WORK RELAXED: AND ORCHARDSON

A deal of ink had run from my pen in thirteen years—thirteen books
had been turned out, and thousands of odd articles, there was hardly
a paper or magazine in the country to which I had not contributed
something. Work had become much easier with practice, and a certain
amount of success—far, far more than I ever deserved—had come my way.

During that busy time I wrote more words per week than I wrote in the
whole previous nine years. I never believe in people making money they
do not require, unless occasionally, and then they should pass their
little gains on to some charitable cause. Still less do I believe
in anyone writing anything to be printed just for the pleasure of
seeing their name in print. That is taking bread out of someone’s
mouth, and lowering the market standard. I never wrote a line in my
life that was not paid for. Always before me lay two roads, the one
grinding on to the bitter end as a writer and journalist, the second
string being much the more important as it meant more pay for less
risk; or the possibility that some day investments of my husband’s
might turn out better and the necessity to work might cease. It did
not cease—but after thirteen years I felt my feet sufficiently to bid
adieu to journalistic work. A few hundreds here, and a few hundreds
there carefully re-invested, three small legacies left because of the
“splendid fight I had made,” or “in appreciation of her pluck and hard
work,” lifted the cloud, and as the cloud rolled away I took my leave
of the journalist’s yoke which had so often galled a sensitive back:
the moment I could do without this source of income I left it alone,
thankful, grateful for its kindly aid through years of adversity. I
don’t suppose my editors missed me. They never knew me personally;
incognito I entered their pages except as a name, incognito as a
personality I left them.

I was ill—over-work, over-strain, over-anxiety for thirteen years
bowled me over—I, who had never had “little ills,” seemed to be always
having colds and coughs, sleepless nights, aching temples, tonsilitis,
and other stupid little ailments; but in all reverence let me thank God
that the necessity that plied the lash so unceasingly for thirteen busy
years gradually relaxed.

I suppose there is no loneliness so complete as the creative
brain-worker’s. He writes a book through weary months of thought and
probably not one member of his own household even knows what it is
about or looks at it when done. The painter is almost as bad, although
a cursory glance may be given occasionally at his picture. The same
with the inventor. The creator must be content to live in loneliness of
soul and lack of sympathy. The knowledge that he is doing his best is
his only reward. Even wealth is generally denied him.

Often in those busy years I wondered if I had been too fond of
pleasure, too absorbed by amusement in those young married days, and
if the necessity to work was my punishment. Every little act counts in
life. Every good deed brings its reward, every silly action demands its
toll.

The completion of my thirteenth year had ended my strenuous literary
work. I then had more time for my friends, social purposes, calls of
charity, committee work of all sorts and kinds, so although I remained
as busy as ever, I was no longer a money-making machine.

It was then that I lost one of my oldest and dearest friends. I was
ill myself at the time of his death (April, 1910), but from my bed
I dictated, and corrected the proof on my sofa during the days of
convalescence of an article for the _Fortnightly Review_, July, 1910.

“One of the men I should like to meet in England is William Quiller
Orchardson.” So spoke the great Shakespearian writer of America, Dr.
Horace Howard Furness, when I was staying with him on the Delaware
River near Philadelphia (1905).

We were standing before a large engraving of the “Mariage de
Convenance,” one of this famous scholar’s dearest possessions.

“The idea,” continued Dr. Furness, “the thought, the sense of design;
the space, the refinement, the art of the whole thing, are, to my mind,
perfect. The man who did that must be a charming man, and next time I
cross the Atlantic I shall hope to see him.”

They will never meet now, but I told Orchardson the story when I came
home, and he looked quite shy with simple pleasure that any picture of
his was so much appreciated.

Sir William Orchardson was one of Nature’s courtiers. He was refined in
manner, delicate in thought, artistic in temperament.

England has lost one of her greatest painters. Orchardson is one of the
names that will be known centuries hence. He was one of the few men to
see his old work increase in value. He had a style of his own. “Thin,”
some called it, doubtless because of his means of work, whereby the
canvas remained exposed; but the talent was not thin. It was rich in
tone, and the work was strong. Probably no living artist painted with
less _impasto_, and yet produced such effect of solidity.

He had great partiality for yellows and browns, madders and reds, and,
whenever he could introduce these tones, did so. He loved the warmth
of mahogany, the shade of rich wine in a glass, the subdued tones of a
scarlet robe, the russet brown of an old shooting-suit, and as his own
hair had a warm hue, he generally wore a shade of clothes which toned
in with it. As grey mingled with his locks, he took to grey tweeds, and
a very harmonious picture he made with his slouch hat to match.

In these days, when it is the fashion to belittle modern artists, and
magnify a hundred-fold the value of so-called “ancient masters,” it was
delightful to come across one whose power was actually acknowledged
under the hammer in his own lifetime. One of Orchardson’s pictures,
“Hard Hit,” painted in 1879, fetched nearly £4000 at Christie’s thirty
years later for America. He had the gratification of seeing many of his
canvases double and treble in value, and yet he was always well paid
for his work on the easel.

He saw his “Mariage de Convenance,” for which he originally received
£1200, increase enormously in value, and his picture of “Napoleon on
the Deck of the _Bellerophon_,” painted in 1880, double in value
before it went to the Tate Gallery.

But the more success he achieved, the more modest he seemed to become.

Simplicity was the keynote of the man. Simplicity of character,
simplicity of life, simplicity of style. There is masterful simplicity
in all his work. Look at the large, majestic rooms he depicted, with
one or two figures round which the interest lies. His work invariably
gives one a sense of space, elegance, and refinement. It is always
reserved in colour and design, with great harmony and unity of effect,
possibly helped by the use of a very limited range of colour. His
drawing was strong in construction, highly sensitive in line, and had
an entire absence of flashiness.

His portraits were, perhaps, his greatest achievement, and were
extraordinary for their virility and power of characterisation; they
were hailed with enthusiasm by the artists both here and on the
Continent. He did not do a great number. Indeed, he was by no means
a prolific painter—from three to five canvases were the most he
accomplished in a single year.

He elaborated his still-life as much as the old Dutch painters, but the
whole scheme of colour and design and his eighteenth-century costumes
were simple.

As with his work, so with the man. He was moderate in all things.
Gentle, refined, sensitive, thorough, and painstaking, always striving
for better things. Never really satisfied with his work, never really
satisfied with himself. A deeply religious man, he never mentioned
religion, but somehow one felt he had profound convictions on this
subject. His moral standards were high, his sense of justice was
profound.

Two antagonistic qualities were ever fighting in the painter. The
gentleness of the man, the determination of the character.

Orchardson had been a veritable hero for years. He had really been
an invalid since the final years of the last century, sometimes
desperately ill. Often he could only do an hour’s work a day, and
during that time Lady Orchardson always read aloud to him. It
soothed and amused him at the same time, and volumes of memoirs and
travels were his delight. His wife was always beside him, and her
encouragement and criticism were of great value to his work. They were
a devoted couple.

Even neuritis did not stop his work. The triumph of mind over matter!
There were days during those ten or twelve years when he looked as
if a puff of wind would blow him away. Yet the work lost none of its
brilliancy. Orchardson painted as well at seventy-five as he did forty
years before. Of how many men can that be said?

Pluck is a wonderful quality. How few of the people, who admired
Orchardson’s marvellous picture of Lord Peel, realised the agonies the
artist endured during the time he was painting that and his following
canvases. It was about 1897 that he first began to fail. Some put
it down to heart trouble, others to an affection of the nerves, but
whatever it was he was told that nothing could be done, nothing, at
least, which could really cure the malady. With the most splendid
fortitude and pluck Orchardson realised the situation. He was still a
man of little over sixty. He was at the zenith of his glory, thousands
of pounds were paid for his pictures, and orders were far more numerous
than he could accomplish; he had a large family beside him, and for
years he painted on with this agonising pain, making light of the
matter.

How ill he looked one day when I called. He appeared so much thinner
than even a month or two previously, and there seemed a depression
about the merry laugh and twinkling eyes. He wore his left arm in a
black silk sling, and the hands, always thin, seemed to show more blue
veins, and look more delicate and nervous than usual. His hands were
even more characteristic than his face. He was painting, and beside him
his palette was fixed on a music stand.

“A very awkward arrangement,” he laughingly said; “but the best I can
do, for I can no longer hold the palette at all.”

“But the stand is just the exact height, and looks all right,” I said.

“Ah, my dear friend,” he replied, “a subtle difference in colour is
very slight, but when you are standing back from your canvas and decide
that a particular shade is wanted on a particular point of a particular
nose, if you have the palette on your hand you can mix it at once,
while if you have to walk back six or eight feet to the palette to
prepare the paint to complete this little alteration, you may just get
sufficiently off the shade to entirely alter the idea. I weigh every
tone. I am not an impressionist.”

Seeing Orchardson working under such circumstances struck me as one of
the most sad and pitiful things I had ever known. Here was he, one of
the greatest painters of the day, still in the prime of life, working
against the most horrible odds, and yet sticking to it in a manner
everyone must admire and few realise, for he always tried to make light
of the situation. He painted his picture of Sir Peter Russell under
these circumstances, also the portrait of Miss Fairfax Rhodes. Among
his best-known portraits are those of Mrs. Pattison, Sir David Stewart,
and Sir Walter Gilbey.

Orchardson’s famous picture of four royal generations (called “Windsor
Castle, 1897”) was finished in April, 1900, for that year’s Academy. I
went one afternoon a week before to have a look at it. The painter and
his wife were having tea in the splendid dining-room at Portland Place,
and he was thoroughly enjoying his buttered toast after a hard day.

“I like sitting at a table for my tea,” he said, “especially since my
arm became troublesome, for even now I really cannot balance a cup.
Congratulate me, however, for I have discarded my sling to-day after
two years.”

The man who could not hold a cup could paint a picture.

The canvas was enormous—simple and striking. The quiet dignity of Queen
Victoria on the left, and the happy little family group of the Prince
of Wales, the Duke of York (our present King), and baby Prince, was
charming.

“A difficult subject,” sighed Orchardson. “It took me months to make
up my mind how to tackle it at all. Two black frock-coats and a lady
in black seemed impossible, till I insisted on having the child and
his white frock to introduce the human interest. For days and days I
wandered about Windsor to find a suitable room to paint the group in,
and nothing took my fancy till I came to this long corridor. This is a
corner just as it stands. The dark cabinet throws out the Queen’s head.
The carpet gives warmth. The settee is good colour.”

“How very like that chair, on which the Prince has his hand, is to one
of your old Empire chairs,” I exclaimed. The great painter laughed.

“It is mine. I lent it, you see. They have nothing quite so suitable as
mine there, so I just painted in one of my own.”

It was only five days before the picture was to go to Burlington House.
The Prince of Wales’s—alas, the only portrait he painted of Edward
VII—was unfinished; one of the three busts was not even touched,
besides many other minor details.

“Will you ever be ready?”

“Oh dear, yes! I once painted half my Academy picture in the last
week. I take a long while thinking and planning, but only a short time
actually painting. I shall be ready all right. At any time I rarely
paint more than four hours a day, often only two; so you see I can
accomplish a fair amount with an eight-hours day.”

In 1887 the Orchardsons moved from Victoria to Portland Place. The new
house offered all the room required for his large family, but there was
no studio. Nothing daunted, the artist designed a studio, and made one
of the finest _ateliers_ in London, where stables and loose-boxes once
stood. He was not the first, for Turner, the great landscape painter,
who lived in Queen Anne Street, close by, had his studio in the stables
which later adjoined my father’s house in Harley Street. It was in that
stable-studio Turner painted some of his finest pictures, and it was in
a stable-studio almost a hundred years later that Orchardson painted
his most famous canvases.

Rich tapestries hung upon the walls. Old chairs of the Directoire and
Empire periods stood about on parquet floors, on which was reflected
the red glow from a huge, blazing fire.

The upstairs rooms, with their pillars and conservatory, formed the
background of such pictures as “Her Mother’s Voice,” “Reflections,”
“Music, when Soft Voices Die, Vibrates in the Memory,” and “A Tender
Chord,” and bits of the studio often served as backgrounds, just as
his Adams satin-wood chairs, his clocks and candelabra, glass and old
Sheffield plate, stood as models.

Orchardson was a man of wide interests. He was always liberal in his
outlook. Anything new, no matter by whom, or what form it took,
interested him, and he was particularly good to young men. For
instance, the son of Professor Lorimer, of Edinburgh, sent a portrait
of his father to the Academy. No one had then heard of young Lorimer,
but the picture was accepted and hung on the line. Two or three years
after, when the artist was in London, he was introduced to Orchardson,
who at once exclaimed:

“‘J. H. Lorimer’! Ah, yes! I remember. I hung a picture of yours on the
line at the Academy a few years ago, because it showed promise.” And
thus began a delightful friendship. That was his way. Whenever he could
do a young artist a good turn, he did so; whenever he could say a word
of encouragement, he was always willing; endless were the visits he
paid to the studios of youthful aspirants, and many the kindly words of
advice and encouragement he left behind.

He thought it one of the crying shames of the day that more was not
done for living painters and sculptors. He considered our public
buildings and open spaces should be adorned by sculpture, that our
public libraries and edifices should be decorated by paintings.

“There is just as good talent as ever there was,” he would say, “if
these millionaires would only encourage it, and not pay vast sums for
spurious old masters. You have only to call a thing _old_, and it will
be bought, but call the same thing _new_, and no one will even look at
it.”

Speaking to him once about a fellow-artist’s death, I said what a pity
it was a man should live to over-paint himself, just as men lived to
over-write themselves—paint until their eye has lost all idea of form
and colour.

He did not agree to this. “Once a painter, always a painter,” he
declared. “Our individual taste improves, our life becomes more
educated, until we look upon work as bad which, years before, we
thought good. In fact,” he maintained, “if the early pictures of
an artist were put with his later work, you would probably find he
had not deteriorated at all.” He gave as an illustration the works
in the Manchester Exhibition—where one man had, perhaps, twenty
pictures, painted in different years, hung side by side; and these,
he maintained, one and all reached a certain standard, and did not
deteriorate or improve very much with years.

Once asked to paint a picture containing several portraits, he agreed,
although the subjects were not handsome—ugly, in fact.

“What a trial that must be to you?”

“Oh dear, no! I far prefer an ugly face to a beautiful one. It is
generally so much more interesting.”

“Then you choose their dresses and surroundings, presumably?”

“No; I do not. I like to paint them as they are, and in their own home.
Dressing them up and giving them strange surroundings takes away their
identity, and makes a picture, but not a portrait. Men paint with their
brain, and if they haven’t got brains, no amount of teaching will make
them artists. They must feel what they do with the mind. Colour is
in the artist himself, but he must learn for years and years, not to
paint, but to draw. Drawing can only be acquired, and is difficult at
first. No man can hope to be an artist until drawing is no longer a
difficulty. Then, but not till then, he may start to paint. Look how
beautifully Frenchmen draw. Art is poorly paid and a disheartening
affair. When I see and hear of the thousands of ‘artists’ barely
earning a living to keep body and soul together, it makes me positively
sick.”

One day a friend brought a beautiful bunch of roses to Portland Place.
Mrs. Orchardson was so delighted with them, she took them into the
studio to show her husband.

“Can’t you paint them?” she enquired.

“Well, they are lovely,” he replied. And after thinking a moment, he
went and fetched a large canvas, on which he had drawn roughly his
scheme for the now famous picture of “The Young Duke.” Many feet of
white canvas and charcoal lines were there. The rest of the scheme and
the colour was only in the artist’s head. He fetched a bowl, placed
the roses in it, and there and then painted the flowers upon the great
white canvas. So began the picture, round the bowl of roses.

Flowers and the country were always attractive to Orchardson, and
in 1897 he bought a house near Farningham. Once settled, they were
invited to a large county dinner-party to be introduced to their
neighbours. Just before it was time to dress for dinner, it was
discovered that Orchardson had not brought his dress-clothes from
London. Should they send a message that they could not go? No; they
decided that would be ridiculous. Had he a frock-coat? No; he had not
even that in the country, and a blue serge suit was all that could be
produced. Accordingly, the artist appeared at the formal county dinner
arranged in his special honour more like an English yachtsman than a
dinner-party guest; and, to add to their misery—it had taken so long to
hunt for the clothes, and it took much longer to drive than they had
anticipated—the guests had already sat down when they were ushered into
the dining-room.




For many years before this, the Orchardsons lived off and on at
Westgate. It was there he built the tennis-court—real tennis, not lawn
tennis—that from first to last cost about £3000, and was finally pulled
down and sold as old bricks and mortar. That game was his recreation
and his amusement, and round him the painter collected tennis players
from all over the world. He called it the “king of games,” just as he
called fly-fishing the “king of sports.”

Another hobby was old furniture. One of his most prized treasures was
an old piano. A Vienna Flügel of the seventeenth century, containing
peals, drums, and bells. It was shaped like an ordinary grand, with
rounded side-pieces of beautiful rich-coloured mahogany, and in tone
resembled a spinet. This he gave a year or two before his death with a
tall harp piano, to the South Kensington Museum. One day, walking down
Oxford Street, he had seen the end of this Flügel piano sticking out
of some straw outside an auctioneer’s. The wood and form struck him,
and he pulled aside the straw to examine it more closely. He had the
legs brought out to him, and found they were figures supporting worlds,
on which the piano rested. Charmed and delighted at the whole design,
he offered to bid for it—and as only two very old musicians, who
remembered the piano in their youth, bid against him, it was knocked
down to him. Afterwards he found the only other similar one in England
was owned by the Queen, and stood at Windsor.

Funnily enough, he who had himself painted so many portraits, disliked
nothing in the world so much as sitting himself.

“I am a fidget,” he said, “and it worries me to keep still. When
Charlie [his son] asked me to sit to him in the autumn of ’98, I
said, ‘My dear boy, I would rather do anything else in the world for
you.’ However, his mother persuaded me that it would be to Charlie’s
advantage, and therefore, like a weak man—for man is always weak in the
hands of woman—I gave in. The boy painted it very cleverly, and people
tell me it is a good portrait. Not that I know much about that, for no
one knows what he really looks like.”

Orchardson was just twenty-nine when sitting in his little studio in
Edinburgh he read long accounts of the great Exhibition of 1862. “By
Jove, I’ll go and have a look at it,” he exclaimed. No sooner said than
done. With a small hand-bag he came to London. The die was cast. He
never returned to Edinburgh to live.

Those early days in this great city were days of work and struggle
for John Pettie, Peter Graham, John MacWhirter, and William Quiller
Orchardson, who all came together, and lived together in Pimlico, and
then in Fitzroy Square. They all worked in black and white to keep
the pot boiling, and right merry they were in those long-ago days.
All attained success. Orchardson’s first stroke of luck came three
years after his arrival in London, when he won a £100 prize for “The
Challenge,” and for the next forty-five years he continued to work
steadily, and climbed the ladder of fame rung by rung.

My last personal recollection of Sir William was when I was sitting
to Herbert Hampton, the sculptor. One day we were talking about
Orchardson, and Mr. Hampton was eulogistic in speaking of his work, and
regretted Sir William had never been to his studio.

“I will ask him to come.” Below is his reply, written on March 12th,
1910, exactly a month before his death.

“DEAR MRS. TWEEDIE,

“So sorry to be all day engaged! Give me another day—do—Yours ever
so much,

“W. Q. ORCHARDSON.

“Have sitter waiting.”

It was his habit to go out daily for fresh air, and, when able for it,
for exercise, so I suggested fetching him in a taxi the next time I was
to sit. To this he replied a few days later:

“DEAR MRS. TWEEDIE,

“So do I [this refers to a remark that I wished I were the sitter].
I should have loved the taxi, and your presentment at the hands of
Herbert Hampton. It must be worth seeing—but that I have promised
to be at the meeting to-morrow of the Fine Art Section of the White
City, of which I am Chairman.—Horrid, is it not? With many thanks
and more regrets,

“Yours,
“W. Q. ORCHARDSON.”

The writing was very shaky, as it had been for some years. For years
he could paint firmly and yet only write badly. This was probably due
to his extraordinary power of concentration. Even ten days before his
death he was struggling daily to the studio, too weak to stand before
his canvas, callous to all outside matters, so determined to finish his
pictures that he could concentrate his mind on his work and make great
strides in a quarter of an hour. Then he would fall back exhausted.
Here was a case of indomitable pluck, and such determination and
concentration that he almost died with his brush in his hand.

Orchardson was a delightful _raconteur_, and although I knew him
intimately for twenty years, I never heard him say an unkind word of
anyone, and often admired his refinement of thought and delightful
belief in everyone and in everything beautiful. He was by nature a
serious, thoughtful man, although a certain air of gaiety overspread
his speech, and a merry twinkle often sparkled in his eye. He told
stories dramatically, quickly turning from grave to gay. Although
casual in manner, unconventional in ideas, and remiss in answering
letters, he never seemed to give offence to anyone. That same slack,
casual way of acting on impulse that brought young Orchardson to London
in 1862, remained through life. He never could make plans; seldom knew
from week to week where he would be. He was, in fact, irresponsible
by nature, but so sweet in character that the gods smiled on him and
oblivion of time was excused, just as forgetfulness of appointments
was exonerated. That was the man; but when work was foremost, all was
changed.

Orchardson was a great painter and a kindly man. The world is the
poorer for his death. Such men can ill be spared.

When my article appeared it was pleasant to hear from the wife of the
painter:

“Your article in the _Fortnightly_ is quite delightful, and I much
appreciate it. You have depicted his character so exactly, and I am
sure all who have ever known him will quite agree.”

Or again from his old friend Mr. John MacWhirter, R.A., who followed
him so quickly to the grave:

“I have just read Orchardson in the _Review_. It is admirable. I
did not know that you understood him so well. He was a delightful
character, and you have described him well. I feel I owe you real
thanks!”

These few kindly words were a great reward for a very little work. Poor
MacWhirter himself died a few months later.

* * * * *

Some years ago the Society of Women Journalists did me the honour of
appointing me one of its Vice-Presidents, an unmerited honour, for I
was a bad journalist in the sense of ordinary journalism. I have never
written about fashions or Society functions, and did little of the
ordinary journalistic hack-work, such as reporting, though I wrote
yards of “copy” of all sorts and kinds.

One day the idea came to me that it would be nice to invite my
fellow-journalists to tea before finally ringing down the curtain on my
journalistic life, and as a tea-party composed entirely of themselves
would be rather too much of a family affair, I decided to ask some
of my own friends as well. The card indicated on the next page was
accordingly sent out.

There are three hundred members of the Society of Women Journalists,
not all of course living in London, so we reckoned that one hundred
might turn up during the afternoon. As it happened, the total number
of people who crossed my doorstep between 3.45 and 7.15 (for they came
before the appointed time and stayed after the allotted hour) was four
hundred—one hundred and sixty-four of whom were men!

[Illustration:

To Meet Society of Women Journalists.

MRS. ALEC TWEEDIE

AT HOME

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 4-7.

4.0. MRS. KENDAL.
4.30. MISS GRAINGER KERR.
5.0. MISS GENEVIÈVE WARD.
5.30. MR. ADOLPH MANN.
6.0. LADY TREE.
6.30. MISS CHRISTIAN MUIR.

30, YORK TERRACE,
HARLEY STREET.
]

Luckily, some days beforehand I had sorted out the glass and china,
been to the plate-chest, seen to the table-linen, ordered the
hat-stands and urns, and made everything in readiness, for on Monday
night before this memorable Wednesday I was taken ill.

Internal chills are like influenza, they sound so little and may mean
so much. Tuesday found me worse, and when the doctor came late in the
day, my suffering was so intense that he insisted upon an injection of
morphia. I was too dull with pain, too stupefied from the drug to so
much as even think about putting off that party. It seemed to me an
absolutely impossible task. I had not tacked those tiresome letters
“R.S.V.P.” on the cards of invitation, and therefore had not the
slightest idea how many people would come, so as everything had been
arranged, it seemed best to let things take their course, and chance my
being up, clothed, and in my right mind.

The Fates decided otherwise. By Tuesday night I was worse. The nurse
shook her head, still the doctor saw the impossibility of stopping the
party, and wisely begged me not to trouble myself about it.

I knew my sister, Mrs. W. F. Goodbody, would be quite equal to the
task of receiving in my absence. Besides, I sent messages to one or
two intimate friends to come early and hand tea and coffee, and smile
and talk; in fact, turn themselves into public entertainers for the
afternoon. Everyone behaved splendidly. With so much brilliant talent
to amuse them, they could hardly be dull. Even to my bed there rose
the shouts of laughter and sounds of enthusiastic applause after the
recitations and music.

The nurse stood over me like a dragon, refusing to let anyone cross the
threshold of the sick-room; as a kindly angel she trotted backwards
and forwards, telling me some of the names she heard announced. An
Ambassador, and several Ministers, Royal Academicians, inventors,
authors, Admirals, Generals, actors, and scientists, all came in turn.

I shall never really know who all my guests were at that party, for
only in a haphazard way have I heard who came and who did not. But it
proved that _Hamlet_ without the Dane, or a wedding without the bride,
might almost be possible when a party without a hostess can be a “great
success.” Such is the comedy and tragedy of life. My guests were told
I was suffering from a “little chill,” and, though kindly or politely
regretful, they little guessed that their enjoyment was counterbalanced
by my agony.

Many days passed before I was up again, and then I only crawled to
Woodhall Spa. _Crawled_ is a fairly correct expression, for the first
time I was able to leave my room was to go to the train, and then a
porter trundled me along the platform at King’s Cross in a Bath chair.
So lying on my back all the journey, I arrived there a human wreck;
but, thanks to Dr. Calthrop, and the efficacy of the waters, the
patient found herself on her feet a few weeks later.

All praise to Woodhall Spa.

A day or two after my arrival even that quiet, sleepy little village
was raised to the tiptoe of anxiety when a rumour came that King Edward
VII. was dangerously ill. On that Friday night—May 6th, 1910—we tried
to telephone to London for the latest bulletin, but no message could
be got through; and it was not till the early hours of Saturday morning
that the dreaded news which had already spanned the world in a flash,
reached the restful retreat of Woodhall Spa, by means of the mail cart.

The King was dead.

A strong contrast was the little English village, where I learnt
the sad tidings, to that wonderfully dramatic scene in the recesses
of a Mexican cave, in which news of the death of Queen Victoria was
announced to me.

All of us in the hotel were wearing coloured clothes, and all with one
accord telegraphed home, or to the London shops or dressmakers, for
black things to be sent; and rich ladies sallied forth and bought pots
of paint to blacken their hats, or bits of ribbon of funereal hue.

And those wonderful days following the death of King Edward VII.
showed forth not only spontaneous world-wide reverence for the Great
Peacemaker, and homage to his dignity and prestige as a monarch; they
bore witness to the sorrow of individuals numbered by multitudes and
nations—the sob of a grief-stricken Empire that had lost and was
mourning a valued friend.

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