are full of romantic spirit. "Laus Veneris" follows a version of the tale given in Maistre Antoine Gaget's "Livre des grandes merveilles d'amour" (1530), in which the Venusberg is called "le mont Horsel"; and "The Leper," a very characteristic piece in the same collection, is founded on a passage in the "Grandes Chroniques de France" (1505). Swinburne introduced or revived in English verse a number of old French stanza forms, such as the ballade, the sestina, the rondel, which have since grown familiar in the hands of Dobson, Lang, Gosse, and others. In the second series of "Poems and Ballads" (1878) he gave translations of ten of the ballads of that musical old blackguard

"Villon, our sad, bad, glad, mad brother's name." [66]

The range of Swinburne's intellectual interests has been wider than that of Rossetti and Morris. He is a classical scholar, who writes easily in Latin and Greek. Ancient mythology and modern politics divide his attention with the romantic literatures of many times and countries. Rossetti made but one or two essays in prose criticism, and Morris viewed the reviewer's art with contempt. But Swinburne has contributed freely to critical literature, an advocate of the principles of romantic art in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, as Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt had been in the first. The manner of his criticism is not at all judicial. His prose is as lyrical as his verse, and his praise and blame both in excess—dithyrambic laudation or affluent billingsgate. In particular, he works the adjective "divine" so hard that it loses meaning. Yet stripped of its excited superlatives, and reduced to the cool temperature of ordinary speech, his critical work is found to be full of insight, and his judgment in matters of poetical technique almost always right. I may close this chapter with a few sentences of his defence of retrospective literature.[67] "It is but waste of breath for the champions of the other party to bid us break the yoke and cast off the bondage of that past, leave the dead to bury their dead, and turn from the dust and rottenness of old-world themes, epic or romantic, classical or feudal, to face the age wherein we live. . . . In vain, for instance, do the first poetess of England and the first poet of America agree to urge upon their fellows or their followers the duty of confronting and expressing the spirit and the secret of their own time, its meaning, and its need. . . . If a poem cast in the mould of classic or feudal times, of Greek drama or mediaeval romance, be lifeless and worthless, it is not because the subject or the form was ancient, but because the poet was inadequate. . . . For neither epic nor romance of chivalrous quest or classic war is obsolete yet, or ever can be; there is nothing in the past extinct . . . [Life] is omnipresent and eternal, and forsakes neither Athens nor Jerusalem, Camelot nor Troy, Argonaut nor Crusader, to dwell, as she does with equal good will, among modern appliances in London and New York."


FOOTNOTES:


[1] See vol. i., chaps. iv. and vii., "The Landscape Poets" and "The Gothic Revival."

[2] This was the organ of the Pre-Raphaelites, started in 1850. Only four numbers were issued (January, February, March, April), and in the third and fourth the title was changed to Art and Poetry. The contents included, among other things, poems by Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti. One of the former's twelve contributions was "The Blessed Damozel." The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, which ran through the year 1856 and was edited by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, was also a Pre-Raphaelite journal and received many contributions from Rossetti.

[3] The foreign strain in the English Pre-Raphaelites and in the painters and poets who descend from them is worth noting. Rossetti was three-fourths Italian. Millais' parents were Channel Islanders—from Jersey—and he had two mother tongues, English and French. Burne-Jones is of Welsh blood, and Alma Tadema of Frisian birth. Among Neo-Pre-Raphaelite poets, the names of Theophile Marzials and Arthur O'Shaughnessy speak for themselves.

[4] Let the reader consult the large and rapidly increasing literature on the English Pre-Raphaelites. I do not profess to be a very competent guide here, but I have found the following works all in some degree enlightening. "Autobiographical Notes of William Bell Scott," two vols., New York, 1892. "English Contemporary Art." Translated from the French of R. de la Sizeranne, Westminster, 1898. "D. G. Rossetti as Designer and Writer." W. M. Rossetti, London, 1889. "The Rossettis." E. L. Cary, New York, 1900. "Dante Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Movement." Esther Wood, New York, 1894. "Pre-Raphaelitism." J. Ruskin, New York, 1860. "The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood." Holman Hunt in Contemporary Review, vol. xlix. (three articles). "Encyclopaedia Britannica," article "Rossetti." by Theodore Watts. Of course the standard lives and memoirs by William Rossetti, Hall Caine, William Sharp, and Joseph Knight, as well as Rossetti's "Family Letters," "Letters to William Allingham," etc., afford criticisms of the movement from various points of view. Lists of Rossetti's paintings and drawings are given by several of these authorities, with photographs or engravings of his most famous masterpieces.

[5] "Lectures on Architecture and Painting." Delivered at Edinburgh in 1853. Lecture iv., "Pre Raphaelitism."

[6] Cf. Milton: "Each stair mysteriously was meant" ("P. L.").

[7] "Dante Gabriel Rossetti: a record and a study," London, 1882, pp. 40-41.

[8] "Pre-Raphaelitism," p. 23, note.

[9] "Autobiographical Notes of William Bell Scott," vol. i., p. 281.

[10] "English Contemporary Art," p. 58.

[11] "Lectures on Architecture and Painting," 1853.

[12] See vol. i., p. 44.

[13] "The return of this school was to a mediaevalism different from the tentative and scrappy mediaevalism of Percy, from the genial but slightly superficial mediaevalism of Scott, and even from the more exact but narrow and distinctly conventional mediaevalism of Tennyson. . . . Moreover, though it may seem whimsical or extravagant to say so, these poets added to the very charm of mediaeval literature, which they thus revived, a subtle something which differentiates it from—which, to our perhaps blind sight, seems to be wanting in—mediaeval literature itself. It is constantly complained (and some of those who cannot go all the way with the complainants can see what they mean) that the graceful and labyrinthine stories, the sweet snatches of song, the quaint drama and legend of the Middle Ages lack—to us—life; that they are shadowy, unreal, tapestry on the wall, not alive even as living pageants are. By the strong touch of modernness which these poets and the best of their followers introduced into their work, they have given the vivification required" (Saintsbury, "Literature of the Nineteenth Century," p. 439). Pre-Raphaelitism "is a direct and legitimate development of the great romantic revival in England. . . . Even Tennyson, much more Scott and Coleridge and their generation, had entered only very partially into the treasures of mediaeval literature, and were hardly at all acquainted with those of mediaeval art. Conybeare, Kemble, Thorpe, Madden were only in Tennyson's own time reviving the study of Old and Middle English. Early French and Early Italian were but just being opened up. Above all, the Oxford Movement directed attention to mediaeval architecture, literature, thought, as had never been the case before in England, and as has never been the case at all in any other country" ("A Short History of English Literature," by G. Saintsbury, London, 1898, p. 779).

[14] "Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti," by T. Hall Caine, London, 1883, p. 41.

[15] "The Collected Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti." Edited by W. M. Rossetti, two vols., London, 1886.

[16] "Dante Gabriel Rossetti. A Record and a Study," p. 305.

[17] He wrote to Allingham in 1855, apropos of the latter's poem "The Music Master": "I'm not sure that it is not too noble or too resolutely healthy. . . . I must confess to a need in narrative dramatic poetry . . . of something rather 'exciting,' and indeed, I believe, something of the 'romantic' element, to rouse my mind to anything like the moods produced by personal emotion in my own life. That sentence is shockingly ill worded, but Keats' narratives would be of the kind I mean." Theodore Watts ("Encyclopaedia Britannica," article "Rossetti") says that "the purely romantic temper was with Rossetti a more permanent and even a more natural temper than with any other nineteenth-century poet, even including the author of 'Christabel' himself." He thinks that all the French romanticists together do not equal the romantic feeling in a single picture of Rossetti's; and he somewhat capriciously defines the idea at the core of romanticism as that of the evil forces of nature assailing man through his sense of beauty. Analysis run mad! As to Poe, Rossetti certainly preferred him to Wordsworth. Hall Caine testifies that he used to repeat "Ulalume" and "The Raven" from memory; and that the latter suggested his "Blessed Damozel." "I saw that Poe had done the utmost it was possible to do with the grief of the lover on earth, and so I determined to reverse the conditions, and give utterance to the yearning of the loved one in heaven" ("Recollections," p. 384).

[18] "Recollections," p. 140.

[19] Caine's "Recollections," p. 266.

[20] Burne-Jones had been attracted by Rossetti's illustration of Allingham's poem, "The Maids of Elfinmere," and had obtained an introduction to him at London in 1856. It was by Rossetti's persuasion that he gave up the church for the career of an artist. Rossetti and Swinburne some years later (1862) became housemates for a time at Chelsea; and Rossetti and Morris for a number of years, off and on, at Kelmscott.

[21] Sharp's "Dante Gabriel Rossetti," p. 190.

[22] See especially Morris' poem "Rapunzel" in "The Defence of Guenevere."

[23] "I can't say," wrote William Morris, "how it was that Rossetti took no interest in politics; but so it was: of course he was quite Italian in his general turn of thought; though I think he took less interest in Italian politics than in English. . . . The truth is, he cared for nothing but individual and personal matters; chiefly of course in relation to art and literature."

[24] "The Liberal Movement in English Literature," by W. J. Courthope, London, 1885, p. 230.

[25] "Keats was a great poet who sometimes nodded. . . . Coleridge was a muddle-brained metaphysician who, by some strange freak of fortune, turned out a few real poems amongst the dreary flood of inanity which was his wont. . . . I have been through the poems, and find that the only ones which have any interest for me are: (1) 'Ancient Mariner'; (2) 'Christabel'; (3) 'Kubla Khan'; and (4) the poem called 'Love'" (Mackail's "Life of Morris," vol. ii., p. 310).

[26] "The Life of William Morris," by W. J. Mackail, London, 1899, vol. ii., p. 171.

[27] For the Chaucerian manipulation of classical subjects by Pre-Raphaelite artists see "Edward Burne-Jones," by Malcolm Bell, London, 1899.

[28] "The slough of despond which we call the eighteenth century" ("Hopes and Fears for Art," p. 211). "The English language, which under the hands of sycophantic verse-makers had been reduced to a miserable jargon . . . flowed clear, pure, and simple along with the music of Blake and Coleridge. Take those names, the earliest in date among ourselves, as a type of the change that has happened in literature since the time of George II." (ibid., p. 82).

[29] Page 113.

[30] "Sir Edward Burne-Jones told me that Morris would have liked the faces in his pictures less highly finished, and less charged with the concentrated meaning or emotion of the painting . . . and he thought that the dramatic and emotional interest of a picture ought to be diffused throughout it as equally as possible. Such, too, was his own practice in the cognate art of poetry; and this is one reason why his poetry affords so few memorable single lines, and lends itself so little to quotation" (Mackail's "Life of William Morris," vol. ii., p. 272).

[31] "Hopes and Fears for Art," p. 79.

[32] Ibid., p. 83.

[33] See vol. i., pp. 241-43.

[34] Vide supra, p. 153.

[35] "A Short History of English Literature," p. 783.

[36] "Recollections of Rossetti," vol. ii., p. 42.

[37] "King Arthur's Tomb."

[38] 0ne of these, "The Haystack in the Floods," has a tragic power unexcelled by any later work of Morris.

[39] Saintsbury, p. 785.

[40] "King Arthur's Tomb."

[41] "Rapunzel."

[42] "King Arthur's Tomb."

[43] Ibid.

[44] "Rapunzel."

[45] "Golden Wings."

[46] See "Sir Galahad," "The Chapel in Lyoness," "A Good Knight in Prison."

[47] See "Jason," Book xvii., 5-24, and the Envoi to "The Earthly Paradise."

[48] Some of Morris' sources were William of Malmesbury, "Mandeville's Travels," the "Gesta Romanorum," and the "Golden Legend." "The Man Born to be King" was derived from "The Tale of King Constans, the Emperor" in a volume of French romances ("Nouvelles françaises en prose du xiii.ième Siècle," Paris, 1856) of which he afterwards (1896) made a prose translation. The collection included also "The friendship of Amis and Amile"; "King Florus and the Fair Jehane"; and "The History of Over Sea"; besides "Aucassin and Nicolete," which Morris left out because it had been already rendered into English by Andrew Lang.

[49] His Vergil's "Aeneid," in the old fourteener of Chapman, was published in 1876.

[50] Vide supra, p. 315.

[51] Mackail, i., p. 168.

[52] Lang's translation.

[53] See vol. i., pp. 190-92.

[54] The "Grettis Saga" (1869); the "Völsunga Saga" (1870); "Three Northern Love Stories" (1875).

[55] These, in order of publication, were "The House of the Wolfings" (1889); "The Roots of the Mountains" (1890); "The Story of the Glittering Plain" (1891); "The Wood Beyond the World" (1894); "The Well at the World's End" (1896); "The Water of the Wondrous Isles" (1897); and "The Sundering Flood" (1898).

[56] Morris became so intolerant of French vocables that he detested and would "fain" have eschewed the very word literature.

[57] This collection is made up of Swinburne's earliest work but is antedated in point of publication by "The Queen Mother, and Rosamond" (1861) dedicated to Rossetti; and "Atalanta in Calydon" (1865). "Poems and Ballads" was inscribed to Burne-Jones.

[58] "Where the lady Mary is,
With her five handmaidens whose names
Are five sweet symphonies,
Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,
Margaret and Rosalys."
—"The Blessed Damozel."

[59] Cf. Browning's "The Heretic's Tragedy," supra, p. 276.

[60] This was the subject of Massinger's "Virgin Martyr."

[61] "Essays and Studies," pp. 85-88.

[62] See "A Study of Ben Jonson"; "John Ford" (in "Essays and Studies"); and the introductions to "Chapman" and "Middleton" in the Mermaid Series.

[63] Vide supra, pp. 90, 109, 330, and vol. i., pp. 221-22, 301.

[64] See especially "A Study of Victor Hugo" (1886); the articles on "L'Homme qui Rit" and "L'Année Terrible" in "Essays and Studies" (1875); and on Hugo's posthumous writings in "Studies in Prose and Poetry" (1886); "To Victor Hugo" in "Poems and Ballads" (first series); Ibid. (second series); "Victor Hugo in 1877," Ibid.

[65] See "Ave atque Vale" and the memorial verses in English, French, and Latin on Gautier's death in "Poems and Ballads" (second series).

[66] "A Ballad of François Villon." Vide supra, pp. 298-99.

[67] "Essays and Studies," pp. 45-49.

Henry Augustin Beers